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Quantum Psychology Book Club

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posted on Aug, 11 2008 @ 09:55 PM
[ UPDATE: Ok, I just spent an hour thinking up and composing this thread, only to realize that there is already a thread titled Quantum Psychology about this book. OK, that's cool, but I think what I'm trying to do here is a bit more comprehensive, so let's have a new thread: the Quantum Psychology BOOK CLUB. ]

I am just about finished re-reading Robert Anton Wilson's book Quantum Psychology: How Brain Software Programs You & Your World. If you are at all familiar with RAW's work, you probably already have a pretty good grasp of the ideas discussed in this book. If not, I'd suggest you check out
RAW @ Wikipedia
MaybeLogic Academy

Here's another ATS thread on Quantum Psychology:
ATS Thread: QP

Wilson's ideas are particularly pertinent to this forum, and if you've read any of his novels (particularly the classic Illuminatus! trilogy,) you will understand why his work is especially appropriate to a conspiracy theory site (assuming said conspiracy theorists are not of the fundamentalist or dogmatic sort!)

One of the things that always stood out about Quantum Psychology was the way that Wilson includes group exercises at the end of each chapter. I haven't had the chance to try working through, discussing, debating, etc. these exercises in any sort of group setting IRL, so I thought that maybe we ATSers could take a stab at it.

I'm envisioning a sort of informal class, something more like a bible study or a book club. (If you want an in-depth academic sort of exploration of these topics, please visit the MaybeLogic academy link above...I have no vested interest in the site and promote it only as a fan of Wilson's work.) I am not looking to take on a “teacher” role here (I sure don't have the qualifications!) and I'm hoping for a collaborative effort. Let me give a quick outline of what I'm envisioning.

First, I would suggest that all participants read or have read the work in question, or at least are familiar enough with Wilson's work or related ideas to follow along. You can find a copy easy enough at any major bookseller, and you can probably find a PDF online if you are clever enough to do so (of course I would never encourage subverting the intellectual “property” so-called laws.)

Each week we can each read, review and/or ponder a few chapters. Its a quick read so that's no heavy workload. For those who don't have access to the text and would still like to follow along, I can probably post some summaries and quotations sufficient to get the main points across. Then I'll post a selection of the group exercises from the chapters in question (those that are conducive to an online format.) These exercises are mostly discussion questions and of course will be entirely voluntary...but the main idea of this thread is to generate some discussion around the questions Wilson has posed.

Please let me know if this sort of group study effort is a violation of the site T&C or if this is something for which I need a mod approval. I am just being ambitious and going out on a limb here. The only real objection I can think of is copyright related, but I don't think ol' Bob would mind and I do think that what few quotations we may make are covered by fair use (and if the thread inspires a few people to buy the book, who can complain?). If my suggestion is 'inappropriate,' then I guess we can at least turn this into a free-for-all discussion of the work in question. But if you like the idea, please leave a response, or star and/or flag the thread – I'm not looking for points but I am honestly curious if there is any serious interest in this idea.

Completely confused? For those who have no idea what this is all about, let me give you a few teasers:

From the Introductory Note:

Each chapter in this book contains exercizes which will help the readers comprehend and “internalize” (learn to use) the principles of Quantum Psychology. Ideally, the book should serve as a study manual for a group which meets once a week to perform the exercizes and discuss the daily-life implications of the lessons learned.

Here is the opening of the foreword:

Some parts of this book will seem “materialistic” to many readers, and those who dislike science (and “understand” new things very quickly) might even decide the whole book has a Scientific Materialist or (they might even say) “scientific” bias. Curiously, other parts of the book will seem “mystical” (or worse-than-mystical) to other readers and these people might decide the book has an occult – or even solipsistic – bias.

I make these gloomy predictions with great assurance, based on experience. I have heard myself called a “materialist” and a “mystic” so often that I have become wearily convinced that no matter how I change my style or “angle of approach” from one book to the next, some people will always read into my pages precisely the overstatements and oversimplifications that I have most carefully avoided uttering.

