How I Became Useless

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Does this title look like a failure assessment? Not at all, at least not for me. Some years ago, I made the conscious decision I would become useless.

Completely useless.

By this, I mean unusable. No one, not even myself, can use me as a tool, an instrument, a servant or a master, a groupie or a guru, an employee or a boss. Roles and functions do not apply for a useless person.

As a useless person, I have no world to save, no cause to fight for, no enemy to fight against, no moral obligations, no responsibilities, no duty.

People say we need to “earn a living”. My mom and dad told me that (and they keep telling me). My grand-parents too, a long time ago. So did my school teachers, my barber, the guy at the gas pump and the politician on TV. As far as I know, I earned my life at birth. Why should I earn it again and again? Why should I do specific actions like doing a paid job to buy for myself the right to live? Today, I have no job, no position, no title, no social status. My resumé went to the trash. It feels really really good.

Do you find all this shocking? So why do we have cats and dogs? Why do we feel so touched by kids? Don’t we unconsciously enjoy and project ourselves into their delicious untroubled uselessness?

Uselessness has also freed me from the pervasive unconscious ideologies in which we have to justify our worthiness of living. Don’t we want to make our actions fit into some coherent “reason of living” or “meaning of life”? Don’t we like to claim the serving of a “greater purpose”? Don’t we navigate on these mental oceans where we see ourselves as small parts of a greater whole? We love to see ourselves as parts of greater wholes. It doesn’t matter whether we call them God, the Kosmos, Humanity, the Divine, Mother Earth or the Nation… They all point to a big thing that has its own agenda, its own laws. We don’t have much to say there. No debates, no democracy, big dictatorship. We just have to accept, to surrender (the correct wisdom word). This apparent conflict of interest between the I and the Whole will eventually provoke pain.

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Author: Carlos Ruas – http://www.onceuponasaturday.com/

As Aurobindo pointed it, the mental always sees the part in the whole, but it can hardly grasp the whole in the part. When the experience of wholeness, of existing as the entire universe, became my predominant state of consciousness, when both the part and the whole melted together, I became useless. I turned into a human and a God, an entity and an essence, an immanence and a transcendence, a one and a many, temporal and eternal, small and immense, here and everywhere. The last sparks of utilitarianism did not survive that.

As a useless person, I can now live the life of an artist, of a God creator and destroyer of worlds, for the only ecstasy of the play. I can unleash creative actions that have no utilitarian purpose, by the grace of joyful expression. By an act of blissipline, I  become my greatest masterpiece by means of scientific research, writing, music, martial arts, goofiness, sleep, making love, playing Ingress, hugging a tree or enjoying a self-indulgent, delicious indolence.

I can live in the gift economy.

I can live in radical truth.

I can become my nicest and greatest gift.

I can shine in ecstasy, like the Sun and the Moon.

 

 


The Lunar Man

La Sainte Folie du CoupleIn her many books, the French writer Paule Salomon reminds us that thriving love can begin only after the inner couple has accomplished its marriage, once our masculine and feminine, our Shiva and Shakti, our Yang and Yin live, vibrate and celebrate fully in our psyche. Freed from the drives of need and compensation, the accomplished self becomes androgynous. He-she opens himself-herself to joyful celebration with other beings like him-her, nourished by the inner union. Two beings don’t meet anymore, but four, instilling in their amorous dance all the freedom they want.

Paul Salmon speaks about solar women and lunar men. I admire the richness of the ontology about love she has, coming from years of research. This ontology inspires my own work in collective intelligence where the question of the masculine and feminine holds a central place. Paule Salomon’s narrative also speaks to my own journey. I find myself in her words. Having your story spoken by another person than you doesn’t happen everyday 🙂

Here I would like to share a very beautiful passage of her book “La Sainte Folie du Couple” (the Holy Craziness of Couple). Paule Salomon details her vision of the lunar man better than what I could have written myself. It made me realize that one has to become either a solar woman or lunar man in order to experience love as I describe it in my series of articles “Sex, Sex, Sex“.

Viviane José Restieau - ADN a
Viviane-José Restieau – ADN a

Lunar men, in the sense of reconciliation of the two poles, are in an evolutionary level where the psychic mind has supplanted the biological body. At the inner level, an important phenomenon happens, the one of self-presencing through the contact with the inner woman. Love isn’t that much external anymore, but internal, which doesn’t exclude, on the very contrary, the external woman. Lunar men are very appealing, as they have an idealistic side as well as a great flexibility. No doctrinal rigidity, a cheerfulness and a sweetness coming from inside that makes them very attentive to the moment. They are very present in love, very “cellular”, like the solar woman. Their body is vibrant and they like to arouse the body of the other. They are wonderful lovers, independently of the size of their sex, their age and their vitality. They establish a skin to skin communication, a psychological contact, they seek a soul communion. They like to receive caresses and surrender, to slip into a feminine passivity, solicit the active side of the woman during love. The harmony between the two masculine and feminine principles allows them to meet an inner fullness that makes them experience love in a different manner. Feelings like possessiveness and jealousy draw away, as well as feelings of rivalry, of affirmation by domination. Needs evolve, pleasure levels too. The behavioral harmony doesn’t obey to a moral demand, but to an inner need, to a taste. It is a matter of cooperating with the other just like we cooperate with our self, with the same friendship and the same pleasure.

The poet appears, the one who makes words dance, the one who becomes inflamed by a glimpse of a smile, a curve of a hip, a prominent breasts, the one who grows flowers, the one who whistles when he sees a woman passing by, the one who eats colors, the one who draws perfumes, the one who dresses women’s bodies with the impalpable, the one who doesn’t know what to invent next to love again and again this inescapable femininity from Earth, from life, the woman and her soul.

But where is this terrifying warrior from patriarchy, the one who wants victory from all wars he creates in a repeated hurry as he fears inaction and his secret desire for contemplation? He stands still there, but his sword now serves the poet. He doesn’t dominate anymore. He has surrendered to other values than his own, he willingly comes into rest, the rest of the warrior. He keeps the fearlessness of the knight to invest himself in action.

