Tag Archives: The coming consciousness revolution

The Neuron With No Clothes

Our knowledge of the nature of the objects treated in physics consists solely of readings of pointers (on instrument dials) and other indicators. (Therefore) what knowledge have we of the nature of atoms that renders it at all incongruous that they should constitute a thinking object?(Thus) science has nothing to say as to the intrinsic nature of the atom. – Sir Arthur Eddington.

What do we really know about the intrinsic nature of consciousness and its essential role (if any) in the nature of cosmos? Probably a lot less than many would assume. There is no question that our knowledge of brains has expanded massively in the past century. But what does all this data about brains really tell us about consciousness? Not a great deal, I suspect. Yet mainstream psychology and neuroscience continues to ignore the obvious implications of the question: “Are brains and minds the same thing?”

Instead, these discourses tend to ignore the question, replacing it with an unquestioned presupposition: mind equals brain. Worse still, much of science still tends not even to bother with consciousness, intention, and the importance of the role of the perceiver. Ironically, the scientific detachment that was born of the awareness of the fallibility of first-person perception has typically led to the dismissal of the role of mind in nature, evolution and cosmos.

Galen Strawson in a well-known paper entitled “Realistic monism: why physicalism entails panpsychism” points out some of the logical inconsistencies in materialist science. Strawson is incredulous at the denial of personal experience which lies at the heart of the materialist worldview that still dominates much of science, especially biology, psychology and neuroscience. This, he states, is akin to the denial of “the existence of experience.”

At this we should stop and wonder. I think we should feel very sober, and a little afraid, at the power of human credulity, the capacity of human minds to be gripped by theory, by faith. For this particular denial is the strangest thing that has ever happened in the whole history of human thought, not just the whole history of philosophy. It falls, unfortunately, to philosophy, not religion, to reveal the deepest woo-woo of the human mind. I find this grievous, but, next to this denial, every known religious belief is only a little less sensible than the belief that grass is green.

Strawson is correct. What is it about first-person experience that science is so afraid of? What has created this absurd rejection of the “I”?

We could of course run through the history of science in the past several hundred years, talking about the necessity to challenge religious authority on matters of reason, and the subsequent discrediting of theology or mysticism in providing adequate explanations of most mundane things (it has to be admitted). We could also talk about the rise of more sophisticated ways of knowing such as calculation (e.g. Newton), classification (Darwin), analysis (Comte) and experimentalism (Hemholtz) by the mid nineteenth century. And we could acknowledge the massive impact and success of technologies which arose from that – the microscope, telescope, computer and so on – and how these in turn generated exponential increases in our capacity to “perceive”, collate and analyse data.

Out of all this a new culture, a new paradigm, a new way of looking at life and cosmos emerged. Materialism was a defining feature of this science. In this schema, things – including people, animals and minds – were at their very basis material objects, regardless of what properties or behaviours they exhibited at a macro-level.

All this has been widely discussed by philosophers of science, as have been the many challenges to such a reductionist approach to knowledge. Those challenges have always been around, of course, with perhaps the emergence of quantum physics early in the nineteenth century representing the most pronounced challenge. And yet even today materialism – and the denial of mind – remains strongly embedded in many of our sciences.

​Strawson’s paper argues that any rational take on the relationship between cosmos and mind has to admit at least a “micropsychism”, if not quite the idea of panpsychism (that consciousness is present in all things, to some degree). He states that “realistic physicalists… grant that experiential phenomena are real concrete phenomena… and that experiential phenomena are therefore physical phenomena.” He argues that everything concrete is physical and everything physical is comprised of physical ultimates. Conscious experience is part of that concrete reality. Therefore consciousness is an intrinsic aspect of cosmos.

Although I do not specifically define myself as a panpsychist, clearly the idea is quite compatible with the existence of the non-local mind. If there is at least a little bit of mind found in all things, it helps to explain how it is that minds can perceive of things that are not readily perceptible with the eyes, ears and other sensory organs. I believe the latter is now undeniable. I base that conclusion upon three sources: my own extensive experience with expanded and non-local mind; first-person insights gleaned from the world’s great wisdom traditions and recorded for posterity; and upon the scientific data which has been gleaned from psychic research for more than a century.

What lies at the heart of the debate is the mind-body problem. Even if one rejects the evidence for psychic phenomena and the extended mind, we still have the issue of how we get consciousness from brains. How does conscious experience arise from the firing of neurons? Implicit within the mechanistic paradigm is that consciousness IS the firing of neurons. Because if it isn’t, then what is it?

A key issue is how to explain why it is that our experience of mind is so utterly different from what we experience when we look at, say, a brain in a vat, or an fMRI scan of neuronal activity. Clearly there is something very qualitatively different between brains and consciousness. What exactly does that difference represent, and what is the relationship between these two things?

The question has not been adequately addressed in neuroscience. As Lawrnece Le Shan points out in his wonderful book “A New Science of the Paranormal,” there is an explanatory gap which lies at the heart of the mind-equals-brain model. We have sensory inputs, we have electrical signals and we got them neurons firing and then… wala! Thought, sensation, consciousness.

Such is one of several very, very big “miracles” that go unimaginably unexplained within modern science. The other two big, big problems which I can point to are how the cosmos arose out of the nothingness that lies at the moment before the Big Bang; while the third is the puzzle of biogenesis. How did life arise from lifeless matter? For the last query, reductionism arguably works for the bio-machinery of the organism, but fails miserably to account for the rise of consciousness.

