logo Ming the Mechanic - Category: Thoughts
An old rigid civilization is reluctantly dying. Something new, open, free and exciting is waking up.

Thursday, May 27, 2004day link 

 Things that happen by themselves
picture I am particularly fascinated by phenomena that "happen by themselves". OK, maybe not entirely by themselves, but stuff that emerges somewhat surprisingly and constructively from its component parts. Phenomena like:
  • Emergence
  • Flow
  • Synergy
  • Collective Intelligence
  • Dialogue
  • Synchronicity
  • Paradigm Shifts
  • Memes
  • Self-Organization
  • Smart Mobs
  • Creativity
  • Resonance
  • Collaboration
  • Evolution
  • Ecology
  • Life
  • Consciousness
  • Diversity
  • Harmony
One can say things about it, and one can do certain things to help them along. But generally they just happen, without us being able to say anything terribly coherent about why or how. And that is the very hopeful part. If it were up to us and our individual mental faculties to make the world work, the picture would be really gloomy. We manage to accomplish a lot of things, but at the same time it is our own mental and emotional mixups that put us at war with each other, and at risk of driving ourselves to extinction. The wonderful thing is that, despite that, there are some things that sometimes happen that make things go right, without it being entirely clear how that came about.

Of course there are still plenty of people who would insist that these are either delusions or perfectly logical and predictable phenomena that our scientific minds know all about. It doesn't really matter, because, luckily, we're talking about phenomena that happen whether one really believes in them or not. A person who thinks he's a chemical reaction in a brain will still get creative flashes. Evolution takes place even if it is misunderstood. Groups of people sometimes do great things together, even if their members might think it is a matter of conditioning and chance or of mental logic. But maybe we'd accomplish a lot more if we were more aware of how emergent phenomena happen.

Personally I don't doubt that there is something more. And it is that -more- that will save us. We will understand it more along the way. But it seems to require almost the opposite approach to how we often go about things in our societies. Letting go of our fixed ideas, being open, being present, being comfortable with the unknown, being respectful of that which we don't yet understand, allowing bigger intelligences than our own to manifest themselves.

Possibly, if we look at things from another angle, we can let go of the heavy burden of trying to fit things together that don't seem to fit. And instead allow an implicit order to emerge. Maybe realize that the universe isn't such a bad place after all, and it is inherently structured to allow us to succeed beyond our wildest dreams. If we can discover how to be in harmony with how things work, rather than trying to fix what never was broken.

We're not smart enough. But something is. And it might still be us, but it is a paradox. If we can get our self-centered pride a bit out of the way, we might notice when it happens. Relax, pay attention, get in sync with what is possible. And surf its waves, rather than trying to dam it up.
[ | 2004-05-27 05:37 | 6 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

Wednesday, April 14, 2004day link 

picture Via Quotes of the Day:

"Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away."
- Philip K. Dick

Yeah, that's a good way of putting it.

That would exclude, oh, how about governments and countries? If we don't believe in boundaries and in the power of certain groups of people to govern us, then there really isn't anything there. There are continents and land and people. But no borders and no power over us. No laws either. They aren't really real. People are real. What they do is real. Their thoughts and feelings and actions are real.

Goodbye to religions too. If you don't believe in them, there's really not much there. A lot of church buildings and some books. Good deeds are real.

Scientific laws and theories go away as well when we stop believing in them. Nature and life doesn't go away. The flowers keep blooming and the planets keep rotating around their stars. And there's a system to that, which keeps working. But it is the theoretical models of how we think that works that drop away.

There's a lot of things our theories say don't exist or can't exist. If we stop believing in those theories, those things will still be there. Extraterrestrials, other dimensions, paranormal perceptions, miraculous events. Except that they won't be miraculous or paranormal unless you have some kind of belief about how unlikely they're supposed to be.

Dreams exist whether you believe in them or not. You'll be zipping around in fantastic realities every day, at least when you sleep.

Failure and success, loyalty and betrayal, mistakes, lies, obligations, promises, shoulds - none of it means much if one stops believing. What matters is what is there, and what you actually do. Good constructive actions last longer than destructive actions. They're more real. Good and bad feelings exist. The reasons for them do not.

