B. T. A. I. M. (Be That as It May)
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B. T. A. I. M.
Document: 9, February 4, 1982
Copyright (c) Jan Cox 1982
Contemporary man commonly accepts that “psychological problems” derive from each individual’s past; this broad explanation of behavior is so widely accepted that nobody at Line-Level even questions whether or not it’s true. But you who are determined to struggle above any Life-imposed limit must learn how to scrutinize all assumptions, to See the basis of ordinary assumptions, and to grow beyond them.
Attempt right now to weigh the notion of “psychological problems” by taking a brand-new look at each person’s growth from infancy: at birth, you’re a physical entity, and no more. As the nervous system develops, you display an emotional and social response to Life. But this “new capacity” is inextricably tied to the body. And as each nervous system continues to develop through childhood, apparently separate physical, emotional, and intellectual responses to Life can be observed. Ordinary people picture the physical body as somehow containing these other two, as if they were strange, nonphysical gases floating around in a primitive medium.
As reasonable as that accepted reality may seem, I tell you as simply and directly as possible that when the nervous system is activated to utter the word, “I”, you have witnessed a physical process. The growth of the nervous system culminating in the word “I” is the highest mechanical state of man and is the end product of an absolutely physical process.
This tripartite development repeats itself within the upper end of the nervous system, as shown in my diagram. Now you should be able to See that the repetition of the lower nervous system explains how so-called psychological problems, personality peculiarities, can be seen as aspects of physical functioning, rather than the result of others’ behavior. A person’s mechanical behavior can be said to derive from the past only insofar as that past may be presently active in the nervous system.
It is commonplace among the civilized, including each of you, to assume that personality is the result of purely psychological influences. Attempt to Consider — with this map — that personality develops simplistically from a lower level. Physical influences in childhood make indentations on the lower part of the spine. These impacts, these lumps on the spine itself, translate at the upper end of the nervous system into the peculiarities of a man’s personality.
The shy, frightened person, who walks with a hunched back, does not surprise you when he responds in a soft voice; he can’t even look you in the eye — and no one expects otherwise. This behavior is not the result of some childhood trauma, but rather it results from how the actual nervous system became activated electrochemically. The resultant lumps in your spine, as I call them, are not necessarily caused by physical abuse; these “lumps” are, in a broader sense, each system’s idiosyncratic response to activation-in-Life. And these lumps are, for all practical purposes, unchangeable: you can no more make a shy dog aggressive than you can make a shy person sell used cars. Similarly, each nervous system mechanically develops its own sense of time in the upper end of the system, below Line-Level consciousness. In other words, your sense of time results from the electrochemical responses to growth-in-Life. Even the ordinary are crudely aware that different temporal sensations are available: a minute during oral surgery does not equal a minute during sex. But who can See that each individual nervous system has its own sense of time? And further: in that physically developed sense of time is each person’s eternity.
Ordinary time exists physically in the upper story of each ordinary, Life-produced human nervous system. But the sensation of time is not limited to what you “think.” It cannot be, because whatever exists in the wiring in the upper part of the nervous system is a reproduction of how the system became activated at purely physical levels. Thus, depending on exactly how each person’s nervous system developed functionally, that nervous system feels time from top to bottom. And the translation — the reproduction — of the whole nervous system at the highest mechanical level is each person’s eternity.
Consider that psychiatry is part of the game itself: it cannot be allowed to do that which is its stated purpose — to go back into the past and to somehow undo this hoary yesterday, this world of childhood traumas. If psychiatry could somehow undo what appears to be a psychological problem, it would in fact undo the person and produce a blank nervous system.
Previously I’ve stated directly that you cannot expand Vertically and have a past; that what happened at the lower end was irrelevant. I am asking you to Consider: could you go back? And if you could travel back down your own spine, would it somehow be profitable?
If any nervous system is predetermined in length, it cannot be extended. The nervous system of man, unique among creatures on this planet, is literally unfinished. All other creatures quickly develop a nervous system to a preordained limit, and the species never changes — except to become extinct when its function is no longer necessary. But man’s open-ended system accounts for the continuing, abiding, intrinsic desire manifested as people seeking what seems to be new in Life. The woman wanting a new dress, the man shopping for a fancy car, are not somehow “wasting time.” This search for the new represents the undefined, unexamined, knowledge of and desire for change. But those examples only weakly reflect the entire, open-ended species. And, of course, an individual man in his life will not change; although each person feels this thirst for change, no individual knows how to directly expand his own nervous system. And that is the elusive Real change of which all people dream. All that’s ordinarily possible is to rearrange the materials already extant below the Line. Each individual is like a child on the floor playing with building blocks — he can keep turning them over, spelling new words, but he’s still on the floor, and he’s still playing with the same blocks.
