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The 8-Circuit Model of Consciousness is a theory of consciousness first proposed by psychologist Timothy Leary. It models the mind as a collection of 8 "circuits", with each circuit representing a higher stage of evolution than the one before it.

Leary constructed the model based on the lateralization of brain function. The first four levels, which Leary presumed to reside in the left lobe of the cerebrum, are concerned with the survival of organisms on earth; the other four, which Leary suggested are found in the right lobe, are for use in the future evolution of humans, and remain dormant in the majority of human beings.

The eight circuits

Leary

The eight circuits explicated by Leary are:

1. The Bio-survival Circuit is concerned with the earliest modes of survival and the basic separation of objects into either harmful or safe. This circuit is said to have first appeared in the earliest evolution of the invertebrate brain. It is the first to be activated in an infant's mind. Leary says this circuit is stimulated by opioid drugs. This circuit introduces a one-dimensional perception: forward and backward (i.e., forward towards food, nourishment and that which is trusted as safe, and backwards -- away from danger and predators; Also called the "Oral Bio-Survival Circuit" by Robert Anton Wilson in reference to the oral stage of human development from Freudian Psychology).

2. The Emotional Circuit is concerned with raw emotion and the separation of behavior into submissive and dominant. This circuit appeared first in vertebrate animals. In humans, it is activated when the child learns to walk. Leary associates this circuit with alcohol. This circuit introduces a second dimension, up-down, linked with territorial politics and tribal power games (up, as in swelling ones body in size to represent dominance, and down, as in the cowering, tail-between-the-legs submissive stance; called by Robert Anton Wilson the "Anal Emotional Territorial Circuit" in reference to the anal stage of human development from Freudian Psychology).

3. The Symbolic Circuit is concerned with logic and symbolic thought. Leary said this circuit first appeared when hominids started differentiating from the rest of the primates. Leary believed this circuit is stimulated by caffeine, cocaine, and other stimulants. This circuit introduces the third dimension, left and right, related to the development of dexterous movement and handling "artifacts". (Also called by Leary The Dexterity-Symbolism Circuit; called by Robert Anton Wilson the Semantic Circuit.)

4. The Domestic Circuit. This circuit is concerned with operating within social networks and the transmission of culture across time. This circuit is said to have first appeared with the development of tribes. This fourth circuit deals with moral-social/sexual tribal rules passed through generations and is the introduction to the fourth dimension -- time. (Also called by Leary and Wilson the Socio-Sexual Circuit). Leary never associated a drug with this circuit, though some have hypothesized that Oxytocin (released during and after childbirth) or MDMA might activate this circuit. Additionally, endorphins and other psychoactive substances produced by the body itself during social interaction can be connected to this circuit. The lack of knowledge about the cause and mechanism of these chemicals, as well as lack of a method to stimulating their production, would explain their non-mention in his works.

5. The Neurosomatic Circuit is the first of the right-brain, "higher" circuits which are usually inactive in most humans. It allows one to see things in multi-dimensional space instead of the 4 dimensions of Euclidean space-time, and is there to aid in the future exploration of outer space. It is said to have first appeared with the development of leisure-class civilizations around 2000 BC. It is associated with hedonism and eroticism. Leary says this circuit is stimulated by cannabis and tantric yoga, or simply by experiencing the sensation of free fall at the right time.

6. The Neuroelectric Circuit is concerned with the mind becoming aware of itself independent of the patterns imprinted by the previous five circuits. It is also called "metaprogramming" or "consciousness of abstracting". Leary says this circuit enables telepathic communication, and that this circuit is impossible to explain to those who have only left-brain activity and is difficult to explain to those with active fifth circuits. It is said to have appeared in 500 BC, in connection with the Silk Road. Leary associates this circuit with peyote and psilocybin. (Robert Anton Wilson called this circuit The Metaprogramming Circuit, and places it 7th in the hierarchy.)

