It's the future, Jim, but not as we know it...

There's more to tomorrow than robots, flying cars, and a faster internet.
22C+ is all about Deep Futures, futures that matter. Welcome to futures fantastic, unexpected, profound, but most of all deeply meaningful...

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

What Lies at the Heart of the Future?

I typically describe myself as a futurist. I often write about the future, including in Futures Studies journals. My book Extraordinary Mind is subtitled Integrated Intelligence and the Future. Yet I am a futurist who believes that the one thing that all the possible probable and preferred futures of humanity must contain if they are to succeed, is... presence.

Yes, the essence of my preferred future is to be here now.

It is only through presence that human beings can become fully conscious, and bring darkness into light. It is only in presence that consciousness becomes fully alive.

Most of all, it is in presence that we find the love that lies at the heart of every human story that has ever mattered.

It is in presence that we find God... or something that feels like God.

Visions of the future which fail to address this story are ultimately empty. They are like a person turning up at a baseball game, then sitting backwards in his seat and watching the wall at the back of the stadium. The essential point has been missed. Most visions of the future are out of alignment with the essence of our story. They have become lost in the flickering mind. The present worldwide obsession with gadgets is simply an extension of the scattered awareness of the ego. The flickering screen is an extension of the flickering mind.

The way back is simple. It's quite easy really. Simply return to what is real, what is here.

Rather than my telling you, here is a short video from someone who taught me much about presence. He speaks straight from the heart: Leonard Jacobson. Leonard is a modern mystic whom I first met in Australia 19 years ago. He is the real deal. He is not trying to sell anything nor be anything other than what he is. I invite you to take a few moments to listen to his wisdom.

Here is Leonard talking about what God is. Nothing is more important.


Sunday, March 27, 2011

On account of my left buttock

This is not much to do with the future, but I thought that for the sake of a light digression I'd drag up something from my not so distant past. In 2002 I was the Director of Studies at an English language prograqmme at Beijing's Number Two Foreign Language University (yeah, the second best one). Just to lighten the moment a little, here are a few things I collected from the students when I was working there. Just in case you are wondering, Peter is a teacher. Some of the excuse notes I received from students are particularly amusing, I think (the students had to write me a note if they were absent from class). Original spellings have been kept. I shared these with the students at the end of the year, but they didn't always know why native speakers found them funny! 


Excuses for being absent from class

These are all taken from notes students wrote to explain absences from class.

My father is come to Beijing. So, I want to play with him. Sorry, I can't get here. 


Dear Marcus,
I was absent from your class yesterday afternoon. Because I felt headache again. Yesterday noon, when I got up from my short nap, I couldn't move further otherwise I would lose my head. My headache has been more seriously than before since last week. I mean maybe I felt so nervous because of the IELTS test. 
Yours Sincerely, Leon

"I had to help my friend find the Malaysian Embassy." 

Deborah (explaining her absence of one week. Hmm, someone should have told here there was one in China)

Dear Marcus,
I'm very sorry, I felt very bad. So I have to go to the dum. I can't come to Your class, 

Justin (he meant "dorm")

I'm sorry I missed so many of your classes this week. I had to go to the hospital for an injection. 

Justin (Hmm, they have loooooong injections in China)

Dear Marcus and Peter,
I did not take care of myself very well, so I caught heat at last. I think I need more exercises to improve my physical quality. All of my classmates suggested that I would better not present the rest of classes and I agree with them. So, please believe me, I am terrible sorry for absent your and Peter's lectures.
Yours: Hanson

Dear Marcus,
I'm sorry I can't go to your class because I got suntorke. 


Dear Marcus,
Today I can't come to your class. I'm sorry to tell you that. Yesterday, I slept in Hanson's dorm. His dorm is hell now. It's unacceptably hot. So I found I was sunstruck. I'm dizzy and adynamic now. Please forgive my absence. Thanks a lot. 

Your student Ma

Dear Marcus,
Yesterday, I was felling unwell, I thought I got sun-stroke. So I took a class. Thank you! Jessica.

Dear Peter:
I'm sorry for havn't been your class. I had have a temperature. Sincerely Your obedient student 


Dear Marcus,
I ate a lot of fruit last night. I got stomachache and felt uncomfortable that it made me sleeping too late. Now I feel tired and still stomachache. So I won't go to school. I'm sorry for absent your class. 

Yours: Cobain.

Dear Marcus,
I am still sick. I try to go to your class but I find it's difficult for me to concentrate in your class so I decide not to go to your class. I'm very sorry. 


Marcus: I was sick this morning and I was awful. So I want to take the morning's class off. I am terribly sorry. David

Dear Marcus,
I'm sorry, because two fuck guys fight each other last night, so it's too noisy. I feel bad this morning. Please forgive me. 

