On one fasting episode I unexpectedly found myself looking into an open refrigerator. How strange. Apparently, some part of my psyche was not informed of my decision to resist food and, from habit, a “muscular memory” had developed which moved my body towards the refrigerator—as if I was on automatic pilot!
I would not have noticed this “mechano-functioning” in myself if I had not altered my routine. In fact, I could not become convinced of the magnitude of such an unflattering self-discovery unless I constantly changed my routines and habits. Can creatures of habit make the proper efforts towards obtaining greater consciousness and spiritual transformation?
This self-realization made me wonder what significance love or evil had for a person whose life was mostly comprised of automated motions. We drive in our cars in these hypno-states and make the same stupid remarks about the weather on greeting people in the elevator. This mechanicality may seem trivial. However, if I was participating in life in some state of trance, how could I protect my strongly held spiritual beliefs from becoming the property of a mere puppet?
What if we never notice this predicament?
I follow the theological ideas of both George Gurdjieff and Emanuel Swedenborg. It is a major theme in Gurdieffian thought that humans go through much of life as automatons, but did Swedenborg ever comment on such Cyborgs?
Yes he did!
In his wonderful book, True Christianity, Swedenborg indeed addresses the automatic and muscular memory that usually develops in humans over time. Here is a passage from his chapter on Reformation and Regeneration:
593. This division of the natural man into two forms is an actual division of both will and thought, for all a man’s actions proceed from the will, and all his speech from the thought. Thus a second will is formed by him below the first, and similarly another thought; but still both constitute the natural man. This second will which is formed by the man may be called the corporeal will, because it moves the body to act morally; and this second thought may be called pulmonary thought, because it moves the tongue and lips to speak such things as are of the understanding.
“Pulmonary thought” is mechanical, not psychical! The corporeal mind (external natural mind) of humankind consists simply of muscular memory. The problem with this mechano-mind is that it tricks us into using sound religious principles to change the wrong thing about us. We falsely believe this mechano-mind to be our legitimate consciousness, so when we change it, we merely end up switching one superficial mask for another.
The human external natural mind and its muscular memory prevent important spiritual knowledge from reaching deeper into our more internal essence or spirit. This is the actual level that must be changed for proper salvation to occur. The deeper, internal natural mind is not only prone to all kinds of evils (which need to be removed) but it is the plane on which the Lord God plants spiritual “remains” inside us. From these “remains” spiritual conscience develops. The caveat is that these remains can only be connected to, and regenerate our corporeal/sensual lives, through sincere introspection and combating our negative proclivities—which are normally hidden from us by our worldly habits and automatic behavior.
At Sunday church services I am well informed about the themes of love versus evil, but not about my “mechanicality.”
We are in deep doo-doo.