Archive for the 'Consciousness' Category

Is there Justice in Life?

 

peace and justice
                                Photo found here.

Big questions are those that are asked and answered by every person in every generation for as long as humans have been humans.

We do not tend to invent completely novel answers to these questions. Rather we shape our personal answers as we grow. We select and weave together the answers that resonate with our experience and acquired beliefs.

I woke up this morning thinking about this.  These are the answers that resonate with me:

Yes, there is Justice in Life.  

This is difficult or impossible to see for millions who are denied justice by others.   The tragic loss of justice must clearly remind us of how essential justice is for there to be life.

There are Laws of Nature, and if we act in accord with these our lives tend to be better than if we don’t.   Ultimately it is better to do good than to do bad. It is better to help others than to only use them.   It is better to forgive than to hold grudges and take reprisals.   It is better to love than to hate. It is better to avoid disease and the causes of disease; and likewise, to avoid negative habits and their causes. It is better to help those who are down rather than to say “They deserve it,” and walk away. Ultimately, Justice depends on how we treat each other.

Then why do bad things happen to good people?

Nature is complex, and the laws of nature interact with each other in almost infinitely complex ways.   We are not perfectly tuned into these laws and their interactions, and even if we have knowledge, the results are very hard to predict, or to influence with perfect precision.   But as we learn more our results are better, and we can avoid problems and we can help each other avoid problems.   And the more we continue to expand and share our knowledge, the more Justice we have.   Much of the suffering that occurs in the world is in fact due to one group or another grossly ignoring the laws of nature.   For example, only taking and hoarding, rather than sharing; only using rather than giving back and uplifting; only fighting back rather than looking for a new way.

Life is infinitely complex. We will not one day have all the details figured out, along with rational prescriptions for each possible complex chain of cause and effect.

And yet in the face of complexity it is possible to live simply while spontaneously increasing Justice in the world.

Living simply means to love, to forgive, to pay attention, to listen, and, in various expressions, to transcend our petty egos based on ‘me-first’ and ‘my group first’ – to build expanded egos that care for the good of all. These are ancient and true teachings from all cultures.

How to Create a Group Mind

What is required to create a group mind?

Where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts?

Image

Healthy human minds have the ability to resolve disputes without animosity, without making, or defeating enemies.

Our brains and nervous systems are wired to gather as much data as the time and circumstances allow, and to then understand and evaluate a myriad of possibilities, risks, and opportunities, and then to come up with the best solution – that time and circumstances will allow.

This enables the owner of the mind (the person) to take action as quickly as needed, rather than wasting time and energy fighting internal battles for supremacy, inside her mind, or becoming frozen with fear of making a mistake – fear of losing.

A healthy mind welcomes and thrives on diversity of opinions, including contradictory ones.

Such a mind does this routinely and often without our conscious awareness, for example when we are listening to a voice that is difficult to hear, and trying to make sense of what is being said, and what the underlying meanings and implications are; or when we are looking at the sky for clues about the weather.

A healthy mind also consciously welcomes a diversity of data and opinions, for example, when participating in a valued and trusted team, working to find a solution to a complex problem.

A valued and trusted team is like a healthy mind.

In a healthy team, as in a healthy mind, there is no dread of differences, of complexity, of apparent contradictions, or of periods of uncertainty.   There is also a willingness to take action to test ideas before final acceptance or rejection of a possible interpretation or solution.  There is a strong sense of working together, rather than competing.

Yet in a team there can be a healthy sense of competition; which is healthy only so long as the competition does not become more important than working together to solve a common problem.

A healthy, highly-functioning team is an example of a group mind.

So, actually, we already know how to create group minds.  We do it all the time.  We use common purpose and common sense, management techniques, group facilitation methods, scientific procedures, and methods for publishing, distributing, sharing, testing, and comparing data and knowledge.   We now use the Internet, high-speed, intelligent communications technologies, social media, complex, and data-intensive analytics.

A healthy, highly-functioning community, society, nation or world are larger examples of a group mind.

However, such examples are often more aspirations rather than realities, especially as the scale increases.   But they are all possible.  Very possible.

