Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Quotation Nation

Owners of capital will stimulate the working class to buy more and more expensive goods, houses and technology; pushing them to take more and more expensive credit, until their debt becomes unbearable. The unpaid debt will lead to bankruptcy of banks, which will have to be nationalized and the State will have to take the road which will eventually lead to communism - Karl Marx, Das Kapital, 1867.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Gift Of The Givers

We have lived our lives by the assumption that what was good for us would be good for the world. We have been wrong. We must change our lives so that it will be possible to live by the contrary assumption, that what is good for the world will be good for us. And that requires that we make the effort to know the world and learn what is good for it - Wendell Berry

Let us be clear; the purpose of non-accumulation is not to exculpate oneself from the crimes of a money based civilization. That is merely ego. You don't get virtue points for poverty; non-accumulation is not a goal in and of itself. The goal is to enjoy true wealth, the wealth of connection and flow; rather than the counterfeit wealth of having. But what if you have wealth beyond what you can share in the ordinary flow of life?

To the conscientious person, such wealth might seem to be more a burden than a gift. We are bound, and we are pleased, to make right use of what we have been given. Wealth is no exception. Those who are blessed and cursed with a lot of it have no more reason to abdicate its duties than anyone has to spurn the gifts, responsibilities, and opportunities to serve that we are each born with.

Excess wealth, whether inherited from family or from an earlier time in one's own life, carries with it a desire to use it well. It is a dharma, a call to service. The challenge of excess wealth is to give of it in a way that is beautiful. This is the kind of investment that is aligned with a future economy in which status comes from giving, not having; and security comes not from accumulation, but from being a nexus of flow.

Can we do away with the word and concept of investment altogether? Consider its etymology: it means to clothe, as in to take naked money and put it into new vestments, something material, something real in the physical or social realm. Money is naked human potential-creative energy that has not yet been "clothed" with material or social constructions. True investment is to array money in sacred vestments: to use it to create, protect and sustain the things that are becoming sacred to us today. These are the same things that will form the backbone of tomorrow's economy.

How obvious it is that sacred investing has little to do with turning a profit. If you want to help the village, then give a woman a cow. Or if her dignity demands it, lend the money at zero interest (which is a gift of the use of money). If you care more about increasing your monetary wealth instead, then do that instead and forget the pretense. The saying is true: you cannot serve two masters. In both the examples, at some point the conflicting agendas come to the surface; and one must choose. But, this choice will no longer pertain in a sacred economy - the two will be united.

If you want to create a world of gratitude, a world of the gift, you can start by using today's money; while it still exists, to create more gratitude in the world. If we have a large enough reservoir of gratitude, then our society can withstand practically anything. Again, we live in a world of fundamental abundance that we have, through our beliefs and habits, rendered artificially poor. So badly have we damaged planet and spirit that it will require a full outpouring of all our gifts to heal it. The outpouring of gifts comes from gratitude. Therefore, the best investment you can make with your money is to generate gratitude. It doesn't matter if the gratitude recognizes you as the giver.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

No Planet B

In the late afternoon on day two of the international climate change talks in Durban, Christiana Figueres (Head of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change) made a passionate case for why failure to reach an agreement was not an option: the future of humanity is at stake. She went on to stress that there is no Plan B, just as there is no Planet B.

As the Kyoto protocol on global warming runs out, the COP17 conference to agree a replacement limps towards failure. Sir David Attenborough, of the BBC Planet series, says that city dwellers are out of touch with what is happening in the natural world; and therefore don't take responsibility for the future of the planet. Judging by the response to date, politicians and corporate leaders are urban animals who - apart from the odd tropical vacation - spend their days inside the airconditioned spaces of parliament or head office buildings.

The message is that we may as well carry on belching carbon into the atmosphere because, if we don't, someone else will – an argument that could equally be used to justify selling one's daughter into prostitution. If the representatives of developing countries won't take responsibility, most other political leaders in developed countries won't either. The implicit message is that the job of tackling global warming can be placed on hold while they sort out the economic crisis. That, on more optimistic estimates, will take until about 2017. The planet will then be perilously close, scientists predict, to the tipping point for irreversible climate damage. 

