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August 4, 2010 

heart lotua

 

7. The Dualities of Formatory Mind 
& Formatory Science

 “... in order to comprehend the world of many dimensions, 
(we) must renounce the idol of duality.”  (Ouspensky (1922, p. 239)


   While those skeptics, who dismiss mysticism, take delight in ridiculing any discussion of sacred numbers or numerology, the importance of such concerns becomes apparent when one considers the extent to which “thinking in two’s” dominates modern thinking.  Dualistic thinking is an unconscious and unrecognized self element which pervades modern philosophy, psychology, science and common thought.  It is as if scientists and philosophers always think that everything or anything has only two parts to it, or exists simply in two states, or in two conditions.  The tendency towards dualistic thinking is a “self-element” in science: a personal element which is unconsciously projected onto all sorts of subject matters.  Unfortunately, people do not realize that dualistic thinking is a hidden, unconscious pattern which limits understanding, and shows one to be 'third force blind.'
   Certainly, life seems to be pervaded by opposites:  male and female,  good and bad, positive and negative, up and down ... with love and hate, pain and pleasure, the conscious and unconscious, the rational and the emotional, the mind and the body ... all between life and death.   If that is not enough, we have the left brain and the right brain, science and pseudoscience, cause and effect, action and reaction, stimulus and response, input and output ... in the binary age of 0 and 1, with subjects and objects, black and white, night and day, hot and cold, in and out, off and on, in the past and into the future ... all made of matter and energy, trapped within time and space, between being and non-being, on heaven and on earth ... with spirit and matter, God and the Devil.  Life is full of opposites, or at least, this is how people tend to conceptualize it.
   A Yin /Yang play of opposing forces seems to dominate existence and humans’ patterns of thinking about that existence.   Whenever people consider any subject of human discourse or academic science, they tend to unthinkingly and uncritically embrace dualistic thinking.  In modern psychology, discussions of human nature, consciousness, mind, personality and the self are hopelessly dualistic. Thus, we find that almost all of psychologists’ considerations of human nature are framed in terms of dualistic principles: there are two states of consciousness, two types of mind, and two dimensions to the self.
 The central duality of modern psychology is the view that human beings consist of two primary parts:  a mind and a body.  Psychology itself is most frequently defined as the science of behaviour and mind, and philosophers debate endlessly the mind/body duality, the division between the psyche (mind) and the soma (body).  Even when we are so bold as to ask if there is anything beyond the physical or the material realm, we assume that it must consist simply of the opposite, the metaphysical or immaterial realm.  The automatic assumption is that if something can’t be fit into one category, it must somehow fall into the opposite.  In this vein, Carl Sagan applies his cerebral cortex to the mystery of consciousness, and assumes that there is no immaterial mind connected to the material body. 
   With reference  to consciousness, the most common dualities are between the conscious and the unconscious, waking and sleeping, being aware or unaware.  Alternatively, other theorists discuss the differences between consciousness and awareness, or consciousness and self-consciousness.  At one symposium on consciousness, the duality was drawn between Consciousness I and Consciousness II, to differentiate the basic consciousness shared with other living organisms, from the kind of self-consciousness which humans can know. 
   These dualities are also tied into the dualities of the mind and self.  Based upon a hundred years of psychological and philosophical inquiry, decades of split brain research, and equally enduring simplistic patterns of thinking, psychologists usually distinguish between two modes of mental functioning. There are two modes of knowing, two types of intelligence, two types of information processing, two types of mind, and even two cerebral hemispheres.  In 1966, Ulrich Neisser, a major figure in the re-emergence of cognitive study in psychology, commented:
