Arthur M. Young


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Fear of the Unknown
by Arthur M. Young (1983)

At a talk on flying saucers which we attended here in Berkeley, the speaker devoted the greater part of his time to government suppression of public access to information. He was asked, why did the government adopt this policy? He said because they thought people would be spooked out if they thought there were beings from outer space who could read their minds.

This evoked the comment from me, are people spooked out in a church? Are our inmost thoughts not apparent to God and his angels? Is not the whole idea of religion based on a higher order of being from whom we cannot hide, with whom we seek alignment and to whom we pray,

But the fact that those who know most about the situation act as they do, shows how far we have drifted from earlier times when the wonder of nature had not been usurped by technology and scientific education. Now we have an explanation for everything and whatever doesn't fit the explanation is illusion.

This shows how far we have come. The mere idea of beings who can read our minds is offensive to the intellect -- the respected ego, who now persuades us that there is no one in the store but himself and rival egos who have come to pilfer the bounties which nature, by chance and necessity, has provided.

It makes little difference if we are told that the saucer people may be malicious -- they may be planning to invade the planet: It might be OK for God or his angels to know our thoughts; but not alien life forms invading the planet. What about the devil? Isn't he able to read our thoughts and know when we weaken and yield to his temptations? The devil also has a role in religion.

The idea of control by the planets, or supervision by beings at a higher stage of evolution, or by gods, together with the whole topic of the unknown -- what is beyond the immediate realities that the news media and our own shortcomings cement into a shell of credible fantasy that protects our nakedness --is as much out of fashion as was sex in the Victorian era. What is outside this shell of illusion is no longer permitted a hearing.

To me it is a curious inversion to say with Jung that the flying saucers are a modern manifestation of ancient superstition. I would rather say that all accounts of the super mundane are valid. To be sure there are added various kinds of superfluous coloration -- angels don't need to have wings, nor do space people need saucers and advanced technology. Such imagery fastens on the mind as aids to portraying the unthinkable, but makes it more difficult to get to the meaning.

What am I trying to say? Through astrology I am forced to recognize the great importance of something I'm totally unable to understand. And it doesn't stop there; I don't even begin to understand my own body.

The unquestioning faith of primitive man, and perhaps of some people today, in a divine source is a thing which has become increasingly unreachable, incredible, unsupportable in the face of the powers existing in the modern world. But it is always there, faint and far away -- the unreal that is the ultimate reality. Yet when this ultimate somehow manifests, its very lack of sensible or rational expression creates fear and an implosion of irrelevant paraphernalia that protects us from fear but that obliterates the issue. We wish to put on skins, to clothe the unspeakable, to fill the vacuum.

I would like to make some kind of contribution which would help intellect to resist its propensity to plug any opening in our shell of illusion with irrelevant junk. To take an example a bit off center and possibly easier to handle: the authorship of the Shakespeare plays. Speak of this to someone whom one thinks could appreciate either a little light on a large darkness or at least the opportunity for some exercise in discrimination, and what do you get? A flood of irrelevant cliches, a panic to close the opening as though it were a leak in the dike which would let in the ocean and destroy civilization. It is the same when one speaks to a scientist of the inability of science to account for life. Would I be mistaken in saying the scientist, in his own account of some phenomenon that may be free from any taint of mysticism, still assures us that this phenomenon is merely mechanical in nature? What demon is he exorcising by this use of the word merely?

Are we thus led to think that this threat of something untoward, something of unutterable horror, is in everything? It is certainly no great trick to manufacture demons. Do we carry our demons with us, and use other people's remarks as an excuse to drag out our own domestic quarrels? I think I do.

So perhaps I'm pushing my demons on the reader. But hopefully I would like to do something that would help -- for I think it is of great interest that there is an unknown of such indescribable vastness. If we have any faith at all -- and surely we must have some, for how else can we have managed to get to where we are, entrusted with these remarkable automata we call bodies and living in this universe of marvels -- we should trust ourselves to venture into this unknown wilderness beyond the confined walls of our civilization.

I was told by Professor Harder, the psychologist whose specialty is interviewing under hypnosis persons who have been contacted by entities from flying saucers, that apparently there are quite a number of such people and I would think the material should be written up and published.

Two things emerge from his study. One, those who have been contacted are invariably frightened, unusually so, so much so that they are unable to talk about it except under hypnosis. Not that they have been violently abducted or badly treated: they have been dictated to by inner voices which prevail upon them to come on board, forcing them to strip naked and be subject to examination. Apparently this is terrifying not because of what is done but the way it is done; they are manipulated as if by powers beyond their comprehension.

