Part 2 — Celebrating the Courage to Evolve: Beyond Dark Shadows of Transhumanism and Evolutionary Spirituality
A Note to the Reader
This piece is a lightly edited transcript of a live talk given by Dr. Marc Gafni on the weekly broadcast One Mountain, Many Paths, founded by Gafni and his evolutionary partner Barbara Marx Hubbard. Thus, the style of the piece is the spoken word and not a formal essay.
Edited by Elena Maslova-Lenin and the Barbara piece is edited by Kristina Tahel. Prepared for publication by Jamie Long & Krista Josepha.
In the first part of the talk, Marc returns to the themes he discussed last week, with just minor variations. If you have read last week’s post, and would like to jump to the new content, please scroll down to this section below: If you don’t articulate First Values and First Principles, you cannot arouse astonishment and outrage (on desktop click link and it will take you there).
Joining of Genius
Welcome, everyone, and welcome Barbara Marx Hubbard, my evolutionary partner who I am filled with honor and respect for, and from whom I learned so much, and was just so delighted to share so much.
A new level of relationship: joining genius!
So what Barbara and I engaged in — and this is what really founded this space, and we’re all engaging it together in a larger field — in what we called, not the joining of genes, but the joining of genius.
Now, that’s not my phrase, that’s Barbara’s phrase, and Barbara was audacious in this phrase. So of course I’m not claiming for myself Barbara’s genius, but I’m going to use that phrase anyways.
In other words, what she was pointing towards, is this notion of genius joining (not the joining of genes, but the joining of genius), in the language that I have used (and Barbara and I wrote an entire book on, that Paul and Carol are now leading the process of the final artistic edit), it’s called The Future of Relationships: From Rolemate, to Soulmate, to Wholemate.
So wholemate is that next level, which is not joining genes, it’s joining genius for the sake of the whole.
That’s a new level of relationship.
The second shock of existence: the death of our humanity
We have a huge summer coming up. I mean, we’re doing our 10th annual intensive [at the Outrageous Love Festival] in response to existential risk and in response to catastrophic risk,
in response to a world that’s filled with outrageous pain and Outrageous Beauty, for the first time in human history, we could have no future.
We’re standing in this moment, what Robert K. Lifton, the eminent scholar, calls “facing apocalypse,” meaning we refuse to turn away.
We actually take into our very being, the experience of there being no future. But not in a way which shatters us, but in a way which enlivens us, and calls us to be the voice of the future in the Now, to do everything in our power as evolution moves in us to actually change the vector of history.
We change the vector of history by telling a New Story.
That’s what happened in the Renaissance as the premodern period was breaking down and the Black Death swept Europe.
The Renaissance was indeed a time between worlds and a time between stories.
- We’ve been saying this for five years here at One Mountain, and for another five years before that, as we started the Center for Integral Wisdom, myself and Ken Wilber and Lori Galperin and Kristina Kincaid and Mariana Caplan, joined by Claire and Chahat and Tom and Sean and Victoria and John Mackey.
- So many of us came together to create this space that we call the Center for Integral Wisdom. Michael Beckwith, Daniel Schmachtenberger, of course our Co-President Zak Stein, Carrie Kish, and the list goes on and on.
- And we’ve been joined by new powerful groups of human beings, who you’re going to hear a lot from this summer as they lead some of the One Mountain’s.
- Krista, and Jacqueline, and Jamie, and Benjamin, David, Suzette, Kerstin, Tom, and Terry Nelson who is with us from the very, very beginning.
But what have we been doing?
We’ve been engaged in this response to existential risk. To what we began calling in 2011, the second shock of existence.
The first shock of existence is the experience of the human being, not the biological experience, but the existential experience of death.
That death actually lurks, and that a life ends.
That while there’s continuity of consciousness — and we’ve talked about that profoundly, and that’s a huge topic — there’s also, not as a bug, but as a feature in the system, an experience of death, and that’s shocking.
That’s the first shock of existence: the death of the human being.
The second shock of existence is the experience not of the death of the individual human being, but of the potential death of humanity.¹
The general response to that is to look away.
I started saying about a decade ago that the systems will actually break down and fail because such is the structure and the source code.
Not the surface. On the desktop, it all looks fine.
But if you go into the source code, the civilizational source code, you actually realize that the source code itself is broken in certain key segments of the source code text.
