Yireh Satan

Some months ago I read Julian Jaynes: Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind. Jaynes maintains that until about 1000 BC most people were not conscious, except as an animal is, i.e. of current sensation with some reflexes hooked in. Instead we had hallucinations in our right brain which spoke via the anterior commissuary into the sound-processing parts of the left brain, giving us orders. Originally these hallucinations were of the primate troop leader, culturally evolving into the gods of the pre-classical religions. I have made a list of objections to this thesis, but Jaynes describes it so well that most of those you will think of on reading the above description hardly arise, and there is definitely something valuable in it.
The old gods broke down when continuing civilization became so complex that conscious thought was required, but “voices which had to be obeyed were the absolute prerequisite to the conscious state of mind in which it is the self that is responsible…we have become our own gods”(Bk 1 Ch-3 §4.14 s.3, 4). This at once rang a bell and, after fruitless searching in the (bethieved) libraries of the neighborhood, I hied me to a vihara to identify that bell. Sure enough: “It is only when the Tathagata attains and is abiding in the animitta Concentration of Mind… that the Tathagata’s body is at real ease and comfort. Therefore, Ananda, let yourselves be your own firm support, and let yourselves, and not anyone or anything else, be your refuge; let the Dharma be your firm support, and let the Dharma and not anything else, be your refuge”(Mahaparanirvanasutra §165(in Maha Vagga in Sutra Pitaka)).The mind is animitta (perhaps animitra in Sanskrit, I do not know) when it disregards signs of phenomena, i.e. when we are consciously thinking and so our own firm support, not using either the hallucinatory instructions from the right brain. This was spoken ca. 600 BC, when the old gods of India were becoming memories we still tried to make speak.
Somewhat earlier Abraham went through the same change (Gn 22:1-14). First the gods (“ha elohim”, v. 1) in his right brain, like that in the other people of that time and place, ordered him to sacrifice his son; we need not worry here just how such gods had evolved. Then Yahweh, God of the conscious, not merely reasoning but logical (logic is to reason as morality is to behavior) mind, located in the left brain, told him such action was neither necessary nor desirable.
In both these scriptural stories we can see the transition from a reactive, emotional, unthinking religion to one which thinks things out, covers the bases and knows why it must obey God or the Dharma. The place where Abraham saw what was right and what wrong he named Yireh Yahweh, i.e. “Yahweh sees”, or “Yahweh will see” (Semitic tenses are not ours). Sight is the least deceptive of the senses, and both Buddhism and the Tradition of Abraham are religions of the conscious mind, although nominal adherents of both may slip back into reactive declarations, nowadays rarely fully hallucinatory. We seek in religion a formula that will bring us final security and lasting happiness; what we find in the thinking religions is personal and limitless potential (George Leonard: Here and Now, quoted in Universe 1993.09.12 p. 23).
This is not to say that the older religions are totally illogical, nor that even newer ones will be more logical. Brahmoism, for instance, deliberately tries to give Hinduism the systematization and consciousness noticed in Christianity. On the other hand, a modern secular inhumanist, Ian Dunbar of Culcheth in Warrington, writes “When it is a matter of your most intimate nature and the values attaching to it, the bones, that is, an inner intuition, is the right source…it is rational to have faith in the values of secular ethics, and irrational to have faith in the supernatural beliefs of religions” (Guardian 1994.01.08 p.24). The religions he means are primarily those of the Tradition of Abraham, which attempt to be thought-out, even being logical about morality, something Dunbar refuses to be. Contrast Dunbar with Anthony Burgess when asked whether he was grateful for being a Catholic: “It has taught me to think logically” (Mundo, quoted in Guardian 1993.11.26 G2 p.7).
Dunbar does not explicitly worship any gods, or follow a logical (as opposed to merely rational, or at least so he claims) dharma. But many people do, or at least try to find “final security” in worship parallel to his morality. This is dangerous.