Some say we need a miracle to save the eurozone and the banks. We need a far bigger one to save the planet. According to the World Bank's 2010 world development report, if all coal-fired plants scheduled to be built in the next 25 years come into operation, their lifetime CO2 emissions will equal those of all coal burning since the industrial revolution. Business leaders, particularly in financial services, are now the true rulers of the world. Can they take responsibility? It seems not yet. The world's banks may be running out of cash, but a report just published by environmental groups shows that in 2010 they invested nearly twice as much in coal-fired electricity and coal mining as they did in 2005.

No, if we want the planet to be saved, we must rely on the politicians. But, persuading the public that they should tolerate nearly a decade of austerity, is itself a daunting challenge for leaders; who have assured voters that neoliberalism could deliver uninterrupted growth. Global warming presents an even greater challenge. People have to be persuaded to make sacrifices for the common good. Neoliberalism, however, has left politicians holding the ring between competing demands for individual gratification. 

They run what the US political theorist Philip Bobbitt calls "market states", which have the sole duty of maximising opportunities for their individual citizens, and accept no obligation to social justice or collective welfare. The common good has become, to politicians of both left and right, a completely alien concept. They have no language in which to convey to their electorates the importance and urgency of what needs to be done. They will no doubt emerge from Durban with fine words and some semblance of agreement or, if nothing else, agreement on when they should make an agreement. But for now, the planet will just have to carry on burning.

Homo Urbanus Africanus

In 1950, there were 20 million city dwellers in Africa. Today, the number has gone up to 400 million and in 2050 it is projected that there will be more than a billion people. This radical evolution is due to rural migration, economics, border changes and above all population growth.

To describe this accelerated urbanising phenomenon, sociologists have coined a new term: "Homo urbanus." After Europe, the Americas and Asia, Africa's own urban revolution has begun. The most urbanised regions of the continent are found along the coastal areas of North Africa, West Africa, the Nile Valley and Ethiopia. In the Southern Africa region, the coast connects Cape Town to Maputo. Whilst some 40 percent of citizens live in megalopolises such as Cairo, Lagos, Kinshasa, Abidjan, Johannesburg, and Casablanca; the remaining 60 percent live in cities with less than 500,000 inhabitants.

A meeting place par excellence, the city is a melting pot of cultural and economic exchanges. It's also a space for individual expression where many easily escape social pressures. Eating habits have evolved in the city. In Dakar, like in Kinshasa, meals are being eaten more and more on the go; outside the traditional family setting. In Rabat and Casablanca, the middle class go grocery shopping in large malls while parents take their children to activity centers, have lunch at a restaurant and go to the gym for a boost of energy during the weekend. Costly pleasures far from the grasp of the less fortunate.

The city has also become the preferred place of expression for the younger generation (the average age of the African city dweller is 18) who are particularly affected by job insecurity, the failure of the education system and the end of the welfare state. While some are tempted by emigration, others are exploring new ways of affirming their identity by virtue of popular protests and economic resourcefulness.

Many have opted to become taxi drivers, tourist guides or resorted to touting on the streets. They exorcise their ill-feelings in slang) and music based on social realities. The youth's disquietness is also reflected in their struggle with marginalisation, the consumption of drugs and involvement in violent crime. A real challenge for African leaders.

More than ever, urban policies need to take into account citizens' needs in essential services such as drinking water and sanitation systems, electricity, medical access, education, sports and activities. Equally important is a continent wide economic policy focusing on the creation of jobs. This year, the youths were instrumental in the toppling of regimes in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and they have started turning up the heat on Sub-Saharan Africa. Homo urbanus africanus takes change seriously.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Climate Vulnerability

The global north is at lower risk of global warming impacts and is better placed to cope, than the global south; but globalization means we are all affected. When the world's nations convene in Durban in November in the latest attempt to inch towards a global deal to tackle climate change; one fundamental principle will, as ever, underlie the negotiations.

It is the contention that while rich, industrialized nations caused climate change through past carbon emissions; it is the developing world that is bearing the brunt. It follows from that, developing nations say, that the rich nations must therefore pay to enable the developing nations to both develop cleanly and adapt to the impacts of global warming.

The point is starkly illustrated in a new map of climate vulnerability (above): the rich global north has low vulnerability, the poor global south has high vulnerability. The map (produced by risk analysts Maplecroft) combines measures of the risk of climate change impacts - such as storms, floods, and droughts - with the social and financial ability of both communities and governments to cope.

