Center for Planetary Culture:Consciousness

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Over the last century, our technology and population have increased at exponential rates, creating complex social and ecological challenges. It is clear to many that we require a rapid evolution of our technical and industrial infrastructure, as well as our political and economic system, to make the transition from a destructive to a regenerative model. According to many thinkers, such a shift requires a transformation of human consciousness, on a global scale. If we can engineer a mass awakening, we can realize our inherent interdependence and build networks - new social structures - based on symbiosis and cooperation.

If we can’t make such a transition, there is a chance we will experience a catastrophic collapse of human civilization over the next decades. From studying past epochs of climate change, scientists and scientific bodies have realized that rapid shifts in climate can take place suddenly, once a tipping point is reached. A 4 - 6 degree Celsius rise in temperature has occurred, in the past, in just a decade. Nobody knows when we pass the critical tipping points in our system.

David Gershon, co-founder and CEO of Empowerment Institute, one of the world’s foremost authorities on behavior change, is among those thinkers and theorists who believe that the ecological crisis - particularly accelerated climate change - is a rite of passage for humanity. We are presented with unforgiving feedback loops that must be addressed, both individually and collectively, if we want to ensure our species continuity. Modern civilization produced a consciousness based on separation from the Earth - on alienation from other groups, consumerism, war, and competition. The theorist Jacques Ellul called this the “technological society.” Critic Louis Mumford wrote about it as a “mega-machine.”

Considering the urgency of our situation, we need to define the collective outcome that we seek to manifest, and then we must develop the necessary strategy for transforming the consciousness of the collective, utilizing media, various forms of education, culture jamming, and perhaps borrowing from tried-and-true techniques of marketing and propaganda. While these techniques have often been used to dominate and indoctrinate the human mind, they could be repurposed, potentially, to transform the people’s awareness of their own power. It is up to each and all of us to take responsibility for our shared fate.

Consciousness: Definition

Consciousness is a concept that has been developed in multiple disciplines, such as psychology, neuroscience, metaphysics, quantum mechanics, and philosophy. An early definition of consciousness was provided by John Locke in his Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1690), as “the perception of what passes in a man’s own mind.” Two centuries later, Karl Marx proposed that the social and economic environment conditioned, shaped, and defined the consciousness of the individual: “The mode of production of material life conditions the general process of social, political, and intellectual life,” he wrote in A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy, (1859). “It is not the consciousness of men that determines their existence, but their social existence that determines their consciousness.”

The idea that human beings could possess a “false consciousness” of their situation was introduced by Marx, and developed by the Frankfort School philosopher Herbert Marcuse. Marcuse noted that the mass populace often accepted the constraints of their situation, instead of fighting to improve or change it, due to their false consciousness, a result of imprinting through indoctrination and education. “To the degree to which they correspond to the given reality, thought and behavior express a false consciousness, responding to and contributing to the preservation of a false order of facts,” he wrote in One Dimensional Man. “And this false consciousness has become embodied in the prevailing technical apparatus which in turn reproduces it.”

From a psychological perspective, consciousness means awareness of our internal responses - thoughts, feelings and sensations - to external stimuli. In the field of neuroscience, the materialist worldview explores how brain activity - the interactions of neurons in the brain - give rise to the neural correlates of psychological experience. As Bruce Lipton and Steve Bhaerman explore in Spontaneous Evolution, most people’s emotional reactions and behavior patterns tend to be fixed in early childhood, when we receive imprints from society. As we approach the tipping point of global cataclysm due to our disregard of biospheric integrity, we must discover accelerated ways to change the imprints, behavior, and habits of the world's population, which requires, as well, as transformation of our species consciousness.

Western Versus Nonwestern Approaches

Vedanta Philosophy

The Mandukya Upanishad, which was the foundation for all later Indian (Hindu and to a lesser extent Tantric Buddhist) psychology, defines four states of consciousness. These are:

  • Waking
  • Dreaming
  • Dreamless Sleep
  • the Absolute

Waking and Dreaming are self explanatory. Dreamless Sleep refers to a deep level of consciousness in which the awareness is near (but not quite at) the Absolute. At the Absolute level, there is no longer a subject-object distinction.

Shankara's Advaita Vedanta - as well as much subsequent thought - link the first three states with the five levels of the Taittiriya Upanishad, which describe them as "koshas" or sheaths. The pranic, manasic, and vijnanic koshas are identified with dreaming and the subtle body, and by implication with psychic experience. Sri Aurobindo presents a different, original, interpretation on the Taittiriya, and, for that matter, distinguishes these two parameters in his integral psychology.[1]

Sri Aurobindo's Integral Psychology

Sri Aurobindo never used the term "Integral Psychology"; the term was coined in the 1940s by Indra Sen, a devotee of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, who established the field of Integral Psychology, based on Sri Aurobindo's teachings, although his book of the same name only appeared in 1986.

A further interpretation of Integral psychology was developed, although not in detail, in the 1970s by Haridas Chaudhuri, a student of Sri Aurobindo, who postulated a triadic principle of uniqueness, relatedness and transcendence, corresponding to the personal, interpersonal and transpersonal domains of human existence.

According to Brant Cortright, of the California Institute of Integral Studies, Integral Psychology is born through the synthesis of Sri Aurobindo's teachings with the findings of depth psychology. He presents Integral Psychology as a synthesis of the two major streams of depth psychology – the humanistic-existential and contemporary psychoanalytic – within an integrating east-west framework.

Sri Aurobindo conceives of human psychology, indeed, of the entire cosmos, as having two major types of distinctions or dimensions. The faculties ascend in a "vertical" fashion, from the subconscient to the higher, transpersonal realms. At the same time, he distinguishes between the Outer being, the Inner being, and other, similarly "concentric" dimensions. The terms vertical and concentric are metaphors for the purpose of visualization and are not meant to be taken literally.[2]

Evan Thompson

Evan Thompson [3], a philosopher who works in the fields of cognitive science and philosophy of mind, seeks to build bridges between the approaches of Western cognitive science and Eastern philosophies. In a recent essay on the possibility of a dreamless sleep state of consciousness, Thompson writes: "My aim is to convince you that the default view is not as obvious or strong as it is often thought to be. To state my thesis in positive terms, there are forceful reasons if not necessarily decisive ones for thinking of dreamless sleep as a mode of consciousness rather than as a simple absence of consciousness. These reasons derive from the debate about dreamless sleep between the Advaita Vedānta and Nyāya schools in Indian philosophy. Examining this debate in the light of cognitive science raises important conceptual and methodological issues for the cognitive neuroscience of consciousness."[4]

David Abram

David Abram’s The Spell of the Sensuous argues that when humanity created a written language that was purely abstract, we became alienated from our direct sensory awareness of the world around us, and thus became separated from nature. “The fluid realm of direct experience has come to be seen as a secondary, derivative dimension, a mere consequence of events unfolding in the “realer” world of quantifiable and measurable scientific “facts.”” He believes that this separation is the root of the ecological crisis. Once we perceived nature as separate from ourselves, we could treat it as an "other" to be dominated and controlled.

