Chapter 4:
Circuits Five Through Eight: Continuing Evolution

Note: The following description of the circuits is a somewhat paraphrased summary of Robert Anton Wilson's material on the upper four circuits from his Prometheus Rising (Falcon Press, 1983). Quotes from Lao Tsu are from the Vintage Books Tao Te Ching, translated by Gia-fu Feng and Jane English; Zen parables are from Paul Reps' Zen Flesh, Zen Bones. The day-to-day applications are my own.

While Circuits One through Four are present and operative in every adult human, activation of the next four circuits is not nearly as widespread. In some, none of these circuits may have ever been accessed, while others may occasionally have experiences of one or more of the upper circuits. In any case, as Circuits Five through Eight represent newly emerging evolutionary trends, they are at present operative only in a relatively small percentage of the population. The CyberNaut seeks to increase that percentage.

Circuit Five: The Holistic Neurosomatic Circuit

This circuit is typified by ecstatic or blissful feelings, sensory enhancement, sensual pleasure from even ordinary experiences and activities, and a generally blissful, laid-back 'high' of contentment with the state of things in general. Gurdjieff referred to this circuit as the True Magnetic Center. Triggering devices include isolation tanks, the Hindu technique of pranayama, or controlled breathing, zero-gravity environments, and, for the adventurous, Cannabis drugs. Such experiences as spontaneous regeneration or 'faith healing,' feelings of eternal youthfulness, and rapturous acceptance of others/events involve at least a temporary activation of this circuit. Circuit Five control techniques have been employed by yogic and Tantric practices, Zen, ancient Greek psychedelic drug-assisted rituals at Eleusis, Dionysians, Mithraic cults, Christian Scientists, Sufis,and probably early Christianity as well. Occasionally attempts to activate Circuit Five will result in a temporary, although disconcerting, period known as the 'Dark Night of the Soul' or 'crossing the Abyss,' characterized by painful ordinary physical sensations, generalized bodily discomfort, distorted, nightmarish perceptions, anxiety, and an aversion to or fear of light. However difficult such a state may become, it does pass eventually into the ecstatic bliss of positive Circuit Five experience.

The fifth circuit, centered largely in the right cortex, 'thinks in Gestalts' -- that is, fifth-circuit processes are not linear progressions but holistic, simultaneous perceptions. Neurologically wired to the genitals and the limbic system (associated with the first circuit) and often working through endorphins, the circuit is often triggered by relaxed, playful sex. One who has activated and imprinted this circuit is radiant, cheerful rather than depressed, energetic rather than sluggish, in exceptional health, and almost seems to 'sparkle.' The various complaints of the lower circuits -- first-circuit physical sickness, second-circuit aggressive power-over, submissive no-power, and the associated turbulent emotions, third-circuit bewilderment over how to improve the quality of life, and fourth-circuit guilt -- are resolved quickly and dramatically by the advent of fifth-circuit consciousness. An accurate description of life by fifth-circuit adepts is 'floating one foot off the ground.'

Circuit Five Application

It seems to me that one of the most effective ways to integrate Circuit Five experience into daily life is to work on focusing the consciousness intensely in space-time. Being 'here-now' transforms even the most mundane tasks into a set of hedonic sensations and virtually wipes out boredom from the working vocabulary. Paul Reps relates such an ancient tale in his Zen Flesh, Zen Bones:
Zen students are with their masters at least ten years before they presume to teach others. Nan-in was visited by Tenno, who, having passed his apprenticeship, had become a teacher. The day happened to be rainy, so Tenno wore wooden clogs and carried an umbrella. After greeting him Nan-in remarked:

'I suppose you left your wooden clogs in the vestibule. I want to know if your umbrella is on the right or left side of the clogs.' Tenno, confused, had no instant answer. He realized that he was unable to carry his Zen every minute. He became Nan-in's pupil, and he studied six more years to accomplish his every-minute Zen.

When this Circuit Five 'every-minute Zen' is achieved, one can't help remembering where the umbrella is! At the moment that he placed the umbrella, Tenno would have been so absorbed in the interplay of colors and shapes between the umbrella, clogs, and the decor of the vestibule, for instance, that those sensory images would have been vividly stamped in his mind and readily accessible to memory. In this state, the environment becomes a whirling miasma of such vivid sense data that just walking down the sidewalk becomes a 'retinal circus': the texture of the sidewalk is a profound sculpture of perfect randomness; the sprays of grass coming up through the cracks are delightful explosions of soft green against the tan concrete; wildflowers along the sides smear their luscious pastels across the visual field, seeming to blossom into the brain itself; trees a few feet away leap into the mind with every gully and protrusion in the bark relieved in vast detail; the blocks in the sidewalk seem crazily tilted and hilariously three-dimensional; the sudden whooshing of a sprinkler in the adjacent yard seems a delicately balanced symphony of sound; the sky is impossibly blue against the wispy clouds -- the whole body tingles and lightens, seeming about to lift off the ground and fly! Needless to say, life becomes a fluid, hedonic experience in which boredom is unheard of.

