Back in the early days of the 20th century, it was realized that a drug must work in the body because it can “attach” itself to something in the body. They decided to call this place of attachment a “receptor.” Nobody really knew how this “attaching” worked, or why it led to a whole cascade of changes in the body, but there it was. You take a drug, and all kinds of things happened in the brain and/or other areas of the body.
It is now known, after long years of research, that the receptor is actually a single molecule! Not only that, but it is singularly complicated. Keep in mind that a molecule, by definition, is the smallest possible piece of something that can still be identified as that specific substance.
A molecule is composed of atoms. Atoms seem to form bonds with one another in accordance with certain rules. These rules have to do with the number of electrons in the highest energy “shell” of the particular atom. An atom is what is IS by virtue of how many electrons it has, and these electrons are arranged in “shells” like the orbits of planets around the sun. The only thing is, they can’t be thought of as round planetary bodies, but as a sort of “cloud” of energy. Full “shells” are particularly stable so that atoms seem to “like” to arrange themselves so that they can get their outer shells filled. Electrons also come in two “flavors,” which are referred to as “up” and “down,” and an “up” electron likes to pair with a “down” electron. This refers to the “spin” state of the atom. And, depending upon the number of electrons in the outer shell of the atom, and how many electrons it would “like” to have in its outer shell, it can bond to one or more other atoms.
The essential thing to know here is this: the resulting molecules that are brought together in these chemical bonding processes have a particular SHAPE. The carbon bonds have plenty of flexibility, allowing bending, and there can be tangling and doubling back and forth to form very complex and very specific shapes. This bending and tangling brings different atoms of one side group into contact with others providing all kinds of opportunities for complex bonding.
Getting back to the single molecule receptors on cells, we can understand from the bonding principles that these receptors have very particular shapes — as well as “shells wanting to be filled” that define precisely what other molecule will be attracted to them for bonding. We can understand that there are atomic forces which cause one molecule to be attracted to another. Receptor molecules on the cell respond to these energies by “wiggling, shimmying, vibrating and even humming as they shift back and forth from one favored shape to another.” Receptors are attached to a cell, “floating” on its surface, like a lotus flower on the surface of a pond, with roots extending into the interior of the cell.
Now, what do these receptors do? Well, we already know that they “attract” other molecules and respond to the atomic/chemical forces of various kinds of bonds, but what is important is that receptors function as sensing molecules — scanners — just as our eyes, ears, nose, tongue, fingers, and skin act as bodily sense organs, the receptors do this on a cellular level. They cover the membranes of your cells waiting to pick up and convey information from their environment that consists of a reality flooded with other vibrating amino acids, which come cruising along, diffusing through the fluids surrounding each cell. Researchers describe receptors as “keyholes,” although these keyholes are constantly moving and dancing in a rhythmic, vibratory way. The keyholes are waiting for the right chemical keys, ligands, to swim up to them through the extra-cellular fluid and to mount them by fitting into their keyholes, a process known as binding.
When the ligand, the chemical key, binds to the receptor, entering it like a key in a keyhole, it creates a response that causes a rearrangement, a changing of shape, until INFORMATION enters the cell.
In a certain sense, a ligand is the cellular equivalent of a phallus! Ligand comes from the Latin “ligare,” or that which binds. The same word is also the root of “religion.” Curious, yes?
A more dynamic description of this very miniscule process would be that relating to “frequency.” The ligand and the receptor combine their identical frequencies — striking the same note, so to say — which produces a sufficiently strong vibration that more or less “rings the doorbell” to cause the doorway of the cell to open and there is some sort of exchange of atomic potentials that constitute the “information” that is “sent into the cell.” What happens next is quite amazing. The receptor, having received a message, transmits it from the surface of the cell deep into the cell’s interior, where the message can change the state of the cell dramatically. A chain reaction of biochemical events is initiated as tiny cellular machines go into action and, depending on the message of the ligand, begin any number of activities — manufacturing new proteins, making decisions about cell division, opening or closing ion channels, adding or subtracting energetic chemical groups like the phosphates — to name just a few. In short, whatever a given cell is up to at any moment, is determined by which receptors are on its surface, and whether those receptors are occupied by ligands or not. On a larger scale, these tiny physiological phenomena at the cell level can translate to major changes in behavior, physical activity, even mood — and ABILITY.
