Evolutionary social strategist Daniel Schmactenberger recently observed that we need to either rise above tribalism and conflict, or go extinct. That’s not a difficult choice to make, but how do we actually do it? The internet in particular has created a totally unpredicted scenario: tribal groups have begun isolating themselves into virtual fortresses and are becoming increasingly hostile to other tribes. The conflict between the Red Tribe (the right) and the Blue Tribe (the left) in the US and other western countries is only one such conflict. The internet is starting to burst at the seams with them.
Amidst all this we are foundering upon the collapse of sensemaking. 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 what winds are we to reset sail upon?
This is the context of my most recent book project, Power and Presence: Reclaiming Your Authentic Self in a Weaponized World. It examines the many causes of the current crisis, while seeking to present a workable strategy for transcending it. Before it is too late.
I began this project upon the arrival of the year 2020, and have written much on it already (you can see the chapter outlines at the end of this post). I have also written several academic articles for the Journal of Futures Studies.
- Web Wide Warfare (2). Journal of Futures Studies, September 2021.
- “Embodied Presence, Covid-19 and the Transcendence of ITopian Fear.” Journal of Futures Studies, Feb. 2021. Symposium on Coronaphobia and Fearscapes.
- “Power & Presence in Virtual Futures: Conscious relationship to information in age of ‘fake news.’” Paper published in proceedings 2020 conference of Asia Pacific Futurist’s Network, Nov 20, 2020.
- “Embodied Presence, Responsible Active Citizenship and Dissent in Hong Kong.” Journal of Futures Studies, Sept 2020.
- “Web Wide Warfare (1): The Blue Shadow.” The Journal of Futures Studies, Sept 2021.
Currently the research and writing has me on schedule to complete the book in late 2021.
The focus problem is more than any one person can possibly grasp, let alone resolve. Given its immense scope it is my plan to begin a series of podcasts on related topics, with experts around the world.
Welcome to ITopia (from the introduction of Power and Presence)
I would like to begin Power and Presence with the disturbing proposition that the ITopian nightmare has descended and possessed us. ITopia is my term for the dystopian future which is emerging, where Information Technology has permeated all areas of our lives, creating an imbalanced technocratic society founded on what Shoshana Zuboff calls “surveillance capitalism.”
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 confuse for reality. It is my aim to make Power and Presence a confronting but ultimately uplifting book, one designed to shake you, the reader, from the grip of ITopia, and empower you to rediscover your Authentic Self; to build a truly meaningful life.
We have unconsciously given our power away to narratives and agendas that many of us did not consciously choose. The actions that we take and the words that we speak increasingly 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.
Amidst all this we are foundering upon the collapse of sensemaking. 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?
Despite the fact that most humans today live far longer lives and in more material comfort than our ancestors of a few hundred years ago could have dared to dream of, general mental well-being is in decline. In 2020 the US Census Bureau released data which indicated that that 42% of people report anxiety or depression, an increase of 11% in just one year. Not far north, and in the same year, nearly half of Canadian health care workers reported that they were in need of psychological support, according to the United Nations , while in China 50% of health care workers reported depression. The same UN report indicated that in Pakistan 66% of health care workers are experiencing at least moderate psychological distress. The Covid-19 pandemic has undoubtedly led to a great deal of psychological disturbance. In Italy and Spain, parents reported that 77% of children children in confinement had difficulty concentrating, while 39% had restlessness and irritability; 38% had nervousness; and 31% feelings of loneliness.[i] [ii]
Power and Presence argues that there is a way to begin to reclaim our power, and to begin to make sense of the world again. That is, by returning our awareness to the innate wisdom within ourselves. The journey of awakening for many ancient traditions was an inner one, grounded in a deep awareness of the Authentic Self and the intimate connection of mind and spirit, which in turn embeds us in an expanded wisdom and intelligence. Power and Presence first shows you how that innate power is being dampened; and secondly how that intelligence can be nourished and expanded through mastery of the system, and through self-awareness and mindfulness. You will thus find many precise tools and practices outlined in the pages to follow.
We cannot be truly empowered nor free merely by reducing the suffering and oppression in the world (though the latter is a noble goal). By historical standards, most people in the developed world today live lives that are far longer and more comfortable than our recent ancestors. Our lived experience of life cannot be the prime measure of life quality, because that sense of life is as dependent on the relationship we develop with the world as with what happens in our lives. And that relationship with life is determined by the wisdom and love that we are able find within ourselves, and our capacity to express that knowing. Of utmost importance is the deeper meaning and purpose of life that we are able to generate. With this awareness, and with the realization of how we have given our power away to The ITopian Machine, our species can resume the journey to authenticity and empowerment – as individuals, as collective groups, and as a civilization.