Yours, Amy (It seems I failed to teach them "informal" from formal English)

Dear Marcus,
I was absent from your class this morning because I felt so painful with my left buttock. Last weekend, I have been injured with my buttock when I played a football match with my senior school classmates far away from Erwai (university). Firstly I didn't mind it too much, but it became more swollen and painful. So I couldn't get up on time and went to school by bike myself. I am sorry to say that. Maybe the pain will last for several days, but I have prepared to get up earlier and ask my dormates to send me to the classroom. 


General Quotes

"I spent my holiday in my mother." 


"I spent my holiday playing stimulating games with my boyfriend." 


"Would you like to enjoy us?" 

Rachel, (inviting her teacher Marcus to join her and her friends in a game of darts. (Marcus' response deleted)

Radical Australian History

 There was a short module about Australian history in the programme. Remember, these are Chinese students, and they don't know much about Australia, so forgive them...

It just a short time. After this time, the inland (of Australia) was taken away by James Cook. Winnie

James Cook and the army brought a lot of unhappiness to them (the Aborigines). When they were only living the inland, they were happiness, but finally they were not happiness and peace. 

Winnie (again)

For this next one, you need to know that "yellow movie" means pornographic film in Chinese, the equivalent of "blue movie" in the west. This is from an essay entitled "The Major Cultural Influences in the West."

TV took informations for people, but took some bad things too. There were some channels show the yellow culture or yellow movies to the public. Young people and some people who has a bad mentality did some aberration when they saw the channel. They began to find some ways vent their appetence. Alaway their ways are criminal, it's bad for their lives. 


The ancient Greek people established the earliest and a more perfect feudal monarch institution in 11th century. 


About 50 million years ago, the Aborigines were already lived in Australia. They never killed too much weild animals, they never throw the wasts in to the river, and they never cut down the trees for benefits. 

Toman (Revisionist History at its most radical - good to see benefits weren't taken advantage of in those times so long ago)

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Rage against the system: The Wayseer

 Rebels need causes: but what lies beneath the act of rebellion?

Here's something I found through a contact on Facebook (ah, social media!). It's worth watching for the pure raw energy if nothing else. It's also worth watching because it is a good example of the mixture of some apparently noble intentions with a less noble agenda, albeit a subtle and unconscious one.

As I look at the consciousness behind the video, there are a few issues which emerge. There is an intention towards power and control, an elevation of the ego into grandiosity. The message is "I'm the one".

The biggest giveaway is the shot of Tiger Woods. Sexual addiction, we are told, is a misunderstanding, or (apparently) an attempt to repress my worthy desires! Unfortunately not all desire is an expression of a noble higher impulse. Much desire, especially lustful and addictive desire, points to deeper psychological and spiritual issues within.

The video suggests that the frontal cortex of the brain is a fascist dictator. In fact the frontal cortex and the left hemisphere of the brain are vitally important. It is true that they can impede access to transcendent wisdom and information, but the left brain is required to discipline the sometimes chaotic and destructive urges of the mind. 

The obvious energy of the video is that of angry youth, the rebel. The rebel energy, his deep-seated rage at repression and denial of his desires, can be very useful if harnessed correctly. For example the youth of Hong Kong (where I live) are in dire need of accessing the rebel energy, as restriction via the system is a prime feature of the wonderful but deeply manipulated youth here. The key is to be able to express the anger creatively in a way that taps into the inherent wisdom of the universe. Anger can be transmuted into love, if the individual knows how to channel it correctly.

Nonetheless, the rebel energy can be destructive if it is allowed to get out of control. It can turn dark if the ego takes over, and the lust for power and control overrides the wisdom and compassion of spirit. The ego can quickly become inflated. My sense is that this latter kind of energy underpins the Wayseer video.

All of the unfoldings of life and action in this world reflect a legitimate expression of spirit. However as part of the creative process, we individuals need to be aware of the consciousness which lies behind actions, and behind words. We need to align with consciousness fields where "light" draws us forward on our journey. There are consciousness fields that can suck us down into a "darker" place, however.

As you watch the video you might note that anger  is being channeled against the system. There is a very real enemy, and they want to stop us because we are a threat. It's us versus them. This is basically calling for a fight.

There is a subtle distinction which has to be noted when for anger to be expressed legitimately and with responsibility. It is better to strive for a positive outcome which is not yet extant, than to fight against a perceived extant negative. One action is the energy of creation, the other the energy of destruction. Since all intentions bring forward equivalent consciousness fields, negative intentions are likely to result in violence and destruction, while creative intentions are more likely to bring about peaceful and joyful futures.

Take a look at the video yourself. See what you think. With any information produced by human bings, it is possible to tap into the consciousness field, the intention, which lies behind that information. 