If we don’t actually evolve the source code,
if we don’t engage in what we do here at One Mountain in Evolutionary Sensemaking, or what we might also call Source Code Conversations (but not just conversations of the mind, conversations of the body, conversations of the heart, embodied conversations),
if we don’t engage in Source Code Conversations,
if we don’t do Evolutionary Sensemaking that leads to an evolution of the source code…
… then the vector of the distorted plotline of Reality, the intentional and inherent plotlines of Reality, have been hijacked by evolution that has stalled.
There’s this huge gap between interior technologies and exterior technologies.
And when evolution stalls, exterior technologies exponentialize, weaponized exterior technologies exponentialize, with the capacity to destroy humanity…
— not through a nuclear bomb that requires state power to enact it, — but actually through any number of forms of organized destruction
— through various kinds of weaponized systems, which form certain forms of existential risk.
— Or the kind of existential risk which is not about the death of humanity but the death of our humanity.
There’s two forms of existential risk: the death of humanity, and the death of our humanity.
Conscious Evolution and The Wheel of Co-Creation
We’ve been talking about that for quite a few years here, and we’ve been working to actually do the one ninja move.
The gorgeous, beautiful, sacred imperative of our time, which is actually to rewrite the source code.
- That’s what da Vinci and his cohorts did in the Renaissance. Marsilio Ficino, and the whole gang of the Renaissance, which as we’ve pointed out time and again, didn’t have more than a thousand people in it.
- This inner group of people who came together and said, we’re going to actually rewrite source code, we’re going to participate in the evolution of love, we’re ready to play a larger game and to participate in the evolution of love.
Barbara Marx Hubbard played a key role in articulating particular dimensions, particularly in championing an idea developed by Julian Huxley that actually appears already in a number of places in interior sciences, that Charles Sanders Pierce articulated in a very beautiful way in an essay called Evolutionary Love. Barbara picked up not on the Evolutionary Love side; that’s really where I spend my time and energy.
Barbara picked up on the notion of Conscious Evolution, and really shared that idea very powerfully in the world for decades.
She shared that idea in organized networks and SynCons; conversations and conferences to organize synergistic convergence, what Barbara called The Wheel of Co-Creation.
- To connect what’s working worldwide.
- To advocate for a kind of social synergy.
- To locate what’s working worldwide already in all the sectors of civilization.
Then Barbara and I came together and we rewrote The Wheel of Co-Creation, and we called it The Wheel of Co-Creation 2.0.
- The rewriting of that Wheel was in order to address certain key pieces that were missing in the initial explosion of beauty and creativity which Barbara did, which was Wheel 1.0. That’s number one.
- But number two, it was to address certain essential broken parts of the source code that were part of the early transhumanist movement,
— which were part of the early Evolutionary Spirituality movement,
— which inspired Barbara, and she both adopted and contributed to it in enormous ways.
That’s what our conversation was about last week.
I hope that we modelled how we have a conversation with mad love and honor for Barbara and who she was, and her goodness, and her contribution and the depth of it.
There’s no one who I’m sure was more ecstatic at last week’s One Mountain than Barbara.
Responding to a series of public critiques of Barbara
So what prompted the conversation last week was a series of public critiques of Barbara, which had two kinds of information.
Let me say it a little more clearly.
1. One kind of information was just distorted and false.
It characterized, for example, institutions like HeartMath as participating in some global conspiracy to oppress the masses and lure them into a kind of torporific slumber, into a kind of docile sleep, so that the agents of the Great Reset could take over. That, of course, has nothing to do with what HeartMath is. HeartMath is an excellent institution.
I had one set of extensive conversations with one party who was a key figure there, but I’ve never been associated with them. Quite a few of my friends were in different places.
They’ve done fantastic and beautiful work, and they have nothing to do with how they were described, for example, in one of those posts critiquing Barbara.
In other words, there’s an enormous amount of information in those posts that are linked together to create a conspiratorial thread, when in fact, it’s simply not true. It simply doesn’t characterize the truth in any sense, shape, or form.
That’s number one.
2. But number two, there was in those conversations, a thread of quotations from Barbara, and from de Chardin, and from Buckminster Fuller, but particularly from Barbara, which were chilling.