So, to review: as the ligands drift by in the stream of fluid surrounding every cell, only those ligands that have molecules in exactly the right shape can bind to a particular kind of receptor. The process of binding is very selective and specific!
Researchers in the field say that “binding occurs as a result of receptor specificity, meaning the receptor ignores all but the particular ligand that’s made to fit it.” In other words, the cell is the engine that drives all life, and the receptors are the buttons on the control panel of that engine. The ligands or other neurotransmitters, known as peptides, are the fingers that push the buttons. The “musical hum of the receptors as they bind to their many ligands, often in the far-flung parts of the organism, creates an integration of structure and function that allows the organism to run smoothly and in “alignment” with the function of the specific ligands that are binding.
Referring to receptors and ligands, let’s apply our “as above, so below” principle to these ideas. The information that we receive into our organism as a whole — our interaction with our environment — seems to operate on exactly the same principle.
Information that “enters” the “cell” of our mental-body acts on us in the same way as a ligand acts on the cell when it binds to the receptor. The mind, our spirit receptor, having received information, transmits it deep into the interior of our consciousness, where the message can change the state of awareness dramatically. A chain reaction of psycho-spiritual events is initiated as the consciousness realigns itself based on the information received. This realignment then affects the entire self, the reality, and all support systems of the consciousness involved. In short, your BEing is determined by your state of awareness which is a function of your knowledge which depends on what “ligands” — or information units — are “bound” to your spirit, so to say. And just as ligands can produce cascades of cellular events with far reaching effects, so can your state of Being change because increased awareness can initiate major changes in your reality — the larger “body” in which you “live” as a “cell” of All that is.
Remember what we started with here: chemists came up with the idea that drugs worked in the body by attaching themselves to something in the body. Now we know about receptors and that they are receptive to chemicals manufactured by the body itself. Ligands, peptides, neurotransmitters, hormones, etc, are produced in the body and BY the body in certain “steps” that involve very complex processes.
And here is where we come to the DANGER part.
You see, there are chemicals, both natural and synthetic, that are sufficiently similar to the body’s own ligands to bind with the receptors without producing all of the same results that are produced when the body secretes its own ligands in the natural steps. The opiate receptor, for instance, can “receive” not only the body’s endorphins, but can also bind to morphine, or heroin. The Valium receptor can attach not only to Valium-like peptides produced in the body, but also to Valium.
Remember, “no drug can act unless fixed.” This means that if a drug works, it is because there is a receptor for it in the body. This, then, suggests that the receptor is there because it binds to a ligand produced by the body itself, which suggests that the body can produce its own drugs, stimulating its own healing, under the proper circumstances.
Looking in another direction, when we consider drugs that change “behavior,” such as heroin, marijuana, Librium, “angel dust,” or PCP, and so on, which precipitate radical changes in emotional states, these must also be able to bind because there are receptors for similar substances produced by the body. LSD and other hallucinogens, which produce changes in cognition, must also do so because there are receptors specific to them; suggesting again that such chemicals may, under proper circumstances, be produced by the body itself. This suggests to us that there may be natural steps to, or processes served by, such chemicals. And here we approach a very significant problem where, again, we may take the “as above, so below” approach to understanding our own natures.
Alcohol is everywhere. Tens of millions of human beings experience the consequences of alcohol addiction, from decreased job performance to liver damaged by spouse and child abuse, to total breakdown of social concepts and constraints ending in the proverbial “skid-row bum” looking every day for his MD 20-20 - or even a can of Sterno.
That is just alcohol. We aren’t even going to list the details for other drugs as it would be tedious and pointless. You have the idea.
Alcohol and other drugs have the ability to do what they do in our systems because they are “fixed;” they are synthetic ligands; they bind to our receptors and, in various ways, produce their effects.
In order to get an idea of how these fake ligands actually work, let’s take a look at caffeine. As our neurons process information, they produce cellular waste including a buildup of molecules of adenosine. Adenosine is a ligand that binds with the adenosine receptor sending a message deep into the cell that it is time to sleep. You could say that adenosine is a sort of “warning system” that helps keep the body balanced. As the production of adenosine continues throughout the day, as a byproduct of cerebral activity, more and more adenosine is produced, binding with more and more receptors, sending more and more sleep messages into more cells. Little by little our brain cells become more and more sluggish until we just simply must go to sleep. We literally can’t remain conscious. We yawn; our eyes water and try to close, and we just want to curl up and let the lights go out.