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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Crisis, deep meaning and the opportunity for change

I have failed in my foremost task – to open people’s eyes to the fact that man has a soul, there is a buried treasure in the field, and that our religion and philosophy are in a lamentable state.     Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung, towards the end of his life

One day, when I was about eight years old, my school principal Mr Suley got up on the morning assembly and spoke from the heart. Now, more than 30 years later, I cannot remember all the details. What I do remember though, was his tone of deep concern. He spoke about war, the environment, cooperation, and simply what it means to be a decent human being. And I will never forget what he said at the end of it all.

“You are the future of this world. My generation has already had a go and we messed it up. You must do better, or we will not be here much longer.”

Of all the things anybody ever said in my schooling days, this was probably the most impactful. Here he was, an older man approaching retirement, and he decided to speak about something more than keeping the playground clean, punishing misbehaviour, or the principal’s old favourite: “Get ready because the exams are coming up.” Mr Suley spoke of life itself, and what it means to be a human being on this planet. They were words of deep meaning, words that moved me. They were moving words because they were not just spoken, but felt. I went through another ten years in the public education system after that, and I honestly cannot recall any teacher or administrator speaking with such impact, or about something so meaningful. This silence always puzzled me.

Mr Suley has probably passed on by now. I heard some years ago that he was involved in a car accident, and that his wife had been killed. I was deeply saddened. It would also have been a tragedy if he had passed up the opportunity of speaking meaningfully on the assembly all those years ago. He may not be here anymore, and maybe he suffered greatly though personal tragedy. But the seed he planted on that day lives on in the man writing this article in 2011.

Many of us can probably remember a defining moment from our younger days when a teacher, parent or elder spoke from the heart and moved us, made us think deeply. But what about public educators today? How many have ever engaged in a discussion or a lesson where they shared something from deep within? The answer for many educators is that they rarely touch upon the deeply meaningful. Why is that? 

At first glance the answer might seem obvious. There is the issue of personal vulnerability. Maybe the students will ridicule or ignore them. Maybe the teacher will offend someone’s religious or philosophical beliefs. And who wants to upset parents in these times of legal accountability? Besides, it is not in the curriculum or syllabus, so why go there?

To go deep requires courage.

Yet (rather appropriately) the absence of meaning goes deeper. To understand why education discourses have become an effective litany of surfaces we have to look at the situation in depth. At the bottom (or perhaps “top” is a better term) of all human experience lies the transcendent, that which connects us to a greater whole, where the boundaries between self and others, individual and cosmos become blurred. And that takes us into the awkward but profound territory of human spirituality.

Yes, the dreaded “s” word. 

To truly appreciate the lack of depth in modern education, media and popular culture, we must examine the way that our society has developed, who controls the dominant discourses, and the ways of knowing which under-gird them. And finally we must take into account the very way in which modern science and education view the human mind and its intelligence.

In this time of shifting global power and economic uncertainty, the restoration of cognitive depth along with associated “right-brained” cognitive processes (including spirituality), is something we can no longer ignore. The reactivation of cognitive depth is a necessity not only for economic and social stability, but for the long-term survival of the human race. The current uncertain global economic climate is the perfect time to begin to initiate change in both culture and curriculum, and expand the ways of knowing that we employ in the society and in the classroom. This is a discussion which lies at the heart of the creation of  Deep Futures – futures that are profound, passionate, engaging, and most of all deeply meaningful. More money, machines and amusement for everyone is not enough. These do not fulfill the human spirit.

Crisis and opportunity often arise together. Will we grasp the chance? Or will we be yet another generation that has failed to take the opportunity, the responsibility,  that we are being given.


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Disruption, Dissent and the Future

In yesterday’s post about Daniel Pink’s take on motivation, I took a quote from a YouTube video of his .The quote is from the founder of Skype, who said his prime goal has been “to be disruptive but in the cause of making the world a better place.” To be disruptive is of course to offer dissent. Dissent in turns requires us to say “no” at some level. It requires personal courage to challenge the system.

This reminds me of futurist Richard Slaughter’s imploring that futurists have a duty to offer dissent. I am in total agreement. It is not enough to predict the future, nor simply to praise those in power. The most noble end is to identify what is desirable, what is good and what is great. Those who wish to participate in the future (and not merely observe it) must decide what kind of future they prefer, and how that preferred future can be created. This is one reason why pop futurists who merely attempt to identify trends are not my favourite kind of futurists.

The perfect example is futurist John Naisbitt, author of the “Megatrends” books. Naisbitt now spends half of each year in China, and talks and writes much about The People’s Republic. In his recent book China’s Megatrends he describes a China that can do little wrong. A prosperous future for the Chinese Dragon is seemingly guaranteed.

A recent interview with the South China Morning Post in Hong Kong shows that Naisbitt’s stance has not shifted much. The interview reveals a Naisbitt who is mesmerizingly impressed by the changes taking place in the Chinese education system, and he effuses optimism about Chinese approaches to innovation. Naisbitt talks of department deans and professors who are ready to “forge ahead”, and curriculum is being reformed accordingly. There is, he finds, a new freedom to experiment. He talks of teachers at leading universities and high schools taking part in exchange programmes with rural areas. Knowledge is being disseminated, and are standards rising. Students show unbounded enthusiasm to learn, and they have a great “sense of purpose, and confidence in the future.

