The Brain Jockey Club
Know yourself before you die! — The Brain Jockey Club motto.
Q. What is a brain jockey?
A. A brain jockey is a yogi without all the unscientific beliefs and excess cultural baggage of Hinduism and Buddhism. A brain jockey utilizes intense self-observation to know himself before he dies. Brain jockeys practice authentic meditation techniques for years in order to rewire their brains to make them more conscious.
Q. What does a brain jockey believe?
A. A brain jockey does not cling to philosophical and religious beliefs. He observes that human beings have existence on two levels. On one level of observation he sees that we exist as temporary individuals, just infinitesimally small parts of the universe. Brain jockeys accept that the individual is mortal without trying to cover up our vulnerability and impermanence with religious myths. From the greater perspective, the brain jockey also factually observes that we are also the whole universe. The Big Bang Theory aside, the universe is basically immortal in terms of concepts of time that humans can comprehend.
Q. Who is the leader of the brain jockeys?
A. Brain jockeys have no leader, no heroes, and do not follow any individual or cult.
Q. How much does it cost to become a brain jockey?
A. It's free. A brain jockey only spends his own time and patient effort to meditate.
Q. Isn't "brain jockey" a silly name?
A. Yes! A brain jockey maintains a sense of humor because he knows that life is short and entertainment is the only purpose of life. If you are not being entertained, there is no point in being here.
Q. Will meditation make me wiser, healthier, and give me supernatural powers?
A. Meditation will not make you smarter and has little to do with intelligence. Phony gurus over-sell meditation in order to increase their profits. If you have no profit motive in meditation you can tell the truth about its limitations. Meditation will not solve all of the world's problems or improve your health dramatically, and will not make you all-seeing and all-knowing. Meditation will never give you the power to walk on water, but it may make you feel as though you are walking in the clouds. Instead of taking illegal drugs to get high, meditation is cheaper, safer, and healthier.
Q. Should everyone meditate?
A. No. Meditation is not for everyone. If meditation does not spontaneously interest you, then do not force yourself. The stars will not fall out of the sky just because you decide to live a life without formal meditation practice. There are other positive things you can do to improve your life. For example, jogging and swimming are excellent physical exercises which reduce stress, make you feel more relaxed, and promote good health.
Meditation is only essential for people who want to gain the indescribable experiences it brings. Meditation is one of the few things that improves with age. Your looks and your sex life are not going to get better as you grow older, but your power of meditation will continually improve with age if you practice regularly with intensity. If you only give meditation lip service, without regular practice, you will gain nothing.
Our ultimate destiny as individuals is fixed no matter what we do. Death is just around the corner for all human animals, and there is nothing you can gain from meditation that will not be lost by your death. It's all in the brain, and when your brain dies your meditation will come to an abrupt and permanent end. There is no coming back. Meditation may make you more comfortable, sleep better, and reduce your level of fear and tension, but it will not solve all of your personal, financial, and political problems, or turn you into a saint. Those who pose as saints, superheroes, and reincarnations of famous historic figures are either sincerely self-deluded or cunning frauds.
Gurus who sell quick meditation methods, encounter groups, seminars, and television specials are just taking advantage of the naive. The very synapses in your brain must be rewired to reconnect in new ways to gain progress in meditation. This organic transformation takes a long time, and there is no way around patient practice. All authentic meditation methods can be done alone, at home, at no financial cost to you.
I am a Machine
"I am a machine." — Arnold Schwarzenegger from Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines
Most human beings, particularly those interested in religion, meditation, and the fine arts, are loathe to think of themselves as mechanical devices. When we think of a machine, we usually picture a man made contraption with lots of cold metal parts and hard surfaces. The machines man creates cannot think or reason; at best they can only unconsciously process data that we supply them. No human constructed machine is currently sophisticated enough to attain consciousness, emotions, or a will of its own.
Technically speaking, all life forms on planet Earth are machines, be they bacteria, plants, insects, fish, or warm blooded animals. Humans and other mammals are made of parts and pieces, just as our automobiles, computers and lawn mowers. Most human parts are soft and warm, infused with large amounts of water to make them function as needed. At birth, human babies are made up of approximately 78% water. By the time we reach adulthood our hydration level drops down to about 60% water (H20).