Creating healthy, large-scale group minds is more difficult

The problem is lack of health.  Lack of wholeness.   A dysfunctional society, or group mind, is full of emotion-laden biases, fears, animosity, internal hostilities, greed, bitter or violent competitions (winner-take-all), or is simply deeply fragmented and incapable of making good decisions.  All of these traits are indicators of very unhealthy group minds – so unhealthy as to be called insane, broken.  So broken it doesn’t feel right to call them minds at all.

So to create a group mind it is really necessary to create a healthy group mind.

The path to healthy group minds has this kind of progression:

Listening, empathy, acceptance, mutual respect, mutual understanding, mutual appreciation (love), collaboration (team-work), the ability to make whole-group decisions and take whole-group action even when there is uncertainty, the ability to adapt, grow, and prosper together.

The first step is simply listening.  All the rest of the steps are about harmonizing.

To be able to really listen is a sign of great mental and spiritual health.  To really listen, one has to step back from dearly-held positions (at least temporarily).

This is ultimately a deeply spiritual practice: “Letting go,” “Trusting God” “Trusting Life”, “Transcending the ego.,”  – ultimately caring more about the whole, and each other, rather than about our own little (but important) part.

For many (most) it is not at all easy.  But there are ways that we, together, can make it easier.

Part Two:  Imagine a Conversation that can amplify trust and collaboration, and involve millions…  coming in the near future.

A Long Affair with Three Big Ideas about Collective Consciousness

In thinking recently about what I like to do and think and talk about – for example, using and creating tools that enhance collective intelligence – I realized that my main interests have been pretty much the same for most of my adult life (about forty-five years) – and most of them were originally inspired by three Big Ideas that I came upon almost immediately after graduating from high school.

Of course my very earliest influences, from floating in the womb to end of high school also immensely affected me.  And my wife, and closest friends and family, and innumerable conversations and journeys have shaped me hugely, as well.  But the three Big Ideas gripped me and still grip me in their own special way.

The three big ideas were inspired and conveyed to me by two people and one group.  One of the people, Teilhard de Chardin, died when I was 7 years old and before I ever heard of him; the other, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi was a living saint whom I read about and then studied under; and the group was the Ecumenical Institute (EI), and it’s secular arm, the Institute of Cultural Affairs (ICA).

Rob, my older brother and only sibling, introduced Teilhard to me in the summer of 1966 after I graduated from high school.  We had a summer job together in Winfield, Kansas shoveling grain during the wheat harvest.  When not working we would often go to the local library, where he showed me Teilhard’s book, The Phenonmenon of Man.  I have no idea how the little Winfield library happened to have that book (which was first published in English just a few years earlier).  But it did.   The book was densely written for paleontologists, biologists and other scientists, and was not easy to read.  But the ideas had a huge effect on me so I kept reading it here and there for quite a while.

Rob also introduced me to the EI / ICA a couple of years later, during my visits to see him in Chicago where he was interning with them.   And in 1970, after returning from six memorable months in Europe, my closest friends, John and Bev, introduced me to Transcendental Meditation and to Maharishi’s teaching.

So here is a summary of these three great and widely influential ideas that together combine in me to guide what I want most to do and be.  Continue reading ‘A Long Affair with Three Big Ideas about Collective Consciousness’

Existence, the Self, and Immortality

I recently finished reading David Brin’s latest novel:  Existence.   It is brimming with ideas – overflowing, entertaining, thought-provoking, and imagined in hugely creative and insightful detail.   See http://bit.ly/PfuFFh

It  explores acres of fascinating questions and hypotheses, including the possibility that in the near future (next 30 to 100 years) humans will be able to make copies of themselves.

This raises a question that I’ve been thinking about for a while, and that can only be answered by a thought-experiment.

Question: 

If you make fully-working and conscious copies of yourself, does that mean that you will continue to live through those copies?  – That you won’t die?

Additional Context:

Ray Kurzweil, important prophet of the Singularity, has said very emphatically that he wants to live forever, and that everyone who says that they “accept” death is kidding themselves.

Thought-experiment:

Well, let’s say that before you die you can upload all your DNA and your entire neural connectome, and whatever else would make  the upload into a complete working copy of you.

