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’