Evolve the We, Evolve the I

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I gave this keynote conference October 24th, 2013 in Marseille for the opening of a big convention with 3000 CEOs and senior managers. Twelve minutes (actually, a little more, fourteen), to talk about our inner evolution in a world where everyone talks mostly about technology and external change.

Maybe the next humanity stands one breath away?

 

 


Pioneering Humanity – A Conference in India

During my trip to Auroville, India, December 2014, I gave a conference about collective intelligence and my research work in exploring new ways to exist and evolve consciousness. This conference has different parts, from external objective science to empirical exploration I do at the personal level.

Keywords: #aurobindo, #auroville, #CollectiveIntelligence, #breathing, #conscisouness, #economy, #e-prime, #GiftEconomy, #food, #holomidal, #innovation, #internet, #InvisibleArchitectures, #ontology, #OpenSource, #PyramidalCollectiveIntelligence, #SocialCodes, #soul, #spirituality, #technology, #wealth, #wisdom

Collective Intelligence – a New Research Field

In this first part you will hear the great story about collective intelligence. How did it evolve through the ages, where does it go today? This part focuses on the external objective aspects of my scientific research: facts, data, words.

 

Evolving the We in the I

The second part of the conference offers a more complex –and deeper– understanding of collective intelligence by addressing how the collective operates in the self, how the “we” plays in the “I”. Hence the fact that we see many collectives that evolve lot’s of external aspects such as technology or governance, but people still carry, like holograms, the social dna of the old society: same social codes, same wealth technology (money), same language, same food, same relationship with the body, same beliefs (doxa), same relationship to time, etc. My research has lead me to explore and deconstruct this social dna and explore new possibilities. I share some examples in the videos below.

Language

Language carries lot’s of archaic forms of consciousness in the way it builds reality in our individual and collective psyche. Unveiling these archaic forms and deciding whether we get rid of them of evolves them helps make important evolutionary steps, individually and collectively. Here I share the example of speaking in e-prime (not using the verb “to be”).

 

Social Codes

No social code exist randomly. No matter how unconsciously we perpetuate social codes, they all have a function: perpetuate and maintain a given social order. Evolution means we also question the function of each social code, and decide what we want to keep, get rid of, or evolve. In this part of the conference I share how I changed a few social codes, like breathing before speaking, and the consequences it had on me and around me.

 

Economy

Pyramidal collective intelligence has made market economy its core economic engine. Why? Because gift economy didn’t have the capacity to reach large scales due to the exponential complexity it generates. However now holomidal collective intelligence allows the rise of gift economies at large scale, offering amazing competitive advantages compared to market economy. But it takes a quantum leap to understand and trust the process, a question that I share in this part of the conference.

 

Food, Technology, Body

Food carries lot’s of social beliefs and binding in it. Food and consciousness walk hand in hand. If one asks this double question: “what does good for me and for the world at the same time?”, then no conventional cuisine today offers a satisfying answer. Evolving the self means evolving the way we eat.

Technology also shapes individual and collective consciousness. We have a different world and reality before and after the invention of fire, of the writing, of the printing press, of flight, of computers, of internet. What consciousness do we cultivate in order to have technology serve us rather than the opposite?

Last but not least, the body plays a key role in invisible architectures. Culture determines in a large manner the relationship we have with or body, how we experience it, how we manifest it. Conventional lifestyle in the pyramidal collective intelligence world places the body in a social and cultural mold. How can we free ourselves and get to live fully our bodily experience? Why should we do that? What consequences?

 

Conclusion

If we had 3 core ideas to keep in mind, I would pick these ones:

  1. become holoptical
  2. transmute old social dna
  3. reclaim your body

 

Questions & Answers

People in the public asked a series of fascinating questions, as shared on the time line below.

0:00 – What about languages that don’t use the verb “to be”?

2:10 – In the gift economy, don’t people usually give back to you rather than giving back to someone else?

5:15 – Can we consider an intermediary stage between market economy and gift economy that we could call social entrepreneurship?

9:30 – Question from a sports coach: “I follow my heart by teaching what I love and do the best, however it keeps me binded to  a city, a place where I don’t want to live. If I follow and listen to my heart, how should I deal with this?”

15:10 – How does friendship play in linking the I and the We? What role of social environment in this transformation?

20:00 – Do you know good examples of holomidal collective intelligence?

24:40 – Auroville began with very innovative ideas about education. Unexperienced people applied them, and later more and more of the pyramidal world came in, with money, taxes, etc. So, what do you think about education?

29:10 – 2 questions:
1. What sense do you have about our organization in Auroville ? Does it contribute to holomidal collective intelligence?
2. When you work with companies, what agreements do you propose for groups to change in a soft way?

