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.
Those beginning a meditative or mindfulness practice often have a false expectation that they are about to become magically transformed into an awakened being, or perhaps even enter an exalted higher state of consciousness. Perhaps they might be thinking that they can tolerate a few weeks of mindless meditation, a few hours of dull, cross-legged sitting, or even staring at candles in the evening, if that means accessing the Bliss of Being. The petty inconveniences of modern life will all be forgotten once the divine light descends from the heavens, rendering us impervious to pesky feelings and inconvenient negative emotions like anger, sadness and fear… Alas, such people will be disappointed.
Mindfulness is often most potent when combined with other practices. We shouldn’t employ mindfulness in our lives, naively assuming it is the most powerful problem-solving tool ever invented, while excluding other practical and useful methods and behaviors.
This strong tendency of the mind towards rumination is today a far bigger challenge than it was for mindfulness practitioners of yesteryear. The Buddha didn’t have to struggle with a daily dose of Twitterous twits constantly attempting to trigger him into emotional reaction. Lao Zi’s attention was most likely inward much of the time, aligned with the Dao, not battling opponents on Reddit. The ancient Chinese sage was quite happy to permit the dramas of king and courtiers to carry on as preferred. And Christ’s daily prayer sessions were not interrupted by smart phone alerts, notifying him to the urgent “breaking news” that he just had to read in order to stay informed and on top of his game.
In order to truly heal, you have to let go of your blame and anger, your rage towards your parents, siblings, teachers, the opposite sex, society, the nation, the other nation, the world and ultimately even to the universe and to God.
This is my very recent presentation at the Society for Consciousness Studies, 2021. “Embodiment, Classical Intuition and The Future of the Metaverse.” My central argument is that it is vitally important that we retain a strong sense of embodiment & intuitive intelligence even as the 3D Digital Society evolves. To further diminish that awareness would represent the deepening & perpetuation of a major civilisational error that has engendered the crisis in sensemaking. It thus represents an existential crisis that is potentially catastrophic, literally &/or metaphorically. Establishing an Authentic Self via Embodied Presence is a vital component of all this.
The most terrible thing that the Internet does is that it brings into full display the shadow, the dark and nasty projections that were once only ever seen in our darkest moments. The most wonderful thing about the Internet is that… it brings into full display the shadow, the darkness within us all. For as Jung once noted, long before Facebook and Twitter emerged from e-space, we become enlightened not by imaging figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious. Perhaps then, it is better to think of the Internet not a conspiracy designed to set us against one another, but the universe’s way of getting us to notice how we set ourselves against one another. How dark we can become.
The emergence of a self-generated solution to tribalism in the US and elsewhere is unlikely to emerge from those currently embedded within the system. The system itself promotes division and drama, which in turn sustains the minds within it (in their current small-s expression). In a kind of pathological, dark feedback loop, the system is then perpetuated by those minds and their projections.
Amidst all this we are foundering upon the collapse of sensemaking, the digitization and politicization of everything, systematically retarding our ability to understand the world and our relationship with it. We have lost touch with our inner knowing, set adrift upon a vast ocean of competing narratives and agendas. Which captains are we to believe, which shores are we to seek, and which winds are we to reset sail upon? These are questions that lie at the heart of this book.
I like to call this virtual space MemeWorld, because it is a reality whose fabric is comprised not so much of the real, but of threads of memes weaved into a great net. And that is increasingly what we see of the world, and how we see it.
Or rather, that is how the world is made for us.
MemeWorld is becoming increasingly alien, relative to how we once experienced the world with our critical faculties and bodily, intuitive senses. Yet we can now identify 14 of its general operational features.