And after all, the most wonderful and surprising aspect of life is consciousness, at least as it exists in multi-cellular organisms such as we human beings. An explanation for the emergence of life which fails to account for the origin of consciousness is a bit like an account of airplanes without bothering to mention that they tend to fly. Such “explanations” are ultimately merely descriptions.

Lawrence Le Shan points out an obvious double standard with a common criticism of psychic research. In the latter critique, it is incredulously stated that research into phenomena like ESP, telepathy, precognition and so on fail to provide an adequate explanation for how information might travel from one place or mind to another place or mind without some mechanical process to mediate that transfer (note: the idea of “travel” is highly problematic in regard to non-locality).

Yet as Le Shan indicates, this explanatory gap merely mirrors the explanatory gap in psychology and neuroscience regarding how we get consciousness from neurons. As yet there is no adequate explanation, and this remains more than a merely small problem. It begs the question of what the essential nature of consciousness actually is!

And still the discourse continues without so much as a pause for reflection, hailing His Majesty the Neuron With no Clothes. Perhaps it is about time that we finally admit that the emperor is totally buck naked – and duly tell him, such that in the long run we save him from further embarrassment, when he is informed that his game is up.

PS: If you wish to be kept up to date about research and developments regarding The Coming Consciousness Revolution (interviews, videos, the book project, important links to other works etc.) just email me at newsletter@marcustanthony.com, and I will send you updates every month or so.

Marcus

Sheldrake & the Credibility Issue in Modern Science

I share a link here to an interesting podcast entitled “Beyond Physicalism,” which features Mark Vernon interviewing biologist Rupert Sheldrake. Sheldrake talks of a new “humility” in science. This emerges from some of the recent research which indicates that the file drawer effect in science is far more pronounced than previously thought, and that a great many of the experiments in science are not repeateable.

The file drawer effect is the tendency for researchers to publish only results that support their research agendas or personal biases.

Sheldrake claims that psychic science has led the way here, as they have had to deal with accusations of the file drawer effect for many years. Now it turns out that mainstream science itself has a widespread problem in this respect.

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Sheldrake mentions the “questionable research practices” which underpin the loss of confidence in science – scientists only publish 5-10% of their data. This means there is scope for tremendous distortion. One recent study by a pharmaceutical company attempted replication of 50 top papers in medical journals, and found that 45 were not replicable.

Sheldrake says that the problem is also present in psychology and chemistry, where many experiments experiments are not replicable.

Sheldrake mentions philosopher Mathew Colborn, who points out that psychology and science encourages us not to believe our own minds – there is a systematic attempt to distrust such experiences. We are training educated people not to trust their own experience, but instead trust scientific authority. Yet as we are now beginning to understand, the latter has a whole culture of distortion and denial, and many of its own experiments are not replicable.

Thus many ideas and beliefs common to mainstream sciences are actually grounded on unstable foundations, despite the fact that most laymen assume them to be solid.

http://www.sheldrake.org/audios/science-set-free-podcas

PS: If you wish to be kept up to date about research and developments regarding The Coming Consciousness Revolution (interviews, videos, the book project, important links to other works etc.) just email me at newsletter@marcustanthony.com, and I will send you updates every month or so.

 

Marcus

Are You Ready For the Coming Consciousness Revolution?

As I write this I am sitting in a street-side cafe in Bangkok. It’s the Landmark Hotel cafe, actually. I wish I could say that I am staying at the Landmark, but alas I find myself resident at the less resplendent Belaire Hotel, just across bustling Sukhumvit Road.

It’s very busy around these parts. The area is a sea of noisy traffic – old buses, taxis, mini-vans and tuk-tuks idle past. On the narrow footpath just below me, people – mostly western tourists – stroll past, their relaxed pace a measure of their leisurely holiday-mindedness.

Bangkok is rather crazy, with no apparent order. Street vendors pop up like mushrooms every few metres, and I have to wonder whether anybody regulates anything around here. Certainly, I have seen no uniformed police or other officials during my time here.

It’s madness, and yet this great leviathan of a city has its own perfection. There’s a kind of serenity in the hustle and bustle of life in this politically-turbulent Buddhist country.

As I sit here, cooling my body and mind with an ice-coffee, I watch the show roll on by. And I am contemplating the nature of time, space and free-will. And there’s a reason why I am deep in such existential thoughts. For I just came from my hotel, where I was following the result of an international cricket game played between Australia and New Zealand. The game played was part of the World Cup of cricket, so it was a major sporting event for the two antipodean nations. But for me there was something else about the game that was far more profound.

The thing is, precisely one week ago I awoke early in the morning and had a premonition about the outcome of the game. I often have these kinds of premonitory visions, as I have previously stated in my writings. The premonition of the game wasn’t so much a dream or a mind-movie. It was more a flash of immediate knowing, where information is pumped into the brain – from who knows where. In such experiences the knowing is immediate. It often requires no verbal input or sequencing of events. It’s just arrives uninvited, like a mysterious stranger knocking at your door than just as suddenly vanishing into the night.

The content of the vision was very clear. It indicated that the upcoming Trans-Tasman game of cricket would be a very exciting game. Australia would come very, very close to winning. Indeed, at the last minute they would be on the verge of victory. But ultimately NZ would snatch victory.