So then when the organic body you’ve been hanging out in for all these years dies, will the existence of the version of you that is created from all your data mean that you will not have died?

That is, will it be any different from what we now know as dying?

Here are more ruminations that can shed some light:

Let’s say you create 2 copies, or heck, 2000 copies of yourself.

Immediately after these copies are “activated” they will be identical to you – at the time the copy was made.  They will each “wake up” and for them at that moment it will be like having been asleep during the time between making the copy and activating it (waking it up).

But now they will each also start having new experiences, which will be entirely different.  Some of them will get sick, some of them will die, some will have good luck, some will not.

(And don’t forget they’ll all have to share your single set of possessions, relatives and friends and bank accounts as they gradually start differentiating and ‘making their own way in the world.’)

So how is this kind of “waking up” in a new copy of your body any different than waking up each morning (after some time of unconscious sleep) in your current body?

I’m not sure it is any different.

So, what that tells me is that if you die in your sleep it makes no difference to the copy of you that died, because that copy is now dead.   Other copies may continue to live, but that doesn’t change the fact that another copy of you died.

In other words – you who are now living in your mother-born body will not continue to exist – you will die – even if copies of you continue to live.   That is, those copies won’t really be you.  They will each have their own you.

So the tragedy of death isn’t really such a great tragedy to those who have died (as we all have said many times) – it is only an event that affects those who know you and continue to live.  That is, the copies can be some comfort (or maybe continued torment) to those who loved (or feared or disliked) you.

So why is our own personal death such a big deal?   Again, I think this thought-experiment shows that it is not.

People accept death for a number of reasons – most of which have to do with the fact that they identify with something larger than their own ego, mind, body and set of memories.  For example:

  • They believe they will live in heaven with God after they die.
  • They are able to directly experience their own inner Self as pure Consciousness which they experience as unbounded, unchanging, and as the source of all creativity and intelligence.
  • They have had some other but related type of mystical experience.
  • They’re inspired by children and continual new life and they’re willing to let others take their turn.  (They aren’t greedy.)
  • They accept death along with birth, sex, and the pursuit of knowledge and happiness – all as important parts of Life on Earth – and throughout the Universe.
  • They feel their life has been fulfilling and they’re ready to move on to whatever mystery awaits.

(This thought experiment also raises another metaphysical question:  What if your body and living mind is actually — startlingly to some —  associated with a soul that lives after death and is repeatedly reincarnated – or that goes finally to its reward, or elsewhere.

So, given the existence of a soul of some kind, will all the copies of you have to share the same soul?  If so, will the soul get confused when one or multiple copies of you die – e.g., not know when to reincarnate, or cause some mental/psychical instability in all the different copies? 

Or instead, will each new copy of you somehow automatically generate a new soul?  This question is in parenthesis because I know it isn’t so important to people who don’t believe in souls or reincarnation or heaven or hell.  But no one of us can really be sure, until you die, or maybe have a near-death experience.   So it’s definitely an interesting question to pose.  And I definitely don’t have a final answer to it.)

Two Remedies for Bad Thinking and other Bad Habits

Bad thinking is usually due to bad habits rather than to lack of ability.

This includes bad habits such as acting without thinking; accepting a “fact” or idea without independent verification; and taking in  news, ideas and interpretations only from sources with a  perspective that reinforces your own,  rather than differing from your perspectives or questioning them.

Such bad habits are correctable, and that’s encouraging.  However, if habits are deeply engrained they are hard to change.  Any habit can only weaken and leave if there is a will – motivated by an internal desire.

For deeply engrained habits, even a strong motivation isn’t enough for change.  A deeply engrained habit is no longer a habit, but an internal imperative which must be obeyed and can’t be ignored.  Such habits can become essential parts of individual and group identity.

There is hope, though, from at least two approaches.  Both of these approaches are methods to train the mind and produce clearer, broader thinking.

The first method is:  Regular exposure to other people one can respect, who have different ideas and behaviors, which they express and model well.  Having a motivation and an opportunity for exposure to new and different ideas and behaviors can begin to change even long-held habits of thinking.

