Thursday, November 17, 2016

The molecular work of Being—DNA and the soul, part III

Jan van Eyck
Diptych of the Annunciation, left side
Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid

"When we talked before about the octaves of food in the three-story factory we saw that 'all the finer 'hydrogens' needed for the working, the growth, and the evolution of the organism were prepared from three kinds of food, that is, from food in the strict meaning of the word—eatables and drink, from air which we breathe, and from impressions. 

Now let us suppose that we could improve the quality of food and air, feed, let us say, on 'hydrogen' 384 instead of 768 and breathe 'hydrogen' 96 instead of 192. How much simpler and easier the preparation of fine matters in the organism would be then. 

But the whole point is that this is impossible. The organism is adapted to transform precisely these coarse matters into fine matters, and if you give it fine matters instead of coarse matters it will not be in a position to transform them and it will very soon die. Neither air nor food can be changed. But impressions, that is, the quality of the impressions possible to man, are not subject to any cosmic law. Man cannot improve his food, he cannot improve the air… It is exactly the same with food… If man could improve his food, that is, make it finer, he would have to feed on water and breathe fire. It is clear that this is impossible. 

But while it is not possible for him to improve his food and air he can improve his impressions to a very high degree and in this way introduce fine 'hydrogens' into the organism. It is precisely on this that the possibility of evolution is based… a man who makes higher 'hydrogens' the food for the upper story of his machine will certainly differ from one who feeds on the lower ‘hydrogens.'"

—Gurdjieff, as reported in In Search of the Miraculous by P. D. Ouspensky, P. 321-22 

Human beings have the capacity to develop a molecular sensation of Being. This expression relates to our cellular sense of vibration. 

Depending on the expression of certain cellular proteins, cellular components change their electrochemical properties in such a way that the activities of cells emit finer energies which can be consciously sensed by our ordinary levels of awareness. This heightened sensitivity represents a change in Being whereby we are invited to more directly participate in "sensation"; not the general and average sensation of our life activities, our limbs, and the ordinary sensations of touch and feeling, but a different and quite new level of sensation in which we more consciously participate in the activities of our cells. 

This participation doesn't take place through any manipulation on our own part, but rather through an active sensation provided voluntarily by the cells themselves. That sensation represents the action of protein expression by DNA, most notably, the expression and participation of proteins that are not ordinarily active in our cellular makeup. We might call these "hidden proteins," or "esoteric" proteins, since the coded information for their expression is always present as a latent sent of instructions in DNA.  Like many of the instructions encoded in the genome, these instructions are only activated under specific circumstances; like retroviruses, they lie dormant within the genome, waiting for the required, or optimum, set of circumstances to rise in order to be called to action. This type of latent DNA information is now well known; what is not yet well known is that all efforts to higher consciousness depend on these latent, yet fundamentally inherent, encoded sets of instructions. 

The simplest explanation for why psychedelic and other mind-altering drugs do what they do to the human psyche is that they provide, from the outside, molecular information that provokes the DNA in cells to express these latent possibilities in the form of uncommon, yet ultimately quite normal, proteins. The information is already there; the drugs trigger the responses from the cells. The implication here is that the genome contains pre-existing information for expressing the psychological and spiritual components of enlightenment. The idea finds some interesting correspondences in Christian and Buddhist doctrine affirming a universal potential for spiritual enlightenment.

Consciousness is thus already easily demonstrated not just as a set of neural events involving electrochemical exchange, but a protein-and-molecule-based phenomenon already encoded in the genome. Our genetic code, furthermore, contains far more potential for many types of consciousness than is usually expressed in the average individual. Every variety of religious experience embodies the expression of a pre-existing, encoded potential within our DNA; so religious experience and the sensation of God are quite literally part of our evolutionary heritage. Gurdjieff's "hydrogens" aren't elements at all; they are simply molecules and proteins expressed by our genome.

These esoteric proteins haven't yet been identified or studied; yet the implication here is that a far more sophisticated potential for consciousness might be directly explored through a better understanding of these physical properties. It's an extension of the already well-understood idea that there are pharmacological solutions for mental disabilities such as depression. Our contact with psychedelic drugs and their psychoactive potential has given us intimations of these possibilities, but a better understanding of the genome may unlock potentials heretofore only guessed at. What if, for example, there is a "Jesus protein?" While the idea may sound sacreligious, the question needs to be asked. The central question here may be whether there is a way to pro-actively engender positive social behavior through the direct stimulation of cellular proteins responsible for a sense of the sacred. If inner peace, in other words, is a cellular chemical event—not, per se, related to external conditions, as yogis have taught for generations—wouldn't it be deeply unethical NOT to make it available to the public? 

The well-documented, unusual sweetness of temperament in Down syndrome children already points us in a direction here, demonstrating that genes CAN produces such results. If we can, putting it in Gurdjieff's terms, fix the malevolent consequences of the organ kundabuffer (which was itself a professedly physical—that is, ultimately, genetic—intervention) shouldn't we? Cosmic individuals have, according to Gurdjieff, already attempted this task; perhaps modern genetics ought to now take up the matter from a different direction.

In the absence of such a development, we continue to need to become responsible for our own efforts in this direction. It may be the answers are, after all, too complex for direct physical intervention (at least now); but to investigate the soundest of scientific basises—genetic basises—for Gurdjieff's teachings and methodologies may be overdue.

Installment 4 of the Molecular work of Being will publish Nov. 20. 

Hosanna.


Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.

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