The following is the foreword from the forthcoming anthology exploring Pearce’s writings from 1958 to 2010 by Michael Mendizza. Visit the virtual Joseph Chilton Pearce Library at Touch the Future for more insights, videos, and archival treasures of Pearce’s work.
Kindred World (Kindred Media’s parent nonprofit) was inspired by Joseph Chilton Pearce’s work, as he lived in Charlottesville, Virginia, a two hour drive from the founding families of Kindred World in Williamsburg, Virginia. You can learn more about our history here, and how America’s 50 year decline in children, and general population, health inspired Kindred World’s creation in 1996. We’ve explored the necessary conditions to create sustainable, peaceful humans for 25 years now. Please support our nonprofit initiatives. We’ve still got work to do!
One can mechanically copy, imitate and repeat, as most of us do, most of our lives, but Joseph Chilton Pearce is different. He is original. My twenty-five-year journey with Joe began in a room with twenty adults, eyes wide, staring, amazed and with complete attention. We sat in chairs, some on cushions in a meeting room at Esalen Institute high above the rugged Big Sur coast of California. For two days, eight hours each day, chalk in hand, a shrimp of a man, but a giant in vision, without notes, hardily taking a breath, carried everyone in the room on a wild ride into unknown, yet longed-for territory: What does this gift of being human mean and why are we barely scratching the surface of our true potential?
Since that first meeting, Joe and I have been pals, swapping stories, crying in our beer, musing together about shared adventures, interests and passions. More than a friend, Joe has been an inspiration and mentor. We share a passion for reaching beyond the limitations and constraints of our social conditioning. Very early, Joe was seized with the feeling that ‘I own myself.’ He felt himself to be an ‘imposter,’ realizing that the cultural mask we all wear is a fake, a deadly serious masquerade and one far more crippling than we imagine. Who we really are is a biological masterpiece, one that has given rise to fields of meaning that transcends the limitations and constraints of that biology.
Real learning, at any age or stage, as with the elite athlete, artist, or true scientist, is a focused act of self-discovery about one’s self and our place in the world. Because life is so vast, subtle, complex and mysterious, the greatest challenge any and every human being faces is; to ‘know thyself.’ This supreme and forever deepening-expanding act of discovery is a personal and private, inner experience, a revelation much more than an idea or concept to be studied. And for the rare, the very few who make this ongoing discovery their life’s passion what is revealed must be shared. And so they do.
Because of their passion, because of their depth of personal experience and synthesis, every once in a while what we call greatness emerges. Not great in comparison to another, great in the unique story or capacity being shared and how that sharing awakens something fresh, new and powerful in others, something that may never have been seen or discovered without this new story and the unique way it is being told. Joe would turn up his nose at such a pompous accusation of greatness. But he was, and his insights are that potentially life-changing for all who listen, behold and embody the story Joe shared with millions around the world.
There was a single driving quest, something mysterious yet so real and tangible that Joe could not let go. When asked about the unifying mystery he explored in all of his writings, he replied: ‘to understand our astonishing capacities and self-inflicted limitations.’
Joe’s collected works are one coherent lifelong exploration of this basic question, What are we and are we expressing the full miracle nature intended, and if not, why? Each of Joe’s books represents a new vista, a unique point of view. Each is also simultaneously part of a larger whole. Each volume digs deeper, expanding this mystery, creating a new vantage point to launch the next exploration.
Begin with the end in mind is the first habit in Steven Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Successful People. This anthology of Joe’s life and insights offers this end – to begin one’s journey with Joe into the mystery of what we are and yet still might become.
Joe complained of being pigeonholed. Indeed, childhood is the experience that sculpts the adult. To understand where we end, we must look carefully at where we begin. Approaching Joe’s insights is often like the parable of three blind men meeting an elephant. One declares, ‘the elephant is like a snake.’ ‘No, it is like a tree,’ says the next. ‘No, no, insist the third, ‘it is like a wall.’
Best known for Magical Child, many assume Joe is interested in child development, and he is. Reading Crack in the Cosmic Egg, one assumes he is interested in altered states, ESP, or so called psychic phenomena. All are true but miss the larger meaning Joe explores and shares.
Astonishing Capacities and Self-Inflicted limitations is the first book to draw together and explore Joseph Chilton Pearce’s complete vision of our transcendent human potential.
Like so many others, I had read just one of Joe’s books, Magical Child. As a documentary filmmaker, having interviewed amazing visionaries – Ashley Montage, David Bohm, Krishnamurti, pioneers in prenatal intelligence and many others – it was a book I thought I had to write.