Approximately 99% of the human body is made up of just six basic atomic elements: oxygen (65%), carbon (18%), hydrogen (10%), nitrogen (3%), calcium (1.5%), and phosphorus (.35%). Carbon is the central atomic component for our large organic molecules, and that is why life on earth is referred to as "carbon based." Unlike our household appliances which are built in factories, our human bodies are crafted by nature through a long evolutionary process, through sexual intercourse and gestation in a mother's womb. As self-replicating organic machines we enjoy consciousness and the powers of thought and reason, and we can make our own autonomous decisions. Our inherited digital/chemical DNA code blueprints our design and constructs us gradually over time, molecule by molecule. Our parents, schools, and media program us and give us the mental software needed to function and survive, but rarely reveal to us the deep existential truths of life.
Our brains are bio-chemical computers that store memories, creates thoughts, and generates consciousness and the feeling that I exist. It is helpful to notice how your brain constructs the sensation of you when you first wake up in the morning. It takes a few seconds for the brain to turn on all of its parts and assemble your consciousness, sense of self, and understanding of who and where you are. You may first awaken with a primitive sense of self, then realize you are in a hotel room, then remember that you have a wife and children, and then realize that you are in London on a business trip. All this happens very quickly, but those few seconds of self-assembly present an opportunity to observe that the sensation of you is produced by a collection of brain parts.
People who suffer Alzheimer's disease may lose their memories and are left with only a primitive sensation of self, with no understanding of who and where they are. It has been reported that Ronald Reagan lost so much memory due to Alzheimer disease near the end of his life that he did not even know that he was once a famous American president. The perception of our personal identity relies on the proper functioning of many brain parts working together in highly orchestrated cooperation.
A discussion of our mechanical construction is relevant to religion, meditation, and the phenomena we call "enlightenment," because unless we can combine scientific knowledge with compassionate self-knowledge gained through meditation, we cannot fully understand what motivates us, why we think, feel, and behave the way we do. Without developing greater self-knowledge than our ancestors possessed, we will be doomed to repeat the same mistakes our ancestors made, from the creation of false dogmas, superstitions, and myths, to the starting of unnecessary religion motivated wars. To know oneself more fully you have to study science, not just sit silently in a meditation hall. If you only study science you may become cold and cerebral, with no depth of human experience. If you only practice meditation, you may become a peaceful but empty headed creature that misinterprets inner and outer phenomena as magical and "supernatural." Seeing and understanding the material facts of life is essential to our survival and evolution as a species.
All forms of consciousness, in humans and other animals, are portals through which the universe observes itself. Individuals come and go, but the universe remains intact and is never endangered. When you subtract memory and personality from consciousness, you rest in the elemental fact of basic existence. This usually pleasant experience will not save your soul because there are no souls to save. All the religious connotations given to cosmic consciousness are inauthentic and unreal, and that is part of the reason that organized religions have created disasters all over the world. Centuries of Buddhism did not make Japan nonviolent, and Hindu mobs have recently killed hundreds of Christians in India simply because they were Christians. The violence of Christianity and Judaism is well documented, and all of the big world religions have suffered countless scandals. Religion has been a failure because religions try to sell us the lie that there is something more than the physical facts of our existence.
The human brain is an organically created, naturally occurring electronic device. Brain cells communicate through electricity, and human consciousness is created by an exquisitely complex, intricately woven flow of electrons. When the body breaks down and dies, the electrical currents stop, and your consciousness turns off just like a television set. Religions try to sell us a false hope that our individual personality and memories will somehow survive physical death, but the only entity that survives is the universe itself, which has always been our one true identity. The temporary mind portal you think is you is the universe observing itself under a false flag,...a false name.
I believe the humbling admission that I am a machine can go a long way is reducing spiritual hucksterism and the exploitation of the naive. The human machine can enjoy cosmic consciousness through the practice of meditation. If meditation can be viewed more as recreation and less as religion, then we will be more honestly in tune with the reality of our situation. No meditation can protect us from death, because no machine can last forever. Those who promise eternal life through religion and/or meditation are selling goods that simply do not exist. Meditation can keep us off drugs and alcohol, and prevent us from going crazy in a chaotic and dangerous world, but it cannot make any machine immortal.
Christopher Calder Note* Christopher Calder's website no longer exists. His essays are archived here.
Copyright notice: Please feel free to copy, repost, or publish The Brain Jockey Club (© 2004 Christopher Calder) and I Am a Machine (© 2007 Christopher Calder) for educational, noncommercial use. You may repost or publish any of my essays without cost, but you must clearly state that the essays were written by Christopher Calder; you must not change any of my words or their meanings, and no one has been granted permission to use my writings to sell any products or services. This is a 100% free website, published only for the benefit of other students of meditation.
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