But what about when your bank screws you over, your camping trip gets rained out, your car throws a rod, and your best friend announces she is no longer speaking to you? No amount of cursing the local deities and trying to force things into your elegantly prepared scheme will do a bit of good. With that approach, you stomp around the house muttering all day until you've muttered yourself blue in the face. At such times the most expedient thing to do is to stop in your tracks, screw your eyes tight shut (assuming you're not driving), jump up and down, screaming madly a few times, then do some deep breathing until you feel relatively stable. Hopefully, during the course of the breathing your face (and other muscles) will have relaxed somewhat. Now, you can open your eyes to a calmer world and proceed to plan your next step.

First priority must be relieving any physical pain you may be in, if the means are at hand, so that you can think more clearly. Slow down, tense and relax all of your muscles in turn; breathe deeply and slowly, filling your lungs and expanding your abdomen with air; hold for a few moments, then release, still slowly, pausing with all of the air released before inhaling again. Meanwhile, slowly tell yourself 'Calm, calm, calm,' lingering on each sound within the word as you breathe. Now, take stock of your situation. Exactly what has changed, and what are the immediate implications for you? Never mind futuring; many possible complications may never develop. Accept complete responsibility for your perceptions! The importance of the last sentence cannot be emphasized enough. Through experience I have found that usually a problem isn't a problem unless you perceive it as one. If all else fails, a simple shrug and a decision to go with the flow, to do whatever is necessary and try to learn from the situation, seems to be the best approach. Struggling against the reality bumping you in the nose accomplishes nothing and is extremely frustrating, to say the least.

As Lao Tsu said,
It is not wise to rush about....
If too much energy is used, exhaustion follows.
The world is ruled by letting things take their course.
It cannot be ruled by interfering.
--Tao Te Ching
Finally, yet another hint from a Zen parable:

Buddha told a man in a sutra:

A man traveling across a field encountered a tiger. He fled, the tiger after him. Coming to a precipice, he caught hold of the root of a wild vine and swung himself down over the edge. The tiger sniffed at him from above. Trembling, the man looked down to where, far below, another tiger was waiting to eat him. Only the vine sustained him.

Two mice, one white and one black, little by little started gnaw away the vine. The man saw a luscious strawberry near him. Grasping the vine with one hand, he plucked the strawberry with the other. How sweet it tasted!

Circuit Six: The Collective Neurogenetic Circuit

Circuit Six is operating when the information archived in our DNA becomes consciously accessible in the waking state. The RNA-DNA 'dialogue' begins broadcasting messages to the central nervous system from within each neuron. Descriptions of experiences of this circuit typically include 'past-life memories,' reincarnational themes, concepts of immortality, the idea of akashic records, or a realization of something like the Gaia hypothesis, which views our entire planet as a conscious organism, with all life upon it inextricably linked. The music of Beethoven paints quite an accurate picture of this realization; large doses of LSD inevitably trigger a temporary similar awareness. Gurdjieff called this circuit the True Emotional Center.

Various cultures have given different names to sixth-circuit states throughout the ages -- Hindu 'Atman consciousness,' Greek 'vision of Pan,' Chinese idea of the Tao, etc. When Circuit Six is initially activated, personified archetypes usually arrive in the personal philosophy, interpreted as 'Gods,' 'Goddesses,' and/or 'Demons.' Jung's theory of archetypes from the collective unconscious describes this phenomenon well. These archetypes commonly appear in the world of dreams; they become more immediate still when Circuit Six is flipped on, often humanizing the circuit as an image of the 'Higher Self' such as the cosmic Fool, the Holy Guardian Angel, dwarves, the Green Man, etc. If the circuit remains activated, the perceptions usually move into more direct visions of a consciously evolving, unfolding evolutionary scheme of increasing self-awareness, including awareness of the entire Gaia biosphere, past developments and future possibilities alike. Death is no longer to be feared, since not a single life but a continuous framework of lives and deaths becomes the operating reality.

Circuit Six processes, probably operating from the right neo-cortex, use the many-layered language of endless associations and connotations conjured up by each concept -- language similar to that used by James Joyce in his Finnegans Wake. When a plethora of synchronicities emerges in daily life, the sixth circuit is definitely alive and well, mirroring this language of simultaneous concepts in everyday events.