Now, I don’t have my library with me at the moment. Barbara left me when she passed, all of her books. But I don’t have my library with me, so I haven’t been able to check the context of the quotes.
But the quotes in and of themselves were chilling.
They talked about what I would call a kind of Thanos possibility.
By a Thanos possibility, what I mean is, if I can hark back to a public culture text, The Avengers out of Marvel Studios, which in 2018 and 2019 described a world facing existential risk.
The League of superheroes, The Avengers, don’t know what to do. One person who faces the apocalypse, his name is Thanos.
Thanos is both the villain [and the hero] of the story…
- He’s the villain because he makes a decision to actually, in one instant, painlessly, wipe out half of humanity in order to save the other half, which is a shocking and a reprehensible moral decision for many, many, many reasons. Because Thanos had actually made the decision that this was the only thing to do. He felt that no one else had the courage to look directly at the apocalypse and make the hard decision.
- However, if you notice when you watch the movie, Thanos is not your classical villain. Thanos is not your classical villain in any way. We see Thanos as this much more complex figure, and that’s what was painted by Marvel Studios, making these hard decisions.
- Thanos’ own home planet is destroyed because the leadership of Thanos’ planet refuses to directly face existential risk, and so everyone dies of starvation. Thanos grows up with that trauma, and he commits not to allow that trauma to be repeated on a galactic level.
Now, it’s not by accident that this is the scene in popular culture in 2018 and 2019, right before COVID.
Of course, the reviewers of The Avenger movies kind of missed this. Or they characterize Thanos as a villain and didn’t understand the complexity of the Thanos character.
If we were doing an analysis of that movie, I would walk through five or six scenes where Thanos appears as a transhumanist.
He appears as an early transhumanist who’s committed to some form of eugenics, some form of population control, in order to save humanity from itself.
So again, Thanos is this very complex figure.
In the opening of the second Avengers movie, we see him barefoot in his little cabin. He didn’t go live in a palace after he destroyed half of the world. He lives in a little cabin. He’s eating a rice bowl, probably from some good San Francisco restaurant, kind of completely healthy, i.e. tuna poke bowl maybe. He’s watching the sunset and he’s meditating. So he has this transhumanist cast to him. He’s saving the world, but he’s making decisions that, from an ordinary perspective, seem morally reprehensible. In fact, they are morally reprehensible.
The problem is that the Avengers, who all challenged him, don’t know how to articulate what’s wrong with what he did.
Why is he wrong? Why is Thanos wrong?
So the Avengers, when they try to confront Thanos, Thanos speaks with great articulation and clarity and moral purpose and passion. The Avengers are filled with passion, but have no moral clarity. They know he’s wrong, and they’re right that he’s wrong.
To be clear, Thanos is wrong.
There are dark, shadow versions of both Evolutionary Spirituality and of Transhumanism
It’s those shadow versions that Barbara, in her early days, apparently echoed. I caught fragrances of this when Barbara and I spoke, and we had fierce arguments.
Barbara went through a great evolutionary transformation and shifted her position, and merged, if you will, as Barbara and I went through our process of being evolutionary partners and Evolutionary Wholemates.
Meaning we were working together for the sake of the whole; we were actually not joining genes, but joining genius.
She went through a process of actually abandoning those early positions.
But I myself wasn’t even aware of the full weight of them until I researched and looked up some of the citations that appeared in a number of these conversations, and they are chilling.
They are citations from Teilhard de Chardin that are chilling.
But that was the nature of the conversation then, and that’s very important to understand.
In mainstream society, there was a mainstream moral society conversation about eugenics, about certain transhumanist possibilities.
That’s a big deal.
There was an inability then in society to challenge them. In the end, they got challenged because we realized that they lead to things like Nazism.
Nazism actually cited early eugenics as a justification.
Nazism is and was a shadow form, an extreme shadow form, of Evolutionary Spirituality.
That’s absolutely true.
Of course, Yuval Harari in his book Homo Deus is not incorrect, as a historian, in characterizing some of the most grotesque movements in human history, particularly in their transhumanist 19th and 20th century forms, as distorted formulations of Evolutionary Spirituality.
Now, Harari doesn’t exactly present them as distorted formulations. He just presents them as formulations of Evolutionary Spirituality, but they’re actually distorted formulations.
They are dark shadows of Evolutionary Spirituality and Transhumanism that we need to evolve beyond.
