THE RATIONAL BEING
"THE MOMENT OF BEING - The cattle tick is a small, flat-bodied, blood-sucking insect with a curious life history. It emerges from the egg not yet fully developed, lacking a pair of legs and sex organs. In this state it is still capable of attacking cold-blooded animals such as frogs and lizards, which it does. After shedding its skin several times, it acquires its missing organs, mates, and is then prepared to attack warm-blooded animals.
The eyeless female is directed to the tip of a twig on a bush by her photosensitive skin, and there she stays through darkness and light, through fair weather and foul, waiting for the moment that will fulfill her existence. In the Zoological Institute, at Rostock, prior to World War I ticks were kept on the end of twigs, waiting for this moment, for a period of eighteen years. The metabolism of the insect is sluggish to the point of being suspended entirely. The sperm she received in the act of mating remains bundled into capsules where it, too, waits in suspension until mammalian blood reaches the stomach of the tick, at which time the capsules break, the sperm are released and they fertilize the eggs which have been reposing in the ovary, also waiting in a kind of time suspension.
The signal for which the tick waits is the scent of butyric acid, a substance present in the sweat of all mammals. This is the only experience that will trigger time into existence for the tick.
The tick represents, in the conduct of its life, a kind of apotheosis of subjective time perception. For a period as long as eighteen years nothing happens. The period passes as a single moment; but at any moment within this span of literally senseless existence, when the animal becomes aware of the scent of butyric acid it is thrust into a perception of time, and other signals are suddenly perceived.
The animal then hurls itself in the direction of the scent. The object on which the tick lands at the end of this leap must be warm; a delicate sense of temperature is suddenly mobilized and so informs the insect. If the object is not warm, the tick will drop off and reclimb its perch. If it is warm, the tick burrows its head deeply into the skin and slowly pumps itself full of blood. Experiments made at Rostock with membranes filled with fluids other than blood proved that the tick lacks all sense of taste, and once the membrane is perforated the animal will drink any fluid, provided that it is of the right temperature.
The extraordinary preparedness of this creature for this moment of time during which it will re-enact the purpose of its life contrasts strikingly with probability that this moment will ever occur. There are doubtless many bushes on which ticks perch which are never by-passed by a mammal within range of the tick’s leap. As do most animals, the tick lives in a absurdly unfavourable world - at least so it would appear to the compassionate human observer. But this world is merely the environment of the animal. The world it perceives, which experimenters at Rostock called its umwelt, its perceptual world - is not at all unfavourable. A period of eighteen years, as measured objectively by the circuit of the earth around the sun, is meaningless to the tick. During this period, it is apparently unaware of temperature changes. Being blind, it does not see the leaves shrivel and fall and then renew themselves on the bush where it is affixed. Unaware of time it is also unaware of space, and the multitude of forms and colors which appear in space. It waits suspended in duration for its particular moment of time, a moment distinguished by being filled with a single, unique experience: the scent of butyric acid.
Though we consider ourselves far removed as humans from such a lowly insect form as this, we are both aware and unaware of elements which comprise our environment. We are more aware than the tick of the passage of time. We are subjectively aware of the aging process; we know that we grow older, that time is shortened by every passing moment. For the tick, however, this moment that precedes its burst of volitional activity, the moment when it scents butyric acid and is thrust into purposeful movement, is close to the end of time for the tick. When it fills itself with blood, it drops from its host, lays it eggs, and dies. " 1
In this very interesting parable we can distinguish four specific moments: the moment of maturing, the moment of suspension, the moment of being and the moment of dissolution. As humans we too are subjected to these time periods, the difference being merely in the perceptual scale: we mature, we live in a state of suspension-like life span of time while watching our lives from the outside-in (memory recollections, future aspirations, assessment of our life import on ourselves or others or on the environment), the moment of being and ultimately the moment of dissolution, or death.
That which I am more concerned with, here, is the moment of being but not in the famous Cartesian way: "I think, therefore I am"; Descartes experiment in doubt, "cogito, ergo sum", has had a strong import on philosophical thought but in my view we should now abandon doubts and go a step further: I am, therefore I think.
When the tick scents butyric acid a mechanism is triggered which informs it of the presence of a warm-blooded animal - we can say that at that very moment it thinks (however crude this thought can be in the tick’s realm) and is thrown into existence, into life, into beingness and finally bent toward dissolution; at that very moment, that of the perception of the scent of butyric acid, the tick can realize that I am, therefore I think applies fully to her life-in-death-like state and many a human beings perhaps live in such unconscious - or semiconscious - state, their realization of moments of import is triggered only by instinctual reactions to environmental factors - but that is not properly human! The properly human is I am, therefore I think - the realization that we are endowed with a very sophisticated mechanism of awareness and that we must live by it leaving no paths open to doubt. It does not matter whether we do or do nor accept the theories of the illusoryness of the universe, the Maya doctrines - it may all very well be illusory - but the I am is a most tangible reality which cannot be done away with. And if in the eastern fashion you are able to reach a state of utmost quietness, cessation of thought, a samadhi-like state, or the state which the Persian mystics call fana (annihilation in the transcendent) than that I am, paradoxically, becomes still more vivid because in such a state of transcendence - of cosmic communion, the realization that the universe is within ourselves and that we ourselves are the universe - nothing can be more vivid, nothing can be more real than transcendence.