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Since many of my readers are North American, I won’t distract you with too many details of the game. As it turned out, today Australia batted first and posted a paltry 151 runs. In cricket terms, this is pathetic. Therefore when New Zealand began their innings (teams only bat once) I was feeling a little annoyed. It looked like my premonition was not going to unfold. The New Zealand batsmen raced away and were charging towards an easy victory, before they had a massive batting collapse. This meant that right at the last minute they were looking like losing. But I knew better. As the match reached its exciting crescendo I knew exactly who would win. NZ. And they did – by the narrowest of possible margins, one wicket.

I’ve had premonitory dreams and visions up to one month before sporting events. So it really does beg the question. Is the future already set? Is there really any such thing as free will? After all, players on a sporting field are making all kinds of choices. Some are well-considered, while others emerge from finely conditioned reflexes or pure inspiration. Yet if in the big picture the game is already won and lost before the first ball is kicked or hit, how can anyone really be making any choices at all? It’s a philosophical conundrum that would confound Confucius.

It gets juicier. The implications move well beyond the philosophical. What does the existence of premonitions tell us about the nature of time, space and consciousness itself?

Currently in psychology and neuroscience the dominant intellectual position is that there is no free will. This is based primarily upon one famous experiment. In the 1980s Benjamin Libet showed that our neurones fire a fraction of a second before we think we make a decision.

Despite this, and despite my experience with precognition, I believe that free will does exist. In fact, I believe that activating its full potential is central to human existence.

But there is nothing in mainstream science which accounts for human premonitions. Premonitions are considered “paranormal”, and not taken seriously. This is because they aren’t thought of as normal. Some have pointed out that this is circular reasoning.

So anecdotes and experimental evidence which pertain to seeing or sensing the future are rejected a priori, and often ridiculed. Yet millions of people continue to experience what they believe to be premonitions; and many also claim “paranormal” cognitive experiences related to ESP – intuitions that seemingly operate outside of localised space and time. I like to call this range of cognitive functions Integrated Intelligence, because I believe that they are a valid aspect of human mental life, and that they can enhance our mental capacities.

The scientific taboo against serious discussion of these matters is more than just a pity. It’s a cultural tragedy. For as we deepen our awareness and begin to fully understand that mind has non-local properties, it inevitably changes our worldview. Even more profoundly, it transcends our relationship with time and space. When we permit a full range of mental experiences to unfold, we begin to realise our deep connection to the world, to nature, and to other human beings.

Ironically, it is the philosophical and experiential refusal to allow such understandings that prevents so many of our academics and leaders from perceiving these things directly.

As I sit here, typing these words by a chaotic street in South-East Asia, there is a kind of deep tranquility which fills me as I simply allow what is happening around me, both in time and space, to be exactly what it is. This is the state of surrender that so many mystics have poeticised down through the ages. And therein lies our greatest capacity for free will.

And it’s a state that is not available to those who live within the delimited mechanistic representation of time and space which has come to dominate economically developed societies the world over.

I have no doubt that one day soon science will catch up with all of this. Although the precise pace and timing of the shift is unclear, I believe we are already in the initial stages of transition. The time will come when the evidence for Integrated Intelligence will outweigh the outmoded arguments of head-centric academics. Then slowly we will begin to correct this gargantuan cultural blind-spot which today has so deeply damaged the human psyche. Just think of how society will change, how people will occupy spaces in cities, town and in rural settings, once this deeper awareness filters into our hearts and souls. Science too, both as procedure and culture, will be forever different.

The transformations will be profound.

How such a future might look we cannot be certain. Perhaps, though, one can intuitively feel it.

What exactly are the limits to Integrated Intelligence? How might such an expansion of consciousness impact our lives, our societies, and our education systems? Our world? That is what I continue to explore with The Coming Consciousness Revolution project. I invite you to accompany me along the way, via these e-spaces which connect us all. If you would like to be a part of the project, please email me, marcus@marcustanthony.com, and I will keep you posted via my monthly newsletter. Or simply join me here as I blog regularly about related ideas, events and people. It promises to be a great adventure.

Marcus

Marcus Discussing The Coming Consciousness Revolution on Hong Kong Radio

I did a phone radio interview with a Hong Kong radio station today, covering topics like parapsychology, futures studies, and spiritual experience. I also touched on the TED controversy and my new project, The Coming Consciousness Revolution (formerly The Great Mind Shift). This is mainstream radio, and the host invited me back! It was a lot of fun, and Phil Whelan is a great host!

Scroll down to the orange link with my name on it if you want to listen to it.

PS: If you wish to be kept up to date about research and developments regarding The Coming Consciousness Revolution (interviews, videos, the book project, important links to other works etc.) just email me at newsletter@marcustanthony.com, and I will send you updates every month or so.

Marvus

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The Future of Consciousness project overview

The short link to this page is: http://ow.ly/kCOGH

This is it! I have made references on previous occasions to something I have called The Future of Consciousness(formerly The Great Mind Shift). However this is the first time I have mentioned a project which I have been developing over the past few weeks that goes by the very same name: The Future of Consciousness. You can see an overview of the project below the book cover.

I have already formed a Meet Up group in Melbourne. Our first meeting just two days ago was very promising, with an enthusiastic fourteen members attending. This particular Meet Up group is for Melbournites only (unless you are willing to fly in to our meetings!). However, there will eventually be a Mind Shift web site all of its own, and anybody, anywhere across the globe is free to visit or become a member. Meanwhile, you can read regular updates here on this page.