The lunar man is free, on the path to liberty. He can deeply and intentionally commit into a relationship as well as he can step away from any commitment. However he has a part of him that remains implacably and consciously alone, wild, for ever rebel to any structure. He holds a happy and fertile solitude that allows him to contact his anima. Rabindranath Tagore describes this encountering in his last poems:

Inner Marriage Sun MoonOne day in spring, a woman came
In my lonely woods,
In the lovely form of the Beloved.
Came, to give to my songs, melodies,
To give to my dreams, sweetness.
Suddenly a wild wave
Broke over my heart’s shores
And drowned all language.
To my lips no name came,
She stood beneath the tree, turned,
Glanced at my face, made sad with pain,
And with quick steps, came and sat by me.
Taking my hands in hers, she said:
‘You do not know me, nor I you-
I wonder how this could be?’
I said:
‘We two shall build, a bridge for ever
Between two beings, each to the other unknown,
This eager wonder is at the heart of things.

 

This powerful awe seats at the very heart of things. The more the anima manifests itself in the shape of an image, a feeling, a music, the more the self is invited to live its inner rapture, the more it can land in the immediacy of the present and stop running after a never ending conquest. The lunar man has succeeded in joining sex, heart and sometimes spirit. This junction, even partial, allows him to thrive in love and kindness, with no deference. We feel well in his company, we feel a warmth, a wellness that can increase in the intensity of the exchange.


Foreplay to love

I want to begin this series of articles with preliminaries (or foreplay I may say) about love. Love, such a big and small word!

What follows comes from direct experience acquired along the years. Most societies leave young men and women completely uneducated about love. As a young man I had no clue about what love and sex really meant beyond the physical arousal and the technical play we could have with it. People can grow their consciousness through love and sex if they want to, however most of seem to remain where education brought them, i.e. ground zero, leaving them unhappy, illiterate and frustrated about this most important thing about our human experience: love.

Love as an art

Tango in Buenos AiresFirst postulate: see love as an art. I became aware of this in my 30’s after reading Erich Fromm‘s, beautiful book “The Art of Loving” (you can read a little bit of it here).

If we consider love as an art, Fromm writes, then you will find in it both a theoretical and a practical aspect, just as you will in painting, music or dance. In dance we build body balance and flexibility, and we cultivate an extraordinary physical empathy with our partners. We develop an infinite set of gestures and steps. In music we have to stretch our fingers, play our scales, learn dozen of chords, train our ear, connect the gesture with the emotion. We must learn and integrate moves, techniques, compositions. In love we learn how to develop the “sense of the individuality of the other”, as Steiner writes, in other words how we can open our empathic doors to the extreme. One needs a lot of personal development in order not to fall in the alienating and conflicting abysses of fusion. In the sexual expression of love, we have these gestures, these breathings that open us to the knowledge of our body, our energies, our mutual ecstancy. Regardless the form of art, only patient learning leads to creative freedom.

Art of the BricksLove as an art produces an even more essential aspect than the technical side described by Fromm: by essence art predicates limitless freedom and creativity. Most people experience love in a conventional way. We copy/paste the standard social models of love the same way we repeat the doctrines of religion. But art becomes putrified in the catacombs of conventionalism.  Love as an art must endlessly open new paths. It relentlessly breaks the walls of morals, religion, social order, cultural diktat. Don’t we feel amazed and don’t we laugh when we see these texts, words, paintings or movies that shocked past generations? Today they look so old-fashion and so mainstream! However, what remains in us that continues to block us, to alienate us and to make us deny the others? What shadows keep us trapped in the denial of our essence, in the refusal of our freedom, in the fear of our divinity? Art, regardless of its form, has always pushed away boundaries and established new horizons. Love as an art implies we reinvent ourselves all the time and hunt our limitations.

Love has nothing of a feeling

Thanks to experience, life has offered me a second postulate: we cannot reduce love to a feeling or an emotion. Love comes from a state of consciousness that brings us into a “state of love”. We don’t fall in love, we rise in it. When we love, reality changes. Landscapes look enchanted, the air smells good, the weather feels nice even when it rains, life turns into a dream. We feel in joy and taken by a desire of kindness with the world. The graynesses of life vanishes. Indeed loving provokes feelings and emotions that spring out as consequences of our inner state.

Anton Semenov - Thumbs Society
Anton Semenov – Thumbs Society

Let’s not confuse causes and the consequences. Our emotions, thoughts and feelings constitute the ingredients produced by the inner source of consciousness. If anger, jealousy or fear come out of your “love”… do you really love? When the gauges turn red, they indicate you have left the state of love. Maybe you want to possess the other, maybe the other possesses you, maybe you suffer a pathological need for recognition, or a fear of solitude… Don’t delude yourself: in the name of love as socially defined, you transformed yourself into a tyrant towards yourself  and towards the other(s). You don’t love, or you don’t love anymore.

I like to see authentic love as a shining sun. A sun doesn’t direct its beams towards such or such other celestial body. It simply shines. Sometimes its light illuminates other planets which in turn shine and irradiate around them. We can’t calculate love, it doesn’t direct itself towards specific things or people. Love comes from an inner state that can only feed itself from itself, in the being by the being. Love exists at the condition that it has no condition. Then it becomes love with the other, and not love of the other. In the state of love we become two luminous meeting stars shining at one another.

The language of love

Language plays a central role in the way we build our inner experiences. Language builds our reality.

Cupidon in the CitySo let’s explore these ontological questions. The ordinary language of love says “I love you”, or “I love Lea”, or “Julia loves Mike”. It addresses love like a vector with a direction pointing towards a target. Doesn’t Cupid shoot an arrow? If I love a person with directed love, it means I don’t love –or have less love for– the others. In radiant, non directed, evolved love, we love, full stop. Shouldn’t we make the verb “to love” intransitive?

Because of these limitations, ordinary language doesn’t support speaking of the universal state of love. It indulges us in romantic love, the binary, possessive form of love, that submits one person to another, that builds itself on the dialectics of dependency. Poor and powerless victims of life, we “fall” in love. Then  we “marry” and we make these unsustainable and unbearable  promises: “I commit not to change, to remain the same in order to hold on to the relational form that we impose on one another today. I love you, I marry you. No one else will appear in my life.” You know the next part of the story. Romantic love denies our capacity to love in a plural way, without calculating or dividing ourselves.

