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.

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.

The Authentic Self vs The Machines

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.

The weaponization of the internet, politics and society is all but complete, and our souls – our Authentic Selves – are being defeated. Our awareness has shifted from the inner wisdom of that Authentic Self to become ensnared in a virtual MemeWorld, which we now increasingly confuse for reality. It is my aim to make Power and Presence a confronting but ultimately empowering book, one designed to shake you, the reader, from the grip of ITopia, empower you to rediscover your Authentic Self; and to build a truly meaningful life.

It is not that related challenges have not existed for those humans who came before us. And it is not as if all our ancestors lived lives that were automatically a genuine expression of their highest good. We all know that this is not true. Any essential reading of History will tell you that in many ways our ancestors had it far worse. Many lived lives that were typically shorter, more brutal and more oppressive. Think of almost any idyllic myth. The little house on the prairie. The Amazonian female warriors. The noble savage. All are likely just that: myths.

Indeed, it is the great progress we have made in a material sense, riding upon the back of increased prosperity, technological prowess and information access, that has enabled a kind of hegemony to creep into our skulls. We have heralded the rise of the Money and Machines society.

Over time we have increasingly lost touch with nature, with our bodies and with our hearts: our integrated intelligence. We can map this over time and note the shifts. There are numerous, but I can mention just a few here. The Copernican Revolution of the mid-16th century saw the planet Earth dethroned from its position as the centre of the universe, and ultimately humankind from its role as jewel in the cosmic crown (under God). The Industrial revolution, beginning around the late 1700s in Britain, removed most of our ancestors from the land and sent us scurrying to populate urban centres; filling ghettos, suburbs, and ungrounded high-rise apartments. The Darwinian Revolution of the mid 1800s was a further humiliation, with we humans rendered as mere big-brained chimps who share 70 percent of our DNA with garden slugs. Our feet left the earth and then city streets and climbed into humming cars, planes and spacecraft; even as our eyes left the increasingly hazy horizon to become fixed upon small screens stuck to plastic and metal boxes; and then ultimately to small devices clasped to our palms. We forgot about our bodies and our hearts and started to squabble with everyone, casting those whose screens depicted unfamiliar stories as stupid and immoral; that is, as long as they were not actually physically present with us.

Thus it is that our challenge to embody the Authentic Self faces a very different set of challenges today. Many of us have unconsciously given our power away to narratives and agendas that we did not deliberately choose. The actions that we take and the words that we speak often represent expressions that are not our own, and that do not serve our highest calling in life. Puppets of The Machine, we have allowed our souls to be colonised, and our minds and hearts have become deeply entangled in the broader socio-industrial complex of the early twenty-first century. We lead lives that are increasingly controlled by a host of external power brokers: media outlets, the Tech Giants and social media platforms, bloggers, political parties, online mobs, ideological movements, corporations, educational institutions and religious groups. Our desires, our goals and even our beliefs are no longer our own. They are driven by the ITopian Machine.

Many of us, and perhaps especially the young, feel powerless to make actual change in the world, instead venting rage from behind keyboards. Alternatively, some express their anger in protests or acts of violence played out upon city streets, or in the tearing down of icons, monuments and government buildings. Yet even as they do so they are often being recruited by agents which are in turn deeply embedded within the very systems which they are seeking to escape. They are again captured by The Machine, realizing too late what they have become. If they realise it at all.

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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.

Marcus T Anthony

Are you a Master of the Intuitive?

psi min

The following is an extract from my brand new new book, Champion of the Soul.

Some new age teachings place the intuitive – and especially the psychic ream – at the centre of the spiritual journey. This is a mistake. In order for you to awaken, the intuitive must be made subservient to the mindful. Many new age teachings elevate the psychic to the status of ultimate wisdom. This is probably because for the layman who has never experienced much of the psychic realms, either directly or through education (who ever does?), the psychic seems incredible and superhuman.

There are some very, very gifted intuitives in the world, and some of them are practicing psychics. I have met and worked with several of the most amazingly gifted clairvoyants you could ever imagine. Some are so far ahead of their time that current science fiction doesn’t have a patch on them. Some of these intuitives are well-balanced and wise people.

But others have poorly developed life skills. These individuals lack emotional and spiritual maturity. For example, one I know is constantly on social media wailing about how awful people are. She always has some drama going down. So being “psychic” is no guarantee of spiritual maturity or wisdom. Given this, you should not blindly follow the advice of a “psychic” just because he channels the Archangel Michael. Nor should you expect that just because you are very intuitive – or are training to become such – that you have an advanced understanding of human spirituality. Some psychics I have met know absolutely nothing about awakening.

I am very psychic myself, a cognitive capacity that spontaneously opened up when I was in my mid-twenties. I immediately had visions of spiritual guides and alien intelligences. I found I could peer into the minds of people regardless of physical distance from me. I often foresaw events before they occurred, had out-of-body experiences and was visited by long- dead ancestors. I had lucid dreams where I could fly or leave the body at will. But I knew very little about spirituality. Nor did I understand my own mind. I was certainly no Buddha merely because I had some profound dreams and visions. Indeed, I was a deeply wounded individual who was barely connected to his own body. The intuitive realm can be a useful source of information. But so is the Internet, and a person is not going to awaken simply because he spends twelve hours a day online. Give a fool a computer and you don’t suddenly get a genius. All you have is an idiot sitting in front of a machine.

The psychic can be distracting, and it can be confusing. I can tell you from personal experience that is very easy to misinterpret psychic information. The ego will tend to see what it wants to see and distort the rest. The mind will also tend to view psychic messages in black and white terms – as either positive or negative. This is especially the case if the person does not have a strong capacity for mindfulness. If the mind exists in a state of polarity, a psychic message has the potential to throw the individual right off course.

Most of the spiritual information I have received via the psychic is ambiguous. The meanings are often unclear, the messages foggy. And I believe that this is deliberately so. Spirit will not give you all the answers. It wants you to develop wisdom by figuring out the answers yourself. I struggled with the psychic for many years, attempting to work out what was being asked of me. Make no mistake. Ultimately, the information and guidance gleaned from so many years of self-reflection has made me a far wiser man. But it is not so much the data itself that has made me wiser; it is the process of self-reflection. Basically I had to go out and test what I was being led to explore. And nobody made me do it. Nobody told me how to do it. Nobody told me why.