THE ascending power of the Singularity Archetype is partly evidenced by our mutating relationship to embodiment. Body image disorders and some other cultural phenomena related to the body may be pathologized expressions of an evolutionary drive.
Suffering associated with body image has reached such epidemic proportions in our culture that it must be counted as one of the greatest spiritual plagues ever to be visited upon mankind. Media bombard us unceasingly with images (increasingly digitally enhanced) of ever more idealized youth and beauty while vast portions of our population undergo voluntary starvation, grueling exercise regimens, and surgery in an effort to control their body image. Attempts to control body image often result in collapsing self-esteem, intense suffering, and premature death through self-imposed famine.
The temptation is to view body-image problems as an isolated illness rather than as a phenomenon that points right to the core of our evolutionary predicament. What from one vantage seems an illness in need of eradication, from another, is an evolutionary process in need of understanding and continued transformation. The purpose here is to explore body-image problems in their actual context — the spiritual/biological evolution of the species. Viewed from this depth, body-image disorders come to seem part of a difficult birthing process. This process involves risk and suffering but may also result in the creation of new life.
The Primary Cause
From the illness point of view, body image is a problem neither hidden nor unstudied, and in the last twenty years, there has been an explosion of studies, articles, and books which have attempted to understand and ameliorate this collective illness. Eating disorders are the most lethal of psychiatric conditions. Much of the most profound and valuable work on body image/eating disorders has been done by feminist historians and psychologists who have conducted incisive studies of how the oppressive force vectors of a patriarchal society, particularly the media, have distorted women’s expectations of their bodies. This work is entirely valid as far as it goes, which, unfortunately, is not to the core of the problem. While the body-image epidemic is greatly exacerbated by media and patriarchal forces, it is not entirely reducible to those forces. What is often perceived by researchers as the cause of the illness is actually a set of pernicious symptoms created by a deeper, more primary cause. Hiding the primary cause of the collective illness are symptoms and secondary forces that are powerful, highly visible, and capable of acting as seemingly independent prime movers. At the true center of the epidemic and its vortex of symptoms is an absolutely primary human urge, which I have termed the will toward the Glorified Body. This primary cause, unlike the secondary forces mistaken as primary, is a force capable of creating growth and transformation. When we examine the actual core of this problem, we find both the reasons and the means for creating an unexpectedly positive outcome.
What is a Glorified Body?
To understand the will toward the Glorified Body, we first need to define what I am referring to as “the Glorified Body.” Many Christian writings describe the body of the resurrected Christ as being a “Glorified Body” — a radiant body free of mortal limitations. Although I am not working from a Christian perspective, I believe this phrase captures a powerful archetype. We see images and hear stories of the Glorified Body in most or all cultures and periods. All sorts of variations and numerous gradations exist on the Glorified Body spectrum, but the defining characteristics are fairly apparent.
Although the Glorified Body occurs in endless variations, there are two very broad categories in which the term “Glorified Body” will be employed here. One use of the Glorified Body refers to the inherent “energy body” that all human beings possess. Sometimes I will substitute “energy body” to make clear this first meaning of Glorified Body. The second and somewhat overlapping category of use for the term “Glorified Body” refers to human or nonhuman entities whose manifest bodies are closer to energy than conventional flesh and blood bodies. This type of Glorified Body hovers in the collective psyche of the human species as a highly charged image and expectation of our further evolution.
No mystical leap of faith or willing suspension of disbelief is required to accept the reality that we all possess an energy body. This type of Glorified Body has been recognized by secular and religious traditions throughout human history. Eastern models of the energy body from Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine, and Western scientific studies of human energy fields by psychologist and physiologist Valerie Hunt at UCLA, are examples of systematic studies of our energetic anatomy. The NIH (National Institute of Health) officially recognizes the term ” biofield “.30
Although the intense materialism of our culture has caused us to lose touch with our real nature, in many other cultures and periods, the existence of an energy body in parallel to the flesh and blood body was accepted as a medical, everyday fact. Chinese medicine has for thousands of years recognized that we have a body made of “Chi,” or life energy and that it is composed of an intricate structure of energy meridians. Acupuncture works with “virtual points” located along these energy meridians that are not in any way discernible in the dense, physical body.
