Ming the Mechanic:
Individuals working for the world

The NewsLog of Flemming Funch
 Individuals working for the world2003-12-08 14:43
picture by Flemming Funch

In 1927 as Buckminster Fuller was standing at the edge of Lake Michigan, intent on committing suicide by throwing himself into the dark, cold water, he instead hesitated and started thinking about what meaning his life could have. For the first time doing some thinking he felt was his own. And he asked himself what one penniless little human could possibly do for humanity that the most powerful governments and corporations couldn't do better.
"Answering myself, I said: "The individual can take initiatives without anyone's permission."

I told myself: "You do not have the right to eliminate yourself, you do not belong to you. You belong to the universe. The significance of you will forever remain obscure to you, but you may assume that you are fulfilling your significance if you apply yourself to converting all your experience to the highest advantage of others." So I vowed to keep myself alive, but only if I would never use me again for just me - each one of us is born of two, and we really belong to each other. I vowed to do my own thinking instead of trying to accommodate everyone else's opinions, credos and theories. I vowed to apply my inventory of experiences to the solving of problems that affect everyone aboard planet earth.

I didn't want to waste a second, so I slept that way that certain animals sleep: lying down as soon as I was tired, sleeping a half hour every six hours. I also decided to hold a moratorium on speech. It was very tough on my wife, but for two years in that Chicago tenement I didn't allow myself to use words. I wanted to force myself back to the point where I could understand what I was thinking.

I decided to forget about earning a living. It seemed to me that humans are honey-money bees, doing the right things for the wrong reasons, just as the bee pollinates the flower.

Released from the idea of earning a living, I was able to address problems in the biggest way. I decided to commit myself to the invention and development of physical artifacts to reform the environment. I decided that a plurality of such artifacts had the potential to evoke humanity's most intelligent, interconsiderate qualities. It became obvious that if I worked always and only for all humanity, I would be optimally effective. I'd be doing what nature wanted me to do, and nature would literally support me."
Now, get that. One individual working for all of humanity. Applying all of your energy and intelligence to making the biggest possible positive difference for the whole world. But doing it completely on your own premises. Not sacrificing yourself to the will of some homogonous group. Not just trying to tweak the best advantage for yourself out of life. No, doing the very best you can, in the way that only you can know how to do - not for yourself, not for any particular group, but for all of us together. There's nothing quite as powerful as that. It is a profound statement, a profound intention. And not just some idealistic do-good kind of thing to say. It is maybe the most sensible thing to do.

Many years later, two years before he died, Bucky wrote a book called "Critical Path" in which he summarized much of what he had learned. This is part of what he wrote in the foreword:
"My reasons for writing this book are fourfold:

(A) Because I am convinced that human knowledge by others of what this book has to say is essential to human survival.

(B) Because of my driving conviction that all of humanity is in peril of extinction if each one of us does not dare, now and henceforth always to tell only the truth, and all the truth, and to do so promptly—right now.

(C) Because I am convinced that humanity’s fitness for continuance in the cosmic scheme no longer depends on the validity of political, religious, economic, or social organizations, which altogether heretofore have been assumed to represent the many.

(D) Because, contrary to (C), I am convinced that human continuance now depends entirely upon:

(1) The intuitive wisdom of each and every individual.
(2) The individual’s comprehensive informedness.
(3) The individual’s integrity of speaking and acting only on the individual’s own within-self-intuited and reasoned initiative.
(4) The individual’s joining action with others, as motivated only by the individually conceived consequences of so doing.
(5) And, the individual’s never-joining action with others, as motivated only by crowd-engendered emotionalism, or by a sense of the crowd’s power to overwhelm, or in fear of holding to the course indicated by one’s own intellectual convictions."
Notice that it is at first not always easy to read what he wrote. After his two years of self-imposed silence he then only wrote and spoke in very precise statements that pack quite some wisdom into each sentence, but which uses many made-up words. However, if you get used to it, you'll appreciate how clearly the man was saying things.

OK, so again he's talking about how we might make the world work optimally for all of us. First of all how we might possibly save humankind from imminent extinction. Not by some political or religious ideology. Not through any organization that claims to be working on such big matters. No, through well-informed individuals, who come to realize what they're here to do, and who go and do it, in accordance with their own integrity and intuition. And such individuals then freely joining their actions with the actions of others.

I went and picked those quotes out because I was thinking about the principles of the open source movement, and about how I better can do something useful in the world. Notice that most people who're developing open source software are following the principles outlined above, even if the individuals doing so might not at all resonate with the lofty aims described. But it ads up to the same thing. If you develop some little software utility just to scratch your own personal itch, but you actually put it out into the world for others to freely use, and it turns out that it is useful for others too - you're doing exactly that. You, as an individual, are guiding your actions by your own intuition and decisions, not taking direction from any authoritative group outside yourself, doing it entirely you own way, and you give your work to the world with few or no strings attached.

