The Seven Stakes of the Alien
The value of studying ufology and extraterrestrials is often questioned. Why is it relevant to the spiritual path? This question is even more pointed when asked in the context of Advaita, which asserts that phenomenal "reality" as a whole is unreal. So why devote time to investigating aspects of unreality rather than simply focusing completely on the Supreme Real?
First let us address the advaita objection, then approach the question more
generally. It is true that Sri Ramana Maharshi would probably not have been too
interested in aliens, though no doubt he would have invited them to share a
meal at his ashram, and he would have gazed at them lovingly. He might have
even introduced them to his pal Lakhshmi, the enlightened cow. But phenomenal
entities of any sort are not the focus of a gyani, who sees all beings as
manifestations of Shiva. On the other hand, to be an advaitin does not mean to
have no interest in the world. Even Sri Ramana read the newspapers and kept up
with current events. The Advaita viewpoint is to see the world accurately,
fearlessly, in its true sacred significance. That means to see the world sub specie aeternitatis, as Schopenhauer
put it. The world is unreal as a phenomenon detached from its Source. But it is
utterly real as a manifestation of Brahman, the Absolute. And there is much to
be learned from examining the world as a dream in the cosmic mind of Brahman.
Just as psychoanalysis has learned much about the human unconscious from
studying human dreams, we can learn a great deal about the unconscious of God
from studying the cosmic dream.
The question, then, is not whether to study the alien phenomenon, but how to study it. We must make use of what the great ethnopsychoanalyst George Devereux calls complementarity. That is, we must study the phenomenon simultaneously in at least two different frames of reference, if we wish to understand it accurately. Otherwise, it is inevitable that investigators will fall into errors of judgment. The lack of complementarity, or what Karatani and Zizek refer to as the parallax principle, is what leads to collusion with delusion. When we interrogate the Real, we must do so as a team of blind people would interrogate the phenomenon of an elephant. No single perspective can capture its essence. If we fall under the spell of a single discourse, especially if it constitutes a kind of master's discourse, as outlined by Lacan, then we will soon find ourselves either in a ufo cult situation or functioning as a cynical psi-cop closed-mindedly denying the phenomenon any space from which to influence our consciousness.
But we must not only study this literally earth-shaking phenomenon with respect for differential frames of reference that must be integrated, but with an authentic devotion to the sacred significance of all arisings in our universe. We must transform our frames of reference into flames of reverence. When our sciences realize themselves as true forms of bhakti yoga, devoted to the Real of Brahman appearing as Nature, Cosmic Nature evolving itself into ever new forms, Natura Naturans as Spinoza put it, and that we ourselves are participants in the unconcealing of the miracle of Being, then the objects of science will reveal deeper aspects of their transfinite essence, no longer anchored to the merely experiential or phenomenalistic level of their Being, but emerging undefinably, rhizomatically, through planes of immanence that cannot be limited by any logic or discourse of a priori validity.
There is far more at stake in the alien phenomenon than most people are ready to recognize. The advent of the alien has the potential to blow apart our cultural world, and possibly even our physical planet -- or to help us restore our human world to a higher level of health, from the physical health of our biosphere to the spiritual health of our noosphere and its mediators. Because to the aliens we are the aliens, there is an inevitable inmixing of projective identifications between us, which is most often expressed delusionally, but in delusions that contain far more truth than do the conservative skeptical denials of conventional scientism. The aliens constitute for us a new Other; whether they bother to exist as factual entities is irrelevant.
