The Squint of the Outward Gaze

Research indicates that when we employ our peripheral vision, our sense of presence, awe and wonder increases. We relax, gain a deeper perspective of our place in time and space and our capacity for spatial memory improves. We become more positive about the future and the jigsaw of life begins to piece itself together. Thus, as our gaze habitually collapses outward while peripherally constricting, we lose touch with the human spirit.

We cannot look at the absence of integrated intelligence (the marriage of intellect and intuition) in modern discourses, in theory or praxis, without noticing that the way we humans perceive the world has changed dramatically in recent times. An indigenous shaman was likely to have spent thousands of hours in an altered state of consciousness, often induced by sacred herbs. Buddhist monks in Tibet spent years meditating in silence. Hunters and gatherers would have spent their entire lives dealing directly with nature. The “weather” for them was not a talking head stuck inside an electronic box, standing before an abstract map. The weather was a direct experience of the wind, the rain and the sunshine which fell upon their faces.

Today most people cannot name their great grandparents, and probably could not name a single fact about any of those eight human beings who lived but three lifetimes ago. Yet for traditional cultures, the ancestors lived on within their psyches, such as in the dreamtime of the Australian Aborigines. They trusted in their senses, and often in their dreams and intuitions. They had little choice. For many of our ancestors in pre-industrial societies, integrated intelligence was a very necessary and a very real thing.

But as time has gone on, we have become more and more estranged from our physical senses, and from our psyches. Our gaze has turned increasingly outward, our view and worldview evermore mechanized, congruent with our vision’s increasing reliance upon mechanical devices. In his book Seeing and Believing, Richard Panek traces the history of the telescope and how it has impacted human perception and imagination. One passage in the book strikes me as very relevant to where we find ourselves with today’s digital society.

It wasn’t only what the telescope had helped reveal qualitatively – the celestial bodies visible in a variety that until very recently would have been beyond imagination. It wasn’t even what the telescope had helped render quantitatively – the dimensions and distances that approximated the way the universe actually works. Instead what had changed astronomy at least as much as these observations was faith in the telescope itself.[i]

Over time, the process whereby we came to trust in technologies like the telescope has been repeated with other technologies. The traditional telescope was made from two lenses and a tube, but eventually became replaced by the radio telescope (and most recently the magnificent James Web Space Telescope). Here the data is digitally interpreted for us, delivered to us via our screens, even as the actual world around us recedes from our vision.

Research indicates that when we employ our peripheral vision, our sense of presence, awe and wonder increases. We relax, gain a deeper perspective of our place in time and space and our capacity for spatial memory improves. We become more positive about the future and the jigsaw of life begins to piece itself together. Thus, as our gaze habitually collapses outward while peripherally constricting, we may lose touch with the human spirit. This is not necessarily an either/or scenario. Technologies can also inspire awe. Images of nature can also induce many of the effects written about in this paragraph, for example.

This historical process has culminated in the point we have reached today, where for many human beings their understanding of the world is delivered predominantly via the devices that they are squinting into. The spaces where our gaze typically falls are decided not so much by our intuitive sense of our place in nature, or from what is intuited as being of value to the spirit, but increasingly by invisible algorithms, their hidden signals laden with stealthy agendas, seeded by Big Tech. Just as GPS systems in our cars have led to a gradual decay in our spatial awareness and capacity to navigate around a city (without the technology), our ceding perceptual power to the Big Tech robots has come with a loss of faith in the knowing contained within our bodies, within our psyches. Our bodily intuitions, and the deep knowledge of our integrated intelligence, has been replaced by a knowing delivered to us by third-party mediators and their automatons. As the age of the Metaverse dawns upon us, we are in danger of completely ceding our intuitive faculties and sense of embodied presence to the machines and their shadowy masters.

Could the rise of the doomer movement be related to our overuse of digital technologies and dissconnection from our peripheral vision, as well as our inner wisdom?

This is an extract from Marcus T Anthony’s upcoming book, Power and Presence: Reclaiming Your Authentic Self in Weaponised World.


[i] Seeing and Believing, Richard Panek, p. 89.

How a Lion Tamer Came Face to Face With Death… and Life

South African author and lion tracker Boyd Varty learned early the deep knowing which life seeks to instil within each of us: that there is something profound which transcends and connects our discrete human minds.[ii]

Varty’s tale of the terrifying involves a single night, set in time a moment or two following the initial post-apartheid elections in South Africa, when chaos and violence were common bedfellows across the troubled nation.

不出戶, 知天下.

不闚牖, 見天道.

其出彌遠, 其知彌少.

是以聖人不行而知.

不見而名,

不為而成.

Without stepping out the door,

You can know the world.

Without looking through the window,

You can see Heaven’s Way.

The longer you travel, the less you know.

Therefore:

The sage knows without traveling,

Perceives without looking,

Completes without acting.[i]

Lao Zi, Tao de Qing, chapter 47.

South African author and lion tracker Boyd Varty learned early the deep knowing which life seeks to instil within each of us: that there is something profound which transcends and connects our discrete human minds.[ii]

Varty’s tale of the terrifying involves a single night, set in time a moment or two following the initial post-apartheid elections in South Africa, when chaos and violence were common bedfellows across the troubled nation. Barty was but eighteen years old at the time, and he and members of his family were staying in a house in Johannesburg. The nightmare began when Varty was shaken awake, and driven to instant alertness by the sight of a gun being pushed into his face. The young man looked to his left and right to see that his mother and sister were both bound, the male house invaders in complete control of the fate of Varty and his family. Pure terror saturated his being, for he knew well that such incidents often end in rape or death. Or both.

Varty sat fixed with shock, powerless. But things were about to get worse for the South African youth. Moments later he was led outside of the house by the intruders. He relates what occurred next, as follows.

They put a gun to my head… and they basically said, “Now we’re going to kill you.” And the fear was so intense. Then I remember looking up the barrel at the man who was holding the gun to my head and we looked into each other’s eyes. And in that moment something happened… I can’t say what happened…  You might call it the peace of God that surpasses understanding. But I think it was too big for my ego structure to hold, and it collapsed. And as I looked at him all fear left me, and all concern for my own bodily safety left me, and I just felt a profound human connection with him. And as… there were three of these guys standing around me, as that moment happened it was… kind of a weirdness came over everyone. It was as if everyone had become glimmered. And they put the guns down and everyone just stood there confused. And I walked back inside totally unaccosted in any way. And I got the car keys, walked back out and I gave them (to the intruders and) said, “Get in that car and leave.” And they did.

In the years that followed, Voyd Barty contemplated often the happenings of that “bizarre” day.

I felt like I glimpsed through the most terrifying situation… That was the first freezing experience that I had. It was terrifying… I think sometimes of Jung’s description – of what is unconscious will be made conscious. It will manifest into your life until you become more conscious about what you’re carrying.[iii]

What was it that came over those four men in that moment? There was something intangible that Varty says appeared to visibly “glimmer.” Some structure of consciousness, or perhaps spirit, that transcended them as individual men living separate lives. And separate deaths. This transcendent connective field of consciousness is what I call integrated intelligence. By definition, integrated intelligence is within us all. And beyond us all. And it is what Part 3 of this book is all about.

This is an extract from Marcus T Anthony’s upcoming book, Power and Presence: Reclaiming Your Authentic Self in a Weaponised World.


[i] Stefan Stenudd, (n.d.). https://www.taoistic.com/taoteching-laotzu/taoteching-47.htm. Retrieved April 18, 2021.

[ii] Tim Ferris, Boyd Varty. https://youtu.be/sCVJUZlokEU. 14 March, 2022. The quoted section here has some small edits. I have removed some repetitious use of words, as the story is narrated verbally by Voyd Barty in his interview with Tim Ferris.