The basic experience of Circuit Six is communion or conversation with the ancient genetic 'architect' behind all physical organisms. Whether personified as a divinely intoxicated male or female archetype or defined as an impersonal, amorphous force, the realization is that of a vast life force becoming increasingly self-aware and exploring the infinite possibilities that lie ahead.

Circuit Six Application

Enmeshing Circuit Six consciousness into your everyday format can be quite an adventure! First of all, we'll consider working with the genetic archetypes. The most useful application of these archetypes, in an everyday sort of way, seems to be the practice of 'aspecting' or 'drawing down,' 'invoking a god(dess)-form,' etc. Let's say you're on your way to deliver a particularly complex presentation, and you're understandably jittery. Take a minute or two to select an appropriate archetype or assemble your own from the genetic archives, then construct a brief, empowering fantasy in which you, as the archetype, demonstrate your eloquence, your balance, your unruffled assurance, or whatever else it is you need for this particular occasion.

In this instance, you might select Connor MacLeod from the movie Highlander to impress dynamic, determined poise and confidence -- for the next few minutes, you might feel the ancient sword in your hands like the touch of an old friend, feel the power and excitement of the Quickening--feel the relaxed alertness as you circle your foe, feel the empty space at the center of the peace as you act effortlessly and fluidly, every nerve tingling to the same pulse--feel the quantum-leap-spiralling-upwards zoom as the power of self-actualization explodes into you -- as you claim the Prize. (Fade to black....) Now you speed on winged boots through memory circuitry, tangled neural gardens, finding the best words, the most effective gestures, just the right degree of enthusiasm to come out shining.... Now you play the Concertmaster, bringing in each element of a magnificent dawn just at the right time with the perfect dance of your baton, while the sky lightens, animals stir, buds open and the surface looks up in unison as the sun appears over the horizon.... I bet you're a lot less jittery now. Good luck!

In addition to archetypal fantasy, Circuit Six has other advantageous uses--namely, peeping at the genetic blueprints for 'future' possibilities. At the very least, such excursions will expand your perspective and serve to remind you that nothing is static--that we are not at the end of an evolutionary trend but are constantly designing new pathways into the 'future.' After contemplating some of the eye-opening realities we can look forward to cultivating, it's often a lot easier to appreciate our current position in the Universing of our choice.

Circuit Seven: The Metaprogramming Circuit

The Metaprogramming Circuit is activated when the brain becomes aware of itself as engineer of experience. When you think of your mind as mind, then think of the mind that contemplates that mind as mind, then think of the mind that thinks of the mind contemplating mind as mind, you have discovered the path to metaprogramming consciousness. Most methods of 'enlightenment' function by leading the student around and around in circles until he is struck by the realization that he is himself responsible for everything he experiences. With the aid of this circuit, one becomes self-programmer, then programs the self-programming, then programs the programming of the self-programming, etc.--cybernetic consciousness has been attained. Suddenly one is struck by the humorous, completely relative nature of all third-circuit reality maps; rigid, dogmatic systems claiming to have the only 'One True Way' become cosmic jokes to be laughed at heartily. The Grand Game becomes visible all at once; creating your own rules, changing them at will, even manufacturing different gameboards for entertainment and edification is what Circuit Seven is all about.

Apparently operating from the frontal lobes, the metaprogramming circuit has been called the Gnostic 'soul,' the Chinese 'no-mind' (wu-hsin), the Tibetan Buddhist White Light of the Void, the Hindu Shiva-darshana, Gurdjieff's True Intellectual Center. When you ultimately realize that the 'self' is not constant but constantly shifting and that the 'soul' (Circuit Seven) has no form precisely because it dons all forms and sheds them at will, playing every role conceivable--you find you have entered a Strange Loop no less perplexing, dramatic, and funny as a Zen koan. All that remains to be done is to constantly figure out new ways to create reality-maps that are even funnier, sexier, more inclusive, more delightful, and more entertaining than the ones you were using yesterday!

Circuit Seven Application

There doesn't seem to be a whole lot one can say about applying Circuit Seven day-to-day, due to the nature of the circuit itself; the application in this case is discovering and remembering that as you watch Universe Universing itself, you are seeing your own circuitry in action. Once realized, this discovery frees you to adopt any metaphors you wish or none at all, to drop them at will, to pick useful elements from each reality-map and to discard non-functional ones immediately. The possibilities from this point are endless. With the staggering realization of total self-responsibility and self-determination comes the creative tension needed to construct, edit, and destroy new worldviews for fun and profit. There is much to be learned by dispensing with reality- maps entirely, if only for limited periods of time. As Lao Tsu knew,
In the pursuit of learning, every day something is acquired.
In the pursuit of Tao, every day something is dropped.