But Evolutionary Spirituality itself is enormously important, and a cogent version of Evolutionary Spirituality is enormously important.
So we need to actually radically reject the dark shadow, which is the Thanos option. The Avengers want to do that in that Avengers movie, but they don’t quite know how to do it.
Because they’re lacking a grammar of value which can adequately and potently and compellingly challenge Thanos.
Because The Avengers are emergent from Marvel Studios, and Marvel Studios is a postmodern expression of media culture,
— which is afraid to claim objective value and intrinsic value,
— which is afraid to claim what we call First Principles and First Values embedded in a story of value.
When you don’t have First Principles and First Values embedded in the story of value, you actually don’t know how to challenge Thanos.
In other words, the scriptwriters of Marvel Studios, making The Avengers movies, know Thanos is wrong; they can feel it in their bodies.
Yet they paint Thanos as a kind of almost hero, and don’t actually know how to write a script for the Avengers in their conversations with Thanos.
All they’re able to say is, that’s madness!
But why is it madness, he says.
You don’t know it’s going to go that way.
You can’t make that decision.
It’s not yours to make.
Now, those are all true, it is madness.
If you don’t articulate First Principles and First Values, you cannot arouse astonishment and outrage
Astonishment and outrage are aroused in response to the obvious violation of First Principles and First Values. If you can’t actually articulate First Values and First Principles, you can’t arouse astonishment and outrage.
Because astonishment and outrage are aroused in response to the obvious violation of First Principles and First Values.
- That’s why when we saw George Floyd with Derek Chauvin’s knee on his neck for nine minutes, in that complex and tragic story, we were beyond outraged and we poured into the streets. Because we saw an obvious violation of value that pierced the slumber of the postmodern moment and aroused appropriate outrage.
- That’s why in the first weeks of the Ukrainian war, when the media flooded our eyes with images of moral outrage, we were blown out of our minds, and we stood and we talked and we engaged.
Now notice, friends, I want you to notice this, take a look at the movie Wag the Dog. ²
Notice, for a set of reasons, the media, in many ways, have looked away from Ukraine. How many of you thought about Ukraine in an active way in the last two weeks? Maybe a little bit, not much.
But Ukraine is in the middle of the worst throes of war right now. I’m tracking it very closely.
How many people thought about Ukraine as much in the last two weeks as they did in the first six weeks of the war?
Because a set of decisions in the media establishment has moved your attention. You don’t even realize it happened. But bracket that. That’s a very, very important issue.
Let’s stay really focused, it’s a big deal.
So what we talked about last week was, and where we placed our attention, is a place where people don’t place their attention. We placed our attention on the shadows of Transhumanism and the shadows of Evolutionary Spirituality, but not to dismiss these movements. (Those two by the way are not collapsible, they overlapped with each other. I don’t want to collapse Evolutionary Spirituality and Transhumanism, although they have lots of intersecting vectors).
We talked about their shadows, but not in order to dismiss them, but in order to, number one, point out that actually, there was some correctness in that critique of Barbara, which needs to be acknowledged.
But that acknowledgement has to fully understand that Barbara was operating in that context which was a postmodern context,
— in which there was an inability to articulate First Values and First Principles,
— in which a Thanos kind of emergence was actually in many, many conversations around the world.
By the way, those conversations are still taking place around the world. There’s still a strong transhumanist movement that’s still having those Thanos conversations. That’s why Thanos appeared as an ambivalent and complex figure in the 2018 and 2019 Avengers movie.
But we also wanted to point out last week that Barbara herself evolved her position. That was really the essence of our meeting at the Center for Integral Wisdom, we had an enormously deep set of tens and tens and tens of hundreds of conversations.
Of course, the people that wrote that post ignored 130 or 140 weeks of One Mountain, in which Barbara’s position, as Barbara and I integrated together, had clearly evolved.
All of that was completely ignored.
In One Mountain, there’s at least 130 to 140 posts in the public space that show a very, very clear, unmistakable transformation and evolution of Barbara’s own position. [click here to watch the very first episodes of One Mountain with Barbara Marx Hubbard and Dr. Marc Gafni]
All of that material was completely ignored, because that’s what happens when you cherry-pick sources to demonize someone in order to argue for a conspiratorial narrative, which actually has its own egoic agenda, which actually has its own set of vectors.
