Consciousness Culture, Tech, Mind and the Future

Tag: Evolution of Consciousness

The Noosphere and Cosmic Christ: Happy Birthday Teilhard de Chardin

by Jeremy Johnson

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The Noosphere and Cosmic Christ: Happy Birthday Teilhard de Chardin

Happy birthday, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (May 1, 1885 – April 10, 1955). Give a listen to this excellent biographical podcast with Ursula King, Andrew Revkin, and David Sloak Wilson.

King: “The human is not finished yet!”

Tippet: “He sees evolution both on a physical… and spiritual… that evolution proceeds towards spirit. Even as he looks towards Peking Man, and see himself as a 21st century human, he imagines future man looking back and seeing a primitive spirituality. He imagines this flowering of consciousness; this evolutionary consciousness.

King: “It’s mind blowing! The whole region of cyberspace… They say Teilhard is the patron saint of the world wide web. He used to say that we will intensify our communication: but what are we doing with it? That’s the big question. We have to create it.”

Though banned from publication in his lifetime, Teilhard’s posthumous writings went on to influence brilliant thinkers in their own right like media theorist Marshall McLuhan, scifi [1] writer Philip K. Dick, and more recently, Rev. Matthew FoxThomas BerryBrian Swimme, and theologian Elizabeth Johnson‘s ecological thought  and “growing forward tradition.”

Read the Mass on the World here.

The Phenomenon of Man.

[1]  In Dan Simmon’s Endymion, a future Catholic pope takes the name Teilhard 1st.

Who are the Evolutionaries? A Dialogue With Carter Phipps

by Jeremy Johnson

I sat down in an NYC cafe to talk with Carter Phipps about his new book, Evolutionaries: Unlocking the Spiritual and Cultural Potential of Science’s Greatest Idea. Phipps was also the editor of EnlightenNext (formerly What is Enlightenment?) magazine. Since 1999, he’s been interviewing and engaging with thinkers, teachers, and scholars about the intersections between science and spirituality, cultural transformation, and the evolution of consciousness. His book, in a smooth, journalistic narrative, details his personal journey as a spiritual seeker and his eventual discovery of an “evolutionary spirituality.” As his book title says – it’s the intersection between the science of evolution and the spiritual possibilities an evolutionary worldview unlocks. Since evolution became well-known in the West, various luminaries have stepped forth with a vision that could spiritually encompass it. Read the rest of this entry »

Evolution’s Purpose: An Interview with Steve McIntosh

by Jeremy Johnson

On June 5th, I had the pleasure of meeting Steve McIntosh, author of Integral Consciousness and the Future of Evolution, and his upcoming publication, Evolution’s Purpose: An Integral Interpretation of the Scientific Story of Our Origins. Steve was part of a panel discussion entitled, “Cultural Evolution: The Solution to Practically Every Problem” that occurred later that evening. He is a member of the “Evolutionary Leaders” group started by Deepak Chopra, founder and president of Now and Zen, and most recently, a member of a new think tank, The Institute for Cultural Evolution.

Steve takes me through the big themes in his book: explaining what the purpose of evolution is through integral philosophy, rooted in a dialectic of history and reaching back to philosophers like Hegel, Whitehead, and the mystic Jesuit Teilhard de Chardin. I’ve always found McIntosh to one of the most unique integral authors in that he offers his own interpretations. His first book, Integral Consciousness, offered both praise and criticism of Integral Theory, as popularized by Ken Wilber.

The conversation was compelling and energized– you won’t find a more articulate expression of the integral-evolutionary philosophy. Hope you enjoy our dialogue:

Compassion for the Cartographer

by Jeremy Johnson

Graffiti_candlelight

by Miriam Gabriel

A poetic sensibility is a giving bud that can keep a scholar sane during the most hard-nosed of debates. I am sure that many can relate to this statement of gratitude to one’s inner poet, and I certainly declare it with a rich gratitude to wherever corners of humanity that spilled their poetics into my life.

As I discussed graduate degree options today with my beloved partner in every way Jeremy Johnson and my best friend of six years Eddie Gonzalez – the former who is studying for his masters with me, at the alternative Goddard College, and the latter who is preparing his doctorate and third graduate degree at the established Boston College and about to present for the Vatican II anniversary – I found myself torn between being engaged with the world as a contemplative and as a scholar-activist.

