The 8-Circuit Model of Consciousness
John Lilly and Metaprogramming by David Hurst

Though useful, as any model will be, the Eight-Circuit Model is incomplete. In the interests of establishing some common ground and agreeing on useful terminology, I'd like to describe some additional models and maybe develop some terminology.

The term "metaprogramming" was actually coined by Dr. John Lilly, who wrote the book Programming and Metaprogramming the Human Biocomputer. If you haven't read this book yet, do so *now*. In the meanwhile, I'd like to discuss some concepts related to metaprogramming.

The term "metaprogramming" implies that the human mind (or biocomputer, as Lilly calls it), can be programmed. That is, that it is constantly and continuously running a complex set of programs which are controlling all aspects of the organism's existence. There are programs which keep your heart running. There are programs which control your oxygen intake and consumption. There are programs which monitor your energy reserves and generate requests for nourishment that you experience as "hunger". There are programs which control the complex dance of coordinating muscular and skeletal movements as you walk. Many of these programs are "hardwired", that is to say, they come with the original equipment and don't require any kind of learning. Other of these programs require a significant amount of learning before you can run them, although the hardware comes ready to run them. Walking for example. Or any temporal-spacial location reflexes. If you watch a baby exploring the space around it, you can see it developing basic motion/location reflexes. Learning to walk is an excellent example. Humans are designed to walk upright, on two legs. But it requires a good two years of training to get it right, to get most of the bugs out of the complex calculations necessary to coordinate location and balance inputs with muscular-skeletal outputs. Then there are the more complicated programs which must be learned: language, symbol manipulation, social interactions, science, business, art, etc. At some point, the organism must learn how to learn. This is metaprogramming: the program which enables the organism to orchestrate the vast numbers of subordinate programs, develop new programs, and coordinate the interactions between them. There are likely many metaprograms as well. Different styles of learning, for example. Somewhere in this sea of metaprograms arises a particular set of metaprograms which represent the self. These are usually refered to as 'I' when acting on other metaprograms, and 'me' when being acted upon by other metaprograms. Lilly calls this the 'self-metaprogrammer'. Beyond these metaprograms, there may be other controls and controllers in the hierarchy, which Lilly labels 'supraself-metaprograms'.
To quote Lilly:

These may be many or one, depending on current states of consciousness in the single self-metaprogrammer. These may be personified as if entities, treated as if a network for information transfer, or realized as if self traveling in the Universe to strange lands or dimensions or spaces. If one does a further unification operation on these supraself metaprograms, one may arrive at a concept labeled God, the Creator, the Starmaker, or whatever. ...

Certain states of consciousness result from and cause operations of this apparent unification phenomenon. We are still general purpose computers who can program any conceivable model of the universe inside our own structure, reduce the single self-metaprogrammer to a micro size, and program him to travel through his own model as if real. ... Once one has control over modelling the universe inside one's self, and is able to vary the parameters satisfactorily, one's self may reflect this ability by changing appropriately to match the new property.

This hierarchy of programs and metaprograms is summarized in the following diagram of levels of functional organization:

 XI    Unknown                                   Above and in biocomputer
 X     Supra-species-metaprograms                Beyond metaprogramming
 IX    Supra-self-metaprograms                   To be metaprogrammed
 VIII  Self-metaprogram (awareness)              To metaprogram
 VII   Metaprograms/metaprogram storage          To program sets of programs
 VI    Programs/program storage                  Detailed instructions
 V     Subroutines/subroutine storage            Details of instructions
 IV    Biochemical/neural/glial/vascular         Signs of activity
 III   Biochemical/neural/glial/vascular         Brain
 II    Biochemical/sensory/motor/vascular        Body
 I     Biochemical/chemical/physical             External reality

Now a cursory inspection of this diagram reveals a couple things. First, this model is clearly open-ended. It contains within it a symbol for things which it cannot represent itself, namely level XI. Clearly, additional experiential data could reveal levels beyond XI. Secondly, it has some correspondence with Leary's 8-circuit model, but doesn't quite make the same assertions about the specific functioning. However, with a bit of work, one might see where the various 8 circuits might map into this model.

OK, that's all for tonight. Your assignment for the next class is to observe the functioning of your own biocomputer in terms of this model and see how it applies.

One final word: remember "it's only a model!" - "shhh!"

See also:

[Index] [A Lurker's Guide] [The Eight Basic Winner/Loser Scripts] [Galactic Archives] [More On The 8-Circuit Model]

Neuro Links