The 2 Dimensions of Consciousness

The 2 Dimensions of Consciousness

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I am usually quite careful how I share one aspect of my life. Speaking about it causes all sorts of different reactions, depending on the listener’s worldview. I have been on quite a journey in this area, and I appreciate that it can cause some discomfort for others. Nevertheless, it’s something I have been wanting to share for a while.

As few as 6 years ago, I regarded myself as a staunch atheist: an individual wedded to the materialist, scientific view, with zero acceptance or understanding of anything religious or spiritual.

At Singularity University, the institution that teaches the world to make a positive impact with accelerating technologies, it was a ‘5 bottles of wine conversation’ that changed things for me: a late-night, wine-infused discussion with one of the founders, Salim Ismail, about the frontiers of quantum physics. Combined with everything else I had experienced that week, my version of reality started to unravel. I began to see the convergence of science and spirituality.

Cognitively at least, I could understand that something far greater than our individual selves existed: a collective consciousness.

My mind went into overdrive with all this new information, and I tried to reprocess everything I had learnt previously. A week later, I finally managed to get some sleep.

At the time, I wrote a blog post on the technology flaws of religion, and I started to look at all religions and spirituality through a completely different lens. My conclusion back then was: ‘maybe we are all looking at the same thing, through frosted glass’.

That period in my life opened me up to an exploration of the nature of consciousness itself. With that, a whole new era of possibilities emerged, through exploring transcendent states.

My interest in transforming education led me into exploring the ‘flow’ state, identifying how to hack a deep learning state to allow people to learn in an accelerated way.

My interest in transforming mental health took me to the frontiers of psychedelic medicine and technology-assisted meditation. It also took me into working with traditional healers using different healing modalities.

My journey to places like Burning Man helped me to encounter my first ‘spiritual experience’, in which I came to understand what it means to transcend this reality, in an embodied way.

All these experiences made me understand that we are on the precipice of a very different kind of revolution – in no way about modern technology alone. For me, the technological singularity I learnt about was also a potential mirror to a form of collective transcendence: the emergence of a global mind, or a collective superspecies. The technology community doesn’t necessarily recognise that a shift in wisdom must come along with the acceleration of technology, in order for us to survive as a species.

Whilst it was liberating for me to explore the infinite, it was also highly challenging. Experiencing wave after wave of challenges to my version of reality made it really difficult to integrate what I was experiencing into my everyday life. The hardest part of all this was to stay grounded and present as a husband and father.

The experiences and learning gained in ‘altered’ or high states of consciousness might be difficult to integrate into day-to-day reality; but I made the greatest discovery about real, lasting wisdom through that integration. No transcendent experience is of great long-term value unless the wisdom learnt from it can be brought back and utilised in real life.

In simple terms, imagine that great feeling you get when you’re on holiday: relaxed, in nature, knowing how it feels to be alive. Then, imagine going back to work the following week without integrating any life changes that allow you to feel like that more often. This demonstrates how wisdom from the highs we experience can be lost.

And therein lies the difference between the two dimensions of consciousness. It’s the contrast between having an extraordinarily profound dream, and growing up in reality. Spiritual experience versus spiritual intelligence.

Within western religions, there is great wisdom being taught and transferred to followers; yet there is very little in the way of direct spiritual experience. Very few people receive direct access to ‘God’ through prayer, or from being in church. Spiritual intelligence is transferred through ‘middle-men’ and through text – and that’s where it can get diluted and corrupted. Lost in translation. Despite that, I don’t deny that religious communities have very positive sides. In general, they are some of the kindest and connected communities I have ever met.

Eastern and tribal traditions are quite different in approach. Their foundations are based on cultivating a direct connection with higher states of consciousness (or God).  Again, most of the practice is in exploring transcendent states, to learn more about how to live in this reality.