To make the landscape a little darker, the language of love comes with a complete set of statuses that sow the seeds of separation. Separation from the other, separation from oneself. Words like exclusivity, fidelity, going out with, splitting, dumping, in a couple, not in a couple… Let’s add to this some poor categories: boyfriend/girlfriend, friend, lover, concubine, partner, husband or wife, homo or hetero, gay or lesbian, monogamous or polygamous, exclusive or polyamourous… When I speak about my way to love, I see how people always try to put me in one of these boxes that describe a world of objects and categories. It rejects from our social field the full palette, the vast continuum of relational experiences that life can offer.

In short, due to its lack of subtlety and nuances, our language of love doesn’t shine very much. It doesn’t have much to do with the radiant suns I mentioned earlier. If we want to evolve, shouldn’t we reinvent the language of love? It believe this will elevate us, and so I work on it. Try it for yourself too! Invent words and expressions that speak to your deep, ultimate, reality. Give a new fresh meaning to old words. Free yourself from dusty taxonomies that create alienated love.

Towards the inner androgyny

Yin Yang Sun & MoonThe only realized couples I know come from people happy with themselves. People who have accomplished their inner marriage, the only one that works. A true love encounter doesn’t come to fill an inner deficiency. We meet to celebrate. You see me and welcome me through the splendor of my being, in my flaws and my weaknesses as well as in my strengths. I see you and welcome you in the splendor of your being, in your flaws and your weaknesses as well as in your strengths. I see you who sees me who sees you who sees me, and so on. The delightful game of infinite mirrors begins, well aligned in front of one another. A kaleidoscopic explosion happens, impredictible. Art springs out. The state of love sparkles inside myself, shining towards you.

Indeed inner happiness requires a personal journey, long for some, shorter for others. The state of love arises from inner androgyny, once we have given permission to both our masculine and feminine polarities to thrive fully inside ourselves. Our masculine and feminine have learned how to dance, how to complete, and how to love one another unconditionally. The exterior couple emerges from the inner couple.

I won’t go any further for now, as others have widely explored these horizons. I think of this French writer Paule Salomon, sadly not translated in English.

And now?

Now that I shared some preliminaries, I can start talking more directly about my experience. I will continue with the 4 lights that illuminate and guide my loving life.

I will keep using the verb to love, not in the romantic sense, but through the energy of the inner marriage that I just described, when the androgynous being unites and celebrates life with another being, nourished by the source of his/her inner radiance.

 

 

 


Bruno Marion Brings Chaos in our Lives

The title of this article suggests we should hate this guy. But you know what? I love him as one of these rare friends one has in a lifetime. And I do love that he brings chaos into our lives.

Indeed, Bruno has become one to the greatest experts on this new science, the chaos theory, as we name it.

 

At crossroads

The chaos theory –the latest conceptual tool we have to map reality around us– emerged after researchers made similar observations in their respective disciplines. Researchers observed chaos at play in their own field without knowing that these same phenomena happened in other disciplines such as biology, medicine, meteorology, physics, economics or sociology. It took quite a transdisciplinary understanding to see communalities between a heart beat, the forming of a thunderstorm, the erratic behavior in the stock exchange, the vortexes in a fluid under specific states, the amazing shapes in nature or the unpredictability of a pendulum. Then the mathematician Benoît Mendelbrot discovered (and invented) the fractals, i.e. the mathematics that describe complexity, life, chaos, like never before. Euclidian geometry describes elements that exist in our minds, but not in nature. Where in nature will you find a straight line, a perfect sphere or circle, a square square, a right-angled rectangle or a perfectly flat plane? Nature generates infinitely complex and often chaotic forms such as trees, landscapes, weather, movements, vortexes, behaviors, that don’t have much to do with those perfect idealized forms that we learn at school. Better than a long discourse, just enjoy this wonderful short video below.

For the past 30 years, this science has made tremendous progress in almost every field we can imagine, from building realistic 3D imaginary worlds in the movie or computer games industry to understanding climate change or social complexity. You will find lot’s of good literature and online content that popularizes chaos and complexity theories.

Bringing chaos into our lives

Bruno MarionBruno Marion literally brings chaos into our lives in a practical and concrete way, for the benefit of all. In his conferences and his next book (coming in a few days!), he shares how our current world views still use old maps that don’t reflect the reality anymore. These old maps relate on Newtonian physics for the most part –the science of inert objects that our senses can see (planets, solids, stones, etc). This physics works well to explain causal and mechanistic events in the world. We can definitely predict how fast a stone will hit the floor depending on gravity, or where a planet will shine in the sky next year. The Newtonian physics copes well with the way our natural language operates by seeing objects and interactions between them (the dog runs after the cat, the moon shines during the night, and so on). Newtonian physics and causal/dual language works well in a stable world, a world that doesn’t change much, in which we can mostly make reliable predictions. As for relativity and quantum physics, they mostly address objects and scales that don’t operate in our human scale and that our biological senses can’t grab. Hence, even after 100 years since they appeared, they still don’t really help understand our daily reality, unless you have a good abstract mind.

Chaos, the transition space for emergence

Bruno articulates his work around 2 powerful assumptions:

  1. Our world has left the stable state (ecological balance, season cycles, predictable climate, etc) to enter into a phase of chaos. In this phase everything becomes possible, from a big collapse to a new, higher, more complex and more conscious order
  2. Chaos theory provides us with super powerful tools and methods to understand what happens, and to take real action in our lives

Butterfly in courtHere comes the real juice. Bruno Marion doesn’t talk much about “theory” (again, you’ll find very good online content and books on this part). He offers a practical ways to look at the world and navigate through it with the lenses of a fractal world. Through many concrete life situations, he shows how this applies to governance, economy, politics, sex, everyday life, building a company, organizing your time, building your relationships, designing technology, embracing your identity, etc. Reading his book or listening to his conferences will help you see that the old mental maps mislead us because they don’t match the field anymore. In a metaphoric way, would you use a static paper map if you knew the ground changes its configuration all the time? Of course not. But we do it with our old mental maps. We need inner dynamic maps, or to say it with my own words, a language of flows.

