MIND FREEDOM, MIND BEAUTY
By Jon Rappoport
September 27, 2012
Official science doesn’t really care about your experience or perception. It cares about its own paradigm.
That paradigm, in order to work, excludes your subjective knowledge.
Two basic questions are eliminated from scientific exploration: what is freedom and what is mind?
A strange embrace among the fields of psychology, psychiatry, and academic philosophy has blocked an understanding of the mind.
Prior to 1970, the discipline of psychology considered several interesting models of mind. Then, psychiatry, struggling to survive in the face of declining public interest, hatched a staggering deal with the pharmaceutical empire.
Drug companies would bankroll the profession of psychiatry as never before. Conferences, research grants, journals, professorships, advertising, PR—money would pour in.
On their part, psychiatric researchers would be obliged to publish studies that “proved” all mental disorders stemmed from chemical imbalances in the brain; these imbalances could be remedied by new drugs. Naturally, Pharma would develop and sell such drugs.
From that moment on, adventurous theories about mind went begging. As far as “science” was concerned, mind was nothing more than the brain. A severely limited materialist view of human life moved solidly to center stage.
It was soon bolstered by a new generation of computer devotees, who assumed that mind was merely an apparatus that functioned on the basis of hardware/software applications—and any notions of individual freedom were possibly delusions “built into the equipment” or bugs that needed to be found and scrubbed away.
It was assumed that only “professionals” had the necessary tools to investigate the mind, and anything a layperson might discover or say about the subject was as important as a street sweeper speculating on nuclear physics.
As a student of philosophy at Amherst College in the late 1950s, I was exposed to a series of sophistries that attempted to skirt the whole question of individual freedom, substituting instead two major premises:
Human beings could only know what they could see with their eyes and measure; it was permissible to continue talking about freedom as if it existed, but this permission was simply an acknowledgment that language consisted of all sorts of quirky habits, and it might be useful to catalog those quirks, like sub-species of butterflies, as long as one didn’t take their meaning seriously.
I wasn’t pleased by either of these admonitions. I’d entered the field of philosophy because I felt freedom was a vital thing, and I sensed it was being attacked on many fronts.
As I wended my way through college, I became aware of the odd fact that, while the philosophy department was doing all it could to avoid squarely facing the issue of individual freedom, the political science department was assigning students original-source material on the founding of the American Republic.
This material (the Declaration, the Constitution, the Federalist Papers), of course, was deeply engaged in establishing freedom as an incontrovertible principle.
When I inquired about the obvious contradiction at the College, I was told it was “one of those inter-departmental differences” that was unavoidable. After all, what should political scientists do? Teach nothing about freedom?
As a young and inexperienced student, 50-plus years ago, I thought perhaps a professor in the psychology department might be able to clear up the confusion.
A practicing therapist on campus fielded my questions and said, “Freedom really isn’t our issue. We want to understand how the mind operates.” He went on to say that the goal of therapy was “happiness and adjustment.”
That pretty much ended my adventure of learning in college. Fortunately, life isn’t college.
Three years after I left Amherst, I was living in Los Angeles, and I had a small studio where I was painting. One night (and I can see this very clearly), I was sitting at my table. There was a piece of blank paper in front of me. To my left, there was a box of oil crayons. I was looking at the sheet of paper, wondering what I might draw on it, when suddenly, and for no discernible reason, I knew that I had the freedom to draw anything.
Sounds silly. But this was not an intellectual observation. Of course I or anyone else can draw anything. That isn’t news. No, this was something much deeper and more expansive. It was as if some interior space, in my mind, a space I’d never realized existed before, made its presence known. And the essence and core of that space was freedom. Was liberation. Was an unbounded and direct knowing about freedom. That space imparted to me one of the most immediate feelings of freedom I’ve ever had. It was luxurious and adventurous and intensely exhilarating. And it came out of nowhere.
The feeling lasted for about a minute, and then it slowly faded away. Ever since that moment, I’ve remembered that, whenever politicians or their allies are obviously trying to discount or dump freedom, when they are trying to sell some substitute, when they are raising some phony banner under which we’re all supposed to march toward our collective destiny…I’ve remembered that freedom is REAL and it has to be defended. To do otherwise would betray a fantastic quality of the space we call Mind.
I’ve also known that freedom isn’t just an effect of a cause, like one billiard ball moving into a pocket after being hit by another ball; it isn’t one electron being kicked by another electron. If freedom can be said to be anywhere, it’s behind all the cause-and-effect activity of matter and energy. Freedom isn’t just another event in a long chain of events; it’s free.