The second method is less familiar to most people:  If people take up the regular habit of transcending – experiencing the silent, unbounded source of their own mind and being, then  life-restricting habits can begin to weaken.   There is plenty of evidence over the last several thousand years that this can actually work.  More recently, neurological, physiological, and other sociological evidence supports this approach.

Combine these two remedies – regular transcending and regular exposure to honest people with different perspectives – and even the most intractable bad habits will begin to loosen.

Collective vs. Collected Intelligence

There are two types of intelligence:  Collected and Collective.

There is no such thing as “all by yourself” intelligence.

“Collected intelligence” is when one person or group collects intelligence primarily for its own use and benefit.   It doesn’t require other people’s permission or even awareness that their data is being collected, or how it is being used.

“Collective intelligence” is intelligence collected from or contributed by many people who are aware (or have the ability to be aware) of what is being collected and how it is being used – and where those people have rights and abilities to use the intelligence for their own purposes,subject to agreed on constraints, privacy rights, etc.

Collective intelligence, according to this description, is absolutely required for reducing social fragmentation and for increasing social coherence, innovation, and prosperity for all.  Collective intelligence is also required for producing anything that could be called “collective consciousness.”

Collective intelligence can also be described as “connected intelligence” which might be a good idea, since many people still use the term “collective intelligence” when they really mean “collected intelligence.”

(For more thoughts, see  also 2008 post “When is Collective Intelligence also Collective Consciousness?“)

The Web of Meaning

“Meaning” is about causes and effects, attributes and relationships.   Meaning gives rise to all ideas of good and bad, help and harm, right and wrong, beautiful and ugly, smart and dumb,  and context and relevance.

All meaning comes from a web of relationships.

Relationships exist in nature: expressed in the “laws of nature” and in and between all non-living substances and objects, and in and between all living beings, including relationships in and between our bodies, our ideas and minds, our societies and cultures and sub-cultures.

The combination of all webs, known and unknown, is called the World, the Universe.

An identity is defined by a particular combination of webs of relationship, which gives rise to a particular perspective.  “I” am one such perspective.  “You” are another.   The intersection  of my perspective and yours is our perspective.  Everything else is theirs, or unknown.

Words with essentially the same meaning as these have been expressed over and over, beginning no later than three thousand years ago.  More recently, similar ideas have been expressed by at least a few million people.

The ideas have been expressed in abstractions like these, and in rich, moving detail in myth, stories and reflections, in philosophies, religious texts, poems, novels, blog posts.  To some, abstractions are dry; to others they are juicy.   Having many expressions is vital.

What are the implications of this understanding?  What can we do and achieve with it?

An answer:  The more we understand this, individually and collectively, the more likely we will be to honor other perspectives, and to want to work together to come up with better perspectives, giving rise to better solutions.  Our future depends on this happening.

Is this true?

If so, what actions and transformations are necessary to bring this about?

my ego

I am my body
I am my memories
and interests
experiences
abilities
skills
knowledge
relationships

loves
likes  dislikes
aversions  fears
aspirations
responsibilities

If I want to be, I am even
my money
my prestige
my title
my reputation
my tribe, and my position in it
my power over others
others’ power over me
the grandness or puniness of my house
and possessions
my ‘brand’
my blog

I am my boundaries
which I either choose or don’t choose
And when I experience no boundaries
I am unbounded

The Sanskrit word for ego means ‘I amness

There is an understanding that:

When we transcend the limitations of the ego
The ego doesn’t disappear.  It expands to unboundedness
while also maintaining useful boundaries
and shedding useless limitations.

Fulfilling Human Potential

This morning I was thinking about “poverty eradication.”   I was thinking about this because right before going to bed last night I watched a TEDx video titled “What Needs to be Done in the 21st Century?”   The presenters, Erika Ilves and Annie McQuade, listed 9 separate global imperatives, where each cause had its own tribe that feels that its cause is most important.

Here’s their list:

1.  The Economy, and Economic Growth
2.  Global Warming and the Environment
3.  Technology as what can save and fulfill us.
4.  Poverty eradication, and the Millennium Development Goals
5.  Disaster Relief
6.  Security and Defense – against destructive abilities of terrorists, criminals and enemies.
7.  Peace:  creating a global civilization based on shared values
8.  Global governance – creating effective global responses to global problems.
9.  Science – understanding ourselves and the Universe.