So, whether you want to understand why your sense of self doesn’t match social reality anymore, or why your company doesn’t work anymore, or why politics can’t do it anymore, go read and listen to Bruno Marion.

 

Check Bruno Marion’s website.


Quantum Vinaigrette

Physics and mysticism work like oil and vinegar, you have to shake them hard together to make a decent vinaigrette. Do we need vinaigrette to season our life? Does quantum physics explain consciousness?

“I wave therefore I am”

Miracle in scientific demonstration

Today’s post-modern Western spiritual language uses a lot of verbiage taken from science, mostly quantum physics: frequencies, vibrations, energy, vacuum, waves, fields, quantum this, quantum that… Since the rise of rationalism, contemporary spirituality, especially in New Age movements, has made many attempts to bridge and reconcile the outer objective reality with the inner subjective world. As quantum physics lays down a non-linear and non-deterministic approach to reality, it didn’t take long for people to decide that the unmanifest and manifest meet at the quantum level by an act of consciousness, particularly as interpretations of Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle and Schrödinger’s cat. The infinite potential of consciousness and creativity operate at the level of waves and particles. Movies like “What the bleep do we know?” (2004) made quite a spicy vinaigrette of this notion.

When I find myself in the middle of a QWBC’s (read “quantic wanna be conversations”), I stand aside and observe quietly (turning myself into a discreet wave rather than a punchy particle). In general participants prove they have no idea about what energy, a wave, a frequency, a probability or differential calculus really mean. Many even confuse a sound wave with an electromagnetic wave.  They of speak quantum physics with a Newtonian mind. How could they not? Our common language has built itself on describing separated objects and causal relationships between them. Hence the fact one can access the deep understanding of quantum physics only through mathematical equations, not through everyday language.

Every time new scientific paradigms have appeared in the past, people have twisted them in order to legitimate their current understanding of reality, from politics to spirituality to economics. When Newtonian physics appeared, many thought we could explain the whole universe through deterministic equations. If we could predict where a planet would appear next year, and at what speed an apple would hit the floor depending on which branch it falls from, didn’t it prove our capacity to forecast everything in a deterministic universe? Yet, people didn’t have access to the infinitely small (inert and living) that has quite different behaviors. They didn’t know Newtonian physics only applies to big, dead, inert objects. Determinism became a model for industrial society. When Darwin’s theories entered the main stream, natural selection turned into a motto in economics, claiming the natural domination of the fittest and that markets follow natural laws.

Eating KryptoniteA few years ago I came across an ad from a 1917 newspaper. It promoted “pills of radioactivity” that could heal almost every forms of disease, from diarrhea to gout to malaria to whitlow. The article described radioactivity not as a physical phenomenon but as a thing you can eat, just like mashed potatoes or broccoli. Matter, time and energy had just unveiled some of their most intimate secrets. Well, not for everyone yet… 🙂

As you can see, history has shown how ideologies tried to legitimate themselves with the current scientific models, since the Renaissance. This same pattern applied to spirituality.

Scientific versus creationist methodI don’t claim that science cannot ground or correlate our spiritual experience. Actually it does, and this should even remain one of its main objectives. However correlating and proving mean two different things. We lose science, rationality and spiritual insight each time we select some external objective phenomenology to prove the meaning of our inner subjective experience. We start with the conclusion –our experience– then we pick the relevant scientific material and discard the irrelevant one, to make our point. This cartoon on the right says more than a thousand words. Many contemporary spiritual movements do exactly the same as creationists (yet another spiritual movement), in their own way.

“Does Quantum Physics Prove God?”

So let’s go deeper now. Here comes an interview of Ken Wilber from Corey deVos: Does Quantum Physics Prove God?

 

I really enjoy this interview. Ken nails down the flaws of today’s spirituality pseudo-scientific verbiage. He brings up 3 core arguments:

quantum_mechanics_masters_275x951

None of the original founders of quantum physics –all pure mystics!– claimed that individual consciousness has control over the duality wave/particle. They just talked about probabilities, waves, collapse… Actually their mysticism came from the abyssal untouchable nature of the reality they could sense under the veil of their equations. Science describes the manifest and tries to predict it, it leaves us in awe of that which produces the manifested reality (the field of meta-physics). Mystical experience infuses us not because of a solved mystery, but because of an unsolved one. We face the Great Mystery not because of the finite maps that science provides, but because of the uncharted territories and dimensions that our mind can sense without the capacity to embrace them. Only a wider consciousness can, beyond the mental. We then have to enter in meditative techniques.

2. Claiming that quantum vacuum equals spirit and gives rise to the manifest world through intention creates a duality. We fall back into phenomenology, with objects and causal relationships between them. Spirit becomes a “doer” doing something, in a dual world. It contradicts the very essence, suchness, is-ness of spirit. I like Wilber’s metaphor when he says wetness of the ocean has nothing to do with waves. Wetness exists everywhere, indifferent to the manifest, to waves, to storms, to streams. Spirit remains neutral with matter, energy, waves, states, collapses and so on.

3. Understanding quantum physics doesn’t make you an enlightened person. Physics offers an “it” – 3rd person – dual approach to reality whereas mystical experience flows in the “I”, the subjective non-dual self. Indeed, the “I” and the “it” can mutually inspire each other: I can have a mystical experience contemplating Schrödinger’s equations, and I can have a mathematical illumination during meditation. However science in general, and quantum mechanics in particular, because of their very duality, cannot offer the proof of consciousness, no more than a wave can explain wetness.

Last but not least, if spiritual experience needed physics as an explanation, then we would have to trash our spiritual practices each time a new scientific paradigm emerges. Spiritual experience does not, and cannot depend on our temporary maps of external reality. Spiritual experience needs its own ontology, its own phenomenology for the “I” inner world. Indeed spirituality takes most of its words from the manifested world in a metaphorical way. It involves the use of scientific words. Things start to get bad, really bad, when people confuse the metaphor with an explanation.