But it is not until you go all the way down to 103 on the list, out of 193 nations, that you encounter the first major developed nation: Greece. The first 102 nations are all developing ones. Italy is next, at 124, and like Greece ranks relatively highly due to the risk of drought. The UK is at 178 and the country on Earth least vulnerable to climate change, according to Maplecroft, is Iceland.

The vulnerability index has been calculated down to a resolution of 25 square kilometers; and Beldon says at this scale the vulnerability of the developing world's fast growing cities becomes clear: "A lot of big cities have developed in exposed areas such as flood plains, and in developing economies they don't have the capacity to adapt."

Of the world's 20 fastest growing cities, six are classified as 'extreme risk' by Maplecroft; including Calcutta in India, Manila in the Philippines, Jakarta in Indonesia and Dhaka and Chittagong in Bangladesh. Addis Ababa in Ethiopia also features. A further 10 are rated as 'high risk' including Guangdong, Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Karachi and Lagos.

China, the world's workshop, sits almost exactly halfway in the vulnerability index at 98 out of 193. That's appropriate, as China now sits awkwardly between the nations getting rich on carbon emissions and those suffering from its effects. And that's the other major contention that will underpin the UN climate talks in Durban.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Creativity Bias

The next time your great idea at work elicits silence or eye rolls, you might just pity those co-workers. Fresh research indicates they don't even know what a creative idea looks like and that creativity, hailed as a positive change agent, actually makes people squirm.

How is it that people say they want creativity but in reality often reject it? Research to be published reports on two 2010 experiments at the University of Pennsylvania involving more than 200 people. The studies' findings include:

· Creative ideas are by definition novel, and novelty can trigger feelings of uncertainty that make most people uncomfortable.

· People dismiss creative ideas in favor of ideas that are purely practical - tried and true.

· Objective evidence shoring up the validity of a creative proposal does not motivate people to accept it.

· Anti-creativity bias is so subtle that people are unaware of it, which can interfere with their ability to recognize a creative idea. For example, subjects had a negative reaction to a running shoe, equipped with nanotechnology, which adjusted fabric thickness to cool the foot and reduce blisters.

To uncover bias against creativity, the researchers used a subtle technique to measure unconscious bias - the kind to which people may not want to admit, such as racism. Results revealed that while people explicitly claimed to desire creative ideas, they actually associated creative ideas with negative words such as "vomit," "poison" and "agony." This bias caused subjects to reject ideas for new products that were novel and high quality.

The findings imply a deep irony. Uncertainty drives the search for and generation of creative ideas, but uncertainty also makes us less able to recognize creativity; perhaps when we need it most. The existence, and nature, of a bias against creativity can help explain why people might reject creative ideas and stifle scientific advancements; even in the face of strong intentions to the contrary. The field of creativity may need to shift its current focus from identifying how to generate more creative ideas, to identify how to help innovative institutions recognize and accept creativity.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Gaming Sustainability

Collaboration, urgent optimism, committed focus - these are the skills and qualities needed in humans to solve sustainability’s biggest challenges and, as it turns out, also the most minor of missions belonging to Azeroth in the online video game “World of Warcraft.”

A massive multiplayer game where thousands of people play at any time, “World of Warcraft” requires at least five to 20 players for a single challenge. Why? James Gee, a professor at Arizona State University studying situated learning in games, says it’s because the problems in “World of Warcraft” are too complex for just one person to take on. “It’s an extremely complicated world,” Gee says. “Essentially, this game is controlling hundreds of variables that interact with each other statistically to give the outcomes of the decisions you make.” 

While game worlds such as Azeroth may be fictional, the real abilities of its eleven-million-plus community to band together and solve a relentless onslaught of problems are beginning to attract a growing number of researchers interested in how online games might be changing human behavior. But, what does this mean for sustainability? A small number of games recently created to engage players in earthly environments - worlds that lack sufficient supplies of water, oil and food - point to an inherent power online games have in the discourse of sustainability: virtual reality or, in sustainability’s case, virtual futurity.

In her 2010 TED Talk about the power of games to solve real-world problems, Jane McGonigal, a game designer, researcher and author of “Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World,” says that if humans want to survive another century on Earth, we will need to start playing more games. In other words, if the role of sustainability is to plan for the future, then researchers like McGonigal believe that playing games - and designing specially tailored games for us to play -will help us better experience and co-design that future.