Historically, psychology has long recognized the existence of two different forms of mental organization.  The distinction has been given many names: “rational” vs. “intuitive,” “constrained” vs “creative,” “logical” vs “prelogical,” “realistic” vs “autistic,” “secondary process” vs “primary process.”  To list them together casually may be misleading ... nevertheless, a common thread runs through all of the dichotomies.  (p.297)
 This historic tendency to conceptualize dual mental principles received a major boost with advances in split brain research.  Neurologists since H. Jackson (1864) have taken the left hemisphere to be the centre for the faculty of expression, as required for the analysis of language and speech formation.   Indeed, Carl Sagan’s book, Broca's Brain, refers to Paul Broca, the scientist who isolated the area in the left temporal lobe responsible for speech and language synthesis, which bears his name: Broca’s area.  In contrast to the left hemisphere’s role in verbal expression, Jackson noted that a patient with a right hemisphere tumour, “did not know objects, persons and places.” Since Jackson, many neuro-physiologists have confirmed the cerebral localization of mental faculties.  The left hemisphere is concerned with the processing of language, while the right hemisphere is more prominent in the cognition of forms and sequences–as required for instance in music, facial and pattern recognition, and so on.
   In modern split brain research, the corpus callosum, which normally connects the right and left hemispheres, is surgically severed.  This work, pioneered by Richard Sperry, fuelled the imagination of three decades of dualistic psychologists and consciousness researchers.  At last there seemed to be hard evidence to support the traditional dualities of mind.  In this vein, Bakan (1978) explained:
The left hemisphere mode is described as symbolic, abstract, linear, rational, focal, conceptual, propositional, secondary process, digital, logical, active, and analytic.  The right hemisphere mode is described as iconic, concrete, diffuse, perceptual, appropositional, primary process, analogue, passive and holistic  ... The two modes are antagonistic and complementary, suggesting that a unity and struggle of opposites is characteristic of mental functioning.   (p. 163) 
So many philosophers and psychologists have formed their own favourite dualities of the mind, that it was only a matter of time before all of these dualities were taken to refer to the same fundamental dualistic truth. 
   In 1972, Robert Ornstein published a popular and influential book entitled The Psychology of Consciousness.  One of Ornstein’s central themes was the duality of human consciousness and the differences between the hemispheres of the cerebral cortex:
The recognition that we possess two cerebral hemispheres which are specialized to operate in different modes may allow us to understand much about the fundamental duality of our consciousness.  This duality has been reflected in classical as well as modern literature as between reason and passion, or between mind and intuition.  Perhaps the most famous of these dichotomies in psychology is that proposed by Sigmund Freud, of the split between the ‘conscious’ mind and the ‘unconscious.’  The workings of the ‘conscious’ mind are held to be accessible to language and to rational discourse and alteration; the ‘unconscious’ is much less accessible to reason or to the verbal analysis. ... There are moments ... when our verbal intellect suggests one course and our “heart” or intuition another.   (pp. 74-75)
 Dichotomania is a term coined to describe this unthinking tendency to construe all phenomena in dualistic terms, and then to superficially equate these dualities.  Dichotomania leads to confusion and babel.  Is the heart really in the right hemisphere–along with passion, intuition and the unconscious?  Certainly a long list of philosophers and psychologists take a dualistic approach to the mind sciences and to consciousness studies.  Unfortunately,  this dualism reflects theorists’ thinking patterns–rather than representing the dichotomous nature of reality. 
   Ornstein goes further to relate all of these dualities of consciousness and the mind to dualities in the world, and to the basic Yin and Yang poles of  existence.  He produces the following table of correspondences, ranging across psychology, philosophy and dimensions of science:

