"Illumination ... the inspiration, enlightenment and liberation resulting from success with these [Gnosis] methods."
Pete Carroll, Liber Null
Illumination is the much-desired goal for which many thousands of people worldwide, have employed different pyschotechnologies, and developed their own psychocosms. Illumination has also been linked with the use of LSD & similar drugs, and perhaps most mysteriously of all, it can occurr seemingly spontaenously, to people who have no knowledge or expectation of it.
What characterises an experience of illumination? Nona Coxhead, a researcher into "Bliss states" lists some of the prevalent factors as:
1. unity - a fading of the self-other divide
2. transcendence of space & time as barriers to experience
3. positive sensations
4. a sense of the numinous
5. a sense of certitude - the "realness" of the experience
6. paradoxical insights
7. transcience - the experience does not last
In neurological terms, such experiences represent a reorganising of activity in the brain as a whole system. The loss of ego boundary and involvement of all senses suggests that the Reticular Formation is being influenced so that the brain processes which normally convey a sense of being rooted in spacetime are momentarily inhibited. The "floating" sensation often associated with astral projection and other such phenomena suggests that the Limbic system of the brain stem (which processes proprioceptive information about the body's location in space) is also acting in an unusual mode.
What are the fruits of this experience - the insights, perceptions and messages brought back down to earth by the illuminate? Evolution of consciousness, by such means, could well be an important survival program - a way of going beyond the information given - a way of learning how to modify the human biosystem via the environment. Ilya Prigognine's theory of "dissipative structures" shows how the very instability of open systems allows them to be self-transforming. The basis of this idea is that the movement of energy through a system causes
Phil Hine fluctuations within it. These fluctuations, if they reach a critical level (i.e. a catastrophe cusp point) develop novel interactions, until a new whole is produced. The system then reorganises itself into a new "higher order" which is more integrated than the previous system, and requires a greater amount of energy to maintain itself, and is further disposed to future transformation. This can equally apply to neurological evolution, using a psychtechnology (ancient or modern) as the tool for change. The core stages of the process appear to be:
5. predisposition to further change.
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