Human evolution remains ongoing, unfinished and by all appearances firmly stuck in a quagmire all its own making: a pale veneer composed of a multitude of seemingly long term, no need to hurry about them, individual challenges — which when view from the uniting perspective of organic whole systems change shape to an immense, exponentially growing multi-tentacle threat to planetary survival. While we’re prone to think of evolution in terms of our physical nature, most uniquely human is our cultural evolution. As E.O. Wilson told Rebecca Castro, “The real problem of humanity is the following: we have Paleolithic emotions; medieval institutions; and god-like technology.” Half a century ago and then my academic and gnosis mentor, Professor Edward Conze noted that with a century of unprecedented technological advance no corresponding increase in wisdom can be readily detected.” Balancing the books our account reads exceptionally bankrupt for the wisdom account.
The wisdom accounts? Jonas Salk, MD published his The Survival of the Wisest in 1973, in which due to the gravity of emerging threats to perpetuity of our living planet noted a mandatory next step from biological to meta-biological evolution. Biological evolution has thrived in spite of itself, or has thrived at the expense of greater life: in either case, life has evolved in a rather passive reactionary response to environmental perturbances, pressures and dangers. The planet has reached a point where our all-too-successful human living produces stresses, strains, and toxicity threatening us humans and all other life forms. Worse still, at best we’re marginally aware of our condition and ourselves as its cause. Biological evolution, then, survives and even grows in a pre-conscious to semi-conscious orientation to its life-world.
Meta-biological evolution calls for a profound, irreversible shift in understanding breeding practical, pragmatic ways of life for the benefit of our planetary home. Rising above merely biological reactions threatening feeding, mating, and shelter, that next evolution underscores moving from an almost entertained tourist to competence in taking the driver’s seat. Meta-biological evolution as ‘above and beyond merely biological survival’ heralds an informed, skillful mastery of proactive co-evolutionary competency.
Trans-Evolutionary Fitness (TEF) began as a blog, then branched out as a podcast, all originating 8 years ago. After a four-year hiatus, the blog is back while the podcast came back in mid-2017. Where did they go? They went out on my version of Sonny Rollins catwalk retreat out on the Williamsburg Bridge. Rollins hit one of those vital snags in his music, one mandating getting out of town. With no studio available, the Williamsburg Bridge catwalk became his laboratory for three nightly years, resulting in release of his 1962 album The Bridge.
I stand by earlier posts to this blog, but with the caveat the game has changed. Big time changed — despite having inspiration from Jonas Salk, bigger implications had not yet become expressed within my understanding.
TEF came about from involvement with a leading edge medical clinic. Specializing in preventing, arresting, and ever reversing the plague of Chronic Degenerative Diseases proliferating today, I moved from peak performance oriented training to applications more therapeutic in nature. Before standard allopathic medicine gained dominant authority from the 1950s, the more naturalistic Physical Culture reigned. My entry into Physical Culture as a high school student was tempered by a strong bias for scientific empiricism, resulting in never kowtowing to the absolute authority demanded by semi-scientific medicine. Joining the clinic amplified the importance of Wm. James’ radical empiricism — that version of pragmatic science that welcomes abnormalities and anomalies as the catalysts for bigger, better science. Clinical experience also revealed how modern medicine has us encumbered by Golden Handcuffs: at once rich in miraculous breakthroughs without healthy counter balance to a Dark Side maintained as a new Inquisitional authoritarianism. Worse still, an authoritarianism rendered as Federal law all too often.
Earlier blog entries testify to the holistic evolutionary paradigm that emerged. And of that, the unaddressed or marginalized role of mind in our culture certainly expressed in medicine. Patient compliance didn’t happen with activity underscoring restoration of metabolic fitness hewn over millions of years of our evolutionary history. We were doing evolutionary medicine in the context of biological evolution while aiming for meta-biological outcomes.
TEF advocates its unique Three Pillars of Fitness: (1) nutrient dense whole foods, (2) anaerobic activity stimulating cellular maintenance & repair, preventing becoming a member of the pandemic of killer sarcopenia, and (3) noetics.
I confess. I hedged using noetics. There has been immense, almost therapeutic relief, becoming involved with the Sports, Energy, Consciousness Group movement. Throughout most of my public life I’ve kept its two major portions separated as a defense. Everyone in SEC (Sports, Energy, Consciousness Group) has experienced their version of the dilemma. Being athletes on the one hand, while on the other having non-normative experience. What kind? For a long time talking about experiencing ‘flow states’ in sport bordered on taboo. You became marked as weird — or worse. Heaven forbid actively pursuing disciplines deepening non-normal experience. So, I tried being clever using ‘noetic’ for ‘consciousness’ or ‘mind’ to defuse objections with a thin disguise.