I listed some initial practical possibilities for this project here.

Without further ado, here are the details of the The Future of Consciousness project, in its essence. Note that the project appears under its original name, The Coming Consciousness Revolution.

PS: If you wish to be kept up to date about research and developments regarding The Future of Consciousness (interviews, videos, the book project, important links to other works etc.) just email me at newsletter@marcustanthony.com, and I will send you updates every month or so.

Marcus

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 GMS cover basics

The Future of Consciousness

What it means for the future of science, life and business

Initiated by:

Marcus T. Anthony, PhD,

Director, MindFutures

“Where will The Coming Consciousness Revolution take us, and how can we create opportunities from it?”

The Coming Consciousness Revolution refers to the fast-approaching era of science and culture which acknowledges the reality of the extended mind and the spiritual dimensions of human experience. The Future of Consciousness explores exciting developments & possibilities in a wide array of domains including business, spirituality, philosophy, social media, education & learning, the arts, health & healing biology, physics, consciousness studies, computing etc.

The Coming Consciousness Revolution heralds an era of tremendous opportunity for all those passionate about expanded human futures and the untapped potentials within the human mind.

Overview

·        Futurist Marcus T Anthony indicates a new direction of change, & outlines what it will mean for life, work, science, education & society

·        A key purpose of The Coming Consciousness Revolution is to stimulate thinking & get people to begin expanding their thoughts about what is possible with the future of mind

·        This project has a practical focus: aimed at people who would like to seize opportunities

·        The Great Transition is a stimulus to encourage those with the imagination & foresight to explore concrete opportunities in business, career, research or life orientation.

Motivation

·        A major shift is emerging – a dramatic change in what it means to be human

·        The 21st century will increasingly be an era of connectedness, both technologically & spiritually

·        Old notions of consciousness being localised in brains will be replaced by reality of the extended mind – a mind that is in dynamic relationship with other people, the environment & the cosmos itself.

Aims of the Project

·        To publish The Coming Consciousness Revolution (book), which will be a powerful reference book (updated regularly)

·       To form The Coming Consciousness Revolution group (international think tank) to bring together a group of committed, influential experts to form a pool of knowledge & resources

·       To present an overview of some of the most important current ideas and/or scientific developments in practical applications of The Coming Consciousness Rebolution

·       To make informed predictions about where each domain may develop in the coming decades as The Coming Consciousness Revolution takes more definite form

·       To suggest opportunities for learning, business and personal growth in each domain

·        To present video and text interviews with leading thinkers in each domain

·       Regular updates (www.mind-futures.com/great-mind-shift)

PS: If you wish to be kept up to date about research and developments regarding The Coming Consciousness Revolution (interviews, videos, the book project, important links to other works etc.) just email me at newsletter@marcustanthony.com, and I will send you updates every month or so.

Marcus

Wanted: Courageous Pioneers for The Coming Consciousness Revolution (Part 2)

In Part 1 of this two-part post I stated why I think a shift in human consciousness is emerging, a shift which will revolutionise the way we view the nature of consciousness. Inevitably this will transform the way the human race views its relationship with nature, the cosmos and life itself. Here in Part 2 I will focus upon the practical side of the shift: what you can do about it, what difficulties you might encounter and the ideal attitudes to take. This is a long post, so I have used sub-headings to allow you to pick and choose what you want to read. Feel free to comment on this exciting topic! Marcus

 

The aftermath of the recent TED censorship saga strongly suggests that the way greater society views the human consciousness is starting to shift. Rupert Sheldrake, one of the speakers who had his TEDx talk censured by TED, states this clearly ín a recent interview on Alex Tsakiris’ Skeptico blog.

The internet is a big part of the shift that is occurring. In the pre-internet era, information was far less democratic. People basically could only read, listen to or watch what the media and publishing houses thought was suitable for consumption. Now podcasts and blogs, often run by one individual or a small team, can experience great popularity for no other reason than they meet the approval of an audience.

Self-publishing and the proliferation of e-books is another part of this expanded capacity for people to disseminate knowledge and opinion.

Those on the fringes of society finally get to have a greater voice, albeit often in a secluded corner of the internet. And one domain of knowledge which has greatly benefited is that devoted to spiritual life and a deeper understanding of consciousness. The blogs and podcasts range from those with a more rigorous scientific/academic bent (e.g. Dean Radin, Rupert Sheldrake, Richard Milton) to those with a more popular slant (e.g. Synchrosecrets, Craig Weiler, and Leonard Jacobson). All of these blogs have their own niche, but each puts forward the idea that the spiritual dimensions of human experience are genuine. It is true that there are plenty of more conservative – even skeptical – choices on the internet, but the popularity of spiritual discourses shows that we cannot go back to the way we were. Not ever. A comment written by Jason Orion on the TED site epitomised the sentiments of so many voicing protest at TED recently.

The philosophy of material reductionism is being challenged all over the world, along with its long held institutions. And that’s what this censorship is about: those institutions suppressing a growing sentiment. People are getting sick of being told they are just machines and there is nothing more to this universe than mechanics.

I couldn’t have put it better myself.

But where might this shift lead us?

 

What will happen?

