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Excerpt from "Dark Light Consciousness"

by Edward Bruce Bynum


Many people might be surprised to learn that the surface of the brain is actually dark and that this has consequences for our experience of consciousness itself. It also has consequences for the most subtle form of light we know, the light we call religious and spiritual experience. The dark mosaic of the human brain has been revealing itself more each year in medicine and the complex scientific instruments we have devised to explore it. However in our rush to understand this we forget that long ago our ancestors in the temples and per ankhs or ‘houses of life’ in ancient Egypt, in West Africa and southern India explored, through their various contemplative disciplines, this same paradoxically dark and luminous brain.

These early scientists realized through their own empirical exploration and internal reflection that within the brain sleeps the potential to activate a profound and deeply personal connection not merely the unconscious level of the mind explored so thoroughly by Freud, Jung, and the others of early 20th century psychology, but to the higher levels of mind and consciousness. Those ancient explorers demonstrated that there appears to be a higher supramental or Superconscious realm of the mind better known to mystics, people deeply moved by the spirit and also gifted individuals in moments of artistic and scientific inspiration. They recorded their experiences in the writings of the Egyptian’s Book of the Dead, in the Hindu Vedas, and in the writings of the Christian mystics as well as other texts.

This supramental or Superconscious level appears at times as a realm or force that is paradoxically both dark and yet luminous and full of certain kind of internally perceived light. The whole body and spirit at times feels like it is lifted up in light and ecstasy, i.e. ‘moved by the spirit’. The whole trajectory of the early ‘mystery schools’ of Africa, Egypt and India, was to develop empirically derived methods of meditation and/or prayer to align themselves with this inner and deeper reality so intimately associated with the subtle mystery of the brain.

Historic Images of the Inner Light

This inner force was called the Ureaus by the early Egyptians and Kundalini in the Hindu yoga and Tantric traditions. Other traditions from our world’s diverse cultures have their own names for it. What is crucial for us is that it appears to be a genetically rooted, an innate bioluminous evolutionary impulse or power in us serving not only as the wellspring of our intellectual and creative genius as individuals, but also for spiritual transcendence itself in its many forms. It is often simply called the serpent power.

Psychological science today day is coming to recognize it as the intelligent, conscious and still unfolding force of evolution itself in our species. It is described as ‘serpentine’ in the traditions because of its observed motion through the body and its shape and association with the shape and contour of the human spine up from the base and into the brainstem, brain core’s dark areas, the brain’s dark surface and beyond.

That inner swaying motion we feel during our different worship services is this phenomenon. It can be stimulated at times by coordinated foot stomping, flexing of the lower back and hips in the sacral (sacred) area, hand clapping and syncopated rhythm and coordinated call and response. We believe this coordinated activity sets up a vibration in the brain’s dense gel and crystallized structure, creating what is known as a kind of piezoelectric effect, where mechanical stress and energy stimulates an electric current capable of ultrafine focusing and amplification of an already existing subtle current. Incantation by words, voice, and phrasing, along with this foot stomping and that lower back sacral flexing, helps capture this living energy flowing through the individual and sometimes the whole congregation. The different spiritual disciplines have favored methods to expedite this process.

The goal of every discipline of meditation, regardless of methodology, is the raising up of this force and passing it through the body and the dissolution of the thought- mesh of human experience. It allows the embodied soul or self to disengage from dense mental and emotional constructions of all kinds in order to enter into the progressively extended range of consciousness that unfolds beyond it. The advantage of recognizing the Ureaus or kundalini is that, like the Clear Light experience of meditative practices, it has a clear psychophysical fingerprint in experience and its emergence outshines conventional conceptualization and thought itself, at least briefly, until stabilized.

The ancient Egyptians knew a great deal about the physical body and brain based on centuries of battle field trauma medicine and the art of mummification. In their academies or ‘houses of life’ or per ankhs, they conducted medicine and psychospiritual experimentation. Their experience led them to represent the Ureaus as twin serpents in alternating curves and balance , coiling themselves seven times around the spinal line until meeting in the apex of the brain where it spawned wings and took flight, i.e., spiritual flight. It was seen as a sign of an awakened and unified consciousness in the double serpents or urai of the pharaoh’s royal crown. This crown flowed out of the light sensitive pineal gland situated in the mid center of the brain. It was the focus of psychological training and progression in the mystery schools for years, advancing the student from neophyte all the way up to the “sons and daughters of light”.

Certainly the early desert fathers of Christianity knew of its existence. The Kabbalistic seers would see it as that internally luminous tree of life. The Hindu yogis have a similar tradition as do many of the peoples of West Africa. This knowledge would later find representation in the now familiar image of the Greco-Roman staff of Hermes with its serpents coiled seven times around the spinal column until similarly reaching the apex of the brain and with wings taking flight. This medical caduceus symbol remains the predominant symbol used in medicine today. So when we visit a physician’s office we are implicitly paying homage to this tradition.

Personal Bliss and Cosmic Consciousness

The contemplative traditions of the pyramids and deserts of Africa as well as Israel and the classical meditative disciplines across the earth have studied this phenomenon for millennia. The testimony of practitioners is that when awakened by various disciplines and means this biogenetic force is perceived to unfurling along the spinal column up into the brain, opening and connecting our individual consciousness and suffusing it with awe and bliss.

