As I mentioned in my last post, I am currently in Australia for three weeks. I am in the greater Brisbane region in the state of Queensland for the first week or so (for benefit of non-Aussies). I have two lectures I am giving at universities here.
My first lecture was delivered at the University of Southern Queensland in Toowoomba. not far from Brisbane. I was invited to talk by the Australian Digital Futures Institute there.
Associate Professor Luke Van Der Laan, a futurist who is very sympathetic to my kind of Futures thinking, was instrumental in arranging the talk. The lecture was entitled "Deep Futures in the Digital Age". Deep Futures is my term for a way of looking at the future which expands discussion beyond politics, technology and economics, and includes a greater reflection upon meaning, purpose, spiritual well-being, and the greater relationship of human beings to nature and the world we live in.
Both Luke and I were quite amazed at the interest in the talk, which was not widely publicised. About 60 people gave up their lunchtime to attend. I spoke about how digital technology and modern education can actually be used to deepen our thinking about the future, and the way we live in the present. I spoke about the way that modern society and education has been accelerating certain kinds of human intelligence (visual/spatial and abstract), while effectively retarding other expressions of intelligence (intuitive and self-reflective). I brought in the ideas of mindfulness (bringing the mind into presence) and Integrated Intelligence (spiritual intuition).
I admit I was a bit worried about how the audience would receive some of my ideas, which are a bit "out there" for mainstream university discourse. After all, almost all of the people there were academics and university workers (there wasn't much publicity for the student body). However the audience was very receptive, and the feedback I got from all quarters was very enthusiastic. The sense I get, and from what people have been telling me, is that many people are now ready to discuss these kinds of things, and there is a general thirst for them in Australia.
This is one of the reasons why I am going to move back to Australia. I have to say that getting people in Hong Kong and China to listen to ideas like mine has been a real struggle. The general mindset of the population is so tightly focused upon finance, work and (I don't know how else to write this) shopping that there is almost no cognitive space left to consider a more deeply meaningful approach to life.
I'll briefly mention one contrasting example of a talk I gave at a tertiary institution in Hong Kong. The talk was about how to use the intuitive mind in research and learning. Only four people turned up, and two of them got up and left when I introduced the topic, just a couple of minutes into the talk. Apparently they thought the talk was about something else. The two who were left were actually doctoral students who had chosen me to be their supervisor for their doctoral theses, and had come to meet me for the first time. After the talk both told the school they didn't want me to be their supervisor anymore.
Unfortunately I have had just too many experiences like this in Hong Kong, and I finally have to admit that my situation there is a bit of an oil and water combination. Hong Kong is a place where efficiency and convenience are king, and the goal of education is to get a qualification and get the hell out of the school. "Education for transformation" (one of my favourite sayings) makes no sense in that intellectual climate. I'm not deluding myself that Western education is a paradise for educators like me, but it is further along the road.
I have long written about the importance of following your heart in making decisions. Recently a lot of my spiritual guidance has been reminding me of this. Yesterday I was walking along a street in downtown Byron Bay, and saw a sign for a bookshop, and immediately felt a pull to go in. Inside I found that it was a metaphysical bookstore, and I bought some books. At the counter I asked the older blond haired woman if they did readings there, and she told me they did. So I booked a half hour session. It turned out that the session would be delayed 30 minutes, but I felt a strong sense to hang round for it, and I'm glad I did. The reader, a woman of early middle age named Missy, picked up my situation immediately. It takes one to know one as they say (I do readings myself), and she was very, very good indeed. She tuned into my situation straight away, and emphasised the importance of listening to the heart. Sometimes even inituatives need insight from a second party!
I have to admit I have not listened to my own heart enough with my situation in Hong Kong. I have been getting the "message" to leave for a year or two but have been delaying it. The result is that my own mental state has suffered. That is what happens when you ignore the voice of spirit. But in this instance I'll forgive myself for my stubbornness.
Better late than never, as they say in the classics.
On Monday I give another talk, this time at the University of the Sunshine Coast, which will be to a much smaller audience - the Futures graduate students at that university.