7. The Neurogenetic Circuit allows access to the genetic memory contained in DNA. It is connected to memories of past lives, the Akashic Records, and the collective unconscious, and allows for essential immortality in humans. This circuit first appeared among Hindu groups in the early first millennium and later reappeared in Sufi sects at the end of the first millennium (ca. 9th century). This circuit is stimulated by LSD, and Raja Yoga. (Robert Anton Wilson called this circuit The Morphogenetic Circuit.)

8. The Psycho-atomic Circuit allows access to the intergalactic consciousness that predates life in the universe (characterized as the Godhead, the Overmind or aliens), and lets humans operate outside of space-time and the constraints of relativity. It tunes the brain into the non-local quantum communication system suggested by physicists such as Bohm, Walker, Sarfatti, Bell, etc. Israel Regardie compared this to the Buddhist concept of Indra's Net. This circuit is associated with Ketamine and DMT by Leary. While Wilson agreed Ketamine was associated with this circuit, he also believed very strong doses of LSD could unlock it. (Called also by Leary The Neuro-Atomic Circuit or The Metaphysiological Circuit, Robert Anton Wilson called this circuit The Non-Local Quantum Circuit.)

Leary claims that this model explained, among other things, the social conflict in the 1960s, where the mainstream, said to be those with circuit 4 active and characterized as tribal moralists by Leary, clashed with the counter-culturists, said to be those with circuit 5 active and characterized as individualists and hedonists.

Leary's book on the subject was called Exo-Psychology, and has been republished with additional material in recent years under the title Info-Psychology (New Falcon Publishing).

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Comment by Shadrach Reiser on August 30, 2011 at 7:46am
This is old.  "The Tree of Life".  This has been meditated on for at least a thousand years.  Kabbalah FTW!

Rosicrucian
Comment by ☤Tris☤ on June 18, 2009 at 11:45am
In between sphere 3 and 4, yes, intuition and throat chakra needs to be higher to match up.
AbZu Comment by AbZu on June 18, 2009 at 6:52am
I've came across this model before. It is a good start in the intergration of spirituality and science. The only problem with it though, is that it does not take the 11th sphere into consideration, which is the key to unlocking the whole tree.

I posted a more complete version of the main image in my photos:

Comment by alchemistra on June 17, 2009 at 7:48pm
The path upward (through the chakras) is the Liberating Current, the pull of Mind/Spirit which moves towards Freedom, Expansion, Abstraction, and Universality. The path downward (through the chakras) is the Manifesting Current, the pull of the Body/Soul., which moves towards Form, Density, Boundaries, Contraction, and Individuality.

Rosicrucian
Comment by ☤Tris☤ on May 30, 2009 at 8:00pm
Hi Joymonk, yes indeed, and considering everyone begins with Stage 1 as default, Malkuth or the lead in the alchemical analogy, we are left with the 7 making it consistent.
Comment by philip on May 30, 2009 at 7:53pm
And since you posted them as well: have you considered the connection with the 7 alchemical processes?
Comment by philip on May 30, 2009 at 7:52pm
Big fan of Leary's model, and the versions Wilson and Alli added. The discussion on elements and chakras/circuits has baffled me for a while. As far as four elements go, I think several relations can be created, especially when you take into consideration also the 24-fold model Leary put out in "The Game of Life" - in this case adding the Zodiac to the mix:
Love this graphic, did you create it or find it somewhere? Don't recall having seen this in Leary's work.

Rosicrucian
Comment by ☤Tris☤ on May 5, 2009 at 10:59am
Very interesting, Ill have to check out Robert Anton Wilson's work. Thank you for your insights, fascinating.
Comment by Minus on May 4, 2009 at 7:13pm
I'll have to double check my source but I believe Antero Alli grouped the last 4 circuits as overlaying the first four; the fifth would be built on the first, sixth on the second, etc... so they could be understood to be amplified or transcendent versions of their mundane counterparts. I'll have to find "Angel Tech" by Alli. And I'm uncertain but I think it was Robert Anton Wilson who made the link between the four x two circuits and the four elements? Circuit one = earth , Circuit two = water , three = air , four = fire... Any thoughts/feelings, all?

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