In the Christian tradition, it is the ‘passion of Christ’, with other traditions delineating their own terms and references. The process fuses our highly energized and awakened consciousness with a wider consciousness of the universe itself enfolded within the dark matter and energy of the cosmos. This has been the observation and testimony of the greatest heroes of our species across the Ages. At the root of creativity and spiritual genius across innumerable cultures and civilizations, this intelligent force appears to create portals that literally enfold time, space and the luminous matrix of reality itself.

Once this biogenetic process is released it begins to unfold a series of experiences or planes of awareness only dimly intuited at our normative level of consciousness. It moves up through what the Egyptians termed the Amenta or Primeveal Waters of NUN, what we term today as the unconscious mind with its drives, primordial fears, awes and dynamisms rooted in appear to be midbrain limbic structures developed during the era of our Australopithecine progenitors millions of years ago and later refined in the homo sapiens line. This was the level of consciousness that Freud and his contemporaries explored. However, it then moves up to and through the most sublime of emotions and conceptions of the dark covered cerebral cortex and prefrontal lobes before eventually transcending even ideation itself in a current of energy and bliss, opening into a seamless subjective apprehension of a boundless and radiant intelligence that appears to pervade all of existence.

Yes this is a biological phenomenon innate in all of us but it arches far beyond our biological substrate.

The Brain’s ‘Grey Matter’ called Neuromelanin Is Light Sensitive

Neuromelanin (NM) is a brown/black material that is light-sensitive. It is an energy conductive biopolymer and neural phenomena found in progressive amounts within the spinal line, brain stem, critical brain core areas, the brain’s surface, and indeed in the nervous system of all the higher life-forms on our planet. Critically it is found in the inner spinal column itself as well as the four neuromelanin lined deep cavities of the brain’s ventricular system (CVO) where it acts as a semi-conductor of current. In our deep cerebral hemispheres there are masses of these nuclei or centers of dark living matter called basal nuclei and include the caudate nucleus, putamen, globus pallidus, claustrum, amygdala, subthalamic nucleus, substantia nigra, all of which contain neuromelanin. The dark inner spine is actually composed of brain or neural tissue that reaches from near the base of the spine upwards and eventually fans out to cover the entire surface of the brain.

Another critical area of neuromelanin concentration and activity is that small lump of neuromelanin near the top rear section of the brain called the posterior superior parietal lobe. It is the area that orients or generates our sense of time and space or the temporal and spatial dimensions. There are actually two of these areas, one in each hemisphere of the brain. The right area is associated with our spatial coordinates, the left with our temporal. When these areas of neuromelanin are “activated” by the current as it passes through in meditation or prayer, our perception of space and time is ablated or experientially transcended and our sense of self enters into an eternal or dimensionless region of experience. What we might call mystical.

The whole purpose of the disciplines of meditation and contemplation, be they Christian, Kabbalistic, Kemetic Egyptian or Hindu, or the deep rhythmic movements of ecstatic dance or any of the other methods developed by our species, is to initiate a resonate and entraining stimulation of these dark living centers in the brain in order for the biospiritual current to be free to ascend along through this nerve pathway, progressively passing through the brain core and beyond.

Because NM is light sensitive or orients itself toward light, it is capable of orienting us in the wider reality of not only the local earth, but perhaps, also the wider constellations and stars that is unfolded when an awakened inner eye is opened. It helps orient us in the wider milieu.

All of this is not to confuse simple surface skin melanin, which is variable from racial group to group, even varying greatly from person to person within the same family, with this more neurologically rooted NM, which is found in all humans regardless of surface differentiation. In fact what is most significant is that the degree and intensity of neuromelanin, directly and proportionally, increases in amount in the brain as we progress up the evolutionary line from simple mammals to more complex ones to the primates, to the great apes and finally reaching its zenith of concentration in man .

This NM is the so called grey matter of the brain that is light sensitive despite being under the surface of the skull away from direct sunlight. Neuromelanin manifests an increasing capacity to absorb and transduce waves of light itself into more complex forms, e.g., light, heat, vibration etc. The research demonstrates how this dark- light of NM appears to serve as the biochemical infrastructure of what our introspective and spiritual traditions refer to as the subtle body or light body. It is crucial to the interface between the dense local body we see and feel and the more subtle energetic body we sense and radiate. It is the backdrop of our existence, felt but unseen, much like the cold dark matter that, together with gravity, forms the infrastructure of the cosmos, holding together the galaxies and constellations. The classical disciplines of psychology and contemplation teach how to safely awaken and stabilize this biogenetic and biospiritual energy through meditation practices, breathing exercises, as well as the other disciplines, in order to prepare the subtle body for more expansive and illuminative experiences. This again is the whole trajectory of the mystery schools.

These disciplines of the Ureaus or Kundalini provide modern psychology and psychiatry, as well as the contemplative disciplines, with explicit maps and empirically based methodologies for the exploration of these phenomena. We owe a debt to the classical scholars of Egypt, India, West Africa, indeed the whole ancient world. We are now doing our part in the rediscovery of what our ancient ancestors knew and explored on the banks of the Nile and Ganges untold millennia ago.

*Edward Bruce Bynum Ph.D., ABPP

https://www.amazon.com/Edward-Bruce-Bynum-Ph-D-ABPP/s?k=Edward+Bruce+Bynum+Ph.D.+ABPP


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