Life exists. Consciousness exists. I exist. I'm probably more real the more I get over my beliefs about why and how.
[ | 2004-04-14 10:13 | 9 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

Friday, January 30, 2004day link 

 Where are your thoughts
picture Bad Signal:
"If you believe that your thoughts originate inside your brain -- do you also believe that television shows are made inside
your television set?"
seen here and here.
[ | 2004-01-30 08:33 | 10 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

Friday, January 23, 2004day link 

 Lust as a virtue
picture A respected British philosopher and university professor is speaking up for the virtues of lust. From "Should Lust Really Be a Sin?":
Lust is one of the seven deadly sins first identified by Pope Gregory the Great in the 6th century. He nailed them all: Lust, anger, envy, gluttony, sloth, pride, and greed. It's a cornucopia of bad living.

But hold on! A leading philosopher at Britain's Cambridge University says lust has been wrongly branded as a vice and should be "reclaimed for humanity" as the life-affirming virtue that it is.

Professor Simon Blackburn told the London Sunday Times that lust has gotten a bad name from bad ideology that has hindered its "freedom of flow." His quest is to rescue lust, arguing it has been wrongly condemned for centuries. And he has a prestigious backer: The Oxford University Press, which will publish Blackburn's project on the modern relevance of the seven deadly sins, including lust.

Blackburn told the Times that he wants to save lust "from the denunciations of old men of the deserts, to deliver it from the pallid and envious confessor, and the stocks and pillories of the Puritans, to drag it from the category of sin to that of virtue."

How does he plan to do this? He defines lust as "the enthusiastic desire for sexual activity and its pleasures for its own sake." But if lust is reciprocated, that leads to pleasure and "best flourishes when unencumbered by bad philosophy and ideology...which prevent its freedom of flow."

Here is Blackburn's logic at work: Thirst is not considered sin, nor is it criticized. But thirst can lead to drunkenness. In the same way, lust should not be condemned just because it can go unchecked.

"The important thing is that generally anything that gives pleasure has a presumption in its favor," Blackburn explained to the Times. "The question is how we control it."
I agree with him. One of the most screwed up qualities the world is the prevalence of a perverted view of lust and sex and bodily pleasures. Perverted in the sense that what is perfectly natural, healthy and useful gets turned into something dirty, forbidden and ungodly. Really it is quite simple from nature's hand. The activities that further survival tend towards being pleasurable. If feels good to drink when you're thirsty. Good food tastes good. Poisoned food usually doesn't. It feels good to love somebody. It is good to get one's juices flowing. Sex is a good thing. That should be the baseline. Of course there are lots of things one can screw up about it, just like one can eat too much of the wrong thing. Doesn't mean that eating is basically bad. Same with lust. It makes things happen, motivates, makes life worth living.

More from Blackburn here, here and here.
[ | 2004-01-23 07:31 | 13 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

Sunday, January 11, 2004day link 

picture There are quite divided opinions about what consciousness is and where it comes from. Arguments mostly arrive from quite divided assumptions about what the Universe is and where it comes from. One way I would simplify the views would be as follows.

You could assume that there's an external entity, which you can call God or something else, which intervenes in order to make things happen inside the universe. So that if something new happens, it is because God decided it was a good idea and introduced it.

You could also assume that the universe is a closed system. I.e. what is there is what is there, and when it evolves into new things it is because it is in its nature to do so. If hydrogen and oxygen turn into water, even the first time it happens, it is only because they have the emergent property to do so.

In my own somewhat controversial view of all this, I think there are many people who are confused about which camp they're in, or who really assume something different than what they think they do.

Let's look at consciousness. It is observable that there are entities here who have awareness, consciousness, the ability to think about things, including self-reflexively and abstractly. According to the first view, it would be because God suddenly one day said "Hey, I now decree that this mud henceforth will be conscious". According to the second view it would be because it would be perfectly logical, that the component parts merely evolved such a capability, based on the way they're put together, based on their pre-existing properties, and based on a natural sequence of events.

But many people who believe the latter will also try to deny that the consciousness is in fact an emergent property. If I say it a little differently: consciousness can only emerge if it has been there all along. Just like hydrogen and oxygen only can turn into water because they've been able to do that all along. If we use a controversial word for it, their design includes the capability to transform in such a manner.

Water can only happen because the universe possesses a water-ness. If you believe that such a capability suddenly happened and wasn't there before, you're a subscriber to the first worldview above, that there's an external agent who shows up and makes it happen.