I am passionate about addressing the suffering of my contemporary human beings in the Liberation Theology sensibility of academe, yet – after owning up to my mystic spark, which Goddard embraces warmly and engages with critically and empathetically and in every welcoming way really, how can I ever see that as separable from the yolk and fizzle and silence and activity and signs of life that I am? And can the academic cloister ever let me in as a humble equal as such?

After taking you the reader on this brief loop of heartfelt, existential queries and puzzles about what to become, I will explain why I share this poem with you: because, throughout the night, I knew what not to become. I partook in bashing, and bashed and sneered at a clinical, categorically chaining, unaware-of-its-biases approach that I have witnessed repeated through color-coded terminology like chews on the same stale piece of integral gum, with the saliva proposed as balm for all of humanity. Does not sound very kind, doesn’t it?

I wrote this poem to practice compassion and understanding towards even the thinkers through which, as one human being, I feel categorized and misunderstood and viewed rather than seen. My bashing was a clear seeing that I was viewing as well, and categorizing. After all of the fruits of critical thinking and soul searching, and after acknowledging that the mythopoetic story of my poem may or may never be accurate, here is to compassion.

The Cartographer’s Collected Works

Eyes smothered by a candle light

Warm, not burning, of a noosphere,

Hands numbed treading

The blogosphere

As an effort to hold hands

With critics and conscientious objectors,

He beheld his balding head fixed

At the crucifix of shaking it

Dismally, and nodding in humility.

“Now the suffering are most lost

In my maps. When did I lead them there?”

Seas of scholars and adepts and activists

Parted before him usually,

And he walked through the aloof

Back of their neck like justified tension.

Leading… some people, somewhat… “at best?”

The women picking wheat and barley

And with their breasts nursing their muscles

And with men’s nipples piercing gender robes

Locked their souls in thousand deconstructive hyphens

Before the cartographer ever labeled their

Sensitive green ass selves.

Children tanned by their ancestors’ shores,

Danced in riots atop his psychology textbooks

Evoked spirits with a spliff and

Ravished their red consciousness with

Brown and mocha visions

That they shouted outside his window.

The purples and magentas in monasteries

Counted their sins, in communes

Moaned with every dish washed, without

Ever bothering to search for his name;

The inner map of a heart opening

At its back with etheric wings, on a bad day,

Needed a GPS at most to chart its service.

“Not a single holistic blue ever called with a congrats.

“Not a single one called me family.”

 Years of waning tendons and spilled ink,

“And still so many never made it into

“The chartings of my intellectual heart.

This is all doubt, dissent, and diddlings

Of his glands in need of further evolution.

That was his brisk mantra from dusk to dawn

And dawn to dusk. Last night, however,

He dozed off with a door left ajar for one more diddle,

Stray barley, shout, moan, phone call,

Off-stage stage of consciousness

From the big mind o’ mine:

Burn it, smell it burning by candlelight.

The cartographer must burn the map

To run on his eternal light.

A Conversation with Charles Eisenstein

by Jeremy Johnson

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Last August in 2011, I spoke with Charles Eisenstein about sacred renewal and the spiritual crisis of our times. He offers a unique perspective on the cultural challenges facing us. We discussed both of his books, Sacred Economics and Ascent of Humanity, as well as what got him started on his own personal journey into asking – and responding to these existential questions.

“In a way we’re an anti-materialist culture. And that’s the problem – because we’re not treating it as sacred.”

Video Interview (Please excuse the lighting):

Charles Eisenstein writes for Reality Sandwich regularly, and offers the entire book, Sacred Economics, free in serial form.

Ascent of Humanity is also available in its entirety.