Obviously, I don’t know what your experience of freedom has been. But I’d be willing to bet that, as a child, you had moments and even hours where, perhaps, playing in a field or on the street, you realized you were free and alive and something apart from any restricted, pinched, limited existence.
The feelings you felt were enormous and ecstatic. You understood, at a level no one could challenge, what life was about.
And yet, this is nowhere reflected in the approved studies of psychiatry, psychology, or academic philosophy. It’s discounted as “anecdotal” and spurious and even delusional.
Having a tremendous and stunning experience of freedom might qualify you for psychiatric help. It appears we’re heading in that direction.
These days, many mainstream brain researchers will insist that freedom is nothing more than a “thought generated by brain activity,” no more important than any other thought.
If you’re looking to explain how technocrats can possibly envision a world in which humans are only cogs in a machine, you’ve found the answer. These scientists refuse to admit that freedom is real. As bizarre as this sounds, it’s true. To them we’re all already cogs in a machine. They just want to change the arrangement, the configuration of parts.
You see, and this is where philosophy pokes its head into the fray, to say that freedom is real is to acknowledge that it lies beyond all formulations and theories of cause and effect. And such a confession would torpedo the authoritarian and privileged status of modern science.
No, you say, this couldn’t be true, everybody knows that freedom exists. Everybody knows that you can choose A or B. You can make decisions about your future. I’m sorry to say, not everybody knows this—and the disturbing thing is, the people who are doing the most advanced research on the brain, the kind of research that could shape and fence in our future world, quite definitely do not know freedom exists.
Freedom and “mind independent of the brain” are, to them, maddening little questions they want to get rid of. They want to sweep them under the carpet. They want to chart and map every possible action of the brain and then, inevitably, make those changes in it they deem proper “for the good of All.”
So, first on the list of things I would recommend is, take inventory of your own experience. Remember moments when, beyond your normal level of daily consciousness, you experienced freedom directly and powerfully. No filters. No intellectual assumptions. Just undeniable encounters.
Why? Because you need to know what you are defending when you defend freedom against attack. Yes, freedom is the right to choose your life. Yes, it’s the right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure. Yes, it’s all those assertions in the Bill of Rights. Yes, the Constitution delineates what the central government can and can’t do. Yes, we know that. But then there is YOU. There is your existence. There is your experience of freedom. Those times, those moments when you felt it so strongly you were thrilled to your core to be alive.
That is natural freedom. That is mind freedom. That is why the founding documents of the Republic have any meaning. They flow from something that is already there, in each one of us. A potential that is already there.
And if you forget that, you defend freedom for an incomplete reason.
I knew a man in his late forties whose life was a complete mess. This was a man you wouldn’t want to be around. He somehow managed to turn every conversation and situation in his life into an unsolvable problem. He annoyed everyone he came into contact with. He was one of those “difficult people,” and his life was falling apart at the seams. He couldn’t hold a job for more than a few months. His bosses would fire him for any reason they could. Anything to get him out the door. He was a classic self-created victim.
In an act of desperation, he went on a vegetarian diet, without really believing it would do any good. It didn’t. He persisted for a month or two, and then he scraped together enough money to go to a spa where he could stay for two weeks and do yoga and fast on fruits and vegetables.
In his second week at the spa, he was walking from yoga class to his room, and suddenly, as he told me, he “felt his body was well-oiled and elastic.” He felt as if he were 10 years old again, on summer vacation from school, with unbounded possibilities stretching out in front of him.
In a matter of moments, his entire framework of unending complaints vanished without a trace. It left no residue in its wake. He could clearly contemplate what he most wanted to do with his life, and he could see his way to achieving it. His sense of grappling with a bottomless inscrutable problem was gone.
This feeling lasted a few days. But even after it dissolved, he was positioned in a new way. He dropped his “whole act,” as he put it. He went on to launch a career, and he made it a success.
A bookish woman in her 30s, who had never worked at a job she enjoyed, decided to sell cars. She got a job at a dealership in Southern California, and after a month she was coming up empty on sales. She saw no chance of breaking through.
Her manager pulled her into his office and suggested she try something a little easier. He helped get her a job in a large store selling home appliances.
Her first day at the store, she swore to herself she would do more to connect with prospective customers. She would treat them “as if they were real people,” she said. Forgetting about landing immediate sales, she made a herculean effort to “climb out of her cave” and chat with people in the store.