"The energy and enthusiasm is almost euphoric and makes us very excite. The generation coming up is very motivated and, for us, that makes China the most fascinating place in the world."

I confess I find Naisbitt’s comments at odds with my experience of life, work and education in China and Hong Kong. I do not question that a certain segment of the population is highly motivated, and that the vast majority are willing to sacrifice to get ahead. I do not deny that at many levels China's development is incredibly impressive. Just in terms of infrastructure and transport systems China is starting to outstrip many western nations.

Yet Naisbitt appears to be quite naïve as to what is going on at ground level in the country. At the risk of being a little too blunt, Naisbitt’s comments on China are often shallow, remaining locked at the litany or surface level. He consistently fails to offer any kind of deep analysis or critique of the political, social or cultural systems of the country. Nor does he identify or question the dominant paradigms, let alone get down to the depth of the consciousness/mentality which underpins much of China’s modern development. If we are to believe Naisbitt, everything in China is great, and China’s future is assured.

What concerns me most is that Naisbitt’s comments on China consistently mirror those of the Chinese government. This is something that no free- thinking westerner would do in their own country. So why is Naisbitt toeing the Party line in China?

Perhaps it is that he has decided that the best way to assist China and ensure a prosperous future for it is to focus upon the positives, and to work in league with the rich and powerful. After all, there are many who take the opposite stance and criticise everything about China and offer nothing positive about its development. Such negativity often emerges from jealousy, fear and just plain hatred.

Or perhaps he has just been wined and dined a few too many times. China is a place where foreigners can all too easily be blinded by power, money and comforts, and lose perspective of the big picture. The blinding lights of the big cities and luxurious 5 star hotels can easily lure one into a false perception of the fact that the majority of the country lives in very stressful and difficult circumstances. It is super comptetitive and super tough in the new China. There are 200 million migrant workers now living in the cities, and without rights to health care, social security, nor anything but basic education for their children.

My wife recently took a job in Beijing, and works up to 15 hours a day as an office manager. Her salary of RMB 8000 per month (US$1000) is quite high. But she rarely has time off for lunch, and often has to work on weekends. Her boss effectively gets two employees at US$500 a month, as she is doing the work of two people. But even on that wage she cannot afford to rent an apartment anywhere near her workplace. If she did, probably 75% of her income would go in rent. To top it off, there is no worker’s contract and she can be fired at any time, without notice.

There is an irony to John Naisbitt’s Pollyanna take on the New China. Naisbitt’s effusive praise of every almost every policy initiative put forward by Communist Party lies in stark contrast to that of Chinese premier Wen Jiabao’s recent comments, stating in deeply concerned tones that China’s present path to the future is unsustainable. China is in dire need of deep social and political change. In an unusually candid expression for a Communist party leader, Wen has called for greater democracy and accountability, saying economic development is not in itself enough to solve the problems of China's development.
Wen cited corruption as a great problem:

"To eliminate the breeding ground for corruption, we should carry out reform on our institution and [political] system. If we are to address people's grievances and meet their wishes, we must create conditions for people to criticise and supervise the government…. Political reform offers a guarantee for economic reform. Without political reform, economic reform cannot succeed, and the achievements we have made may be lost…It is only with reform that the party and the country will enjoy continuous vigour and vitality."

Having spoken to many Chinese people about China’s future, and having just returned from sharing meals with self-described peasant relatives, I have to wonder what they would make of John Naisbett’s “glorious China” depictions. Their egos may be stoked by claims that their place in the sun is guaranteed, but I know from firsthand experience that many would be deeply suspicious of his lack of willingness to address the genuine issues which lie behind China’s current path to the future.

I suspect that Naisbitt’s willingness to trumpet the Party line (or something remarkably similar), is because the system rewards such behavior. The fruits of guanxi (Chinese for “making connections”, especially in business) are many in modern China. The problem with guanxi is that one has to keep filling the tea pot of the guy the next step up the ladder. Compromising truth and moral behavior is almost inevitable. Indeed it is guanxi which lies at the heart of corruption in China. A social and economic system which relies upon endless mutual back slapping is recipe for self-delusion, and doomed to eventual decay.

For futurists and those of us passionate about the future, it is not enough to merely describe trends and praise the system. We must care enough to talk of both good and bad, darkness and light. We must offer dissent, no matter how uncomfortable that may make us, or others, feel.

Monday, March 21, 2011

What drives you?