The University of Suffering

The Power Nobody Can Take From You – Unless You Let Them.

“A bird sitting in a tree is never afraid of the branch breaking, because her trust is not on the branch, but on its own wings.” Denzel Washington. 

It is not possible to create perfect systems. We can simply aim for better. And given that our systems and institutions will inevitably fail us sometimes, it is unwise to place too much of our sense of self and security on those systems and institutions. This is why it is important to develop a sense of internal strength and resilience. And to do that, we have to work on ourselves, and develop the right relationship with the mind, our feelings (including our woundedness), and the world around us. 

However, many ideologies and online communities today (spanning the entire political and social spectrum) perpetuate grievance and blame worldviews. They typically garner community support by identifying and projecting against enemies, mocking, shaming and condemning them. Some are obvious, such as conspiracy theory cultures, grievance-based social justice movements, anti-SJW and anti-woke cultures. Unfortunately, this also often includes mainstream institutions, media channels and leaders. It is very easy to get caught up in such spaces, and to allow our minds to be colonised by them. 

I suggest establishing a healthy distance from them all. Instead, look for good faith leaders and movements that seek responsible change in the world, and that seek to genuinely empower their audience; not to exploit their trauma and rage.

If we fail to develop an inner locus of power, we are going to be readily pushed and pulled by the world, cast upon a sea of emotional turmoil, as that world inevitably changes across the span of our lives. We may even sink to a life of projection and rage at the world and it’s people, a fruitless journey which ends in entrenched hopelessness and powerlessness. 

We are easy prey for bad faith actors and bad faith communities once we lose our sense of inner strength. Once they lose our sense of egency, some people attempt aggressive power and control over the system and other people. They may become destructive. 

We cannot always change the world. I live in China, and many things here are out of my control, while other situations are simply beyond my understanding. I am quite vulnerable in the sense that I enjoy few of the legal or human rights that people in western countries do. When I experience confusion, “oppression” or injustice, quite often there are no external means of rectifying the situation. There are few institutions or systems to support me, let alone “safe spaces” and counselling. 

Let me count the ways.

Within a few weeks of arriving in China, I was accosted by a local man at the post office. I inadvetently stood in the wrong line when lining up to be served (it was the line for mailing special packages, but I didn’t know). Suddenly a local man came up to me, waved his finger in my face and started shouting, demanding to know why I had pushed in. “You think you are special in this country!?” he yelled. I apologised and explained that this was my first time at the post office and I did not know the system. Later I learned that queue-jumping was a common practice in China. Most people ignore it. But not everyone.

I’ve also been evicted from my own home (twice) in China. When I arrived in Beijing in 2002, an administrator helped me rent an apartment across the street from the university (he even arranged the “foreigner discount” for me, elevating the actual price and taking a cut for himself). A week later there was a knock at the door, and when I opened it I found two uniformed police staring at me. They demanded to see my passport, and when I showed them said “Foreigners are not permitted to live here.” They generously gave me a few days to collect my things and move out. Apparently one of my Chinese neighbours had reported a laowai living amongst them. in 2015 I was also evicted from my rental apartment in Guangzhou. My employer had generously given me one of the apartments rented by the school. But later, when the landlord found out he demanded I be removed because he “Didnt feel comfortable with a foreigner in my apartment.”

I’ve been evicted from hotels in China, too, the management of one stating flatly that, “Foreigners aren’t allowed here.” They refused to refund my room fee, even though I’d only been there one hour.

I’ve been cursed at in public, and also had my Chinese wife called a “whore” and “traitor” on public transport simply because she was with a foreigner.

I’ve also been fired from a job here without notice or justification. There was no legal basis to challenge the decision.

The following institution I worked for was an international English-language programme designed to train Chinese students to study in the US and other English-language countries. We had a very progressive boss for two years. I worked very hard and was rewarded with several roles coordinating special programmes. Then that leader left and the new one announced within the first minute of his very first meeting that: “This is China, and in China the minority must serve the majority.” He said this in English, then abruptly changed to Chinese for the rest of the meeting. Thereafter, the institution’s default language became Chinese. Over the following two years I and other foreigners were all removed from management positions and many of our programmes dismatled without consultation. 

Another employer in China publicly condemned me on the organisation’s web pages – not once, but twice – for questioning a system protocol, resulting in having half my annual bonus slashed and my annual staff performance review of “excellent” retracted. And all that without ever speaking to me about the decision. My email asking for clarification from the administration was never answered.

Oh, and I’ve been physically assaulted in public. Just the once, though. 

And then there are the myriad “microaggressions” that I regularly experience in China. Foreigners in China know them all too well.

“Wow, you can use chopsticks!” (“Yes, but only one at a time,” is my common response.)

“Your Chinese is so good!” (after I merely greet someone with “Ni hao”).

“Why do foreigners have such big noses?”

And so on.

My attitude is that the best way to deal with microaggressions is to be micro-offended, and to just let them go. We are all human, and we all unintentionally do and say things that may be slightly rude or offensive to others. If no harm is intended, most of the time we can just move on.

To put all of the tales above into perspective, they have all occurred over a period of two decades, during which time 99.9+% of my interactions with China and its people have been positive or at least neutral. I have received so much in my time here, and that has far outweighed the negative side. I remain grateful (though in light of recent events, admitedly less optimistic about my future here than previously). Years ago I chose to let go of all grievances I held, and to focus on the present and my immediate experience. This has opened a space for genuine engagement with Chinese people, and even with its often frustrating institutions and systems. People can sense it when you are open and present. And they can sense it when you are angry and resentful, projecting past grievances onto the people and situations you encounter. Resentment is its own punishment, and robs the soul of the nourishment of engaging with the world and its people, here and now. And we are all greatly in need of such sustenance during these troubled times, where we are regualarly being tested with disruption and uncertainty. 


In his highly regarded book Man’s Search For Meaning, psychoanalyst Victor Frankyl described his time in a Nazi concentration camp, where he spent much of World War Two. All about him he saw what were possibly the worst injustices ever perpetrated by and on humanity. Many of his fellow Jewish prisoners gave up. Typically, those that did would simply refuse to get out of bed, and lie there in their own faeces and urine, till the prison guards came to take them away and shoot them. Frankyl’s own human dignity and power were stripped away to almost nothing. Almost. But what Frakyl realised is that there is one kind of power that nobody, not even the Nazis, could take away from him. And that was the power to choose the attitude he could take to his internment. The meaning of it all.

We all have the power to choose a healthy and empowered relationship with the world and its people. No matter where we are or what we are experiencing. And we can often choose gratitude over grievance. Don’t let anybody take that power away from you. Not even for a good cause.

Marcus

Bleaching the Soul

Our time spent online is increasingly being eaten by forces that care naught for our authentic selves. The web is mostly a world of projection and drama, where hyperbole, fear and catastrophic narratives are pumped into us, such that our consciousness can be fed into their machines. Much of the internet is the imaginal gone wrong. The more we bury ourselves in that, the more lost, angry and alienated we become; because we have unwittingly betrayed our authentic selves. Because we have betrayed our own spirit.

Learning to listen to the heart may take a lifetime. Even longer. Or just a moment.

I’ve been extremely busy lately. It’s been the kind of busy-ness that bleaches the soul of joy and spontaneity. It just feels wrong. And such feelings should be listened to, like a wise old man. Like Terrence McKenna, perhaps (in the video, below).

Yesterday afternoon I finished an exam invigilation for my university. I welcomed the students into the room with a hard, black metal detector, waving it about like a policeman’s baton. Lee, a fellow teacher shared responsibilities with me. We stood for two hours in silence while 15 students sat strapped to desks, scribbling upon bleached paper. Each separate. Each silent. The room clock went tick tock. Tick tock. It just damn well kept going tick tock.

