It’s this historical and civilizational impasse that led me to write my latest book, Power and Presence, and I am delighted to announce that it is now available on Kindle and in hard copy format on Amazon. The book’s subtitle hints at my preferred approach to the sensemaking crisis: Reclaiming Your Authentic Self in a Digitized World. I believe that it is in developing a more conscious relationship with ourselves (including the body and mind), the world and technology itself that we can establish a genuine foundation for moving forward. Simply regulating everything and punishing people isn’t going to work, at least not by itself. We have to look deeper than that, right into the soul of humanity, and ask ourselves, “What does it mean to be human in the digital age?” So, as much as anything, this is a meaning crisis, one that long precedes the digital age, and which has been developing for centuries.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.