The Gurdjieff JournalFourth Way Perspectives
Working in the World
Zoonoses & Zoostats
(#) Parentheses indicate footnote number
"This is a tightrope. We are balancing a real need for treatment versus some very real risks. There are a lot of unknowns," declared Dr. David Kessler, commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration.
What Dr. Kessler is referring to are the guidelines developed for the transplantation of animal organs, cells and tissues into human organisms. What was earlier called "genetic engineering" and now presents itself as the amorphous sounding "biotechnology" has allowed man to break the species boundaries with which Nature has differentiated one species from another. Heretofore, the genetics of every species was sacrosanct. Through biological rejection mechanisms, each species was protected from the introduction of organs, cells and tissues from all other species. No longer. Now through a kind of Trojan horse biological trickery(1) science has been able to transplant baboon bone marrow and fetal pig cells into human organisms.
Baboon livers have also been attemptedso far unsuccessfullyand pig livers will soon be included on the transplantation menu.
Diseases May Leap Natural Barriers
When Dr. Kessler speaks of "very real risks" and "a lot of unknowns," he is referring to possible transmission of infectious animal organisms to humans. Microbes, harmless in their native animal organism, can radically change when inserted into the totally alien human environment. AIDS, for example, is believed to have somehow "jumped" from African monkeys into humans. Society risks being beset with an entirely new spectrum of diseases of animal origin for which there are no treatments or cures. And already there is evidence of cross-species genetic viral mutations. For example, at Lund University in Sweden, Dr. Jonas Blomberg has shown it's possible to stimulate harmless endogenous viral sequences in human and monkey cells into a form that could cause disease. If monkey cells were put into humans, could disease occur? "Sometime it probably will happen," said Dr. Blomberg.
Why would we take such a risk? It is said that there are thousands of Americans dying each year because they cannot get the necessary organ transplant. It is said there are some 50,000 needy patients on ever-growing waiting lists and only 5,000 annual human donors. With the addition of animal organs, say researchers, the supply would far outstrip the demand.
So we are risking our species security to possibly save some 50,000 lives? A strange thanatological wager.
"I see the guidelines as a show of support from the government, from society, that the need is definite," said Dr. Steven Deeks, the San Francisco doctor who recently transplanted the baboon bone marrow. And, he added, "No one really wants to stop science cold."
Science as Business
Science, of course, is all agog with the endless possibilities of xenotransplantation, the catch-all, kitchen sink word for any type of genetic tinkering. Big business, too, is falling all over itself as it views the new markets and problems (and hence need for solutions) that xenotransplantation and, its corollary, zoonoses would provide. Zoonoses? Yes, that's the name given diseases transferred from animals to humans. It calls up visions of all these animals falling out of one's nostrils. Evoked, too, is Zoostat, Gurdjieff's term for "the functioning of their [human] 'being-consciousness,' began to be divided into two entirely different consciousness having nothing in common with each other." The first is our waking-state consciousness and the second our subconsciousness. We function primarily from the first. "Objective conscience," wrote Gurdjieff in the First Series, "is embedded in that consciousness which is here called subconsciousness, in consequence of which it takes no part whatever in the functioning of their ordinary consciousness."(2) Could any person or persons with objective-conscience seriously propose so radically altering humankind as to 1) make them part animals; and 2) risk new animal-derived diseases and, yes, possibly plagues?
Such a question gives one a sense of the absurd and vulgar logicnestarian growths that mark our time. Like Bolshevism in its day, the breaking of species boundaries is so extreme an act that no dialogue or appeal is possible.
If science/big business, a la Dr. Deeks, is not stopped cold, then to Gurdjieff's Diagram of Everything Living there will be a new level interposed between man and vertebrates, that of the animal man. The diagram shows that every degree of being is defined "by what serves as food for this kind of creature or being of a given level and for what they themselves serve as food."(3) The lower circle shows what the given class of creatures feeds on; the upper circle shows what class feeds on it; and the middle circle shows the average for the given class. (Being an average, of course, it means that some people are higher and some lower. In the case of man, that would mean that some men tend toward the vibrational state of angels, or 12; and some toward that of vertebrates, 48.
Ray of Creation Deflected
Between the average level of man, 24, and that of vertebrates, 48, we will have an artificial level interposed between the two. This can only be a bastardization, some quasi or pseudo human state of being. As suggestibility and the egotistic desire to prolong human life at any cost catches hold, an increasing percentage of society will exist in a pseudo human state. It would mean that in the process of Harnel-miaznel in which "the higher blends with the lower in order to actualize the middle and thus becomes either higher for the preceding lower, or lower for the succeeding higher,"(4) mankind would have taken an irrevocable step downward and backward. We would have rendered ourselves human capons shorn of all possibility of spiritual evolutionour destiny only further devolution into a monster or animal state. Fortunately, there are conscious forces moving into place to contest that fall...In the meantime we must become as clear as possible about what is happening and why.
(1) Human genes have been transplanted into animal organs to make later rejection less likely when they are implanted into human beings.
(2) G. I. Gurdjieff, All and Everything, First Series, p. 359.
(3) P. D. Ouspensky, In Search of the Miraculous, pp. 32223
(4) First Series, p. 751.