The new religions were aware of the relics of the old ones. The children of Israel destroyed the idols which might wake the old hallucinatory gods. They killed the dangerous people to whom the old gods still spoke, as being possessed of unclean spirits. Anyone who has been troubled with engrams or other recognizable badness erupting into the conscious mind will share the wish to kill such unclean spirits, and a few, alas, do even kill themselves. In a very few cases, this may even be the right thing to do, though I very much doubt it. We often hypothesize such spirits to be devils or Anti-Gods, which hypothesis can be logically extended to the theory that apparitions of the heathen gods are works of Anti-God, explaining neatly why the possessed speak as the old gods did, and see their unclean spirits in the form of the old gods. Sometimes the same danger arises even when the old gods are largely forgotten, except as fairy tales, and then, if we happen to use images of holy people and objects, those same images may arise to hinder our progress in thought-out religion. That is why contemplative prayer should always be preceded by discursive prayer and meditation – an important caveat for some modern meditation teachers. When the Zen Buddhist says “Kill the Buddha!” he is warning against the danger of an image occupying our minds as a hallucination.
The cult of the right brain is dangerous in another way, too. I once knew an EdD with the conversation of a moron. I estimate his effective IQ at about 90. Even the sloppiest universities do not award doctorates to such people, so he must have become stupid after his orals. One characteristic of his moronicity was his tremendous difficulty in making comparisons between parallel situations and activities – for instance, I once heard him floundering uselessly in a conversation about parallelisms of two kinds of racialism, with one of which he was supposed to be well acquainted. Also, he could not see the value and necessity of systematic coverage of possibilities in planning – only the results he was interested in should be thought about. Both these phenomena are typical of the right-brain-dominated mind, and it is fairly obvious that he had allowed his intuition to dominate his thought.
It so happens that this man is quite evil. After seeing him engage in sustained and quite pointless evil I concluded that he was a Satanist. So I had better tell you what I mean by Satanist. I do not mean some fool with a half-baked religion including a deity arbitrarily named “Satan”. A Satanist is someone who believes that there exists a God roughly like Abraham’s Yahweh; that this God is good and a criterion and source of goodness, again much as Abraham’s Yahweh; that there exists a person evil in being opposed to this good God, not merely in seeking a subordinate good, which is the usual human reason for evil: who chooses to serve this Anti-God. It took me a long time to figure out that this man was in this sense a Satanist, and I have never before or since recognized such a thing. Is it not likely that his Anti-God resides in his right brain as a hallucination, giving him instructions which he follows, just as the gods of ancient times resided in our brains ready to talk at moments of crisis(as in the Iliad)? I can explain this exemplar of stupidity and evil by supposing that in his thirties he started worship of an Anti-God which, in return for the security of an ever-ready answer without much effort, demanded the suspension of conscious reasoning. If the real Satan, supposing there to be one, ever appears before this worshipper, of course, he will not be able to give him complicated instructions because of the servility to the hallucinatory one and the consequent inability to grasp complex situations or sets of instructions. But I suspect that some mediaeval people convicted of Satanism may well have been in similar situations (although, of course, the Cautio makes it plain that judicial incompetence explains a very much higher proportion of convictions).