So, back to poverty eradication as an example of one of these tribes:

Extreme poverty is a very obvious and heartbreaking obstacle to living a fulfilling life.   So eradicating poverty is a very tangible, and addressable, goal to get behind.

But the real goal behind poverty eradication is to give all humans the opportunity to fulfill their human potential.

This is really the ultimate goal of any social improvement type goal, including all 9 of these listed above.  But the trick is in getting widespread agreement on what is human potential.

And yet, there seems to be broad agreement that human potential has three dimensions:  Physical, mental, and spiritual.

Physical potential means the potential to be healthy and strong.

Mental potential means the potential to be intelligent, creative, and adaptive.

Spiritual potential means the potential to be happy, loving, and to have a sense of purpose.

In addition, nearly all spiritual traditions and philosophies have some idea the full spiritual development includes the ability to transcend – go beyond – the limitations of individual and tribal egos.

Another common idea of spiritual fulfillment is to enhance our sense of connection to all of life.  Most humans feel more fulfilled when surrounded by the beauty of nature in balance – just as we feel a crucial sense of loss or danger when nature, and our connection to it, is not in balance.

To some people, “spiritual” is the most important dimension of fulfillment, because the spiritual dimension has the potential to transcend the other two.  However, to others, “mental” or “physical” is most important.  And yet, most people agree that the ideal is to have all three of these types of fulfillment.

OK.  If there really is broad agreement that the ultimate goal is to give all humans the opportunity to be fulfilled physically, mentally, and spiritually; then what do we do with that agreement?

Obviously:  We all focus on becoming saints!

Otherwise, admitting that this is the ultimate goal can easily threaten the narrow desires and expectations of many of us (and of our egos).    For example, if these are the ultimate goals, why would anyone want to be, or to remain, a billionaire?   Having a billion dollars at our personal disposal (or even many millions) is simply not a requirement for any single individual’s, or family’s, fulfillment.   And yet, a billion dollars can go a long way to help entire communities, and even many small and troubled countries, insure a higher level of fulfillment for its members.

There are also lots of other fascinating implications of recognizing fulfillment of human potential as the ultimate goal – for whole societies and for each of us as individuals.

Expansion of choices reduces diversity???

I just read an article from The Nation, by Colin Robinson (via Alternet.com):

How Amazon Kills Books and Makes Us Stupid

In summary, Amazon’s dominance of the book market and their intense drive to reduce the costs of books are having these effects:

  • Drastically reducing the number of independent book sellers.
  • Reducing the income of publishers, and especially authors.
  • Making it more and more difficult for authors to produce well-crafted and thoroughly researched books.
  • And reducing cultural diversity by overwhelming customers with choices.

This last point is the most surprising – and sounds the most paradoxical.  How could more diversity of choice reduce cultural diversity?

Embedded in the middle of the article is this explanation:

According to industry statisticians Bowker, just over 172,000 titles were released in 2005. Last year “traditional” output had risen to 288,000 titles, a significant enough increase by itself. But adding what Bowker describes as “self-published” and “micro-niche” books, the total inflates to a staggering 1 million new titles in just twelve months.

“Many would argue that the efflorescence of new publishing that Amazon has encouraged can only be a good thing, that it enriches cultural diversity and expands choice.

“But that picture is not so clear: a number of studies have shown that when people are offered a narrower range of options, their selections are likely to be more diverse than if they are presented with a number of choices so vast as to be overwhelming. In this situation people often respond by retreating into the security of what they already know.

“As Barry Schwartz, author of The Paradox of Choice, explains, ‘When the choice set is larger, people tend to make worse choices. They choose on the basis of what’s easiest to evaluate, rather than what’s important to evaluatethe safe, highly marketed option usually comes out on top.’

Actually, this phenomenon isn’t really the fault of Amazon, but is rather part of the effect of making it easier and cheaper for individuals to create their own content, i.e., to self-publish.   It’s of course not just happening in the world of books, but in all manner of media and content, including newspapers, reporting, editorials, and reviews, film, video, and photography, music, etc..

