- TIMOTHY LEARY 8 CIRCUITS MODEL, part one -
8 is Infinity spelled sideways...
In this article, we will explore the 8 circuits model of consciousness proposed by Tim Leary in the 1970s, most likely while he was purging a prison sentence after being tricked by the CIA. It is a rich, multi-layered meta model of historical, societal, and individual consciousness that correlates nicely with the Chakra system of Yoga. As a matter of fact, there are claims that Leary received the information from the writings of a Tantric Yoga Master in India.
The 8 circuits model is not just a map for understanding and representing the human psyche. It is also a practical tool used to accelerate the evolution of human consciousness and can be used for very practical effects. It is possible that mentions of it appear in the Castaneda series, where Don Juan Matus refers to the 8 realities available to the Brujo/Shaman.
First, a word on Leary the man. Brilliant Harvard psychologist, he was one of the most famous and controversial figures of the revolution of the 1960s, for encouraging the dissemination of psychedelic drugs (LSD mostly...). Hero of the counter culture and no friend to the establishment, he advocated autonomy and thinking for oneself with intelligence, humor and subversion. He was 'dangerous' because he was educated and intelligent, and critical of economic, religious, and political institutions. Visionary, he realized early on that the development of information technologies and consciousness had no choice but being paired together. The short video below will give a little taste of the man...
The 8 circuits model posits that the human psyche functions on 8 distinct planes linked to each other and corresponding to specific layers of reality. The 8 taken together participate in assembling together reality with a big R. It is both a snapshot and an evolutionary perspective on human consciousness, and its capacity to integrate other systems of representation makes it a meta model, or model of models, transcending scientific, religious or other spiritual models.
As we evolve from the first circuit (gross and material) to the eighth (the creative void), we progress through 8 different subtle organs of perception, understanding and action: the 8 circuits traversed are states of consciousness. The first 4 circuits are linked to material life and are referred to as terrestrial circuits, the last 4 concern the life of the spirit and are referred to as supra-terrestrial. The introduction below is the most basic presentation of the material, and will cover the first 4 circuits.
The 4 terrestrial circuits
: Root Circuit | Vital Consciousness
Linked to physical survival, nature and the resources necessary for humans basic needs: breathing, drinking, eating, sleeping, roofing... It is the passive raw energy necessary for sustaining physical form and mostly develops in utero and the first few months of life. When balanced, the first circuit is associated with a good life hygiene providing physical and material well-being, and a sense of being rooted in our body and the planet. Unbalanced, we experience raw fear, the negative emotion associated with its blockage.
: Political And territorial Circuit | Emotional Consciousness
Linked to movement and discovery of our environment, it is an expansive and reactive circuit, opening after circuit one when the child starts to feel and move about in the world. When balanced, it is associated with courage and graceful mobility. Unbalanced, it throws one in egoism, aggressive and competitive behaviors aimed at domination and appropriation without respect. Gracefully developed, the emotional consciousness is a tool allowing us to recognize raw emotions as our integrated guidance system in our exploration of the world.
: Intellectual Circuit | Conceptual Consciousness
Linked to the head, it seeks to understand the world via symbols, concepts, schemes, equations etc... It develops when the child starts talking, calculating, reading and writing. Its main function is to reduce the complexity of the world to understand better how it works. When balanced, it equips one with great tools of knowing, fluid, flexible and smooth, helping to further intelligence, concentration and a reflexive mind. The flip sides of it are dogmatism, extreme reductionism and psycho-rigidity, as seen in all kinds of true believers in any creed, be it scientific, religious, nutritional, educational etc...
: Social And Sexual Circuit | Cultural Consciousness
Crowning the first 3 circuits, the 4th circuit integrates the individual in a group with a set of values dictating in what direction creativity should expand and how procreation is to be organized in order to sustain the group, be it an archaic tribe or a modern nation-state. When balanced, cultural consciousness gives birth to responsible societies with values aligned with a natural and collective good. Unbalanced, individuals become conformists, subjugated to an unhealthy collective and ready to forego their individual creativity and spirit in order to fit.
The jump happens when an individual realizes that her inner life extends much beyond the experiences afforded by the terrestrial circuits. This can happen any time in a human life, or not at all, and it can come with joy and exhilaration, or fear and destabilization because of a loss of the familiar. In archaic cultures, the jump was formalized through rites of passage.