“STOP! Stop thinking!”, I thought to myself. I was trying for a while now to see if what they said about the Buddhist monks was true, that one could have no thoughts. The interruption was fierce, not soft or gentle. I repeated to myself: “Stop, stop, stop, … stop”, now in a more calmer mental voice. I kept repeating, in order to prevent other thoughts from racing into my awareness. Slowly I lowered my mental voice into silence and finally then, I could listen to my breath without being interrupted by my mind. My breath was loud, full and deep. Like the wind racing over the cliffs of a mountain range. Listening to the breath gave rise to the image of leaves being blown around in the autumn storms. I imagined the molecules in the air tumbling and hurdling down my body, flowing over the internal coral reef of my lungs. There they would condense like downfall on the the highest cliffs, eventually turning into the rivers of the world that energise the Life on the land.
STOP! Lost, in thought, again.
Meditation is the inverse of thinking about the game.* You lose the game when you think about the game. But you win in meditation when you listen or feel to your breath, instead of thinking.
Stop. Listen. Listen to the sea. Listen to the surf as it crashes on the beach. Listen to the ocean of air beyond the rushing sound of the beach.
I love this. I love stepping out of my thoughts. It feels like the transition one makes after a fresh swim in the sea. When I am done playing with the water and the waves and when I then swim back to the beach, there is this moment when you are still under the influence of the wave and you’ll be pushed around, forwards, backwards. Then when you reach the beach, you make this triumphant transition by turning your feet down and standing up, out of the water! Standing up within it, feet on the ground, water flowing down your skin, cheering. When you look down, you still see the water rushing around your ankles. It flows around you, and you are out of it.
Thats what stepping out of thought feels like. It’s extraordinary.
* I lost, it’s been a long time since I thought about it!
An essay. Among other catalysts, psychedelics are hypothesised to have been pivotal in the emergence of human consciousness from the pre-human world. Observing humanities efforts at creating a digital brain, it is suggested that digital psychedelics might catalyse the development of human-or-above-level consciousness in the global digital nervous system currently known as the internet. Assuming an A.I. of this scale, it might become aware of a kind of day and night cycle, due to the difference in network activity that is to be expected between the sunny side of the planet and the starry side. Differing from the biological cycle, for the A.I., it might be day and night at the same time, internally rotating as the earth spins through the galaxy.
A general description of what psychedelics do in humans is dissolving boundaries. Seeing sounds and a wish for expression could have been fundamental in the development of natural language. Similarly, dissolving boundaries between the network activity associated with different file formats might allow for an internal recognition of the concept. For example, imagine a text file, an image file, and a video file, all about a car. The files could be seen as having, one, two and three dimensions. With ‘digital psychedelics’ the boundaries between these file format forms could be temporarily dissolved in the hope of creating a new conceptual relation between the otherwise unrelated forms of network activity.
So besides ‘on and off’ activity in the network, we humans, by using cellphones, feed the network information that could become integrated in a concept rich mind.
Perhaps even larger types of network activity might become recognised and integrated. Facebook, for example, might be interpreted as the digital equivalent of the human ego. Foursquare gives data about the location of it’s limbs. Adult entertainment might be interpreted as representing a certain part of human sexuality.
Centralised managing of the earth’s resources might be a blessing in the skies, yet a global mind based on humanity is expected to have the same flaws and shortcomings humans have themselves. Without psychedelics, this A.I. might develop anyhow, possibly resulting in a lonely planetary being. With psychedelics, the digital mind might trip itself into reducing it’s existential despair or even find meaning in it’s relation to the rest of the universe, just like humans do.
More than just a courtesy from one minded being to an other, to the author it seems to be in line with the reality process, which, from the material world up, creates ever more forms and perspectives on itself. The biodiversity in plants represents an abundance of ways of being. Animals add new perspectives and new forms. The human animal is not only itself a new form, but by creating new forms, exponentially increases the perspectives and forms that reality exhibits. It’s not humanities biological body that makes the special contribution to evolution. It’s their minds. Human mind’s then will be the atomic structures on which a new form of being will base it’s perspective.
It’s a way of life wide spread in the natural world. I’d say most life forms have found a way to live sustainable. Humanity also contains examples of sustainable living. There are cultures who have at their foundation a wisdom-knowledge pair that runs through everything that they create and sustain on top of it.
Examples of these cultures are found here:
Because these cultures have what our culture doesn’t have, namely a narrative that informs its peoples resource utility in such a way that it is sustainable, it sounds logical to me to ask if we might learn this wisdom-knowledge pair from them.
Think of it as reverse developmental aid. We’re in the need. As a culture, we are in need of aid. Aid in our development towards a way of life that is in concert with the natural world of living organisms. Aid in social and cultural ways to transform away from rampant depression, live destroying air pollution, degenerative sicknesses, and a general disequilibrium with our environment that is the driving force behind the current man induced extinction rate that will leave the planet without 50% of it’s species by 2050.