Despite the impressive technologies that have arisen from it, the truth is that our current science is crude. There is much that is simply not amenable to our senses in a normal state of consciousness, nor by the machinery contained within laboratories. But this technology will improve in the future. And the future is a very, very long time. It is logical to assume that we will one day be able to detect aspects of the extended mind – consciousness which extends beyond the body to connect with other people, the environment and spiritual realms. Experimental evidence in parapsychology will likely only strengthen.

Inevitably there will continue to be conflict between those who wish to retain a foothold in the old system, and those wishing to extend the boundaries of the known. This is significant, because the system still generally rewards those with a conservative bent. It rewards them with status, employment, money and power. Those challenging the system will continue to face resistance.

Old school thinkers can wield a considerable amount of power. Hardcore skepticism is compatible with certain modern scientific and academic disciplines. Some have power within such institutions, and in turn they may have influence over powerful private groups. They may also wield influence in government and in the development of public policy.

This is exactly what has happened with the censoring of Sheldrake’s and Hancocks TED talks, and with TED’s recent decision to cancel the TEDxWestHollywood event. The latter gathering was given a now familiar label by TED: “pseudoscience”. The event featured people like Russel Targ (research scientist investigating ESP), Larry Dossey (alternative medicine), and Marilyn Schlitz (a parapsychologist associated with the Institute of Noetic Scientists).

Conservative neo-Darwinian thinkers Steven Pinker and Daniel Dennet are closely affiliated with TED, and are probably part of TED’s anonymous “science advisory board”. Notably, the recent censorship was initiated by pressure from committed skeptics Jerry Coyne and PZ Meyer, and their followers.

So if you are to develop a role in the great mind shift, you cannot expect to be received well by such people. You will just have to develop a thick skin. Better still, cultivate the art of mindfulness. Mindful presence will reduce your mind’s tendency to engage in drama with others with a differing opinion.

Still, as I wrote in my previous blog post, I predict that eventually the weight of evidence and public opinion will push ideas that are now “alternative” into the mainstream.

And that means opportunities will arise.

 

Endless possibilities!

Once the extended mind is an accepted fact and human spiritual experience is reinstated into education and society as a whole, it will open the floodgates in all manner of scientific fields, fields of philosophy, religious and spiritual movements, media/social media organisations, business and numerous other spheres. The opportunities for those with knowledge and understanding of these domains will be massive.

Just imagine the possibilities in computing, intelligence theory, evolutionary theory, cosmology, sociology, design, neuroscience, the military, healing work, writing, the arts, gaming, leadership, communication theory, teaching and learning… There are also many practical possibilities in research, as I outlined in my book How to Channel a PhD.

The possibilities are endless. I’ll just mention a few possibilities here. Feel free to use and expand any of them. If you can’t expand upon these, then you aren’t really trying!

  • Why not rethink the very nature of capitalism? Steve and Chutisa Bowman, authors of No More Business as Usual, have found abundant work traveling around the world teaching organisations the concept of “prosperity consciousness”. They see the world as being full of endless opportunity and wealth, and that the obsession with lack and competition keeps organsiation locked in an old world paradigm.
  • The Bowman’s work is also strongly related to conscious leadership. Surely it is time to rethink the nature of what it means to lead!
  • Think of the possibilities in education! How might teaching and learning be changed to allow students to acknowledge their intuitive side? If the extended mind really does allow us to tap into other times, places and fields of information, how might students be encouraged to creatively explore their subject matters? There have been recent studies into mindfulness and synchronicity in the classroom and education in general.
  • Artists, writers and film-makers may be able to seize an opportunity as the public becomes more open to spiritual subject matters. How might they employ integrated intelligence to create their works? I have been using this intelligence for years. I wrote Discover Your Soul Template that way.
  • Mind shifting bloggers and social media creators can make an impact. Just take a look at the London Real podcasts, Rob and Trish MacGregor’s synchrosecrets and Dancing past the dark, Nancy Bush Evan’s blog about distressing near death experiences.Many of these people have their own books and other services or products.
  • Mindfulness in business and education. How might decisions be made in business meetings if the intuitive mind is acknowledged? How might teachers and professors conduct a class if there is an acknowledgement that all can connect with the subject matter non-locally? If mindfulness can facilitate non-judgmental awareness, how might that shift a social science class examining racism, war, crime, misogynist projections and so on? Margaret Peterson, a psychotherapist, does exactly this in California, teaching mindfulness to groups of up to 1200 people! Another mindfulness practitioner is Gary Weber, an advocate non-dual consciousness in the Eastern enlightenment traditions. He is a strong advocate of neuroscience in the discussion on enlightenment.
  • If you are philosophically inclined you might like to consider the many possibilities as a futurist! The domain of Futures Studies that I work within – Critical Futures Studies – is very open to innovative ideas. Check out the thinking of Sohail Inayatullah, Willis Harman and Richard Slaughter.
  • It is reasonable to assume that eventually greater amounts of funding for research into alternative medicine and healing will be made available (although this will probably take decades). Do you practice a healing modality that could be of assistance to others?
  • I am no expert in computing. But surely the idea of the extended mind could have implications for this field. Although people who link consciousness to quantum physics get lashed by skeptics’ groups, entanglement and non-locality may ultimately prove to be highly fruitful ideas in computing, artificial intelligence and even in the transhumanist movement – those folks such as Ray Kurzweil, who fancy the idea of uploading their minds onto computers.
  • What about biology? Currently it is one of the most conservative of all the sciences, but once the idea of the extended mind gains scientific foothold, biology will have no choice but to make a radical upgrade. Rupert Sheldrake has been leading the way with his idea of morphic resonance. Sheldrake cops a bit of a lashing from colleagues, but I predict that in time at least some of his thinking will prove seminal in breaking the reductionist/materialist stranglehold in the field. Elisabet Sahtouris is challenging neo-Darwinism. Another fairly recent example of progressive research in this area is a paper published in the prestigious science journal Nature, by Elisabetta Collini and colleagues. That paper, entitled “Coherently wired light-harvesting in photosynthetic marine algae at ambient temperature”, provides evidence that quantum level coherence exists at room temperature in living systems. It suggests that that long-range quantum coherence between molecules can occur in living systems, even at low temperatures.
  • Once biology begins to shift, neuroscience and psychology will have no choice but to widen the scope of its thinking as well. This is because thinking in modern neuroscience is heavily linked to biology, and dominant thinking in psychology is in turn founded in neuroscience. Take a look at Stan Grof’s Holotropic mind and the wonderful work of Peter Fenwick on near death experiences. Or check out veteran researcher David Loye’s expansive take on a wide variety of related matters including re-thinking the legacy of Darwin.
  • Physics (and systems theory) is probably one of the most open-minded fields of inquiry. The list of physicists and systems thinkers probing a possible link between consciousness and the cosmos is long. They include Nobel prize winner Brian Josephson, Oxford’s Roger Penrose, and Fred Alan Wolf. Ervin Laszlo has been doing deep thinking in systems theory for many decades. Presently, these scientists and philosophers often have to face the slings and arrows of outraged fellow-physicists. Yet what immense possibilities lie here once consciousness is restored to its rightful place in the scheme of things?
  • Of course the field that stands to gain most by the great mind shift is parapsychology. As Dean Radin has stated, those working in this field at present face huge obstacles in gaining acceptance in the broader scientific community. Radin often says there is a “psi taboo”. Yet the field will inevitable boom once the great mind shift occurs.