So I really want to just honor Barbara in that way.
It’s what I wanted to do last week, and I want to deepen it this week.
Wow, that’s a big introduction.
You understand we’re doing this just for this week and next week, but this is wildly important.
Modeling what evolutionary conversations need to be like
I also want to just, if I can — he’s a peer and does not require my commendation, so I mean this not in a condescending way, but in a brother way — I want to really just also honor Andrew Cohen.
Andrew and I, I mentioned last week, and we’ve exchanged on this via WhatsApp, we had a very big exchange on this back in 2005 and 2006.
Andrew wrote a book called Evolutionary Enlightenment, I wrote a book called Self: Two Models of Self In Evolutionary Mysticism and Why They Matter.
That book was a critique of Evolutionary Enlightenment, and what I thought were very clear flaws or shadows in the position of evolutionary spirituality.
Since, Andrew and I have had many deep conversations, he dramatically, I believe, evolved his position. He can speak for himself, he’s perfectly beautiful and capable of doing that. But I welcome anyone to read that conversation.
You can actually get the book Evolutionary Enlightenment, which is Andrew’s book, which I think is, by the way, a great book.
You can get my book, Your Unique Self, but particularly this book, Self: Two Models of Evolutionary Mysticism, which compares my Unique Self model with Andrew’s authentic self model, and critiques the book Evolutionary Enlightenment in one particular regard.
I think, not only has Andrew’s position dramatically evolved in this respect, and I think he took the critique seriously.
But of course, in other areas, Andrew has impacted me. Because we engage as brothers in a kind of Dharma combat, but it’s a combat in which we’re loving each other, in which we’re honoring each other as peers, and we want to impact each other.
That’s what an evolutionary conversation is. An evolutionary conversation is not egos jousting in the public sphere, in order to score points for their separate self craving base, mad ego.
An evolutionary conversation is:
- we want to impact each other, we want to transform together.
Just as Andrew allowed himself to be impacted, I think, and moved in a very deep way by Self and by many of our conversations, he actually shared that with me in phone conversations, there were dimensions of evolutionary spirituality and phrases that Andrew used.
Like, there’s a particular phrase that Andrew used, ecstatic urgency, which I love and I’ve adopted, and I adduce it and cite Andrew.
There were particular formulations of Evolutionary Spirituality that went through Andrew’s prism and his unique experience that impacted me, and I’m delighted to say that.
That’s what we are supposed to do.
So what Andrew and I actually just began doing, a year and a half ago but we just started phase two, is we started a new public conversation on Evolutionary Spirituality.
We’ve done two conversations, and we’ve both spent a good deal of our lives trying to lay down different core tenets of evolutionary spirituality, and now we’re coming together in a public conversation to share what we’ve done these last 20 years in this particular domain, and to evolve it further to be able to articulate it clearly. [watch episode 1 and 2 on Evolutionary Spirituality with Dr. Marc Gafni and Andrew Cohen here]
That’s how we need to have conversations.
- Can you imagine if the pro-life and pro-choice people got together and had those kinds of conversations?
- Can you imagine if the best of the Republican Party, George Will, and all of really the great figures in the Republican Party throughout the ages, got together with the best of the Democratic Party, in order to synergize?
Like Jack Kennedy and Richard Nixon did in the late 50s, even into the early 60s. Even after their presidential debate, they remained close friends, as they should be. Because they knew that they were each holding a piece of the puzzle, and that the puzzle only becomes whole when we love each other, when we become wholemates.
That’s the way it’s supposed to happen.
We’re so afraid to have a conversation.
But an evolutionary conversation is when we’re loving each other madly, and we’re holding together this passion for truth, this passion for a deeper understanding, this passion for insight.
The people that just blow my heart open are people that can come and say:
“Hey, Marc. You said it this way. We’ve read the Dharma, and we’re in. But here’s one dimension where I think there’s one source that you could have taken into account, or where you could have looked at it this way, and you missed.”
But not if they just claim it, but they actually go deep and they’re fully engaged, and they bring to my attention, or they place my attention on something that I missed.
Or even they correct something that I’ve held for 25 years, but they show me a deeper way of understanding that, not because they claim it but because they actually do the work.
That blows my heart open, I fall madly in love with that person!