Or, we have a cup of espresso.
The caffeine molecule just happens to be the right “shape” for the adenosine receptor. It hops on and binds. But, instead of doing what the adenosine does, it sends a different message or, at the very least, blocks the sleep message from being sent by the real adenosine. In short, it interrupts the natural sleep signal, allowing a lot more cellular waste to accumulate, putting the individual in a state of toxicity, which can eventually lead to a breakdown of health.
In general, this seems to be the worst thing that caffeine does - it simply blocks the action of the ligand adenosine which sends sleep messages. Many people have been scared by incomplete research suggesting that caffeine does other deadly things, but additional studies have suggested that any consequences result merely from the disruption of the sleep cycle and a consequent break-down in the serotonin-melatonin cycle.
The important thing about this is, however, the comparison to information that is or is not accepted by the seeker which we will address more directly at the end of this volume. What we see in the example of caffeine as an “imitator” of adenosine is that the natural ligand seems to have some very subtle property that is conveyed deep into the cell, and the caffeine either blocks this message by occupying the receptor, or perhaps sends a contradictory message. Because of the exactitude of the molecule, adenosine apparently does more than the “almost ligand,” caffeine.
Now, if we think of information as ligands, we can see that accepting as true something that is not, may not only block our ability to receive the proper messages of what IS true, it may even send contradictory messages. Spiritual experiences that are “induced” ritually, chemically or technically from “down here” in order to change the spiritual state “up there,” operate in exactly this way. It seems that what we accept as true or not affects our spirit and state of awareness, not to mention our potentials for soul ascension. We could even compare certain “all is love and light” beliefs to the action of caffeine: they prevent the natural warning system from operating which tells the spirit when it needs to withdraw from certain things and allow a period of “cleansing” to take place. Over time, this can result in serious breakdown of the spirit, even - it seems - ultimate subsumation into Non-being. There is, however, a more serious problem we have to deal with: addiction.
Probably everyone has heard about some experiments that were done on rats where they were implanted with electrodes for self-stimulation of the “pleasure center” of the brain. What was discovered was that the rats would push the button until they were exhausted. Further experiments demonstrated that if the electric reward is doled out only when the rats learn a new trick - such as navigating a maze - the little critters will go to work like crazy to get the job done so that they can get their “buzz.” As long as the rewards keep coming, the rats will keep working - even mastering incredibly complex and seemingly impossible mazes that humans would find nearly impossible!
But, it’s not the learning they love.
The initial studies showed that, given the opportunity, the rats would forget everything - food, mates, and friends, whatever - to push that damn button until they collapse in mindless ecstasy!
In the human being, as in other creatures, the sensation that is experienced as orgasm is the same release of chemicals that stimulate the same part of the brain that makes the rats so happy. Some scientists refer to this in “technical jargon” as the “do-it-again” center. When this center is stimulated, whatever activity is associated with it will be sought again and again.
As we now know, drugs “short circuit” these centers because they “fix” to receptors. We also know that when we take certain drugs, our brain acts to a certain extent as if the “natural” neurotransmitter were flooding the system. In the case of the pleasure center, the chemistry is so similar to what the brain would produce naturally if we had done something really great such as finding food or warmth or making love with a soul mate, that even if the person is hunkered down in a filthy flophouse reeking of vomit and excreta, with a hypodermic of heroin in his or her arm, the pleasure centers know only that they are bathed in chemical bliss.
Here is an important thing to consider. Even if the first time a person is induced to “try” such a drug, they are disgusted or repelled by the setting, the process, all the external elements, once they have received that reward, their whole perception begins to shift. Because the physical body loves that feeling so much, because it is so overwhelmingly compelling, the mind begins to rationalize that the nasty setting, the whole process that is clearly damaging to the self, is not merely “okay,” but is actually “desirable.” After all, how could it be bad if it feels so good? If part of the self argues that it can’t be good, another part of the self becomes literally frantic to achieve the state again. After all, what is going on in real life only produces “stress” and “bad feelings” which add the argument: you have suffered, now you deserve a reward!
The only problem with both drug addiction and spiritual addiction is that it is nearly always presented in a setting of pleasure and refinement. It is promoted as a “tool” to “enhance awareness.”