If you still feel lost, dig some of the links up top about Wilson and pick up a copy of QP for yourself.

Let me make one caveat. This thread is intended for serious discussion of the topics at hand. If you are here to bash Wilson or his work, please don't waste your time or ours. Constructive criticism, disagreement and debate are all welcome, but please don't bother posting here if you don't have a genuine interest in exploring these topics and utilizing Wilson's techniques. I'm not looking to start a "cult of Bob" (that's what the SubGenii are for!) but let's at least show some respect to the dearly departed literary genius and psychedelic sci-fi icon.

So there you have proposal. Let me know what you think!

[edit on 11-8-2008 by shipovfools]

posted on Aug, 13 2008 @ 12:59 AM
OK, well, it has been over 24 hours and still no replies. Funny thing, really. On the rare occasions when I start a new thread, it seems that the more absurd the thread, the better the response. And yet this, which I thought was one of my most promising threads - as well as one which had potential to really contribute something useful to the ATS community - has been practically ignored. No hard feeling, but I just want to say now that I won't bother checking this thread on a daily basis if it sadly seems to be a lost cause. Maybe Skyfloating was understating when he told me not to expect many responses! Oh well... if this strikes you at all as interesting, please don't be shy...

posted on Aug, 18 2008 @ 04:45 PM
Hi Shipovfools!

Don't be disheartened about the lack of replies... I for one don't visit ATS very often, but I'm sure if we get the "ball rolling" more people will join in! I'm glad you started this thread though - the OP of the other thread didn't seem to be interested in going any further than introducing the book.

I've read QP several times, and have worked through most of the exercises. Unfortunately I don't have a copy of it with me at the moment - I tend to lend a lot of books to out to people, but I very rarely get them back. Could you post the exercises here?

posted on Aug, 18 2008 @ 06:33 PM
After having a think about it, I propose that the best way to approach this and keep the thread relatively organised would be for each person to post an exercise and their response to it?

I'll start with the first one:

A young American named Simon Moon, studying Zen in Zendo (Zen School) at the New Old Lompoc House in Lompoc, California, made the mistake of reading Franz Kafka's The Trial. This sinister novel, combined with Zen training, proved too much for poor Simon. He became obsessed, intellectually and emotionally, with the strange parable about the door of the Law which Kafka inserts near the end of his story. Simon found Kafka's fable so disturbing, indeed, that it ruined his meditations, scattered his wits, and distracted him from his study of the Sutras. Somewhat condensed, Kafka's parable goes as follows:

A man comes to the door of the Law, seeking admittance. The guard refuses to allow him to pass the door, but says if he waits long enough, maybe, someday in the uncertain future, he might gain admittance. The man waits and waits and grows older; he tries to bribe the guard, who takes his money but still refuses to let him through the door; the man sells all his possesions to get money to offer more bribes, which the guard accepts - but still does not allow him to enter. The guard always explains, on taking each new bribe, "I only do this so that you will not abandon hope entirely."
Eventually, the man becomes old and ill, and knows that he will soon die. In his last few moments he summons the energy to ask a question that has puzzled him over the years. "I have been told," he says to the guard, "that the Law exists for all. Why then does it happen that, in all the years I have sat here waiting, nobody else has ever come to the door of the Law?"
"This door," the guard says, "has been made only for you. And now I am going to close it forever." And he slams the door as the man dies.