35:20 – You have yourself evolved towards live (raw) food, but before enough people make such a conscious step, they will end up depleting our current natural resources. What do you think about that?

37:15 – You’ve spoken about collective intelligence and shared about things you do at the personal level. How do you do the two things combined together, the personal and the collective?

 


A big thank you to Bruno and Damien for capturing this conference, and to Joel for the sound engineering.

 


One Breath Away from Evolving?

The I in the Mirror

Climate change breakthrough technology

We speak a lot about human evolution on the technical plane, shaped by a materialistic vision of reality. There comes one of the signatures of pyramidal collective intelligence in which we see and understand the world only through mental dualism.

Although most prospective analysis look relevant, they leave aside the inner evolution of the being that happens in parallel with the external evolution of the world. Did humankind invent fire that changed humankind, or did humankind invent humankind that invented fire? Same question with the writing, the printing press, flight, computers and the Internet. We cannot separate the inner subjective evolution with the outer objective evolution. Which one starts first? We get into the usual chicken and egg question. The subjective being that initiates and the objective being that creates mutually invent themselves in a set of self-reflecting miroirs.

Invisible architectures: where social DNA hides

Nevertheless, pyramidal collective intelligence invests massive amounts of money in technical evolution and everything that can materialize in a product or a service to sell.

Social DNA barcodingBy doing so, it leaves aside the inner evolution of the being. This evolution doesn’t necessarily need years of personal development. Sometimes we just have to change a little bit of code in the invisible architectures that shape us individually through the play of the collective. Invisible architectures apply to most of what defines our behavior: the way we see the world, the way we think or we make decisions. Ontology (the way we build reality through language), money, the doxa (belief system built on obscurantist assumptions), our social construct of time, food, social codes, each of them operate like invisible architectural spaces inside which we swim, like fishes in their bowl. Change one rule in any of these structures, and the whole consciousness can either regress or evolve. It works exactly like changing a gene in a physical body.

Social genetics has become one of my most important discoveries in collective intelligence. I will write, publish and communicate a lot on this theme in the future.

Evolve the We, Evolve the I

In front of 2,800 corporate leaders (Marseille, France, Oct. 2013), I tried to share this idea of evolution through the leverage of invisible architectures, through one example: breathing. I also wrote about this theme in the article United Air Ways. What would happen if, rather than interrupting each other and leaving no space for silence during our conversations, we decide to make a long deep breath before speaking? As you will see, we only change one social code (gene), and from there everything can change radically.

What impact did this talk have? Quite hard to say. My message has probably reached some people at a deeper level. I received a warm feedback, but it doesn’t say anything about how deeply it infuses. I could have shared a softer message, a little less evolutionary. Here I made this choice I make every time: speaking to large audiences doesn’t mean I will dull my talk so it can pass the filters of conventional thinking and receive an applause from everyone. Yes, part can land in everyone’s ear. For the deeper part, more essential, only people who want to overcome doxa, habits, and see through the veil, have a welcoming energy and can contemplate the content more deeply. In think than less than 1% do that.

In Written Words…

Here comes the transcript.

Caveman writing

Voice off: “As one leading the Collective Intelligence Research Institute, Jean-François Noubel can sense it, it is yet a weak signal that forecasts more radical transformations, and each of them begin with a deep personal work.

I have 12 minutes… 12 minutes to share my passion for evolution, for evolution of life, for evolution of consciousness, with the lenses of a new discipline, a new research discipline called collective intelligence. Collective intelligence tries to understand why, how, when we put a certain number of beings together, human beings, plants, animals, ecosystems, something happens, more or less effectively. Sometimes, a whole emerges, like a body, then something magical happens. Magical for the participants of course, magical also because a whole emerges, congruent, with a self-awareness, capable of evolving, moving… Here I mean anything like an enterprise that works well, or this band that we just saw singing, or a large company.
So I have 12 minutes to talk about this passion, at two levels, because on the one hand we have the technology, everything we can see, the objective external side, and on another hand we have a much more difficult aspect, much more invisible, I mean what will change inside of us.
In order to give us an idea about what will shift inside of us, I propose we do a small exercise together. Let me show you first…[deep and long breath]

A long breath.

Why don’t we try together? Ready? Let’s go!

[long collective breath]

Once more…

[long collective breath]

So, what connection? What connection with the evolution of our species?

