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Monday, May 30, 2011

"Light" Chapter 12: The Punch

For a full list of chapters for Light, click here.

Tuesday arrived with a bang. More like a smack in the head, actually. It would have been less disturbing if it had been real.

The thing is I awoke early with a dull headache and feeling like crap. Just really strung out. I lay there feeling like a great log. Then the memory of what happened in the creek bed came back to me, and for a moment I felt so dizzy I thought I might be sick. What the hell had I been doing sitting in a dry creek for an hour? Speaking to trees? A feeling of panic suddenly came over me.  Me, sitting cross legged like some wannabe Buddha, just metres away from other uni students on their way to and from lectures? Who knows who had seen me sitting down there? The whole thing was a like lost time – someone else’s lost time. I had been so caught up in the moment I could barely remember any details. The thought scared the crap out of me. I could almost hear the other students at the Hall gossiping about me already. The more I thought about it, the more paranoid I became. In that early morning self reflection, I honestly had no idea who the hell that person meditating in a creek bed was. Who was that guy who had wasted sixty minutes of his life sitting like a madman having a conversation with native flora? It sure couldn’t have been me.

This was typical of my reactions to the weird events of that time. First, something inexplicable would happen - something that was way beyond anything I could understand. Then there would be a brief time when I seemed to be elevated into some alternate state of reality. A new world even. This would then be followed by a return to my normal self, and the whole thing would seem completely unreal. Crazy even. The big, fantastic new world would shrink back to its normal size and its normal dullness. It was as if an elastic band in my mind had been stretched way out - way, way out. When it was out there it was fascinating. Exhilarating. Then some time later - maybe the next day, the next hour or even the next minute – the elastic band would snap back and the whole thing would seem to be like some kind of whacky movie I had accidentally viewed on my computer and confused with my actual life.

I looked up at the poster of U2, stuck at a lopsided angle on my closed wardrobe door. A super arrogant Bono was depicted bellowing into a mike, the rest of the band behind him on the stage. I took some relief from the poster. It was there every day, and hadn’t changed. I knew it was real. But what happened on the way to the library yesterday?  There was no way that shit was real.

“It’s all bullshit!”

Before I could even begin to question where the voice had come from there was an audible thwack!, and my head tilted back from the jolt of the blow to the right side of my face.

The voice was as distinct as if he was right there beside me. It was Paul’s, and I knew right away he was pissed about the day before.

A feeling of intense fear came upon me. Throwing the blankets aside, I stumbled groggily out of bed. The room was empty. I knew that what had just happened was impossible. I had just been smacked in the head by Paul. I ran to the door, threw it open and ran out into the corridor looking for the intruder. I almost ran right into two cute but unapproachable medical students, whom I recognised from the other wing of my floor of the building. They looked at me as they walked right past, giggling slightly from beneath upturned noses. It was then that I realised I was dressed in nothing more than my red boxer shorts. I did a complete 180 and ducked right back into my room.

I jumped right back into bed, pulled the blanket up my noise, and tried to pretend that what had just happened hadn’t really happened. It was all far too much for me to get my head around. A sense of dread was eating its way into me. Shit! Was I going crazy?

Just then my mobile rang, and that may have been the only thing that saved me from having some kind of panic attack. Grabbing the phone off the desk behind me, I saw that it was Amanda calling. I was stunned back into the real world.


“How was your weekend? You didn’t call.” I could sense a slight sense of disappointment in her voice. It was Tuesday, and it had been three days since we met at The Shed.

“Um, I was meaning to call,” I lied. For a moment I actually wondered whether she could hear my heartbeat, so loud did it seem to be beating under my ribcage because of my rising fear. “Um, my aunt was really sick. I got caught up with things.”

“Oh, that’s too bad. I hope she’s OK.”

“She’ll pull through.” There was a moment of silence. “…so I’ve been told.”

“I hope so.”

“How was your weekend?”

“I had an argument with my Mum.”

She went on to tell me about some obscure issue with money she was inheriting from her parents when she would turn twenty one. It suddenly dawned on me that we were from completely different worlds. Her posh world of Sydney’s North Shore was miles away from my working class upbringing in a nameless country town south of nowhere.

“I had a dream about you.”

I paused for a moment. What was that supposed to mean? “Really? What dream was that?”