Likewise, the universe can only manifest consciousness if it already possesses the capability for consciousness. Consciousness can only emerge if it all along has been an integral quality of the universe. We can discuss whether it was a latent quality or a continuously expressed quality, but it has to have been there, unless it suddenly came from the outside.

If the universe is a closed system, it of course gives some major problems of trying to explain where that came from. Even if we accept that there's no outside interference, but everything in the universe is just doing what is its nature to do, over billions of years, and that happens to have lead to human consciousness and MTV and the Internet and other interesting things, you can not avoid coming up with an answer to where such a brilliant evolutionary engine came from in the first place. If we assumed that the Universe actually evolved from a Big Bang 12 billion years ago, and everything that happened emerged naturally from the qualities inherent in whatever it was that exploded, it still does absolutely nothing in explaining how that something happened to be so exquisitely designed that extremely complex lifeforms would develop which would be self-aware and capable of developing advanced technology. Despite that it supposedly is a natural law that physical matter does the opposite, moving towards increased entropy.

The explanation that most often is used to avoid admitting that the universe possesses inherent intelligence is to invoke Randomity. I.e. to show how random events will carry along evolution. There are some big problems with that, however. What is called "random" usually just means that it is too hard to calculate which exact interactions between what produced what, and it is never just simple cause-effect relationships when one gets down to it. Some people think that Quantum Mechanics show that the universe is basically random. But it really just talks about uncertainty. Because you basically have to include all sub-atomic particles existing in 12 or so dimensions, in a possibly infinite number of parallel universes, in order to calculate what exactly will happen. Which is rather impractical at this point, so the actual outcomes of events, particularly very small ones, are for our purposes uncertain. To our limited view they seem "random" because we're incapable of understanding the whole system at one time at this point.

"Randomness" as such is essentially a variation of the external "God" in the first worldview at the top. I.e. believing in "randomness" influencing the universe in arbitrary ways has much of the same structure as believing in "God" influencing the universe in arbitrary ways. The difference is only in the labels people attach to it and to themselves. E.g. whether one thinks one's view is based on science or religion. Either way, we're in the field of religion if your model requires miraculous outside influences in order to hold together.

Ultimately the better model is probably some kind of synthesis. It isn't ultimately satisfying to just delegate the hard problems to some magical entity you can never understand, or to just deny that they even exist. Assuming that the Universal Intelligence is either entirely outside the universe, or that it doesn't exist at all - both fail to explain a lot of what we can experience here, and either one produces pretty depressing prospects for the future.

The more simple answer, to me at least, is that there's an infinite Omniverse there, and you're an integral part of it. It has the inherent capability to do everything that ever happened and ever will happen, and the scope of what can happen is infinite. Some of the inherent qualities are self-reflexive consciousness and the ability to evolve. It is vast, complex and mysterious, but ultimately completely logical and coherent. You can learn about it and understand it as deeply as you want, and it will readily divulge its secrets, but everything in it is connected with everything else, and all of it is continously evolving, so you'll probably never be done. And that's what makes it an infinitely continuing and expanding game.
[ | 2004-01-11 07:42 | 18 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

Sunday, June 29, 2003day link 

 Cause and Effect
picture Max rants about the widespread but not very useful meme of "Cause and Effect" and quotes Nietche:
"Cause and effect: such a duality will probably never exist. In truth we are faced by a continuum out of which we isolate a couple of pieces, just as we perceive a motion only as isolated points without really seeing it but then infer [a motion]. The suddenness with which many effects are standing out, misleading us; but it is only a suddenness for us. There are an infinite number of processes in this second of suddenness which elude us. An intellect that could see cause and effect as a continuum. and not see it in our way as arbitrary division and dismemberment, would reject the concept of cause and effect and deny all conditionality."
Well, I agree with both Max and Nietsche. Cause and Effect only makes sense in a cartoon world in our minds. The world doesn't really work that way. Everything is connected. It is a continuum. Does an egg cause a chicken, or does a chicken cause an egg? Neither - they're different aspects of the same system.
[ | 2003-06-29 13:08 | 10 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

Monday, June 9, 2003day link 

picture I think I've been spending too little time recently in the field of consciousness. I've been busy with life, with work, family, with preparing for moving. All of which is good, but typically what really keeps me going in life is something more - an exploration of what it is all about, how the universe works, and what I am, and what my limits are. And usually things work best if I start with my own consciousness, as opposed to taking the material universe too seriously.

