Action Matters

"The earlier concept of a universe made up of physical particles interacting according to fixed laws in no longer tenable. It is implicit in present findings that action rather than matter is basic...This is good news, for it is no longer appropriate to think of the universe as a gradually subsiding agitation of billiard balls. The universe far from being a desert of inert particles, is a theatre of increasingly complex organization...a stage for development in which man has a definite place, without any upper limit to his evolution." ~ Arthur M. Young, The Reflexive Universe.
A Theoretical model of the role of the cerebellum in cognition, attention and consciousness, by Ralph Ellis

In this article Ralph Ellis describes the cerebellum as essential to the process of forming internal maps of reality ie: mental representations, through which our intentionality and self-conscious sensorimotor experience is determined. The cerebellum is fundamentally interdependent with other brain areas to bring about specific sensorimotor states in response to stimulus, for the purpose of satisfying the emotional needs of the organism by means of adjustments to or interactions with the environment.

The information processing needed for intentional representation proceeds from the brainstem-hypothalamic loops sensing a homeostatic imbalance for the organism. Then activation of neurotransmitter pathways to arouse and alert the brain that action is needed, after which brain activity elaborates what specific action should be taken. This elaboration involves the cerebellum because it can activate specific action based on past sensorimotor memory. The cerebellum-brainstem loops then send action commands to the motor cortex. These commands are inhibited or moderated by prefrontal signals and "action imagery" results. Every conscious experience, whether imaginary or perceptual, exists to inform and impress the organism of its value, and this "value" is experienced as emotion. The cerebellum tells the rest of the brain to "look for" salient stimuli that corresponds to current organismic needs or expectations (value) and prepares the brain for dealing appropriately with impingements of the external world. This "looking for" and "call to action" and deciding what action is desirable is a monumental computational task, which is why the cerebellum comprises 50% of the brains neurons.

Ellis proposes that if all consciousness begins with action affordances, then the cerebellum--the brain area most important for coordinating bodily actions--must be pivotal for an understanding of consciousness. The cerebellum is important in synchronizing brain activity and coordination of both cognition and consciousness. Previously it was thought that perception drove emotion, which in turn drove action. But Ralph Ellis and colleagues are now telling us that the reverse is true.

"The organism is first prepared to look for environmental conditions that are potentially useful for its purposes; the most important environmental conditions are the ones that involve action and are thus tied to cerebellar functions." ~ Ralph Ellis

In other words we have the motivation to attend to and scan our environment for relevant stimuli prior to perceptual processing, as directed by the fundamental need to maintain total homeostatic balance. He says this motivational pattern of activity is always already ongoing in the organism, it is self-organizing, holistic and synchronized via the cerebellum and based on previously learned cerebellar action imagery. Emotions themselves might be activated preperceptually through the thalamus's direct link to the emotional brain prior to any extensive perceptual processing.

"In some instances, brainstem emotionally-initiated neurotransmitters tell us to take action, but without the electrical circuits being able to give us a clear indication of what specific action is needed, and this is when we feel ourselves in the grips of powerful, disturbing emotions like anger, fear, grief, or anxiety. As soon as we start taking the needed action, the anger, fear, etc. feels less cataclysmic, because we are not just getting the neurotransmitter rush in its purity, but rather as tempered by the fact that some of our attention is take up with the specificity of action commands. The cerebellum's role here is to make the action commands specific enough so that we can "understand the objects" of cognitive, perceptual, or emotional states. When the neurotransmitters are delivered to the various brain parts, the expectation is that specific action commands will be not far behind, so to receive the neurotransmitter activity without any action commands can be very disturbing." ~ Ralph Ellis

We become conscious of emotions by forming representations--during an awakening emotions can run of their own accord regardless of "normal" rational adjustment to our environment. The specificity of the action commands depends on the cerebellum, but when the cerebellum/brainstem is fired up spontaneously with kundalini this increase in neural activity is often not directly correlated to any external phenomena. This perpetual "call to urgent action" thus becomes a hair trigger to any ambient stimuli we might encounter, and it is for this reason that during kundalini awakenings we can react dramatically to the shadows on the walls of Plato's cave.

The moderation feedback from the cortex tends to get lost in the exaggerated activity of the "lower" brain-loops and this produces greater embeddedness in our primary emotions firing through the older brain regions. Not that this is a bad thing because ultimately all this deep clearing out of these regions leaves us more emotionally evolved, with greater prefrontal which point we transcend superstitious and mythic level interpretations of our environment. ie: that is we gain emotional detachment, through the sheer intensity of emotional experiencing. This distance is gained from both the associative (discursive, dianoetic, comparative) meaning-making mind, as well as from the emotions themselves. It is not so much that everything looses its meaning, but that the meaning-making process itself becomes lucid to us in our everyday consciousness. One can imagine that this would increase our freedom along with the increase in objectivity. It is by being "carried away" by the various elements of consciousness that we can eventually incorporate them "consciously," rather than being unconsciously driven by them.

Allowing the depth, range and facets of consciousness to "embody" us, we simultaneously make the "repressive" mechanism of the armored and egoic self to be objectified. That is we "disidentify" with our own self-suppression. It is this witnessing and the consequent increased capacity to consciously "choose" that constitutes our freedom. I am trying to convey the sense of a different center of being I have noticed emerging especially after the 3rd year of the come-down from 2000. The pathological form of this is the existential void, a meaninglessness and lack of affect, which does arise occasionally probably following some spiral temporal path. However, the enlightened form is freedom, social immunity, a transcendence of enculturation (disembeddedness from culture) and most importantly that ones own consciousness becomes self-transparent.