During the exam three university supervisors entered the room, each masked, scribbling on their own paper, when they deemed it necessary. We didn’t know why. It was a secret. They stayed but a few moments, then left. Without speaking.

At no stage was there any eye contact amongst any of us in that hallowed room.

After the exam and the students had left the room, I bantered with Lee, who was from Hong Kong. He told me that the previous day a student had been caught cheating. He had arranged for another student to sit his exam for him. It seemed the fake student had jumped the fence of the university to make his way to the sacred space of examination.

The teachers who were assigned the invigilation duty didn’t spot the imposter. He was identified by one of the university supervisory staff.

For a moment I felt pity for the two students. They would be expelled, their lives irrevocably damaged. And the teacher-invigilators who had not spotted the infidel in their midst? Well, there would no doubt be some price to pay. Perhaps not quite excommunication, but their teaching record would likely take a hit.

My colleague laughed at the absurdity of it all. “The university has become so strict. What has any of this got to do with learning? It’s just about control.”

We collected the bleached paper and left.

On my way home I stopped in at a local Starbucks in the tech bay area, ten kilometres or so from the university. I had about forty of my own class assignments to mark that night, and no time to prepare dinner. I bought a coffee and a sandwich. Silent and alone, I sat at my little table, scribbling furiously.

After about half an hour a small, strange person came to sit at the table beside mine. He was young, but there was an air of aged weariness about him. He wore a black mask, a black t-shirt and black shorts. The unusually dark skin on his arms and legs was heavily tattooed. In black. He leaned over to me and said “Hello, how are you?” He was speaking English.

“I’m good, I mumbled, barely looking at him. I was busy, and my experience in China of tattood people who start up conversations in Starbucks wasn’t good. But he persisted. He asked me my name. I told him, and he said his name was Steven. He went on with the usual small talk you get from some strangers in China… Well, that was what you used to get. In recent years China’s fascination with foreigners has evaporated, replaced by a greater fascination with small screens. We laowai can’t compete.

I kept scribbling. But after a little while I felt uncomfortable with my own aloofness, so I put my papers down and looked up to talk to Steven. Rather abruptly, he got up and sat at the opposite seat at my table. He asked me how old I was. I said 56. He then told me that he was 27 years old, was married and had a 6 year old daughter. And that he was a computer programmer. I was surprised, as he looked more like a farm hand or delivery guy than a techie. But this was the tech bay area, after all.

I think I mentioned that Steven was strange. “What advice would you give someone my age?” he suddenly asked, his voice dropping. “I feel lost.” His eyes were heavy, not quite present. I could feel his sorrow.

I wasn’t sure what to say. So I said something about finding out what you really want. Then staying focused. And I told him not to spend too much time staring at screens. It wasn’t good for the soul, I said. Make time each day to get outside and be with nature. I could sense his disconnectedness, and felt that would help. Finally, I said China was rich in spiritual and mindfulness traditions, and that he might like to explore one of those.

Steven nodded his head. But I knew he just wanted to talk to someone, and to be heard. This tattood techie wished to speak of deep things. Of being lost.

After a while I rose to leave. We shook hands and I went home.

Terrence McKenna knew about the things we’ve lost. And he knew something about finding our way back. He understood the importance of beauty. He puts it a bit differently than I do, but he understood that beauty is a key to living life via the authentic self, and to creating deep futures. We have to make a place for the imaginable realm, McKenna said. For the spirit.

We must not let let the world of business and busyness steal that realm from us. The trivial is not worth your time, much less your life.

Our time spent online is increasingly being eaten by forces that care naught for our authentic selves. The web is mostly a world of projection and drama, where hyperbole, fear and catastrophic narratives are pumped into us, such that our consciousness can be fed into their machines. Much of the internet is the imaginal gone wrong. The more we bury ourselves in that, the more lost, angry and alienated we become; because we have unwittingly betrayed our authentic selves. Because we have betrayed our own spirit.

Learning to listen to the heart may take a lifetime. Even longer. Or just a moment.

As Terrence McKenna knew, we humans have always done virtual reality: in our words, in our stories and in our dreams. Today and tomorrow, as we build Web 3.0 and the Metaverse, this will remain little different; though the stakes may be higher.

Marcus

https://youtu.be/s__rhdjIJJE

Howling at the Machine

In Ginsberg’s rendering of the Machine, our intrinsic joy or “Heaven” has been consumed by the ravenous Moloch, along with our innate spirituality and embodied presence. We have become “loveless,” chasing “unobtainable dollars” like dumb mules stumbling towards carrots on a stick, not seeing what lies beyond the desirous thing dangling immediately before us.

In his mid-twentieth century poem Howl, Allen Ginsberg penned his thoughts on the rise of modern industrial civlisation. I know of no better poetic rendering of what I refer to as the “Money and Machines Society.” Here Ginsberg metaphorically summons the dark spirit of the pagan god Moloch, one who demands human sacrifice as means to power and control.

In Ginsberg’s rendering of the Machine, our intrinsic joy or “Heaven” has been consumed by the ravenous Moloch, along with our innate spirituality and embodied presence. We have become “loveless,” chasing “unobtainable dollars” like dumb mules stumbling towards carrots on a stick, not seeing what lies beyond the desirous thing dangling immediately before us.

The poem reminds us of the demonic AI systems of much late twentieth-century science fiction classics like Snowcrash, The Matrix and Terminator. We have become “Consciousness without a body,” lost in a “Mind” of “pure machinery.” And where the “sphinx of cement and aluminum (has) bashed open (our) skulls” and consumed our “brains and imagination.”

The poem is dashed with references to an absent transcendent realm of mind and spirit that has been stolen from us, only to be substituted by concrete, steel and hard cash.

And now, as we spiral towards the mid-twenty-first century, and as the concrete and steel shape-shifts into the miasma of Metaverse, can we see any more clearly? Or perhaps better stated, can we feel any more truly?

This from Stanza 2, of Howl.

*           *        *

What sphinx of cement and aluminum bashed open their skulls and ate up their brains and imagination?

Moloch! Solitude! Filth! Ugliness! Ashcans and unobtainable dollars! Children screaming under the stairways! Boys sobbing in armies! Old men weeping in the parks!

Moloch! Moloch! Nightmare of Moloch! Moloch the loveless! Mental Moloch! Moloch the heavy judger of men!

Moloch the incomprehensible prison! Moloch the crossbone soulless jailhouse and Congress of sorrows! Moloch whose buildings are judgment! Moloch the vast stone of war! Moloch the stunned governments!

Moloch whose mind is pure machinery! Moloch whose blood is running money!

Moloch whose fingers are ten armies! Moloch whose breast is a cannibal dynamo! Moloch whose ear is a smoking tomb!

Moloch whose eyes are a thousand blind windows! Moloch whose skyscrapers stand in the long streets like endless Jehovahs! Moloch whose factories dream and croak in the fog! Moloch whose smoke-stacks and antennae crown the cities!

Moloch whose love is endless oil and stone! Moloch whose soul is electricity and banks! Moloch whose poverty is the specter of genius! Moloch whose fate is a cloud of sexless hydrogen! Moloch whose name is the Mind!

Moloch in whom I sit lonely! Moloch in whom I dream Angels! Crazy in Moloch! Cocksucker in Moloch! Lacklove and manless in Moloch!

Moloch who entered my soul early! Moloch in whom I am a consciousness without a body! Moloch who frightened me out of my natural ecstasy! Moloch whom I abandon! Wake up in Moloch! Light streaming out of the sky!