"... thought is a bird of space, that in a cage of words may indeed unfold its wings but cannot fly" 2 and that accounts for the difficulties which we meet when we try to delve with the transcendent, a difficulty which we meet because we are not like unto the bird who found an outlet from his cage toward freedom: it did not bother to carry the cage over. That is a most common mistake we face in our quests, we both want to be free and simultaneously attend our cage.
There is a word, soul, which is defined as " ... that part or faculty of the human compound that is held morally responsible for man’s actions and will have to bear the consequences of them, good or bad, after death ... In other words, it is the power which exercises free will, the power of choosing ... between good and evil." 3 He who understands the soul to be something like I just quoted will have to forgive me, I consider it an horrible definition of that thing which has baffled humans throughout their intellectual history. To me the word soul is alien, perhaps because of its connotation with the after-life state and, as I have already said, no one has ever come back from the beyond to tell us how things are there - but stripping it of its after-life connotation the word soul can be rendered as thought, "the power which exercise free will ... the power of choosing" and than it is obvious that, as that which we think, we are, that soul will follow us wherever we end up, "for thy soul can be thy friend, and thy soul can be thy enemy". 4
Incidentally the process of thinking is of a dimensional degree lower than the shadow, it is not even bi-dimensional as it occurs only in time (although the thinking process acts on our brain’s metabolism in such a way that through a suitable transducer it can give rise to certain patterns in an oscilloscope’s display tube which we can classify respectively as alpha, beta and teta brain waves) and hence it is still more subtle to cope with - perhaps that is why such an ambiguous term as soul has come into existence - but notwithstanding, the uni-dimensional thinking process can disclose to us, in all its magnificence, a four dimensional universe ... does that mean that we have to do away with dimensions to step-up our dimensional processes?
Closely related to thinking is reason: "the human reason, in effect, is a reason that is based upon the irrational, upon the total vital consciousness, upon will and feeling" 5 - and that is not just closely related to thinking, in effect it is conscious thinking as a by-product of thinking since we are well aware that the thought processes can be both conscious and subconscious - by subconscious here I mean those thinking processes which are not properly considered - that are not reasoned as they act on the threshold of awareness and as such more often than not appear to be incongruous and are not given proper attention. At a deeper level we have a state of unconscious thinking processes, we know and we do feel that something is working deep within our brain, something which we cannot grasp and come to terms with - the machinery behind the blueprint mentioned when saying that a thought will manifest itself only after its blueprint has been approved.
Now if thought with its power of discernment (thought with its power of discernment is what gives, as a by-product, awareness and consequently reasoning capability) and analysis can be equated to the human soul, it is obvious that I am, therefore I think stands on much more solid ground that I think, therefore I am - as, if I am solely because I think I defeat transcendence while if I think because I am I can experience transcendence (paradoxically reaching transcendence is reportedly achieved by suspending the thinking process, complete detachment from environmental awareness thus getting in touch with the deep seat of the mind) and the need to experience transcendence is vital to us because only there we can find a meaning in life reaching beyond utter extinction.
Personally I do not believe, I refuse - an after-life state so as it is promulgated by the different religious systems in existence and this may seem paradoxical as I am so much concerned about transcendental experience; I am more inclined to believe in duration of life, that is life as a different state of life itself - not what we can commonly accept as an after-life life - and here I have to rely on an analogy: water basically is water but it can exist in three different states as water, ice and water vapor. In the same wise I can say that life basically is life but as such it is not confined to the single state which is our common experience; when ice melts away it returns to the watery state and the same is true when water vapor condense; the only difference and main difficulty concerning life is that I do not know, nor have the means or the power to know, how differently life can manifest itself on planes to us unknown and unperceptible to our experience and if somehow I try to rationalize this way of thinking I end up in a vicious circle which either strips or adds to my to my three-dimensional world getting me nowhere for even fantasy has a well defined limit it being confined to our earthly experience.
Hence I am, therefore I think is a doubtless state as a doubtless state will be I am not anymore (as a living physical frame) hence I do not think anymore lacking the necessary thriving thinking and supporting machinery, a dead CPU compassionately disposed of in the soil by those we cherished most or jarred by some outstanding researcher looking for the substratum of the soul. Also, my life experience is somehow fully encoded in my thriving thinking and supporting machinery and there is no way for me to say whether it is encoded also in some other media unknown to us which we label as transcendental just to avoid doom, utter extinction.
Maybe the tick which lived in an apparently time suspension state, in a time when there was no time, knew better.
"THE MADMAN - Have you not heard of that madman who lit a lantern in the bright morning hours, ran to the market place, and cried incessantly, "I seek God! I seek God!" As many of those who do not believe in God were standing around just then, he provoked much laughter. Why, did he get lost? said one. Did he lose his way like a child? said another. Or is he hiding? Is he afraid of us? Has he gone on a voyage? or emigrated? Thus they yelled and laughed. The madman jumped into their midst and pierced them with his glances.