Abram explores the works of the phenomenologist philosophers Merleau Ponty, Heidegger, and Husserl who recognized that philosophy had become cut off from the ontological roots of the human experience. He connects their work with the worldview and metaphysics of tribal and shamanic cultures, who maintain in continual connection with the natural and supernatural world. “Caught up in a mass of abstractions, our attention hypnotized by a host of human-made technologies that only reflect us back to ourselves, it is all too easy for us to forget our carnal inherence in a more-than-human matrix of sensations and sensibilities, Abram writes. He proposes that we learn to re-attune ourselves to the other voices, the other subjectivites, in nonhuman nature. “We are human only in contact, and conviviality, with what is not human.”

This revelation of our separation from the basic substrate of our existence - our phenomenological immersion in a sensorial world of human and nonhuman beings - has social and political implications, Abram believes. The top-down approaches of governments and corporations will never be able to support a thriving existence, because they are based on abstractions and fantasies of control. “Huge, centralized programs, global initiatives, and other “top down” solutions will never suffice to restore and protect the health of the animate earth,” he writes. “For it is only at the scale of our direct, sensory interactions with the land around us that we can appropriately notice and respond to the immediate needs of the living world.”

For Abram, the mode of being of the tribal shaman is something that postmodern civilization must rediscover and access. He writes: "The traditional or tribal shaman, I came to discern, acts as an intermediary between the human community and the larger ecological field, ensuring there is an appropriate flow of nourishment, not just from the landscape to the human inhabitants, but from the human community back to the local earth. By his constant rituals, trances, ecstasies, and “journeys,” he ensures that the relation between human society and the larger society of beings is balanced and reciprocal, and that the village never takes more from the living land than it returns to it – not just materially but with prayers, propitiations, and praise."

Models for the Evolution of Consciousness


Jean Gebser: Structures of Consciousness

A student of literature, poetry, psychology and science, Jean Gebser brings a unique combination of talents to bear upon the subject of his investigation: the unfoldment of consciousness. By better understanding the forces that are at work and our own role in this process, we can better hope to rise to the challenges that confront us so that our world truly becomes "the best of all possible worlds." The fundamental premise of Gebser's work is that we are on the threshold of a new structure of consciousness.

Overall, Gebser describes four mutations, or evolutional surges, of consciousness that have occurred in the history of man. These mutations are not just changes of perspective, they are not simple paradigm shifts (although the word simple may seem inappropriate at this point); rather they are fundamentally different ways of experiencing reality. These four mutations reflect five separate eras of development that are not distinct and isolated from one another but are, instead, interconnected such that all previous stages are found in subsequent ones. Each of these stages is associated with a dimensionality, beginning with the geometric origin of zero and progressing to the fourth, the transition which we are experiencing at this time. Gebser identifies these five phases as the Archaic, Magical, Mythical, Mental, and Integral stages respectively.

Another key element of Gebser's theory encompasses two fundamental concepts: latency and transparency. The former deals with what is concealed; as Gebser describes it, latency is the demonstrable presence of the future.[3] In this manner the seeds of all subsequent phases of evolution are contained in the current one. It is on the basis of this aspect that integration takes place. The second term transparency deals with what is revealed. According to Gebser, transparency (diaphaneity) is the form of manifestation (epiphany) of the spiritual.[4] This is perhaps the most important statement he makes.

The origin, the source from which all springs, is a spiritual one, and all phases of consciousness evolution are a testimony to the ever less latent and ever more transparent spirituality that is inherent in all that is. Without a recognition of this fundamental and pivotal idea, Gebser cannot be understood and we will not be able to understand ourselves.

It is not just an intellectual development that is being described in his theory, rather it is the ever more apparent manifestation of the spiritual that underlies and supports the concept of evolution itself. And finally, one further element must be mentioned. The manifestation of these structures occurs in a quantum-like, discontinuous leap, not in a slowly developing and changing framework as is postulated for Darwinian evolutionary theory, for example. There are overlaps in these structures in as far as different peoples and cultures may be manifesting different structures at the same time, but a clear development can be recognized and it is to be expected that all cultures will eventually go through the same process.

It would seem, then, that we are dealing with a kind of historical description of a linearly unfolding schema, but this would be a grave misinterpretation of his thesis and it does injustice to his approach. At first blush it would appear that Gebser is approaching his subject as we would expect any historian to proceed, but it must be emphasized that Gebser's approach is quite deductive. We are presented at the very beginning with the model; later we are taken step-by-step through the 'evidence' which he believes supports the claim. Consequently, we find a number of historical, archaeological, and philological arguments presented that are not necessarily in keeping with generally agreed-upon theories in these disciplines. At times, these appear quite creative but this is most often a result of reading Gebser in a strictly intellectual and analytical manner. This is not to say that he should be approached uncritically, yet the text itself is not a logical argumentation as one would find in a philosophical treatise. In accordance with his own model, he attempts to make his book an example of the type of thinking one would encounter in the Integral structure of consciousness.[5]

Archaic / Aboriginal

The Archaic structure of consciousness is perhaps the most difficult to understand, for it is the one most removed from our present-day way of thinking. Stated succinctly, it can be likened to zero dimensional mentation, a world devoid of any perspective at all. It is a stated in which the holder of consciousness is perhaps only minimally aware of himself or his relationship to the world around him. According to Georg Feuerstein, this structure denotes "a consciousness of maximum latency and minimum transparency."