Here’s an instance of this desire for change present in all men: commonly denounced by would-be religious groups, it’s the “egotistical drive” to become famous, to become a recognizable personality. (Even some of my words could have been mistaken for a denunciation of someone thus involved in a fruitless quest.) Listen fast if you are to keep the energy from falling into the same places.
Fame is harmonious with the mechanical desire to grow. When someone really reaches a certain level of fame, it’s almost as if he’s produced another person. Someone writes a book, and suddenly he’s recognized by strangers on the street. There is a distinct feel to this recognition. And famous people have a non-examined awareness that, for all their fame, it’s not really theirs. It’s as if a “new person” has somehow sprouted. They feel, “I have to put on this act when I’m out being famous, and when someone says, ‘Hey, I know you, you’re famous,’ I have to become this famous thing.”
Though from one viewpoint the thirst for fame could be denounced, it is quite natural, and everyone feels this longing to some degree. Although becoming famous does nothing objectively profitable for the Vertical extension of any individual nervous system, the desire for fame is an aspect of the desire for change, since the least little success with this pursuit gives a mechanical sensation that “I have grown.” The sensation that you have grown into something else is way out of proportion to the mechanical effort spent in achieving the level of fame. In fact, the sensation of fame is not only that the person has grown, changed, but that he has almost produced a brand-new person.
Consider the operation of the nervous system now in the case of what happens when you become physically ill. For example, if you have the flu, you experience loss of your various capacities. When “it” (the nervous system) gets sick, this system in a sense reverses the process of its activation. Suppose one morning as soon as you get out of bed you realize, “I’ve got the flu.” Although you knew it was inching up on you, now, “all of a sudden,” you’re stuck in bed. Consider: what gets sick? Where do you feel it first?
As you remain sick for a day or two — fully aware it’s temporary — the lower end of the spine has to drag energy down from somewhere. It starts by draining your “emotional” energy. You don’t wallow in ordinary negative emotion now; nor are you in any way elated or even happy. You just “don’t feel.” Suppose you hear a news report stating that a foreign power has war planes headed towards our shore. You think, “Aw, the news is on all the time.” You don’t react with your normal concern. If the illness gets worse you will reach a point where you can hardly function. You drag yourself to the bathroom; after that it occurs to you to heat some soup. In the kitchen you open the cabinet, and you reach up, and look — there’s your hand, there’s your body and face looking up, and you can’t remember why you opened the cabinet door. The ordinary mental capacity almost vanishes.
Remember that all my examples serve a purpose beyond whatever immediate information they may contain. And this example of what transpires during any ordinary, temporary illness should direct your fertile minds to Consider the optimal operation of your entire nervous system. Can you See from this example how necessary it is for your lower nervous system to function as efficiently as a machine — almost by itself — if you are to stand even a chance of extending the upper end of that same nervous system?
Here’s another example leading to the same understanding for anyone with an Aim. Suppose you’re on a train, with an important destination. What if the train continues to stop in every hamlet for refueling? What if the train needs a tune-up every half hour? If you approach the destination with any urgency, you cannot possibly be satisfied with explanations such as, “Yeah, I knew it ran on diesel fuel, but gosh, I just wanted to try peanut butter…”
The point is simple: you must operate your own nervous system so that the lower portion, the physical body, nearly looks after itself. You feed it what it needs for health and locomotion. You exercise it so that it’s highly functional. And then you apply the F.A.T. theorem. Or, you can apply a new acronym: the L.A.Y. system: Look After Yourself. Because YOU are too busy growing in a brand-new direction to continually fuss with a fairly ideal mechanical system. You’ll then find that it — the lower nervous system — DOES afford you that freedom; it does look after itself. And you’re free to explore the unknown.
It’s not too hard to get people to appreciate, theoretically at least, that you have to get past being sick. Then, though, you have to get past what passes for ordinary human emotions, starting with hostility. But you cannot be engaged with what passes for positive emotions either, such as mechanical sympathy or compassion. This is not an attack on religions. It is not an attack on real emotions. Under ordinary circumstances you are not compassionate. You can yell that you’re compassionate, you can beat up people who say you are not compassionate. But “compassion” simply does not exist mechanically in anyone’s wiring. Dreams of compassion have filtered down from the open end of the nervous system. But they were dreams of what might lie beyond the Line. Imagining, “I’m doing charitable works; I read religious books every night,” is simply wasted energy taking form in words at Line-Level. This energy must not be diverted in this way; it can rise to the highest point possible — and if there’s to be any possibility of that happening at all, someone must spend a fairly large portion of his life tricking you to the point where it does happen.
I now conclude (ha-ha) with one of my famous acronyms for your continuing consideration. It’s the umbrella above the F.A.T. and L.A.Y. theorems: B.T.A.I.M., which is Be That As It May. Just remember — B.T.A.I.M. covers all contingencies.