Article - Laura Knight-Jadczyk
Carlos Castaneda did not seem to be aware that there was another option. His teachings about warriors and sorcerers seem to suggest that the only option to really become "free" is to cut all connections, and to isolate the self psychologically and even, in some cases, physically.
The C's, on the other hand, suggest that there is another way: that of networking in an STO manner.
The hidden key in the teachings of the C's, of Don Juan, Gurdjieff, and the alchemist Fulcanelli is that human beings may, indeed, be what they are because of genetics, but they can CHANGE this by what they LEARN.
A sea slug is a pretty basic creature. It cannot migrate, communicate, fly or think. It exists in a life of eating and sex. That's about it.
BUT, if a jet of water is blown on its gill, it withdraws the gill. If the jet of water is repeatedly blown on the gill, the withdrawal gradually ceases. The sea slug stops responding to what it now recognizes as a false alarm. It "habituates."
This is learning. Maybe not algebra, but learning nevertheless.
If the sea slug is given an electric shock once, before water is blown on the gill, it learns to withdraw its gill even further than usual - it is "sensitized."
It can also be conditioned to withdraw its gill when it receives only a gentle puff of water if that puff is paired with an electric shock, after which only the puff is present, stimulating the behavior. This is associative learning.
The thing is: the sea slug does not use its brain. The changes occur in the abdominal ganglion.
Since sea slugs have pretty large and simple neuron complexes, they are easy to study, and scientists were able to determine what, exactly, occurs in the process of learning.
When an electrical nerve signal reaches a synapse, it must transfer to a chemical signal, like a train passenger having to catch a ferry across a sea channel before getting back on another train.
Learning seems to be a change in the properties of the synapses. Either the synapse is weakened or strengthened, and the whole operation centers around a molecule called cyclic AMP.
A series of chemical reactions occurs which leads to the activation of a protein called CREB. Animals which lack the activated form of CREB can learn, but cannot remember. This is because CREB, once activated, starts SWITCHING ON GENES.
The genes switched on are called CRE genes and are "cyclic AMP response elements.
The human CREB gene is on chromosome 2, but a crucial component is also found on chromosome 16. It now seems that a further component is on chromosome 21.
In fruit flies the cyclic AMP system seems to be especially active in brain regions called "mushroom bodies." They are toadstool-shaped extrusions of neurons. A fly that has no mushroom bodies in its brain is generally incapable of learning. CREB and cyclic AMP do their work in these mushroom bodies.
(Now, think of the mushroom imagery of the ancients! Mycenaea - the place of the mushroom. Of course, the occultists would have us believe that they were all slurping amanita muscaria, but were they?)
Deep in the base of the brain is a structure called the hippocampus (SEA HORSE!!!) and a part of the hippocampus is called Ammon's horn, or the RAM.
In the Ammon's horn, there are a large number of "pyramidal neurons" which gather the input of other sensory neurons. A pyramidal neuron is difficult to fire, but if two separate inputs arrive at once, their combined effect will fire it. Once fired, it is much easier to fire, but only by one of the two inputs that originally fired it, and NOT by another input. Thus, for example, the sight of a pyramid and the word Egypt combined, could fire the pyramidal cell, creating an associative memory. This means that things that occur together in time, can "potentiate" associative learning.
What resides in and near the hippocampus is the mechanism for creating long-term memory. The cells there transmit the newly formed long-term memory to where it will reside in the neo-cortex.
People with small hippocampuses can form "procedural" memories - that is, they can learn to do things that require skill, like reading and writing, and diagramming sentences; teaching English and literature, and performing rituals and collecting data of all kinds, and even aping scholars to a sufficient extent that the non-discriminating observer is easily fooled. The problem is, they have no real ability to associate so as to do anything that is truly creative or new.
This means that they cannot and do not learn from their experiences if it requires the extraction of a principle and applying it to other situations in the realms of pure thought. As Gurdjieff noted, even great literature can be written altogether mechanically.
This, of course, makes me wonder if part of the STS problem is a small hippocampus since semantic aphasia seems to be one of the chief clues that we have noticed in dealing with such individuals.
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