The term "archaic" as used here is derived from the Greek arce, meaning inception, or origin. Origin (or Ursprung, in the original German) is the source from which all springs, but it is that which springs forth itself. It is the essence which is behind and which underlies consciousness. As Gebser understands the term, "conscious is neither knowledge nor conscience but must be understood for the time being in the broadest sense as wakeful presence." This presence, or being present, excludes two further overpowering by the past (past-orientation) or any future-oriented finality. He writes: "It is our task to presentiate the past in ourselves, not to lose the present to the transient power of the past. This we can achieve by recognizing the balancing power of the latent "future" with its character of the present, which is to say, its potentiality for consciousness."

At the origin, there is not past to overwhelm and the future is complete potentiality. Consequently, that which we understand to intuit consciousness to be is qualitatively different from this original structure. What hampers any investigation into it is the fact that we have no records, no written testimony, regarding it. It is a state that is swallowed by the primal shadows of a far-distant past. It is referred to in myths and legends, but these references are of a much later time.

About all we can say in this regard is that within the Archaic structure the consciousness is quite undifferentiated; it is just there, and things just happen. Man is still unquestionably part of the whole of the universe in which he finds himself. The process of individuation of consciousness, in any sense of the word, has not taken place. This type of consciousness "can be likened to a dimly lit mist devoid of shadows."[8] This is not consciousness in any sense that we understand it today. Instead, it can be likened to a state of deep sleep; one that eludes the specification of particularity or uniqueness.[6]

Tribal / Magical

Around some unspecified time far back in our past, a change took place. Man entered into a second phase of development and gained a new structure of consciousness, the Magical structure. This structure is characterized by five primary characteristics:

(1) its egolessness, (2) its spacelessness and timelessness, (3) its pointlike-unitary world, (4) its interweaving with nature, and (5) its magical reaction to the world.

A rudimentary self-sense was emerging, and language is the real product of this change. Words as vehicles of power are typical of this time and structure; incantations as precursors to prayer emerged. Consciousness, in this phase, is characterized by man's intimate association with nature.

This is perhaps the most notable characteristic regarding this structure. Man, at this time, does not really distinguish himself apart from nature. He is a part of all that surrounds him; in the earliest stages it is hard to conceive that he views himself apart from his environment. The plants, animals and other elements of his surroundings share the same fate as he does; they experience in a similar manner. Latency is still dominant; little is transparent. Magic we can define in agreement with Gustav Meyrink as doing without knowing, and it is magic man who is engaged in this activity in all aspects of his existence. The hunting and gathering, the quest for survival are all activities that consume most of his waking hours. But in the quiet of the evening around the fire; there is time for reflection of sorts. The activities of the day were codified (in speech) and recounted. Memory was collective, tribal, and all things were shared and experienced by all. The "I" is not a factor; the "we" is dominant.

This is a one-dimensional, pre-perspectival, point-like existence that occurs in a dream-like state. Unlike the dreamlessness of the archaic structure, a recognition is developing in man that he is something different from that around him. Not fully awake to who he is or what his role in the world is, man is recognizing his self as an entity. The forms of expression for this structure can be found in the art and other artifacts that have been recovered from this time. Graven images and idols are what first come to mind. However, ritual should also be considered here, for it is in the specific and directed execution of certain actions and gestures that conveys much about this consciousness structure. Georg Feuerstein feels that this structure persisted till around 40,000 BC and the advent of the Cro-Magnons.

Another feature of this structure that we should bring to mind is its spacelessness and timelessness. The idea that space and time are illusions derives from this stage in our development as human beings. The fact that this is one of the first lessons one learns when embarking upon the esoteric path is further evidence of this idea. To Magic Man, closely linked as he is with others of like mind, space and time need not concern him.

Magic is very much alive today, and it comes as no surprise that there is such a strong interest in magic today. It seems that the fast growing branches of occult study seem to be Wicca (overlayed as it is with feminism) and similar earth magic(k) studies. What is more, it is the most vital and emotional of all structures. We live in very decisive times, potentially catastrophic times. This is a time when emotion rises near the surface of our consciousness and it is here that magic manifests itself. The proliferation of stories and films dealing with Voodoo and similar matters (e.g. The Serpent and the Rainbow) further substantiate our claim.[7]

Mythological / Cyclical

With the advent of the Cro-Magnons, man became a tool-making individual, also one who formed into larger social structures. As Georg Feuerstein points out, it is clear from the archaeological finds that the Cro-Magnons had evolved a symbolic universe that was religious and shamanistic. Part of this appears to have been a keen interest in calendric reckoning, and with it we may presume the existence of a fairly complex mythology. This structure can be considered two-dimensional since it is characterized by fundamental polarities. Word was the reflector of inner silence; myth was the reflector of the soul. Religion appears as the interaction between memory and feeling.

Man begins to recognize himself as opposed to others. The next 30,000-odd years or so are spent developing various mythologies. Language becomes ever more important, it will be noted, and not only receptive, but active, language at that. Not the ear, but the mouth is important in making transparent what is involved in being and life. The mouth now becomes the spiritual organ. We witness, as well, the initial concretization of the "I" of man.

Many myths deal explicitly with man's (unperspectival) separation from nature. Witness the story of the Fall in Genesis (and its admonition to go forth and dominate nature); and the myth of Prometheus and the giving of fire to man. These both indicate a strong awareness of man's differentness from nature. Man is coming into his own, although he is anything but independent of it.

One could characterize this as a two-dimensional understanding of the world. Within the circle of believers is where the important acts of life take place. The mere forces of nature have a beingness, often anthropomorphized, but a beingness nevertheless. Myth, then, or the mythologeme is the primary form of expression of this period. Subsets of this basic form would be the gods, symbols and mysteries. These figures provide the emerging consciousness with imaginative images around which to center man's knowledge and understanding of the world. If the Magic structure of consciousness is the emotional aspect, then the Mythical structure is the imaginative one. It is this fact that makes mythology so difficult for us as moderns to deal with. The plethora of images (gods) and the seeming inconsistent pantheons of deities brings the rational mind quickly to confusion. Who can keep track of all these figures, their meanings, their correspondences and their associations. This is the time of the dream.