And what is the key to this transformation? It is found in the four pillars of awakening, which you will find me referring to again and again in this book.
- The first pillar is embodied presence, the capacity to bring the mind into the right relationship with the present moment.
- The second is cognitive responsibility, the capacity to witness the mind and the world, and to assume responsibility for what arises within us.
- The third is mastery of the system, which entails developing virtual intelligence: understanding how today’s sensemaking systems function (media, social media, Big Tech, politics, education, human physiology etc.); and especially how our attention and mental space can be overpowered by these.
- The fourth and final pillar emerges from the first three: the wise actions we take in the world, inspired by the Authentic Self. The concept of Gentle Aligned Action is key here, whereby we can create ideal futures by initiating actions which are taken while listening to our innate wisdom.
It is my belief that the four pillars of awakening can empower us to transcend the civilizational impasse that we now find ourselves confronting.
This book is presented as an opportunity to heal, and to rise above the fracturing of our selves and our societies. Power and Presence invites you to bring greater embodied presence into everyday life: into your personal life, into your family life; and into your relationships, your work, your creativity, and your play.
[i] “Policy Brief: COVID-19 and the Need for Action on Mental Health.” May 13, 2020, https://unsdg.un.org/sites/default/files/2020-05/UN-Policy-Brief-COVID-19-and-mental-health.pdf.
[ii] Jane McGonigal. “Three Powerful Questions to Spark Realistic Hope for the Future.” August 12, 2021. https://medium.com/foresight-matters/three-powerful-questions-to-spark-realistic-hope-for-the-future-2ee2440179b
Chapter Outlines: Power and Presence
Introduction: What is power?
Overview of Power and Presence * What power is * Reframing power: from outer to inner * Vital definitions: embodied presence, cognitive responsibility and the shadow * The limits of embodied presence * How society, education and the internet take our power away * “Deep futures” versus “money and machines futures” * A summary of chapter contents * About the author, and why he wrote this book
i. Your Power and Your Mind
1. How Your Mind Works
The nature of the mind (ego) * How your tribe captured your mind * The monkey mind * How the internet has captured the monkey mind * Triggering, physiology and evolution * How the ego can sabotage your journey * Ego falls * The nature of identity * Your (false) story and how it came to be (childhood, family, society) * The false needs of the ego: control, seriousness, perfection, non-acceptance, blame, struggle, blame, projection, drama, opposition * Judgment vs discernment * How judgment destroys presence and wisdom * There is only one ego, and it is us * Befriending the ego * The need for responsibility * The game of persecutor, victim and savior
2. Standing in Your Power: The Authentic Self
What is your authentic self? * How to distinguish authentic self from the ego * How to stand in your power as a man or woman * Awakening to the true mind: “Thank you. I love you” * Finding your true voice * The art of non-judgmental noticing (witnessing) * Noticing what triggers you * How to deactivate the false needs of the ego * Developing the right relationship with your mind and the world * More about cognitive responsibility * Pulling out of drama and suffering * Writing your true story * Speaking your truth * Maintaining the body * Health, posture and presentation * Why mindfulness is not enough
3. Seeing Without Eyes: Integrated Intelligence
What is integrated intelligence (INI)? * What is intelligence and consciousness? * The seven functions of INI: deep empathy, analysis, synthesis, foresense, evaluation, creativity and innovation, wisdom * The three modalities of INI: visionary, auditory/musical, and kinesthetic * The absence of INI in modern society and education * The problem with science * Genes, evolution and destiny? * A conscious universe? * Other intelligences and human evolution: spiritual, alien * The strengths and weaknesses of both rationality and intuition * The evidence for integrated intelligence: experimentation, remote viewing, the human consciousness project * Why INI is vital for you and the human species * Connecting the knower and the known
4. The Power of Integrated Intelligence (How to use INI)
INI and power * Re-learning how to feel the truth * Deep knowing * Trusting your intuition * Making decisions using INI * The importance of allowing “not knowing” * How meditation and embodied presence enhances intuitive perception * Dreams as intelligent agents * Prayerfulness: how to work with and listen to life and the universe * Creating life * Relationships, power and INI * Your shifting worldview * Resistance to INI * Negative aspects of INI * Negative projections * Overdoing it, becoming distracted and ungrounded * INI isn’t enlightenment, nor guarantees wisdom
5. The Power of Intention