30 The existence of biofields has been gaining mainstream acceptance: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19856109
Western medicine has gradually come to recognize the validity of acupuncture, though it is as yet unable to explain how it works. In other Eastern traditions, the Glorified Body is referred to as “Shakti” or “Kundalini.” In Western occultism, it is referred to variously as the “astral body,” “subtle body,” “light body,” “dream body,” “fine matter body,” and “etheric body.” Soul, psyche, self, mind, ego, and consciousness can all be considered energy bodies or aspects of the Glorified Body, which materialist science has failed miserably to locate or explain in terms of the physical body.
Parapsychological phenomena are also difficult or impossible to explain in terms of a purely physical body. Materialist science tends to react to such phenomena with agitation and denial. But these supposedly anomalous phenomena become obvious and expected when we recognize that we have an energy body. William James once said that, “All that is necessary to disprove the notion that all crows are black is one white crow.” A single occurrence in all of human history of a person, for example, being aware of another person while remote from sensory information, just one mother in all of human history being able to visualize her child in trouble at a distant location accurately, would be sufficient to disprove the notion that we are only physical bodies. And we’ve had whole flocks of such white crows pass over our heads. As discussed in the previous chapter, very large numbers of people in different cultures and periods report out-of-body and near-death experiences. OBEs and NDEs involve the experience of consciousness remote from the physical body. Increasingly, these phenomena have been subjected to serious, systematic study. As we’ve discussed, NDE researchers have found that people who are revived from states of arrested bodily function describe strikingly similar, life-changing experiences of departing their physical bodies and discovering their awareness existing as an energy body — a Glorified Body which many describe as possessed with extraordinary vitality, capable of seeing and hearing with dazzling acuity and sometimes able to travel anywhere in space or time at will.
Manifesting the Glorified Body
Although the Glorified Body may exist in all of us, some people are able to manifest it in different ways and degrees than others. A charismatic person, a person who seems radiant or has a powerful presence, may be better able to manifest his Glorified Body. There are apparently rare cases of human beings who have shifted their energy body into the foreground of manifestation to such an extent that, for a period of time, they appear to be closer to light than flesh and blood.
The Glorified Body Mythologized
In mythologies, the Glorified Body appears free of some or all of the many limitations of mortality. The Glorified Body may be completely free of cosmetic blemishes, limited vitality, aging, pain, disease, and death. A Glorified Body may be able to transcend conventional limitations of space and time. For example, it may not need technology or an intermediary force of any sort to appear in any location it chooses. It may have transcendent clarity of vision and thought. Often it will transcend ordinary language and communicate through radiance or from the inside of another psyche. A being with a Glorified Body may live in a state of enlightenment and love. Or it could be evil and possess an incredibly potent array of diabolical powers. Visually, a Glorified Body may appear radiant and beautiful — awe-inspiring, numinous — the body of an angel. But it could also choose to appear cloaked as a mundane physical body or as a hideous apparition or demon. The most evolved Glorified Bodies are infinitely plastic, able to take on whatever form is desired. This is the quality of the ideoplastic body, the shape shifter, the changeling — like the devil that “hath the power to assume a pleasing shape” or the liquid metal T-1000 terminator in the popular movie, Terminator 2.
In contemporary mythology, the Glorified Body appears in a spectrum of permutations ranging from an idealized human-material body to a state of omnipotent, omniscient godhood. In our materialistic culture, we have Superman, “the Man of Steel”, who has a more industrialized version of the Glorified Body. Superman doesn’t have special radiance, telepathy, or most other divine attributes, but leaps tall buildings in a single bound, outruns locomotives, and, most helpful in our culture, is bulletproof. At the other end of our cultural spectrum, the Glorified Body turns up as the shape-shifting UFO phenomenon perceived by human observers in endlessly varying forms.