“You were walking along a road in the morning. You looked lost. The sun was rising. There were a group of people at the end of the road. They were watching you. It was like some kind of endurance test or something.”

“The lost part seems about right.”

She laughed, and I began to relax a bit, my heart slowing down to something akin to normal. “I think some of them were from the meditation group.”


 Eventually she got around to asking me if we were still going to the beach. I couldn’t see any reason why not.

“Do you want to invite Paul along?”

The sense of dread returned instantly to my stomach. Seeing Paul again was the last thing I felt like doing. “Nah. He’s got a big assignment coming up.”

Moments later I was rustling through my undies draw trying to see if I still had those old pair of Speedos. Pulling them out, I slipped them on and hit a couple of poses in front of the mirror. Speedos were bound to impress. I gathered my beach accessories together and packed them into my backpack.

At the last minute, uncertain of my capacity to restrain certain natural reflexes in a public place, I threw the Speedos back into the draw, fished out my trusty baggy board shorts, threw them on and dashed out the door to get bus 101 downtown to Nobby’s Beach.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

First Causes and the Council of Light

I’m a little busy this week preparing for an important job interview in Australia later in the week, so I won’t be writing too much here for a while. I’ll get back to writing more of Light after that date.

But here’s an interesting thought for the day. It is mentioned by Eldon Taylor in his book Mind Programming. It is this;

First causes are not provable.

A first cause is a foundational concept, principle or structure that one believes to be the basis of reality. 

Taylor is right, if you think about it. Mainstream dominant science begins with the first cause that matter is the basis of the universe, and that it began from nothing via the Big Bang (although this theory is being hotly debated at present). But how would one actually prove that matter is the founding basis of reality? What experiment would one conduct? The answer is that there is none. Thus the “matter is foundational” principle of science is actually metaphysics. 

In the Eastern idealist tradition, consciousness is believed to be the foundation of the cosmos, with matter being an emanation of cosmic mind. This is also metaphysics, in that no experiment that I know if could prove it.

One might then logically question how any foundational principle might be considered more correct or superior to another. What if I said Uri Geller created the universe while in a particularly bad mood. There’s no way to prove or disprove that.

With the scientiifc method, peer review essentially determines what “facts” are real or not real. It’s the best system we have, given the current typical level of human consciousness evolution. However I believe that in time scientific peer review will evolve in to Wisdom Council review which incorporates other ways of knowing, including direct spiritual perception or Integrated Intelligence. This claim I make is in itself based on personal perception, and from direct experience working with people with advanced levels of consciousness. I have seen how decisions can be made via a collective employment of Integrated Intelligence. 

The Wisdom Council will eventually happen, once the veneer of scientific materialism is stripped away, and begins to evolve into a more deeply conscious understanding of the universe and the humanity’s role within that universe.

This Wisdom Council process will most likely go through various phases of evolution, as initial attempts to work with such consciousness will inevitably be contaminated by the ego projections of its members, and interference from external consciousness fields (individuals with malevolent intentions, collective consciousness fields, alien and discarnate influences. In my working with groups I have seen the way that the consciousness fields of the individuals involved can become entangled. This is because there is almost nobody – least of all me – who is beyond some degree of influence from the power and control agenda of the ego. This agenda is what gets people ensnared in other people’s energy fields.

I suspect that in time, whatever Wisdom councils forms will learn from the mistakes that are made, and in turn will deepen in consciousness. Ultimately the “drama” will be minimised, and eventually completely eradicated. It will then become a true Council of Light. The Council will be able to form a kind of "peer review", helping humanity decide the what realities and truths to pay heed to. By that point human beings will be far more "transparent" than they are now, and people will be able to sense lies and deception more readily. So the chances of people giving their power away to the Council will be minimal. Still, it has to be admitted that the current "self-made man" culture of some modern western nations will find this idea an affront to their dignity. Yes, it will involve a surrender to something greater than the self. This will be perceived as a loss of power by the ego, despite the fact that it is actually the opposite.

All that however, is a long, long way off. I can’t prove any of it, and won’t try. You might like to consider all this a provocation – something to stir the imagination.