Let me offer an example here. Does saying “I have pins and needles in my legs” mean that I literally have pins and needles in my legs? Do I provide a scientific explanation?  Of course not. I just expressed an experience with a metaphor that speaks to all of us. But when we use expressions such as superposed states of consciousness, wavesvibrational levelenergies… which make sense metaphorically, many people don’t hear them or speak them metaphorically. In their own way, they literally mean we have pins and needles in our legs 🙂

 

So, anything special about quantum physics?

Schrödinger's CatOf course.

First, quantum physics releases us both from our familiar 4-dimensional universe of time and space, and from the trap of viewing the world as a collection of objects. It reveals a whole pluridimensional non-causal universe that quivers beyond the veil of reality built by our senses and mind. Every spiritual tradition has acknowledged the deeper infinite reality that pulses behind the veil.  I don’t know any serious meditation practitioner that has not had this direct experience himself/herself. The Allegory of the Cave says it precisely.

Second, quantum physics reveals the connectedness, the unity, the non-local property of the universe (quantum entanglement and quantum non-locality). This means that every single object, wave, phenomenon, has a connection with every other object, wave, and phenomenon. Everything has an influence on everything, regardless the distance. Nothing happens in isolation and separate from all else. However this doesn’t imply that phenomena happen exclusively through causal relationships, which leads to the third point.

Third, quantum physics transcends (and includes) causality. Its phenomenology does not describe a deterministic, linear reality that appears to us as its surface. Causality still happens in the material world, but something more complex, multidimensional, non-causal, happens behind the scene. A big challenge arises here: human language has built its structure on depicting a dual world composed of objects and causal interactions between them. Yet it doesn’t have the capacity to describe and put in the social field a non-linear, non-causal, multi-leveled, ever transforming flow of reality. Words freeze objects, just like a picture. Today, only complex equations can describe the deepest levels of reality, it takes quite some metaphors to give a taste of this via conventional language. Most of the time, conventional language describes quantum physics in a causal way. Back to the veil.

These three points about quantum physics depict an objective reality that meditation naturally reaches subjectively, beyond the mental and its language limitations.

Let’s just not forget something: consciousness does not exist as a product of quantum physics. Quantum physics exists as a product of consciousness, both in the form of mathematical equations and in the form of conventional language. Our expressions (written, spoken, symbolic, artistic…) come from our experiences, just like the map comes from the territory it represents. As far as I know we have never seen a map create the field.

The Power of Mind over Matter

Do we need quantum physics to prove that mind can control matter? Up to you to say…

In this video, I will show you how, by using the power of my mind, I can move a squash from one place to another (I love playing squash). Yes, I can move and influence matter, and you can too! It involves Newtonian physics, relativity, quantum physics, biology, chemistry, Darwinian evolution, genetics, thermodynamics, information and complexity theories, pataphysics, and many other “things” that will exist in the future. I swear that I used no tricks and that you see an unedited raw image. I can repeat this experience in any lab in the world, under full scientific scrutiny.

Yes, we kind of forget this very simple fact that our mind and will (or whatever you want to call it) move and influence matter all the time. Every single moment, I can enter in this ecstatic state feeling the aliveness of my body, I can enjoy my “matter in motion” device, I can play my musical instrument, I can move and assemble my Legos with the creative impulse of my soul.

Why not just enjoy this very radical power every single moment of our existence? Do you remember how amazing it felt when you landed in this plane of reality? Did you need quantum vinaigrette?

Some interesting links:

 

 

 

 


Going Post-Monetary

Will work for BitcoinsBitcoin?

As someone working on the vision and technologies of the post-monetary society, people keep asking me what I think about Bitcoin. Well, you know what? Not much.

Although Bitcoin works in a decentralized, peer-to-peer, open source way, it still remains part of the conventional scarcity paradigm. The fact that it plugs in the conventional scarce money infrastructure ($, €, etc) infuses the scarcity DNA in it. Even worse: it sticks to the “coin”, such an old meme! However I do acknowledge Bitcoin as a step towards the post-monetary society, while remaining inside the mainstream paradigm. It truly questions the bank monopoly for money issuance which paves the way to new possibilities. Advocates and users of Bitcoin will very likely make all possible mistakes that will accelerate the shift.

Complementary currencies?

I like complementary currencies for the service they offer. They help people make the first baby steps out of money as a unique and exclusive way to look at economy. They help people make all necessary mistakes, trials and errors, that may eventually lead them to think “out of the bucks”.

Today different categories of complementary currencies co-exist (some of them can have multiple roles, for instance local and social):

  • Local (or regional) currencies: they help a local territory (town, region, etc) to re-monetize themselves and uplift the local economy. Examples: Ithaca Hours (USA), SOL project (France), Chiemgauer (Germany)
  • Corporate currencies: they support a specific economic sector. Examples: air miles (travel sector), the WIR (corporate economy in Switzerland), Meal Vouchers (restaurant industry)
  • Social currencies: they support social and solidarity economy in the society. Examples: Time Banking (USA), Banco Palmas (Brasil)
  • Targeted currencies: they enhance a specific outcome in the economy. Example: carbon currency

I don’t put any work and efforts in complementary currencies. Their name says it all: they complement the system, just like complementary food complements your diet because of its inherent deficiencies. Complementary food and complementary currencies exist because of the mainstream system. On the good news side, we can see complementary currencies as the first steps towards a global interoperable open protocol (see below), just like local networks initiated the transition towards the Internet in the early 90’s.

Decentralized money?

I just came across a conference given by Fred Wilson, Managing Partner at Union Square Ventures. I like the clear way he shares current trends and how it directs his investments. Fred has a good insight when he says the next currency system has to become an open internet protocol. First time I hear it from someone else than our small circle. Years ago it looked like pure science fiction when I shared this idea, now an investor says it, good news! However Fred Wilson still reduces his forecast to a decentralized monetary system, which means:

  1. a technology that only addresses movable wealth (commodities, services), and not integral wealth (i.e. movable, measurable, rankable, acknowledgeable, potential — see conferences below).
  2. a technology that operates only in the conventional market economy, i.e. where we just exchange things, and forget about other possibilities. It discards the rise of gift economies which, in my sense, will prove to become much more powerful and generative than the current market economy limited by immediate conditional reciprocity.