An interesting mythological place to observe an evolving spectrum of Glorified Bodies in contemporary culture is in the rich fantasy world of Ann Rice’s Vampire Chronicles. These novels also have much to say about the intensity of the modern will toward the Glorified Body. As Rice develops her vision, particular vampires grow more powerful, and their bodies become more glorified. Fledgling vampires don’t age, are stronger than mortals, are more energetic, have superior mental clarity and memory, are superb mimics, and have a number of telepathic abilities. But they are also dependent on living blood and can be destroyed by fire, sunlight, and older, more powerful vampires. Vampire bodies go through a kind of reverse aging. They become stronger, more impervious, and develop an array of powers that seem to be evolving toward omnipotence. Significantly, the most advanced vampires are no longer fully dependent on drinking blood and become less and less constrained by the organic world. In Rice’s mythology, the first vampire was created when a spirit, driven by jealous discontent at not having a body, was able to enter a human being and merge as a kind of symbiont with body and psyche. In other words, the vampire species began as a hybridization of a spirit, a pure energy body, merging with a physical body.
In the fourth book of the Chronicles, The Body Thief, the Vampire Lestat is tempted to trade his glorified vampire body for a mortal one by the “Body Thief,” a man of dark psychic gifts who has learned how to transfer his psyche into the body of a vulnerable human being. Lestat agrees to a three-day exchange of his vampire body for the body of an exceptionally handsome, vital young man. The body thief stole this body so that he could more effectively tempt the narcissistic Lestat. As soon as the exchange is made, Lestat is horrified by the clumsiness of the mortal body, its vulnerability, slowness, tendency toward fatigue, poor vision, and lack of telepathic abilities. He feels the most extreme revulsion when he has to suffer through eating, indigestion, bowel movements, and illness. It takes a desperate struggle for him to regain his Glorified Body from the duplicitous Body Thief, and he is never again tempted by mortality.
In the Chronicles, you can feel the deep urge in Rice to have a Glorified Body herself, a body not limited by predetermined gender, unwanted body fat, limited beauty, and power. Through her characters, Rice displays the gifts of a talented body thief in the imaginal realm as she projects her awareness into one Glorified Body after another. And, of course, there is her cult following — those folks who write her all the time begging to be made vampires so they can escape their mortal bodies.
The Will Toward the Glorified Body
The human will toward the Glorified Body is not a subtle urge. It is an iron fist pounding on both sides of the doors of perception. It is an urging of such terrible power that it will prompt some to go under the surgeon’s knife, starve themselves to death, and sell their souls in the hope of having a mortal body that will merely better resemble a Glorified Body for a brief time. The Glorified Body is not a casual, imaginative musing or an episodic blip on the radar screens of various cultures. It is a powerful, emergent archetype. It is one of our most ancient obsessions and one of the most explosively contemporary. It is related to the deepest sources of human suffering, an inextricable aspect of a thousand types of neurotic torment, a companion in some way to almost every form of personal hell. It is also a divine muse, one of the greatest sources of hope and inspiration we’ve ever known.
Messages about the will toward a Glorified Body are as ubiquitous in our culture as Wi-Fi and cellphone signals. Expression of this will can also be found deeply embedded in every religion and mythology, and yet it is rarely named, rarely seen as a highly defined, differentiated, and absolutely integral aspect of human psychology. The will toward the Glorified Body is at the center of some of our most destructive and creative impulses. This will is a primary urge that can inspire incredible athletic achievement, great art, and technology that blurs with magic.
The will toward the Glorified Body is what inspired Michelangelo to carve David. This same will has also inspired the technological magicians of the computer industry to provide us with “Avatars”, animated characters that personify us in the once visually anonymous world of the Internet. Soon (and to some extent already), we will be able to boot up our virtual Glorified Bodies and revel in a digital garden of unearthly delights. Our bodies will be infinitely plastic, and with a mouse click, we can be leaner than Kate Moss or have cybernetically enhanced muscle definition that will make Mr. Universe look like the Pillsbury Dough Boy. It’s interesting to note the term the computer industry has adopted for these new digital bodies: avatars. The first definition of “avatar” in the abridged Oxford dictionary is: “(in Hindu mythology) the descent of a deity or released soul to earth in bodily form.”