This man worshipped a right-brain hallucination, but many people exhort us to obey impulses only slightly less verbal. The New Age people often tell us to “get in touch with” our right brain, whereas we should be trying to train it. That way it will give us the right, i.e. the true, answers. A man named, I think, Jeffries, at, CUNY, teaches of a distinction between “sun people”, superior on account of their emotional temperaments and intuitive thinking, and “ice people”, inferior because of their repressed feelings and addiction to bloodless rationality. I submit that there are in fact far too many “sun people” in the world, relying on emotional temperaments and intuitive thinking, which gives them contradictory instructions, so that they kill each other – think of opposing nationalists, who might in principle reach agreement on such a question as “how should humanity be politically subdivided?” if they approached it that way, but will always disagree because they have different intuitive answers which they refuse to examine.
Similarly, we know that the New Age people too often act like machines: if they don’t see anything, they simply assume nothing is there – they don’t poke and pry into dark corners, because they might find such enemies as decision structures in which their sure answers are alternatives and the less likely alternatives at that (cf. Gordon R. Dickson: Necromancer ch. 12 §3.16 s. 5.6). I understand that their would-be-scientific Biosphere II project failed to some extent because of failure in their plans, which did not cover possibilities systematically. Similarly, they ignore Gauquelin’s empirical astrology because it would force them to relearn what they believe they already know, even though something is here which one might expect to interest them intensely.
David Alton a few months ago told the story of a London school-boy who, assigned to investigate astrology, became a Satanist. Now, why should the correlation of astronomical and psychological phenomena lead anyone to worship an Anti-God? I suspect that Alton may be talking of Satanism in a more woolly sense than that I define above, but the connection is presumably the aura of intuitionism in both activities as commonly practised. It is only the accident of differing starting images that makes Ian Dunbar a secular inhumanist rather than something like a New Ager quasi-Satanist.
The way forward for humanity is the way chosen by Gautama and Abraham, the way that gives us science rather than accidentally developed technology, limping along on economic necessity; the way that gives us a moral God (or Dharma) at least in principle derivable by reason and so consistent in government. This is the choice to emphasize the conscious mind rather than exalt subconscious and visceral functions. Obi-wan Kenobi told Luke Skywalker to trust the Force in himself, but such instruction is dangerous until that Force is trained by conscious discipline. I am frightened when I see Christians identifying the Star Wars Force with the Narnia Aslan: they are most definitely not the same. Some Fundamentalist Christians – and, perhaps, some of those Muslims unhistorically called “Fundamentalist” – are relapsing into the pre Abrahamic mindset, like the New Agers they oppose, and the Secular Inhumanists both fear.
There does obviously exist the danger of paying too little attention to the urgings of the intuitions from the right brain: I myself have lost from repression of urges at certain points, but that was because I was unsure of how well I had trained my verbal reflexes – I had had several bad results of speaking too soon. If I am to trust the force in myself I must train that force, inform my conscience – as the popes like to put it -, using reason to design the training. Then the intuition will serve the conscious mind by presenting wholes when the logic of the conscious mind would take a long time to get there. We guard against error in such reasoning by being ready to analyse the argument later and correct it where necessary, a psychedelic process (psychedelic drugs, of course, are not in practice psychedelic) familiar to us primarily from mathematical reasoning. It is a horrible coincidence, or perhaps it is not wholly a coincidence, that there is at present a rejection of proof among a minority of mathematicians, although perhaps not to the extent of the intuitive concept portrayed by the late 1993 Doonesbury scenes from Walden.
To upgrade our cultures we need more, not less, logic. We need to train ourselves in self-respect, banishing self-esteem, for otherwise, we know, we will bring bad luck on our society by the laws of probability. Virtue, liberty and logic are linked:

Since thy original lapse true liberty
Is lost, which always with right reason dwells
Twinned, and from her hath no dividual being;
Reason in man obscured, or not obeyed,
Immediately inordinate desires
And upstart passions catch the government
From reason, and to servitude reduce
Man till then free.

Thus Milton in Paradise Lost (12:83-90), condemning not only every sin but even more that tendency to sin which Dunbar and his like embrace. Where the spirit of Yahweh is, there is liberty, for there is right reason and virtue. And Yahweh is the God we discover with our conscious mind. When we throw, as we sometimes do, Yahweh out with the gods of the bicameral era, we saw away a bough we need. As Orwell says: “But there had been a little mistake. The thing at the bottom was not a bed of roses after all. It was a cesspool full of barbed wire”(Notes on the Way §3 in Time & Tide 1940.04.06). And right into that cesspool is where a lot of present-day trendies are trying to drop us. Yireh Satan.

Copyright 1994, John A. Wills

Wandering Thoughts on Homosexualism

Homophobia is hatred of homosexuality and homosexualism is love of homosexuality. As homosexuality is an improper concept, both these tendencies are intellectually unsound. Resting as they do on the same improper concept, they often grow and shrink together.

In mid-2001 I read in the San Francisco Chronicle that Egypt was having a crackdown on gays.  As background we were told that it is common for non-gay men in Egypt to walk hand in hand and make similar physical expressions of love, something that is simply not so in modern Christendom. But it seems to be so in Sa’udi Arabia, where perversion is punished even more severely than in Egypt, and in South Vietnam, where, I suppose, there is contempt for perversion, if not punishment. In April 2002 there was a big meeting of Arab leaders; the Sa’udi and Iraqi representatives, both male, kissed each other on the lips, something we would never see between same-sex leaders from Christian countries.

We can make a big leap and suppose that rampant homosexualism (involving but distinct from rampant perversion) in Christendom is the cause of this shyness in our culture, a shyness which some Moslem countries have avoided by greater strictness in state attitudes to pseudosexual activity. We have certainly had a tremendous wave of homosexualism, with a consequent increase in homophobia, since the 1960s, the most frightening (because most irrational) event being the 1973 denial by the American Psychiatric Association that homosexuality – here meaning sexual inversion – was a disorder, an absurdity now copied by a lot of learned bodies whose members certainly know better. An interesting example of the effects of homosexualism is to be found in Enid Blyton’s Noddy books: when they were first written, in the 1950s, Noddy when staying overnight with his friend Big-Ears was pictured sharing Big-Ears’ bed; in the revised editions of the 1980s and 1990s Noddy has a camp bed. The aversion to men holding hands seems to antedate the 1960s, of course, but the dying Nelson said “Kiss me, Hardy” (thus repelling generations of British schoolboys) so there has been a big change.

I hazard a guess that the homosexualism of the 1960s had been preceded by a lower-profile movement for a century or more. The occasional remarks I have come across in literature and history seem to indicate something of the sort. I think that Britain for a while in the 2nd half of the 19th Century punished same-sex mutual masturbation (legally known as “gross indecency”) with death (Queen Victoria is said to have denied the possibility of women doing such things, so that only men got it in the neck); this implies that there had been some increase in homophobia, presumably prompted by a significant increase in homosexualism, or at least in perversion.

We in modern Christendom find it difficult to imagine how different relationships might be in an environment with little or no homosexualism. As a consequence we sometimes come to ludicrous conclusions that certain men in the past, for example Shakespeare, were gay, whereas in reality what today might be evidence of gayness is in Shakespeare the result of a comparative lack of gays in his environment, and certainly lack of approval for their behavior. Again, John Boswell, reading descriptions of the now disused Byzantine liturgy for the reconciliation of friends who had quarreled spread the word that the Christian church had formerly celebrated gay weddings: as a result of the homosexualism of his environment, Boswell could not envisage deep non-erotic love between two people of the same sex – or perhaps between any two people.

I have the impression that same-sex physical signs of affection lasted longer in some parts of Christendom than in others; I think in fact that they lasted longer in Catholic countries than in Protestant ones; I have been told that non-gay Italian men still often hug and kiss in public. There are three possible reasons for this, and I suspect that all are true.

Firstly, Catholics are not so much given to homophobia as Protestants, being aware that we are all sinners, with many temptations to battle, and that sins against sexuality are not the ones to combat with the most effort socially (although they are very likely the most important ones to battle within most people’s souls in the search for holiness). Protestants are less tolerant of each other’s failings and more concerned with sins against sexuality than with other sins. Homophobia and homosexualism feed on each other, so Catholics also have less homosexualism.

Secondly, in another way, Protestants may be more tolerant of certain sins against sexuality. We noticed in the 20th Century that many Protestant groups publicly approved of contraception, as though ejaculating in a balloon were somehow less sinful than ejaculating in a rectum. Contraception goes back millennia, but there seems to have been a gradual increase starting some time after the Reformation, and it may have even then been condemned less by Protestants than by Catholics, although it was not until the early 20th Century that significant numbers of Protestant leaders publicly approved it. Furthermore, Protestants were already condoning remarriage after divorce, perhaps due in part to a misunderstanding of Mt 19:9, where Jesus says “here not upon fornication”, a divorce upon fornication being a separation when the couple were not really married, but where many Protestants understand “here not upon adultery”, i.e. unless one spouse has committed adultery. This doctrine is given in the Presbyterians’ Westminster Confession of Faith 24:5, although I do not think I am being malicious in supposing that personal problems of some of the framers may have been more important than an honest misunderstanding of the Gospel in the acceptance of this mistake.