This is an incredible expansion in creativity and expression; and at the same time, this expansion has clear effects of creating echo-chambers where we, “the masses” who are now “personalized” are clumping together like never before and having less and less thoughtful exposure to ideas beyond those that we ‘naturally’ prefer and seek out.

So these are not new reflections.

But still, what are the answers?   How can we break through this paradox of explosions of expressions and choices that somehow create an implosion of diversity and dialogue?  (Actually, it’s not an implosion of diversity, as much as an explosion into huge and small fragments that appear to have not much to do with each other.)

Somehow the “answers” will have to be the creation of common experiences that invite curiosity, openness, and simple kindness.   Curiosity mixed with kindness can bridge differences, without eliminating differences.

What kind of experiences would these be?

As a designer of social technology, I can only think that, among other things, these experiences have to include radically new ways  a) to manage attention overload without killing serendipity, and b) to discover “content” that is rewarding – even deeply fulfilling – without relying on naturally clumping algorithms like “Show me more like this one” — or “Show me – books, movies, ideas, etc – that other people like who like the same kinds of stuff I like.

Honestly, with algorithms like that, what can you expect other than bigger and bigger clumps?

State of theFuture Report – 2010

Alerted by summary on Kurzweil.net

This extensive report is by the Millennium Project, founded in 1996 as a global think tank that connects international experts in corporations, universities, NGOs, UN agencies and governments via 35 Nodes around the world in a participatory process and that explores how to build a better future.

Summary of summary:

“The world is in a race between implementing ever-increasing ways to improve the human condition and the seemingly ever-increasing complexity and scale of global problems.”

Accelerating advances in technology have the potential to stabilize or solve many of the greatest problems.  But changes in policies, and our collective decision-making are urgently required.

In addition, “We also need changes in human values to be discussed within and among religions, media, entertainment, and the arts. Everyone has a part to play in the great race between the increasingly complex problems and ways to improve the prospects for civilization.”

Where we are losing

Where We Are Winning

Social Networks as Platforms for Collective Consciousness

At least two things are needed for social networks to become self aware ‘platforms’ for collective intelligence:

  • A much greater percentage of the connections in the network need to be accessible and usable by anyone in the network.
  • The connections need to include information about connection weights.

Connection weights can help individuals and organizations better manage privacy and attention.

Weighted connections and real-time adjustments in the weights can also track reputation and collective desires and can facilitate and reveal collective decisions.

The trick is to add connection weights in a way that is actually usable.

Insight into Group Consciousness

The Celestine Prophecy (Redfield, 1996) was not a great work of literature, but it contained many good insights (and more than 9).

In 2000 I copied the description below of a group process based on intuitively sensing the flow of energy in a group conversation.   You could also say it’s based on extremely fluid listening, and non-attachment – which are not easy to come by in groups, but which can make any group process much more effective.

The question is, how can this level of group consciousness be developed?  A simple answer is that it can if there is a great deal of motivation on the part of group members, and if at least some of the members can model the method and help coach the others.

Is this really a “method” – or actually a level of collective consciousness that many groups experience, regardless of the particular method or process used?   Which methods are especially good at culturing listening and dropping ego-attachments?

(Excerpt follows from the Celestine Prophecy pp. 214 – 215 – this book is available for “Search Inside” on Amazon)  Continue reading ‘Insight into Group Consciousness’

Collective Consciousness and Compassion

Compassion was the first round of global awakening.

Collective intelligence is emerging as the second round.

Compassion was the key trait of the Axial Age (roughly 900 BC to 300 BC) that brought forth the great world religions and philosophies, and which led to the great principles of Vedanta, Yoga, Taoism, Greek philosophy and democracy, Judaism, Buddhism,  Christianity, and Islam.  (Good reference:  The Great Transformation)

Compassion is a crucial seed for collective intelligence and collective consciousness.  Compassion is a recognition of the Other – including the other’s needs – and resources.

But true compassion is not feeling sorry that someone else is different.

An important extension of compassion is to realize that differences are natural, good, and are in fact built into the way Nature and Universe works.  For those who believe in a divine Creator, differences can be realized to be a key part of the Creator’s plan.

