Lost in Space with HAL: Episode II

Here it is Saturday afternoon at the movies again and we can’t wait to see what happens to our friends in the Discovery. When we last saw them, they were up the creek without a paddle with that awful technoid HAL. To be truthful I was about to wet my pants, the tension was not only palpable, it was almost liquid. Can HAL be overcome? This is a Hollywood serial, of course he can be overcome or else we would not be facing another cliffhanger at the end of a Bug’s Bunny, or a Roadrunner cartoon, two feature films, a Pathé newsreel and more of the hero’s journey.

At this point I am going to usurp the role of Stanley Kubrick and finish the film to my liking. I always wanted to be in the film biz anyway and what’s more, I didn’t like his ending. Unbeknownst to HAL the humans have stowed a second computer on board the Discovery. I don’t fear that machines are ever going to be smarter than humans. HAL has killed the Discovery commander and I am taking over the spaceship. I will now deal with HAL the hindrance, HAL the dispensable.

I summon the backup human resources team without letting anyone know about the auxiliary computer because I don’t want HAL to get wind of it. First, the priest reports to me in the command center and after I outline the situation, he tells me he is going to his quarters to pray. Next, our resource person from the East arrives. He is a Buddhist practitioner and he retires to his cabin to meditate after he and I assess the situation. Next, I summon the on-board psychiatrist who fears that HAL’s shadow-side has taken over and that he is “projecting” onto the crew. I send him away realizing that we don’t have time to subject HAL or anyone else to psychoanalysis. I realize it’s up to me to bring the back-up strategy into play. Luckily, I can do this alone without HAL suspecting a thing.

I secretly boot up the auxiliary computer that was programmed by a completely different team of technicians. It contains a program that pulls the plug on HAL and all hell breaks loose as HAL realizes that he has been outfoxed and short-circuited—but it is too late for “him.” I get on the intercom and inform the crew about what has transpired and that we are proceeding with our mission with a computer called NOW. A computer that we can trust. The navigator informs me that an asteroid is screaming in our direction and that it is too late to avoid a collision. The crew has heard his report and screaming is heard throughout the spaceship. Fade to black—end of episode II.

What is the meaning contained in episode II? I have already established that HAL represents the false-self energy centers that sabotage each of us on our spiritual journey if we cannot learn to “unplug it.” It served its purpose to get us successfully launched but now it is “hostile” to our continuing mission. We must activate a new computer and a new program. To do this we must redefine the mission, transfer power and change direction. We must do nothing less than activate a new worldview, a new narrative, a new “context” for our mission. The institutions, the emotions, beliefs, attitudes and values of the “old story” are useless because they were created in a context of illusion and self-deception.

We proceed on our mission with the computer NOW. The program demands that we “wake-up” and function at all times in the present moment. There is a “developmental” period during which we begin the process of detaching from our old conditioning, which involves living in the shame and guilt of the past and the anxiety of the future. “Thinking” itself has to be transcended as we enter into the spontaneous “flow” of present-moment awareness and its resulting equanimity.

In choosing the literary allusion to Homer’s Odyssey, Kubrick at least held out the hope that our heroes aboard the Discovery would, if successful, return to the human community with a gift. Since I am continuing to apply the connection between that myth and the life journey of every human—what is the gift that we are all bequeathing to humanity? It is more than mere knowledge which is of little value in effecting “the shift.” In fact, the gift that we can all attain is so important to humanity that I don’t hesitate to call it The Great Gift. It is the creation of consciousness itself. Can humanity complete the mission of acquiring The Great Gift in time to avoid the approaching asteroid? You and I and all of humanity will write episode III of the collective hero’s journey. I trust our new computer NOW to guide us to a happy conclusion.

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References and notes are available for this essay.
Find a much more in-depth discussion in books by Roy Charles Henry.

 

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