I should first come back to collective intelligence, and to a travel back in time. We will speak about different forms of collective intelligence through evolution, and I will begin with this one, here, a school of fish… I could have shown an ant colony, or a flock of birds, or one of these big herds of buffalos. This form of collective intelligence, likely the first one that appeared on Earth, we call it “swarm collective intelligence”. One of its main traits, as you can see: the big numbers. Also at the individual level, the individual, in this configuration, doesn’t have a great margin of freedom. The fish follows the school, same thing in a big herd.

So here comes a question: in humanity, do we know it? Does this form of collective intelligence exist in humankind?
Well, not inherently but… sometimes. In a street protest or a big event. Here we have an extraordinary view of New York Marathon. But we know it too –maybe you experienced it no later than this morning– lot’s of people experience it everyday, like this. Indeed, when we drive our car, we don’t have a huge degree of freedom, however at the collective level, something incredible happens: a city fills up and empties every day! Imagine if a team had to plan that! Same with the ant colony.

So, this form of collective intelligence, has amazing capacities as a whole, but it also has limitations. Sometimes it can jam, entire herds can fall off the cliff, etc, etc.

Humans come from another place. They come from here: original collective intelligence. Precisely we call it this way, a tiny number of individuals. At some point it works in the opposite way compared to swarm collective intelligence because here we have a small number of individuals, but every individual has a strong individuation. Humans mostly exist in this configuration, the one we just saw on stage before my talk, wonderful! Let’s take a look at this jazz band. I love this picture because it shows how each and every musician lives his individuation. He knows his art, his instrument, and then he fully meets the others through himself.

It happens at two levels: horizontally, he perceives well what every other musician does, and vertically, he has a knowing of the whole, he can feel it, he can update himself because of it.

Indeed, this has a name: holopticism. I won’t say much about it now, only that it has a name.

The strength of this structure, in collective intelligence, we all know it. Super agile, learning, always adapting, it reconfigures, just take a look at a sports team that adapts itself to the unknown all the time.

But it also has its own limitations, two limitations : number, and distance. Of course, players need to play in a sensorial space where they can perceive each other, and see what everyone does.

So for humanity that has known this for a very long time, with villages, tribes, a crisis happened, a major systemic crisis, a global one at this time. Yes, when agriculture appeared, and when cities started to emerge, with the labor specialization, an explosion of complexity happened, and some sort of quantum leap needed to happen. Here humanity invented an incredible technology: the writing, that allowed to escape from oral proximity, from oral tradition, to evolve towards big civilizations. Egyptian civilization, Mesopotamian, Chinese, Mayan, etc. Each time, we see this same structure constituted with casts. A living God at the top, and below the high priesthood and nobility. Below, the artisans, the merchants, and below again we find farmers and herders. And at the very bottom, a mass, open to ruthless exploitation, slaves, villains, Untouchables, etc.

Of course it has evolved. Nowadays we wouldn’t represent it this way: a large company works with a board of directors. So we see small groups of original collective intelligence. Then they organize themselves in pyramid, with departments, services, etc. And who has never experienced the silos effect in large companies?

Speaking of strength and weaknesses, the great strength of pyramidal collective intelligence, comes from its capacity to put together thousands and even millions of people.

In the music realm, we see this great strength in a symphonic orchestra. A couple of days ago, when I prepared my slides, my son told me: “Dad, I can draw what you can’t find on the Net” I wanted to see a chief orchestra, he did this. So thanks to him, thanks to Estéban. He really understood the concept.

The strengths and weaknesses of this pyramidal collective intelligence, we hit them hard today, I think this image shows it well, the one of the Titanic or a big liner. The strength, we can also find it in the image… Here we have an extraordinary technology, that drives and transports people, a great number of people from one corner of the planet to the other. At the same time, an error in the command, or a criminal intent, and it can turn into a catastrophe.

It shows that pyramidal collective intelligence has a very very low resilience. If something does wrong in the head, everything can collapse.

It has a poor adaptability too. It knows very well how to develop processes, repeat them, repeat them in advance, but if later some change occurs, it doesn’t operate well.

We find ourselves confronted to a shift, a necessity, facing a wall of complexity that obliges us to reinvent ourselves. So what happens?

Well, we enter, fully, inside a new form of collective intelligence that we call holomidal. Holomidal, from “holos” — holistic, Here, you see this picture of the Internet that I like very much, a little old already, how servers connect with one another. It emerges. No one organizes it top down. It emerges and it self-organizes. We find this structure in a forest too, under our feet, the rhizome. Same thing, same structure. In our brain too. And now, as you know, we have social networks everywhere.

All the social fabric self-organizes itself and we find again the advantages of pyramidal collective intelligence –involving many people– however coming with the resilience and self-organizing capacity of original collective intelligence. It adapts itself, it learns fairly well, it reconfigures all the time, it organizes itself into semantic tribes, etc, etc.