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Your Life in Perspective

The way we frame events greatly influences how we experience them. In turn, the way we think of our lives greatly determines the relationships we have with ourselves and the world. Futurist Sohail Inayatullah points out that distancing is one of the prime tools of Critical Futures Studies. When we are too close to a problem, too close to the present, it is hard to see it as the unique little moment in history that it really is. French postcritical philosopher Michel Foucault was fond of pointing out that the present is just one of many possible "presents" that might have eventuated from the long run of history. He said that every dominant society depicted itself as the ultimate culmination of ineluctable historical forces - with itself as the ultimate expression of that historical process (I do have some differences of opinion with Foucault, but I won't go into them here).

In the spirit of these thoughts, here's a wonderful little video which just might help you gain a different perspective on your life.

Go lightly,


Monday, May 23, 2011

"Light" Chapter 11: The Deepening

For a full list of chapters of Light, click here.

I was running, running through the black night. There were others there too, all running, escaping. I brushed through trees and dense foliage, desperate to get away. Then the trees opened up and I was running exposed across open ground. I knew that they were coming. The lights. I turned, terror possessing me, seeing the giant alien spacecraft closing in. There were blinding flashes of light as deadly laser beams blazed through the night, annihilating all those unlucky enough to feel their fatal power. I slipped, stumbled, fell. There was no time. The lights closed in, and I knew it was the end.

I sat up, startled into waking consciousness. It took me a moment to realise I was still alive, and that the darkness I was staring into was the night of own small room. I sighed, breathing deeply, consciously settling my heart down and taking comfort at the little boxlike enclosure where I had spent the previous two and half years of my life.

My dreams were getting so bizarre that I just knew that I had to start writing them down. I had to try to make sense of all the weird things that were going on. Or maybe it was merely to convince myself that I wasn’t going crazy.

That day I went out and bought a large, hardcover diary, took it back to Edwards Hall, and planted it right at the long desk which extended behind my bed. There I also shifted my desk lamp and a humble pen, so that I could flick it on without getting out of bed. Just the act of moving around was enough to make me lose track of dreams, so I didn’t want to have to jump out of bed and flick on the light right after the dream. Besides, a certain inclination to laziness meant that if I had to actually get up I would probably be tempted to not bother at all and just go back to sleep.

The world was starting to change.  I found myself at times walking along, wherever I happened to be,  just looking at little things. Cars, houses, patterns in footpaths - and finding them fascinating. They drew me in like a child drawn to things an adult wouldn’t take the slightest notice of.

As I walked slowly towards uni that day, I was filled with a sense of lightness that I could barely describe. I considered that the situation with Amanda had somehow changed everything. Maybe I was in love? But considering that this had all started a few weeks before I met her, that didn't explain everything. 

I knew it was not the world that was different. It was me.

I suddenly - and without any good reason - veered to the right of the dirt path, and tramped down into the lightly wooded region behind Edwards Hall. My shoes stomped upon dry leaves, grass and dirt. A small, dry creek bed meandered along there, with eucalypt trees lining either side. I strolled along the creek bed, which basically paralleled the path to uni. Feeling the urge, I sat down behind a large gum tree. The tree stood between me and the dirt path, so no one could see me there. A thin layer of grey-green grass covered the bed, barely nourished by the occasional waters that washed by there on the rare rainy days in that part of the world.

I sat and crossed my legs. Perhaps that was because crossing your legs is what you are supposed to do when you feel something subtle and mysterious building within you, and that was precisely what was happening. Then it started. 

At first it was like a slight excitement, a tiny tingling in the stomach, as if electricity was filling me. Whether that came from within or from without I am not certain, only that it kept building. I closed my eyes, and the feeling immediately surged, expanded until it almost overcame me. The trees and the grasses and the sweet chattering of small birds filled me with an exquisite ecstasy. It was when I started to tremble ever so slightly that the fear of it all overtook me. I opened my eyes, and noticed my heart was racing, my breathing short. I stood up, quiet, upright, not unlike the trees that surrounded me. 

I still felt it, the connection.

There was only one rational response I could think of. I opened my eyes and said “Thank you,” to the trees, the creek bed, the grass and the birds. With those words what I can only describe as a warm light came upon me, and with it there was something that I had never before experienced. Simple joy, without reason. My eyes were open, but I was seeing something that I wasn’t sure was even there. It was as if someone had screwed open a lid on top of my skull and shined a warm light through into my brain. I could see the light all around and above my head as I looked straight ahead at the tree, as if I was standing outside on the clearest night of a brilliant full moon. But then when I actually looked up, there was nothing there. All I could do was keep repeating “Thank you. Thank you.” Don’t ask me why I was saying it. But it was all I knew how to say. It was all I knew.