The more Simon brooded on the allegory, or joke, or puzzle, the more he felt that he could never understand Zen until he first understood this strange tale. If the door existed only for that man, why could he not enter? If the builders posted a guard to keep the man out, why did they also leave the door temptingly open? Why did the guard close the previously open door, when the man had become too old to rush past him and enter? Did the Buddhist doctrine of dharma (law) have anything in common with this parable?
Did the door of the Law represent the Byzantine bureaucracy that exists in virtually every modern government, making the whole story a political satire, such as a minor bureaucrat like Kafka might have devised in his subversive off-duty hours? Or did the Law represent God, as some commentators claim, and, in that case, did Kafka intend to parody religion or to defend it's divine Mystery obliquely? Did the guard who took bribes but gave nothing but empty hope in return represent the clergy, or the human intellect in general, always feasting on the shadows in the absence of real Final Answers?
Eventually, near breakdown from sheer mental fatigue, Simon went to his roshi (Zen teacher) and told Kafka's story of the man who waited at the door of the Law - the door that existed only for him but would not allow him to enter. "Please," Simon begged, "explain this Dark Parable to me."
"I will explain it," the roshi said, "if you will follow me into the meditation hall."
Simon followed the teacher to the door of the meditation hall. When they got there, the teacher stepped inside quickly, turned, and slammed the door in Simon's face.

At that moment, Simon experienced Awakening.

posted on Aug, 18 2008 @ 06:44 PM

1. Let every member of the group try to explain or interpret Kafka's parable and the Zen Master's response.
2. Observe whether a consensus emerges from this discussion or each person finds a personal and unique meaning.

Here is my interpretation of this parable.

We can spend our whole life searching for the "Secrets of the Universe", by following all kinds of belief systems, doctrines and dogmas in our search for the "truth." All we are really doing though, is closing the door to our higher selves.

That we exist, that we are conscious, that we are here and now, is the hidden "meaning of life" that everybody is searching for.

[edit on 18-8-2008 by NeuronDivide]

posted on Aug, 23 2008 @ 12:55 AM
reply to post by NeuronDivide

Hey there, thanks for contributing to the thread!

After seeing a lack of replies after the first couple days - which seems to be the time period in which most threads either explode or wither away - I neglected this thread for a while. I was pleasantly surprised to find some response when I again logged in to check up on things.

You just saved me a whole lot of typing by posting the parable and related questions with which I had planned to start! I was hoping to gather a few people who were interested before posting that, but perhaps the best way to start this is to plunge right in - my "teaser" quotes in the OP really don't begin to encompass the ideas in the book.

So, after parading the virtue of plunging in, I'm going to click "post" without elaborating on this parable. But I'll be back real soon with an elaborate reply. Or not so elaborate. We shall see.

posted on Aug, 23 2008 @ 11:17 AM
Sign me up. I just got the book recently and I think this is a great idea. I will try to post my answers to the exercise tonight.

posted on Aug, 23 2008 @ 04:48 PM
I'm up for this too, but can I request that we take it slow at first since I'll have to go out and buy the book tonight, and then read the first chapter and think about it (and probably pull out my old copy of "The Trial" from whatever box it's in and read that and think about it) and by the time I have anything to say the rest of you will be done with Wilson altogether?

posted on Aug, 23 2008 @ 11:22 PM
I honestly am not 100% sure of what to make of Kafka's parable. On the surface it simply appears to be a story of despair.

The deeper meaning though... I think that it, combined with the Zen master's example, is a statement about how there is a door for everyone but you can not rely on anyone to show you through it or to give you permission to enter. If you wait for permission and assistance, then you will miss your chance and it will be closed to you forever.

posted on Aug, 23 2008 @ 11:24 PM
reply to post by americandingbat

If you want to read it online without purchasing it, it is on scribd.

posted on Aug, 23 2008 @ 11:57 PM
Thank you for the link. I couldn't find it in the bookstore I tried tonight, so this is excellent.

posted on Aug, 24 2008 @ 06:57 PM
What I took from both these parables was that we should question our assumptions about authority.