Now, regardless of our views on the subject, the alien Other is making an unprecedented demand upon us. We must reckon both with the jouissance of the alien and the lack expressed by this new Other. We must traverse the fantasies that have transmitted our own lack to the aliens, and which have thus moulded the contours of our relations. It is not enough to diagnose hysteric psychosis as the context of an alien abduction, although that may represent one dimension of the alien abduction scenario. But since the stakes transcend mere seduction and castration, which limit the ordinary hysterical event horizon, and throw the dice of a wager called hybridization, then even if it is a hysterical hybridization, it signifies an unprecedented transformation of consciousness is already underway. And for those on the path of conscious Self-realization, the stakes of the alien arrival are even higher. So let us explore the seven stakes of the alien. The seven stakes, which are the frames of reverence in which the alien reveals not only its nature, but our own nature, are as follows:
1. the alien as object of science
2. as object of psychoanalysis
3. as object of religion
4. as object of sociology, politics, and aesthetics
5. as object of philosophy
6. as non-object of intersubjectivity
7. as avatar of the Supreme Real
The first stake concerns the alien as an object of science. This is the nuts-and-bolts level of ufology. The problem in studying the alien on this level is the issue of secrecy. Governments have classified most of the information potentially available. Moreover, there has been a disinformation campaign as well. But credible researchers have established at least a baseline of commonly accepted information. A newcomer to the field would do well to read the works of such mainline ufologists as Donald Keyhoe, Linda Moulton Howe, Stanton Friedman, and Richard Dolan. One will come away with a sense of the overwhelming amount of evidence that exists to support the fact of the presence of alien spacecraft in our skies and under our oceans, and perhaps in underground bases, as well as on bases on the moon and on Mars. There is very persuasive photographic evidence from Nasa cameras and Soviet space probes as well to support the empirical reality of the UFO phenomenon. But the actual relationships that human governments maintain with extra-planetary powers remains a mystery. Many theories abound, but unless one has a very high secrecy clearance from the U.S. Government, there is little hope of advancing beyond speculation-unless one has friends among the aliens, of course.
And this is where the field becomes very muddy, indeed. Because many people do claim to have friends among the aliens. Some have been contactees -- people like George Adamski, Orfeo Angelucci, or more recently, George King, Sister Thedra, and Rael -- and some have been abductees, like Whitley Strieber and the many thousands of clients of hypnotists like Budd Hopkins, David Jacobs, and psychiatrists like the late John Mack.
This is where we must trifurcate our approach further, to see the alien simultaneously in three further discordant frames of reference: as a psychoanalytic object, a sociological object, and a religious object.
Lacanian psychoanalysis is the most advanced mainstream intellectual framework from which to critique the alien abduction phenomenon. Jean-Claude Maleval is their point man. He has revived a concept that derives not from Freud, but from Pierre Janet, the overshadowed hero of abnormal psychology. Other great non-freudian thinkers of the logic of existential delusion include Karl Jaspers, Gaetan Gatian de Clerambault, and Georges Canguilhem. Their insights have finally been retrieved from forgotten archives of human knowledge and are part of the creation of a new syncretic understanding of non-ordinary realities. From this emergent perspective, the typical abduction narrative definitely possesses all the indicia of hysterical or psychotic delirium. Yet it is not so simple as that. To an observer not identified with the psychoanalytic model of reality, it is always an open question if any particular case of abduction is genuine. And if we give any credence to the paranormal, to the possibility of unseen dimensions of reality, to archetypal imagoes, or to the existence of actual intelligent creatures from other worlds who are not carbon-based organisms, then we must inplore (rather than explore) the subtle dimensions of contact that defy the usual subject/object and external/internal dualities of being. Even if we can pigeonhole an abduction narrative as a delusional effort to overcome the lack of a sexual rapport between human male and female otherness, or the castrated helplessness of the ego in the face of the jouissance of the Other, that is only one layer of unconscious significance, and should not elbow out of consideration the rapport that it makes possible with the interdimensional Other that may just be the herald of the second coming of the Self.
The whole question of the ontological (not merely the psychoanalytic) status of delusion must be re-thought in the light of quantum dynamics and interdimensional realities. On what ground does one stand when asserting wholesale ontological claims regarding the experiences and imperiences of others? The field of abnormal psychology must undergo a rite of passage into a new and more complex frame of reference in which the concept of normal is non-normativized, relativized in the context not only of parapsychological sensitivities and deliberately imposed disinformational cryptomnesia, including multiple-layered screen memories to trick the analytic mind, but also of plasma physics and parallel universes, temporal feedback loops and colliding spacetime matrices. Normalcy is not relevant to such events as an alien abduction. But it is highly relevant to know whether the event is produced by an unconscious psyche that requires a delusional narrative such as an alien abduction to cover an abyss of unbearable knowledge. If so, the unhuman screen figures must be traversed so that the more profound dread can be encountered. What is important is that we not stop there, thinking that the mystery has now been solved.