After a while I found myself looking at my watch and it dawned upon me that it was less than an hour before my Philosophy lecture. I slowly moved back up the bank of the creek bed and onto the path. By the time I got to the uni library, I had only about 45 minutes before my class. Where had the rest of the time gone? I had planned a two hour study session.

I sat down at an empty table, and looked around the huge, silent room. I was still buzzing from the experience at the creek. The shelves of books, which so often seemed to me to be like castles of dry, piled weeds now seemed somehow different. I do not quite know how to describe it, but it was as if they were inviting me to join them. 

I pulled my notes out of my backpack, and placed them silently on the table. Then my hands began to open the nondescript stapled document given to me by the Philosophy Department. It was just a few pages long, detailing questions and references for tutorial topics throughout the semester. I write, “my hands began to open”, because there was an eerie detachment as I fingered through the document, as if the hands I were observing did not belong to me.

My mind came to rest upon the three essay topics. I was required to choose one. As soon as my eyes fell upon the first question, I knew that was the one I would be doing. I did in fact look at the other two, but they felt empty. Soulless. I was simply not meant to do them. I read the first question.

The limits of Western rationalism have never been fully acknowledged, and this explains the crisis in the modern western world.

There was a sense of slight exhilaration. I scanned down the dozen or so references provided. My eyes came to rest upon two of them. I asterisked them, got up and headed for the computer catalog.

Two minutes later I had the books’ call numbers and was walking silently along the towering rows of bookshelves. When I got to the 900s, I stopped. I had no reason to stop, as both the books I was looking for were in another section altogether. But stop I did.

My hand reached out, and I found myself pulling a small volume - a slightly tattered paperback - off the shelf. The cover read: Mysticism and the New Physics. The author was Michael Talbot. I had never heard of either the name or author, but I tucked it under my arm, then proceeded several aisles further along till I got the other two books. I then returned to my table.

I never did make it to my lecture. There was something far more compelling to attend to. I simply had to read Talbot’s book. So it was that I was soon eyeball deep in New Age physics. I don’t think I stopped to breathe, let alone have a toilet break. At some point there was a vibration on my mobile which turned out to be Paul asking me why I wasn’t at the lecture. I just returned “unwell”, then forgot about it.

I couldn’t believe what I was reading. Michael Talbot wrote of so much that made sense to me. He wrote of a mystical universe where mind and matter were deeply connected, where the mysterious and esoteric were perfectly normal. He linked these to science and to physics in particular. And to a critique of Western science and society. This was perfect.

Suddenly a lot of the things that I was experiencing didn’t seem so weird. Here was someone who was speaking my language. And as I read Talbot’s book, the arguments and references for my own essay started to form in my mind, almost of their own volition. The excitement I’d felt with the Gandhi essay was back, and I just knew that I could do something quite brilliant with the topic. I began to take copious notes on my laptop, and I could barely stop.

After an indeterminate time there was a tap on my shoulder, and I turned around. It was Paul.

“Looks like you made a quick recovery, dude.” He spoke in a bare whisper because we were in the library. He leaned over, close, his green eyes getting just a little too intimate for comfort.

For a moment I wasn’t quite sure what was going on, and had to bring myself back to earth. Then I remembered the sms.

“OK, you got me. It was BS. I just got absorbed in doing this.”

Before I knew it Paul grabbed had Talbot’s book, and was flipping through it.

“Yeah, I know this guy. My mum has this book. I've read bits of it.”

I suddenly felt defensive, as if a very personal part of me had been exposed.

“If you know about it, what do you make of it?”

“Well, having studied a bit of physics here and there, I’d say he makes a great mystic.”

“What does that mean?” I felt a tiny rivulet of anger beginning to form, and it was trickling toward my friend.

“Well, it’s a bit of a stretch, don’t you think? Arguing that reality is a projection of the mind, that consciousness is somehow an intrinsic part of the stuff of cosmos?”

You had to give it to Paul. He was no idiot.

“Well, it’s all for the end of term essay.”

“They let you cite this?”

“Why not?”

“I dunno.” Paul put the book back on his desk. “Anyway, fat lot of good his mystical worldview did him. Michael Talbot died in his 30s.”