But somewhere behind the ever-more glowing computer monitor or virtual-reality goggles will be a human being, a digitally unenhanced mortal/corporeal version 1.0, who will very likely have bags under his eyes and a pot belly. The Wizard of Oz tells us not to look at the man behind the curtain. But we will look and will be ever more horrified with the contrast between what we see behind the curtain and what’s up there on the screen. The primary urge will remain agonizingly unfulfilled.
Technology and the Glorified Body
However unfulfilling it may be in some ways, technology is one of the central expressions of the will toward a Glorified Body. Technology actually does allow us to extend our physical bodies through time and space. The urge to become a celebrity, for example, is an urge toward a Glorified Body that modern technology can, to some degree, create. In her films, Marilyn Monroe still lives as a youthful beauty. Since she died young, there is no aging, mortal body to provide an embarrassing contrast to her Glorified Body projected on the silver screen. Her life fulfills the Blondie song “Die Young Stay Pretty.” Here are a few of the lyrics:
“Die young, stay pretty Die young, stay pretty…
Love for youth, love for youth So, die young and stay pretty”
Technology can actually allow you to die young and stay pretty. Marilyn has been dead for half a century, but she remains a goddess. People in our culture perceive that someone like Marilyn Monroe has achieved a kind of technological Glorified Body and seeks material, technological means to achieve immortality themselves.
Attempting to Glorify the Mortal Body
Projecting the image of a Glorified Body is much more difficult, however, for human beings who don’t live on the silver screen and instead are subject to the embarrassment of having an organic mortal body visible to others in real-time without airbrushing or digital enhancements. Most people don’t possess unusual physical beauty, or, if they do presently, may have problems if they plan to live a normal life span. Many in our culture try to glorify their mortal bodies through dieting, cosmetic surgery, and exercise regimens. But attempts to whip the mortal body into Glorified Body status can never result in a lasting feeling of success. There is always that person in the glossy magazine picture who looks better and seems to really have a Glorified Body. Projection of the Glorified Body onto the idealized other makes him or her light up like a god, a being impervious to the blemishes of mortality. Many people are secretly fascinated and delighted when a beautiful celebrity is revealed in a People magazine photo to have gained weight, aged, or otherwise fallen from the projected glory of Mount Olympus to the mortal gutter.
When many people see a glowingly beautiful person, they don’t realize they are seeing a changing mortal body in a temporary condition of beauty. The glossy, airbrushed photo is relatively unchanging, but the supermodel is aging and hurtling toward death with the rest of us. For many, beautiful people, particularly celebrity beauties, are members of a fundamentally different caste than mortal appearing humans. These “hot” people light up in our minds with the sacred fire of deep sexual longing. We behold them, and feel the stirrings of immortal, archetypal forces. It may seem as if there were a race of gods and a race of mortals inhabiting the same planet. Nietzche’s Zarathustra said, “If there are gods, how can I stand it to be no god!” In our culture, we say, “If there are beautiful people, how can I stand it to be no beautiful person!”
Mortal Body Identification and Meat Puppet Despair
One of the great causes of despair and suffering in modern society is our tendency to identify exclusively with the mortal body. The intense materialistic bias of our culture has caused many of us to forget that we also have a Glorified Body — an energy or spirit body that religious and secular traditions from all cultures and periods have recognized. Modern science has also begun to recognize that viewing a human being as an object is a fallacy. The mortal body is not a fixed object but a process. Fifty trillion cellular animals, each of them changing nanosecond by nanosecond, work cooperatively to create a human body. The mortal body has been called “spiritualized tissue,” and conventional materialist science has failed utterly to explain the connection between mind and brain. Quantum mechanics, meanwhile, has exploded the materialist bias of conventional science as an irrational prejudice definitively contradicted by experimental evidence. A number of open-minded physicists have confronted the replicable, empirical data that has exposed the materialist fallacy contaminating not only science but every level of our culture. The so-called paradoxes of quantum mechanics: objects being in two places at the same time, the instantaneous parallelism of objects separated by any distance (nonlocality), the decisive need for consciousness to collapse the wave function and determine outside reality, etc., immediately cease to be paradoxes when we give up the obsolescent notion that the universe is composed of matter and that mind, body, and cosmos are separated. But does the materialist bias of science really affect, for example, a teenager with a body-image problem?