Up until this time, that is, in the magical structure of consciousness, souls and afterlives were not of great importance (at least we do not find a lot of evidence thereof). Yet in the fully developed mythical consciousness, this is important. The entire civilization of Egypt, as we know it, revolved around this very issue. When we are told, then, in certain Rosicrucian documents that we must descend into Egypt, we are being told that we must regain, not revert to, our mythical heritage.

Mouths begin to play a more important role. Not only is the shaman and wise person of the tribe a repository of wisdom, others, the poets, such as Homer, begin to play a more important role in the culture. This does not really begin to happen until the mythical structure of consciousness, however. The "I" of man is not yet fully developed, to be sure, but it has developed to that point that it recognizes and demands a separation from nature, from its environment. We can take this as evidence of an increasing crystallization of the ego. We are on the way to selfhood.

Of course, mythology is very much alive today. This explains the popularity of Joseph Campbell and his work on myth. It explains the appeal that Robert Bly and his "Gathering of Men" workshops have. What both Campbell and Bly do is tell stories: imaginative, intuitively understood stories that reveal to us things that our current rational mode of thinking prohibits us from knowing. We have much to learn from myth, however, and should be ever aware of its influences. [8]

Modern / Mental Rational

The next shift in consciousness took place between 10,000 B.C. and 500 B.C. This was the transition to the Mental structure of consciousness. It was at this time that man, to use Gebser's image, stepped out of the mythical circle (two-dimensional) into three- dimensional space. Mythology had become so deficient (and it should be noted that each structure has its "efficient" as well as "deficient" form), that man needed a clean break with the past. The plethora of gods and contradictory stories of creation, formation of institutions, and so on threatened to overwhelm the consciousness of man; he practically stood on the verge of drowning in a deluge of mythological mentation. In reaction to this, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, and of course, Pythagoras stepped forth to counteract this trend.

The mental structure was inaugurated and this coincides with the "discovery" of "causality," Abstraction becomes a key word to describe mental activity and we find man using his mind to overcome and "master" the world around him. With abstraction comes philosophizing, hence the philosopheme is the primary form of expression. Monotheism almost universally replaces the plethora of gods of bygone days; dogma, in both allegory and creed, replaces the symbols of previous times; method replaces the mysteries as man develops an ever-increasing desire to penetrate, and, of course, master nature. This has given rise to the idea of science as the dominant religion of today. Also at this time, time itself was conceptualized (spatialized) as an "arrow" that points from the past to the future by way of the present.

About the time of the Renaissance, man came into his own and really mastered space. It was at this time that perspective was actually introduced into art. Since that time, perspective has come to be a major part and aspect of our mental functioning. Perspective is the life blood of reasoning and the Rational structure of consciousness, which Gebser considers to be only a deficient form of the Mental structure. What we have is the full development of the ego and its related centeredness. We conceive things, events and phenomena in terms of our own perspectives, often at the expense of others. The eye, it will be seen (and the last of the openings in the head), becomes the spiritual organ representative of this structure.

Our language, our entire imagery and dominant metaphor takes on visual, spatial character. Space is finally overcome, in the true sense of the word. With the supercession of space, man finally accomplishes his egoistic, individual separation from nature. In this concretization of the "I," we become very aware of our existence, of our beingness, of our individuality. And so it should be. But in a deficient mode, the outcomes, of course, are loneliness, isolation, and alienation, which are so characteristic of our own American culture. In fact, our current materialistic approach to understanding reality is perhaps the final stage of this structure. There is also much everyday evidence to indicate that we are moving through a great change at this time.

We should remember, however, that this is also the time of philosophy. The mental ordering and systematization of thought becomes the real dominant mode of expression. The myths have lost their vibrancy and existential connection to reality. Greek thought followed later by the Scholastics and finally the Enlightenment are all periods in which this particular structure of consciousness flourishes and strongly manifests. It is not without its opposition, of course, since any change will bring about the requisite opposition to its own development.

By the time of the Renaissance, though, this structure had firmly established itself and was prepared to move into the next phase of its development. At this time, as was pointed out earlier, a very profound and significant event occurred: man incorporated space into his thought. We cannot underestimate, or overstate, the importance of this development. It is literally at this time that the world begins to shrink. The seeds of our one world community are planted at this time. The ripples begun during the magical structure are widening significantly: first spirit, then soul, now space have become constituents of man's consciousness. Three dimensions have been established and we are prepared for the next significant step we are taking now. [9]

Integral Consciousness Structure

Gebser feels that we are on the threshold of a new structure of consciousness, namely the Integral. For Gebser, this structure integrates those which have come before and enable the human mind to transcend the limitations of three- dimensionality. A fourth dimension, time, if you will, is added. This integration is not simply a union of seemingly disparate opposites, rather it is the "irruption of qualitative time into our consciousness."

The supercession of time is a theme that will play an extremely important role in this structure. In fact, the ideas of arationality (as opposed to the rationality of the current structure), aperspectivity (as opposed to the perspective, spatially determined mentation of the current structure), and diaphaneity (the transparent recognition of the whole, not just parts) are significant characteristics of this new structure. Stated differently, the tensions and relations between things are more important, at times, than the things themselves; how the relationships develop over time takes precedence to the mere fact that a relationship exists.

It will be this structure of consciousness that will enable us to overcome the dualism of the mental structure and actually participate in the transparency of self and life. This fourth structure toward which we are moving is one of minimum latency and maximum transparency; diaphaneity is one of its hallmarks. Transparency is not a "not seeing" as one does not see the pane of glass though which one looks out a window, rather one sees through things and perceives their true nature. Statements about truth are superseded by statements as truth. Verition not description is what we experience and know. Philosophy is replaced by eteology; that is, the eteon, or being-in-truth.

This structure is difficult to describe since it depends to a great deal on experience, not just that we have them, but on how intense they are and what we glean from them for now and the future. Intensity is a key characteristic of this mode of consciousness. By intensity, I do not mean simply an emotional relationship to experience or the feeling or deepening of emotion itself. This would be a magical response not an integral one. Perhaps it would be best to review a few examples of what is meant by fourth dimensionality, arationality and aperspectivity.