Daniel Pink

If things seem a little quiet round here it’s because I am busy settling into my new apartment in Discovery Bay, Hong Kong, and there’s not much time for blogging. But here’s something I found today that is both profound, inspiring, and artistically impressive. It comes from Daniel Pink, author of A Whole New Mind (a fascinating book in itself). Pink argues that the shakers and movers of tomorrow will not be the analytical, critical left-brained thinkers, but right-brained thinkers who are creative, imaginative, big picture people who are capable of synthesising information from disparate sources and fields. These are the meaning makers and pattern recognisers.

There’s a great little video of pink’s on YouTube. It’s one of those animated videos where an artist draws pictures in fast time as the narrator gives a voice over. What I like about that medium is that it engages the right brain. It is perfectly consistent with Pink’s essential arguments. The precise estimates vary, but there’s a saying that people remember 10 % of what they read, 20 % of what they hear, 50% of what they see, and most of what they do. It’s not quite as good as “doing”, but it certainly engages the viewer.

Pink has a new book called Drive, and it’s all about motivation. I haven’t read the book, but the video is, I suspect, a summary of his essential argument. People are not merely motivated by greater immediate reward (e.g. financial). Research indicates that merely rewarding people with more money for a job well done does not lead to optimal long-term performance (motivation). What really motivates people is when they have a greater purpose or meaning in their work, when they have a chance to master a skill, and to make a genuine contribution. In the video Pink cites the case of Steve Jobs, whose main driver has been “to put a ding in the world”. And I particularly like his quote from the founder of Skype, who said his prime goal has been “to be disruptive, but in the cause of making the world a better place.” 

I believe that futurists like me also have a duty to be disruptive, to challenge the status quo. I’ll write a little more about this tomorrow.

If you are a leader, employer or educator, what can you do to increase the motivation of your “team”? What greater purpose are you working towards. Or serving?

Sometimes it comes down to a sense of calling. In my own life and work as a futurist , writer and educator I have always followed the voice of my higher intuition, or Integrated Intelligence, as I call it. Indeed this is what I write about (mostly), and teach people in workshops and public talks. It is that sense of higher purpose which has driven me to keep going, regardless of the great personal cost, and the many setbacks. as has been noted, he who has enough 'why', can endure any "how".

What about you?


Monday, March 14, 2011

Are business and spirituality compatible?

Can business be conducted with a spiritual intent? Today I address this question with a little help from a fellow futurist.

In my book Sage of Synchronicity (renamed Discover Your Soul Template for the upcoming Inner Traditions edition) I describe many practical uses of spiritual intuition, or what I call Integrated Intelligence (INI) . In particular I focus upon the way that you can tap into the wisdom of the inner Sage to live your Bliss. The way I define it, your Bliss is as much a way of life, a way of being, as it is a calling or a profession.

In that book I also touch a little upon certain intuitive processes which can be used in business situations. Doing business has never really been the focus with any of the several hats I wear -  as an Integrated Intelligence practitioner, a writer, an educator or a futurist. Yet in recent times I have begun to rethink things in this area. Books such as Sage of Synchronicity are mainly attractive to those with a spiritual focus in life. The question for me has now become how to bring greater awareness of Spirit and wisdom to a wider segment of society.

My primary concern - and the reason why I have not pursued possibilities in business to date – has been the concern that I might get caught up in the ego dynamic – the power, control and greed – which dominates much of the business world. It is difficult to enter a competitive environment without succumbing to this expression of consciousness.

I also have reservations about many New Age philosophies which claim to be able to teach people how to “manifest” whatever they want. In China and Hong Kong, where I spend much of my time, the world of fortune tellers and feng shui experts is dominated by the same mentality. There is typically little spiritual focus in such practices as “the law of attraction” or how to “be prosperous” (China). These are mainly “gimme what I want now” philosophies thinly wrapped up in spiritual garb. They include much “magical thinking.”

There is a considerable amount of delusion behind most of these approaches, and they tend to include motivations which are heavily ego based. I have always been conscious of not allowing myself to be dragged into that mentality. Genuine spirituality is not about imposing your will upon the cosmos or getting everything you want, but in listening receptively to a higher intelligence and releasing control. It is only within the surrender of the ego that the joy of the spiritual is able to unfold. In a sense, whether you have a nice car or a big house or not is irrelevant. What is essential is that you take Spirit with you wherever you go, and do so in presence.

Yet in reality it is not an either/or situation. Even human beings who have a genuine intention to embrace the spiritual tend to move in and out of ego states. It is just that they are generally more conscious of the pull of ego, and do not allow it to dominate their personality and their behavior.

What I advocate is a business model I call ‘Soul Business”.

In the business world there is no reason why a spiritual intent cannot be incorporated into the business model. Profit, people and planet are the triple bottom line in management consultant Peter Senge’s “Learning Organisation”. Futurist Sohail Inayatullah has added a fourth bottom line. In an article called “Spirituality as the fourth bottom line”, Inayatullah argues that spirituality is the missing link in business theory in the twenty-first century. He cites data which indicates that 45% of businesses now publish reports which address the triple bottom line. Like me, he suggests going a step further. Inayatullah defines spirituality as having the following features:

1. A relationship with the transcendent, generally seen as both immanent and transcendental. This relationship is focused on trust, surrender and for Sufis, submission. 2. A practice, either regular meditation or some type of prayer (but not prayer where the goal is to ask for particular products or for the train to come quicker). 3. A physical practice to transform or harmonize the body - yoga, tai chi, chi kung, and other similar practices. 4. Social – a relationship with the community, global, or local, a caring for others.