In having that kind of discussion, there's the fundamental problem that people have very different world views about consciousness, which some times makes it difficult to have the same conversation. Well, those world views do divide up into certain main categories, such as:

1. Consciousness is something fundamental and eternal, and the material universe as we see it, as well as our own existence, is all some kind of special case of that consciousness.

2. The universe is fundamentally material and non-sentient. A long series of coincidences between random non-sentient material components have surprisingly produced organic machines that are capable of self-reflective thinking.

and, for the sake of people who sort of might fit in number 1, but who don't feel they're allowed to think about it:

3. God created the universe and it is none of your damn business. Your only hope is to understand and obey God's commands.

#1 would mostly be new age people, buddhists, hindus, other religious people who feel safe to think for themselves, plus an assortment of different philosophers.

#2 would be many scientifically oriented people, as well as atheists.

#3 would be fundamentalist religious people of various kinds.

Now, I would personally go with #1. But I get along fine with science people. And there's nothing particularly un-scientific about #1. These are all theories, and science is about coming up with the theories that best will predict things, and to test how well you succeed.

In general I can have a perfectly enjoyable discussion with anybody who will grant that their world view is just that - a world view. A model, a theory of how things work. But to the degree that we take our models for Truth, for The Way Things Really Are, then communication starts being a bit difficult.

For somebody who belongs firmly in #2, consciousness is maybe an interesting subject, but in a very different way than for a #1 person. The #2 person might be very interested in how to construct intelligence artificially, and in how to preserve consciousness, dreaming maybe of downloading consciousness to a computer. Which I'd have rather little interest in. I'd rather figure out how to stay in touch with the aspect of my consciousness that exists eternally and isn't limited by my current physical existence. It is not a matter of preserving it in a test tube, but rather of helping it shine through.

I'd expect that science and spirituality will meet, and it won't be a matter of two totally different worlds any longer. Quantum physics, evolutionary biology and systems thinking might very well solidify principles that otherwise were presented in metaphorical form in spiritual traditions. They already have, to a large extent, but it hasn't quite sunk in for many believers in science.
[ | 2003-06-09 18:46 | 4 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

Tuesday, May 13, 2003day link 

 Signs of Life
picture For a while I figured I would change my business card to read something like this:

Flemming Funch
Looking for signs of life

Well, in part because I tend to put cool but puzzling titles and bylines on my business card. Puzzling because some people (practical people) have a hard time figuring out how I possibly could make any kind of a living on that. Right now my business card says "Connecting the people who change the world". I don't know if that's something I do, but it sounds like a good thing. And, yes, nobody's paying me for doing that.

So, as to the 'signs of life'. Well, most things I'm interested in concern making life more full and interesting. More life. And I'm interested in understanding better how life works. What is life? Is the universe alive? I think so, but I'd like to understand it better.

You can also say I'm looking for the signal. In most any kind of communication, the information is found in those parts that stand out from the background. If I say:
then the information is found in the different part. The 1 in this case. That's the signal.

Likewise in life. If you're just doing the same thing as everybody else, you're not providing any signal. You're not showing signs of being alive. You're wasting God's time, if you want to put it that way.

I'm interested in the stuff that's different and alive with energy. The people who start a green hair culture when everybody else thinks one has to have black hair. The people who think up something entirely different that actually works. The people who feel a different beat and who actually dance to it. I'm interested in patterns that hadn't been noticed before. And the meeting of different patterns. Life is diverse.

There's something free about life, so I'm looking for freedom. People who manage to tap into something fundamental, but yet express it in ways that aren't restrained by old patterns of thinking or unnecessary norms for behavior. Changing the rules. Exploring your range of motion.

And then I'm interested in how it all fits together. Ecosystems are diverse and synergetic. Diversity is life. Monoculture is death. But it is not that simple. It is not enough to just make things different. It is not enough to just break the rules. The magic is in the synergy. How different things work together, and support each other, in sometimes surprising ways. Finding patterns that make diversity work. Self-regenerating systems that thrive on diversified experimentation. Autopoiesis. Self-creation. Life.