As a teacher in an Alternative School for troubled adolescents, I worked with a fifteen-year-old boy (we’ll call him Adam) who was depressed, even suicidal. Adam was unhappy with his body and saw human existence as painful and futile. In talking about the source of his despair, he mentioned a television program he had seen a couple of years earlier. The program was a documentary showing brain surgery on someone suffering from epilepsy. During this operation, neurosurgeons would stimulate part of the patient’s exposed brain, see what response they got, and label that portion. Adam was horrified by the television documentary. Being human seemed reducible to a brain that was nothing more than a circuit board. He felt that this show proved that he was nothing more than a “meat puppet”, a term he borrowed from the name of a popular rock band. Adam’s feelings about his own body and human existence were influenced by the briefest glimpse of the pseudoscientific position referred to as “neurological materialism” — the belief that human consciousness is nonexistent or is reducible to an epiphenomenal byproduct of chemical process in the brain.
But we are not “meat puppets.” We are much more than our mortal bodies, and we already possess a Glorified Body. For several hundred years, the priests of science have influenced the rest of society toward the materialist fallacy. We have become much more focused on objects, and our attention has been diverted from the realm of the spirit. Our present magic is technology, which we can buy at the store. The gods and goddesses we once saw in the heavens are now technology-wielding extraterrestrials who, like evil scientists, do medical tests on us inside metal saucers. And, most significantly, we are focused on the body, our body, and the body of the other, as an object. We’ve come to identify more strongly with the denser, mortal aspect of our being. That identification has become more and more exclusive, and our Glorified Body — the energy body that exists in parallel to the physical body — has been forgotten.
The Ghost in the Machine
Our Glorified Body has become the “ghost in the machine,” an elusive, suspect dimension that can’t be measured in grams, centimeters, or amperes. Materialist science found that it was completely unable to explain the mind, which is more a function of the Glorified Body than the physical body. Therefore, it literally and pervasively dismissed human consciousness as either nonexistent or, at best, as a byproduct of an automated neurological process. Once, the patriarchy declared man made in the image of God. More recently, however, the patriarchal dogma swung all the way to the other extreme and declared man made in the image of the machine. Consciousness and free will were disparaged as illusions, accidental subprograms of our “real” center — the brain misinterpreted as a tangled, wet, digital computer.
Ray Kurzweil is a neurological materialist and technology futurist who has written two influential books, The Age of Spiritual Machines and The Singularity is Near. The recent documentary film about him, Transcendent Man, confirmed my impression of him as a tragicomic figure, desperately trying to keep his aging body alive by taking 100 supplements a day so that he can be around for a kind of technological rapture he imagines. In a satirical piece31 I wrote about aging a few years ago, I describe his absurd predicament:
Ray Kurzweil — Transcendent Man?
Of course, if you are a fundamentalist materialist and a technological futurist, like Ray Kurzweil, then you may have some expectation of having your consciousness downloaded into a quantum computer housed in a titanium alloy exoskeleton with Zeiss Ikon optics and a shape-shifting dermal layer consisting of nanobots able to reconfigure–
31 “You are Only as Old as You Are: Six Noble Truths of the Zap Philosophy of Aging,” available at ZapOracle.com.
-themselves in any way that is consistent with the underlying titanium alloy exoskeleton. In other words, your expectation is the nerdy gadget version of being an immortal changeling. But no matter how many off-planet backups of yourself you have downloaded into quantum computers kept in super-cooled, fully hardened underground bunkers, there is always the possibility of a superwave or galaxy-devouring black hole destroying all those backups. This is what Tolkien called premature immortality: the naïve confusion of immortality with being in a single, age-resistant body.