Simultaneously, we must examine the alien from the sociological perspective, since it is yielding new social networks and forms of organization, new religious movements that are growing by leaps and bounds, that have their own logic and consequences for our rapidly morphing social reality. The sociological dimension includes both the political and the aesthetic, since these are determined as part of the social matrix. The alien arouses potent emotional forces, both of a primitive sort that supports nationalistic reactivity and aggressivity and also the sort that brings out the best in ourselves, in terms of compassionate longing for friendships that span the universe and overcome all barriers of otherness. The alien is already present in our arts-not only in films and literature, but most visibly in architecture -- and is opening portals to new kinds of collective consciousness, harkening back to our own ancient tribal beginnings, based on identification with the stranger on a strange planet.
The alien also forces us to reopen the philosophical questions that materialist science had hoped had been answered once and for all. The alien intrusion creates an imperative to question not only our physics, but also our ontology, our epistemology, our ethics, and our true place in the cosmic food chain. This is but the latest chapter in the ongoing series of revolutionary shifts of paradigm that have humbled the human ego, from the Copernican Revolution, to the evolutionary revolution, to the psychoanalytic revolution, and now the ETI revolution. It also raises the stakes of our scientific theories, that must answer to the implications of superluminal velocities, wormholes in space, and time travel, to name a few, and forces us to question our planetary politics and how they can be made to mesh with interplanetary organizations, cosmic law, trade, and perhaps, alas, warfare. New conceptions of value and exchange will certainly have to supersede our current systems of economic, class, and power structuring.
But regardless of the ultimate ontological status we grant the alien (not to mention what the aliens will grant to us), they are here as our interlocutors, and we must be up to the challenge of greeting them from at least an intersubjective perspective. No doubt they will be catalysts to the development of latent powers that may emerge from within our own consciousness. The potential for our transformation under the influence of the alien presence is boundless and unknowable. Our self-image, our sense of being a separate (homo-not-so-sapient-after-all) species, our relationship to Earth, our entire post-humanistic imaginary, is on the point of dissolution, once the more advanced alien intelligence is recognized by the human Other as its far greater Other. A journey into new knowledge that will make all of us psychonauts, if not cosmonauts, is being prepared for us, and has already begun. In relationship with the alien, we are becoming aliens ourselves, to ourselves as well as to them. Our fundamental frame of reference as human egocentric entities has already begun to dissolve in the mirror of mutual (mis-)recognition.
Last but not least, we ought not deny the spiritual (as distinguished from the religious) significance of the alien. This refers to the transcendent/immanent dimension of the Supreme Real. The recognition of the ultimate source of intelligence, love, and Being will stand out in the uncanny strangeness of our new situation, if we are willing to encounter this miraculous intervention in its own terms. From aloneness in the universe, we must learn to accept our all-one-ness. Our ultimate genuine connection with the alien is our mutual participation in the Sat-Chit-Ananda that underlies and permeates our conscious existence. It is through the recognition of our oneness in the Absolute that we will be able to catalyze the intersubjective potentials of our future relationship. The necessity of seeing the divine in such unusual forms -- and even more important, of our divinity being seen and appreciated by this unexpected new Other -- will accelerate our evolution as beings of love more than any other possible catalyst. Since neither fight nor flight is possible as a viable or intelligent response to the alien visitors -- though no doubt it has been attempted, and may be in the future by those too stupid to know better -- we must live up to our own potential for love and wisdom. We must also re-organize our own hierarchies to ensure that the wisest and most loving are in the decision-making positions. The realization of Advaita, the nonduality of all that is, has become the official passport to the future. No less coherent apperception will pass through the capillaries of this cosmic, chaotic, osmotic ontologic wormhole through which we are freefalling into a future utterly inconceivable to a limited intelligence.
The stakes are indeed high in our dealings with the alien, and even delusion may prove to be in the service of evolutionary growth and transformation. As Lacan famously noted, it is the non-dupes who err. Perhaps it is better for us to fall into imaginary collusions with hysterics than to close our minds and hearts to dimensions of reality that our current concepts cannot encompass. But better still would be to hone our symbolic, intuitional, and sublime feeling capacities to encounter the akashic information stream that flows through our noosphere, if we would only enter our visionary vimanas and return to the cosmic kumbha mela that calls us to reunion with the deep interstellar void, and to dip into that trans-egoic ganges of intergalactic savoir faire, in a blessed bhaktic baptism into the eternal trans-phenomenal life of Absolute Being. Now comes the moment of our unimaginable ascension.
Image by Roberto Verzo, courtesy of Creative Commons license.Tweet