Compassion sets the stage for appreciation.  Compassion is most often focused on recognizing suffering of another and wanting to help relieve it.  (The Axial Age was an especially brutal time.)   Appreciation is a much bigger recognition of the other, by seeing the other’s gifts, and the gift of exchanging gifts:  Knowledge, abilities, wealth, ideas.

True compassion brings with it a great deal of humility.

Arrogance is to believe that you have been told by God or by your own brilliance, and in great detail, that which is good and best for all people and all beings, and for all times.

The key here is “in great detail”.    At the deepest levels possible, there appear to be true absolutes, true for all people.  These truths can be experienced, but are very hard to express in ways that make sense to all others who have not had all your experiences.  Thus “Truth” naturally contains a healthy amount of Mystery.

But when you start adding details prescribing particular practices, beliefs, rules, and laws, then that is when humility becomes especially important:

“These are the beliefs and practices that I have found to be most helpful.

“These are the beliefs and practices that my people have found to be most helpful.”

Memories, Immortality, and Tulkus

Bodies are memories, constantly remembering how to recreate and repair themselves, with slight deviations, gradually noticed as age.

Bodies – appendages, organs, cells, and genes – also retain a memory of millions of years of evolution, passed offspring to offspring.

Even rocks retain memories of ancient sediments deep in long-gone oceans or in churning fiery depths inside the earth.

Organizations are memories, also remembering how to constantly recreate, repair and maintain, all while learning to adapt.   There are restaurants in China that are thousands of years old, governments and their agencies, corporations and their offspring and mutations, all persistent memories.

Without memories, no continuity, no underlying stability, no identity.

During sleep I forget, forget who I am, and dream of strange new identities and settings, shifting from one to the next.  I lapse into deep sleep and forget even my dreams.   I wake.  My body is still here.  All my memories are still here – reminding me of my identity, my ambitions and desires, my plans, my worries, my friends and enemies, and what’s in the refrigerator.   From  nothingness during the night, each day “I” am reincarnated.

And via the Internet we can find how many times and how many people have recorded variations of these thoughts.   Together we are the memory of our species.

Now to the most recent reason I started thinking about this:

Tulkus – Passing Memory and Identity from Life to Life

Continue reading ‘Memories, Immortality, and Tulkus’

108 Bowls: A Water Mala

Bonnie Myotai Treace, who is a Buddhist priest, and wife of my beloved brother, will be joining a celebration of Thomas Berry’s life today at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York.   As part of the celebration she has created a “Water Mala” of 108 hand-made bowls.   A mala is a string of beads as in a rosary, or a garland of flowers.

This site, 108Bowls.org, which is still developing, shows the bowls and explains their significance and how to incorporate them into a practice of caring for water, now in danger on our planet.   The video on the first page, and above, shows how the bowls were made and is set to the music of one of Bonnie’s students, Katheryn Hanz, a very talented singer and guitarist.

Collective Intelligence is Rewiring not just the Planet, but our Brains

A 6/23/09 article in New Scientist reports on “the first evidence that tool use alters the body map.”  That is, researchers have found that a human brain’s internal map of the body is adjusted to account for a tool that extends the body’s reach.  Researchers were excited to note that this means that a transplanted hand or a prosthetic limb would similarly be incorporated into the ‘body map’ inside the brain.  This is an important example of the plasticity of the brain.

What struck me about this article is the implication for collective intelligence and collective consciousness:

The more we use tools that embody collective intelligence, and tools that increase our awareness and use of the perceptions, knowledge and experiences of people in other parts of the world, the bigger and bigger becomes our brains’ “body map” — and “self map”.

As social media are evolving, they are becoming more and more tools for getting things done, visualizing and then solving complex problems, finding answers, getting support we need, etc.   A key is the shift from passive viewing of world events on nightly television news (which had its own expansive effects), to a much more intimate using of collective intelligence, and participating in it.

We are physically evolving into a new species – by rewiring our brains to encompass tools for accessing and using collective intelligence.

The two principles that shine through when collective intelligence becomes collective consciousness are:

The Whole is more than the sum of the parts.

And

The Whole is contained in the parts.