It’s too bad that someone doesn’t point Ray toward NDE research which ought to show him essential flaws in neurological materialism and allow him to realize that neither bodies nor machinery are necessary for the survival of consciousness.
Awakening from Materialism
To the great credit of progressive science, many scientists have left the rather clueless paradigm of materialism behind. These scientists have begun to integrate the findings of quantum mechanics and have stopped denying the existence of phenomena that materialist science finds impossible to explain. Still, we must be cautious because although quantum mechanics has profound implications, we can’t be cavalier about applying them to human reality. Quantum mechanics applies to the subatomic domain, and it is comprehensible in the language of mathematics, not English, so we need to be careful about applying our personal mythology of what quantum mechanics means to the human domain.
One of the best-known findings of quantum mechanics is that point of view seems to change the physical reality of what is out there. A simple, replicable experiment illustrates this principle:
A photon emitter is set up to project one photon at a time at a metal plate. If the plate has one slit in it, the photon is a particle and goes straight through the slit like a bullet. If the plate has two slits in it, however, the photon is a wave, and a wave interference pattern results. The photon somehow “knows” what it is supposed to be even before it leaves the emitter. The result of this experiment was startling and agitating to the naive mind of the materialist. But almost anyone who pays open-minded attention to ordinary life sees all sorts of examples of inner psychic states having acausal parallelisms to outside reality. Carl Jung termed these strange, meaningful coincidences “synchronicities.”
The photon has been called a “wavicle” because it is either a particle or wave, depending on what you expect it to be. Some physicists have suggested that human beings are like the wavicle: if you view a human being as an object, a particle, then you experience the mortal, physical body as all there is and will tend toward the “meat puppet” view of neurological materialism; if you view a human being as a soul, then you experience the wave-like spirit body and will tend toward a mystical, religious point of view. To see the full human being, you must flip back and forth between these points of view until you are able to experience that human beings are both particle-like physical bodies and wave-like energy bodies.
The dualistic point of view formalized by Descartes at the dawn of science caused mind and body to be sundered into entirely separate realms. But that naive separation is failing both in science and society. Increasingly, a regained awareness is dawning in the West that body and mind are two sides of the same coin, that spirit and body have an inherent integration captured by the famous principle of alchemy, “As above, so below.” The Glorified Body is an energy body that is still physical but more difficult for our present instrumentation to measure. Classical Newtonian physics and the materialist paradigm fail to explain consciousness and other aspects of the Glorified Body. But contemporary physicists like Roger Penrose, Danah Zohar, Amit Goswami, and Fred Alan Wolf are beginning to hypothesize quantum mechanical models of the human organism that account for both body and spirit. One problem is that a generation gap of sorts has opened up between those scientists who are aware of and have struggled to integrate new paradigms of reality that jive with the findings of quantum mechanics and those who profess to do science but refuse to give up the obsolescent paradigm of materialism that fails to account for quantum mechanics, consciousness, parapsychological phenomena, etc. This generation gap is even wider in society, where many ordinary persons, like my fifteen-year-old former student Adam, believe that science has proven that we are “meat puppets” and that there is no spirit or energy body, and others who know the “facts of life” recognized by almost every other culture in history that we have both physical and energetic bodies.
Reflection vs. Radiance
A large part of our suffering is caused by our tendency to mistake “reflection” for “radiance.” Our materialist bias causes us to equate ourselves and others with reflections. Mirrors, photographs, film, and video obviously present us with mere reflections of human beings. But directly gazing at a real-time human body passing us on the sidewalk can also be a case of seeing a mere reflection. What we actually see is the reflection of ambient light off the surface topography of skin, hair, and clothing. This reflection enters the simple convex lens of the cornea and emerges turned upside down on the back of the retina. The retina also has a large blind spot where the optic nerve connects. This imperfectly transmitted light must be turned right-side up, the blind spot must be filled in, and in numerous other ways, the registered image must be interpreted by neurological processing. This doesn’t happen instantaneously, so a time buffer exists between environmental phenomena and our perception.