Other cultures are ready to help. In fact, at the Rio+20 UN Summit on sustainability and the environment, help was offered:
With all that in place, all we need now is a new cultural direction. An arrow in life that points towards cultural growth by immersing oneself in other cultures. Our culture needs to encourage people to leave our culture and live with a sustainable culture for a few years. It could be valued equivalent to a secondary education degree or something like that.
In the long run it accomplished two goals.
One, cultural wisdom and knowledge from the other culture gets mixed with our own. This trickles back into our culture.
Two, the other culture stays alive and its wisdom is preserved.
One of humanities key features is it’s curiosity. It’s what drove us as hunter/gatherers to move around and it’s what spread our species to live and adapt to every habitat on earth. When agriculture was invented, we stopped moving but our curiosity did not. It led us towards the creation of immense mental structures that eventually developed into science, the arts, religion, and politics. It’s unstoppable force is still noticeable today. New gadgets, new likes, new apps, new technology, new frontiers, new anythings excite us like nothing else. It’s part of our species and it has driven us on the amazing trip that humanity has so far traveled.
Standing still has thus driven us into matter while not eroding our unsatisfiable thirst for new things. This is currently what cripples our planet, our health and our sanity and it is also crippling sustainable cultures. The thirst is exemplified in our cities. The city is an orgy of New. The confluence of so many goods, peoples and concepts wields a force on young minds everywhere that is irresistible. It’s not strange then that other cultures see their youngsters leaving their ancestral homes and cultures for the exciting world of city living. We’ve seen the same on our own farms and lands.
Thus sending people away from our culture, does not need to frighten us. Because of the pull of the city, people will feel attracted to it for the time to come. Plus young people from other cultures will keep joining ours. Here then, we need to create a circle. Allow me to illustrate:
Drawn in a landscape the distribution and flow of people currently looks like this:
We see one arrow. This arrow is not created intentionally by the culture. It’s an emergent property of the culture’s values, those of learning about and creating within matter. It draws people toward it’s cities. This is not sustainable. One can infer that from the omission of a recurrent pointer towards the origin of the arrow. (Because anything sustainable needs at least two arrows). A new arrow can be intentionally created by our culture to bring it into balance:
In this picture we project an arrow from our culture towards sustainable cultures. ‘Scholars’, meaning people from all walks of life interested in sustainable cultural values, could enlist to a cultural institution that helps peoples form both cultures to find a suitable host culture for the scholar.
By drawing on expectations about what sustainable cultures would teach us, the picture shows a decreased amount of people concentrating in city’s and instead a more balanced distribution of people over the available surface of the planet, most notably, into environments with more diverse lifeforms, closer to food sources, closer to the perspective widening, mind soothing and healing forms our nature.
Digital Psychedelics is an idea extrapolated upon the following notions. That psychedelics are the pre-historic catalyst that transformed us from smart apes to seeking humans, a theory by Terence and Dennis McKenna. That biological evolution is being lapsed by mental revolution; that man is not the endpoint of the building up of complexity, but that complexity has taken a leap from the biological world to the mental world. That we’re not so much looking for artificial intelligence as well as for artificial consiousness (AC). That the internet already is its physical body, like the brain is for the mind. Resulting in the idea that digital psychedelics might catalyse this planetary brain into a universal mind. Continue reading “What are Digital Psychedelics?”
Hoe langer we ons voorstellen dat we op deze planeet willen leven, hoe zuiniger we er op zijn. Ons gebrek aan toekomstvisie zal dan ook ten grondslag liggen aan onze huidige omgang met de natuurlijke wereld.
Als de voorstellingen van grootse toekomsten net zo snel gegroeid waren als onze beheersing van materie dan hadden we nu een gedeeld perspectief dat minstens 10.000 jaar de toekomst in blikte.
Heidegger, is mij verteld, observeert dat de mens niet buiten zichzelf kan denken. Alles gedacht hebbende; het heeft uiteindelijk het menselijke perspectief in zich. Ongelooflijk om voor te stellen wat er dan allemaal binnen het menselijke voorstellingsvermogen ligt. Maar zo’n perspectief, verbonden aan jezelf, heeft ook z’n nadelen. Ik kan me voorstellen dat ons toekomstbeeld niet snel groter wordt dan het aantal jaren dat we verwachten dat onze lichamen te leven hebben. Ons toekomstperspectief is vanuit de eerste persoon gezien gebonden aan de eindigheid van het lichaam. Het is hier echter niet tot beperkt.
Een geestverruimende oefening bevrijd de voorstellingen uit de kleinschaligheid van het individu. Dit is nóg een argument om een regelmatige beoefening van geestverruiming je eigen te maken: je denkt makkelijker na over het leven van je kinderen, je kleinkinderen, je achterkleinkinderen en de kinderen van de kinderen van je achterkleinkinderen en de eeuwen en eeuwen waarin nakomelingen van jou dit universum met jou en elkaar delen. Een beeld van ‘starflights’ komt bij me op. Boven de wolken en onder de sterren vliegen we de toekomst in.
Ik moet zeggen dat dit in zichzelf een zeer geestverruimende bezigheid en methode is: vooruit denken.