I'm looking for small signs, and I'm looking for some bigger signs. Signs that humanity is alive and becoming more alive.
[ | 2003-05-13 17:17 | 2 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

Wednesday, May 7, 2003day link 

picture I used to imagine that it was possible to make people sane by working them through a certain regimen, a certain sequence of progressively more advanced steps. That there would be a methodology that could be applied to just about anybody, and the end result would be a sane and rational human being.

I'm not saying I no longer believe that it is possible, but I've sort of lost touch with that way of looking at things, and I have more reasons to be doubtful than I used to.

A.E. van Vogt wrote a series of science fiction books in the 50s about the world of "null-A". They would make the most sense to somebody who had studied general semantics, and they were essentially a fictional description of a world where general semantics principles were put to serious use. An elite corps of individuals were trained in infinite valued logic, the awareness of abstraction, and the ability to create a semantic pause, where you step back from all the inadequate perceptions, limiting concepts, reactions and emotions, and examine what is actually going on before you act. Somebody who could think clearly and rationally, on multiple levels, taking all factors into consideration, no matter the circumstances. And, well, despite that Korzybski had outlined such principles in considerable detail, no such corps of rational people has been assembled in our world. Maybe because he outlined the principles, but not necessarily the techniques for getting people to live them. Maybe because it is more complicated than that.

Many years ago I was a scientologist. More than 20 years since I was kicked out of Scientology. One of the key endeavors in Scientology is to develop individuals into a state called "clear". A clear would be a person who no longer has irrational reactions to what he experiences in life. I.e. no more blind push-button reactions, where one ends up doing something that one doesn't want and which doesn't work. Where one unconsciously does something destructive instead of what serves the circumstances best. Where one walks around in a hypnotic state, responding to distorted commands from one's subconscious mind, rather than being aware, awake and present in the moment. And, well, there are systematic methods for locating and transforming these various areas. And when one has reached a certain state where one is more powerful than one's subconscious, and actually able to make one's own conscious and rational decisions about things, that's when one is labeled "clear". I became a clear, and there certainly is something to it. You can systematically become more sane. However, since then I've more and more taken it with a grain of salt, and realized that it wasn't quite as absolute and permanent a state of being as it appeared. Nevertheless, it became part of who I am.

For many years after that I would predominantly hang out with people who were "doing their work" as it is often called in new age circles. In part because I was a professional counselor who would facilitate personal change. So, I was mostly paying attention to people who were on a path of personal development, who were working in their own way on being more sane, more present, more whole. Maybe they were meditating, maybe they were getting therapy, maybe they were rewiring their own minds with NLP. But they were doing something, and even though it would be many different disciplines, there would be a certain underlying agreement about the value of being more awake, empowered, enlightened, whole, or whatever it might be called.

At some point I stopped bothering seeking out that kind of people. In part because I'm interested in life as it really is, in whatever form it takes, and it was a little boring just hanging out with people who had the same kinds of views on things. Great gifts might appear in unexpected places. The truth might be spoken where you least expect it. Life is something to experience, not to just sit and be holy about.

But now, to get to my point. We live in a world where there's no generally agreed upon norm for what is sane and what isn't. We aren't being trained in identifying what is sane and what is less sane. We aren't being trained in thinking. We aren't being trained in recognizing truth or deception.

The people who are supposed to be the certified specialists in such things often have the least clue. Oh, there are some brilliant and prominent psychiatrists around, who somehow have managed to maintain an intuition for what people need. But aside from that, I don't think I've enountered such a concentration of lunatics in any other field. That's not what I wanted to rant about, however.

My point is more personal. I somehow have an implicit assumption that the people I deal with have gone through a path in life that somehow is equivalent to mine. Not doing the same things, but somehow having similar experiences, learning similar things, and ending up with some kind of mature sanity about life. And the thing is that I'm more and more noticing that that is not the case at all. Many people have made it this far in life without ever "working on themselves". Many people have adopted some kind of fixed solution to everything, making themselves right and others wrong. Religious dogma, fundamentalist materialism, self-centered cosmology, everybody else is an asshole kind of beliefs.