What we actually see is a neurological reconstruction of a past event. Fortunately, we don’t perceive with just the conventional five bodily senses. Other persons have “radiance” — the direct transmission of self that allows us to feel their presence at a distance which precludes ordinary sense perception. What we actually perceive may be more like an overlay of reflection (a neurological construct) and radiance (direct perception of the self of the other). A person with the looks to create a beautiful topographical reflection might have a radiance that is sickening to behold. You see reflections; you behold radiance. We would ease a great deal of suffering if we could shift the ratio between seeing and beholding when we perceive ourselves and others. If we learn to behold others as radiance, to look beyond the blemishes of their reflections, to perceive the Glorified Body already present, then we will have gone a long way toward healing transformation. To accomplish that transformation, we need to name and recognize the perception of radiance we already have. We also need to shift the ratio of reflection and radiance in our perception to favor radiance.
The Sixties and the Glorified Body
The Sixties rebellion from the dense, naive materialism of the Fifties was, in many ways, a reassertion of the Glorified Body. Consciousness-altering psychedelic experiences were sought as out-of-body experiences on demand. The fascination with Eastern religion, transcendental meditation, parapsychology, and the occult was largely a rebellion against the patriarchal dogma that the material body was all that existed. For all the narcissistic goofiness, crass commercialism, and gullibility often associated with the New Age, this movement grew out of the Sixties and further articulated the collective dissatisfaction with the reigning creed of materialism. Body image and eating disorders are largely pernicious symptoms of this reigning materialism and its tendency to create an exclusive identification with the physical body that is both painful and highly disorienting. We need to heal that disorientation and expand our identification with the physical body to include recognition of our inherent Glorified Body.
A Primary Urge
The will toward a Glorified Body is a primary urge for our entire species and not just single individuals living in a particular culture. Organisms of all sorts seem to have the primary urge to reproduce–to propagate genetically. Among gendered organisms, there is an insistent urge to couple with other individuals of the same species. That urging may be intense enough to be described as “going into heat.” Heat is a state of excitement and increased dynamism, whether it is the material heat of fire or the metabolic heat of a living organism. The organism in heat may appear agitated, even tormented, while in the grip of this urge. In the adolescent stage of development — the stage of recently acquired reproductive potential — there may be a particularly urgent will to achieve that first coupling. The unfulfilled urge is antecedent to the coupling event — an event that in chaos math is called an “attractor.”32 Very likely, the organism will get to fulfill this urge. But it’s not a sure thing. Some organisms may die before they fulfill the urge, but some individuals of that species must succeed in fulfilling that urge, or the species will become extinct. As far as I can tell, urges in nature are always fulfilled by a species, though not necessarily by every individual of that species. Only in human beings could we even imagine the existence of an urge that seems never to be fulfilled. My contention is that the human species has “gone into heat” — a state of heightened expectation, agitation, and chaos. We are nearing the attractor, where we can couple with the Glorified Body in a way that permanently releases us from the oppressive limits of corporeality and fulfills a primary urge. Meanwhile, the findings of Near-Death Experience research, parapsychology, and a number of other fields are quietly creating a new Copernican revolution. The disenchanting delusions of materialism, which put the wetware of a single corporeal body at the center of existence, are giving way to a recognition that we are much more than that. Instead of viewing consciousness as a byproduct or illusion generated by the body, we are becoming aware that bodies are more like planets orbiting the radiance of the psyche.
Evolutionary Crisis and the Glorified Body
The intensifying will toward the Glorified Body is happening at a time of evolutionary crisis when the metabolism of the whole species is heating up. Technological changes and scientific discoveries are fundamentally altering our experiences of self and outer reality. The biosphere that allows the existence of our physical bodies has undergone a global-
32 Roughly, an “attractor” is an event in the future that is so powerful that it warps causality and phenomenon in the present.