Having a hard time envisioning what an oil shortage would be like? Well, there’s a game for that. Created in 2007, in part by McGonigal, “World Without Oil” is a game that challenges its players to survive an oil shortage. The aim of the game is to blur the line between the real world and a virtual one where oil has become scarce. “The oil shortage is fictional, but we put enough online content out there for you to believe that it’s real and to live your real life as if we’ve run out of oil,” McGonigal says.

The game forces players to think about how their everyday actions are connected to a complex web of processes. In a world without oil, gamers are able to see firsthand scarcity’s rippling effects: impacts from the oil shortage extend beyond figuring out how to get to work and into more dicey areas such as food supply, where food transportation is affected by oil scarcity. The 1,700 gamers who signed up to play “World Without Oil” left in their wake blog posts, video posts and photos documenting their adventures and how their experiences have translated to their real-world lives.

In another game created by McGonigal at the Institute for the Future, a non-profit research center specializing in long-term forecasting, “SuperStruct” engaged 8,000 gamers over an eight-week period to come up with solutions to sustain human life on Earth. Under the fictional premise that humans had only 23 years left to live, the game’s players came up with 500 solutions for the human species to endure. When did games become so serious? Decades after the term “serious game” came into use, the Serious Game Initiative formed in 2002 to encourage the production of games that do more than entertain, but rather are intended to address issues with major policy or management implications.

It wasn’t until last year, though, that games began to really earn some cultural capital. In 2010, McGonigal’s “Evoke“ - a social network game to help empower people all over the world to come up with creative solutions to urgent social problems” - was commissioned by the World Bank Institute. And most recently, the academic journal Nature published its first paper co-authored by an online gaming community.

Studies show that gamers play for a variety of reasons and that “escapism” and “entertainment” often rank lower on the list than one might expect. Typically, there is not a lot of fun involved in scarcity and behavioral modification, two of sustainability’s greatest - and linked - challenges. Changing one’s mind and routines is no easy feat. It’s also notoriously easy for us as humans to shrug off the complexity and weight of our decisions, especially if we can’t see what is at stake. An inability to conceptualize scarcity might be as threatening as scarcity itself.

The future is hard to predict. And while the power of games as a social platform remains unclear, it’s easy to see that alternate game worlds will increasingly affect how humans participate and interact in the real world. How humans choose to respond to the development of virtual worlds could very well affect our chances of achieving an epic win in the real one.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Generation X Leaders

William Strauss and Neil Howe, coauthors of Generations, posit that each generation makes a unique bequest to those that follow and generally seeks to correct the excesses of the previous generation. They argue that the Baby Boomer excess is ideology and that the Generation X reaction to that excess involves an emphasis on pragmatism and effectiveness. Generation X - those born roughly in the 1960’s and 70’s - engender a deep admiration for their generational traits, particularly in the context of current challenges.

Future leaders in all spheres will have to contend with a world with finite limits, no easy answers and the sobering realization that we are facing significant, seemingly intractable problems on multiple fronts. Perhaps the biggest change from the past: leaders will have to listen and respond to diverse points of view. There will be no dominant voice. In this context, Gen X'ers will be the leaders we need. The experiences that shaped those who were teens in the late 70’s and 80’s, translate into valuable contemporary traits and perspectives:

· Their accelerated contact with the real world, for many through a "latch-key" childhood, has made them resourceful and hardworking. They meet their commitments and take employability seriously.
· Their distrust of institutions grew as they witnessed the lay-offs of the 80’s and has prompted them to value self-reliance. They have developed strong survival skills and the ability to handle whatever comes their way with resilience. X'ers instinctively maintain a well-nurtured portfolio of options and networks.
· A sense of alienation from their immediate surroundings as teens, coupled with rapidly expanding technology, has allowed they to look outward in ways no generation before could or did. They operate comfortably in a global and digital world. Many of they are avid adopters of the collaborative technology that promises to re-shape how we work and live.
· Their awareness of global issues was shaped in their youth, and they are richly multicultural. They bring a more unconscious acceptance of diversity than any preceding generation. Their formative years followed the civil rights advances of the 1960’s. High divorce rates during their youth meant they are the first generation to grow up with women in independent authority roles. They welcome the contributions of diverse individuals.
· Their preference for "alternative" and early experience in making their own way left them inclined to innovate. They tend to look for a different way forward. Their strongest arena of financial success as a generation has been their entrepreneurial achievements.
· Their skepticism and ability to isolate practical truths have resulted in rich humor and incisive perspective. They help us all redefine issues and question reality.
· Their childhood made them fiercely dedicated to being good parents, prompting them to raise important questions about the way we all balance work with commitments beyond the corporation.
· Their pragmatism has given them practical and value-oriented sensibilities that, will help them serve as effective stewards of both today's organizations and tomorrow's world.