What is intentionality? * Why focus is vital * You must live a meaningful life * Don’t live someone else’s story – or meaning * The danger of ideological possession * What is your “One Big Thing?” * How to develop focus and intention in a distracted world * How to say “yes.” * How to say “no.” * Finding your inspiration in archetypes: the warrior, the rebel, the wise one, the shaman, the healer, the traveler, the parent, the child * Acknowledge what you are, steer towards your authentic self * Decoupling from social media * Staying on track
6. Fear, Courage and Belief
The story of Carlos * Power and doubt * How to develop self-belief * The right relationship with doubt * Using embodied presence when working with doubt and fear * Rejection, failure and resilience * The courage to be (reasonably) vulnerable * Inviting the critic * How Steve Jobs responded powerfully to a harsh critic
7. Healing and the Shadow
The dark cave of illusion * What is the shadow? * The sacred wound: the pain and the shadow as paths to the Authentic Self * What lies beneath: rage, shame, worthlessness, abandonment, fear of death and the big nothing * The emotional alignment process * Emptiness as power * The hollow person exercise * The internet as your healer * How I LinkedIn to my pain * Letting go: into gratitude, love and forgiveness* The Shadow and our human futures
ii. Your Power and The Machines
8. Web Wide Warfare
Welcome to ITopia * How we became stranded on MemeWorld * The crisis in sensemaking * Media, education and Big Tech * Why humanity must master technology or perish * The net as the new (collective) monkey mind * The negativity effect and online media * Online tribal warfare * How online tribes form * How we became stranded on MemeWorld * Memetic reality descends: algorithms and dopamine addiction * The battle for your attention (and soul) * How they highjacked your limbic system * The rise of the conspiracy * Whom should you trust?
9. Dancing with the Gatekeepers
Introducing the Gatekeepers * Know your taboos * The rationalist hegemony and the suppression of the spiritual * The courage to be real * Rule #1: Do not lie * How to speak your truth * What to say, and what not to say * Engaged presence and intellectual debates * Negotiating the political * Peer review and control * Attack of the fifty foot professor (my story) * Standing in your power before the judiciary
10. Terraforming MemeWorld
The possession test: how many of your thoughts and ideas are really yours? * Terraforming MemeWorld * Weaving new web cultures * Artificial evolution * Cognitive responsibility and your Online Oath * Discerning truth in the new now * Distinguishing good and bad-faith actors * Re-learning to engage others * Surfing the other side * Pay attention to your attention * Setting your web boundaries * The need for intellectual humility * Where possible, verify * Tactical disengagement: learning to let them be * Web fasting made easy * Countering the negativity effect * Letting go of the tribe * Coming to appreciate that MemeWorld isn’t (very) real * Opportunities for transformation on the internet * Playing God: Reconfiguring MemeWorld in your own (authentic) image * Embodied presence as transcendence
iii. Your Power and the World
11. Purpose, Passion and the Market
How desire robs your power * Narcissism and the new age * Follow your bliss – to the market * Embodying your genius * Aligning with the process, and the outcome * Gentle action * Champions of the soul * The futures of vocation * Loving what you do * Why following your bliss can be disastrous * Aligning with your Authentic Self * When you don’t get what you want
12. Wise Action
Why you struggle, and how to align with life * Wise Action made simple * Why you must act on your integrated intelligence to embody self-respect * The necessity of the feminine principle * Why the masculine principle is just as important * How women give their power away * How men give their power away * Knowing when to rest, and when to fight * When I was Braveheart
13. How to Save the World and not Lose Your Soul
The spiritual ego * What you are entitled to, and what you are not * The fundamental errors in many social justice movements: the forgetting of curiosity, empathy, listening, engagement, morality and responsibility * How to build an empowering social justice culture using embodied presence and cognitive responsibility * Don’t mistake your ideology for a religion * Distinguishing true life meaning and pseudo-meaning * Authentic identity versus ego identity * Holding lightly to identity and stories * Negotiating political correctness while staying sane
iv. Your Power and our Future
14. Living Playfully
Life is meant to be enjoyed * Joy as guidance * Avoiding the seriousness trap * How to cultivate fun and happiness * Laugh * Appropriate and inappropriate fun * Allowing both joy and legitimate suffering * Learn to dance, sing or play an instrument *
15. The Future is Us
A civilizational shift * Creating deep futures, not “money and machines” futures * The narcissism of the self-help and new age movements * True virtue versus virtue signaling * The creation of embodied communities * Considering technology and as agent (and hindrance) to deep futures * How the folk schools transformed Scandinavia * Sharing your wisdom * Listening to the universe (life feedback) * Promoting authentic cultures
The essence of power and presence * Why your journey matters to us all * where to from here?
How to Embody Presence
Training Your Integrated Intelligence