          THE TWO MODES OF CONSCIOUSNESS:
  A Tentative Dichotomy

Who Proposed it?

Many sources                  Day                     Night
Blackburn                  Intellectual            Sensuous
Oppenheimer           Time, History     Eternity, Timelessness
Deikman                       Active                  Receptive
Polanyi                        Explicit                    Tacit
Levy, Sperry               Analytic                   Gestalt
Domhoff              Right (side of body)   Left (side of body)
Many sources         Left hemisphere        Right hemisphere
Bogen                       Propositional           Appositional
Lee                                Lineal                  Nonlineal 
Luria                         Sequential              Simultaneous
Semmes                          Focal                   Diffuse
I Ching                The Creative: heaven     The Receptive: earth
                                 masculine, Yang           feminine, Yin
I Ching                              Light                   Dark
I Ching                              Time                   Space
Many Sources                 Verbal                 Spacial
Many Sources             Intellectual               Intuitive
Vedanta                          Buddhi                  Manas 
Jung                                Causal                  Acausal 
Bacon                           Argument              Experience
(1972, p.83) 

Are the mind and the world really so pervaded by these contrasting principles or forces?   Only two’s? in everything two’s?
 


     Scientists also find dualities in studies of the natural laws.  In fact, all the apparent laws of physics seem to deal with two fundamental dualities.  Astronomer and science philosopher, H. Shapley (1967) described the basic elements of the universe and laws of physics:
The basic entities (of physics and astronomy) are commonly recognized to be space, time, matter, and energy; the first two can be linked together as space-time,  and the last two as mass-energy.  It is difficult to isolate any universal quality that is not a variation on these four.  Speed, weight, light, distance, momentum, and the like are all derivatives of the four, or combinations ....  (pp. 111-2)
The basic quadrant of elements in classical physics concerns two fundamental dualities: matter/energy manifesting within time/space.  Is there anything beyond this–anything at the heart of being? 
   There are, of course, numerous other dualistic distinctions in physics:  waves and particles, the observer and the observed, positive and negative charges, bosons and fermions, left-turning particles and right-turning particles, electric and magnetic forces, matter and anti-matter, and all forms of being manifested out of non-being. No doubt, there is something important to be grasped in understanding the role of dualistic forces and principles throughout nature, the physical as well as the psychological.  Of course, modern physics now suggests there is indeed such a 'medium' and third force manifest in all things--in the intelligence, matters and energies of the quantum vacuum, the seeming void/plenum. 

   The mystic philosopher, P. D. Ouspensky (1957) described dualistic thinking as a “self-element” in science, an example of “formatory thinking.”  In the fourth way teaching of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky, the mechanical portion of the intellectual centre is referred to as the formatory apparatus.  Formatory thinking is intellectual activity which occurs with the least amount of effort and awareness, such as the memorizing and rote repetition of information.  Ouspensky explains: 
“‘Formation’ is a conclusion arrived at by the way of least resistance, avoiding difficulty.  It is easier because it makes itself–ready-made phrases, ready-made opinions, like a stamp.  It is generally defective with the exception of the simplest cases.”  (p. 65) 
Unfortunately, for most people, the formatory apparatus dominates their thinking, and they simply reiterate the attitudes, opinions and beliefs they have acquired through conditioning, imitation and socialization.  Ouspensky describes another limitation of the formatory apparatus:
One of its peculiarities is that it compares only two things, as though in any particular line only two things existed. ...  Another of its peculiarities is immediately to look for the opposite."
Formatory thinking is a pervasive element in the “waking sleep” state–as a source of unconsciousness, confusion and misunderstanding, and is simply wrong and incomplete. 
     Dualistic thinking is a lazy mental habit which blinds us to the full spectrum of existence–as we automatically look only for two elements, two principles, two components or two aspects in all and everything.   From a mystical perspective, Yogananda (1972) suggests that dualities only dominate the world of appearances, but that at a deeper level of understanding, there exist more subtle forces and intelligences, that transcend the apparent worlds of opposites: 
The Vedic scriptures declare that the physical world operates under one fundamental law of maya, the principle of relativity and duality. ... The entire phenomenal world is under the inexorable sway of polarity; no law of physics, chemistry, or any other science is ever found free from inherent opposite or contrasted principles.   (p.310)
In Vedic teachings, the physical world is regarded as illusory, not because it is unreal, but because the appearances are only shadows of deeper, underlying causes and dimensions.  Hence, the phenomenal world might appear dualistic, but if we penetrate further into the nominal realm, which underlies and informs it, then these dualities are mediated by additional forces that provide the medium for manifestation, and bring about the reconciliation of opposing forces.  Ruled by maya–by surface appearances–humans construe cosmic phenomena in terms of dualities, as if every whole consisted of only two parts.  Ouspensky (1922) explains: “... in order to comprehend the world of many dimensions, (we) must renounce the idol of duality.”  (p. 239)
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Zero Point Dynamics

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