I’ve met many people who claim to be more ‘conscious’ because they do a lot of yoga or meditation – and yet their day-to-day behaviour is actually not well-aligned with this belief. In many ways, going into higher states of altered consciousness can be a form of ‘up the pole’ escapism that never comes down to earth, or reality.

Worse, there are many examples of religion being used to create a huge amount of harm. War, division and oppression often derive from religious beliefs and differences. Ultimately, much of this is about the human limitations of ego, rather than the spiritual wisdom itself.

I have also met many extraordinarily wise people who have no faith or religion. They usually have stories of a connection to nature, or they are highly observant or reflective. You don’t need a god, or any experience of higher states, to develop spiritual intelligence. There is a north star within us all that allows us to progress, by ourselves, if we tune in to it.

Information about that inner compass is getting out there. At the moment, a great collective learning process is fueling the beginnings of a democratisation of wisdom. There’s a proliferation of different media allowing spiritual intelligence to be communicated in ever richer ways. Around the globe, there’s a huge range of tools, ancient and modern, to enable more and more people to have spiritual experiences that connect them directly to the collective consciousness, albeit temporarily.

There is so much opportunity to experience and learn, now that each dimension is somehow fueling the other. The more people are experiencing and learning, the more we are starting to transcend our old ‘collective reality’. So much so, that these two dimensions of consciousness are starting to converge. Likewise, so are the individual and the collective consciousnesses; science and spirituality; human and ‘god’.

We are going through what I call a ‘great surfacing’. The transparency of our egoic behaviours is becoming more evident, and increasingly, they confront us – forcing us to change. Globally, our collective fears and behaviours are emerging to be resolved, as we unplug from our escapism and deal with the challenges within our communities and in the world beyond. We are individually and collectively evolving in real time, and with increasing acceleration.

This is good news. The eventual fruits of our labour will be a proliferation of wisdom, love, joy and connection: building a collective higher state that can be experienced in this reality.

For me, the singularity or ‘great convergence’ is, indeed, near. And from it, will emerge a world more beautiful than we ever thought possible.

Marc

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  1. Did you just out yourself? 🙂 One of the (many) things I’ve come to appreciate about you and your work is your courage. The image that’s coming to mind is one of those icebreaker ships, opening up channels for others to sail their ships. Keep up the good stuff. Lots of love

  2. Excellent post. Depending on individual circumstances it can be a challenge integrating wisdom gained whilst more in tune with everything into day-to-day life but as knowledge and wisdom spread and gain momentum change becomes increasingly unavoidable for the West. Spiritualists and quantum physicists are all looking at the same Mountain from different points of view.

  3. Jessica Dogantemur says:

    Religion with a capital R and Science with a capital S seem to be at two completely opposite poles, but they are actually two overlapping circles with a shared “sweet spot.” The Perennial Philosophy and the findings of Cosmology and Quantum physics have MUCH in common. But because rationalists often only understand “spiritual” matters from outside, through a stereotyped view of Religion, they cannot see the deeper esoteric and mystical meanings that transcend the often harsh and contradictory rules and dogmas of organized religion. On the opposite pole, because religious conservatives often only understand “scientific” matters from outside, through a stereotyped view of Science, they cannot see the deeper philosophical and unifying concepts that transcend the often cold and structured dogmas of organized science. It is within the sweet spot between the two that you find the Numinous–that feeling of FLOW–that which inspires the most brilliant thinkers and that which uplifts the most extraordinary mystics. To stand in that spot requires a willingness to experience a different kind of consciousness. And while I firmly believe we are all capable of it, we most certainly are not all ready for it…translating that numinous experience into something more “down-to-earth” is a fluid and ever-evolving transformation, not a one-time, step-by-step procedure. It requires not only an open mind, but also an open heart. Some call it Love-Wisdom. The two must grow TOGETHER in order for us to become unified.

  4. Brilliant! Feels like one of the strongest posts. The lens metaphor comes up for me often

  5. best blog yet, Winny

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