At least Darwin believed that his colleague Lamarck - and his grandfather Erasmus - might be partly correct in believing that the will of the individual influences evolutionary changes. But the neo-Darwinists who accepted Mendel’s discoveries as the mechanism of evolution felt that it explained everything. Evolution was now a totally mechanical process - like the erosion of a landscape by geological forces - for the will of the individual cannot influence his genes. And the most influential of modern geneticists, like Richard Dawkins, are rigid materialists.
I personally have been attacking this view for the past half-century, and have pointed out anomalies that cannot be explained in terms of mechanical evolution - for example, how a colony of little insects called the flattid bug can crawl on to a dead twig and then shape themselves into the likeness of a living flower - a flower that does not even exist in nature. This cannot be explained by “survival of the fittest”. It seems to involve some “group mind” operating at an unconscious level.
......................Moskvitin is suggesting that the external world our eyes reveal to us is simply a limited version of a larger inner world. I was reminded of Moskvitin’s thesis by Mike Hayes’s theory of light - on which he expands greatly in this book.
His insights were also close to those of a remarkable anthropologist called Jeremy Narby, who studied among the Ashaninca Indians of Peru, and became convinced that their extraordinary knowledge of the medicinal properties of forest plants was obtained through a visionary process involving the drug ayahuasca.
For example, the drug curare, used on poison darts, is made from a combination of plants, and the first stage is to boil them for three days, while staying clear of the deadly vapours. The final product kills monkeys without poisoning their meat, and also causes them to relax their grip so they fall from the tree to the ground, instead of clinging to the tree in a death spasm.
But there are about 80,000 species of forest plants. How did the Indians stumble on curare without poisoning themselves first, or wasting their lives in endless experiment?
The same questions arise with regard to ayahuasca. It is made up of two plants, one of which contains a hormone secreted in the human brain, a hallucinogen that is rendered harmless by a stomach enzyme. In order to prevent it being rendered harmless (and useless as a drug), it has to be mixed with a substance from a creeper. Then it induces visions.
How, Narby wondered, did the Indians discover anything so complex? Surely not by trial and error - trying millions of possible combinations? The shaman’s answer was that they learned it from drugs, which “told” them the answer.
Narby learned a great deal from another anthropologist, Michael Harner, who had also experimented with drugs among the Indians. And Harner had declared that his visions emanated from giant reptile creatures “like DNA” that resided at the lowest depth of his brain.
It struck Narby that DNA looks like two intertwined serpents (as Mike Hayes also points out). The molecule also looks like a spiral ladder, and shamans the world over talk about ascending a ladder to higher realms of the spirit.
Narby himself tried ayahuasca, and reached the same conclusions as Harmer. The drug introduced him to Harmer’s “serpents”:
“Suddenly I found myself surrounded by two gigantic boa constrictors that seemed fifty feet long. I was terrified...In the middle of these hazy thoughts, the snakes start talking to me without words. They explain that I am merely a human being. I feel my mind crack, and in the fissures, I see the bottomless arrogance of my presuppositions. It is profoundly true that I am just a human being, and, most of the time, I have the impression of understanding everything, whereas here I find myself in a more powerful reality that I do not understand at all and that, in my arrogance, I did not even suspect existed.”
He began to feel that language itself was inadequate, and that words would no longer stick to images.
But after this alarming beginning, things began to improve as he realised that the Indians know their way around in this bizarre reality, and that the most apparently absurd things they had told him were true. And somehow, the Indians seemed to be obtaining their information direct from DNA, a concept that seems less odd when we remember Mike Hayes’s discovery of the similarity between the genetic code and the I-Ching.
Later in The Cosmic Serpent, Narby writes, “It seemed that no one had noticed the possible links between the ‘myths’ of ‘primitive peoples’ and molecular biology”. And he goes on to make the important comment (in view of Mike Hayes’s emphasis on music), “According to the shamans of the entire world, one establishes communication with the spirits via music”.