The Self-Metaprogrammer | 8-14-15

I’ve been reading The Center of the Cyclone: An Autobiography of Inner Space by John C. Lilly, M.D., the late neuroscientist who first pioneered the use of isolation tanks to achieve states of sensory deprivation, as well as research on the intelligence and social patterns of dolphins, being one of the earliest to point out their unique mental strength. The book is a psychedelic memoir and autobiography, with a great variety of stories that depict a life spent searching for higher consciousness and spiritual health. Through experiments with LSD, sensory deprivation, and techniques he learned working with Chilean spiritual teacher Oscar Ichazo, Lilly gives a great attempt to describe the workings of the mind, or what he calls “the human biocomputer”.

One of the most refreshing ideas that Lilly describes in The Center of the Cyclone is the concept of the “Self-Metaprogrammer”. Self-Metaprogrammer is a term Lilly first came up with to describe the conscious part of each of us, the “I” or “soul”.

“…one’s self, ‘I,’ ‘Me,’ is an entity in the biocomputer. For purposes of discussion, we call this entity the ‘self-metaprogrammer.’ It operates in a way that seems to be independent of the rest of the biocomputer insofar as this is possible. The entity that one speaks to in another person when one says ‘you’ is also the entity that speaks when one says ‘I’. These speaking entities occur in this fashion when one is consciously aware that this is the case. If one is consciously aware of his own processes, then one can say that the self-metaprogrammer is operating.”

– John C. Lilly, The Center of the Cyclone, Pg. 127

When one is fully aware and within the present, to “Be Here Now” as Ram Dass put it, they will, in effect, gain an awareness that all conscious human beings have a self-metaprogrammer, since all human biocomputers are derived from the same materials using the same rules in generally the same way.

It is important to point out that awareness of one’s processes does not mean to simply have read Lilly’s book and know the workings of the mind. For one’s self-metaprogrammer to be operating, they must be aware of their mental processes in the present. For a self-metaprogrammer to be operating, its host must be aware of its presence in their human biocomputer, and observing their thoughts and behaviors with specific focus.

The self-metaprogrammer is a more logical proposal of what the core of the human psyche is. It’s existence seems to be the derivation of what Terence McKenna called “the Primary Datum”, the felt presence of immediate experience, which seems to be the defining quality of a self-metaprogrammer. Lilly goes on to describe how, dependent on whether the self-metaprogrammer is operating on an ego-based or essence-based computing level, that is to say, a positive or negative state, its processes can either bring good or bad karma or effects upon a person.

Being aware of one’s mental processes and patterns, and seeking to improve them through meditation or other means, can bring great happiness and improvements in life quality. This book is a great introduction to growth of the inner world, and Lilly’s attempt to describe that world should be required reading for any psychonaut.


Lilly, John C. The Center of the Cyclone: An Autobiograpy of Inner Space. New York: Julian Press, 1972. Print.

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