William Irwin Thompson Interview: Occupy, Arab Spring, Global Crisis & Planetary Culture

by Jeremy Johnson

2011 has been a transformative year to say the least. For many, including myself, the revolutionary spirit and crisis on the television and live internet feeds was not only an abstract one, but a personal journey of uprooting, re-thinking, and re-orienting myself in new life directions. I was excited to initially contact Thompson about meeting in person, but, as it were, a hurricane was barreling down on New York. So we postponed our conversation until November, where he joined me on Skype for a long list of topics. If you’re not familiar with him, Thompson is a cultural historian and founder of the Lindisfarne Association; a fellowship of scientists, poets, scholars, and mystics who are interested in exploring “planetary culture.” That is, the emerging global human society that is articulated by complex-dynamic systems, chaos mathematics, and post-religious spirituality.

I ask Thompson a series of questions concerning 2011’s biggest events, from the Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street (of which he has both praise and concern), cultural evolution and catastrophe, to the singularity and the evolution of spirituality.

Thompson’s books articulate history from an evolutionary perspective, describing various “cultural ecologies” and going into great detail about what a global, planetary society might look like. Equally, and in our discussion together, he raises some of the most critical obstacles facing my own “Occupy,” internet generation in the creation of such a society.

It was a pleasure speaking with Bill Thompson and I hope to be fortunate again to do so as further events unfold. Until then, you can check out his column at Wild River Review, Thinking Otherwise. He also currently serves as an advisor for the Ross Institute, a East-Coast private school located on Long Island whose curriculum focuses on the evolution of consciousness. See their YouTube page for a fascinating collection of videos, lectures, and presentations by the students.

Thompson’s latest publication: Self and Society: studies in the evolution of culture

Coming into Being: Artifacts and Texts in the Evolution of Consciousness (1996, Reprint/Extended Edition 1998)

Bridging Worlds of Myth and Science: The Poetic Scholarship of William Irwin Thompson

by Jeremy Johnson

“At the edge of consciousness, there are no explanations; there are only invocations of myth.”

Williamthompson

William Irwin Thompson is one of the early pioneers of the global consciousness movement. Over the past 40 years, he has written over 20 books (including poetry and fiction) and collaborated with scientists, mystics and scholars from around the world through his Lindisfarne Association (1).

Originally founded as an intentional community like Esalen or Findhorn, Lindisfarne became an integral fellowship of scientists, artists and scholars articulating an emerging planetary human society (more on that later). Among the fellowship were well-known scientists such as James Lovelock, Gregory Bateson, Francisco Varela, Zen teacher Joan Halifax Roshi, and the esteemed American poet, Wendell Berry.

When putting together this article, I wasn’t sure how to sum up Thompson’s work. What is he all about, really? Surely not the “grand summarizer” as the philosopher Ken Wilber is described. The first word I thought of is: imagination. Everything starts from there. From his poetry to his “mind jazz” on ancient texts, Thompson’s great strength is his ability to utilize the imagination not to summarize, but to weave a holistic vision in just a few lines. His work jump from past, to present, to future, not to mention a number of different world mythologies, then somehow brings it all together in an evolutionary vision. He is a poet-scholar, not afraid to bring his imagination into the work.

Read the rest of this entry »

Winter Updates: Interviews, Podcasts & New Contributions

by Jeremy Johnson

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It’s been a while since we’ve had steady updates on the site. The semester is nearly finished, so all that is about to change. 

This weekend I interviewed cultural historian and mythologist William Irwin Thompson. We discussed a variety of topics, ranging from Occupy Wall Street to technology and the evolution of consciousness. I’ll have it uploaded in a few days.

In the next couple of weeks, the content of EL will start to flow again and we will be posting podcasts, new submissions, articles and book reviews. As always, feel free to participate.

 

 

 

Cyborgs, Dubstep and Human Evolution: What music has to say about biology & machines

by Jeremy Johnson

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Bjork’s music video for All is Full of Love

Are robots “cool?” Do we want to be like them? While Jaron Lanier argues that digital technologies are de-humanizing us, Kevin Kelly disagrees. In a recent article, You are a Robot, Kelly writes that the strange world of dub-step demonstrates a human desire to be more like robots. If you are an artist, you want to move like a gadget:

Everywhere we look in pop culture today, some of the coolest expressions are created by humans imitating machines. Exhibit A would be the surging popularity of popping, tutting, and dub step dancing.