I was shocked, as if the death was a close family member. “How?”

“Leukemia.” A slightly wicked smile crossed his lips. “Seems he didn’t see that one coming.”

I found myself wishing he’d go away, so told him I had to keep working. With that Paul said goodbye and wandered off.

I returned to my notes. But the excitement was gone. The uni library seemed dry and empty, my fingers heavy upon the keyboard. Twenty minutes later I got up and left. I walked back along the track to the Hall, feeling empty.


Sunday, May 22, 2011

Can Technology Humanise Education?

 Salman Kahn

Can technology humanise education? Salman Kahn is one man who genuinely thinks it can. Salman Kahn has become something of an online celebrity with a very simple idea: putting learning materials online via videos. His videos on YouTube have had millions of hits, and the feedback appears to be excellent. Even Bill Gates has come onboard, as you will see in the video below. Most of the Kahn Academy videos appear to be related to math, but others are science and physics related. The Academy is no-profit.

The greatest positive of Kahn's system appears to be that kids can learn at their own pace. Kahn argues that, many kids start failing becasue they have knowledge gaps, when they fail at one small step in the learning sequence. In Kahn's system, the student simply stays at each step until they achieve mastery. That requires ten correct answers to problems related to that step.

Bill Gates calls this the future of education. From what I have seen, it certainly has some very positive, possibly transformative benefits. The video is certainly worth watching.

I may even go and try a few of the math videos, and see if I rekindle some enthusiasm for numbers!

Interestingly I watched another Futures related video today. The video (you'll need to download the software) can be viewed at the site of the Australia Digital Futures Institute, part of the University of Southern Queensland in Australia. It appears on some new software (Connector)  that I have not seen before, which feeds the video at the same time as displaying the PowerPoint, and e-comments by those watching the videos. It's much longer than the Kahn video, but well worth watching by anyone interested in the future of learning. One thing that interested me was a vote taken by the lecturer, Professor Gilly Salmon, where she asked a simple question: what should be the main priority of education in the future (I have forgotten the precise wording). 90% of the students said that a digital focus was the most important thing, choosing that option above other choices, including better teacher education. As I argued in yesterday's post, I do have reservations about making digital media the prime focus of education (because, unless balanced with a self-reflective inner wisdom, it can create a dissociation of mind, body and psyche). Nonetheless, there are clearly many exciting possibilities emerging from Futures education at this time. The humanising of education may be one.

Check out the Salman Kahn video, below before making up your mind.


Saturday, May 21, 2011

The End of the World?

 He cometh... and he goeth

Today is May 21st, the end of the world according to some. Sadly, they are going to be disappointed. For those in a state of panic, you might like to read an older post of mine where I discussed doomsday predictions.

Most of all, make sure you have a good time today. The end of the world has got to be worth partying hard for! So, sit back, relax and enjoy the show. Remember, whatever happens, its all free. And in the current state of the economy, that's got to be a real blessing.

See you on the other side (of today).


Friday, May 20, 2011

The Mindful Computer

In yesterday’s blog post I argued that IT is here to stay, and that the focus for futurists like me should be upon how to employ the technology optimally, so that it enhances the development of Deep Futures, and does not perpetuate the shallow materialism of Money and Machine Futures.

To use the technology wisely, we have to allow human wisdom to flourish. This may sound obvious, but it seems to me that many educators and futurists do not appreciate that wisdom involves healthy self-reflection and the development of a capacity for equanimity and inner peace. It is certainly possible that IT may assist in this process, but as far as I am aware, the best ways to foster a peaceful mind are through simple, direct first person methods like meditation and mindfulness; and through various forms of embodiment via yoga, mindful walking and even swimming. The key to embodiment is that - regardless of the exercise - attention is brought into the body in relaxed presence.

In my understanding, this development of peace and wisdom should ideally be the foundation of any decent education system.

There doesn’t seem to be a lot of understanding of this getting around. I would like to refer to just one recent example which illustrates this perfectly.

In a recent South China Morning Post (Hong Kong) article, Robert J. Bahash wrote a timely column arguing that in today’s education systems teaching is just as vital as the tools of technology we employ. I agree with Bahash, but I do not believe that he goes nearly far enough, nor does he identify the essence of what is wrong with modern public education.       