If the world just worked a few percent more like that, the tides would turn. If more works were put into the world by people who did exactly what they think is needed, without caring whether it pays or whether power groups might agree or not. If more big and small problems were solved for all of us by smart people doing whatever they damned well felt like. Little by little, the pool of tools and resources supporting humanity is growing. And, one by one, organizations that hold on to power for its own sake, for their own sake, or for the sake of some dried-up idealistic principles - will fall apart and fade away. Just because they don't work as well as a network of free people who serve the world. They never have, but it is not beginning to be clear before now.

Anyway, I will be searching for a better understanding of what it means to be working in that way. Indeed, it doesn't have to be something big and noble and idealistic at all. It can be simply doing little useful things that need to be done, and making them as available as possible,

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8 Dec 2003 @ 15:07 by swanny : Interesting take.....
"You don't belong to you......"
What a...... hmmmmmm concept....
no not clever but....... hmmmm
perhaps one of those "hidden truths"....
"you don't belong to you"

sir swan  

8 Dec 2003 @ 16:48 by sharie : Working for all of humanity....
I have always felt, from my earliest childhood memories, that that's what my life is for - not in a sacrificial way - but being the best person I could be, creating the best world I can create for the whole of humanity. I've never known any other way of thinking. I'm surprised to discover that this is a revolutionary way of living for many people, but I see that it is true.

I wonder why I have always been this way. My mother was always a sensitive person, but my father's life goal was to be a millionaire, regardless of who got hurt or cheated in the process. Perhaps I could see from my childhood perspective the stark contrast between my mother and my father. My father had that ambitious financial goal, but he was also a pushover. He owned a lot of real estate, but if the tenant's couldn't pay, he'd let it slide. He ended up losing everything - materialistically - including his health, his marriage, and had very little time to spend with his children. And then he died before he reached 60. Given that stark contrast between my mother and my father, I suppose it was rather conspicuous what my choice would be.

"you don't belong to you... you belong to the universe" ... that's interesting ... I've come to believe that the universe belongs to me... that I am the universe and the universe is me... all the earth and sky... all the rocks and water..."

Good post, thanks Ming.  

9 Dec 2003 @ 05:44 by ming : Belonging to the universe
See, I tend to look at it that way too, and find it a very natural way of thinking about things. At least abstractly I do. I'm a lot less certain about how practically to live my life that way. Specifically, how to remain supported within an economic world that doesn't see it that way.  

9 Dec 2003 @ 11:47 by Paul Hughes @ : Bucky is my hero.
I have been deeply and passionately influence by Bucky since I was 15 (1980), when I came across his book Grunch of Giants, and then went on to read every other published work he came out with over the next 5 years. I used to carry Synergetics around with proud that I understood maybe a third of it. But it was his statements above that truly inspired me. My favorite one goes something like, "If you do what needs to be done, the universe will take care of the rest" - meaning money as you need it will become available to you. Well, I'm 38 now, and only now after more than 20 years truly beginning to understand and apply that principle in my own life. I'm not sure how bucky pulled the 2 year silence trick off, as speaking is essential in almost every facet of life to earn a living. I always suspected that he had a little help from family, but it's hard to say how he made it financially during those two years. However, the spirit of it rings true. I have never fully mastered his Dymaxion sleep, which I have desperate wanted to at times - sleeping 2-4 hours per day would free up an additional 4-6 hours per day, that adds up, and could be very useful. If I could only have 3 months off without financial worries, I'd try to master it again.  

10 Dec 2003 @ 10:55 by Chris Hagglund @ : The fear
This posting sure speaks to me. I've had that thought that if I could just take some time off and not worry about the money then I could change my life. It was interesting that I had my spiritual awakening during the time after I graduated from college but before I got a job -- I was living off credit cards and so I didnt really have to worry about money (well, I'm paying for it now, I'll tell you, haha). I guess what gets me is that I would love to do that again, to go back and focus on what really matters to me. I want to develop free high bandwidth long range packet radio using illegal (but non-dangerous, just the FCC is a bunch of wankers) ultra wideband technology and then make the technology available to everyone so that people will just need to get this piece of equipment and then *bang* they'll be part of this huge free high bandwidth network (which would probably be attached to, yet distinct from the commercial ISP built internet). I want the devices to be portable so that some guy with a video camera basically in the middle of nowhere can document all the awful injustices that governements and other hierarchal (read: corporations) commit, you know, the kind of stuff that never makes it onto the evening news. We need an army of free agent/anarchist journalists to open the eyes of the public but the infrastructure isnt there to support that right now. Satellite video phones are neato, but too expensive and rely on crap in outer space. We dont need that if we can just float an disposable UWB relay on a weatherballoon or something like that. Anyhow I'd love to be able to work on that but I'm gripped by a terrible overwhelming fear that if I quit my job to do this I'd be penniless and homeless and my wife would take my daughter and leave me and that it just wouldnt work. It is also frustrating that I havent the time or money to learn about what I need to learn in order to actually do this. I just dont have the electronics background. Maybe one day I'll figure out how to move forward on this. Boy I hate being chained to this job and the money it provides. I hate money.  