See, if I were a counselor and you came to see me to fix that kind of personal problems, I'm thoroughly trained and educated in helping you out of such limiting beliefs. But if you don't, I have neither the right nor the means to disabuse you of very much that you believe in. And what I realize I'm missing nowadays is a shared frame of reference. Many human relations remain dysfunctional, or end in a word-against-word impasse, because there is no shared methodology available for bringing back sanity. "You're an asshole! No, YOU are!!" Hard to sort out unless we agreed to a shared frame of reference and a shared ethic from the start.

If you're part of some group that has a shared standard and a shared frame of reference, life is so much easier, even if the frame of reference is itself flawed. If you're a religious fundamentalist, you'll have a book where you can look up what is wrong with other people. They're sinners, they eat meat on Thursdays, they use bad words. They just need to act the right way and say the right words, and they're back on track. If you're a scientologist you notice when people act irrationally, and you know that if they'll just do their next level of clearing, they'll be better. If you belong to an -ism, you probably have tests of whether somebody is in their right mind or not, and you're have solutions handy. Some better than others. But if you don't belong to any -ism, you can't go around correcting other people's lack of sanity. Much of the time you have to just put up with it, ignore it, argue about it, or refuse to work with them, calling them names if necessary.

What I'm afraid of is whether maybe we all on this planet are half-lunatics walking around in our own little private worlds, seeing what we want to see, re-confirming our old beliefs, grumbling about things that didn't even happen, never quite understanding anybody else, other than when they accidentally happen to validate our own beliefs. Uarrrgh!
[ | 2003-05-07 14:32 | 19 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

Monday, May 5, 2003day link 

 What if I'm ...
picture What if I'm not a bag of skin? What if I'm not a spirit stuck in the head of such a bag of skin? Nor its brain. Nor its collection of thoughts?

The explanation I'm most used to is that I'm a spirit who temporarily resides in a body, and who moves on to other lives. I didn't believe in being a brain since I was a teenager, before I started looking around and questioning things.

But I'm not sure any of those answers are good enough for me any longer. Even the explanation of being an immortal spirit who jumps around from life to life, that's a little too simplistic and limiting in some ways. Oh, I have plenty of experiences to back it up, but it is not enough.

Logically, as well as intuitively, the ultimate answer can only be that I'm everything, the metaverse, all-that-is, God, whatever you call it. Any explanation that is built on a model of your identity being inherently separate from everything else eventually falls apart. There's just no proof of it. Fundamentalist religions, including the religion of scientific materialism, would like to tell you otherwise. You're a separate and powerless little thing, subject to the whims of a vengeful god, or to the cruel randomness of a meaningless and empty universe. The simplest answer to many puzzles is the connectedness of everything. Fundamental separation requires complicated and fanciful explanations, along the lines of "turtles all the way down". No, whatever I am is some kind of wave, or particle, in the quantum sea. And ultimately, any idea of my identity being anything less than that whole sea would be just a temporary convenience.

But that doesn't help me either. Or maybe it does in a way I don't understand. But I'm looking for the stuff in-between. I'm looking for a better way of understanding what and who I am. A practical way that will be more helpful as our world is accelerating and becoming increasingly multi-dimensional.

I can talk very down-to-earth about that. Technology and societal changes force all of us to move faster and be more multi-tasking. Information overload, instant satisfaction, the global village. But I think all of that is only the surface manifestations of something much bigger. We're evolving. Not just as a cute metaphor, but for real.

Despite far out discoveries in science, quantum mechanics, string theory, 12 dimensional universes, etc, we still go around pretending that the world is the same. Even if you're a scientist, your personal instincts haven't gotten any further than the science of Newton. You instinctively understand gravity and acceleration and movement in 3 dimensions. You have absolutely no instincts about 12 dimensional multi-verses where everything is in a quantum state that depends on everything else, and time is just another fungible dimension, which can run backwards, forwards or sideways. So the easiest is just to close your eyes and pretend it is just some cute, weird theory which doesn't have any bearing on real life. No, its the other way around. The Real World probably IS that weird. And we're largely living in a fantasy world. Or, more kindly, just one particular instantiation of centillions of possibilities. Trying to believe it is the only one is the crazy part. You know, that our game here is the only interesting thing in the multi-verse, and it all rotates around our little 3rd rate planet here.

I suspect our evolution will involve an increased intuitive awareness of some of those weird quantum physics principles. Exactly what, I don't know. I'm still a confused 3 1/2 dimensional human.

