Timothy Leary’s 8 Worlds of Consciousness

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Richard Alan Miller

Consciousness is a quality of the mind generally regarded to have such elements as subjectivity, self-awareness, sentience, sapience, and the ability to perceive the relationship between oneself and the environment.

It is a subject of much research in the philosophy of mind, psychology, neuroscience, and cognitive science.

Some philosophers divide consciousness into two categories, phenomenal (the experience itself) and access (the processing of the things in experience).

Phenomenal consciousness is the state of being conscious, such as when we say, “I am conscious.”

Access consciousness is being conscious of something in relation to abstract concepts, such as when we say, “I am conscious of these words.”

Various forms of access consciousness include awareness, self-awareness, conscience, and stream of consciousness.

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In common terminology, consciousness denotes being awake and responsive to the environment, in contrast with being asleep or in a coma.

The phrase “level of consciousness” denotes how consciousness seems to vary during anesthesia and various states of mind, such as daydreaming, lucid dreaming, imagining, etc.

Timothy Leary was an American writer, psychologist, modern pioneer, and advocate of psychedelic drug research and use, who taught this at Harvard University during the 1960s.

As a counter-culture icon, Leary is most famous as a proponent of the therapeutic and spiritual benefits of LSD. He coined and popularized the catch phrase “Turn on, tune in, drop out.”

His Eight-Circuit Model of Consciousness is a reproducible model for consciousness.

Leary believed the mind is best viewed as a collection of eight neurological “circuits,” each being a world within itself. Each world (or circuit) represents a higher stage of evolution than the one before it.

The first four circuits, which Leary presumed to reside in the left lobe of the cerebrum, are concerned with the survival of organisms on earth.

The other four, which Leary suggested are found in the right lobe, are for use in the future evolution of humans, and remain dormant in most human beings.

First Circuit

The Bio-survival Circuit is concerned with the earliest modes of survival, and the basic separation of objects into either harmful or safe.

This circuit is said to have first appeared in the earliest evolution of the invertebrate brain. It is the first to be activated in an infant’s mind. Leary says this circuit is stimulated by opiate-like drugs.

This circuit introduces a one-dimensional perception, forward and backward—i.e., towards food, nourishment and that which is trusted as safe; and away from danger and predators.

Second Circuit

The Emotional Circuit is concerned with raw emotion, and the separation of behavior into submissive and dominant.  This circuit appeared first in vertebrate animals.

In humans the Emotional Circuit is activated when a child learns to walk. Leary associates this circuit with alcohol.

This circuit introduces a second dimension, up-down, linked with territorial politics and tribal power games.

“Up” in this model relates to swelling one’s body in size to represent dominance, whereas “down” suggests a cowering, tail-between-the-legs, submissive stance.

Third Circuit

The Dexterity-Symbolism Circuit is concerned with logic and symbolic thought.

This circuit is said to have first appeared when hominids started differentiating from the rest of the primates.

Leary says this circuit is stimulated by caffeine, as well as other stimulants. This circuit introduces the third dimension, left and right, related to the development of dexterous movement and handling “artifacts.”

Fourth Circuit

The Social-Sexual Circuit is concerned with operating within social networks, in addition to the transmission of culture across time.

This circuit is said to have first appeared with the development of tribes.  Leary never associated a drug with it, but later writers have associated it with the drug ecstasy.

This fourth circuit deals with moral-social/sexual tribal rules passed through generations and is the introduction to the fourth dimension: time.

Fifth Circuit

The Neuro-Somatic Circuit is the first of the right-brain, “higher” circuits which are inactive in most humans.

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This circuit allows one to see things in multidimensional space instead of the four dimensions of Euclidean space-time, and is there to aid in the future exploration of outer space.

Associated with hedonism and eroticism, the Neuro-Somatic Circuit is said to have first appeared with the development of leisure-class civilizations around 2000 B.C.

Leary says this circuit is stimulated by marijuana and Tantric yoga, or simply by experiencing the sensation of “free fall” at the right time.

Sixth Circuit

The Neuro-Electric Circuit is concerned with the mind becoming aware of itself independent of the patterns imprinted by the previous five circuits.

This is also called “meta-programming” or “consciousness of abstracting.” Leary says this circuit will enable telepathic communication.

He also maintains that this circuit is impossible to explain to those who have only left-brain activity, and is difficult to explain to those with active fifth circuits.

The Neuro-Electric Circuit is said to have appeared in 500 BC, in connection with the Persian Silk Route. Leary associates this circuit with peyote and psilocybin.

Seventh Circuit

The Neuro-Genetic Circuit allows access to the genetic memory contained in DNA.

This circuit is connected to memories of past lives, the Akashic Records, and the collective unconscious, and essentially allows for immortality in humans.

The Neuro-Genetic Circuit first appeared among Hindu and Sufi sects in the early first millennium. This circuit is stimulated by LSD, as well as Raja Yoga.

Eighth Circuit

The Neuro-Atomic Circuit allows access to the intergalactic consciousness that predates life in the universe (characterized as God or aliens).

This final circuit empowers humans to operate outside space-time and the constraints of relativity. This circuit is associated by Leary with Ketamine.

Copyright © Richard Alan Miller. All Rights Reserved.

This article is adapted from the introduction to the author’s book, POWER TOOLS FOR THE 21ST CENTURY, available from Earth Pulse Press  at www.earthpulse.com.

Author and physicist Richard Alan Miller’s varied writings, spanning decades of leading-edge research, reveal a wealth and depth of knowledge and experience in alternative agriculture, new age physics, and metaphysics. His noteworthy works include THE MODERN ALCHEMIST and ESP INDUCTION THROUGH FORMS OF SELF-HYPNOSIS. Visit his website at www.richardalanmiller.com.


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