These are just a few areas that provide possibilities. The world is an abundant place, and your imagination is vast. Get working on a few more!

 

No easy ride

That all sounds good, doesn’t it? But don’t expect an easy ride just because you follow your bliss and start putting time, energy and money into your brilliant idea. I do believe that things will improve gradually, but regular failures and rejections are very common experiences for many professionals in the areas I have listed above. In my previous post I mentioned by own struggle with acceptance in academia, despite having completed my PhD and publishing an enormous amount of work in academic journals and books. Let me tell you from personal experience that repeated rejection can be a real test of character! You really need to be committed to your idea. (Skeptics will probably agree with the idea of my being committed ;-).

Your personal shift will take time. If you are transitioning into work or a career which is part of this shifting mindset, remember to keep your feet on the ground. Keep your day job for the time being! Build your expertise, business or craft slowly on the side at first. Make connections, develop skills, learn how to communicate and sell – whatever it takes! For years while pursuing my doctorate and work as a Futurist I have worked in education, mostly full-time as a secondary high school teacher. This has simply been necessary, as the income from my books has not been sufficient to live on. Besides, the pay for blogging and writing academic articles is, well, precisely zero.

When I began research for my doctorate, my supervisor (a wonderful futurist named Sohail Inayatullah) told me that my research was ten years ahead of its time. Well, it is now a decade since he said that. Has anything changed, except for my having more grey hair? As I have suggested, I think things are shifting. The huge public support for Sheldrake and Hancock after the latest TED censorship drama is evidence enough. Still, it has to be acknowledged that such paradigm changes take time. Human egos will come into play, and when the human ego takes the stage there will always be struggles for power, betrayals, deception and unconscious projections at the other. Most power shifts involve upheaval or violence of some kind, though not necessarily physical violence.

If you decide to commit time and energy to being a part of the great mind shift, you are going to have to learn to be resilient and courageous. Don’t expect everything to be fair. Be prepared for a bit of ridicule and misrepresentation from those who would prefer things to remain as they are.

 

Beyond religious zeal

Another important piece of advice I would like to share here is to avoid the mindset that you have to convert anyone to your worldview. The desire to convert others or change their thinking stems from the ego’s fear and insecurity. Instead, begin with the attitude of sharing knowledge with enthusiasm. That will win far more hearts than the hard sell. Nobody wants another person to shove ideas and opinions down their throat. You see, there is a different kind of approach needed here. Science has been all about being “hard”, about detaching from intuition and emotion and seeing the world and its life forms as mechanical. Put the specimen on the slab and start cutting it up. Certain traditional religions have also tried to convert others, sometimes violently. I am suggesting that there is another way, a more gentle approach. It is quintessentially spiritual in nature. It requires a light heart and a light step. Unless absolutely necessary, avoid conflict. As you might note, most of the individuals involved in academic struggles for knowledge ever change their minds. In the so called psi-wars, people changing sides is rare. Skeptics and psi-proponents alike tend to stick to their guns.

The gentle approach does not mean being weak. You will need courage and resilience to stand up when the current is strong.