Moloch! Moloch! Robot apartments! invisible suburbs! skeleton treasuries! Blind capitals! demonic industries! spectral nations! invincible madhouses! Granitecocks! monstrous bombs!

They broke their backs lifting Moloch to Heaven! Pavements, trees, radios, tons! lifting the city to Heaven which exists and is everywhere about us!

Visions! omens! hallucinations! miracles! ecstasies! gone down the American river!

A Story of a Lost Cat and a Lost Mind

Recently my wife decided to begin letting them out in the evening. We had to chase them back after and hour or so, but they never wandered too far away. Then two nights ago Baxi didn’t come back. My wife was frantic with worry, as she loves Baxi as dearly as her own child. We spent a couple of hours wandering around the huge compound (remember, almost 100 buildings) calling Baxi’s name. At 11.00pm, I told my wife I had to go the bed, as I had to get up early to work.

Two days ago our beautiful and beloved Bengal cat, Baxi, went missing. My wife and I adopted Baxi 18 months ago, on a trip to Beijing, and brought him back to Zhuhai, in south China. We fell in love with this magnificent creature, with his emerald green eyes, incredible athleticism and sharp intelligence.

Up till about three months ago, Baxi had almost never been outside the walls of an apartment. The first six months of his life were spent with another family in their multi-storied apartment building in Beijing, and the following year in a similar situation at our place on the 11th floor in Zhuhai. Then five months ago, we moved to our current ground-floor apartment in the beautiful Spanish Castle compound here in Zhuhai. It is a sprawling arrangement of nearly 100 apartment buildings, set amidst waterways and expansive greenery. There is a little courtyard out the back of our apartment, so we let Baxi out there, and he loved being outside and in the sun, chasing the odd butterfly or mosquito that foolishly wandered in.

But it was easy to see that Baxi wanted to run freely outside upon the green lawns, to wander through the many scattered gardens and amongst the shrubs and trees. He made this pretty clear. He would stand tall on his hind legs, and try to prise open the latch on the metal grilled gate. We put a net over the gate so Baxi couldn’t get out, but the net permitted full view of the lush playground outside, a pure haven for a huge kitty like Baxi, with his Bengal leopard cat genes. So after resisting for some time, we finally opened the gate and let him and our other two smaller cats outside, where they ran and frolicked, chasing butterfies and each other with gay abandon. At first we kept a close eye on them, but because they always came back to the apartment, we soon let up and let them wander freely for long periods.

Recently my wife decided to begin letting them out in the evening. We had to chase them back after and hour or so, but they never wandered too far away. Then two nights ago Baxi didn’t come back. My wife was frantic with worry, as she loves Baxi as dearly as her own child. We spent a couple of hours wandering around the huge compound (remember, almost 100 buildings) calling Baxi’s name. At 11.00pm, I told my wife I had to go the bed, as I had to get up early to work. She said she would continue to search for the cat.

I went to the bedroom, but felt guilty. I couldn’t just let Baxi amble around, lost. He might wander out onto the nearby road. Or perhaps he’d already fallen into one of the many open spaces that plummet to the underground car park below Spanish Castle. Perhaps he’d eaten something rotten and was ill. Or maybe, given that he is a such a beautiful cat, someone had captured him.

So I decided to meditate. For years I’ve used meditation and light trance states to help resolve personal issues, and sometimes to find lost objects like credit cards or my phone. But in recent times I have gotten out of the habit of doing so. But this was a desperate situation. So I sat on the bed, closed my eyes and allowed myself to fall into a deeply relaxed state by breathing into my my body. Then I let go, allowing myself to bring Baxi’s image to mind. The process I use isn’t easy to describe, but in essence I allow the boundary between myself and the “object” to collapse. I also ask for “help” from the universe, because I believe that we are all embedded within an integrated intelligence.

Within a minute the words “the front garden” pop into my mind. Now, I’d already scoured the garden in front of our house, so that wasn’t a good enough lead. So I shifted my focus. In my mind’s eye, I brought forth an image of our apartment building, seen from a bird’s-eye perspective, from above. What I “saw” was very fuzzy. It was dark, just as if looking at the building at night time. Then I allowed myself to “feel” the areas around the building. The area behind the apartment felt “empty.” Then I shifted to the left-hand side, and it too felt “wrong.” Then I shifted to the right-hand side. It felt “warm.” Open. Then, as I moved my attention to that side of the image, I saw the walking paths around the building appear as fuzzy dark lines. But the path leading away from the front right-hand side of the building were thickest, as if being emphasised. In the image that line was at about 2 o’clock, and at the end, that dark line split into a fork, one other line at about 2 o’clock, the other at just before 3 o’clock. I had a strong sense that Baxi was somewhere near that fork.

This all took about two minutes of meditation time.

Of course I didn’t “know” whether the meditation session was anything more than fanciful imagination, and I was tired. But I decided to trust the information. After all, I’d been using similar mental processes for thirty years. So I stepped outside out the front of the house, followed the right-hand path to the end, crossed the traversing path, and moved to the other side of the “fork.” I stopped for a moment, because I had to choose which of the two paths to follow. The more right-hand path felt warmer, so I walked across and forward about five metres, stopped and called “Baxi!” There immediately came two “meows” from the low bushes of the garden outside the apartment to my left. The pitch of the meows was a lot higher than I associate for Baxi (more like that of a kitten). And there are probably 30 wild cats in Spanish Castle compound, so my immediate thought was that it was another smaller cat. But there was a rustling of the bushes, so I shone my iPhone torchlight in that direction. It was pretty dark, but saw immediately there was a dark cat there, siting literally two metres away from me at the dege of the bushes. I stepped over for a closer look. Sure enough, it was Baxi. He looked a bit scared and lost, and at first didn’t seem to recognise me. But I quickly grabbed him, and took big fellow home. All in all, it had been about two minutes since I walked out the door.

I rang my wife and told her I’d found her beloved. She was at the far side of the compound, still looking for Baxi. She hurried back, deeply relieved. I handed Baxi to her, and she hugged him as we sat down on the sofa. “Where was he? How did you find him?” she asked. I told her precisely how I’d located him. She just looked perplexed for a moment, then hugged the magnificent cat in her arms.

*     *     *

Where is human intelligence actually located? The established position, either explicit or implicit, has been that it lies in the brain. More specifically, it is the prefrontal cortex that gifts human beings with the incredible capacity for abstract and rational thinking, as well as the scientific enquiry which has enabled us to advance technologically at an incredible rate over the past few centuries.

As the machine and digital ages have unfolded, we came to assume that the brain functions much like a computer: inputs and outputs, hardwiring to hang it all together. Of course, these images are often used metaphorically, not literally. But their pervasive deployment indicates how we have come to frame the concept of “the mind.” Mind and the brain are the same thing, and fundamentally “cognitive” in nature. It then follows logically that human intelligence functions according to the mechanical presuppositions which that model entails.

The truth is that this story is but partial. Just as Newtonian physics is accurately descriptive of the cosmos in a fairly clunky way, the machine mind is a model which works but crudely. But as long as the vehicle gets us from point A to point B, who cares if it’s a bit rickety? Well, I believe that it does matter, and it matters a lot. For the mind-as-computer metaphor is retarding human intelligence. I hope that I don’t need to spell out the great irony in that.

Yesterday I made a keynote presentation at the 8th International Conference on Humanities & Social Sciences Research here in China. The gathering was shifted online from its real world location in Chongqing, for reasons I don’t need to elaborate upon. The talk I gave was entitled “A Critical Futures Studies Perspective on Sensemaking & Embodiment in the Digital Society.” My prime argument was that we need to ensure that future human virtual environments permit healthy “embodiment,” or human intelligence & authenticity may be gravely damaged.