Second, Harder gathered from those he interviewed that the saucers are from outside the solar system. They are of great variety -- from all sorts of civilizations and here for different reasons. I don't recall his exact words but they were quite similar to what I read recently in Messages from Michael. Michael, like Seth in Seth Speaks, is a being or guide who is contacted by a group using a Ouija board.

Toward the end of the book Michael is asked about UFO's:
"All right, then, are there UF0's, and if so, What are they?" Matt asked. "Most are simply what their name implies, unidentified flying objects. A few are robot monitors, a few are those making studies, a few are lost. A few are what we would probably call tourists. They do not all represent one species. They are from many places and cultures."

I see no reason that this should not be the case. Put yourself in the position of a primitive savage only 500 years ago, say a Fiji Islander, or a native of South America, or even an American Indian. You live in the forest seeking out a bare existence trapping animals or raising corn. You are surrounded by the ocean, dense forests, high mountains, or whatever, and know nothing about the whole earth, only about the small portion of its surface that you inhabit. Beyond a few days' journey is the unknown. You have your priests and wise men who tell you of gods, and how the world was created. You worship your ancestors and make sacrifices to them. You are not dumb, but your direct first-hand information is limited -- yet you do what you do with great skill you can make arrowheads, you start a fire by rubbing sticks.

Then comes to your shore a fleet of ships so large that you do not recognize them as ships. You do see 'canoes' separating from them and see the canoes disgorge men in metal garments. What is your state of mind? How do you explain these beings? Of course this case is different from what happens when saucers make a contact with earth, but the first impact of such visitation may have been similar -- the sudden invasion of one reality by another. I am speaking not of invasion in the sense of military conquest, but of the shattering intersection of one reality by another, and of the problem which this creates for explanation, especially for the party invaded. For the invading party expects to find something different than what is customary; that's what it's doing, exploring. But the invaded suddenly has his closed world broken into by the unknown.

This is probably more severe for modern man than it was for primitive man, because the latter was accustomed to being in a world surrounded by the unknown. Our current world is not only physically conquered in the sense that it is paved with roads and parking lots; it is spiritually conquered by science and expertise to such an extent that our intelligentsia especially are almost totally cut off from any necessity of acquaintance with the unknown -- the unknown, that is, in the immediate and threatening sense of powers superior to ourselves. To be sure modern man plays at the unknown -- speculates about distant galaxies, about quarks and antimatter, but such is all on paper: it doesn't touch at a vulnerable spot, it doesn't have flesh and blood.

Julian Jaynes, in The Origin of Consciousness In the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind, speculates that in early man the two halves of the brain were not as integrated as they are now, and when one side spoke the other interpreted it as the voice of the gods. I think it's the other way around -modern man has so cut himself off from gods that he's too afraid of being spooked out to listen to the gods. Note I do not say religion, because religion has been taken out of the hands of the gods and become a man-made industry. Nor do I want to call it the unconscious, as this notion too has been denigrated to a status lower than the conscious, like indigestion. I mean the unknown. Even the word superconscious denotes something which, because it has been given certain attributes to which we aspire, has become like a rich relation, something we know but hesitate to address.

No, I mean the UNKNOWN. Are the saucer people benevolent? Some are, some are not. We don't know. It is hard to think of the cattle mutilation as benevolent -- but how does a rat feel about being used for experiments on carcinogens, or the salamander at having its legs amputated or even transplanted to unsuitable locations on its own body?

But as I said it's not just the innocent housewives who have been taken aboard flying saucers who are spooked out by them. It's the government itself. Despite their practically total command of the resources of the modern mind, since they endow what must be 70 percent of all research grants and have the funds to contract any research group to do their problems, they don't know what to think or what to do with what they do know.

Of course I don't know what they know or don't know. But I do know they have kept what they know very secret, and I also know that if you keep a thing secret it eats your heart out. It never gets explained because to explain it is to put it out -- to air, to expose.

There is a bit of confusion on this subject and it's worth digression. People tend to think of patents as secrets and guarded. But the word "patent" means "to lay open to public inspection. True, the owner of the patent has exclusive right to the sale of inventions based on the patent, but without the patent no one would know who owns what. It's similar to the title to a property. If I sell you a house you went to be sure I own the house before you buy it. Companies to whom inventors want to sell their ideas are well advised to make sure the inventor has patented his idea before showing it to them. Otherwise he may be selling them something that doesn't belong to him.

Again in my own experience with inventions I've found that people who are especially secretive about their ideas generally don't have much to offer. It's not that they intentionally use secrecy to hide their lack of ideas; it's part of the inadequacy syndrome.

