STATES OF CONSCIOUSNESS
THE ORDINARY STATE OF CONSCIOUSNESS (CAYPACHA)
The “ordinary state of consciousness” is the product of various circumstances, some of them cultural, others inherent in the evolutionary dynamic of consciousness itself.
From the evolutionary point of view, the growth in the human being of the ability to recognise himself – to construct a self-image – as well as to imagine the future and to project himself into it, thus discovering himself to be finite, limited, mortal and impermanent, immediately creates a latent syndrome of “existential angst”, in which fear predominates: fear of becoming ill, fear of dying, fear of suffering needs and wants.
This existential angst engenders two main reactions
1- Distortion of instincts
A profound distortion of the instinctive impulses towards self-preservation (both in the individual and the group) creating a “state of crisis” which explains many of the attitudes expressed in the slogan “life is a battle for survival”. The regulatory element of instinctive behaviour, which in the animal world is the immediate satisfaction of needs, is distorted in the human being in the insatiable attempt to relieve the angst of being. The search for immediate advantage; the habit of saving, taking precautions, looking for advantages, investing in the future, leads to the selection and atrophy of a certain kind of consciousness, a collection of mental files of ideas, of memes (see note below), types of behaviour etc.
Memetics is a theory proposed by Richard Dawkins in 1976, in his book “The Selfish Gene”, but which was only revisited in 1997 by Susan Blackmore, in an article published in “The Skeptic” (No 2, 43-49), under the name, “The Power of the Meme”, followed by other articles and a book called “The Meme Machine”, with an introduction by Richard Dawkins himself. The “meme” is defined as a pattern of information recorded in the memory and capable of being copied into the mind of another individual. “Memetics” is the theoretical and empirical science which studies the replication and evolution of memes. Memetics can be understood in relation to the evolution of ideas and belief systems, in the same way that genetics can be understood in relations to the evolution of cells and organisms. At the biological level there is the “gene” and at the cultural level there is the “meme”. Memes can be analysed as if they were micro-organisms in search of a host: the memory of people.
2- Double disassociation (of feelings and the body).
This creates a retraction, a dislocation, or even a fragmentation of consciousness, in which the terrified mind disassociates itself from the existential plane and buries itself in memory, in the world of ideas and plans, distanced from the concrete, physical, organic plane. A state precisely defined (for the first time in history) by Rene Descartes, when he expressed the idea that our identity is the same thing as our minds – in his famous declaration “je pense, donc je suis”, which in fact means “I am thought” – demonstrating well the disassociation of our consciousness from our bodies and the material world.
Acting as complementary, mutually reinforcing processes, these two mechanisms create a behavioural dysfunction: on one side the state of disassociation prevents satisfaction or satiety; on the other side the mind – without ballast or physical references – does not consider well what it creates nor its intentions.
This unintegrated way of identifying oneself corresponds to the disharmonious existential idea of “a soul or spirit plunged into a hostile and disobedient nature (or body), which is to be subjugated or dominated.”
In fact, the subjective world has been understood and evaluated in every possible way by the philosophers, mainly through the various forms of idealism, such as: the “absolute idealism” of Hegel, which identifies reality with reason; the “transcendental idealism” of Kant, which considers phenomena as mere representations and not as things in themselves; there has even been “subjective idealism”, which reduces the being to the sensations, the representation and the ideas of the individual, as in the case of Berkeley-ism, where it is affirmed that the only things which exist are spirits, and that “matter” is no different from perception, that being is merely to perceive and be perceived: this is an idea similar to solipsism, in which reality is understood as being totally subjective and contained in the consciousness of the individual.