The basis of my argument is founded upon a multi-layered model of human cognition which I call Integrated Intelligence. The following diagram depicts those layers.

I am not suggesting that the mind functions in neat layers like this. Perhaps a better image would show a diffuse, blurry image with hazy boundaries indicating the entanglement of all six layers. But for the sake of simplicity, I use this image.

The essence of the model is that the conscious mind (or brain) exists in relationship with the other five layers. The body contains a myriad of sensors which feed information to the brain in a never-ending stream (mostly unconscious). The psyche is the world of dreams and intuitions, our subconscious; as described by the depth psychologists and introspective traditions throughout history. Now, in the twenty-first century our intelligence can no longer be separated from the information streams embedded within the worldwide web, while the Internet of Things means that the objects we interact with are also connected to that information sysyem. But it doesn’t end there. The recently burgeoning science of cognitive synchronisation has revealed that our minds exist in deep relationship with others, our communities and with nature. Finally, there is a century of experimental research which is indicates that our minds are entangled with other people, places and times at a non-local level. This suggests that the ancient and more modern introspective traditions have long been correct that consciousness is entangled with nature and cosmos.

All this (and especially the final point) challenges the foundations of existing dominant models of human intelligence. And even if we exclude the non-local mind, we have to concede that it’s time for a radical shift in how we view intelligence. For centuries we have laboured under and essentially mechanistic model of mind and nature, and it is crippling our innate intelligence and wisdom. Most tellingly, it is obfuscating the genuine nature of life and consciousness itself and clouding our capacity to realise who we truly are, both individually, and as a species. It is time to begin to question more deeply our genuine relationship with nature and the cosmos. And more importantly, to begin to live a new story.

A Mindful Metaverse?

Mark Zuckerberg says he intends to develop an “embodied” experience within the metaverse. This is web 3.0, an all-immersive internet where you can plug in and, if you prefer, never leave. Horizons Workrooms, an immersive tele-conferencing platform which is Facebook’s 3D challenge to Zoom. Using this program, users morph into their avatar equivalents by wearing an Oculus VR helmet, and interacting in a virtual office space. Mark Zuckerberg sees Horizon Workrooms as potentially launching us into a utopian future. He says:

“Five years from now, people will be able to live where they want and work from wherever they want but feel present when they do it.”

In case you havent been tuned in lately, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says he intends to develop an “embodied” experience within his Horizons platform – what many are calling the metaverse. This is web 3.0, an all-immersive internet where you can plug in and, if you prefer, never leave (as Zuckerberg stated in a 2021 interview). Horizons Workrooms is an immersive tele-conferencing platform which is Facebook’s 3D challenge to Zoom. Using this program, users morph into their avatar equivalents by wearing an Oculus VR helmet, and interacting within a virtual office space. Mark Zuckerberg sees Horizon Workrooms as potentially launching us into a utopian future. He says:

Five years from now, people will be able to live where they want and work from wherever they want but feel present when they do it.[i]

But how will this embodiment, this feeling of “presence” as Zuckerberg calls it, be achieved? And is Zuckerberg even talking about the same thing that I am when I refer to embodiment and presence? Zuckerberg points to developments in the sophistication of “hand interaction” technology on Horizons, but his sensory “touch” technology appears to lag well behind the vision of generating the “feeling of being present,” as he puts it.

A question I am led to ask is whether in some hypothetical near-to-medium-term future (within, say, 20 years) it will be possible to immerse humans in a virtual reality while retaining our embodied presence, our integrated intelligence, and the connection with our Authentic Selves? If this can be achieved, the loss of embodied wisdom that I am concerned about may be able to be averted, in part or in whole.

It is hard to know the precise answers to these questions at this point in time, but I will outline several issues of concern.

In Futures Studies there is a long and storied history of “scenario work,” but I shall not burden you, the reader with that. You might like to check out Steve Tighe’s book Rethinking Strategy if you are interested in deeper exploration.[ii] Meanwhile, here are several principles that futurists like to keep in mind when developing scenarios.

  • They are NOT predictions. Instead the purpose is to enable foresight & intelligent planning.
  • Scenarios can represent both possible & probable images of the future.
  • They can help us prepare for outliers and alternative futures, not merely business-as-usual futures.
  • They can help broaden and deepen our thinking.
  • They can help initiate reflection about what futures are preferable.
  • They can help us to clearly identify & avoid undesirable futures.
  • They can help us to get a diversity of stakeholders involved in planning our futures.

Most of us will tend to posit predictable images of the future if we are asked or required to do so: flying cars, a faster internet, virtual reality, genetically engineered babies; or perhaps dystopias like the world being overrun by AI or robots, environmental Armageddon or nuclear war. These kinds of futures are well covered in science fiction as well as by poplar discussions in the media, so we are very familiar with them.

Yet it is very important not to limit our thinking to what is currently acceptable or in vogue, nor to simply extrapolate from present trends. It is tempting to avoid reflecting on futures that are less fashionable or those deemed implausible. But as Steve Tighe points out, past human activities, policies & language may now be considered by many as unacceptable or even absurd. Think of doctors promoting cigarettes, not washing hands or letting blood…

Tighe writes that if past behaviours and cultures appear ridiculous to us now…

…then we may assume that people in the future will view many aspects of our current behaviour as equally ridiculous. Therefore, looking forward, we must accept that many aspects of the future may appear ridiculous from the context of today. The learning for participants (of scenario planning) is that they should include plausible stretch and novelty in their scenarios[D1] .

Embodiment and VR Immersion in the Metaverse

The kind of scenario process I use below is sometimes called the “two factors” method. It takes a particular problem or situation and juxtaposes two relevant & impactful factors that are associated with that situation, producing four distinct scenarios. Ideally, one factor should have high impact (relevance) and a high level of certainty; while the other should have high impact but with less certainty. In the following four scenarios, I juxtapose “degree of embodiment” (horizontal axis) and “degree of immersion in virtual reality” (vertical axis).

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is image-1024x777.png

Here “embodiment” entails a strong connection with bodily intuitions and integrated intelligence. This suggests a greater possibility for healthy expression of the Authentic Self. In line with my methodology, I give each of the four scenarios a memorable name. You will note that I present brief, general descriptions of each scenario rather than delve into detail. The purpose here is not to outline definitive expressions of each possible future, but to provide a simple descriptive framework which can assist in discussions and analyses as we plan for the future.

Scenario 1: Snow Crash Wonderland

High VR immersion/low embodiment.

Current probability (twenty years): moderate to high.

These are the dystopian futures that concern most people when they envision a dark future with an all-immersive web. The ultimate dark destination is Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash metaverse (the book where the term comes from); or the Matrix, where people are trapped in virtual space, exploited by the machines – and they don’t even know it.

We aren’t there yet, but in the meantime, and while we are waiting for AI to steal our souls, we can entertain (quite literally) the idea of various Money & Machines Futures where we spend most of our time on the internet, becoming highly dissociated from the body, and from our integrated intelligence and our Authentic Selves.

Here introspection diminishes, while our experience becomes dominated by exteroception – the outward gaze – not at nature or the real world, but at artificial environments generated by Big Tech or whatever paymasters push the system’s agenda. Some form of capitalism remains, and the system is gamed and monitised to fill the pockets of the rich and powerful. Meditation, mindfulness, healing & spirituality are devalued or ignored. We become empty.

The dominant way of knowing in Snow Crash Wonderland is most likely a kind of disembodied satiation of base senses – Neil Postman’s “amused to death.” There are high levels of online addiction, including consumption of gaming, porn, cat videos and mindless “scrolling.” Rationality remains, but becomes deeply distorted in the absence of intuitive wisdom and the effective erasure of independent thinking and alternative worldviews. In other words, reason becomes servant to a pathological system.

