Thursday, January 18, 2018

Third Planetary Evolution: The Noosphere

Towards Global Collective Consciousness
Guest Editorial
Greater Lagro Gazette 
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The attack on the World Trade Center on the morning on September 11, 2001 (9/11) caused intense, excruciating painful surge of grief and anger and sadness to millions and millions all over the world via media, albeit personal experience at the site in NY, instantly forming a global collective consciousness, a sheathe of mental energy that actually altered the operation of computers,* thus ushering the birth of a third evolution of our planet – The Noosphere.   
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Collective consciousness is not new. It is traced to the binding force of our basic unit of society, the family, expanding to that in a tribe, community, onto the national level. Thus we have the term nationalism to which the citizens, bound by commonalities in language, customs, beliefs, laws, ideology and other factors, unite and pledge their allegiance with pride and respect. 
Noosphere in acrylic by the author

Today with cyber communication, social media, modern transport, breakthroughs in science and technology and growth of megacities, collective consciousness is evolving and inevitably expanding into a global scale.  It is visualized as a planetary sphere of mind, a mental sheathe of the earth. It is the third evolutionary event that our planet earth is undergoing.  It is called noosphere – the unity of all minds and its thinking layer, in the words of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1926).

Prior to this, the first planetary evolution resulted in the stabilization of our fiery and tumultuous planet to form the geosphere which later began to support life becoming a global ecological system millions of years later - the biosphere, which is our living world today. This time we are entering into a new evolution – that of the human mind: noosphere.  
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Collective consciousness (sometimes collective conscience) is a fundamental sociological concept that refers to the set of shared beliefs, ideas, attitudes, and knowledge that are common to a social group or society. (Concept developed by Emile Durheim,  1894)
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The Computer and Social Media

With scientific breakthrough in communication, we are virtually just a call away from one another wherever we are at any given time. Worldwide we watch the same programs on TV and the Internet, celebrate common festivities, adapt standard curricula in school, ride cars, and build houses of common make and design. 

We keep abreast with the stock market, the same way with follow sports, fashion, and tourism. We shop on e-commerce, enroll in e-learning, preside over meeting via teleconference. The whole world is wired, so to speak.  We live in a very modern world indeed.  The gap of consciousness separating individuals is fast dissolving, and that between kids and grownup is narrowing down. In fact, in the world of computers the millennials are far ahead. “Students teach teachers” maybe an exaggeration but this is true with electronic devices and use of social media. This is a scenario to illustrate our expanding and converging collective consciousness in our postmodern era.  
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*Princeton University researchers have been trying to measure the hypothetical giant humanity-encompassing hive mind, by tracking the effect of events on a network of computers around the world. – Patrick J Kiger (9/11 and Global Consciousness)
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Collective Effervescence

But the earliest proof of collective consciousness is traced to aboriginal societies that practiced religion in its earliest and purest form by periodically gathering to eat, dance, cry, intoxicate, whip themselves to delirium, and the like.  Such state of collective consciousness and ecstasy brings material-spiritual and ideal-spiritual experiences to individual and social well-being. The effect is called  collective effervescence.
Ati-atihan festival in Aklan

Similarly we experience universal joy and merriment in Christmas, New Year, Valentine, and in lesser celebrations like Thanksgiving, Independence, and in local and family affairs. In fact collective consciousness strengthens our religious faith, sense of nationalism, stimulates our creativity, our compassion for one another, or simply takes us to fantasy as a coping mechanism from the harsh realities of life.   

However, what we wish from collective consciousness is the making of an ideal society - a society that is peaceful and harmonious, progressive and sustainable. It is a kind of collective consciousness we wish to create reminiscent of Plato’s Republic, though elusive, has been the dream of humankind.

Collective Consciousness and History

Theories have been put forward since the time of the Greeks and the Romans, whose adage “the glory that was Greece, the grandeur that was Rome” attests to that dream of an ideal society. Ironically, their civilizations declined and fell obscure in the Dark Ages. The term alone implies the dark period of human society which lasted for more than a millennium. Collective consciousness that bound the two civilizations, the Greco-Roman, was shattered and later its fragments were gathered and adapted by warring kingdoms or fiefs.

It was in the Renaissance Period starting in the 15th century that our world found a new beginning – the revival of collective consciousness, a prototype of the old Greco-Roman values, ranging from religion and the humanities to politics and socio-economics.   It flourished quickly in its place of origin, Florence, and swept across Europe onto the opposite side of the globe.  The age of colonization carried out this social reform to different parts of the world, including the Philippines.  The birth of new nations which joined other nations including former masters, ultimately after WWI, formed the United Nations which is the world’s umbrella of cooperation and peace.    

Again our collective consciousness was divided by the Cold War which separated the world into two ideologies – capitalism and socialism.  The world stood still in fear of a possible Armageddon.  Fortunately the Cold War ended in 1989 with the reunification of divided countries like Germany and Vietnam, and th dissolution of USSR. Collective consciousness began to take shape under a freer global system of politics and economics, and in fact, with the development of modern communication and transportation, the world shrunk into a “global village.” Globalization had begun.    

