The future of humanity is a linked consciousness, a shared awareness, a global brain overlying and arising out of the concerted actions of each person’s ongoing individual awareness, where individual brains with individual consciousness become like the ‘neurons’ in this global brain. Many religious rituals and practices can, when they are effective, help their practitioners merge into a shared awareness in which they can better and more fully apprehend the divine mysteries. And through this merging into a shared awareness, each participant knows and experiences themselves more fully. Merging with one or more others assists in knowing one’s authentic self.
Kurt Gödel has informed us with his famous 1931 theorem that no logical system can contain within itself a description of itself that is both complete and accurate. That would seem to limit an individual understanding of himself and phenomena larger than himself, such as the phenomena of man. This same theme of limitation of understanding is given differently by Suzuki Roshi, a famous Zen master who lived and taught in America: ‘The dimensions of the mind can never be delineated. . . . beyond consciousness lies the indefinable reach of the unconscious, which stretches out beyond the bounds of individual awareness and . . . beyond individual experience.’
I now think it is likely that two minds (or many) are better than one and are more likely to discover the nature of human awareness. Perhaps the answer to our quest for growing understanding lies in linking the awareness of many people. Clearly, a way around the limitation of Gödel’s theorem can be found in linked minds of two or more persons. When truly linked, they will constitute a system larger and more comprehensive than individual consciousness. Therefore there would be no contradiction of Gödel’s theorem if the linked-mind fully and accurately describes the structure of a single human consciousness, which would be but a substructure of the linked-mind.
The linking of the single awareness of two people was fully envisioned by Teilhard de Chardin, who spoke of ‘the planetary maturation of mankind’ as a certain collective act of reflection. This is an idea that is believable if we accept Teilhard’s analysis of the evolution and his law of complexity-consciousness (an affirmation of the tendency of consciousness to increase in complexity continually). In his words:
‘We are faced with a harmonized collectivity of consciousness equivalent to a sort of super-consciousness. The idea is that of the earth not only becoming covered by multitudes of grains of thought but becoming enclosed in a single thinking envelope to form, functionally, a single vast grain of thought on the sidereal scale of immensity, [in which] the plurality of individual reflections [are] grouping themselves and reinforcing one another in the act of a single unanimous reflection. This is the general form in which, by analogy and symmetry with the past, we are lead scientifically to envisage humanity’s future.’
How soon this will happen may be determined by our application of biofeedback techniques, which provide for the objectification and possible interpersonal sharing of experience. The objectification of experience is well advanced, with much of the evidence coming from the analysis of the brain’s electrical activity. Manfred Clynes (1971) has made a strong statement regarding our ability to objectify and identify aspects of emotion:
‘It appears that for each emotion, of the spectrum of emotions, there exists a brain algorithm that determines a Spatio-temporal form (or essential form) common to the expression of that emotion, regardless of the particular output modality chosen. It has therefore been possible to standardize the measurement of essential form.
. . . Differential equations describing these forms were found, and cross-cultural and other measures were obtained that indicate their biological origin.’
In addition to reading aspects of a person’s subjective experiences of the world in his brain waves, research has shown that it is also possible to read aspects of his intentions. An electrical potential called the CNV (contingent negative variation) can be measured. In all situations wherein the CNV is generated and maintained, there is the ‘intent’ by the subject to do something subjectively significant, whether purely mental or mental and physical. When (as is now the case) experience can be translated into the form of information, all things must change: laws and the need for them, the value of the dollar, the value of money itself, the value of values, the strife between science and religion, the division of humanity into nations, even the quality of orgasms. As Kiefer (1970) wrote,‘ In the physiological exploration of so-called transcendental consciousness, there lies the greatest hope in centuries of the rebirth of a philosophical inspiration that must finally eventuate in that union of true science and true religion of which gentlemen and scholars dreamed since Plato’s time.’
As early as 1964, Marshall McLuhan predicted radical changes to result from the transformation of experience into objective information. According to McLuhan, the main effect of this electric age is that: ‘We see ourselves (our experiences) being translated more and more into the form of information [and] moving toward the technological extension of consciousness.’
We see the confluence of subjective and objective techniques for bringing about this transformation and extension of consciousness. And we would agree with Kiefer, who believes that the best approach is to be found by combining the functions of the experimenter and the subject so that the Biocybernaut adventure inward can draw on the best of both worlds.
The rapidly expanding ability to transform our experience into information presages an awesome expansion of human consciousness and awareness. Kiefer calls it ‘the greatest adventure into infinite space that we have so far undertaken, moon landings and planet probes notwithstanding.’ He suggests that if the reports of the very early pioneers in this field or ‘the heroes that we know as . . . the Buddha, the Christ, and the Prophet are at last verified in our experiential, physiological laboratories, it will be found that inner space and outer space are infinitely coextensive and timeless with no boundaries or limits distinguishable in any direction.’
We seem likely soon to realize the 2000-year-old Tibetan prediction, based on the uncanny insights of the Tibetan mystic experience that a major advance in human consciousness will occur during this century. As we explore the possibilities of feedback techniques in the goal of the objectification of experience, we encounter Marshall McLuhan, ‘Oracle of the Electric Age,’ hauntingly echoing Teilhard de Chardin and musing: ‘Might not our current translation of our entire lives into the spiritual form of information seem to make of the entire globe, and of the human family, a single consciousness?’