The most difficult elements of their past may well be those that provide them with the strongest capabilities for today. They have traded the idealism of the Baby Boomer generation for realism, tempered by value-oriented sensibilities. At mid-life, they are well prepared to serve as pragmatic managers, applying toughness and resolution to defend society while safeguarding the interests of the young. They will force nations to produce more than they consume and fix the infrastructure.

In today's challenging world, their humor may be their most-valued asset. Czech leader Václav Havel said, "There are no exact guidelines. There are probably no guidelines at all. The only thing I can recommend at this stage is a sense of humor, an ability to see things in their ridiculous and absurd dimensions, to laugh at others and at ourselves, a sense of irony regarding everything that calls out for parody in this world." They help us step back…and remind us to laugh.

They will have the opportunity to change the corporate template and create organizations that are more conducive to their values. As leaders, they will be able to reshape the organizations they lead to make them better places for future generations and themselves; make them more humane, and break the cultural norms of corporate life - long hours, a focus on full-time work, heterogeneous perspectives and language of combat.

They will bring their desire to create better alternatives, including how to balance work with commitments beyond the corporation and finding meaning in work. Most importantly, their preference for the "alternative" and their inclination to innovate will allow them to look for a different way forward.

Reinventing Human Accomplishment

Gary Hamel, celebrated management thinker, makes the case for reinventing management for the 21st century. In this video essay, Hamel paints a vivid picture of what it means to build organizations that are fundamentally fit for the future - resilient, inventive, inspiring and accountable. Modern management is one of humanity’s most important inventions, Hamel argues. But it was developed more than a century ago to maximize standardization, specialization, hierarchy, control and shareholder interests. While that model delivered an immense contribution to global prosperity, the values driving our most powerful institutions are fundamentally at odds with those of this age. Zero-sum thinking, profit-obsession, power, conformance, control, hierarchy and obedience; don’t stand a chance against community, interdependence, freedom, flexibility, transparency, meritocracy and self-determination. 

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


Occasionally, we encounter natural forces more powerful than ourselves, which cannot be ignored, like the recent Japanese tsunami and earthquake. We generally plug up our ears to hearing nature's calls, most of which are subtle and easily ignored. But the forces of nature want us to listen. By entering into the subtle conversation, natural forces can help us cope with the mess we've created; because urban people can't help but be disconnected from nature. For many, the environment isn't a real part of their daily lives, but something outside it, something experienced in a Discovery special. As an extreme example of this disconnect, some children don't know that food comes from soil.

Many urbanites see nature as a stock of resources to be converted to human purpose. Yet many indigenous people see nature as a living god; to be loved, worshipped and lived with. It doesn’t take rocket science to know that the Arctic is melting. Yet, the people who thought they could safely harness nuclear power were dumb enough to put the plants’ backup generators in the basements, vulnerable to the same tsunami that could knock out the plants. We need to evoke the primal creativity of wilderness now in society, to alter the self-destructive systems of business as usual, and bring abundance out of scarcity. Bringing the wild into our urban lives can put us in greater harmony with the natural world.

How do we break the spell of this cultural separation from the natural world? Pressing far past our edge could take us beyond safe urban locations, into the wilderness. We don't have to go that far to regain the connection, letting the wildness in can start by simply getting our hands in the dirt. While good ways to enhance our personal growth, how do these approaches help accelerate the evolution of our larger society; where rising human population and constantly increasing rates of growth meet limits to the Earth's finite resources? There are levers, or places within a complex system (such as a firm, a city, an economy, a living being or an ecosystem) where a small shift in one thing can produce big changes in everything.