Jungian Collective Unconscious

As a background, collective consciousness has a counterpart - collective unconscious which has genetic roots the psychologist Carl Jung termed as archetypes.   It is some kind of “inherited psychic materials,” that link each and every one of us as a species on one hand, and we today with our ancestors in the past, on the other. According to Jung’s theory, though each of us appears to function independently, in actuality we are all trapped into the same global mind. 

These archetypes or instincts are hunger, sexuality, activity, reflection and creativity, in the order of increasing abstraction.  This laid down the three-tier ladder of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, from primordial to spiritual forms. These constitute the so-called Jungian concept of Collective Unconscious that governs our collective behavior that subordinates our own, guided and guarded by the norms of our society he termed as synchronicity.  Archetypes are therefore the genetic link of our species and the components of our rationality as Homo sapiens.

The importance and value of being aware of the collective unconscious is visualized this way: “Myriad invisible hands hold your hands and direct them.  When you rise in anger, a great grandfather froths at your mouth, when you make love, an ancestral caveman growls with lust; when you sleep, tombs open in your memory till your skull brims with ghosts.”  (Carl Jung: A Living Myth - Collective Intelligence yields Collective Action

The Jungian concept of collective unconscious places utmost importance in the preservation of our tradition, beliefs, myths and other ethnic values, though they may be lacking in scientific evidences.  For all we know, the awareness of our connection with our forebears that make us realize the vital role of such genetic inheritance. Which leads us to realize with awe and respect to our ancestors who lived happier and more fulfilled lives than we do in our postmodern era.
Transcendental Meditation

This leads us to the spiritual side of collective consciousness - transcendental meditation and its correlation to world peace.  

“Transcendental Meditation program, or the group practice of the TM-Sidhi program by a sufficient group raised the level of coherence in collective consciousness, thus providing a stable basis for a lasting world peace. Increases in societal coherence have been operationally defined as  decreases in armed conflicts, crimes, traffic fatalities, fires, suicides, hospital admissions, notifiable diseases, infant mortality, divorce, alcohol consumption, cigarette consumption, unemployment, and pollution; and increases in international cooperation, stock market indices, leading and coincident economic indicators, and GNP.” (Maharishi's Program to Create World Peace: Theory and Research David W. Orme-Johnson and Michael C. Dillbeck Maharishi International University, 2016 Fairfield, Iowa, U.S.A.)

The Noosphere

What are the challenges of the new evolution – The Noosphere?

First, collective consciousness through meditation can release us of fear, anxiety, anger and tension, and help bring peace of mind vital to the attainment of world peace and order.
Second, collective consciousness offers an avenue to resolve divided loyalties and faiths, incompatible ideologies, race discriminations, border conflicts, particularly our present growing problem of terrorism.

Third, collective consciousness, in order to attain global significance and integrity must exert cumulative power to unite, amalgamate existing and new consciousness, and revitalize waning unity and cooperation of social groups, cultures, and nations, through education, mass media and organizational strategies.

Fourth, collective consciousness must be strengthened and guided towards greater regional cooperation such as ASEAN, EU, APEC, and more assertive global summits and conferences, like Climate Change, the United Nations notwithstanding, all geared towards world peace and unity.

Fifth, collective consciousness, on the compassionate, benevolent and humanistic side, must be cognizant of the lessons set by history and great leaders in the past and present from Aristotle, Christ, Gandhi, Lincoln, Paul, Teresa, Mandela, to our own Jose Rizal, and other great men and women.

Outlook

Lofty indeed is the potential power of the envisioned noosphere in shaping humanity in the future with one-mind, one-heart, one-psyche at the expense of losing much of our rich diversity of intellect, behavior and emotions, and spirituality, physical attributes and health considerations notwithstanding.

Savants are divided. Rationality will make us seek and preserve freedom in many and unimaginable forms and means, retaining our connectivity with the past and the future, and our environment through collective DNA carried on through evolution, and from generation to generation. We belong to this genetic pool. We are natives of Planet Earth.

Personally as a biologist we are heading toward the sunset of our own species. By the way, all species without exemption follow a normal curve of emergence-plateau-decline and finally extinction, in favor of other species under the law of succession (seres) and pattern of the web of life. We may seem to have reached the plateau of our species. This is dangerous. A Damocles Sword hangs above us, forged by our superior intellect. What with the possibility of global nuclear war, unabated wastes generation resulting in progressive autotoxicity or genocide. By manipulating the plantilla of life through genetic engineering, we destroy homeostasis or the balance of nature. We have altered the composition of the earth as modern alchemists. In short we are destroying paradise the second time around. The noosphere could be our saving grace, or at least it gives us respite to examine and amend our wasteful and evil ways in the guise of The Good Life.

To the futuristic minds, man shall be leaving the earth and live in another planet, perhaps a million years from now. By then I believe Homo sapiens shall be no longer us. ~

Prepared by Dr Abe V Rotor
For the Greater Lagro Gazette 2017

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