The gradual rewiring of human brains to encompass more and more of the whole species and planet is the physical embodiment of this second principle.

(Confession:  Whenever I write something like this, which I seem to like to do, I often hear an internal chorus of “Yeah, yeah, yeah, but now what?”  The “but now what” is the interesting part.)

In Love with Collective Consciousness, and Networks

How long have I loved thee, dear Human Network?  Let me count the years, since my birth into my loving family, and since my youthful awakening, at age 18, sitting at the feet of Père Pierre, saint of human networks, who wrote again and again about his powerful vision of the planetization of consciousness.

Every person I have loved, appreciated, talked with, liked or disliked, or noticed, has been an experience in the network of consciousness.  It is a network for loving, entertaining, trading, learning, making things and buying them, earning a living, and living.  It is a network for fighting, ha!  Competing, ha!  The network always both wins and loses.  It grows and shrinks, but now mostly grows, grows more and more threatened by its own incoherence, and ever more heartened by its own brilliance, and compassion, and inspired by its search for solutions to its – our — survival and fulfillment.

How long have I loved thee, dear Human Network? Let me count the years, since my birth, into my loving family, and since my youthful awakening, at age 18, sitting at the feet of Père Pierre, saint of human networks, who wrote again and again about his powerful vision of the planetization of consciousness.

Every person I have loved, appreciated, talked with, liked or disliked, or noticed, has been my own part in the network of consciousness. It is a network for loving, entertaining, trading, learning, making things and buying them, earning a living, living. It is a network for fighting, ha! Competing, ha! The network always both wins and loses. It grows and shrinks, but now mostly grows, grows more and more threatened by its own incoherence, and ever more heartened by its own brilliance, and compassion, and inspired by its search for solutions to its – our — survival and fulfillment.

How Bohmian Dialogue makes use of 2300 Year Old Ideas

I’m now reading two books.  One was written ten years ago and its ideas are still influential and appreciated among tens of thousands of people.   The other was written at least 2300 years ago, and its ideas are influential and appreciated among hundreds of millions of people.

I recently discovered the same point made in both books.  One is about the practice of Dialogue in groups.  The other is about the practice of Yoga for achieving a “settled mind.”

I’m sure there are many more points in common, but here are the two points that just stood out for me as the same:  Continue reading ‘How Bohmian Dialogue makes use of 2300 Year Old Ideas’

Creating wholeness in collaboration.

(Continued from here.)

Feelings are most primal, and hardest to ignore.

They are powerful triggers to action, and also trigger cycles of thinking, interpretation and meaning.  The “most important facts” then become dominated by whatever triggered the most powerful feelings.

Interpretations are heavily influenced by feelings because feelings focus and filter thinking to derive interpretations.  The interpretations also loop back to explain or justify the feelings, and to justify the actions that the person has taken or wants to take.

Feelings are important and have to be recognized and understood.  But feelings shouldn’t dominate thinking and action.

The only way to break the dominance of feelings is to step back and see them in the larger context of a group of people who have different feelings and interpretations about the same set of circumstances – and whose help is needed to create solutions..

The dialogue process intentionally trains participants to both listen to others, and to suspend judgment in order to make listening possible.   When people stay with the process long enough to get the hang of it, the process can present to everyone a bigger whole that no one person was seeing before.

The focused-conversation method has a similar result by taking the whole group through a process of collecting facts, expressing (and listening to) feelings, and stating (and listening to) interpretations before attempting to reach a decision together.   They get to see not only how other people feel about the situation, but also how they are all coming up with different interpretations based on different experiences and knowledge.

David Bohm’s On Dialogue especially explains how the evolution of individual consciousness is closely related and essential to development of collective consciousness. For example, he relates the ability to suspend and step back from ones own feelings and biases to the process of meditation.  Both dialogue and meditation involve a method of suspension (drawing back) to help individuals expand their awareness to greater wholes than they were previously capable of understanding.  The dialogue process trains individuals to think in more expanded ways by suspending personal judgments and getting a taste of the greater whole that comes from multiple perspectives.

Other references:

One of the best books on the practice of dialogue, by William Isaacs.

A pdf and book describing the Focused Conversation method, by Brian Stanfield and ICA Associates.


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