Shifting to the post-monetary society

I think our view on the not-so-far future can go way further. Basically:

  1. Next post-monetary technologies will work on an open internet protocol (Fred Wilson got this part, which I find very cool and rare) that will allow diversity, multiplicity, interoperability
  2. Post-monetary technologies will provide a language of integral wealth, not just movable wealth
  3. Post-monetary technologies will allow large scale gift economies that transcend (and include) market economies

Think out of the BucksWe still have many creative options to name this evolution. Just like the rise of aviation, it will develop its own ontology in our conventional language. I like to use expressions such as “language of wealth”, “integral wealth”, “wealth technologies”.

Also, we don’t have a word to acknowledge the fact we create wealth, in its truest and broadest sense. Hence the creation of the verb to weal: to generate, to give birth to wealth. In the future, we will weal. Weal as wheel (free wheel), weal as will (free will), etc. Will Will wheal? Years ago I booked domain names freeweal (org, com, etc) and weal.me. They wait for their time.

Last but not least, this shift will eventually take us way, way further than what everyone predicts now. The next language of wealth will become a language of flows. We evolve from our current language of finite objects and their relationships towards a language of flows, alive, always changing, quantic (filled with superposed possibilities), holographic (where the I and the We contain each other), super-conscious. There I see the one of the next leaps of our species.

Much more to say about it, hence my long retreat at the present moment (feel free to weal me :-)).

More in-depth

Here come some key conferences about this topic.

Integral Wealth

Jean-François Noubel – Centifolia – Oct. 2013 – Grasse, France

Towards a Systems’ Paradigm and a New Expressive Capacity

Arthur Brock interviewed by Ferananda Ibarra.

After money – TEDx Paris

 

 


The Compost of Collective Intelligence

Luc Schuiten, the cities of tomorrow

 

We must not oppose the old dying system of pyramidal collective intelligence with the birthing one of holomidal collective intelligence. I hear all the time people say that the rise of social innovation cannot compete with the fact that technologies remain the monopole of pyramidal collective intelligence organizations, designed to make profit and to control. People who say this oppose political systems by means of intellectual abstracts on ideologies. My research simply consist in observing evolution, not to argue on which political or ideological system should prevail. From a pragmatic and concrete point of view, here comes a law of the living: any new ecosystem needs to grow on the old one. The old, while rejecting the new, offers its fundamental bricks as well as the compost produced from its own decomposition. Also its paroxysmal manifestation –more power concentration of power and money, more standardization, etc– provoke an evolutionary dynamics for those who want to extract themselves from the old matrix. Thus holomidal collective intelligence, until it becomes an autonomous social ecosystem, grows on the soil of pyramidal collective intelligence. We see a fractal, complex and non-linear process at play.

I often get this question whether people feel ready… I can only invite you to contemplate this question within yourself first. Evolution happens inside you, primarily. Waiting for it from the outside looks like one of the classical tricks from the mental.

Who, today, feels ready to evolve his/her own semantic structure, his/her own economy, his/her own health, the relationship to his/her own body, his/her diet, his/her social codes, his/her own use of technology? So far I observe this shift only in a small fringe of humanity, a tiny minority, mostly coming from the young generation. The good news say that this thin layer of consciousness that structures itself in the being and meshes in the collective suffices to provoke the necessary leaps for evolution. The past has already demonstrated this: big changes have never emerged neither from majorities nor from the powers in place.

 

 

 

 

 


Above the law?

Above the Law

 

 

In my humanonaut journey, some of the places where I go may look quite odd from the eyes of the conventional world. Food, vow of wealth, gift economy, amorality, love, stepping out of the classical economic and social circuits… Sometimes people ask me if I see myself standing above the law. This question inspired this present article, the seed of a further thinking in the future…

 

 

 

 

When minor contradicts major

I will start with an ontological distinction in regards to law. One single word —law— exists to name two different concepts, first, the universal and superior principles that govern us, and second, the rules used to regulate and arbitrate society in its daily flow, in particular through jurisprudence. In order to eliminate this ambiguity between universal law and circumstantial law, let’s name major laws those that lay the foundations of social alliance, and minor laws those that regulate society in a circumstantial manner.

In general, constitutions form an organized set of major laws that state freedom (of opinion, of religion, to move…), equality (of rights, of chances, of gender, of origins…), fraternity, the right for safety, education, health. Democratic constitutions (the French Constitution for instance) as well as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, carry this intention of universality, at least the way our epoch perceives it through the lenses of pyramidal collective intelligence.

Minor laws relate to arbitration, and the norms and rules that govern society in its daily flow. We usually find them in legal codes made to cover different aspects of society: commerce and trade, agriculture, justice, food and drugs, labor, transportation… See U.S. code for instance.

Napoleonic CodeMany minor laws contradict major laws. I see two main reasons for this. The first one: some minor laws existed before major laws. They carry ideologies from the past, unsuitable to our times. Let’s remember how much time it took before men and women equality appeared in the eyes of the law, or before homosexuality became legal while it always existed in human behavior. As for animals, still considered as a thing and a commodity today, we stand far, far away from a potential evolution in the legal system. Nothing protects them from our inhumanity, which opens the path to even more inhumanity. “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated“, Gandhi said. Our barbarism against other forms of life directly contradicts the respect we want for humankind. Just like slavery did in its time.

The second reason that puts minor laws in opposition with major laws: the fact that systemic or secondary effects of a minor law can provoke, by emergence, a context that contradicts major laws. This happens with conventional money for which Pareto condensation and privatization mechanisms lead to a non-democratic concentration of power. We call plutocracy this correlation between power and money. This concentration of power creates a context that works against the tenets of  modern constitutions (major laws) that guarantee equality of opportunity and the right to safety. And it rules out articles 2, 3, 4, 17 and 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. If society evolves one day, maybe it will challenge the constitutionality of money, the same way it revised its position in regards to slavery or gender equality in the past. Everything in its own time.

Incompleteness and inconsistency

Escher - RelativityTo further our inquiry, the question of laws takes us to Gödel’s incompleteness theorems, in other words to systems’ incompleteness and inconsistency.