Biologically each of us is obviously a "we". A sophisticated cooperative of millions of smaller beings. Each of our cells is already a cooperative of thousands of smaller life forms. So a human body is a pretty huge socialist commune. Does that mean I need to operate as if I'm the elected head of state of this whole organization? Maybe. Maybe I should let the biology run itself, as it runs pretty well without me worrying too much about it. But maybe I'm really another kind of "we". A collection of all the different roles I'm playing. Or, more drastic, maybe all versions of me in many parallel dimensions need to coordinate their actions in some fashion.

Maybe it is more simple, and the real me is just a certain .. feeling, a vibe, a certain quality of how things are done. Maybe I don't have to worry about how I get around, or how I'm packaged, how I'm identified, or whether I understand the cosmology of it all. Maybe I'm just a very unique way of doing things. Maybe I'm just a way of perceiving things. Maybe I'm just the awareness of a certain pattern of information. Maybe I will wake up 5 universes away, if the sun just strikes the trees in the exact right way on a misty spring morning. Maybe I'm already there.
[ | 2003-05-05 17:51 | 7 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

 Accelerating Evolution Externally
pictureIt occurred to me that there's some kind of philosophical point to be made by the fact that humans will often be most creative and successful when they can place something 'outside' themselves, at least temporarily. A couple of examples:

When I'm being a counselor, and a client needs to change something about their own behavior, it isn't going to happen before they're willing to put it 'outside' themselves and examine it. "Aha, I'm doing so-and-so, and that causes so-and-so, and that's not really what I want. I see now." That opens the door to them changing that aspect of themselves. And then they might re-integrate it back into themselves, so to speak.

In economic endeavors in a capitalist society, the people who are most successful tend to be those who think as businesspeople rather than as workers. I.e. you don't just work hard and try to do your job well. You work towards setting up a system, a machine, a racket, a company - something that 'automatically' will be making money for you. Ideally, even when you sleep.

Does the parallel between those scenarios make sense? Well, it does to me. When we can see something a little bit at a distance, we can use a lot of our human intellectual faculties better. We can be more 'rational'. Which is useful when we're trying to fix something or plan something or make it work in an optimum way.
[ | 2002-10-14 16:34 | 7 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

 What do people want?
I have for a long time believed that we need better ways of linking up what people need and want with what is offered by other people. I mean, other ways than just buying and selling stuff. My hunch is that if we really look at what resources are available, globally or locally, and we effectively match up what is there with what is needed, our whole planet can operate at a high rate of success and prosperity. And my preference for implementing that would be some kind of grassroots free market mechanism, not any central bureaucracy, whether it is corpocratic or communistic.

But there are various obstacles. One, I think, is to how to pursuade people to be clear on what they want and what they offer, to such a degree that it is possible to actually match these things up.
[ | 2002-06-04 00:28 | 8 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

 To be or not to be
I'm often torn between whether to be diplomatic or whether to say what I think. Or, we could say, I'm exploring the space in-between.

For example, in my de facto role as a facilitator, and sometimes mediator, in the NCN community, I think I'm expected to be impartial and diplomatic. I would sort of be representing the core principles of NCN, which involves the respect for different ways of being, and the open welcome for all sorts of people, as long as they align with a very minimal set of guidelines.

But as far as my own personal views and activities go, I certainly don't believe that everything is equally valuable. I'm quite discerning and have strong opinions about many things. Some things I'm passionate about, some things I could care less about, some things I think are bad.

And it is not that I myself am confused between my different roles. Rather that I'm trying to communicate more clearly what is what, and that I'm trying to not have to hide myself.
[ | 2002-05-25 03:46 | 42 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

 Money is Anti-Networking
Money can be a very useful thing. Its original purpose was probably to facilitate exchange. It allows you to trade things even when what you have to trade with doesn't match exactly what somebody else has to trade with. You know, you have an extra ox, but need eggs. The person who has extra eggs needs to have his roof fixed, etc. A monetary currency allows you to make an exchange, even if your items don't quite match. That assumes of course that you somehow have managed to have some money ready for when you need something. And there are various hidden issues and problems with the type of money we happen to use (fiat currency created by privately owned banks and lent out for interest). But the point I want to focus on is how the use of money tends to break down networks and communities.
[ | 2002-05-14 22:53 | 15 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