That’s how we have to have conversations.
We have to hold the paradox of our unique expression,
and not allow it to degenerate into polarization.
Because paradise is a paradox.
That’s what paradise is, it’s a paradox.
It’s the ability to hold the fullness of contradiction,
and not have it become a degenerative polarization,
but actually a fructifying synergistic emergence of a new wholeness, a new story, a new paradox.
Wow, that’s what we’re engaged in here.
Last week, and this week, we’re just putting some energy and trying to model what these conversations need to be like.
It’s a very different model than the posts you see that try to string together a bunch of material, and take it out of context, and not actually check, and investigate, and paint a full picture, and allow for evolution.
That’s an ego self. That’s an ego self game.
At the same time, even when I read people engage in that ego self game, if they make a point that’s legitimate, I want to open my heart and say: Wow, that’s right. That’s a really good point. That critique was correct.
But since Barbara wasn’t here to speak for herself, and she asked me when she passed to hold this together with her, so just in deep love and respect and honor for Barbara, I took the liberty, because I’ve had hundreds of conversations with her about this, with her responding. Part of the response was: “Yes, you’re right. I made a mistake there, and it was actually a tragic mistake. I didn’t understand that, but now I do, and I’ve evolved my position.”
Just madly delighted to be together with everyone, and just honored to be able to, together as a Unique Self Symphony, honor Barbara, and model what a different kind of conversation looks like.
Evolutionary Love Code:
That which unites us is far greater than that which divides us. We are united in a shared story of value. That does not make us perfect expressions of that value. We are all imperfect vessels for the light; the imperfect vessels for the holy and broken Hallelujahs. We must move beyond demonization, to daemon-ization. It is only the loss of daemon that turns us into demon. When we are not inside the circle together, we place others outside the circle as a way of pretending that we’re on the inside. Only a shared story based on First Principles and First Values serves as the ground for a global ethos for a global civilization.
What a gorgeous code!
There’s so much to say about the code. But I really just want to have this week, with permission, the code as a general context, holding Barbara beyond the inappropriate demonization as daemon, as the beautiful sense of charism. Charism means Divinity flowing through, and the beautiful Divinity that flows and flowed through Barbara, that grounds this One Mountain.
The exteriorization of the postmodern mind is the internet
I just want to share one more thing.
Someone called me, who’s a very, very wonderful human being, who’s on our Board, and said, I think we need to really distance ourselves from Barbara, because there were these critiques.
My response to that, with lots of love, it’s expletive deleted. I’ve made a promise to my dear friend Oriana that there’s no expletive deleted in One Mountain, so I won’t tell you what I said.
But my point is, I can barely get the words out, people are so afraid in the internet culture. They’re so afraid, and there’s so much subtle McCarthyism. So if someone’s attacked, or if there’s a move to cancel someone, what you’ve got to do is you’ve got to kind of back off of them so you don’t get tainted with that attack.
That is not the way we love in the world.
That is not who we are.
I am so wildly proud that Barbara is my evolutionary partner, and our evolutionary partner, and that she grounded and founded One Mountain Many Paths with us.
The fact that Barbara made a set of early transhumanist mistakes in particular articulations, which I think were tragic, doesn’t change that one iota at all.
I’m going to tell you something else.
When in 2028, the dossier on Martin Luther King is revealed, (that’s when it’s going to be made public,at which time if you’ve tracked this issue, which I have, an enormous amount of very complicated, personal material about Martin Luther King is probably going to emerge), I am not going to demonize Martin Luther King.
Because Martin Luther King made a huge contribution, which was important and which was holy, and purity moved in his heart, and love moved him.
And he was a broken vessel for the light, because we’re all in some sense holy and broken Hallelujahs; we’re all imperfect vessels for the light.
There’s not a person alive who has greatness in them, that hasn’t made mistakes that are real.
That’s a very, very big deal.
So a person gets to make a mistake, and then gets to correct that mistake, and gets to transform.
Because there’s an entire literature critiquing Martin Luther King on very, very powerful issues that are at the center of MeToo, and are at the center of honoring the feminine, but that doesn’t mean that we dismiss Martin Luther King as a critical leader and we cancel him.
That’s not what we do.
That’s a very, very, very big deal.
It’s very easy also to misunderstand how we gather information.