In Kafka's parable (and this is made more clear in the original), the guard does not prevent the man from entering the Door of the Law, but instead tells him that he will prevent this, and that if the man does enter he faces much worse guards within. Here's the passage:

When the doorkeeper notices this he laughs and says, 'If you're tempted give it a try, try and go in even though I say you can't. Careful though: I'm powerful. And I'm only the lowliest of all the doormen. But there's a doorkeeper for each of the rooms and each of them is more powerful than the last. It's more than I can stand just to look at the third one.' The man from the country had not expected difficulties like this, the law was supposed to be accessible for anyone at any time, he thinks, but now he looks more closely at the doorkeeper in his fur coat, sees his big hooked nose, his long thin tartar-beard, and he decides it's better to wait until he has permission to enter.

I take this story to be saying that for each of us there is a way to access what we most desire, but that we will be told that we cannot. We must face our fear and try to reach our truth despite what might be threatened. The way is open to us for as long as we live, but we must want it enough to risk all.

The second parable, I take as a reminder that we must be prepared to find that help comes in unexpected ways. The student expects to be led into the meditation room and instructed on how to understand Kafka's parable; instead he has a door slammed in his face - and learns the truth. If we close our minds to the lessons in the world, or expect it all to be neatly laid out for us, we will be disappointed.

posted on Aug, 25 2008 @ 02:44 AM
Great response. I agree with you and more or less that was what I was getting at with my response. You just put it much better than I did.

posted on Aug, 25 2008 @ 02:41 PM
I don't know about better; I just used more words

Seriously, though, I considered saying "I agree with Karlhungis" but decided the exercise might be more productive if each person posted what they thought, even if it had been said before, and then we could compare, so I decided to go ahead.

posted on Aug, 26 2008 @ 09:45 AM
Interesting responses guys!

Perhaps the doormen is a metaphor for the layers of our "fake" ego - i.e. the conditioning and programming we all have forced upon us from the day we are born till the day we die, setting our boundaries and limits (and our comfort zones)...

The way the Zen master quickly walked through the door and slammed it in Simon's face seems to illustrate that if you have to wait until being told what to do (or how to do it) then you're not being in control of your own life?

posted on Aug, 26 2008 @ 09:52 PM
Looks like nobody else is going to join in the fun. Are we ready to move on to the next chapter?

posted on Aug, 26 2008 @ 11:20 PM
reply to post by Karlhungis

I guess so ... I've been kinda waiting to see if shipovfools was going to reappear, since it was his/her thread to begin with?

posted on Aug, 26 2008 @ 11:42 PM
I am going to have to start reading the book after this, but since the parable is posted and I have read that, I am going to take a stab at it.

For me it says, that hope and putting things off into the future are what cause us to waste today, or our lives.

It says it is the door OF the law, not TO the law. It is open for us every day we live, in the present. But hope and fear are the two things that keep us from knowing the law in the here and now. We hope that someone else has it and will give it to us, so that we do not have to face our fears here and now. We anticipate that in the future it will be granted to us, rather than looking where we are. We assume that it is on the other side of the door, not in us. The truth is the door itself is the law. Right in front of us, and if we think that the law is somewhere other than with us right now, hope and fear will always prevent us from knowing it.

My two cents. Now to start the book.

posted on Aug, 27 2008 @ 12:58 AM
Well the next exercise is not going to be fun for me.

I have to go back and reread all her "meaningless" criteria again, as apparently, not one bit of it was very meaningful to me. At least not enough that I can remember any of it after the first read and then looking at the second exercise.

The third exercise will have to be modified significantly in order for us to complete it online.

This is fun. Cant wait for the OP to get back.

[edit on 27-8-2008 by Illusionsaregrander]

posted on Aug, 27 2008 @ 01:55 AM
The doorman is the barriers in your mind. All the money you can make in a lifetime cannot buy your way past your own barriers. Maybe if the man asked the doorman what price was needed to get through the door he would have been told right up front what the price would be.

Now just knowing the price might seem like a lifetime event as in the case of this man, but that really is not even the first step, for it is just direction to take the first step. This is where the price for most is too high to pay in taking that first step, and in the case of the man he would have most likely walked away from the door at a young age comfortable with his decision once he realized that the price was something he was unwilling to pay.

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