The governance of this dystopian future is authoritarian or covertly controlling, with high levels of censorship. Online content (effectively “the world”) is heavily mediated by algorithms which are secreted from the public domain. Confusion abounds, along with a strange sense that something is terribly wrong. But don’t really know what is going on.

Scenario 2: Brady Bunch Brunches

Low VR immersion/low embodiment.

Current probability (twenty years): low to moderate

This scenario is not so much back to the future as back to the past. Here, perhaps after ongoing bad experiences with online worlds, we have decided that the internet just isn’t worth it. So we unplug from the web. But this is no deep future, as it is dominated by exteroception, while self-reflection and mindfulness are considered to be of little value.

This possible future is really a throwback to the past, a bit like the 70s TV show The Brady Bunch, which featured an impossibly gentile, sanitised world where we never really saw anything inside the characters. They simply lived out their family-centred existence. Mr Brady went to work at the office, while Mrs Brady stayed at home and looked after the house and kids. Everything was incredibly nice. A bit like a Sunday brunch with the Bradys.

The Brady Bunch Brunches scenario is a bit like the Snow Crash Wonderland scenario without the internet. It is more embodied than the latter, but only because we remain in the real world. It most likely remains a capitalist system driven by the profit model. An overlap with the values of scenario 1 includes that it remains largely disconnected from nature and the body, and from spirit. Few people are actually present. Given that this scenario represents the future, much entertainment occurs away from the (forbidden) metaverse, perhaps on TVs, computers and mobile devices. An extreme form of this scenario would see great restrictions on screen time, or a complete ban.

Waking time may be spent working, with family, playing and exercising. The estrangement from the psyche means that addictions proliferate offline, including porn, alcohol, tobacco, drugs and promiscuity. In the more liberal expression of this scenario, online life is permitted, but is heavily controlled by algorithms. The most likely form of governance is soft authoritarian.

Scenario 3: Back to the Body

Low VR immersion/high embodiment

Current probability (twenty years): low to moderate

Back to the Body is a utopian representation of the future driven by a spiritual renaissance. Increasing awareness of the problems associated with spending too much time online, in front of screens or wearing VR glasses has led to a backlash against the metaverse. Whole communities and nations reject it, and strongly regulate its use. Information systems return to real-world (hard-copy) or 2D online mode. Society slows down, and populations live mostly in embodied presence.

Scientific breakthroughs in understanding the importance of embodied presence and integrated intelligence have lead to a mass spiritual awakening. Both classical & mundane intuition proliferate, alongside somatic awareness. A deep future of empowered Authentic Selves flourishes. There is a return to appreciating nature, and a marked decline in the desire to spend time online and in states of amused distraction. Community and family time are appreciated, and untreated trauma and addiction decline.

The Back to the Body scenario features a society which values introspection and mindfulness. Work and career are developed according to the needs of the Authentic Self, while the profit motive is downplayed or eliminated from society. Meditation, healing & spirituality are deeply valued, alongside compassion, equality, and justice.

Most waking time is spent in real world: working, with family, playing and exercising. Wise action proliferates, and decision-making, career, and policies are informed by integrated intelligence. This, in its ideal, is an open society with limited censorship, and all algorithms are open source. There is some regulation, but not authoritarianism.

And yet in such a scenario we throw out the baby with the bathwater. We lose the potential benefits of exploring expansive online worlds. It would also appear to be an unfeasible future. Stopping everyone from developing online systems would likely require heavy regulation, creating a potential self-contradiction. We are an inquisitive species, so the metaverse would likely go underground.

Scenario 4: The Mindful Metaverse

High VR Immersion/high embodiment

Current probability (20 years): moderate

The Mindful Metaverse is a deep future which honours our embodied, Authentic Selves and the human spirit, while also permitting a healthy engagement in online and virtual reality spaces. This could be deemed a utopian future, but I also believe that it a possible one.

As with the Back to the Body scenario, this future represents a spiritual renaissance, most likely driven by scientific breakthroughs in the understanding of the non-local nature of mind and our deep connection with nature, the cosmos and each other. Classical & mundane intuition flourish within our strong connection to the body. Our embedded online experience is facilitated by technologies which allow us to retain our vital connection to the body and integrated intelligence. This is possible because those who design these systems are aware of the requirements of the Authentic Self and choose to respect those. Digital intelligence is honoured and encouraged, and the open society permits the public perusal of its metaverse’s source code.

Scientific rationality and much of the enlightenment’s knowledge is also honoured and retained, taking its place in our cognitive expression alongside intuitive ways of knowing and being. The capacity for deep introspection remains because of the connection with the somatic body. Human beings balance time in virtual worlds with time spent in real world environments and in nature. Our social and legal systems honour the need for compassion, equality and social justice. Society slows down, and our education and learning systems encourage awareness of online disorders and addictions. We also teach for the five pillars of the Authentic Self, most notably embodied presence and digital intelligence. Vocational guidance emphasises practical personal futures aligned with the Authentic Self and which also serve the greater needs of society.

The biggest uncertainty with the Mindful Metaverse is how far into virtual reality we can go and still retain an authentically human experience and while retaining our integrated intelligence. Further, if we get lost in a Snow Crash Wonderland future, we may find that we are so far removed from the wisdom of embodied presence that we may struggle to make it back to create a more balanced future.

These are merely four scenarios depicting four possible futures of the metaverse and their relationship to embodiment. Many other scenarios of the metaverse are possible if we juxtapose other factors with increasingly immersive virtual worlds.


[i] Ryan Zickraf, “Mark Zuckerberg’s ‘Metavers’” Is a Dystopian Nightmare,” Jacobin Magazine, 25.09.2021.

https://jacobinmag.com/2021/09/facebook-zuckerberg-metaverse-stephenson-big-tech/?fbclid=IwAR32TwweS1KZG79lOV4cz7hSNfuFeMRtsRAKo7ePfPcmeZF0Iwu3LAf-5xo.

[ii] Tighe, Steve (2019). Rethinking Strategy.  Milton, Queensland: Wiley & Sons.


This is an extract from Marcus T Anthony’s upcoming book Power and Presence: Reclaiming Your Authentic Self in a Weaponized World (available mid-to-late 2022)

How We’ve Become Smarter: And How We Haven’t

Integrated intelligence is a fuzzy human cognitive skillset which can be developed with practice. It is also my belief that such human cognition will eventually flourish in societies and learning environments that are open to its expression. The problem is, our current science and establishment institutions are either ignorant of integrated intelligence, or are simply hostile to it.

In the 1930s, Russian psychologist Alexander Luria travelled into the villages of remote Uzbekistan to talk to the peasantry. This was not because he was fond of the rustic life of the rural classes, but because he was conducting research into human intelligence. What he discovered suggested that the uneducated rural classes of early twentieth century had very limited capacity for abstract reasoning. Their lives had granted them little exposure to tasks requiring formal application of those skills. The following two examples are edited transcripts from the conversations that took place there.

Conversation 1:

Q: All bears are white where there is always snow; in Novaya Zemlya there is always snow; what color are the bears there?

A: I have seen only black bears and I do not talk of what I have not seen.

Q: But what do my words imply?

A: If a person has not been there he cannot say anything on the basis of words. If a man was 60 or 80 and had seen a white bear there and told me about it, he could be believed.

Conversation 2:

Q: There are no camels in Germany; the city of B is in Germany; are there camels there or not?

A: I don’t know, I have never seen German villages. If B is a large city, there should be camels there.

Q: But what if there aren’t any in all of Germany?