Bahash writes:

Students must be prepared properly for a digitally connected world. The web and mobile connectivity have been undisputable agents of change across a range of industries, bringing our global economy closer together and providing opportunity for business to thrive where it would previously have been impossible… In the education sector, mobile connectivity, digital capabilities and intelligent software are the catalysts for making quality education available to students who may not have access to it otherwise.

There is not much to dispute here, except for the use of a single term: “quality education”. Bahash makes no attempt to define what such education might be. He seems to be implying that it is already here, merely awaiting some fine tuning. 

He goes on to elaborate the point, writing that online learning and IT tools are vital for young learners because they “build critical thinking through games, encourage collaboration and provide real-time assessment and remediation.” Bahash also argues that online course work, and especially independent study and virtual collaboration, help students to become independent thinkers and enhance self-motivation. Students also learn time management, prioritization and practice important community-building – skills. So far, so good. Not many would argue with all this. These are all very necessary skills in today’s world.

Bahash then quite rightly goes on to state that IT and online learning are not sufficient in themselves if we are to see a genuine improvement in modern education.

The road to universally raising the standards of education starts with the instructor. They are responsible for keeping students properly engaged and challenged throughout their school years. The profession as a whole needs to be held at a higher level of respect and regard in order to develop exceptional teachers.

According to Bahash the key in all this will be in granting teachers more respect. Upgrading teacher respect levels will transform teachers and bring out the best in them. Now, I am not going to argue that respecting educators is not important, nor that it cannot possibly improve the system. I am all for respect.

However there is something missing from Bahash’s arguments, and it is something that is not only important, but vital. It is this ‘something’ which so much of today’s critiques and analyses of education fails to address. The way we are going about trying to ‘fix’ modern education is something akin to gazing upon a dry ocean, looking at the fish floundering and dying upon the dry ocean bed, and deciding that the best way to help the fish is trying to teach them how to swim. In such a scenario, failing to grasp that fish need water would be incomprehensibly dumb. Yet there is a pervasive stupidity in modern schools and society which is equally dopey. We are throwing away billions of dollars trying to teach fish-out-of-water how to swim.

The basis of education – in the broadest sense – must be developing the right relationship with self. For this to happen, both teachers and students need to do self work. They need to develop wisdom, equanimity, and the ability to be fully present wherever they find themselves. The teacher's role is most important here. A teacher with a scattered psyche cannot possibly hope to instil equanimity into young people.

I am a teacher and spend a lot of time in front of students. If there is one quality in a teacher that surpasses all others in its capacity transform the classroom, it is his capacity to be fully present with the students. When I enter a classroom I make sure that I am fully present with the students. It is an act of love that surpasses in value any curriculum objective. Students know when the teacher is present, and they know when the teacher is not really “there.”

When I am present in front of a class I can ‘read’ the energy of the students. I can see beyond the faces they put forward as part of social discourse. I am able to connect with a stream of consciousness which grants spontaneous ‘intuitions’ about what is needed in the moment. Most importantly, it allows me to have unconditional love for the students. In true presence, judgment ceases (but not critical discernment), and  love is spontaneous.

When I first began teaching I was barely present at all. My mind was so scattered and uncentered that virtually any disturbance in the classroom was enough for me to lose any sense of self-esteem or equanimity. In short, fear dominated my teaching. It dominated my teaching because I had not done the inner work required to understand why I was afraid. I did not understand why at a deep level I felt inadequate as a teacher and human being; why I was terrified of losing control; and why I believed that the young human beings before me were untrustworthy and hostile. In fact, I didn’t even fully realise that I carried these attitudes and thought processes into the classroom, because I was largely unconscious of what lay within my psyche.

The only way for a teacher to be fully present is for her to engage in an inner journey. A healing journey. There is no genuine wisdom while fear dominates the personality. A frightened, mentally scattered sage is a contradiction in terms.

Is this what we are hearing from most educators and curriculum developers? No. Robert Bahash exemplifies a typical analysis.

Changing classroom teaching techniques will also improve student learning. The development of hi-tech learning applications and digital content delivery has transformed the learning platform. For successful 21st-century learning, classrooms need to embrace the power of data to create learning paths that will help shape students and prepare them for the digitally driven world (my bold type).

What concerns me about so much of what appears as ‘critique’ of modern education is that it is in fact not critique at all. It permits no vertical expansion of the human experience, merely horizontal shifts in foci. Regardless of whether we are using a text book or a computer, unless we emphasise it, there will be no genuine inner journey. There is no silence and there is no reflection.