pictureIn the news: "Israeli security Cabinet OKs retaliation". For the record I just want to say that I think any kind of state-sponsored retalitation is insanity. If somebody does criminal acts and blows buildings up and kills other people, by all means, bring the guilty people to justice. But when the actions are done by individuals and particular groups, it makes absolutely no sense to go and bomb some different people, and end up killing a bunch of kids who had nothing to do with it, just to make a point, and because they're considered part of the same ethnic group. I.e. it makes no sense for Israel to go and bomb Palestinian police stations whenever somebody blows themselves up in a crowded area in Israel. In the first place you can't really "retaliate" against people who already committed suicide. And you can't assume that you're dealing with an enemy like yourself, who orders all the violence from the highest state level.
[ | 2002-05-08 23:42 | 8 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

 Wealth Secrets
pictureI've noticed that most people who appear to have monetary success are not at all sharing how it happened. People who have an abundance of money are usually extremely vague when you question them on how that came about.

You know, I'd like most everybody to be successful and abundant and confortable in their lives. So, I figure, if we just shared widely the most workable methods of arriving there, we could all just use those methods.

Unfortunately I don't think it works that way when we're talking about money. Most people who are very financially comfortable can't give you a formula you can follow. Either because they don't know, or because they arrived there by some coincidence or one-shot opportunity that can't be duplicated, or they arrived there through some shady transactions that they would rather not share.
[ | 2002-05-08 17:06 | 16 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

 Common Denominator
A key purpose for the New Civilization Network was for me always that it would somehow be a connecting glue between many different groups, organizations, individuals, websites, etc. I.e. it wouldn't in itself be an organization or a hierarchy, but it would be a *network* - a self-organizing structure where many independent nodes can connect with each other in any way they choose, where any one of them can take a lead in some area, as they're inspired, but where there's no hierarchy of who's in charge.

It so far didn't entirely happen, as most people seem to identify NCN as a particular website, or a certain isolated group of people. And, for that matter, it is of no importance whether the network forms under the banner of NCN or under any other banner. The point is: how do we most effectively network all those diverse people who are working on pieces of the bigger puzzle, and how do we do it in a way that persists no matter whether any particular one group or websites persists or not.

Thinking about this, an obviously important factor is what exactly it is that holds such a network together. I.e. what is the one thing that people in NCN have in common, and what is the one thing they have in common with the people who make up many other communities, networks, websites, organizations, etc.?
[ | 2002-05-06 23:59 | 19 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

 Top problems and solutions
My friend Paul Hoffman asked a couple of big questions in an e-mail, to survey people who's opinion he'd like to hear. The first question is "What are the top five problems facing our planet, our species?". Since it took me a little longer than the 5-8 minutes he suggested to come up with some quick answers, I'd better share them here too, and hear what others will come up with. It really is meant as a quick survey, not as any precise analysis.
[ | 2002-04-13 22:31 | 11 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

 Different Worlds
There's a certain type of problem I occasionally have had in the past with certain individuals which usually ended up spending a lot of time for both me and them and ending in a depressing result for everybody concerned.

And, now, I've recently been wondering here what makes Mark tick, since he's a person who seems to have a lot of drive and willingness to do something in some areas I'm also very interested in, but we also seem chronically out-of-synch when we try to talk about it. And it seems like a case of different world views to me.

Now I think it was Mark's quote contest that made me understand something, and then step back and glimpse a bigger picture which might be worth looking at. And I will try to present that as objectively and constructively as I can manage. This is a bit sketchy, though.
[ | 2002-02-26 00:55 | 8 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

 Many paths, but only one is yours
pictureAs has happened a number of times before, an NCN member just cancelled her membership, giving as a reason her disagreement with the idea that anybody's truth is equally valid, and that all paths lead to the same place. Now, that is a common misunderstanding. I don't think that is something I've said, or something that is any common NCN belief. But it is occasionally interpreted that way. See, I think that NCN should be an example of a space where any constructive approach is welcome, and where people with all sorts of beliefs can co-exist. A place of creative and constructive diversity. That does NOT, however, mean that any one of you is supposed to agree with everybody, or that you're supposed to believe some kind of mish-mash of everybody else's ideas at the same time, or that you're supposed to believe that everybody else's approaches are equally good and true.
[ | 2002-01-25 13:33 | 18 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

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