"If like most people, the part of you that assigns meaning runs on automatic, it will choose meanings and responses based on your cultural, societal, familial, and species background. In that case you are not exercising your ability to create what you want, and you will have to accept the consequences of these culturally assigned meanings. Your individuality, and creativity will remain stillborn. What is more, you will spend a lot of time suffering. If, on the other hand, you are able to wake up and become more aware of what moves and motivates you, you will see that you have picked up the paintbrush; you are painting the shapes of your feelings on that blank canvas. Because you are the artist and the author, you can paint anything you like." 94, ~ Bill Harris, Thresholds of the Mind.

Put in terms of the collective context--Terrence McKenna says higher religion is a religion that dispenses with the symbolic forms and transcends individual archetypes, and begins to realize that the mystery can take any form. It then concentrates on the "Mystery itself" as a kind of ineffable center of being that constellates everything around it to have meaning. If the action-specifying and coordinating area of the brain is the basis to both what we see/perceive and how we react to it--consciousness as a whole we could say is "the call to action" to participation in the creation of happenstance. As with everything in the universe there is a nested fractal quality to consciousness, in that "...everything is caused by its analogical resonance with past and future events which have the same temporal elements embedded within them." ~ Terrence McKenna

Ilya Prigonine proved that order emerges not in spite of chaos, but because of it. He found that growth and evolution involve open systems undergoing temporary dissolution, in order to reorganize at a higher level of complexity and function.

"The perturbed mind is a mind in the act of rediscovering the Nature outside of culture." Terrence McKenna. A direct Gnostic experience of reality requires that cultural filters first be dissolved--"The kind of activity which dominates the instability phase introduces a directness, a vector which already indicates in which direction the new structure may be expected." ~ Erich Jantsch, The Self Organizing Universe.

By going deeper into the "Mystery itself" we overcome our removal (boredom, apathy, fear, loneliness etc...) and discover the eternal source of life and consciousness within. Then a new Universal Self is born that transcends the current cultural lens. This birthing process continues throughout the lifetime of the individuating, self-actualizing individual.

"The transcendental future is here. It is now, if we could but evoke it. If we could find the means to communicate with the deeper parts of ourselves and to each other, to bring that kind of perfected future into being...The future is endlessly bright and full of transcendental promise for those who are not afraid of it." ~ Terrence McKenna.

As participants in the Mystery, we tend to prove what we believe to be "true." The brain is a goal seeking mechanism, hardwired to make our beliefs and representational maps come true. Because of this a priori nature of consciousness, Bill Harris suggests that instead of evaluating beliefs on whether they are true or false, we would be better off basing them on how resourceful and empowering they are to us. "The big secret is that you can choose what you want to believe--you don't have to believe what seems true based on past experience."

Whether a belief is new or old, focusing on it brings it into existence. We can transform our belief system with the use of gestalt role-playing, affirmations, sound tech and meditation tapes, self-talk tapes, imagineering, mantra, new information (learning), fasting, communal support, therapy, bodywork and a zillion other methods. To a large extent we create who we are, and who we will become by the power of our conscious and unconscious beliefs. With a fresh new set of empowering beliefs and a cerebellum that has been primed with successful action scenarios, our automatic "looking for" and "call to action" mechanisms will synchronize our brain function toward the positive outcome of our goals and purposeful action in the world. And if we are an organism "on purpose," well then we are far more like to be a "happy," functional organism.

People keep saying that belief creates our reality without saying exactly how that is. This model of the role of the cerebellum in cognition by Ellis, which points to an action basis to consciousness, memory and apperception, helps to clarify the mechanism of manifestation. No doubt even precognition is also governed by this same mapmaking faculty of the brain...such that we really are a spider caught within our own web. A more empowering analogy might be that we are indeed a wizard casting a shell of happenstance on the world. Now whether we acknowledge this or not determines the degree of self-responsibility we can consciously lay claim to.

This Action Matters piece caps off my book, it has an ineffable quality to's like a koan... that consciousness is "engagement" not mere reaction. To think that our action-maps are the basis of our belief system and determine our lives is too much for the mind to really grasp. Perhaps because it interferes with our normal sense of a linear arrow of time, and points to a deeper understanding of Karma.

I notice that the degree of synchronicity in ones life is related to the level of kundalini/elan vital and Mystery that one is encompassing at that time. You don't get a lot of synchronicity happening during burnout or depression conditions. Also if one goes to highly conscious cities like San Francisco, synchronicity goes up. When one is on the edge, risking and flowing in a transrational motivating-force to action...then synchronicity occurs.

It could mean that "consciousness is actually a fundamental force of action in nature." That consciousness itself is action, and it is consciousness that moves everything in the universe with varying degrees of intelligence. And that synchronicity is the awareness or aperception of the inherent "grain to the cosmos"...the World Soul or Akashic Field...which is the consciousness underlying the Materialization of all matter.

For more exciting work by Ralph Ellis read his book: Love and The Abyss: An Essay On Finitude and Value and Curious Emotions: Roots Of Consciousness And Personality In Motivated Action (Advances in Consciousness Research) also by Ralph D. Ellis

Consciousness After Postmodernism

The good news is that we create our reality from our representational maps, the bad news is that we create our reality from our representational maps...

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