So, knowing that, we can easily get, hence our coming together to look at it, that a dramatic transition has begun. From now on I could talk about what will happen, 3D printers for instance. A great deal of industrial production, centralized, pyramidal, will become completely distributed. I could also talk about the end of money and the rise of post-monetary society, because if we want to transition from an competition-based economy to a mutualistic economy, then we can’t use anymore this old technology called money. We will have much more powerful tools!

But for now, I would like to talk about the inner aspect of the self. The most difficult thing that I feel passionate about, that makes me wonder almost 24/7… How will a human being experience existence inside himself in the coming years?

To address this question, let’s take an example: social codes. More precisely, I will put my focus on social codes we use for conversation. When we speak, when we have, a conversation around the table, or a political debate, what happens? First thing we notice, people speak right after another, very very quick. No space for silence, and no space for breathing time. Furthermore, we interrupt one another. Believe it or not, I see it in most cultures. Not all of them, but globally people interrupt one another. It means, if I interrupt someone, that what I want to say has more importance than what the person in front of me has to say.

Now let’s imagine, let’s place ourselves in a new situation, we change the following social code: we don’t take the floor anymore unless we have done a long breath before. Imagine inside yourself, if you began to do that, the consequences that it would have for the collective, if a collective starts doing that, at your work, in your family, and if you begin to do this as a practice. Imagine the consequences that this sole change of social code can have, a long breath before speaking.

When I give seminars, and I ask the participants what benefits we would have if we breath? Everyone knows! It allows an inner connection with ourself, it brings peace, if gives perspective, it opens to the feeling of our emotions, our body, it offers an inner reconnection. It allows to feel the other, to sense the group, and the emotions that want to rise. It also invites inspiration. Breathing means expiring and therefore ‘inspiring’.

However we don’t do it. Why don’t we do it? Why? Because of a signature behind all this speed during the flow of words we have in conversations. The mental comes into the play. Pyramidal collective intelligence, the world of pyramidal collective intelligence invented, developed, over-developed the mental, the conceptual view. The mental operates very fast. It runs very very fast. It speaks very fast, and it knows very well how to maintain its own paradigm. Escaping a paradigm requires we deactivate the mental. This breathing can become a full meditation.

I have trained lot’s of people to breathing techniques, not just individuals, but collectives too, including companies. Everyone of them, without exception, told me: “it changed our vision of the world“, “it changed my relationship with myself, my relationship with others“, “we don’t make the same decisions together“, “we don’t see the world the same way“, “our whole company, our whole strategy have changed“.

Notice I don’t speak about millions of $ to invest in R&D. I just talk about breathing.

This breathing brings us to this question of personal change, and how we perceive ourselves from the inside, how it will evolve, with, now, an essential question, indeed, about the perception of ourselves.

So let’s imagine ourselves in the dark, inside a forest, and I will finish on that. I turn my flashlight on, And now I begin to scan my environment with it, Here I see a tree, there I see a rock… By directing the beam in different directions I can now decide where to make my next steps. Doing so, I build a kind of reality of proximity.

The mental operates exactly like this. A beam that sees parts and connects them with one another, and thanks to this, I can walk. It works not so bad… Now if I turn my flashlight off, and I decide allow the night light to infuse me, light from the stars, from the moon, then something else happens. First I accustom myself. I lose the precise details of my immediate environment while a much vaster reality begins to open itself to me.

All the people who open themselves this way will have their own words to express this. I like to use the word “transrational”. Transrational happens when we go beyond the rational. Indeed, we still have the rational at our disposal, I can still turn my flashlight on again, always. And at any time I can turn if off too, and open myself to a vaster reality.

This vaster reality can also come from changing some social codes. Back to social codes, and back to the breathing we did together at the start. So, as I said, evolution will not occur only by means of 3D printers or the Internet… yes, quite interesting, go and see, you will learn tons of things, at the same time I invite you to think about what will change inside you, through social codes, ontology, language structure, through our postures, our relationship to our body…

In the end, who knows if the next humanity doesn’t stand just one breath away.

Thank you!

 


United Air Ways

Fish and bubblesIf you happen to speak with me, sometimes you will hear more silence than words. You may find it a little awkward if you don’t know me, specially on the phone. It doesn’t mean I get bored or I don’t know what to say. Don’t bother! My moments of silence, sometimes my with eyes closed, happen because I breathe. Indeed, I have decided to follow two principles: breathe before speaking, speak only with permission.