 

Don’t fight them

A related point is that it isn’t necessary to be against anybody or anything to launch a project or career in this area. That is a mistake an awful lot of people interested in this kind of path make. Don’t waste your energy on the extremists. Hardcore skeptics are never going to listen to an idea which is in any way connected with spirituality or subtle experience. So don’t even try. Remember, although their voices can be loud, and although some do exercise power and influence, these people are a small minority.

 

The importance of communication

With the great mind shift, there will be opportunities for people who are able to communicate with the large number of people who lie in between the extreme ends of pro-psi and skeptics crowds. As a practitioner, you will need to be able to convince the common people that your idea or product has value. A strong sense of audience is necessary to move out into the world. You need to learn to connect with people. So if you have been meditating away for twenty years, be prepared to learn a whole new skill set! This is not necessarily the easiest thing to do, so persistence is necessary.

The idealists and the pro-psi crowd can be the starting audience for your idea, but eventually you will probably want to expand your work into other “markets”. Marketing skills are always helpful, but this will not be the hard sell. The hard sell is violent and manipulative by nature, and incompatible with the new mind movement. Now there is a marketable idea in itself: the new spiritual way of selling!

 

Finally…

The fact is that the system will probably not be favorable for some time to those who follow their passion and work to help facilitate the great mind shift. I expect there will be breakthrough moments when new research or new media stories add value to all those working here. But you have to expect some resistance from the system in the meanwhile. I do not know exactly when the hard wall of scientific materialism will release its grip on the world. Most likely it will be a slow process, with a few gusts of rapid change here and there. Perhaps there will be a Berlin Wall moment, a sudden collapse of the existing order, and the floodgates of a greater understanding will open. For most, that would be what we futurists call a “wildcard”, something quite unexpected. But it will not be unexpected to those of us who have been walking the walk of spirit all these years. Nor should you be unprepared, given what I have written above!

Yes, committing time, energy and money to the great mind shift is a risk. We don’t know precisely what is going to happen, nor how quickly. I simply urge you to follow your calling. Is there a strong voice within you, inviting you to move into working, teaching or sharing knowledge within the great mind shift? If so, why not follow that voice of spirit? After all, that is the essence of the spiritual journey.

The great light illuminates the path but a short distance ahead. Do you have the courage to step forward?

PS: If you wish to be kept up to date about research and developments regarding The Coming Consciousness Revolution (interviews, videos, the book project, important links to other works etc.) just email me at newsletter@marcustanthony.com, and I will send you updates every month or so.

Marcus

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Wanted: Courageous Pioneers for The Coming Consciousness Revolution (part 1)

In this two-part post, I am going to outline why I think there is a dramatic shift in human consciousness coming, and how this will provide great opportunities for those courageous enough to invest time and commitment into this field knowledge.

 

I bill myself as a futurist. I have published and presented around forty papers and book chapters in Futures Studies journals and in several Futures-related books. I’m also a member of the World Futures Studies Federation, and speak regularly AT WFSF conferences. So I feel I’m perfectly entitled to call myself a futurist. The domain of Futures Studies in which I work is often called Critical Futures Studies. This branch of Futures is not so much concerned about prediction, but with analysing images of the future, looking to see who controls the power, and in particular asking “What is missing?” from ideas and visions of tomorrow. Futurist Richard slaughter introduced the term “Postconventional Futures Studies”, to accommodate critical futurists like me who like to think well outside the box; in particular exploring other ways of knowing (OWOK) and the spiritual and mystical dimensions of human experience. Those OWOK include the intuitive and spiritual cognitive processes that conventional science and education has tended to ignore.

I am happy to be labelled within either of these categories.

Despite the fact that these domains of Futures Studies are not focussed on prediction, one of the first questions I typically get asked when I tell people I am a futurist is “So, what is going to happen in the future?” I normally just explain what critical futures studies is, and don’t give a solid answer. After all, predicting the future is considered to be a fools game by many.

But sometimes I do like to prognosticate.

In my TEDx Hong Kong talk “Mind, Cosmos and our Brilliant Futures”(which mercifully hasn’t been taken down yet ;-). I actually make five predictions about the future. I present two of them here on the very slides I used in my talk.

1 slide

This is not exactly a brave prediction, is it? If there is one thing that the history of science and philosophy shows us, it is that knowledge expands from one era to another in ways that can barely be imagined by those in the era preceding such shifts. Being knowledgeable is of little assistance here. In 1900, Lord Kelvin, who was one of the most knowledgeable and highly informed men of his day, famously stated that “There is nothing new to be discovered in physics now. All that remains is more and more precise measurement.” Just five years later Einstein published his seminal paper on relativity theory, and by the late 1920s the quantum field theory was initiated by Paul Dirac, throwing a huge spanner into the works of the mechanical universe. If a highly learned man like Lord Kelvin can be so wrong, it is logical to assume that you and I are also capable of such poor foresight.

By definition, we can’t know what we don’t know we don’t know (that’s not a typo – think about it!). We tend to see knowledge as expanding in a linear fashion. To borrow from Foucault, modernity always sees knowledge as progressing from a primitive past to the inevitable outcome that is the advanced and superior present. In 1900 the known universe was precisely one galaxy big. Now we know of an estimated 100 billion galaxies. And this is not even taking into consideration that dark energy and dark matter may comprise 95 per cent of the universe. Lord Kelvin could only go on what was known then.