Simmering for all these years in Joe’s collected insights, a challenge emerged: Is it possible to provide a simple key, scale or guide to this magnificent body of rare perception and metaphor?
First we must distinguish two forms or realms of knowing: deep, empathic nonverbal wisdom-insight and the other, verbal-intellect: thoughts, abstract concept, imagined images and ideas. Nature invested several billion years developing wisdom-insight and upon this foundation, some suggest as few as 50,000 years ago, risked developing an open-ended, causal-creative brain system finely tuned to imagine with the necessary prerequisites: symbols and metaphor, semantic language and abstracted memory, a brain system that could creatively act on its own processes, and therefore influence the very ontological processes upon which reality is built, for better or worse.
While abstracted imagination and intellectual ideas, images, beliefs and concepts can be acquired in relative isolation, what we call bonding is the way, and the only way, wisdom-insight can be awakened, reincarnate and develop in each new generation. With this in mind, lifting bonding out of sweet sentiment, as Joe often said, and reframing this subtle, nonverbal dynamic as an essential, critical, bidirectional and life-affirming channel of communication, helps us appreciate why interfering and callously breaking this bond at the beginning of life is the most harmful and demonic act possible.
The balance, or absence of balance, of these two ways of knowing, establishes the foundation for each human being’s concept of themselves, their values, perceived place and purpose in the world—what Joe called our ‘self-worldview.’ Five thousand centuries is a long time for abstracted imagination to churn out images, ideas, and beliefs, coagulating to form the conservative fields we call culture. The larger the influence of culture grows the more it dominates the balance between a personal identity grounded in wisdom-insight or a self-worldview grounded in abstracted knowledge.
Once the balance shifts from bonded-wisdom to abstracted, and therefore isolated imagination-intellect, the more the fruits of this shift express in the world, looping back and epigenetically altering, and in compounded ways, the implicit imbalance with its dis-ease.
A few classic metaphors for the inevitable consequences of this imbalance are the biblical myth of the Garden of Eden(ca 970-931), Goethe’s The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (1797), and Shelley’s Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus(1823). The essence and heart of Joe’s lifelong quest, using again his words, is to “understand our astonishing capacities and self-inflected limitations this continuum represents.”
The importance of this distilled collection of Joseph Chilton Pearce’s insights for this and new generations, with its implicit warning of the dangers of technologies’ counterfeit, masquerading for true organic, living intelligence, could not be more clear. Losing touch with, and even awareness of, the life-giving and life-supporting innate capacities that bonded wisdom and insight offers, we turn more and more to dead technology for our salvation with its addictive, compulsive grasping that only increases our dis-ease. You will see, with beauty, awe, wonder and tragedy, Joe’s quest for discovery, awakening and renewing this balance etched on every page that follows.
In the classic film One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, there is a poignant scene of Chief Bromden (Will Sampson) describing to R. P. McMurphy (Jack Nicholson) how his father died as an alcoholic. “It looked like my father was sucking out of the bottle, but the bottle was sucking life out of him,” he said. Joe was equally passionate.
Every time we have intellectually interfered with a fifteen-billion-year process, that intellectual interference has been paid for with a bitter price. And we never learn. We make money off of it, so immediately anything goes.
Technologies counterfeit intelligence, dressed in the exploding field of Bio-Tech, the merging of technology and biology, eliminates the value and need to develop our own astonishing capacities. This failure of development compounds our self-inflicted limitations, rendering humanity less human, more mechanical, reflexive and computerized, with suicidal consciences: implanted sensors, Nano-bots flowing through our veins and the global brain wired to the cloud. The implication being: nature is broken and can only be saved by technology. As all of Joe’s works describe, without full development of our innate, organic intelligence and its astonishing capacities, that technology often prevents, the tragic hubris Mary Shelly described in 1823 will soon reach a point of no return.
The vision of this new book is simple. Essential passages, perhaps ten percent of each original manuscript, are selected from Joe’s major works: Crack in the Cosmic Egg, Magical Child, Spiritual Initiation and the Breakthrough of Consciousness (originally Bond of Power), Evolution’s End, The Biology of Transcendence, The Death of Religion and Rebirth of Spirit and The Heart-Mind Matrix (originally Strange Loops – Gestures of Creation), woven together with personal commentary by Joe spanning thirty years.
Yes, Joe’s vision is original. No one has charted and explored the territory this map describes. One needs a big picture to appreciate its parts. Astonishing Capacities and Self-Inflicted Limitations offers new and existing readers this big, unifying and life changing vision.
There are no secrets, save those we hide from ourselves.