"Function determines structure."
-- three statements by Thomas Hanna during training Wave 1
Of these three statements, the more obscure (and perhaps, vexing) is the first, "Neurophysiology is a metaphor." I didn't know what to make of it, at the time, and I wonder if anyone else did. Tom Hanna didn't explain and no one asked. I wonder if anyone else remembers him saying it. It might be in the lecture recordings, though he didn't record everything.
In any case, now I can explain it and show its usefulness.
First thing: No one has ever had a direct experience of neurophysiology or of their nervous system. What we experience is our functioning -- not nerves, not a brain, not even of sensory receptors. Those are objects, 3d-person, objective structures viewed from outside. However, all of our experiences are inside, subjective, and none of them looks like what we see when we regard neurological structures, clinically dissected or chemically analyzed.
So, what are we left with?
Let's take a few terms of neurophysiology and see what we can make of it. (If you know the basics of neurophysiology, you know these terms.)
- neural pathways
Here's our first step:
- afferent = sensory
- efferent = motor
- synapse formation = making connections/learning
- neural pathways = more-or-less integrated functions
- neurotransmitters = chemical messengers
Here's our second step:
- afferent = sensory = attention
- efferent = motor = intention
- synapse formation = making connections/learning = imagination
- neural pathways = functions = memory/persistent functional patterns
- neurotransmitters = chemical messengers = communication/relationship
Now, we see and recognize how neurophysiology is a metaphor for something more basic and familiar: a somatic experience of life, functioning.
The term, "Sensory-Motor Amnesia", of course, refers to alterations to all five functions. (Somas, for some reason, like the number, "five".) S-MA is the displacement of a previous pattern of function by a new one, triggered by strong experience and memory formation, entailing all of those functions.
Attention, intention, imagination, memory and communication are the five fundamental functions of all somas -- present to varying degrees according to the species. All of the physiological structures we identify by dissection and chemical analysis are the ways those functions exist in life-forms, and those vary according to species, also.
So, though an amoeba (our primitive, squooshy relative) has no central nervous system, as we think of it, clearly it directs attention (e.g., moves toward food), exercises intention (e.g., engulfs food), makes connections (e.g., adapts to new environments), has a memory of what constitutes food, and responds to chemical communications. The same is true of a jellyfish.
DNA, itself, is a structure of memory -- genetic memory and, as we now know from discoveries about how environment affects "gene/genetic expression", adaptive memory. (As a giant leap, we might also say that the Kosmos is a process of evolving memory, where "tendency" stands in for "intention" and "persistence" stands in for "memory".)
Let's take a look at some of our familiar somatic functions:
- physical sensation and movement
Clearly, movement involves attention, intention, memory, imagination and communication. Think of an elite athlete, say, a basketball player during practice (movement-memory formation) and then in the game (execution of movement memory formed during practice), with attention and intention active throughout the game, communicating with other players.
Emotions, likewise, always involve attention on a situation, memory of what it signifies richly colored by imagination (consider jealousy), and an intention to have things be a certain way and, of course, the communication of emotion.
Thinking involves attention on a subject, an intention to arrive at a conclusion, memory of what concepts/language mean, and, in the case of developmental thinking, imagination (emergence of the conclusion), and language.
The physical structures (nerves, brain, fascia, muscles, etc.) give persistent form to those functions. Let's make that giant leap and say that those five functions underlie all somatic functioning and experience.
What? You don't want to?
Let's examine your resistance. I hope it's strong, so it's easy to examine.
- First thing: You feel compelled to resist (intention).
- Second thing: You feel that you're right to resist; it's necessary, inevitable, valid because of ...
- the Third thing: You feel that you know what you are resisting and you imagine that something else must or might be correct (whatever that may be, even if you don't know what it is). There's some balance and synergy between your memory and your imagination that gives the whole thing substance. (I write about how attention and memory make reality seem solid in my piece, The Geometry of Consciousness.)
Now, if you're resisting my "Touche!", examine your resistance as the action of intention, attention, memory, imagination and communication. Look at your resistence in terms of each one.
Yes, it's inevitable and (wouldn't you say?) irrefutable.
This structure of experience and identity is the same as the structure of a diamond -- four carbon atoms in crystalline relationship with other structures of four.
So much of what we live out is subconscious or unconscious and persistent. We're stuck in and stuck with it.
A quick way bring a persistent state to consciousness and get free of it is to discern its structure in terms of our intention, our attention, the synergy of our memory and our imagination and how it communicates to us and to others.
I've written up a practical process for doing so, in my previous piece, The Basic Structure of All Senses of Identity | The Gold Key Release. It's a way of cleaving the diamond.
Test it once. You'll never be the same and you'll have stupendously expanded the scope and understanding of your somatic growth potential into freedom.
Still resisting? I understand.
Apply the process to your resistance and understand yourself. Feel the relief.