-toxification, which is threatening the continuance of our species. To understand the body-image plague, we must view it in the context in which it occurs — a crisis phase of human evolution. Many attributes of the human psyche, from sexuality and body image to spirituality and our sense of relation to the universe, are rapidly mutating. We cannot comprehend symptoms without understanding the general condition of a species that is hurtling toward an evolutionary nexus charged with images of extinction and rebirth. Our intensifying will toward the Glorified Body is more than an urge to reconnect with the inherent human energy body recognized by all human cultures. It is also a species-wide urge to make a quantum, evolutionary jump toward the Glorified Body as our embodied manifestation. We are experiencing an urge to massively redefine body, self, and our relationship to physical reality.
Epilogue — We Finally Made It
The origins of this chapter on the Glorified Body are interesting and have something to add to the content:
On May 31, 1996 (the exact date is easy to establish because it happened to be the day that Timothy Leary died), I woke up feeling somewhat downcast about certain stuck, neurotic aspects of my personality. Feeling no particular inspiration, I decided to sit down with a notebook and a pen in front of me and take another try at understanding anyway. Suddenly, what felt energetically like a transmission occurred, and in a short period of time — this seems to be a pattern for me; the time interval always seems to be less than 40 minutes — an intense series of life-changing insights cascaded through my mind. Was this a last message from Timothy as he left his body? The insights I had about the nature of body and consciousness, and a largely unrecognized will in the human species, did not merely change my thinking and philosophy, they profoundly shifted some of the most over-determined, stubbornly neurotic aspects of my personality, and I’ve been a different person ever since that morning. Just when I finished furiously scribbling down this compressed burst of insight, my pager went off. This could be the most mundane of events, but intuitively I was absolutely convinced that the pager was registering a parallel transmission and that whoever was calling had something of immediate bearing on the burst of insight. I left my RV to look for a phone. There was a voice message from my friend Jordie saying he needed to talk to me, but the number left on the pager turned out to be that of a hospital in Louisiana. Another page came through from him, again with the number of the hospital in Louisiana, and I worried that there might be a medical emergency involving him or his partner, Sarah. I’ll cut through the details here. Suffice it to say there were a series of telecommunication anomalies of different sorts, five inexplicable malfunctions of different systems making it impossible for us to communicate. It took more than twenty-four hours with both of us trying before we could have a live phone contact. Jordie had paged me immediately upon awakening from a dream of shocking intensity and import, in which I appeared as a dream character. The dream’s content had jaw-dropping parallelism to the transmission-like burst of insights I had received at the same time Jordie was having his dream.
In the dream, I am standing with Jordie and some of our other friends in the desert near Big Mountain, Arizona. In the waking life, we had all been there doing volunteer work on a Navajo reservation, staying with the family of a medicine man. Our time there, in the Spring of 1996, corresponded with the appearance of Comet Hyakutake, the brightest comet in the last several hundred years. The reservation, which was in a high desert with few electric lights, had ideal viewing conditions. We see some shooting stars. One of the shooting stars veers off its expected downward trajectory and comes shooting toward us. It appears before us as a glowing “impossibly geometric” (Jordie’s phrase, he compared it to an M.C. Escher design) object. It seemed magical, merkaba-like, interdimensional, and alchemical. I turn to Jordie and say, “We finally made it.”
Upon interpretation, the dream seems to be about our coupling with the Glorified Body. The star that appears before us is a cosmic vessel, like the shape-shifting luminous craft of the UFO phenomenon. The key statement, “We finally made it,” seems to have at least three levels of meaning. The first is the sense of victory, rescue, and accomplishment after a long travail. The second is “made it” in the sense of manifestation, manufacture, or creation — “We finally manifested it.” And the third, from the American vernacular, is that we finally coupled with it. This third layer is interesting because of its sexual resonance and the implication of achieving a sexual union that was a long time coming. For example, if a high school boy spoke of his girlfriend and said, “We finally made it.” it would be understood to mean that after a long period of frustrated desire and working toward greater intimacy, they finally had sexual intercourse. This layer resonates with the realization I had that morning that our will toward the Glorified Body was destined to be fulfilled and that it was a core intentionality like sexual desire.