A: If B is a village, there is probably no room for camels.[i]

Today, we may be amused or perhaps shocked that people of bygone eras were apparently deficient in mental abilities that we find to be pervasive in the modern world. Referencing Luria’s research in his book What is Intelligence, New Zealand psychologist James Flynn has argued that human populations now have much greater capacity for certain mental abilities than they did until recently in our civilizational development. Luria’s findings suggest that abstract reasoning is a latent human ability that requires either actual training or at least societal encouragement in order to flourish.

Modern education systems routinely promote the expression of mathematical, logical and linguistic abilities, alongside many other useful cognitive, social and technical capacities. It is undoubtedly true that without such environmental impetus to acknowledge and employ these expressions of intelligence, they would not be present to the extent that we find today. Without formal education, much knowledge would be lost and many mental abilities, practical skills and aptitudes would not be widely developed. Einstein could not have developed the theory of relativity if he had lived in rural Uzbekistan and been illiterate. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniaki could not have created the Apple Mac computer if modern science and technology had not provided them with the wide range of skills, knowledge and hardware needed to do so.

At least up until very recently, people have been getting much, much smarter – and that’s a scientific fact. Skeptics might protest that people can’t even retrieve their cash from an ATM machine in less than ten minutes. They might point out that there is a privately sponsored museum in the U.S. that shows Jesus riding a dinosaur. And they might lament that you can’t have a conversation with anybody without their feeble attention being diverted by an incoming alert on the phone they are clutching like the crown jewels. But such skeptics are wrong – at least according to James Flynn. “The Flynn effect” is the curious fact, named after that psychologist, that IQ scores tend to rise with each new generation – about three points on average. Flynn states that a full 98 percent of today’s population would score higher on an IQ test than their counterparts from 100 years ago.[ii] That is how big the shift has been.

Similarly, it is my conviction, based upon personal experience, that integrated intelligence is a genuine but fuzzy human cognitive skillset which can be developed with practice. It is also my belief that such human cognition will eventually flourish in societies and learning environments that are open to its expression. The problem is, our current science and establishment institutions are either ignorant of integrated intelligence, or are simply hostile to it.

One factor which Flynn suggests is behind the effect is how our societies and education systems valorize thinking skills, especially scientific thinking. He thus sees the world as being divided into eras of pre-scientific and post-scientific thinking. In particular, the popularization of “shorthand abstractions” (or SHAs) has made us much smarter. These concepts are so familiar to us today, that their absence may be difficult for us to imagine. What would your world, and your mind, be like without the following constructs? Note how recently in history they have reached popular awareness.

(1) Market (1776: economics).

(2) Percentage (1860: mathematics).

(3) Natural selection (1864: biology).

(4) Control group (1875: social science).

(5) Random sample (1877: social science).

(6) Naturalistic fallacy (1903: moral philosophy).

(7) Placebo (1938: medicine).

(8) Falsifiable/tautology (1959: philosophy of science).

It is arguably impossible to know what we don’t know – for that would be a contradiction in terms. Yet once we admit that our minds can be greatly expanded by our societies’ inculcation of key concepts – or retarded by their absence – we may be led to wonder what key ideas, not yet be widespread, could potentially expand our intelligence even further.  What might be the next big idea that will shift human intelligence?

Yet this question is itself restrictive if we do not question deeply the idea of “thinking” beyond abstract conceptualization. Could there be “non-rational” cognitive processes which could further enhance human intelligence? Perhaps even something which is difficult to measure in an IQ test? Something that is not presently on the mainstream scientific map of intelligence?

What I am referring to is a self-stultifying dynamic. Our dominant science generally doesn’t take seriously that which cannot be readily measured. And we don’t measure things that we don’t consider to be credible. This creates and perpetuates a case of paradigm blindness. As psychiatrist Stan Grof points out, paradigms delimit both the ways of knowing which may be employed to understand the world, and the range of questions that can be permitted to be asked in query of that world.

One very big idea – now beginning to emerge – that could dramatically shift our civilizational IQ is that of “entanglement,” including trans-locality and trans-temporality. I am referring to information transfer – and consciousness processing – that occurs seemingly beyond the confines of space and time. Yes, I am referring to integrated intelligence, and the related idea of entanglement in physics. Entanglement represents a significant challenge to current dominant paradigm thinking. Though typically excluded from mainstream science and our institutions in the modern era, related ideas have been around for thousands of years.

The evidence for integrated intelligence is mounting, as I outlined in Layer X. And I expect that the data supporting a deeply connected cosmos is only going to become greater. The extended mind and the seven modalities of integrated intelligence (outlined in Layer x) will eventually become accepted within science and education, in some form. Once it has been established that our universe incorporates an entanglement of consciousness, the entire field of cognitive science, and ultimately science itself, will have to expand massively beyond its current parameters. Parapsychologist Dean Radin, for example, believes that the idea of entanglement will soon become widely accepted in physics and beyond. Though the timing and precise process that will trigger this shift can only be speculated, it is my belief that this civilizational shift will inevitably occur in some way. I make this prediction (and I don’t make many) based on my personal experience working directly with integrated intelligence – both my own, and others’.

What truly interests me is what will then happen to human intelligence once entanglement and deep connectivity are commonly accepted and practiced? My prediction is that it will represent much more than a mere addition to Flynn’s list of shorthand abstractions, bumping our IQ scores up a notch or two. For entanglement potentially opens the doorway to a greater employment and experience of other ways of knowing. The acknowledgment of integrated Intelligence will shift all of our individual human identities, as well as our collective sense of the relationship between humanity and the cosmos.

It may be that this denouement will mirror my own life journey, and that of many people who have actively explored integrated intelligence. I first accepted the idea of an integrated intelligence intellectually. Then, after a year or two, I began to explore the extended mind experientially. That mindset became embodied. It became my lived experience.

I therefore believe that human beings will soon become much smarter, but not just intellectually. With the advent of integrated intelligence, an entire vista of wisdom and understanding will open before our eyes. It will represent the beginning of a transformation of human consciousness and human identity on this planet. We will never be the same again.

I note that James Flynn says nothing about integrated intelligence. But he does argue that agrarian era humans did not develop their full capacity for abstract thinking because their focus was elsewhere. They simply saw little value in employing such mental modes in their societies. What would be the point of parents and elders in rural Uzbekistan teaching abstraction, logic and hypothetical representation to the young?

Being a scientist trained in the western empirical tradition, James Flynn’s mind is also probably “elsewhere:” not focused upon the expression of an integrated intelligence, but upon the predominately abstract conceptual modalities that define current establishment science and education. I suspect he might be somewhat aghast at my using his insights and those of Alexander Luria to further my claim that innate intuitive abilities are latent within twenty-first century humans in much the same way as the capacity for abstract conceptualization lay dormant within human beings in less developed societies. Yet it is a claim I make nonetheless. The abilities are there. I have seen them in many people. It is just that they remain dormant.

This is an extract from Marcus T Anthony’s Power and Presence, avaialable July 2022.


[i] Quoted in J.R.Flynn (2009), What is Intelligence? Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

[ii] This is a hypothetical point. Wide scale IQ tests did not begin till after World War Two.

An Oath to Your Power and Your Presence

As we spend more time online, it is very easy to lose track of what is important. It is very easy to lose our mindful, bird’s eye view of the world and our lives, and instead get caught up in earthbound cat fights. Often the squabbles and projections are with people we barely know, or do not know at all. I’d like to think that the Oath to Power and Presence, whatever version you make of it, can inspire you to keep your life on track, an dto affirm the higher values that we humans share as a collective.

It was a simple enough tweet, though mildly cryptic:

Are we sick of this yet?”

The writer was Sam Harris. The date November 17, 2021.

I think I know what he was alluding to.

The madness. Online.