Let us start with intensity and use the analogy of love. Love is the energy (yet it has only recently been referred to as such) or the driving force behind true spirituality and spiritual growth. We learn early as mystics and students of the other arts, that we should love our neighbors as ourselves. This is, in fact, one of the two great commandments given us by the Christ and the theme of Love is one that was very strongly developed by the great apostle, Saint Paul, as well. However, it is easy to love those who are our neighbors (even though at times they are exasperating) because they are so much like us. We recognize ourselves in them and so we love them. The affinity of interests, locale, or any other of myriad possibilities makes loving those who are like us a joy.

We fulfill our spirituality by adhering to this commandment; it is a yoke that we gladly bear. Nevertheless, this love is a three-dimensional love at best. We love those who fit neatly into our perspectives of being and life. We choose who they are and when and how often we extend that love to them. An integral love, a fourth dimensional love, though, would go beyond that. The Christ also informed us of what that love is when he admonished us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. It is this love that is intense for it is required without asking our opinion (our point of view, our perspective) of it. This is the love of Judas. This is a demanding love that not many are willing to offer.

Characteristics of the integral structure, according to Gebser, include the following:

The whole, integrity, transparency (diaphaneity), the spiritual (the diaphainon), the supercession of the ego, the realization of timelessness, the realization of temporicity, the realization of the concept of time, the realization of time-freedom (the achronon), the disruption of the merely systematic, the incursion of dynamics, the recognition of energy, the mastery of movement, the fourth dimension, the supercession of patriarchy, the renunciation of dominance and power, the acquisition of intensity, clarity (instead of mere wakefulness), and the transformation of the creative inceptual basis.


Don Beck and Ken Wilber: Spiral Dynamics / Integral Theory

Spiral Dynamics is an approach to understanding the development of worldviews or value systems within individuals, organizations and societies that was developed by Dr Don Beck and Chris Cowan in the 1990’s, based on the work of the late Professor Clare W Graves.[11]

The theory argues that it is possible to identity a series of worldviews that together describe the essentially different ways in which people see and engage with the world. The emergence of these codes or worldviews in the development of an individual, the maturation of a organization or the evolution of a society can be seen to follow a clear sequential pattern, although the way in which this takes place in practice is unique to each person, group or society. This approach suggest that these worldviews are activated within us according to our history, core personality and the life conditions and challenges we are facing. It does not say that we go through stages of development in a discreet, linear fashion, progressing neatly from one stage to another, but that each of these worldviews can be more or less activated in each of us at any one time. Therefore each of us has a unique value systems profile that tells our unique story.

The general principles of the evolution of these value systems include:

  • a progression from less complex to more complex and sophisticated expressions
  • a spiral alternation between individualistic and collectivist worldviews, between expressing self and sacrificing self
  • that each value system needs to become activated within an individual at some basic level (even if not very apparent) before subsequent more complex systems are able to emerge

Understanding these different value systems, the sequence and pattern in which they emerge, is key to a number of challenges and issues including:

  • facilitating the development of individuals, groups, organizations and communities
  • understanding and resolving conflict (within a personality, a group, a society or globally)
  • knowing what motivates people and what language to use to engage them
  • changing deeply embedded mindsets, attitudes and behaviors

Ken Wilber's Integral Theory of Consciousness:

"I don't think we need to draw a bold line in the existential sand and say, on this side of the line, consciousness; on that side, utter darkness. Indeed, the whole point of the hierarchy of evolutionary emergents of apprehension is that consciousness is almost infinitely graded, with each emergent holon possessing a little more depth and thus a bit more apprehension. However much `consciousness' or `awareness' or `sensitivity' or `responsiveness' a tree might have, a cow has more; an ape has more than that, and so on. How far down you actually push some form of prehension is up to you (and won't substantially alter my main points). As for myself, I always found Teilhard de Chardin's (1964) conclusion to be the most sensible: `Refracted rearwards along the course of evolution, consciousness displays itself qualitatively as a spectrum of shifting shades whose lower terms are lost in the night.'"

Wilber developed the Four Quadrant model: Interior-Individual (intentional) Exterior-Individual (behavioral) Interior-Collective (cultural) Exterior-Collective (social)

Jose Arguelles: Biosphere, Technosphere, Noosphere

Jose Arguelles was a controversial visionary philosopher who died in 2011. In books including Time and the Technosphere and Manifesto for the Noosphere, he theorized that humanity was in the process of making a transition from one form or one level of consciousness to another. He looked at this as an evolutionary shift, passing through three planetary conditions:

  • The Biosphere: the pristine natural environment before technological interference
  • The Technosphere: the artificial environment produced by human industry in the last centuries, which covered the surface of the Earth with roads, cables, satellites, pollution, radiation, etcetera
  • The Noosphere: the layer of thought and consciousness that encircles the Earth (from the Greek word Nous, meaning mind)

Arguelles proposed that the evolution of human consciousness, culture, and technology was an extension or continuation of biological evolution. The Technosphere functions as an “artificial bridging mechanism” that leads from the Biosphere to the fully activated Noosphere.

Noosphere is a concept developed by the Catholic paleontologist and mystical thinker, Teilhard de Chardin, as well as the Russian geophysicist, Vladimir Vernadsky. Both saw a tendency or trend in which human thought was becoming, increasingly, a shaping force on the geology and environment of the Earth. For instance, the massive dam projects which humanity has undertaken over the last century have actually changed the axis of the Earth’s rotation, ever so slightly. If this tendency is extrapolated into the future, the possibility is that human thought, human consciousness becomes a deliberate and intentional creative force, sculpting the Earth according to our imagination as well as our technical needs. Of course, it is also possible that, through excessive industrial development, humanity could make the Earth unlivable or literally destroy it.

For Arguelles, the Noosphere already exists as part of the Earth’s electromagnetic environment, potentially woven between the Earth’s lower and higher radiation belts, the Van Allen belts (the idea that the Noosphere has a literal location between the radiation belts was first proposed by thinker Oliver Reiser). The Noosphere is a repository of the entire history of human thought and consciousness, but until now, our relationship to it is unconscious. When we attain a conscious relationship with the Noosphere, we fully activate it, and become what Arguelles termed a “biopsychic collective.”

Noospheric consciousness would be a psychic or telepathic layer or level of awareness, instituting a next level civilization which Arguelles conceived of as “post technological.” As part of his work, Arguelles proposed a new calendar, the Dream Spell, based on the Tzolkin calendar of the classical Maya, as well as a system of meditations, the Rainbow Bridge, designed to help humanity transition to a psychic and synchronistic realization of reality, and initiate the next phase of Noospheric consciousness and harmonic civilization.