So I suspect the secrecy of the government about flying saucers is because they are themselves unable to explain what has happened, and this makes them unduly sensative. Like the rational mind, they are accustomed to being in control: that's their job. So when something comes up over which they have no control, they are spooked out. They might say that the public is not ready for this, but this diagnosis of what is good for the public presumes on all-knowing "father" which in this case the government is not.

Again this is not because the government is made up of political appointees. If we were to select a committee of the most intelligent scientists, the result would be similar. Witness the 186 scientists signing their names to a document which stated that astrology was totally without foundation. When this manifesto hit the press I was reminded of the time years ago when I was making a radio set and a house fuse blew out. My father blamed it on my radio. I traced the cause to a frayed wire on the electric iron. When I explained to my father that the fuse blew out at the time my mother was using the iron, and that I had not used the radio within six hours of the time the fuse blew, he replied that sometimes it took a while for the fuse to blow. This was the beginning of my realization that my father was not infallible.

The same 186 scientists might have signed a document declaring that ESP was bunk; meanwhile I'm told that the government and industry are funding psychic research whereas academic science still regards the subject as not worthy of attention. Dean John, who is doing experiments with distant viewing and psychokinesis at Princeton, tells me he is practically ostracized by the rest of the college, especially by the psychology department.

So it's not possible to deal with the unknown by the use of experts. If the government really wanted to consult experts it might try the Catholic Church, which is an organization that has roots that go back before science and is still equipped to deal with exorcism. But for the government to avail itself of this sort of thing would be an about-face such as to knock out its own underpinnings, underpinnings which go back to the separation of church end state. So it begins to be apparent that the problem lies in the separation of man himself from any dealing with the forces of darkness -- his total dependence on staying within the protective environment of what could be called the intellectual equivalent of central heating, modern plumbing, buildings, food production, transportation, news media and the like.

The forces of darkness are inherently neither benign nor malevolent. They are unknown. It is when we thrust them out altogether that they are or seem to be malevolent. In the hands of great artists and perhaps some great leaders, to which I could add the prophets, the forces of what is outside our artificial lighting can be great inspirations that have made man what he is -- a creature who can build on what has gone before him.

But to cope with the outer darkness -- which is perhaps the greatest challenge to which men can respond -- requires either faith or boldness or both; and these functions are the antithesis of ratiocination, which is what we try to do when confronted by the unknown. The rational faculty is confined to hindsight about the known, and what is more, it expects to account for the unknown in the same terms that have sufficed for the past. Much of the time this is the case; history repeats. But at other times there is on expansion; something unforeseen happens, something which may or may not be explainable in terms of what has gone before.

So religion, which tends to degenerate into social mores, or is made to do s by social necessity, is fundamentally the activity of facing the unknown -- facing the outer darkness. In the current age the Piscean religion is primarily based on faith. In the earlier period, when the Spring equinox was in Aries, we suppose it to have been based on boldness; for the heroes of older time -- Perseus and the Golden Fleece, Theseus and the Minotaur, Hercules and his exploits -- were distinguished by courage and like Arietic qualities. We have to go way back in time to a myth such as Popul Vuh, in which the twins (for this myth must have applied when the equinoxial point was in Gemini) had to find knowing as the needed trait. (The twins fail their initiation because they mistake a wooden idol for a god.)

Again we have one of the greatest books on the religious quest, The Cloud of Unknowing, in which the seeker is admonished to always move as it were with a cloud of unknowing above his head. In all other things use discretion, but in this none. This is both a recommendation of faith and a recommendation not to expect to know. The trouble with the official attitude toward flying saucers is the emphasis on knowing; we went to outsmart them.

I do not think we can "solve" the problem of flying saucers, either by examining the evidence or by talking to the beings who operate them. The reason for this is fundamental; it is because "knowing" is limited, it is a subset of totality. The Bible (Ecclesiastes) puts it very well:
There be three things which are too wonderful for me, yea, four which I know not: the way of an eagle in the air; the way of a serpent upon a rock; the way of a ship in the midst of the sea; the way of a man with a maid.

It is not possible to "know" that which is beyond ourselves. It is not that what is beyond is infinite, but since it won't fit in the definitions and concepts on which our knowledge is based, it has the nature of infinity, that is, unbounded-ness. Fear is the most natura1 reaction to what is beyond us, but in the heart of this fear there is a kind of higher courage. I do not know how to attain this, but this is what the spiritual quest is about. The Upanishads have to say of the beginning of things:
In the beginning was the Self alone in the shape of a person. He looking round saw nothing but his Self. He feared and therefore anyone who is lonely feared. He thought, "As there is nothing but myself why should I fear?" Thence his fear passed away. For what should he have feared? Verily fear arises from a second only.

1996 Anodos Foundation

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