Part of the vision is to create systems that are both smaller and more complex. With constantly increasing use of resources no longer possible, a new paradigm based on maximum cycling and recycling of resources is the only sustainable course. Our economies are based on rapidly turning natural resources into consumer goods; and then quickly into trash, trucked and dumped at great cost. The alternative includes full product reuse and recycling; and the composting of all biodegradable waste, returning it to the soil. We need to take a risk, to go past the edge; to exercise the power that we already have in order to strengthen our capacity to be of service.

Thursday, May 26, 2011


The landscape photographer Allison Davies uses the camera to capture the future's dystopian landscape with the playfulness of a child creating a fantasy world. Davies makes these spaces otherworldly by excluding any evidence of the developed world and by interjecting herself into the frame wearing a strange protective suit. The images appear as if the apocalypse has come and gone, leaving only Allison unharmed.  "Outerland", the full 65 image series, is available as a book in a collaboration with Charles Lane Press.

Friday, May 6, 2011

The Tree of Life

From Terrence Malick, the acclaimed director of such classic films as Badlands, Days of Heaven and The Thin Red Line; The Tree of Life is the impressionistic story of a Midwestern family in the 1950's. The film follows the life journey of the eldest son, Jack, through the innocence of childhood to his disillusioned adult years as he tries to reconcile a complicated relationship with his father. Jack finds himself a lost soul in the modern world, seeking answers to the origins and meaning of life while questioning the existence of faith. Through Malick's signature imagery, we see how both brute nature and spiritual grace shape not only our lives as individuals and families, but all life.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Millennium Consumption Goals

A Sri Lankan scientist is calling for the drafting of Millennium Consumption Goals (MCG's) to [help] rich countries to curb their climate damaging consumption habits, in the same way the poor have Millennium Development Goals to get them out of poverty. The more familiar Millennium Development Goals are a set of 8 goals for underdeveloped societies to halve poverty, lack of access to clean water, illiteracy and other key indicators by 2015. As the scientist, Mohan Munasinghe, noted, consumption is at the heart of overdeveloped countries’ environmental burden; so what targets can these MCG's set forth?

Halve obesity and overweight rates by 2020. This will reduce mortality, morbidity and economic costs; as well as reduce ecological pressures driven by over consumption of food.

Halve the work week from the current 40+ hours. This will better distribute jobs, wealth, promote healthier living, and reduce economic activity, which is essential in our ecologically taxed world.

Better distribute wealth by raising taxes on the wealthiest members of society. The days of extreme wealth spent on luxurious living must draw to a close. The Earth can’t handle it any longer.

Double the rate of use of non-motorized transport. Increasing these forms of transport will improve health, reduce fossil fuel and material use and make for safer cities.

Guarantee access to health care for all. A minefield in the USA perhaps, but standard procedure in most industrial countries; so an easy goal to achieve.

Saturday, March 19, 2011


NASA's new Solar Dynamics Laboratory reveals an erupting plasma plume - aka a solar prominence - looping into the atmosphere along a magnetic field line. Ten Earths could be stacked inside the twisting ring.

If I Should Have A Daughter

Sarah Kay tells the story of her metamorphosis - from a wide-eyed teenager soaking in verse at New York's Bowery Poetry Club to a teacher connecting kids with the power of self-expression through Project V.O.I.C.E. - and gives two breathtaking performances of "B" and "Hiroshima."

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Mind Over Matter

American psychologist and philosopher William James remarked that: "Everyone knows that arrests of brain development occasion imbecility, that blows on the head abolish memory or consciousness, and that brain-stimulants and poisons change the quality of our ideas." However, psychology and physiology still has not been able to produce an intelligible model; of how biochemical processes could possibly be transformed into conscious experience.

James explored the various possibilities for the exact type of functional dependence between the brain and consciousness. This dependance is normally thought of as productive, in the sense that steam is produced as a function of the kettle. But this is not the only form of function that we find in nature: we also have at least two other forms of functional dependence: the permissive function, as found in the trigger of a crossbow; and the transmissive function, as of a lens or a prism. The lens or prism do not produce the light but merely transmit it in a different form.

But, a scientist never observes states of the brain producing states of consciousness. Indeed, it is not even clear what we could possibly mean by observing such production. It has been pointed out many times that there is no logical requirement that only "like can cause like" - or in other words, that only things of a similar nature can affect each other. But this consideration has not removed the mystery from the mind-body relationship. The production of consciousness by the brain, if it does in fact occur, may be as great a miracle as thought that is spontaneously generated.