Rudolf Steiner: The Spirit Self and the Fifth Incarnation of the Earth

Rudolf Steiner (1861 - 1925) was a visionary philosopher of the late 19th and early 20th Century. Born in Austria, he founded an occult movement, Anthroposophy, as well as Waldorf education and biodynamic farming, based on his visionary ideas. He claimed that he had access to supersensible perception and cognition, even in childhood: He could see into “other worlds,” and access the Akashic Record, which is supposed to contain the chronicle of humanity’s spiritual evolution, through vast evolutionary stages and different planetary states. Many of Steiner’s visionary claims would seem incomprehensible to scientific rationalists. William Irwin Thompson is a contemporary thinker who has tried to link Steiner’s visions with the history of evolutionary biology.

Steiner claimed that the purpose of his incarnation was to bring the knowledge of reincarnation back to the West. He stated that not only do human beings incarnate again and again, the Earth itself passes through different incarnations. Each incarnation of the Earth represents another stage in the spiritual development of humanity. We have passed through four stages so far, and are currently on the cusp of transitioning to the fifth incarnation of the Earth. The stages correspond to different “bodies” that human beings evolve over time. In the first four incarnations of the Earth, we developed the following bodies, in succession:

  • The Physical Body
  • The Ether Body (the energy body)
  • The Astral Body (connected to the astral world and the dream worlds)
  • The I (the ego, the subjective perception of identity)

Steiner believed we were now in the process of attaining a fifth body, which he called The Spirit Self. According to him, desires and cravings pour into us from our astral body, or our dream body. In early phases of development, we are unable to resist these cravings. As the “I” or individuality becomes stronger, we are able to transform the astral body into a vehicle of consciousness, rather than being overwhelmed by it. As the astral body is transformed by the I, this creates a new body: The Spirit Self. For Steiner, the fifth incarnation of the Earth and humanity will be the epoch for the full development and expression of the Spirit Self.

Steiner also believed that human beings had to develop their supersensible faculties through occult practices, including visualizations and meditations. He stated that there were aspects of cognition beyond rational thought - higher faculties of our intellect. He called these higher faculties: Intuition, Inspiration, and Imagination. By training ourselves, we could attain full use of these higher faculties.

Individual and Collective Consciousness

Each person experiences their consciousness as personal, interior, and unique. Each person thinks they are an individual who makes free choices about their lives. What we don’t generally realize is that consciousness - subjectivity, in itself - is a social production, produced by the influence of one’s culture, by other people, by social factors.

In consumerist society, people are bombarded by media, which shapes their worldview and values. Our ideas of what is right or wrong, what kinds of relationships or connections we can have, what we value and believe: these are all shaped by our society and its cultural expressions.

The political philosopher Antonio Negri noted that we live in a society where the most essential form of production is no longer material - things like typewriters and chairs - but immaterial - social tools and communicative technologies, media, narratives, etc. What “immaterial production” manufactures, above all, is “subjectivity” or consciousness, in itself. The media is a factory that produces particular forms of subjectivity.

Post-industrial capitalism is very sophisticated at absorbing and assimilating different forms of rebellion, by turning them into a style, a set of objects and gestures that can be consumed by the masses. The same is true with spirituality, which can be distorted into the pursuit of what Tibetan Buddhist Chogyam Trungpa called, “spiritual materialism.”

As human beings, we are shaped by language, narrative, and myth. The question we must always ask is: Who is creating and defining language, narrative, and myth for us, and for what purposes?

When we realize that the domain of subjectivity is socially produced and imprinted - that people are constructs of our society and our culture - we can envision how the collective consciousness - subjectivity itself - could be consciously transformed or reshaped, through new forms of media and systems of education. We could engineer a transition from passive and consumerist subjectivity, to an engaged, questioning, autonomous form of subjectivity.

At a time when humanity is meshed together through networks of communication and trade, the potential exists for an intentional transformation of species consciousness, to reckon with the ecological crises we have unleashed, as well as the perpetuation of social and economic injustice.

The Production of Subjectivity

Political philosopher Antonio Negri analyzes how post-industrial civilization is based on “immaterial production” - the production of narratives, images, memes, forms of affective relationships. Where industrial society produced objects, post-industrial society - while still producing objects - manufactures consciousness itself, reproducing particular forms of subjectivity through mass media, education systems, public spectacles such as sporting events.

What immaterial production manufactures, in essence, is “subjectivity,” or consciousness, in itself. Potentially, at a time when media tools are widely available and have been democratized, new media can produce new levels consciousess: participatory and self-actualized, or autonomous, forms of subjectivity.

The production of subjectivity through media - through immaterial production - is a playing field where humanity has the potential to evolve itself to a new level of being - of shared responsibility, self-sufficiency, cooperation, interdependence, and sovereignty.


The evolution of media is inseparable from the evolution of political and economic systems. Every time humanity develops a new media, the underlying social system changes drastically. For example, empires like Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Rome would have been impossible before the development of writing. Writing allowed for the wide dissemination of standards, principles, and legal codes. The modern nation-state and our current form of electoral representation required the development of the printing press. With mass literacy and the printing press, the populace could educate themselves about the pressing issues of the day. Americans could study Thomas Paine’s Commonsense, for instance, in the years before the American Revolution.

Today, the tools of social media organically impel humanity toward deeper levels of cooperation, more efficient sharing of resources, and direct social and political engagement. As media theorist Clay Shirky writes, “However minor they may seem, any tool that improves shared awareness or group coordination can be pressed into service for political means, because the freedom to act in a group is inherently political.” New social tools allow for coordinated action and organization, helping even large and disparate groups work together.

While we tend to think of human nature as fixed, when we look back at our history we find it is is inherently malleable and permeable. Oscar Wilde wrote, “The only thing that one really knows about human nature is that it changes. Change is the one quality we can predicate of it. The systems that fail are those that rely on the permanency of human nature, and not on its growth and development.”

We approach an inevitable threshold of global transformation. At this threshold, we can intentionally utilize media - social technologies - to reverse engineer our culture, to evolve mass consciousness and change the prevailing worldview. The goal is to empower people to take charge of their own destiny, to build autonomous communities and new institutions that support resilient, regenerative practices - to build the alternative to the corporatized culture of the mainstream.