Whither is God" he cried " I shall tell you. We have killed him - you and I. All of us are his murderers. But how have we done this? How were we able to drink up the sea? Who gave us the sponge to wipe away the entire horizon? What did we do when we unchained this earth from the sun? Wither is it moving now? Whither are we moving now? Away from all suns? Are we not plunging continually? Backward, sideward, forward, in all directions? Is there any up or down left? Are we not straying as through an infinite nothing? Do we not feel the breath of empty space? Has it not become colder? Is not night and more night coming on all the while? Must not lanterns be lit in the morning? Do we not hear anything yet of the noise of the gravediggers who are burying God? Do we not smell anything yet of God’s decomposition? Gods too decompose. God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. How shall we, the murderers of all murderers, confort ourselves? What was holiest and most powerful of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives. Who will wipe this blood from us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must not we ourselves become gods simply to seem worthy of it? There has never been a greater deed; and whoever will be born after us - for the sake of this deed he will be part of a higher history than all history hitherto."
Here the madman fell silent and looked again at his listeners, and they too were silent and stared at him in astonishment. At last he threw his lantern on the ground, and it broke and went out. "I come too early," he said then; "my time has not come yet. This tremendous event is still on its way, still wandering - it has not yet reached the ears of man. Lightning and thunder require time, the light of the stars requires time, deeds require time even after they are done, before they can be seen or heard. This deed is still more distant from them than the most distant stars - and yet they have done it themselves."
It has been related further that on the same day the madman entered diverse churches and there sang his requiem aeternam deo. Led out and called to account, he is said to have replied each time, "What are these churches now if they are not the tombs and sepulchers of God?" 6
The tick lives for a perceptual moment in time - it will never kill God - "the tick has ‘faith’ even though it lacks a sense of taste"; 7 we live in a perceptual time continuum; we think, rationalize, seek causes for events - it had to come to pass, we had to kill God. We read the writings of the ancients and see that God used to speak to man very often; we read the books of the modern and there we read that the voice of God is none other than an hallucination in one hemisphere of the brain which the opposite hemisphere takes for granted as truly being the voice of God 8 - the ancients were all schizophrenics, from the lowliest to the highest - from the humble believer to the mighty revealer. We, on the other hand have become more self-conscious and have thus overcome our inborn schizophrenic limitations, the increased power of reasoning built upon a millenary historical background has placed us on a pedestal higher than God’s Himself - we are not blind like the tick, from our perch we can see wide horizons and explore them. Who, but the weaklings, need God anymore?
Furthermore, "God cannot be on our side if He is dead". 9
But, are we really so far removed from the tick? Provided it is of the right temperature, the tick will drink any fluid ("the ‘faith’ of certain ticks was not rewarded, for they were presented with warm bladders filled with neutral water, or destroying acid, and they drank deeply and mistakenly in their faith") 10 ... provided it is of the right appeal, man’s psyche will absorb any idiocy befitting him at the moment ... who, but the weaklings, need God anymore?
Yet, "It is not God who id dead. It is we who are only half alive. But the effect is essentially the same. We are cut off." 11
Notes to chapter 5
1 - John N. Bleibtreu. The Parable of the Beast. pp. 15-16, sic. London. Paladin Books. 1970.
2 - Khalil Gibran. The Prophet. p. 71. London. William Heinemann Ltd. 1971.
3 - L. C. Casartelli, in A Volume of Oriental Studies - presented to Edward G. Browne. p. 127. Amsterdam. Philo Press. 1973.
4 - The Bhagavad Gita. Transl. Juan Mascaro’. Middlesex. Penguin Books. 1962.
In the translation by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada we read: " The mind is the friend of the conditioned soul, and his enemy as well." The Bhagavad Gita as it is. Vaduz, Lichestein. The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, reg. 1983.
5 - Miguel De Unamuno. The Tragic Sense of Life. p. 179. London. The Fontana Library - Theology and Philosophy. 1962.
6 - The Portable Nietzche. Selected and translated by Walter Kaufman. pp. 95-96, sic. New York. The Viking Press. 1964.
7 - John N. Bleibtreu. Op. cit. p. 20.
8 - See: Julian Jaynes. The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind. Boston. Houghton Miffin Company paperback. 1982.
9 - Jack D. Douglas. The Sociology of Deviance. p. 165. Newton, Ma. Allyn and Bacon. 1984.
10 - John N. Bleibtreu. Op. cit. p. 20.
11 - P. W. Martin. Experiment in Depth. Routledge & Kegan Paul. London.1967.
Chapter 1 The Mind
Chapter 2 The Image
Chapter 3 The Domain
Chapter 4 Rational and Irrational
Chapter 5 The Rational Being
Chapter 6 Symbols
Chapter 7 The Bi-dimensional Being
Chapter 8 Memories of the future