Consciousness or Mind are the crux of the matter for that irreversible quantum leap from our currently flawed, immensely failing mode of semi-consciousness rendered through thousands of years of biological evolution followed by floundering steps in cultural evolution. Fueled by its technological superiority in recent centuries Western concepts of problem solving came to dominate much of the world. Astonishingly enough, for most of its long history understanding the mind which does problem solving was strictly taboo: even with emergence of Science with the Enlightenment the Church stood firm insisting the mind is seat of the soul, hence the indisputable providence of the Church.
When asked what I do? What my training is? I’m hard pressed to answer. Because my reply makes no real sense in our culture. The main life I’ve lived as been at great sacrifice to the creature comforts most take for granted. I survived by my wits. Meanwhile pursuing study, research, experimentation in “wisdom” traditions. Supporting intelligent understanding of that work extended work into yet other disciplines and languages. Always with passion, most often a long lonely trek rewarding for itself and the strength and understanding empowered as an outcome. Always included were weekly hours with black iron in gyms, the more primal, machine-free the better. Building strength of body, mind, spirit, emotions leading to Bodhi Building.
As a teenage athlete hints, rumors and speculation of a mind-muscle, mind-body connection fueled my imagination. But that’s where it stopped: beyond imagination we had no concrete sources for learning, training, growth of skills and an experience based understanding. My undergraduate majors sought answers, gaining only rebuke by academicians. Due to professional wrestlers met while still in my teens, I’d gained the impression some other cultures were in the know about the mind-body connection. Of American athletes of that period, several Olympians were Japanese-Americans noted for mental mastery. My quest failed in Western pursuits, graduate school filled my hunger learning first hand the maps and techniques of mind-muscle connectivity. Further work in Kyoto led to becoming the third Anglo-American ever certified as a teaching master (Kyoshi, 教師; equivalent to Roshi, 老師) in 1972. Subsequently, Professor Conze advised also mastering several Western gnosis disciplines in order to gain a fuller discovery.
Those credentials mean little: instead, exposure to non-normative wisdom heritages, including the necessity of mastering them on their own terms including their own classical languages and training, in-formed and shaped an emerging understanding.
Understanding. A key word in transformational disciplines. Our Western heritage since the 5th century became authoritarian dogmatism, one that persecuted free thinking of any sort. In order for Churchiainity to emerge, it had to squash all threatening forces. The greatest threat counted as free thinking resulting in iron clad free understanding known as gnosis. Gnosis is not a dogma, doctrine, ideology, or theology, not a conclusion to linear rational thinking, not a force fragmenting persons and lives. The spiritual heritages spawned in China and India emphasize gnosis, as did the Greek mysteries, Egyptian and other mystery schools, then became the most persecuted heresy of Churchiainity. Reintroduction of gnosis facilitated emergence of the Free-Thinking Humanism of the Latin Renaissance, fueling both the scientific and spiritual renewal of that era. From the Enlightenment both Churchiainity and Scientism forbid knowledge of mind, thwarting development of psychology in the West until William James broke the taboo by establishing the first psychology study at Harvard in 1878.
First mentors warned me more than 50 years ago: you can’t trust interpretations of Buddhism, Dao, Hinduism. You have to learn the original languages and workout with their training programs. No one was too clear about why that was. Took growth of anthropological and psychological sciences to spell it out. The big difference? Free-Thinking was taboo for so long I the West that we simply lost any sense of it, and with that of understanding how our minds work. A gap of nearly 16 centuries is difficult to overcome; one whose roots make it closer to 26 centuries are monumental. We suffered a Gnosis Deficiency Disorder without a clue.
Much of my life has been engaged in unravelling the secret story of consciousness East and West, and its practical application to the mind-muscle connection. Now the health/wellness embodiment. More significantly Meta-Biological Evolution and Bodhi Building Play as a vehicle of discovery, embodiment, and catalyzing a grassroots Renaissance. As Salk noted, the stakes are clear: sustainable planetary survival by means of a new phenotype of co-evolutionary thriving.
Watch for TEF activities contributing to Next Evolution. Join in. We’re struggling on the margins so patrons are always cause of gratitude and thanksgiving. Get going, get Gnowing your Bodhi.