As Shirky notes, the new tools of social media have profoundly reshaped the media industry. These tools allow for “action by loosely structured groups, operating without managerial direction outside of the profit motive.” All businesses are media businesses, requiring a constant flow of information. Money, for instance, could be seen as a form of media, as pure information, circulating through the world’s data networks. The recent success of Bitcoin reveals that the world’s system of Central Banks could be made obsolete, in much the way Napster threatened the reigning media corporations by permitting peer-to-peer exchanges of media.

We appear to be in a race between the forces of control, which seek to maintain and manage the status quo, and the alternatives that could subvert or supersede it. Digital corporations like Facebook and Google - billion-person platforms - tend toward the development of new methods for controlling or limiting the free flow of information. The US government, in particular, has developed a hyper-sophisticated surveillance system. The extent of it was revealed by the Edgar Snowden NSA leaks.

There is the potential for the rapid evolution of peer-to-peer social networks and new media technologies to bring about a profound transformation of our social relations. New developments could impel us from a system of representative control and a monocultural monetary system, to a participatory form of democracy where many different tools for exchanging and storing value exist simultaneously. Such a transformation is only meaningful if it addresses the ecological crisis, leading toward a regenerative society, and ameliorates global inequality of wealth and resources.


Propaganda / Public Relations

Over the last century, the political and financial elite have employed propaganda, mass psychology, and social engineering to control mass society. In the 1920s, Edgar Bearnays, nephew of Sigmund Freud and the founder of modern public relations, wrote, “The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country.”

The political and corporate elite understand that mass consciousness must be steered, if not controlled, to perpetuate the current system. In ‘UNESCO Its Purpose and Its Philosophy,’ Julian Huxley advocated “taking the techniques of persuasion and information and true propaganda that we have learnt to apply nationally in war, and deliberately bending them to the international tasks of peace, if necessary utilizing them, as Lenin envisaged, to "overcome the resistance of millions" to desirable change.”

Recently, the Internet has changed the dynamic by liberating information and revealing the secret workings of power, as in the Wikileaks and Edgar Snowden affairs. This has created an uncertain arrangement. According to Zbigniew Brzezinski, conservative geopolitical strategist and a founder of the Council of the Foreign Relations, “The central challenge of our time is posed not by global terrorism, but rather by the intensifying turbulence caused by the phenomenon of global political awakening.” This global political awakening has erupted in recent years, in episodes like the Occupy movement and the Arab Spring.

Can tools of public relations and, to a certain extent, propaganda be utilized effectively to elevate and evolve human consciousness on a planetary scale? What are these tools and how can they be applied to our current situation?

Mythos-Inner Wild

Mythos is a transformational leadership program that explores the power of story and it’s ability to shape the reality we experience on an individual and collective level. It is a five week journey that bridges, through group work and one-on-one sessions, the ancient practices of meditation, nature connection, rites of passage, contemplative dialog, and pilgrimage, with the cutting edge of regenerative community and leadership development, systems theory, integral theory, and adult developmental theory. The result is an entirely unique urban based transformational program which will deepen participants understanding of and relationship to self, Earth, and community while at the same time will help to turn evolutionary insights into engaged holistic action in the world.

The goal of Mythos is to offer the tools and space through which participants are able to align in deeper and fuller ways to their own evolutionary unfolding. With an emphasis on individual, group and leadership development in an urban setting we seek to enrich participants self-awareness while at the same time empowering them with interior and exterior tools, skills and knowledge that will help them to turn their evolutionary insights into inspired action in the world.

Subjects, Themes and Experiential Theories Addressed in Mythos: Deep ecology, regenerative community development, ecocentric awareness, contemplative practice and action, systems theory, leadership development, nature connection, local ecology, sustainability, ritual and rites of passage, adult development, group development and integral theory.

Future projects

Regenerative Strategy


According to many projections, we are on track for a 4 - 6 degree Celsius temperature rise by 2100. From the Washington Post a few years ago: “The chief economist for the International Energy Agency said Monday that current global energy consumption levels put the Earth on a trajectory to warm by 6 degrees Celsius (10.8 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels by 2100, an outcome he called “a catastrophe for all of us.””[12] Almost equally threatening is ocean acidification (the oceans are 30% more acidic than 40 years ago because they absorb a large amount of the excess CO2) and species extinction (which will accelerate as the climate heats up with more than 50% of extant species gone by 2100).

Media and Social Networks

One option is that we could take the permaculture approach, and use the platforms and networks we already have. Another approach is to build new tools and platforms.

A global transformation of human consciousness could, in theory, be orchestrated through utilization of the mass and mainstream media. On the one hand, traditional 20th Century media like film, radio, and television continue to have a tremendous impact on human society, producing and reproducing certain forms or levels of subjectivity. On the other hand, the new social networks created by the evolution of communications technology have aggregated gigantic audiences.

Over 1 billion people are connected on Facebook and Google. The directors of these new companies are, in themselves, quite young. They are in their thirties, and may well live to see a 6 degree Celsius temperature rise in global temperature, without a rapid change of direction. If the leaders of these companies were to take the scientific data on accelerated climate change to heart, they would realize that they are in a unique position to use the communications platforms they have created to institute a rapid evolution of human civilization, from a system of centralized control to one of shared knowledge and shared power, based on resilience and sustainability. If the leaders of these companies do not undergo a rapid awakening, it is conceivable that new networks could emerge that are also able to outreach to hundreds of millions if not billions of people, in a short time-frame.

Our economic model is based on the need for constant growth and incessant consumerism. We now need to change our direction and build a regenerative economy, where our activity meshes with the limits of the biosphere. This goal needs to be converted into a message that the mass populace can understand, along with a set of immediate actions that people can take to conserve energy and start to remove excess CO2 from the atmosphere. Media and social networks provide the necessary instruments for conveying new ideas, values, principles globally, along with new networks for collaboration, adaptation, and conservation.

At the moment, less than 1% of global energy production comes from solar. This is growing but could be scaled up rapidly, through a mass mobilization. Solar power has now reached parity with traditional forms of energy. The entire fleet of the world’s 800 million cars could be converted to run on electricity powered from renewable sources in the next few years. At the same time, mass volunteer initiatives could be organized for people to plant forests and organic gardens on urban rooftops.

