I wrote this idea:
The opportunity for humans is to create a collective mind.
It is not possible for us to remember all the stuff, or even a tiny fraction of it. It is not possible for us to consider all the stuff, or even a tiny fraction of it. (If you are somebody like me, you wish you could do it all; but you can’t.)
The opportunity, for humans, is to form a collective that does the overall collective thinking and figuring out. Then we can create architecture, cities, plans, economies, and so on.
Well this is scary, because we often don’t agree with the other collaborators. But it is also interesting, to realize that the stickiness function of culture is the reason we can form a collective mind. Otherwise—no culture, no movies or streets or poems or really anything resembling culture.
On an individual level, I have often thought about how different we would be, if we did not have memory or linearity. That we could not plan or store information.
In fact, I was saying to my friend Clare just the other day, the great dilemma of human-ness is that we have these two sides—rational and sensory… representational, and experiential… intellectual and emotional.
The art of being human is to learn how to navigate and operate these two modes successfully—with choice and awareness. The representational nature of language wants to take over everything (what we frequently call “the mind”), wants to turn everything into labels. And then we lose the basic amazingness that is our inheritance. (I tend to believe that being outside-of-mind is a really amazing experience, very much akin to—or actually is—enlightenment. I did not read My Stroke of Insight, but I believe it is like this. When I read about the bliss of near-death experiences, it also has this quality. And my own outside-of-mind experiences do, as well.)
And yet, without labels we would be incapable of shortcuts, conventions, language, planning, and all the templates that form a human culture.
So it was very nice that Eckhart Tolle got to sit on that bench all day, after his enlightenment, but at some point, he got up, and did things. The art of being human is to walk between these two worlds—isn’t it?
Anyway. That was at the individual level.
But it only occurred to me today, the way that our culture operates as a collective mind, which allows us to process far more than we could otherwise. And once again, we are in a dilemma: the stickiness qualities of culture allow us to operate collectively, and possess a memory and knowledge far beyond what we could ever accumulate individually. And yet, we might not like the solutions that our forebears and compatriots come up with.
The realization of the Avatar training was that you could learn to steer this belief-creating facility deliberately. This must be done one person at a time. Because this is how the culture is created: one person at a time. Harry Palmer, the author, has pointed out the way in which the vast, vast measure of culture thus far has been created repetitively; involuntarily. “So-and-so says it, so it must be true.” On and on, through the ages, changing more often by random occurrence or sometimes via innovation akin to the gradual mutations in DNA. But at some point, the overall level of human awareness rises to a point where enough people could have enough self-awareness, to stabilize the realization that there is a decider that operates to create those beliefs, those assumptions.
It becomes apparent that you can bring awareness to the process of creating beliefs, and this leads to a voluntary choice in terms of how you decide to interpret the world. (This leads to much speculation, and perhaps much confusion—but the overall question becomes: Would you rather just take on the involuntary beliefs of your forebears? How else do we decide to design a culture we truly want, than to have the individual fortitude to be capable of co-creating it on purpose?)
Perhaps, then, I would say that the new opportunity, in some broad, mysterious way, is to deliberately create the collective mind that we choose to belong to and participate in, being fully aware that each one of us can only be a small agent within it.
But, it must also be mentioned—quite relevant here—that this rising awareness and ability brings with it a felt sense of the collective. The movement towards enlightenment is an aha that we get to choose in our own world—but it is also the breaking out of a shell of illusion that says we are a separate unit, disconnected from the whole, merely because our bodies appear this way. The sense of feeling connected to the collective emerges. So, maybe we are more like mycelial networks or collectives of aspen trees, though we also bear the spark of our individuality in a way that is quite fun.