It is commonly believed in many circles - particularly those dizzying circles one finds oneself in within academic and educational institutions – that the rational mind is the highest cognitive set currently available to human beings. The rational mind is higher than the emotional mind, it is assumed, because the emotional and unreflective mind led us into mass superstition during the dark ages. Then science, with its empirically founded scientific method, led us out from the darkness and into Enlightenment. Thereafter came massive progress in science and social science; and the benefits to society are obvious. Just look at all those clean hospitals, computers on office desks and airplanes that can whisk us around the world in a matter of hours.
In the dark ages of prehistory people pretty much believed whatever Mum or the village idiot told them. Most people couldn’t read or write for a start. It was said that there was only one literate man, a clergyman, in all of Britain after the fall of the Roman Empire. Now almost everyone in Britain can read and write; and you take your capacity to make sense of the black squiggles on this page for granted. Thank about that for progress!
People haven’t always employed the critical/rational mind the way we do today.
In Europe, around the year 1500 the scholastic movement took hold, and classification became a key way of knowing. By 1800 analysis as a key way of knowing had firmly entrenched itself, and by the mid nineteenth century, experimentation became well established. Many of us today barely stop to consider the massive impact these ways of knowing have had on our capacity to think. A more obvious shift has occurred in the last three decades, where computer rationality greatly affected our cognitive processing in developed economies. We are increasingly “accessing” a virtual the world through the medium of Information Technology.
There is a great deal of truth to the claim that these cognitive shifts have been good for us. Science and the critical/rational mind have helped us make massive progress. Yet as Michel Foucault and the poststructuralist philosophers have noted, paradigmatically and epistemologically-bounded thinking tends to view history as a linear march towards an inevitable present; in this case, towards the “modern”. Mainstream science and society tends to be self-congratulating, and has great difficulty acknowledging the limits of mainstream discourses.
The problem with the four key ways of knowing of the modern mind is that they are limited, and what’s more greatly unbalanced. They do not permit access to domains of knowing which are vitally important for us to contextualise knowledge and data, and to gain a greater insight into the human condition. They delimit the possibility of actualising the post-rational mind.
Modern thinking processes retard intuitive thinking. They do not acknowledge, let alone utilise, intuitive ways of knowing. Intuition incorporates cognitive processes which are actually trans-rational. It permits a greater and deeper knowing that moves beyond what rationality is capable of perceiving. The rational mind tends to get caught up in semantic confusion, and then cannot find its way out.
The tricky thing is that at the critical/rational level of mind, it is very difficult to see all this. Critical rationality tends to reinforce the ego, or little self’s hold on perception. The ego becomes self-satisfied, and begins to congratulate itself on its cleverness. It thinks it doesn’t need to know anything else, because it has become oh-so-smart. This generates a self-regulating delusion, where the mind goes about collecting and collating data which confirms its view that it has reached the zenith of knowing, and subtly rejects data which challenges this view. It becomes proud and arrogant.
This is a trap, and the most typically observed dead-end for cognitive development. Very few intellectuals, academics and scientists have managed to span the gap between the rational and translational for this reason. Further, since modern culture teaches us that rationality is the pinnacle of mind development, “clever” people see no need to challenge that given. The entire lifetime is thus spent living comfortably (but not necessarily peacefully) within the rational realms of mind.
The truth is that the cognitive mindset enjoyed by most “intelligent” people in today’s society and education systems is extremely limited, and is but a fraction of the mental potential available to us. Not knowing better, we go about business as usual.
The jump from the purely rational to the post-rational is a difficult one. In most cases, we will have spent many years existing at this critical juncture of mind, and may see no reason to move beyond it. Even people who “believe” in the trans-rational mind or spiritual potentials, may never actually leave the comfort of the rational, because it is too destabilising, and the ego’s hold is too strong.
I recall hearing about mystic’s Leonard Jacobson’s visit to a leading “alternative” tertiary institution in California. Almost nobody – neither teachers nor students - attended his talk/workshop. That is incredible. Here was a man who has actualised the very cognition that these academics and students are researching and studying, but they could not tear themselves away from their books long enough to spend time with the real thing. This should tell you something about just how difficult it is to make the leap from the rational to the trans-rational. Self-deception is normal.
In truth, there is more than just one leap required, once the trans-rational mind begins to open. There are various stages of cognitive awareness beyond the rational, but the juncture between the rational and the next trans-rational stage is difficult to span. In truth, it is not entirely up to the individual. There is something of divine Grace involved.
What then, can one do to facilitate the shift?
The first thing is to have the willingness. This means developing an actual deep intention to shift, not just an intellectual interest. This willingness usually only follows after one becomes dissatisfied with experience at the rational level of mind.
The second requirement is commitment to a discipline. The discipline should involve some inner process which permits a non-attached witnessing of thought as it emerges from mind. This could be a formal practice such as prayer, meditation, yoga or Tai Chi; or something more informal, such as walking quietly through nature, or sitting attentively in a chair. The bringing of the mind into presence, as I describe in Sage of Synchronicity, is necessary. Witnessing and presence permit one to see that the world of the mind is but a construct, and is ultimately an illusion. You might prefer to simply think of mind as a dysfunctional model of reality.
I have written much about Integrated Intelligence, and this intelligence will either directly or indirectly be a part of the process as you move beyond the rational mind. You might not explicitly use all the processes and tools I refer to, but at the very least you will need to listen to the intuitive prompts of Spirit.
Be warned. Integrated Intelligence can be used to further the agenda of the ego to reinforce its control over the mind. When this happens the results are likely to be unsatisfactory, and the perceptions you have will be distorted to some degree. There is a need to surrender to a higher part of the Self, in order to activate Integrated Intelligence properly. You can’t learn to fly a plane if you refuse to leave the ground.
Which brings us to the issue of surrender itself. One of the real obstacles of moving beyond critical rationality is that the ego is stubborn, likes to maintain control, and insists that it is the architect of life. It likes to think that it is clever, and that it is right. It then judges others as wrong, and gets into dramas with them, with the unconscious agenda of destroying them (or the perceptual data they bring forth). Basically, all drama is the ego’s attempt to destroy and eliminate. This includes intellectual debate, which is almost impossible to engage in without the ego taking over. Better just to surrender, and allow the other to have his opinion, no matter how wrong or insane it may appear to be. Your judgment of it as being wrong or insane is a projection of the ego anyway, and takes you back into the critical/rational mind. If you want to win intellectual arguments, kiss goodbye to higher mind. There is no winning or losing with Spirit.
In the end, it is not for you to say whether the other guy is right or wrong. That is already “known” by God. There are higher states of cognition, but it not possible to understand them at less developed levels of mind. Intuition provides flashes of knowing, and that can draw us on. But a vast number of human beings do not even have this basic understanding. There is no point in fighting with those who cannot see. They will see, in time. It is their destiny, not your agenda.