Computers, IT, and mobile devices contain no intrinsic qualities which necessitate the facilitation of wisdom, equanimity and presence.  If employed with the same industrial age mentality as, say, a text book, they merely exacerbate the dominance of what mystics like to call ‘the monkey mind’. They merely become another medium via which the mind becomes distracted and disembodied, and dissociated from the psyche – and from the human spirit and its innate intuitive wisdom. Saying that classrooms need to “embrace the power of data” without any reference to grounding the individual in the body, is to fundamentally invert what is required to permit a psychologically and spiritually healthy human learning to develop.

Perhaps it is true that we live in a “digitally driven world,” as Bahash states. Yet this development is an extension of the same neurosis. What he is describing is a world where information increasingly comes first, and wisdom and self-reflection are given little or no value.

Connection to the body and psyche must come first. In a sane and truly rational world the capacity for equanimity and presence must take precedence over running data through minds. This foundation must take precedence over technical training, including IT instruction. Note I am not advocating abolition of information technology and career development. IT and mobile technology are exciting and powerful developments which will be essential aspects of almost all probable human futures, as I argued in yesterday's post. These things simply have to be taught in schools as well. I am simply suggesting beginning with embodied wisdom first, then exploring the other domains thereafter.

To be given value, these things must be assigned curriculum time. ‘Spiritual’ education must be permitted a space in modern education systems, and developed syllabi must allow self-exploration and quiet time. Yet for this to happen we need teachers who embody quiet equanimity. Teachers who are vitally present in the classroom.

This is not happening.

How can we make it happen?

First we have to admit that there is a problem, and that the monkey mind is not going to deliver us from the problems we are facing, regardless of how many gigabytes of data we strap to it. It will simply create more of the same problems we are seeing in today's school and in today's society.

Information Technology must be recognised for what it is: an exciting and powerful medium, but not the goal.


It's an IT World

This week I took the plunge and got me a brand new i-phone. I have resisted for many years getting a fancy mobile device, because what I observe as an intuitive level is that mobile devices tend to become an extension of the monkey mind – the distracted, impatient expression of the human ego. I believe that simple presence is more important than “being wired”. But the two are not mutually exclusive, of course.

It has to be admitted that education, learning and human communication will only continue to be further transformed by IT. The benefits are enormous. Just in my own work as a futurist, I have tahken full advantage of IT. I have:

  • this blog
  • my web site,
  • nearly 150 articles posted on, and many hundreds more on various other web sites
  • published several of my own books, and sell them through and
  • web sites for all my self-published books e.g.
  • a membership for the Foresight Network, a forum for futurists
  • a FaceBook account, including a ‘fan’ type page called The Power of Intuition (I believe I have more than two fans already ;-)
  • quite a few self-made videos on YouTube
  • An excellent  virtual assistant (Eve Psu), who helps with all this when I simply run out of time, and when both my typing fingers get tired
  • a Kindle, which I use to read books readily and comfortably
  • published my books in that Kindle format
  • written a PhD thesis, largely completed off campus and by taking advantage of online databases and other online materials

Thus I would most certainly be a hypocrite if I said that IT is a not a fantastic development for humanity, as I myself take extensive advantage of it. Almost all of these things could not have happened 20 years ago.

As just one tiny example of the general benefits of mobile technology, after opening my shiny new i-phone, I immediately uploaded a free app which is a 3-D map of the brain, featuring a general outline of the major brain regions and their functions. For me, as someone passionate about human intelligence and consciousness, this is a wonderful thing to have at ready disposal (and if you have read my deeply twisted short story, Killing Einstein’s Brain – which makes some specific references to neuro-anatomy - no; this was written before I got the phone. Honest!).

All this IT is here to stay, and as far as I’m concerned the focus for futurists like me should be upon how to employ the technology optimally, so that they enhance the development of Deep Futures, not perpetuate the shallow materialism of Money and Machine Futures. Deep Futures are deeply meaningful futures which permit a full expression of the flowering of human experience and consciousness. Money and Machines futures are business-as-usual futures where people are deeply manipulated and controlled, effectively becoming robotic cogs in an unbalanced finance and technology focused capitalist machine.

More about that tomorrow!