Breathe before speaking

Taking the time of a long breathing before speaking allows me to engage in a quest for words and answers that the inner autopilot will never offer. Platitudes, certitudes coming from the doxa, behaviors imposed by politeness or morals don’t interest me. The autopilot knows very well how to defend those lines, it gives us the illusion to operate as a complete and congruent system. Breathing deactivates these mechanisms. I can become again present to myself, to my body, my emotions, my true self. I can contemplate other possibilities, welcome crazy ideas, listen to the inner child, put on my clown nose, let soul spring up, allow inspiration. With years of practice, every long breath has become a meditation. I meditate a good part of the day while in motion. Don’t you think that inspired action offers a little more potential than autopilot?

Sometimes I don’t allocate time for this breathing, usually because I want to say something really stupid (good at it!). Also when this breathing may create too much disturbance, I prefer to play by the good old social codes, at least until I can clarify my behavior to the person.

With permission

I speak exclusively with permission, one when someone asks me. When I get interrupted, which of course happens a lot, I stop and let the person speak. If he/she doesn’t want or need to listen to me anymore, why should I force? I give the floor back and offer my listening, very simply. Gift economy means that too.

From the collective intelligence perspective…

From the social engineering perspective, these two transformed social codes — breathing before speaking, and speaking only with an offered floor– work like modified social DNA. In fact I precisely apply the six agreements.

Although I do not procelytize and I only apply this social genetics to myself, it has a strong collective and individual impact. For me: happiness nourished by the pure joy of breathing, and from enjoying the peace of non-competitive speaking. For the collective: this practice triggers trust, kindness and listening. Who needs to get irritated or distrust a person who remains neutral, and only offers his/her word when asked? People never listened to me as much before I applied these principles.

I have coached many groups who decided to operate from the six principles. Their testimony leaves no ambiguity. Everything shifts: their decision making process, their way to flesh out problems, to manage their relationships, social dynamics, ideas, solutions…

And you? Want to try? Why don’t you share your experience in the comments below?

[stextbox id=”info” bgcolor=”F8F2EF” bgcolorto=”F8F2EF”]I wrote this text in e-prime. As a non-native English speaker, it takes a lot of efforts for me to write like this. No matter what, it needs some improvements and corrections from a native English person. If you feel like helping on this, please contact me![/stextbox]

The 6 agreements

The 6 Agreements serve as a social architecture to invite wisdom through dialog and conversation. You can download a pdf version here.

1. A deep full breath before speaking

Deep breathThis breath has many virtues. It helps participants to let go of their selfish urge to keep a grasp on the conversation. They can surrender to what emerges from the center. Participants offer time to themselves to observe their inner processes. What someone just said becomes deeply listened to and ‘breathed in.’ Participants move from reaction (responding, taking the floor) to creation (inviting creativity through emergence). Interestingly, each time one speaks right after someone else, leaving no space for breathing and creativity, the lower self (automated pilot) takes control.

 

 

 

 

 

2. Listen to the center

Dog listeningBy center, we mean the physical center of a group in circle, or the experienced center in a global collective. Listen to the will that tries to manifest from the heart of the group. Give voice to it. This special mode of listening and voicing connects us to others and builds a sense of unity.

 

 

 

 

 

3. Speak to the center

DropletSpeak to the center rather than to a particular person. Participants agree not to engage in one-to-one conversations in the midst of the collective process. Although speaking and listening to the center may feel a little artificial at first, it allows the emergence of the whole and helps shift the whole dynamic of the group into a transpersonal context.

 

 

 

4. Don’t take the floor, have it offered

Gift offeringBecause time feels scarce, participants want to use this resource wisely and moderately. Notice that in groups where people interrupt one another or respond without leaving space, humans grab time the same way predators grab their prey in the wild―the strongest, the most agile, the fastest, the craftiest get the better share. Having the floor offered brings us in a gift economy, just like when we seat around a table with kindly served and shared dishes. It creates an entirely new, benevolent group dynamic.

 

 

 

 

 

5. Speak from direct personal experience

Man hugging tigerSharing personal experience invites boldness, vulnerability, trust and compassionate relationships. When a person speaks theoretically he/she separates himself/herself from the original experience, and places a barrier between him/her and the others. Here we check whether what we want to say imposes a generality on others, or if it might hide some personal story. Stories have the virtue of myths―they carry emotions, multilevel life experiences, cosmologies and vibrations―a much richer universe for a group to share.

 

 

6. Invite silence

DunesAny participant can ask for silence at any moment. Conversation gets immediately suspended and everyone enters into silence for one minute. It offers the space to explore the current context at a deeper level, name our experience, explore our emotions, needs, sense of emergence in the group, etc. After this silent breathing space, the person who asked for the silence can decide –or not– to explain why he/she invited it. Conversation can then resume, likely filled with a new dimension.

 


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