The Future of Man by Teilhard de Chardin inspired me to write this short essay.
The message of the book is that Humankind is still evolving. In fact our continued evolution is the key to our species survival, but this evolution is no longer a physically based process. Now our collective evolution is based on our continued development on a psychic level. In the book, The Future of Man, Chardin introduces a new psychic concept describing a new evolutionary development in life which isn’t physical at all. He claims it is the natural path of life, and that humanity’s growth on a psychic level is taking mankind into this new dimension of reality. This newly conceptualized dimension for human life is called the Noosphere; it is the newest progressive step that Life has taken to create a deeper awareness as consciousness. This awareness is also a reflective consciousness, one he describes as “consciousness turning in on itself to create awareness of being aware”.
There is a definite progress and growth that humanity cannot but follow. Progress is pervasive and multidimensional. There is physical progress, and we see that in our changing and developing cities across the centuries. As we progress physically we live more comfortably, and create more free time for leisure as recreation and contemplation. We also have grown to massive proportions, and are capable of destroying the earth and or ourselves. Then there is psychic progress, which could be dependent upon the advances in physical progress, but could also, under different circumstances, have co-evolved with our physical development. Some think that without the freedom that the advances on a physical level have granted, progress into the noosphere may not have been possible. Either way, now we are conscious of this development and growth on a psychic level, which is presenting this non-physical reality, but is this awareness coming to humanity too late? The thing is that now there seems to be an imbalance between our physical progress and our psychic progress. We are doing things and are capable of doing things physically that are far beyond our intelligence, moral maturity and spiritual development.
Here arises the problem facing all of humanity, whether technology is hindering our continued development or assisting. Is technology some kind of a detour and distraction from our deeper understanding of the noosphere? Is the technology we are so dependent on in modern society a natural and necessary step in our growth on a psychic level, and is actually ushering in our deeper self awareness? This question creates a need for judgement on a level of awareness that has only recently, in the cosmic scheme of things, come into existence. Progress on a technological level is here, and now being weighed against the natural evolution of life on Earth. Does any society or civilization on Earth now have the intelligence and moral maturity to take on this question?
There are a myriad of different kinds of small and large illnesses that dance around the noosphere. Which also implies that there is a form which is pristine and idyllic. It is this image that I wish to direct my attention here, and not to those illnesses. I will let the physicians and healers of illness deal with those, my lot is to deal with the reality of our true nature, which is more than the physical body. With the rapid growth in consciousness, and technology is playing a role in this, we are now coming to an omega point of a cosmic order. Humanity’s growth on a conscious level is a reality, this growth is into a deeper self awareness of our full nature, which is both physical and psychic. As the psychic reality becomes more focused and clear, we will see that it is the fabric that creates a successful social system. That one of the reasons why our society, which is becoming global due to technological advances, has so many problems is because we are still not fully aware of our psychic natures. We are still strongly influenced by our physical nature, and its’ pull into darkness.
That is the reality of technology’s influence upon our evolutionary success or not. I know we are to grow and expand our individual and collective scope of influence, but I am not sure if the technology we are utilizing now is at all beneficial to our continued development on an individual or collective level, or if it just seems like that. Is the amazing technological advances in modern society a boon to our actual development, or is it some kind of block to progress and something we as a collective need to be more aware of?
I cannot say what will happen here, but it is fun to be given the opportunity to be conscious of this scenario, it is a challenging puzzle. Is technology an aide in our continued development, and ultimately survival, because everything that stops growing ceases to live. Or is technology a hindrance to continued development, and represents another detour from our continued growth and survival. On one side there is the idea that our species is capable of creating and using these modern gadgets, and represent catalysts of psychic awareness, and our collective entrance into the Noosphere. On the other side there is the idea that we are creating and using technology that is detrimental to our natural development, and is actually keeping our collective existence from entering into the noosphere.
As I ponder this question, I find myself tossed back and forth between different ideas. This seeming deeper meaning of the technology we are using, or the weakening of our true nature through the use of an external device. Deeper and deeper they go and I get confused, and lose my train of thought.