After two days, she felt a surge of energy, as if she’d come alive in a new way. For the first time in memory, she was relating to strangers.
The feeling lasted for a month, during which she incidentally racked up many sales. She described her state of mind as “completely open and free,” as if she’d cracked through a barrier.
She quit her job, enrolled at a college, and eventually got her degree in architecture.
I tell these stories because, in each case, the experience of freedom was intense and life-changing, and because the people came to it in radically different ways.
It can be drawn out of hiding. It can be felt beyond any structure or pattern, and it most certainly doesn’t depend on permission granted by a government or Official Science.
One can’t explain these experiences by citing specific brain activity. Freedom isn’t a brain phenomenon. It isn’t a delusion. One might say the reverse: everything except freedom is a delusion or the result of oppression.
People tend to believe the mind is either a trap or a “device” for thinking. It can certainly be those things, but it is also a gateway into freedom.
Mind is a kind of space dotted with familiar outposts we visit. Each outpost is a collection of feelings, ideas, preferences, and aversions. We move from one outpost to another, looking for a way out, a way to go beyond our present state.
Then, something unforeseen happens. On our way to a particular outpost for the thousandth time, we make a detour, and we arrive at a spot that contains of none of those feelings, ideas, preferences, or aversions. Instead, we are in a gorgeously empty place. And being there, we experience a joy that expands. We experience ourselves in a natural state.
We know we are free.
Everyone is entitled and equipped to explore what this means because, after all, we aren’t simply talking about a generalized notion; we’re talking about intimate knowledge of what we are.
This is not the province of science. It’s the wide open territory of self. It’s more real than real.
We can become discouraged. We can become cynical. We can lower our expectations and options. But we can’t ultimately avoid what we are. Coming to grips with that is our destiny, as much as motion is the destiny of the body.
The elites who, increasingly, run this planet long ago abandoned any search for their own freedom as individuals. They falsely believe they’re already there. That’s what they keep telling themselves, and that’s why they feel compelled to control everything they can. Control is a substitute for freedom. It’s a false card in the deck. It’s the iron mask that hides the truth. It’s a drug that can induce amnesia about the existence of freedom. It’s the ultimate expression of self-denial.
Before psychiatry, brain research, and pharmaceutical empire-building crowded out truly independent research on the mind, there were two great 20th-century psychologists. They both understood freedom and sought it with stunning intensity. Wilhelm Reich, a breakaway student of Freud, was arrested and put in jail, where he died. JL Moreno, the founder of Psychodrama, was largely ignored by the Freudians coming into power.
In his autobiography, Moreno recounts a 1912 encounter: “I attended one of Freud’s lectures…As the students filed out, he singled me out from the crowd and asked me what I was doing. I responded, ‘Well, Dr. Freud, I start where you leave off…You analyze [patients’] dreams. I give them the courage to dream again…’”
The dream is about freedom. Experiencing it. Creating a life from it.
Taking instructional cues from media about what emotions we are supposed to invest and project into images (mass mind control), we discover that the list of emotions is rather short. It’s stunted. Not only are we supposed to respond with these feelings, we’re all taught we have to “share” them. If we don’t, we’re looked at as strange, as outsiders.
But when we experience freedom directly, we immediately realize such feelings are misplaced. They’re props in a bad play. What we feel when we are standing in the middle of our own freedom is beyond labels. It’s another level of mind. Perhaps it’s beyond mind entirely.
In the old stories of Zen masters, we find teachers who put irrational pressures on students until the “catalog of familiar emotional outposts” in their minds blew apart. At that moment, the students experienced “satori,” which roughly means “seeing into one’s true nature.”
What is that nature? Is it a particular thing, a prior established thing…or is it really freedom?
If it’s freedom, then the world suddenly appears as unending possibility.
Isn’t that what we really want? Isn’t that part and parcel of what we remember, when we reflect on past moments when we felt truly alive?
There is nothing esoteric about this. It is stripping off a layer of fabricated synthetic substance, and finding underneath the ecstatic energy that was always there, waiting for us to return from our long strange trip.
Our nature is to be free.
The author of an explosive collection, THE MATRIX REVEALED, Jon was a candidate for a US Congressional seat in the 29th District of California. Nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, he has worked as an investigative reporter for 30 years, writing articles on politics, medicine, and health for CBS Healthwatch, LA Weekly, Spin Magazine, Stern, and other newspapers and magazines in the US and Europe. Jon has delivered lectures and seminars on global politics, health, logic, and creative power to audiences around the world.