As Inayatullah notes, this approach differs from a debate about God or what is true or false. Instead it queries how much depth an approach has, and to encourages “openness and inclusion toward others”.

 Sohail Inayutullah
Inayatullah’s definition is compatible with the way I define and practice Integrated Intelligence. Integrated Intelligence involves an integration of the ego/self with a greater transpersonal awareness, including personal spiritual guidance. This requires a letting go, and a willingness to discipline the desires of the ego and its tendency towards power and control over others and life’s circumstances. The way I employ Integrated Intelligence also makes use of a prayerful processes, including mindfulness tools which help bring the mind into presence. In terms of “physical practice”, the way I teach mindfulness is to bring awareness fully into the body. I am a greater believer in embodiment. The place we are meant to be is right here in the body, right now (not seeking an eternal hereafter, which is a trick of the ego).

What is more, Integrated Intelligence is also perfectly compatible with the idea of social transformation. Personal and planetary transformation is one of the core outcomes of the theory of INI. The intuitive and divination processes I teach are designed to access a greater spiritual intelligence which automatically attaches one to the higher good of all, if one truly permits one’s selfish intentions to become conscious.

Part of my writing so much about Integrated Intelligence on this blog and in my books and academic articles is an attempt to encourage a greater participatory awareness in spiritual processes. But this also requires spiritual practice in one’s everyday life. Sohail Inayatullah has mentioned elsewhere that for a broad social vision of the future to be legitimate, it must touch upon the world of money and markets. This grounds the vision in the reality of the modern world.

It is to these ends that I embark upon the next phase of my own journey. How long or how deep that runs, time will tell.


Tuesday, March 8, 2011

What's wrong with this man?

Take a look at the man below? Can you guess what's "wrong" with him. As I like to say, use your intuition! First, look at the photo, then scroll down and play the video.

 What is he thinking?

Did you guess that the “guy” is a robot? This kind of android is called a “geminoid”, and the first one was created in 2005 by Prof. Hiroshi Ishiguro in Japan. A geminoid is robot which looks precisely like its maker. The geminoid is controlled by a person hooked up to a computer system, and any facial movements made by the person are mirrored in the face of the robot.

A little spooky huh? Of course copying the surface features of human beings is the easy part of robotics. It’s the mind that poses the real challenges. Science is yet to satisfactorily answer the question “What is consciousness?”, let alone reproduce it! I have long argued that consciousness contains non-local properties which would appear to be non-replicable via mechanisation. As for intelligence (an entirely different concept), that may well be achieved, if not quite in human-like form.

You can find out more at:

Sunday, March 6, 2011

now now now

 Be mindful. But how?
To be present in whatever you are doing. It's something we often read about, especially in relation to being mindful, or regarding certain psychological and spiritual practices. There are not too many people who do not find the idea of being fully absorbed in what you are doing attractive. One of the problems with having a mind is that it all too easily gets distracted, flipping into the past or future, and leaving us feeling anxious, worried, or just plain stressed. 

Unfortunately you are biologically wired to be anxious because that's how people stay alert and conscious of possible threats from the environment. A certain degree of anxious tension was an absolute necessity for our ancestors because they lived in more rural and natural settings, where physical threats were a constant problem. Anxiety was necessary for survival. Yet nowadays this is not the case for most people in developed societies. So it is perfectly possible, and quite desirable to bring the mind into peaceful presence regularly.

Many years ago I was taught the importance of presence by mystic Leonard Jacobson. But I found it difficult to pull off. I discovered that the ego - which also arises from the biological organism and its attempts to ensure physical survival - just would not allow me to be. It would constantly drag me back into the world of the mind, and its chattering monkey madness. I began to ask how I could possibly overcome this problem.

Then one morning the answer came to me in a vision, as I lay in bed upon waking. The first few moments after you wake up are a great time to invite intuitive messages (you should try it too). That day a simple image came into my mind. It was a sheet of paper with some writing typed upon it. There were a whole heap of words, but there was one word repeated over and over again, in bold type.  The image looked something like this.
now this why now he goes now do this all now besides that day now he sits there now here is now since that now eats the now Miss lam went now it depends upon why now  keyboard now the tenth number now housing problem now at world now she does not want to now because that is so now it all depends upon now yes now no how much now the paper wars now my computer seems slow now upon arrival at now see me later now it could be that now however now do not do this now when it is time now I have not seen one now please see me now how is it so now the mouse now the hammer falls now take that up with now saying small now happiness is a now the doubt now you are not now does it matter now how about now she doesn't seem to know now is not the time for now perhaps he should know now am confused now necessarily now quiet down now when now hopeless now the president now when will it happen now it does not matter now stay here now
I immediately knew what it meant. A great way to instill the habit of mindfulness is to regularly bring the mind into presence throughout the day. Fortunately I already had some great tools for doing this. I suggest you use them too. The habit of presence is a learned one. You have to be disciplined and make the time for it. As you plant the seeds of presence throughout the day, the mind will gradually learn to use presence as its guide to what is normal, and return to that state automatically.