Similarly, the dependence of consciousness on the brain for the manner of its manifestation in the material world; does not imply that consciousness depends upon the brain for its existence. Therefore, the brain is not an organ that generates consciousness, but rather an instrument evolved to transmit and limit the processes of consciousness and of conscious attention; so as to restrict them to those aspects of the material world which at any moment are crucial for the earthly success of the individual.

Recommended Reads

1. Be Here Now - Ram Das
2. The Field - Lynne McTaggart
3. Vasistha's Yoga - Swami Venkatesananda
4. True Love - Thich Nhat Hahn
5. Anastasia - Vladimir Megre
6. Half Asleep in Frog Pyjamas - Tom Robbins
7. Ishmael - Daniel Quinn
8. Autobiography of a Yogi - Paramahansa Yogananda
9. Way of the Shaman - Michael Harner
10. Sacred Journey of the Peaceful Warrior - Dan Millman

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Quotation Nation

Letting your customers set your standards is a dangerous game, because the race to the bottom is pretty easy to win. Setting your own standards - and living up to them - is a better way to profit. Not to mention a better way to make your day worth all the effort you put into it - Seth Godin

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Pronoia 1

Are you in quest of a Soul Friend or a Freak Flag Consort? A Wild Confidante or a Master of Curiosity, who listens better than anyone ever; or a Lucid Dreamer with whom you can practice the art of liberation. The invitations below have been designed by the Rapturist to attract allies who are committed to the art of compassion and reverence. If you're a Crafty Optimist or Mystical Activist or Ceremonial Teaser, who aspires to put the elation back in relationship, you're invited to plagiarize any part of these for your own use. As you know, the world is conspiring to shower you with blessings.

My Eyes Remind You Where You Come From
Uncork me, angel. Unfurl me. Release me and restore me and unleash me. Not because I can't do it myself. Not because I'm just another narcissism-addict jonesing for a quick fix. On the contrary. I'm the most self-sufficient self-starter I've ever met. It's from my position of strength that I aspire to whip up spectacular synergies in tandem with your holy rolling reverberations. So, keep in mind that I'm here to uncork you and unfurl you and release you and restore you and unleash you, too. That's the art of the game that stretches out before us in all directions. That's the beauty of the gritty reality that's disguised as a glittery fantasy. As you bless my risks and massage my unconsciousness and save my soul, I'll always vice your versa. P.S. My last fortune cookie said, "You need nothing and want everything." 

Friday, February 4, 2011

Social Media Revolutions

The choice of the Egyptian government to shut down the entire internet is no small thing. Certainly there were social ramifications, but news reports don't lend the proper weight to how absolutely revolutionary this event is. Egypt is not some third-world, we-just-got-on-the-net kind of a country. They are on par technologically, and in many ways more advanced than most of the Western world. Egypt is also an important hinge point for international business, as most of the business coming in from the African continent and Middle East to the Far East and the EU, comes through Egypt. This being the case, the shutting down of cybernetic capabilities has heavy economic implications as well.

Why would the Egyptian government risk the detrimental economic implications just because a few radicals were posting stuff on social media websites? Because the population rallied around the idea, they came together collectively; and used the social media outlets as tools to initiate a massive change. What change will occur? We are in the process of watching that drama unfold, but this event speaks highly to the power we have as individuals through organizing, communication and communion to radically transform the planet that we are rapidly destroying.
Deep down to the core of our being, the human organism knows that we are in the process of a deep evolution. The realization of our over-consumption in the Western world on a large scale could represent the cusp of a massive transformation in how we interact as relational beings to one another and to the planet that we inhabit. Westerners do realize this problem, but they are left with the conceptions and weight of what may be at stake, rolling around in the outer-layers of subconscious experience. Hence, gut feelings and intuitive urges get dismissed as nerves or passing anxiety because we are repeatedly told that these modes of experience are separate and unrelated to normative, everyday experience. 
This represents the sleeping potion that is doled out to our population en masse via distractionary media--cognitive dissonance on a very large scale. Social media in many ways has served as one of the big sleepers that is preventing a massive awakening in consciousness globally. Egypt, and the preceding situations in Tunisia and Kenya, demonstrates that social media can be used to spark awakening when given the proper handling. The power we wield as individuals if we band together as a community can topple even the most corrupt system. It is through communion, understanding and conversation that such progress is sparked.