And, from the Zen tradition:
Nan-in, a Japanese master during the Meiji era, received a
university professor who came to inquire about Zen.

Nan-in served tea. He poured his visitor's cup
full, and then kept on pouring.

The professor watched the overflow until he no
longer could restrain himself. 'It is overfull.
No more will go in!'

'Like this cup,' Nan-in said, 'you are full of
your own opinions and speculations. How can I
show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?'
-- Zen Flesh, Zen Bones

Such a refresher course in objectivity can, of course, be quite startling -- if there is one thing that can be reliably expected from experimentation with this circuit, it is the element of surprise. Situational ethics, relativity, and agnosticism are useful tools indeed; the CyberNaut makes good use of them.

Circuit Eight: The Non-Local Quantum Circuit

Also called the Metaphysiological Circuit, this type of consciousness involves recognizing the model as a model and proceeding to escape the model itself. For instance, the circuits we have been discussing theoretically are based in the brain; however, in out-of-body experiences (OOBE's), consciousness appears to escape the confines of the nervous system completely and operate independently of it. The OOBE -- sometimes triggered by very large doses of LSD or ketamine, various yogic practices, shamanic techniques, and sometimes occuring spontaneously -- is one of many liberation-of-consciousness phenomena which point ultimately to the type of experience variously known as union with all consciousness, communion with the Cosmic Mind, Oneness with God, etc.

Circuit Eight experience may best be explained by Bell's Theorem, which demonstrates the impossibility of isolated systems in a universe where each and every particle is constantly in 'instantaneous' communication with every other. 'The Whole System is a Whole System,' in other words. However, Special Relativity says that energy cannot travel faster than light, so what medium carries this 'instantaneous' communication? Dr. Edward Harris Walker says it is 'consciousness'; Dr. Jack Sarfatti states that it is 'information' and explains his theory with the following metaphor: If the whole universe can be likened to a mega-computer, then the sub-quantum realm is composed of mini-mini-computers. The hardware of each computer (universe, individual brain, sub-quantum mechanisms, etc.) is local in space and time. However, the software is non-local, both spatially and temporally. Since information is not energy but is what orders energy, there is no conflict with Special Relativity.

In any case, encounters of the Ultimate kind seem practically beyond description. Words appear completely inadequate; in Wilson's opinion, perhaps Beethoven said it best of all in the fourth movement to his Ninth Symphony.

Circuit Eight Application

Language typically proves inadequate for describing non-local phenomena, but there are some helpful methods of viewing Universe through a non-local perspective. One most rewarding technique is focusing first on one's own heartbeat, then expanding the focus to include a similar heart or pulse beating in unison within every human heart, every animal heart, then merging with the pulsings of plant life, and so on down to the slow, thunderous pulse of the earth itself and out as far into the cosmos as imaginable, linking with other planets, stars, quasars, etc. The scope of the imagination is the only limiting factor. This exercise, performed often and vividly, is a great way to feel connectedness with Universe. Empathy seems to be a vital key to opening up Circuit Eight; therefore, exercises involving perceiving events/emotions simultaneously from the vantage points of several different people at once are highly useful. As links are forged more readily between people who share an intimate bond, reverent sex is an excellent opportunity for expanding the awareness to include multiple sensations.

Since Circuit Eight is non-local in time as well as in space, such time-bridging abilities as precognition and retrocognition come into play. Often, precognition is a matter of trusting your own perceptions more than anything else, rather than dismissing them as 'only' imagination or fantasy. Indeed, neither the future nor the past can be described as fixed, since each person's reality differs so widely, and many possibilities in the running may or may not materialize at any given point. With activation of this circuit, comes the increasing awareness that various realities are more or less arbitrary and equally valid depending on the framework being used, a logical progression from the metaprogramming discoveries of Circuit Seven. Finally, the most obvious indicator of Circuit Eight in operation is an expansive, 'cosmic' feeling that defies description but feels utterly marvelous.


The CyberNaut's goal must be to permanently activate and incorporate each of the upper four circuits into everyday life. These expanded modes of consciousness can and should work with the realization of interconnectedness and relativity of all mindschemes to produce a greater satisfaction with life and a greater sense of humor towards the playing of The Game. Once these circuits are in healthy operation, every moment becomes a dizzying spiral of intoxication with life and a creative endeavor to conjure even more fun from the ever-unfolding processes at work.

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