Here's a re-cap of two useful tools I have written about before.

The first and simplest way to become present is the Five Breaths method. Whatever you are doing, stop, and allow your attention to focus upon the breath as it moves in and out of your nose. Close your eyes if you like. After as few as five focused breaths your mind will become silent, and you are in presence. Like I said,  simple.

The second method is The Oneness Technique. The spiritual teacher Leonard Jacobson taught this to me. Here presence is permitted by allowing yourself to become present “with that which is already present.” Virtually every non-human form on this planet is present. The simpler the object the better – best not to use a surrealist painting! Plants, books (close them first!), coffee cups, chairs, pencils and so on are great. Just stop and allow yourself to feel the presence of a tree, flower or pot plant. Animals and birds likewise exist in a state of presence. You can bring the mind to attention by observing them. As far as we humans go, children tend to be the most present. Without judgment, observe a child playing for a moment, and just allow the mind to become silent.


Thursday, March 3, 2011

Dark Shadows Upon the Wing

Animal synchronicities can be quite revealing, quite literally. Here are a few tales that fit the bill...

The inspiration for today's post comes from a post I just read on Trish and Rob MacGregor's Synchronicity blog. Yesterday they told the story of a person wondering why an owl had died outside their yoga studio, and whether the event had any synchronistic meaning. For synchronicities I have always felt the best way to deal with them is to FEEL them, not to analyze them too much. A symbol could mean a hundred different things according to the person's personal experience, culture, and life circumstances. Owls are generally symbols of wisdom. Maybe the studio/owner needs to allow a little more wisdom from some source, as it is dying...

Interestingly, just as I was travelling to work on the subway, about two hours before I read that post, I was reading Eldon Taylor's book Mind Programming on my Kindle. In the chapter i was reading, Taylor wrote about how a much loved dog of his had died after being shot. Taylor writes that although he could not prove it, he was pretty sure who the assassin was. He approached that person, and was so full of rage that it took all of his willpower not to inflict physical injury on the said individual.

Yet the event was to have an unexpected twist, for not long after, Taylor's adult daughter told him that her cat had died, but returned to her in a dream to deliver a message to her. That message was that the cat had died so as to save her daughter's baby's life. The cat told the woman via the dream that her baby had stopped breathing, and that she should get out of bed and go to it immediately. This she did, and the baby had in fact stopped breathing. Fortunately after administering mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, the baby was revived.

Taylor then goes on to state that he believes that some animals die so as to save human lives. If this is true it is not too much to consider the possibility that they might also sacrifice themselves to deliver an important message to a human being. Perhaps the owl which died in front of the yoga studio was such a case.

The reason I refer to this profound idea is that it reminded me of a profound experience that happened to me at an inner child/healing/meditation retreat some years ago. My father and brother had died only a few weeks before that gathering, so it was a tough time for me. My father had died unexpectedly of a heart condition at the age of 58, and my young brother Jerome had committed suicide just hours after his funeral. One of the most traumatic things I have ever had to do was going to the morgue to formally identify his body. I will never forget it when they wheeled his cold body out on a metal tray. he had hung himself, so he was not in the most physically attractive state, as you can imgine. His eyes were still open, and as I looked into them I almost thought that there was life in there. But alas, it was just fanciful thinking. I left the hospital weeping uncontrollably.

Jerome was just 21 years old.

Given this, at the time of the healing group gathering a few weeks later, I was dealing with a lot of issues related to death and dying. The gathering as held over a weekend, in a retreat on a farm in countryside not too far from Wellington, New Zealand.

During a break on the Saturday afternoon, I felt the need for a little alone time, and stepped outside to do a little meditation. I sat down in a chair, which was situated such that one wall of the building was directly behind me, and I looking out into countryside. As I relaxed a small bird suddenly flew straight at me, swerving upward just before it would have struck my head. The bird did not slow its flight, and smacked right into the wall at full speed directly above my head. It fell directly to my feet. Shocked, I looked straight down at the little bird before me and right into the one open eye facing me. My eyes were less than a metre away from the bird's, as I peered directly into its very being. I felt and saw its consciousness. Then within a moment the eye clouded, dimmed and closed, seemingly in slow motion. I literally saw and felt the bird's consciousness evacuate its body.