Let’s begin with incompleteness. A constitution works as a series of postulates (axioms in mathematics) from which we should derive minor laws (theorems in math). Doing so, we soon face undecidable propositions. We have to adopt certain laws that no major law from the Constitution can substantiate. We find out that the system has no completeness in its core, it doesn’t “self-explain” itself, it doesn’t provide its own answers. We always need to enlarge it, add new laws issued from a vaster reference system. We have to legislate. This happens when new technologies arise, or after new breakthroughs in science or medicine (euthanasia, embryology…), or when new morals settle down in the society. Each time new cases appear, they require new arbitration, new jurisprudence, new laws. Before the legislator can catch up, extreme situations can happen. In positive law, we take for permitted what the law hasn’t yet forbidden.

Give me your papers!Let’s continue with inconsistency. This one requires somehow a mental leap to fully understand. The minor laws that we “logically” derive from major laws can contradict the system itself, which makes it inconsistent. For instance, in the name of common good, the state can legitimate violence, which contradicts the safety and liberty of the person. In the U.S., the Second Amendment allows citizens to possess weapons for their defence, which also contradicts their right for safety, as statistics prove. Also, in the fight against terrorism, claimed in the name of citizens’ safety, the state chops off a great deal of freedom and gives great power to the few in control. Freedom and safety contradict one another when applied through minor laws, yet another example of the inconsistency of today’s constitutions. We can also question secularism: in the end doesn’t it impose, without saying it, a peculiar way to understand reality? It carries oriented values (lifestyle, world views, belief systems…) that I can hardly qualify as “secular”. And what should we say about the dictatorship of the majority? All these examples prove how systems contradict themselves, regardless whether we speak about rights, ethics or mathematics. Hence their inconsistency.

The combination of incompleteness and inconsistency distills the perfect cocktail for dissension. For instance a country can adopt abortion or forbid it, both choices rely on perfect moral assumptions that fully respect the Constitution and contradict it at the same time. Same thing with GMO’s, homosexual marriage, nuclear energy, etc.

Let’s note that civil disobedience often rests on revealing the unfairness of minor laws in the context of the fairness of major laws. For instance GMO crops, authorized by property, entrepreneurship and commerce rights, collide with the universal right of life preservation that invokes the precautionary principle. These conflicts unveil an opposition between natural law and positive law, also between morals (major laws) and justice (minor laws). Yes, quite often the moral and the legal lines don’t get along together. Who does not suffer from that in his/her flesh one day or another?

Incompleteness and inconsistency fuel a sterile and naive political and social clash, because of the misunderstanding and ignorance of this phenomena. Our political animals show a breathtaking ignorance about a mechanism they should know well, given their responsibilities. Beyond today’s societal aspects, the question of incompleteness and inconsistency clearly shows that the mental will never produce a system capable of arbitrating life, as no subsystem can encompass a the vaster system that contains it. Another dynamics has to infuse in individual and collective consciousness if we expect our species to evolve.

From normative to generative law

If we think of how classical law works, it standardizes and frames actions and behaviors through objective wording. Coercive actions can protect these laws if necessary, some of them legitimize State violence. After a law comes a the law to respect that first law.

Misc. road signsLet’s look at a legal space that we know quite well: the traffic code. Normative law floods us with rules, signs, radars, limits, sanctions, etc. It attempts to contain people’s behavior by means of exogenous prohibitions and obligations. Normative law standardizes and takes responsibility away, since it imposes external rules. Rather than asking myself what good reasons I could have to drive slowly in a town, I have to obey a red sign and fear the cop. Rather than paying attention at an intersection, I drive through because I see a green light or I have priority. Things happen inside a game of obedience/transgression in relation with a normative external authority.

We can clearly see here one of the signatures of pyramidal collective intelligence: by applying one single norm for everyone, it makes economies of scale and industrializes its processes. Last but not least, it attempts to build predictability in an unpredictable living system.

Maybe evolution will lead us to generative law, who knows? Generative law needs objective wording to exist too, yet its aim consists in seeding social behavior coming from within the persons. Once matured, these behaviors induce collectives capable of self-regulation, in an organic emergent way. There, exogenous normative constraint reaches a minimal level.

Continuing with the example of traffic code, we have an interesting case in Europe. The city of Drachten has simply withdrawn all its road signs. A successful experience, people took their responsibility in hand. Today they trust their perception while following an interiorized social alliance. A living and organic cohesion evolves along with their learning curve.

A sweet and fun moment with my beloved Julie

I have a similar experience in India. There, we drive with our senses, like in many countries. The few road signs serve as decoration. A European used to external normative authority would mostly see a huge threatening mess. On my scooter, with my passenger seating behind (sometimes we seat 3 people), I love joining in the dance. Once in the flow, I honk the horn again and again, not to attack others, but to allow them hear and localize me. Dozens of toots around give me a real-time sense of the positions of others. I navigate in a 3D sensoriality, a little bit like in a collective sonar. Eventually, in this mingling of pedestrians, children, old people, goats, sacred cows, buses, cars, chickens, dogs, rickshaws and bicycles, nothing goes that bad. Of course I don’t take India as a model of road safety, but the example seems good enough to show how normative law doesn’t resolve everything, far from it.

We can also explore the effects of generative law at the level of the person. During the early years of my son Estéban life, I tried to use generative rules in order to help him integrate social life. Rather than giving him orders not to step out of the garden, or not to cross the street, I laid down rules that aimed to provoke a living behavior that would emanate from his self. To do so, I combined the verbal approach with playing, physical gesture, drawings, actions on the body, mime. For instance, before crossing a street, we played the statue. We literally petrified ourselves with delight to make the statue that observes and describes everything that happens around. Then, if no vehicle would show up on the horizon, the statue would transform into a rabbit that could cross the street. We called for precise sensorial conditions combined with  an internalized thinking process. Estéban incorporated generative rules. Once integrated in the body, these rules didn’t need to exist anymore, they could fall like a sloughed skin. Since the age of three, my little boy knew how to move without risk in urban environments. Today, at the age of twelve, Estéban knows how to take a plane or a train, he can move alone in Paris and make international travels. He does it with his senses and makes quite autonomous decisions. His mom and I proceeded this way during all his education: use generative rules.