The Mt 19:9 mistake of the Protestants broke the entire natural-law structure of sexual morality, leading to private and later publicly admitted contraception. I suggest that the same rupture led to other kinds of perversion in private, and self-kidding about it, firstly among Protestants and later elsewhere in Christendom.

Thirdly, Protestants have less monasticism. They often seem to fear the contemplative life. In WCF 22:7 the Presbyterians tell us what they think of celibate life – another sign of the proclivities of the framers? – and the Catholic attitude is quite different: marriage is a sacrament, an outward sign of inward grace, whereas the religious, particularly the contemplative, life is itself the grace, and so profession is not a sacrament. Catholics have a better idea than Protestants that varying lifestyles are legitimate, and so pause before condemning the gay lifestyle: they do condemn it, on clear moral grounds, but not merely because it is not their own way of life. Protestantism (and, in practice, Islam) thus tends to greater homophobia and so to greater homosexualism in response.

The Scottish Free Presbyterian Monthly rails against homosexualism, more homophobically than strictly morally, and also condemns the Catholic Church as the mystery of iniquity, refusing to notice implicit agreement with the (more measured) Catholic attitude towards perversion. The FPM does not realize that the Reformation it strives to defend is the origin of the perversion against which it rails.

The perversion which has increased may cover more than voluntary and semivoluntary mutual masturbation and contraception. During the early 1990s someone who had been a family-court magistrate during the 1950s wrote the Spectator a letter claiming that in over a decade of such work he had never come across an instance of erotic child abuse. He acknowledged that there might nowadays be greater willingness on the part of witnesses to mention such crime, but he was sure that he would have come across some instances unless the incidence had grown considerably in more recent times. We can make a guess, corrigible by relevant evidence, that the increase in homosexualism brought with it increased contempt for sexual dignity, with one result being a great increase in erotic child abuse and perhaps another an increase in mutual masturbation by two-sex couples – what is the incidence of fellatio and buggary in Victorian pornography? The infamous Victorian Walter, of course, describes the fun he had raping an eight-year-old girl, and I know there was child prostitution in much of north-west Europe in the late 18th Century – General Booth of the Salvation Army was instrumental in getting the age of “consent” raised.  But, whatever led to this abuse of children, it seems to have ceased by the 1950s.

Additionally, child abuse by clergy and other adults in special positions of trust may have increased since some point after World War II. It is possible, of course, that it was merely better hidden in the past, but I doubt that, for the following reason. Much of the complaint about clerical abuse is anti-Catholic complaint, although there seems to be at least as much in other denominations, from reports I have read about how psychologists see it. The abuse has given anti-Catholic propagandists a new weapon. But it is precisely a new weapon. Boccaccio in Decamerone mocks clergy and religious for sins against sexuality, and in particular against celibacy, but does not, so far as I remember, accuse them of child abuse. Similarly, the Maria Monk accusations of the 19th Century mention infanticide as a crime of celibates, but not, so far as I know, erotic abuse of children. We may assume that Maria Monk, if there had been any whisper of such abuse, would have told many stories of it. I therefore conclude that the phenomenon is comparatively new, and possibly in part co-incidental with and consequential on the increase in homosexualism.

Who would like to correct and intelligently augment these thoughts?


Here you’ll learn something about me: my house (below), my book Albatross (see the panel on the left), my CV… take a look.
On this home page, my host says, I should introduce myself and talk about my reasons for wanting a web site. Well, I want to advertise my book Albatross, I want to warn you about the Begg-Lorimer family of IT-MacS, I want to tell some stories. All this will take time, and I am sure I will want to do more things before I have done what I know I want to do.

What’s New?

Still definitely under construction.