Sitting in this maelstrom of movement in the noosphere, I calm myself and tell myself, I am not my thoughts. Each thought comes to me, I perceive their existence, and then using language attempt to share them with others. Allow me just a moment to say what I see, then let’s decide what I can do. I see our ability to use language as an entrance into the noosphere. The technology we are using today connects most of humanity together, so that we are always connected. I also see that we have this ability to be connected naturally, and that we have not fully developed this ability through neglect. Our collective focus has been upon our existence as physical beings, and in this obsessive focus lost awareness of our other body and nature. Although there has always been small pockets of humanity who were focused upon the psychic existence, the majority of our growth has been physical, though our minds have grown.
I like my smart phone, and believe that having instant access to the internet is a marvel of knowledge and technology. It does expand my mind, my awareness is far vaster than ever before through the potential access to almost all human knowledge. This is amazing! but now I feel dependent upon my gadget to stay connected. Is this something that I can actually do naturally, or do I need these devices to create the ability to be more conscious in the noosphere? It’s as though being able to surf the internet allows individuals to move around in the noosphere.
That is the challenge in the noosphere, how do you move around when there is no physical reality. We are so integrated into the physical realm, that we see no way of moving in a non-physical reality. We each feel isolated in the noosphere, individual “egos” looking at each other, talking, and sharing without ever really moving. I have learned that movement in the noosphere is more about attraction, bringing in energy, than it is about moving around and going to where you want to be.
The question becomes: what is the Noosphere? Does the internet give anyone access to the Noosphere, something that was, without this technology, available to only a select few who did the mental work to have access to it personally. I first saw a scientific use of the noosphere in the works of Ken Wilber, where he talked about the evolving consciousness coming into contact and awareness of this next dimension of reality. There is a shift that transforms the individual into a collective, and having membership in that space expands the personal consciousness to include all. This has been done through decades of practice in the mind, and as a result growing deeper consciousness and having greater awareness; Wilber talks about this process extensively throughout his research into the nature of consciousness. Then I read Chardin’s book, The Future of Man, and saw that this idea was used decades earlier, if not coined by him as he talked about the evolution of humanity.
I have seen this place called the noosphere, and I see it as a rough terrain that is wide and far, wild and dangerous-- raw. I imagine a reality that we exist in that consists of nothing more than feelings, thoughts, ideas, desires, hopes, etc. I am plopped into this reality, connected as one with this body, and we together must create a life for ourselves. Most people pay attention only to the physical reality they live in, and consider the psychic a result or epiphenomenon of our complex physical reality. A few though see that our feelings are real things, and that we have control of both our own and the terrain of feelings around us. The noosphere is a scientific term for a realm or dimension of reality we are just starting to come into full awareness of. There are no physical objects there, only psychic forms, entities, beings, forces, ideas and memories. This dimension is where we feel emotions, have drives, creativity, and share desires, hopes and love.
In my world the psyche is calm, I have set up a periphery of beauty around me that spreads as far as the mind’s eye can see. It is still a wild and natural place, the noosphere, but I am comfortable here in my psychic reality. My personal domain in the noosphere has crops of seasonal feelings that I enjoy on a regular basis. I must nurture and tend these gardens, and do the work daily to keep them growing and to harvest them, they do not pick themselves. I have flower beds too, where I can go to look at many natural and local feelings, all growing and living under my care. I live in a stable house, built with a solid foundation, and though I am not keeping it tidy, and junk collects there, I am aware of that and am making changes. I have had a great life here, and many people come and go past my psychic reality, sharing with me some of their feelings, and planting seeds and giving new feelings for me to tend.
I do not think either of these two men, Chardin and Wilber, quite had that vision in mind when they presented and theorized about the noosphere. Chardin, briefly here, describes the noosphere:
Despite the havoc of war, the population on the limited surface of this planet which bears us is increasing in almost geometrical progression; while at the same time the scope of each human molecule, in terms of movement, information and influence, is becoming rapidly co-extensive with the whole surface of the globe. A state of tightening compression, in short; but even more, thanks to the biological intermingling developed to its uttermost extent by the appearance of Reflection, a state of organized compenetration, in which each element is linked with every other. No one can deny that a network (a world [wide] network) of economics and psychic affiliation is being woven at ever increasing speed which envelops and constantly penetrates more deeply within each of us. (Chardin, p 177, 1971.)