It was all rather shocking. I picked up the little bird, hoping that it would awaken, but it never did. It is the only time in my life I have ever seen the final moments of a living thing’s life in full intimacy. The bird shared its death with me.

There was something so profound in that intimate moment that words cannot express it, and to this day I cannot articulate what it was. Yet it seemed as if it was meant to be, that the bird's death and my psyche were part of a greater connection in way that can be sensed, but not full recognised.

I have often talked about soul issues, and how each of us carry them. Soul issues contain within them a theme and a narrative that we are destined to explore, whether we like it or not. One of my soul issues has been the fear of death. I suspect I am not the only one carrying this issue.

Just three months before my father and brother died I had been travelling around the south island of New Zealand on my summer break (I was teaching in Wellington). At that time, while sleeping in a dorm in the small town of Nelson, at the very tip of the South Island, I had an extremely eerie dream. I dreamed that I was floating, disembodied, beside an old wooden fence. Inside the fence was a cemetery, where old decaying headstones jutted out of the earth. I floated along, as eerie music played in the background, like an old horror movie. I awoke, spooked. Just a day or two later I awoke from an afternoon nap, alone in the same dorm room. From the silence of the musty room a male voice spoke to me very clearly. It said these precise words (and I will never forget them):

"Dark shadows will cross your path."

The voice wasn't kidding.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Alfred who?

Alfred Russel Wallace

Today I bring you a short extract from my book Beyond the Frontiers of Human Intelligence. Yep, it's another one in the closet unpublished, but who knows, maybe I'll pull it out again one day! In line with yesterday's post about forgotten geniuses, today I bring forward the contrasting tales of the two men at the forefront of evolutionary theory in the mid 19th century. One would be effectively canonised in the halls of science, the other given a footnote in science history.

Darwin’s name lives on well beyond his death, and Darwinism has reached almost mythical proportions in modern science. Yet few people outside of evolutionary theory know of Darwin’s contemporary, Alfred Russel Wallace, who was an instrumental figure in the development of evolutionary theory. The reason for this is perhaps best stated by popular writer Bill Bryson, who relegates Wallace to a single sentence in his book A Brief History of Almost Everything. Bryson writes that Wallace: “…fell from scientific favour by taking up dubious interests such as spiritualism and the possibility of life existing elsewhere in the universe” (Bryson 2003 p 389). Likewise, science writer John Gribbin in Science: A History finds that Wallace’s interest in vitalism and spiritualism “tainted his scientific reputation” (Gribbin 2003 p 357). 

Darwin developed the theory of natural selection, but Wallace also made a tremendous contribution to evolutionary theory. As early as 1855, Wallace had written in his “Sarawak Law” essay of his belief in an organic evolutionary process which could account for geographical differentiation of species. It is unlikely however, that he appreciated the process of natural selection. Wallace continued to make great contributions to the field, but in 1866 he came out publicly in support of “spiritualism.” His “scientific reputation” never fully recovered after that point, and his contribution to evolutionary theory remains understated. More significantly, the kinds of mystical evolutionary processes within nature which he avowed had became relegated to the status of "superstition", and thus dismissed without consideration.

In an essay originally published in 1885, Wallace wrote:

…man consists essentially of a spiritual nature or mind intimately associated with a spiritual body or soul, both of which are developed in and by means of a material organism. Thus the whole raison d'être of the material universe--with all its marvellous changes and adaptations, the infinite complexity of matter and of the ethereal forces which pervade and vivify it, the vast wealth of nature in the vegetable and animal kingdoms--is to serve the grand purpose of developing human spirits in human bodies. [i]

This is clearly a mystical/spiritual worldview, where mind animates nature.

Further it is fascinating to note that Wallace got the inspiration for his ideas on evolution during a non-ordinary state of consciousness. He had a series of visions while experiencing a fever. Non-ordinary states of mind are another effective taboo in modern science.

Wallace’s excommunication from mainstream science was effectively because his worldview was influenced by mystical spirituality.  He failed to heed the "psi taboo". That his interests are deemed “dubious” indicates the degree to which such issues have become ridiculed and scorned within modern scientific discourse. So Wallace became the “other man” (Gribbin 2003 p 350) in early evolutionary theory, and a point of potential debate in the development of science and evolution became incontestable. The Western mechanistic hegemony continued unabated.

I have to say I have some sympathy for Wallace, and can relate to how he must have felt. Despite having a PhD and scores of academic publications no university has thus far been willing to hire me, not even for a part-time position.  Meanwhile I see uni positions go to PhDs who have studied relatively uncreative subject matters and done a fraction of the work that I have. As parapsychologist Marilyn Shiltz wrote in one of her papers, there is a genuine price to pay for being a "proponent".


[i] Wallace, A.R.1885, “Are the Phenomena of Spiritualism in Harmony With Science?” Originally published in The Sunday Herald (Boston) of 26 April 1885.