10 Dec 2003 @ 11:27 by bushman : Money
Thats why I got rid of everything, a $35 an hour job, sent my kid to her grandparents, since she didn't know them, and lived in a tent in the forest for a few months. At first my family raked me over the coals, for doing that, lol. I did this to prove to myself that I didn't really need it. And found a happy medium living in a trailer, and making just what I need to get by. This gives me the time and money to learn about stuff now. I can spend whatever time I want with the family now. Also if there wasn't an internet, I'd still be in my tent. Kind of interesting chris, that I too am trying to find a way to send internet traffic within the magnetic field of the earth. In theroy it could work. The problem Im seeing right now is the fact anything you inject into the field will get mixed up in a soup of stuff. So someone needs to make a decoder/encoder program, and the info has to be sent as a stream, with tags that indicate order of info, and also taged as to what it is. I can't write software to do that, but know the tech is there to transmit and recive thru the magnetic field useing a magnetic sencor/magnetomiter attached to a decoder/encoder device. Like that sat they launched a while back that measures gravity waves in space, this would work for sending and reciving speed of light hi bandwidth transmissions. You could be anywhere within the earths magneticfield and be on line. Just got to filter the soup. Look up Stubblefields earth battery and I think Tesla had done some work on amplifing the earths electromagnetic field, in an issolated spot, in re: Teslas electric car.  

10 Dec 2003 @ 12:08 by ming : Work beyond money
I've had the ironic experience in my own life that I've found myself most able to forget about money and just do good things in those periods where I've been the most tied into some meaningless job. For five years I had this low-level, but medium-paying, programmer job. 9-5, no overtime, and nothing much to do in working hours. I spent the majority of my time writing, meditating, and starting idealistic activities on the Internet. And not worrying a bit about money. And then, when I quit that job to 'really do what I want to do in the world', I ironically ended up having to spend most of my time worrying about money, because I no longer automatically got any. So, in a weird way, it was the exact opposite of what I think it should be.

It is an important, but difficult puzzle to solve. How to concentrate on the things that need to be done, and not primarily on where money comes from.

And the best approach I can see is, along the lines of this article, to cast the net as wide as possible - to do it as big as possible. If you do useful things that get out to a sufficiently large number of people, ways of being supported are so much more likely to appear. Obviously, if you're a Linus Thorvalds who's the guiding force behind Linux, lots of companies would like to hire you, and it would be understood that of course you'd keep focusing primarily on what your real job is, rather than on what that particular company happened to do. But of course it shouldn't just be possible for a few well-known individuals. It should be possible for most of us.

There must of course be examples to find in many other fields. If you concentrate on making yourself the best possible expert in environmental issues, organic farming, or just about any subject - of course people will want to pay you for doing that. If nothing else for consulting with them, speaking about it, or even just to be seen in your proximity.  

10 Dec 2003 @ 13:48 by Paul Hughes @ : Following your bliss
This may sound trite at this point, but Buck's principle is now working for me, becuase I'm actually doing something concrete that immediately makes peoples lives better. So of course they are willing to pay me lots of money to do it, and even tell their friends about me. Which in turn feeds the cycle of doing it. And the best part is I can't imagine doing anythng else, because its even more pleasurable for me to do it. You could call it a bootstrapped feed-back loop of bliss and pleasure without sex. Sex sells yes, but teaching people how to bliss out on their existence is priceless.  

10 Dec 2003 @ 17:22 by spiritseek : A connection...
when I lost a good paying job I had time on my hands and no money. I read books that fell into my lap which was on psychic abilities. I started meditating and things just started happening for me. Its been awhile now and I've gotten back into the routine of working and I seemed to have lost alot of my abilities. Putting my priorities back to those days just might give me what I really need. Time and a relaxed mood to enhance my psychic abilities again. Back then I couldn't do much but let God handle my problems and just work on making me a better person really did work out for the best. This article brought all this back to me, I was happier, more relaxed and freer to be me.  

10 Dec 2003 @ 18:44 by maxtobin : Always on the button!!
Buckminster Fuller, now there is a man who escaped the conditioning and reconnected with his integrity!! And what a genius he had to share, we are all truely a gift from the creator to the creation and we all "know' what is right or wrong what has integrity or not. We are all free to be honest and discover our way home to this wonderfully sacred place, we only can know that space through integrity. Many thanks Flemming for continuing to share your inspiration with us all, this is the way after all is said and done! Blessings from Aotearoa for the Christmas season and your journey into wholeness, your path is true Flemming (for you!) and it is a priviledge and pleasure to witness the unfolding journey.  

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