Dubstep is a form of electronic dance music which originated in London in 1999, but emerged as a popular form of music around 2002. It’s new to the music scene and has been growing more popular each year. You’ll recognize it by its use of heavy bass and syncopation. In particular, the whirring engine (which remind me of a space ship) and industrial sounds are a trademark of the style. Maybe it’s appropriate that dubstep was born right where the industrial revolution began.

In addition to the mechanical sounds, the music has inspired dancers to move like machines. It’s quite impressive! We move our fleshy bodies in the fashion of robots:

So we like robots, we think they’re cool and we want to sing and dance and move like them – better than them (for now), but still like them. Does this prove that machines are becoming cooler, hipper, and more incorporated into human art and culture? I’d say yes, but not in the way Kelly thinks. It “clicked” or “synced” when I read what Kelly observed about auto-tuning:

It catches that same strange loop of a human imitating a machine imitating a human. It is not a mechanical voice. It is a mechanical voice that tries to be human.

I believe this is the key point that flips the discussion on its head. Humans have always had a tentative attitude towards the machine. Just take a quick look at the classic novel War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells, or films like Terminator, Blade Runner, The Matrix and T.V. shows like Battlestar Galactica. If films, like novels, are a way for our cultural unconscious to dream, the machine has been a tentative nightmare.

Art is always a good signifier for how we are internalizing some new change in our cultural landscape. Sure, there were happier robot movies like Johnny 5, but overall we have been cautious about the looming surge of the techno-sphere, and worried about A.I. replacing us as the dominant intelligent species on this planet. Scientists are even speculating that if we do encounter extra-terrestrials, they will be machines.

So something has definitely changed. It’s been a decade since the Matrix, and a couple years since the Battlestar Galactica re-make. iPods and mp3 players proliferate our daily shuffle (pun intended) to work, wifi and 3G networks beam about and envelop the globe in an ever-increasing digital cloud. Digital technologies are here to stay for this civilization, short of a catastrophe. The machine has shifted in our cultural imagination from something to be feared to something we are going to have to learn to be in symbiosis with, and that is exactly why our attitude has changed. Rather than being engulfed by the machine, human consciousness has responded by engulfing the machine and embuing it with humanity. The mechanical voice that is “trying to be human,” is case in point. We’re taking these animatrons and automatons and making them dance, sing and swing to electric beats. As technology invades our bodies and floods our environments, human imagination engulfs technology. Even the dystopic films are part of this creative engagement with the machine.

Now it may be that one day, our robots will sing, dance and imagine more than human beings can now. I question how clear cut such an evolution will be, however. As we are learning about in biology, sometimes an invading species enters a co-dependent relationship with the invaded, and the two create a symbiotic balance such as exemplified by the mitochondria in our cells.

As technology floods the world, the lines between where humanity ends and technology begins will be blurrier. It’s not surprising that music is the art form, the vibration, first to respond to the techno-flood, transforming mechanical noise into dubstep music and entering humanity into a new era where body and machine both move and groove to the larger emerging imagination of an electric planetary era. Perhaps McLuhan was right, but not about the television–the global village sings electric in the digital evolution.

 

 

Evolving Contemplative Practice, part 5: A New Planetary Sadhana

by Jeremy Johnson

By M. Alan Kazlev

The evolution of contemplative spirituality is a very interesting topic. What place sadhana (contemplative practice and discipline) in the modern, globally networked, technologically advanced, world, and how does it evolve in response to these circumstances? Here are my thoughts on this.

First, to understand where contemplative practice is going, we have to look at how the modern world came to be how it is now.

Galileo

During the 17th and 18th century, there was a great revolution in the educated socio-collective consciousness in Europe and the newly settled (by the white man) America. This has been called the Age of Reason (17th century) and Age of Enlightenment (18th Century). The effect of the Age of Reason and Age of Enlightenment was to overthrow political, monarchist, and theocratic totalitarianism, religious fundamentalism and literalism and lower magical-astral superstition. Instead there emerged a new world, ruled by reason, with ideals of democracy, freedom of speech and liberty, and non-sectarian universal or objective truth. Without this change from premodern to modern, secular Western civilisation, with all the liberties we take for granted, would have been impossible, and we would instead be living in a Christian equivalent to modern Islamism(1) or seventeenth century Salem, complete with witch trials and charges of heresy.

Read the rest of this entry »

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