Do every country, every population, every collective have the capacity to evolve towards a less normative, but more generative law? This question connects us to the ladders of maturity of consciousness: when does individual and collective consciousness acquire the capacity to operate from within? At what moment can it operate without normative rules? This question applies to traffic code as well as the law, morals, ethics, social codes… Imposing normative laws systematically leaves very little scope for individuation. States usually legitimate and legislate normative laws by alleging the marginal and immature behaviors of a few. We invoke monster-objects (the “let’s unite against the threat” thing). All these processes show the DNA of pyramidal collective intelligence. Yet I see normative law as transitory. The future doesn’t have room for it because of the limitations it provokes: the loss of responsibility, the exclusion of inner consciousness as a founding brick for the collective, inconsistent and incomplete systems that will never ever cover the whole spectrum of reality and that complexify infinitely, alienating the evolutionary capacity of society… I feel quite interested in what holomidal collective intelligence societies will invent in order to move beyond normative law systems. We will evolve even better in this direction if we aquire of a language of integral wealth. This latter allows us to name, raise and update our awareness of wealth in its multidimensional aspects.

So the initial question of whether I see myself above the law doesn’t mean a lot to me… I simply explore the generative approach. For me, the vow of wealth represents an example of generative wording. It worked so well that this vow doesn’t exist anymore in my reality today, as it became part of me. I don’t praise the abandonment of laws and rules, however I want to explore how a precise construct of language can initiate an integration of the rule, up to its transcendence. Gradually the words vanish and leave space to life, to what springs up from within, to an immanence provoked by an experience of transcendence.

So I don’t feel myself above the law, but sometimes aside, in spaces that the arborescent morass of law cannot, and will never, cover. Because of their incomplete and inconsistent nature, the trees of laws, norms, rules, morals can only grow indefinitely. They will never ever cover and regulate the infinite space of life. Today you need champion lawyers to defend the law, they make me think of the great chess masters. As for the average citizen, he/she has no chance to embrace such complexity. Will we entrust the complexity of our mental systems to machines? We already do it by means of code. With the advent of socialware and communityware, “Code is Law” becomes “Law is code“. The question remains how pyramidal collective intelligence will seize this new power, and if holomidal collective intelligence will use it as a leverage for its emancipation.

In my daily life, this journey outlaws me, sometimes, and makes me amoral, always. Make no mistake: outlaw doesn’t mean “against” the law, and amoral doesn’t mean “immoral”. 🙂

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Some readings:

Gödel, Escher, Bach Finite and Infinite Games A Theory of Justice - John Rawl Discipline and Punish - Michel Foucault

Presidential elections: who will become the next captain of the Titanic?

Presidential elections: who will become the next captain of the Titanic?

titanic_420x315You got it: everything, almost, lies in the title.

It seems that most people have a hard time making a distinction between the captain of a ship, and the ship itself. If the ship has structural issues in its conception, the captain won’t change many things: structural issues will strike someday or another. By design, the Titanic had to sink, no matter its captain. By design too, only a precise form of collective intelligence could pilot it: the pyramidal one. Indeed, the whole Titanic, from its architecture up to its very details, has a structure designed for the obedience towards an omnipotent and omniscient captain, with a chain of command trained to respond at his beck and call. We know the end of the story. A similar scenario happened more recently when the Costa Concordia hit the Italian coast, Jan. 2012.

Our large pyramidal CI organizations work exactly like these big ocean liners. Governments, administrations, large corporations, armies, churches… It doesn’t matter very much which captain plays at the top –elected or self-proclaimed– our large collective vessels have poor adaptative capacity to navigate today’s waters because of their very structure. They have a hard time dealing with social questions, surfing on the infinite systemic complexity of humanity, embracing current economic, environmental and ecological challenges. More precisely: pyramidal collective intelligence has become the systemic cause of most painful symptoms society faces today. This may look like a personal opinion, nevertheless the discipline of collective intelligence proves it.

Therefore, in the same way ships like the Titanic or the Costa Concordia “attract” omnipotent captains, our institutional vessels attract omnipotent chiefs. In the best case, they make mistakes (that sometimes become fatal for everyone). In the worst case — unfortunately the most common one — leaders hardly resist abuse of power. The infrastructure calls for it.

We castigate a president, condemn a Gaddafi, or hate a George W. Bush. By doing so we forget that the very nature of these institutional vessels brought such men to the helm. They exist as pure products of the system. The only difference between a captain and another one consists in the way they navigate. Don’t expect any of them to support another paradigm and infrastructure in which they would no longer have a power position and a reason to exist.

With the lenses of collective intelligence, presidential elections, no matter the country where they take place, look hopeless to me.

But what dies fertilizes the life that comes after. The bad news tell us that we won’t find any leverage of change in the ballot box anymore (supposing it happened in the past). On the good news side, I can vote every day, every hour, every second.

Indeed, each time I decide to buy or not buy something, I vote for or against the value system that produced that thing. Do I buy organic or not? Do I eat meat or not? Do I invest in my health and other’s health or not? Do I pay attention to environmental, social and health information for each product, available to me in real time? GoodGuide, a smartphone and Internet app that provides these ratings, gives us a good example of it.

Let’s follow this trail. Every moment I can improve my skills as a user, even as a designer or coder of socialware and communityware. These online softwares allow communities, local or global, small or big, to self-organize, self-actualize, without the need for them to abandon their sovereignty to pyramidal collective intelligence. Project management, cross-fertilization of ideas, decision making processes, conflict resolution, capitalization of experiences, collective memory, dialog spaces, digital self… socialware cover many of these domains today, via social media or other shared online tools, opening the path towards holomidal CI.

And then? The rise of post-monetary society and wealth technologies, of course! Holomidal collective intelligence communities will become able to organize their economy in an integral way, without the need for pyramidal collective intelligence’s money. A whole journey, too long to explain here. 😕

Our citizenship can reach its full creativity in these directions. Let’s leave the Titanic, let’s stop trying to convince the captains, let’s build many small, agile, interoperable vessels, and let’s leave today’s political candidates to their brawls and electoral promises. Power, today, lies in the code.


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