When cocaine is snorted up the nose, it heads straight for the dopamine re-uptake sites and blocks them. In this case, the “feel good sensation” is not from the drug, but from the fact that your own natural dopamine is flooding your cells, binding with the dopamine receptors like crazy, unable to be reabsorbed. The brain only knows one thing: this feels GREAT! Crack cocaine reportedly produces a more intense sensation of pleasure than any natural act, including orgasm! And, take note that it is from the body’s own chemical that this pleasure is experienced by virtue of the blocking of the re-uptake site. Again, we note that this prevents the body’s own specific ligand from binding with the re-uptake sites which is very likely also blocking a message intended to go deep into the cell. As it happens, this produces dreadful consequences, as we will soon see.
Morphine and Heroin work in a slightly different way. They mimic endorphins which trigger the release of the body’s own dopamine. So, instead of the sensation occurring because the natural flow of dopamine is not reabsorbed, it occurs because there is too much dopamine to be reabsorbed! But again, the fake endorphin is undoubtedly not sending the proper signal deep into the cells it is binding, and again, the excess of dopamine has significant consequences.
What are these consequences? With repeated use of cocaine, heroin or morphine unbalancing the body’s own dopamine processes, the body reacts by reducing the number of receptors! With fewer receptors, the effects of the drug - as well as the body’s normal ability to bind dopamine that is naturally present - plummets. Without the normal flow of dopamine into a normal number of receptors, the brain experiences “withdrawal” which is interpreted quite literally as “pain.” It is the agony of a mind that can feel no pleasure at all.
In strictly physical terms, one of the serious consequences of this process comes from the fact that dopamine plays an important role in controlling movement, emotion and cognition. Dopamine dysfunction has been implicated in schizophrenia, mood disorders, attention-deficit disorder, Tourette’s syndrome, substance dependency, tardive dyskinesia, Parkinson’s disease and so on. Of course, the situation is a lot more complex because at least seven types of dopamine receptors have been identified.
Now, the point of this diversion into brain chemistry as an exercise in understanding the principle “as above, so below,” is this: “accepting” what is not Truth is like taking a drug that binds to psychic receptors, so to say. So, this brings us back to the beginning of this section where I said “gathering false knowledge is worse than gathering no knowledge at all.” False knowledge, lies, are spiritual drugs and are not the “natural chemical” of the soul’s own “light,” so to say. The result is that it tends to create a condition of dependence by reducing the “psychic receptors” which then reduces the capacity to “bind truth.” In short, a person may be researching like crazy, but if he or she isn’t really, really utilizing perspicacity — that is, challenging and taking apart what is being studied in a diligent way — his or her acceptance based on “blind faith” amounts to getting your jollies with drugs.
The end result is analogous to the skid row bum in spiritual terms.
What is more, we notice from studying ligands and receptors that the body’s own chemicals have qualities that the imitations — drugs — do not. Those qualities, based on shape and atomic structure, can activate processes that the synthetic ligand cannot. The body’s chemical can even turn on cascades of processes within the cells that are blocked by the “artificial” ligand.
Truth works in the same way. The accumulation of “high probability” information without prejudice amounts to the gathering of all the parts of a very complex neuropeptide. When all the right pieces are finally together, it produces a certain “shape” that “fits” the spiritual receptor like a key in a lock. At that point — when the information block/unit is complete — it’s proximity causes the receptor to “hum” and the ligand/info “hums” back and they sort of “jump together” almost in the same way that describes physical ligands and receptors. AUM.
And so we find that the principle is this: to gather, gather, gather information and observations without any “ingestion,” so to say. This most definitely means to avoid practices which may produce the “do it again” chemicals because it is all too easy to be seduced into doing it again and again which amounts to blind belief.
Here, of course, we come up against a very special problem: the programs of our “machine,” our “intellect.” The formation and training of our intellect is done under circumstances that are the worst possible for developing the ability to think. Now is neither the time nor the place to go into a lengthy examination about what is wrong with childhood education, theories of infant care, and the endless lies propagated by our society and culture. Add to that an endless stream of considerations based on physical appearance, and by the time the ordinary person becomes an adult, he can neither think nor feel according to what is Truth. He has become a “false personality” that thinks it has a soul.