Besides being a well-known author and social critic, Sam Harris is a regular meditator and mindfulness practitioner. That’s why I suspect that he was alluding to the increasingly unhinged discourse of today’s increasingly virtual world. Of course, I might just be projecting.

Harris’ tweet did get me thinking about something that Peter Limberg and Conor Barnes wrote back in 2018: the need for “a culture war equivalent to the Hippocratic Oath.”[i] Such a public pronouncement, they said on medium.com, could be affirmed by the leaders of the various online tribes, as well as regular netizens.

It would prove beneficial if journalists, authors, bloggers, and professors alike took this oath, but any social media user could take the oath, by pledging their name and accepting some sort of e-badge. Promises can be broken, but breaking public promises can generate swift social feedback.

What would this Oath consist of? At the bare minimum: a commitment to good faith dialogue, the principle of charity, and intellectual humility. The last virtue is critical. A caveat of “I could be wrong” underlying strongly held beliefs helps even the most difficult conversations, a shared commitment to that caveat helps even more.

The question then becomes, what motivation do we have to make such an oath? Do individuals and organisations have the desire to transcend “outrage porn” and produce more socially responsible content? For that matter, what motivation do I have?

It was this self-reflection which led to my beginning my book Power and Presence: Reclaiming Your Authentic Self in a Weaponised World with an “oath to power and presence.” These are words that can be affirmed on a daily basis by the reader, should they wish to take up the challenge of embodying a higher level what I call “cognitive responsibility:” this is developing the right relationship with thoughts, feelings and perceptions as they arise within the mind. The oath to power and presence is thus not a pledge to the book, but to embodying its key ideas and values. Power and Presence is about how we can develop a sense of personal empowerment by establishing a mindful sense of embodied presence. Its message is about being more present to ourselves and the world, less emotionally drawn into real world and online stories, memes, drama and projection. The context is our increasingly virtual lives, as the Digital Age morphs into the possibility of an all-immersive Metaverse. Our chances of becoming unstuck and returning to drama and conflict ridden online environments is immense. The motivation to choose embodied presence over online mayhem and distraction has to be daily affirmed, perhaps not unlike an alcoholic’s daily recanting of the serenity prayer. It is a reminder to ourselves of what is most important, and why we are here.


Oath to Power and Presence

It is my oath upon this sacred day
To say “yes” to my Authentic Self
And to the story that I have consciously chosen.
I say “yes” to that which reflects my highest values and “no” to that which does not.
I say yes to power, to love and to grace
For I am beautiful, I am powerful and I am lovable.

It is my oath upon this sacred day
To honour and give with generosity to those with whom I talk, work and play.
I choose to judge not those of differing views
But in presence to see beyond their shadows
And into their Authentic Selves
Beginning with common understanding and shared humanity.

It is my oath upon this sacred day
To stand in presence with those who stand with me
And with grace I step away from those who choose to be hurtful in word or deed.
I will not be drawn into tribes
Nor their stories, their dramas and conflicts.
My story is not theirs to steal.

It is my oath upon this sacred day
To stand in my power (as a man/woman/preferred identity)
And to listen to the genuine intuitions within which my mind rests.
I say yes to this moment
To its power, wisdom and grace
I say yes to love.

It is my oath upon this sacred day
To own my anger, my blame, my sadness and my fear
For they belong to me only.
I will stay here, I shall not flee.
And I will not add a single spark of rage
To enflame hatred in this world

Upon this sacred day
I am power
I am beauty
I am grace
I am gratitude
I am forgiveness
I am love.
Thank you. I love you.

You might like to change parts of this oath to make it more suitable for your journey. Or, just make up your own oath, one which affirms your highest values. For it’s a personal thing. You can say it first thing in the morning, or whenever you find yourself embroiled in online or real-world drama. Sometimes the mind needs a little nudge, a bit of encouragement. Sometimes it just has to be pushed firmly into line, like a recalcitrant child.

You may ask: is this an oath, or is it a prayer? The answer is that it is whatever you make of it. For me personally, it is more like a prayer, an affirmation to something greater than myself. To my Authentic Self. And to something beyond even that. But it is also an oath, a reminder to my small-s-self to honour my Authentic Self, and the greater good of the world and its people.

As we spend more time online, it is very easy to lose track of what is important. It is very easy to lose our mindful, bird’s eye view of the world and our lives, and instead get caught up in earthbound cat fights. Often the squabbles and projections are with people we barely know, or do not know at all. I’d like to think that the Oath to Power and Presence, whatever version you make of it, can inspire you to keep your life on track, an dto affirm the higher values that we humans share as a collective.

This is an extract from Marcus T Anthony’s new book, Power and Presence: Reclaiming Your Authentic Self in a Weaponised World


[i] Limberg, P., & Barnes, C. (2018). “The memetic tribes of culture war 2.0.” Medium, Sept 14, 2018. Retrieved Mar 27, 2020, from https://medium.com/s/world-wide-wtf/memetic-tribes-and-culture-war-2-0-14705c43f6bb。

Are You An Online Creator or Destroyer?

Over time I have come to the conclusion that we need a framework and a simple descriptive language to identify and discuss this problem. This is why I came up with the following dichotomy: expansive mode online content versus constrictive mode online content. The most salient distinction is that expansion mode is generally constructive, creative and perhaps uplifting. It grants a sense of expansion of the spirit, as if our boundaries are shifting outward and upward. The constriction mode of expression, conversely, is depressive, fearful, angry. In its essence it is mean-spirited.

By its nature, social media permits a rapid creation/publication process. It enables an almost immediate communication of thoughts and ideas, and the tendency is to hit the enter button without achieving sufficient distance from the contents one is about to publish. This makes the internet significantly different from most publication and communication of bygone eras. It was not that long ago that written publication was predominantly in the hands of professional writers and researchers. There was a long delay, and typically much editing done, before text was sent for formal publication, to be read by others. There was thus much greater time to reflect on the contents of the written and recorded word and image. There was time for second thoughts, and for strong emotions to settle. Conversely, much of what appears on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram today effectively goes straight from the writer’s head to the computer page. Or straight from the amygdala of the writer to the amygdala of the reader, without passing through the frontal lobes of either (to misquote an old professor of mine regarding university lectures).

There is thus an aspect of social media that has intrigued me for several years. This is the tone of much of the content. There remains a great deal of it that is very negative, that is whining, angry or overtly hostile. Let me make it clear that I am not talking about the actual topics being discussed, nor whether specific topics rightfully warrant anger and indignation. What I am talking about is a persistent, habitual attitude of small-minded negativity. For me, it’s important not to develop this kind of mindset. It isn’t good for me or anybody reading or watching my content. And I don’t think it’s good for those consistently engaging in such online environments, whether as creators or as consumers.

Over time I have come to the conclusion that we need a framework and a simple descriptive language to identify and discuss this problem. This is why I came up with the following dichotomy: expansive mode online content versus constrictive mode online content. The most salient distinction is that expansion mode is generally constructive, creative and perhaps uplifting. It grants a sense of expansion of the spirit, as if our boundaries are shifting outward and upward. The constriction mode of expression, conversely, is depressive, fearful, angry. In its essence it is mean-spirited.

The motivation for me in developing this simple distinction is to be able to easily identify when my mindset is falling into bad online habits; and secondly to assist other individuals and online communities to do the same. My goal is now to work in expansive mode as much as possible, and reduce time spent in constrictive mode, both as creator and consumer.

In the table below, I highlight the typical characteristics of these two modes. Do you think social media, and our experience on it, would be improved by applying these two steps: creating and consuming predominantly expansive content, while avoiding unnecessary constrictive material? Please share your thoughts.

This post is an extract from Marcus T Anthony’s upcoming book, Power and Presence: Reclaiming Your Authentic Self in a Weaponized World.