But at the human level a radical change, seemingly due to the spiritual phenomenon of Reflection, overtook this law of development. It is generally accepted that what distinguishes man psychologically from other living creatures is the power acquired by his consciousness of turning in upon itself. The animal knows, it has been said; but only man, among animals, knows that he knows. This faculty has given birth to a host of new attributes in men--freedom of choice, foresight, the ability to plan and to construct, and many others. (Chardin, p 164, 1971.)
Or we may talk in yet other terms of psychic centration, phyletic intertwining and planetary envelopment: three genetically associated occurrences which, taken together, give birth to the Noosphere. (Chardin, p 165, 1971.)
It may be said,...that in asserting the zoological nature of the Noosphere we confirm the sociologists’ view of human institutions as Organic. Once the exceptional, but fundamentally biological, nature of the collective human complex is accepted, nothing prevents us... from treating as authentic organs, presents itself to our experience as a true super-body, the internal connections of this body, by reason of homogeneity, can only be treated and understood as super-organs and super-members. Thus, for example,... it becomes legitimate to talk in the sphere of economics of the existence and development of a circulatory or a nutritional system applicable to Mankind as a whole. (Chardin, p 167, 1971.)
That is a brief description of the Noosphere, the complexity of this idea is radical. My intention is merely to present this idea, and hope that the curious and ambitious will see this as an opportunity for exploration, adventure and a deeper life of greater meaning. This knowledge is now with us, and I feel that there is something significant in knowing that our collective evolution is now dependent upon our individual awareness and conscious choice to continue to develop mentally.
I am not sure if in the book, The Future of Man, a solution is offered, or some plan for humanity to follow and be saved was actually presented. It does feel like there was, a solution presented, but at this moment in writing the final thoughts and responses to this wonderful book of creative and open intelligence, I do not see it. Maybe that is because the ideas in the book are the solution, we just need to understand them first. These are strange and unfamiliar ideas, change is often resisted before it is embraced. I just hope that we are not too late in discovering our dual natures full reality. With that in mind I am taking up meditation as a way for me to calm my mind, open up my awareness and consciousness into the collective, and begin living a life of peace, love and beauty.
There are books to read, and people to meet who are able to demonstrate, without a doubt, the reality of a psychic realm of energy and attraction. In my mind this is no longer a question about whether or not there is a mind, what the ego is and is there more to life than meets the physical eye. I feel or sense this energy in my body that is not physical, it is love or fear and thoughts or memories and also dreams and insights. The human mind can have focus, attention, awareness and intelligence, as well as the opposite of those things, there are strengths and weaknesses in the mind as expressed in and through our egos. My goal now is to include this energy into my awareness; changing my personal interaction and interface with the Noosphere, through a deeper understanding of both my physical body and my psychic body. This means more meditation, to facilitate deeper awareness of my reality. I will exercise both my physical body by staying active and my psychic body by also staying active, only mentally, emotionally, creatively.
A calm mind will have peace, which is different than finding peace. To have peace, from a calm mind, is to know peace, to be familiar through intimacy with peace; to find peace in the storm, is to have a moment of calm, finding a peace which will be temporary and dependent upon circumstances and other people.
Love and peace,
Technology is a transformation of energy on a multi-dimensional level, from the analog and biological to the digital and electronic. The transformation of energy in this fashion smacks of the process of matter and psyche growing more complex through time. It could be called an echo of the reality of the evolution process described in this book The Future of Man. There we read that Mankind is on a natural path of change, and to resist the technological drive is to resist growing, and to resist anything is to create suffering. Thus, this resistance will create suffering on a specific and identifiable expression of energy, namely: technological. Maybe the evil we see manifest in technology is a condition of our resisting it’s movement.
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