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The first time I heard about the concept of talking to myself, I assumed it meant that my chattering brain presented me with a mix of many voices that were all mine, competing for attention. The basic notion was: “I am many selves.” There is one self-contained ego named Michael generating many voices, but they are all mine, and they all originate in my brain-box.

Then someone suggested that I had it all wrong—that I had fallen into what he called the modern “Brain-box fallacy.” The Brain-box theory says that each human brain is the sole source of one’s consciousness. The illusion of having different selves residing in my brain arise only because various neuro-chemical interactions in MY brain manufacture a persistent, and often annoying, dialogue.


Then this person suggested a different theory, and asked me: “What if your brain is merely the conduit of external sources—also known as archetypes, preexisting ideas and emotions, or eternal patterns of consciousness?

I said: “Huh?”

The friend said this view is the Transmission theory—a belief that our brains are not originators of thoughts, but receivers from external transmitters.

Again, I said, “Huh?!”

He said ideas, emotions and behaviors are just like mathematical equations or musical notes. Our brains do not create those, but merely receive them. Math and music are rooted in the universe, external to the human brain. Put simply, the brains of people everywhere receive the same basic universal mathematical principles and musical notes. For example, Einstein’s theory of Relativity is the same in China as it is in Africa. In the basic musical scale there are seven notes: C, D, E, F, G, A, B. The same is true of all ideas, emotions and behaviors. Basic music, math, ideas, emotions and behaviors are transmitted to and through us; they do not originate within us. We receive them and build with them as they build us and our world.


This Transmission theory is foreign to our modern Brain-box theory and does not initially make sense to many modern Americans. In fact, we are programmed to think that ideas and feelings that arise from external sources sounds like what happens to people when they go insane, take psychedelic drugs or have pathological religious experiences.

Be that as it may, the Transmission theory suggests that the brain is more like televisions or cell phones that receive signals transferred from one source to another rather than creating them. This would mean that “I” am a receiver of images, ideas, emotions, intentions, and promptings through my brain. My brain is merely the conduit of many voices residing in realms external to me. The British biologist Ruppert Sheldrake calls these external realms Morphic Fields. Jungians call them archetypes. Most ancient cultures called them gods, demigods or myths.

The point is that my little Brain-box is not the center of the universe. The voices “in my head” are not coming from my head, but rather through my head or mind. This is a radical notion, but one that has been seriously entertained by many, including, arguably the greatest American psychologist--Harvard’s William James. This Transmission theory has been addressed more recently by several reputable scientists and mental professionals in Irreducible Mind: Toward a Psychology for the 21st Century, edited by Edward and Emily Kelly.


This does NOT mean that I am merely a passive puppet controlled or possessed by external representative personalities or cosmic entities. However, being passive puppets is part of the process, and occurs during the early years of our lives in order to create an ego. However, at some point in this journey toward adulthood and beyond, we each typically develop enough of a unique self-identity or ego to begin self-reflection, which initiates my involvement in the growth process. At this point I can consider the ideas and behaviors I have acquired and begin to make decisions about which voices to listen to and which voices to dismiss. This is where the TV and cell phone analogy break down, because we humans are much more than just receivers; we become coparticipants. Eventually—usually in adolescence—we develop a distinct ego with an annoying degree of self reflection and critical judgment which leads to the possibility of individual choice. At this point, pain and suffering play a significant role in the decisions being made by this newly forming tiny ego-self. Some of those preexistent voices and patterns of behavior cause me pain, prompting my newly forming self to entertain spontaneous questions like: “Are you sure you want to continue thinking, feeling and behaving like this? Do it differently next time. If you can’t change, get some help from a divine source and other wiser people! You are now responsible for whom you become.”


Put succinctly: The purpose of this entire earthly existence is to construct a one of a kind character or soul. The poet John Keats called this character building process, “Soulmaking”. At conception each infant begins as a soul-seed that contains one’s incipient personality traits, propensities, talents, passions, etc. But those original qualities—assigned by a mysterious providence—are embryonic and incomplete. The aim of one’s life is to gradually become self-aware and learn to work together with Providence to fashion one’s own eternal soul. In short, Keats said this earth is the "school of soulmaking."

This soul making endeavor is described by John Keats in a letter to his brother in 1819. Keep in mind that the 23 year old Keats was dying of tuberculosis, and had only two years to live when he wrote to his brother these observations as he faced death:

"Call the world if you please, the valley of Soul-making, then you will find out the use of the world…Soul as distinguished from an Intelligence. There may be intelligences or sparks of the divinity in millions—but they are not Souls till they acquire identities, till each one is personally itself. Do you not see how necessary a World of Pains and troubles is to school an Intelligence and make it a soul!”

Many others have held a similar view. The early Christian theologians Origen, Irenaeus and others believed this was the essence of the Christian life.

The French philosopher, Albert Camus, wrote in his journal in 1948: "If there is a soul, it is a mistake to believe that it is given to us fully created. It is created here, throughout a whole life. And living is nothing else but that long and painful bringing forth.”


Life on earth provides the curricula for making souls. Life experiences are the sun and rain that fall upon and hatch your unique soul-seed, causing it to grow both down (roots into darkness) and up (limbs into the light to bear fruit).

As mentioned, the basic character traits of each soul-seed are present in the ego-pod at conception or before--but during our early years, all activities, ideas and feelings that are transmitted to us generate experiences that are absorbed and integrated passively into the personality. But as we age through experience, increasingly, we realize we are active coparticipants in our own soulmaking endeavor. I shift from victimhood to full participation with the Transmitters. That is when the soul starts to become mine.

For more on the Transmission Theory, click here:

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