Google and/or Facebook could become amazing instruments for messaging the necessity of this transition and also for creating the social infrastructure for a mass volunteer movement of civil society.

One way for this to happen would be to create something like a “Google/Facebook Climate Command Center” and do a large-scale public announcement and PR campaign. The leaders of Google/Facebook could tell the media: “We have recognized the urgency of the situation with climate change and species extinction, and we are committing ourselves 100% to do whatever is necessary to address it. This level of threat to the human species obviously takes precedence over all profit-making or corporate goals” Faceboon/Google could then add a feature to every page which links to the CCC and also provides short updates on CCC initiatives, news, and projects.

The IEA produced a 2005 report, “Saving Oil in a Hurry,” which looked at the tremendous amount of oil and CO2 emissions that could be saved by collective actions, such as compulsory car pooling. The growth of the sharing economy provides a model for how we can transition from economic transactions to trust-based exchanges that conserve resources. Google / Facebook could potentially develop a universal system for sharing and conserving all kinds of tools and resources that could be made available to its entire user base. Once again, it is possible that alternatives to these corporations could emerge, but the value of using existing networks and platforms that have aggregated over a billion users is obvious, in a time of ecological emergency where every passing week or month may be critical.

New and Ongoing Projects

Proposal for a decentralized media network

An article in Bitshares, an organization working to provide true free market structures by decentralizing business, states the block chain technology offers a new way to align market forces to promote the production and syndication of the highest quality of news content in an entirely decentralized manner that richly rewards authors, readers, and publishers who participate in the system without having to rely on ads, donations, or micro-payments. It is truly decentralized and autonomous and will automatically provide market incentives to produce quality articles while earning a handsome profit for its decentralized owners.”[1]

1. A decentralized mass media network could be launched by using the block chain architecture of Bitcoin. Among the characteristics of this network would that nobody owns it and nobody controls it.

2. Layers of Curation - News stories get submitted, and voted up on down, like on reddit.

3. Trusted, Anonymous Sources - Users are fully anonymous, but their accounts have a trust score associated with them.

A new user has a trust value of 0 - users with 0 trust score can consume content / data, but cannot submit any stories. Only users with a trust value of 1 may submit stories. To get a trust value of 1, an existing user with 1+ who fully trusts you must co-sign your account. They may remove their co-sign at any time, which will bring your trust back to 0.

If for at any reason a user with a trust value of 1+ user submits spam / fake news, or is deemed to be trolling by the community, they will be voted out by the network. If user X gets voted out, all of the people who co-signed him will also loose all of their trust.

Example: If user V has 30 co-signs of his own, but he was one of the people who co-signed user X (the spammer), then user V’s account is de-activated as well. The zero strike policy is to enforce that sources are highly trusted to the point that someone their willing to risk all of their own reputation for each person they co-sign. To curate what news is important, sources with +1 trust and above can vote stories up / down.


Twister is an NSA proof twitter, built with code from bitcoin and bittorrent.[2] This application of bitcoin code is only one example of how these open-source technologies could be utilized to engineer social change. Many commentators and political theorists see a need for developing decentralized and secure versions of today's popular social networks. The Edward Snowden leaks revealed that current platforms like Google and Facebook are infiltrated and manipulated by governments. Content on them is ultimately controlled by profit-seeking corporations.[3]

Beyond Post-Industrial Civilization

We find ourselves in a window of opportunity where we either radically change our direction as a species or face devastating consequences. We are at that threshold where, as the social ecologist Murray Bookchin put it, our world “will either undergo revolutionary changes, so far-reaching in character that humanity will totally transform its social relations and its very conception of life, or it will suffer an apocalypse that may well end humanity’s tenure on the planet.” Examining trends in climate change and species extinction, the esteemed scientist James Lovelock, who developed the Gaia Hypothesis, now thinks there could be 150 million people left alive at the end of this century. Other scientists share his ominous outlook. As resources such as fuel and fresh water become scarce, it is quite likely we will see even more horrific wars, masses of refugees, famines, droughts, pandemics, and revolutions.

The alternative, proposed by Buckminster Fuller in the 1960s, is that society could be redesigned to be “comprehensively successful” for everyone on earth. We could realize our time as a transition to a new form of civilization, based on cooperation and efficient use of scarce resources, accepting temporary sacrifices toward a greater goal.

Through a global citizen's movement, we could re-localize agriculture and energy, while liberating knowledge as a free resource and commonwealth. We could institute a liberated society, based on direct, participatory democracy - the rule of all by all. We could institute “cradle to cradle” manufacturing practices, and use satyagraha techniques to pacify our global civilization. We could supersede money by innovating new systems for exchanging value based on trust and mutual aid. We have the capacity to restore the natural systems we have corrupted, and create a new planetary culture based on communality of interest - based on our kinship with the natural world.

Toward Psycho-Technic or Post-Technological Civilization?

If we must leave behind the current paradigm of post-industrial civilization, based on incessant material and economic development, what kind of new paradigm can replace it? Where does humanity direct its intentions and its enormous productive energies? Could we engineer a shift from quantitative metrics to qualitative attributes - to the deepening of communities, relationships, and experiences?

One area entirely suppressed by today's scientific community and mainstream institutions is psychic phenomena. Materialist science is based on the principle that consciousness is only brain-based, and this is the basic support for the materialist philosophy of industrial and post-industrial capitalist civilization. There is much evidence for the existence of all sorts of extraordinary psychic effects, and many people have direct experience of such phenomena. Could psychic or Psi phenomena be part of a new paradigm for human civilization - a new direction for inner, rather than outer growth?

As an analogy, we can consider the recent discovery and application of electricity. Once engineers learned how to conduct and store electricity in the 19th Century, we transformed the entire earth in a blink of evolutionary time. If we discovered reliable means to access, utilize, and channel psychic energy, we might participate in an extremely rapid evolution of consciousness and society. Jose Arguelles has proposed that our future culture would be “psycho-technic,” applying our modern technical capacities to the realms of the psyche that modern society lost contact with in the last centuries.

The visionary philosopher Jose Arguelles coined the phrase, Psycho-Technic, as well as Post-technological Civilization.