Humans, like all animals, have physical brains of a fixed maximum size and complexity. they may be very large compared to our bodyweight, and they may be very complex, but nonetheless, they have physical limits. And those physical limits lead to functional limits, which are our intellectual limits.
I am sometimes reminded of what the late great Douglas Adams said in the fifth book of his magnificent Trilogy – and I paraphrase here – that humans think they are cleverer than dolphins because they have invented wristwatches, traffic jams and nuclear warfare and dolphins haven’t, whilst dolphins believe they are superior to humans in intelligence for exactly the same reasons.
Although that passage amuses me, in the present context it doesn’t much matter who is smarter, dolphins or humans. What matters is that all species have their intellectual limits, even if those limits are very high. I have kept many different kinds of animals at different times, and have at some stages walked dogs on leashes, and goats on leashes. If you walk on one side of a telegraph pole and the dog walks on the other, it will quickly work out what is wrong, and will back up and come around your side. If you and a leashed goat walk on different sides of the same pole, the goat will just keep pulling and pulling.
Goats are herbivores, dogs are carnivores. I have also kept many different kinds of herbivores, and many different kinds of carnivores, and in general (and there are very obvious exceptions!) carnivores are smarter than herbivores. My theory is this: a herbivore doesn’t have to work very hard for lunch – it just sits there and photosynthesises, waiting to be eaten. All it has do do is to run away from someone who might consider it to be lunch, which is why a leashed goat spooks far more easily when a truck rumbles past adn toots its horn at the fatwoman walking a goat on a leash. A carnivore3, on the other hand, has to chase a fast-moving and often unpredictable target to get a meal, so they become adept at predicting movement and entrapment, and develop deeper and more powerful intellects.
Humans are smart, in fact very smart. but like every other species, they have their inbuilt limits. And like every other species, they simply cannot imagine what it would be like to have greater intelligence than that – they simply can’t imagine it because of those very limitations.
One of the things we find very hard to deal with is time. Most of us imagine it as some form of straight line perpendicular to physical three-dimensional space running from something mythical called “the past” through “the present” and towards “the future”, because that’s all we are physically built to understand. I have really, really big problems dealing with this, and I can date it to a particular incident.
In 1975 as a teenager I had surgery, something went wrong, and I “died” briefly. Let me tell you now: if ever you have to have a dummy-run at dying, I recommend doing it in an operating theatre surrounded by a group of highly-trained professionals. In the words of Miracle Max, it just so happened I was only mostly dead, and I didn’t stay that way for long.
I had had previous surgeries before, and recovering tended to involve waking up in an empty place called “the recovery room” and throwing up into silver kidney-shaped bowls a lot. This time, I woke up in an ICU bed, with tubes in one side of my chest which I remember as being almost the thickness of garden-hose. I didn’t move or make a noise when I woke, and I didn’t open my eyes, so I had some precious time alone inside of myself to think before any of the nurses realised I was back in the world.
There were memories. None of the usual stuff about tunnels or corridors or distant lights, none about angels or Jesus or waiting ancestors. And certainly none about bobbing around at ceiling-height, watching my own body with concern and actually taking an interest.
No, it was more universal than that. I remembered becoming less and less myself, and more and more everything else around me. And that everything around me got bigger and bigger until it was the whole galaxy, then the whole universe. Because I was no longer human I couldn’t think, but that was okay because I also wasn’t beset with human limitations of perception. As I lay there in that bed gradually coming back to my body, I remembered the utter immensity of all that is, something I can no longer wrap my mind around because it is simply too big for a human to imagine.
And the utter endlessness and strangeness of time, which not only had the same immensity, but didn’t flow in a line, but more a plane, stretching in many, many very weird directions that my mind hardly remembers at all now. And not only that, but the plane that these directions lay on was infinitely flexible, like an enormous blanket, so that bits of it far removed from each other could fold back and touch, or even wrap around each other. Weird? Now – yes. Then – perfectly normal, because I wasn’t limited to human thought-limitations.
Throughout human history until recent centuries, the mad were sometimes considered divine – the Guizer, the Fool, the raving Prophet, the Shaman, the mountaintop mystic, the seer, they all have their roots in people who are not limited to looking backwards and forwards along a line of time because they lack the capacity to see all the rest of the plane on both sides and at all angles.
But humans are not built to think like that, and do not have language to express it to others (the words I have used come nowhere close to the reality); and in struggling to codify it in language to store in long-term memories which are often language-based, and in struggling to explain it to others, people have long “blown their minds” quite literally, like a power-surge through a computer. Psychiatric wards are full of people with all sorts of different problems – and people who have scorched their brains by trying to think the unthinkable are represented there, too.
Sometimes we touch on timelessness. I have had people channel energy to me at times when I was busy – and I felt it coming in later, when I was unoccupied and free to receive and experience it. Someone recently asked if, when you are doing a Tarot reading for someone who isn’t actually present at the time, it works better if they are sitting down concentrating on their question at the same time you are doing the reading.
I don’t believe it does. That is one of those instances where the blanket is bent and two unrelated points touch. Also, the fact of doing any reading, which will pull up stuff relevant to many times and places, is another instance of the blanket being bent. That is what prophesy, soothsaying and Shamanising is about, – looking across the blanket rather than along only the line.
It’s enough that the client thought about their question once. After all, if time as we know it isn’t really real, and the real stuff functions in an entirely different way, how can we limit it and make it not work just because we think it shouldn’t work? The chimaera of the popular concept of time is just a legerdemain to help us organise our thoughts, since as a species we are so intellectually limited as to not be able to cope with everything at once.