What big shift is going to happen next? “Oh, the internet will expand to become incredibly powerful!” many would say. But no, that would not be a paradigm shift in my meaning of the term.  The idea of a super-internet is an extrapolation based on the most obvious recent historical game-breaker. It is an observable trend. On the other hand, paradigm shifts involve sudden changes in the very way we view knowledge itself. The publication of Darwin’s Origin of Species (1859) and the theory of natural selection is a classic example. The idea of “evolution” is common-place today and used in multiple contexts, but before Darwin’s time the word – and the concept – was rarely used.

I believe that we are in the midst of another paradigm shift at this moment in history. And rather than a single thinker being behind it, the power of the internet is driving it.

This leads me onto my second prediction, which is really the one that is the real game-changer today.

Slide 2a

Once the extended mind is acknowledged, it will radically shift the way humanity sees itself, including its place in the cosmos. The implications for science, philosophy and society will be enormous. The extended mind is the idea that consciousness extends beyond the confines of the brain and skull, and is in relationship with the environment – including other people, places, times and spiritual dimensions. Integrated intelligence is my term, and describes the way that the conscious application of the extended mind can make us smarter and help solve problems. Most significantly, the expansion of Integrated Intelligence creates an inevitable shift in worldview, because one can no longer operate under the delusion that self and world are totally separate.

 

Why I believe this shift will occur

You might ask why I am so confident that this shift is coming?

The first reason is that the scientific evidence for the extended mind is strong, and it will only get stronger. The field that scientifically investigates concepts related to the extended mind is typically called parapsychology. As just one reference, Dean Radin is perhaps the foremost scientist doing such work. His meta-analysis of ganzfeld experiments – which test whether human beings can sense the contents of another’s mind at a distance – has produced the most impressive results. 0ver 122 experiments conducted in 20 labs and with 4674 sessions have yielded results of 300 trillion quadrillion to one (the latest results were published in Psychological Bulletin in 2010). Radin summarised these experimental procedures and the data gleaned from them in a talk he gave at the Electric Universe conference not long ago. The two videos are available on YouTube, and well worth watching for those who wish to familiarise themselves with the research done in this field.

It has to be admitted that the amount of money spent on this kind of research is miniscule, and the volume is insignificant compared to that spent on such fields as medicine and neuroscience. Further, there are various ways the research can be criticised (I will not detail those here, but parapsychologists have done a good job in countering those criticisms to date). Still, there is enough evidence here to make the claim that there is something very important worth investigating here. This is the only “rational” take on the research, in my opinion.

The second reason why I feel that an expanded conception of consciousness is inevitable is that there is just so much anecdotal evidence, with countless tens of thousands of reported cases. People throughout history and across all civilisations have reported experiences which can only be explained by the extended mind hypothesis. These experiences include crisis visions, near death experiences, premonitory visions and dreams, out of body experiences, ESP, remote viewing and so on.  While skeptics complain that “the plural of anecdote is not data”, only the most stubborn materialist could dismiss all these reports without at least some consideration of the possibility that many of these cases are genuine. Many defy any materialist explanation.

My third and final reason for optimism in the coming mind shift is by far the strongest for me. For over twenty years I have been exploring consciousness through meditative and visionary experience and have seen that the extended mind is a perfectly normal domain of human consciousness. After a period of committed scepticism in my early twenties I began meditating at the age of 26. I immediately discovered the world of psychic experience. I could not dismiss the many visions and experiences of connection with other minds and spirits that came to me. Five years later I began a systematic period of exploration of my emotional body, where I managed to dredge up unimaginable pain and hurt from within my psyche. This was not because I am masochist by nature, but because I sought healing of that pain. Although I barely read a book or watched any media, the knowledge that this six year period bought forth for me was profound, and helped me to understand in far greater depth the psychic experiences I’d had in the first phase of my spiritual development. But there then came a third phase of insight where I lessened my focus upon psychic and emotional experience, and began to allow longer periods of simple mindfulness. In bringing the mind into deep, silent presence, I came to understand at even greater depth the knowledge that I had received during the previous two phases of my spiritual development.

If I can summarise what I learned from all this exploration, it is that the human mind is embedded within a vast sea of consciousness, and that the way we experience “self” in modern society is but the surface level of the mind in its entirety. Twenty-first century life and education conditions us into a very constricted experience of consciousness, cutting us off from our essence. My inner journey helped me to see clearly that modern science and education have led us to a dead end. Scientific materialism has hit a wall that it cannot cross – at least not without a great shift in its core processes and in cooperation with those who have explored the human psyche in depth.

Science brought humanity out of mediaeval ignorance, but as currently practiced it is the single greatest hindrance to the advancement of human knowledge. Humanity has gone as far as it can go in the delusion of separation. As Huston Smith so elegantly put it, the twentieth century was the century of disconnection, the century where humanity lost touch with its spiritual essence. The previous century was the age of the talking head, where our elders and truth-tellers became detached from both the body and the human spirit. It was a century of spiritual trauma. It is time for the healing to begin.

And this is what I will explore in greater detail in part 2 of this topic. Join me in my next post as I suggest in greater detail what this means for us in our everyday lives, and how the coming mind shift can be a tremendous opportunity for those of us who are willing to pioneer the way forward.

PS: If you wish to be kept up to date about research and developments regarding The Coming Consciousness Revolution (interviews, videos, the book project, important links to other works etc.) just email me at newsletter@marcustanthony.com, and I will send you updates every month or so.

Marcus

 

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