We don’t gather information in internet posts which don’t actually allow for genuine conversation and genuine truth searching.
But you’ve got to actually look at how you are gathering information?
- Are you gathering information with an open heart?
- Are you open to receiving new information?
- Are you open to being impacted?
- Are you open to revising your position?
- Are you open to checking sources?
- Are you open to actually watching what your cognitive biases are, which move you to want to agree with a particular position?
- Are you open to checking where you’re virtue or vice signaling, in order to gain the approval of the crowd?
You’ve got to do all of that in order to engage in a Source Code Conversation, in order to do Evolutionary Sensemaking.
We need to actually begin to understand that how we gather information, and how we make judgments, was one of the great momentous leaps and breakthroughs of Evolutionary Love in modernity.
But what’s happening in postmodernity — I want to give you a big sentence if I can, with permission –
- The exteriorization of the postmodern mind is the internet.
Meaning, the postmodern mind says, there’s no narrative, there’s no story, there’s no larger plotline.
For example, one of the things that the editor Kevin Kelley, who was representing the postmodern movement, argued is that we should no longer have books with authors. Butall of the information should be available (you just search it on the web), not associated with an author and not associated with a particular book.
In other words, the undermining of storyline.
- So we no longer hold in our memory long and complex threads of information, because we’ve actually outsourced memory itself to the internet.
- And when we read on the internet, we no longer stay in the deep thread of a plotline, because we’re hyperlinking all the time.
- We no longer read as was described by Hawthorne in his Sleepy Hollow. He describes sitting against an oak tree and just going deep into reading. We don’t do that anymore. But we actually search around on the internet.
My beloved Kristina described to me the difference between her experience that she had in her apartment in New York, a wall filled with books, and she describes her experience when she reads and when she’s scrolling on her phone. She started doing a phone fast, in order to come back to straight reading, so you can actually drop inside of the inside as you read, and you allow a storyline to enter, and you allow information, and you begin to check the information.
But what we do today when we’re scrolling, we are actually not engaged in reading.
We’re not engaged in a plotline.
We’re not actually able to organize information in our minds.
We’re jumping from source to source, we’re hyperlinking.
There’s no narrative, there’s no storyline, there’s no plotline.
And what we read is usually a particular vector or bubble of one of the sides in the propaganda wars,
— that are all saying something completely consistent,
— that never disagree with each other within that vector,
— which is how you know it’s a vector of propaganda.
Wow, that’s not how we do it.
That’s not how we form judgments.
So to those in my immediate circle who said, Barbara got a little critiqued, we need to back off, and maybe we shouldn’t be publishing these books with Barbara, are you kidding?
Are you kidding, my friends, my beloveds?
We’re going to embrace Barbara and honor her more than ever before.
Because we refuse to be hijacked by a techno-feudalist, neoliberal, postmodern hijacking of energy.
The same way we’re not going to be hijacked by a Trumpian corrupt narrative, we’re not going to be hijacked by corrupt narratives on any side of the spectrum.
- We’re going to look at every issue, and we’re going to look at it deeply.
- We’re going to do sensemaking together.
- We’re going to gather contradictory opinions.
- We’re going to check sources.
- We’re going to check our heart and our body.
Then we’re not going to just talk softly, we’ll talk fiercely.
But we’re going to integrate, we’re going to synergize, we’re going to get to new wholes.
That’s what we need to do all the time.
So I know we spent most of today’s One Mountain on context, and we’re going to move into prayer.
The irreducible infinite value of unique personhood
But first, I want to just hit one issue with you, in terms of the mistake of early Evolutionary Spirituality and Transhumanism, and I want to see if we can correct and evolve that mistake.
I actually wrote several pages of notes to myself this morning, and we’ve gotten through the first three words, so I apologize for that.
But as we move into the fall, and we evolve the structure, we’re going to be evolving the structure One Mountain, we’re going to have enough time to talk about everything.
But let me just hit one issue.
The issue is, let’s call it the personal.
So when Thanos says, in order to save half of humanity, I’m going to destroy half of humanity, what Thanos doesn’t understand is what we would call the irreducible infinite value of unique personhood.
So for example, there’s an entire literature which exists in the lineages of the great traditions, which asks the following question.
- If a city is being surrounded and attacked, and the attackers are willing to actually leave the city if the people inside the city will actually give up, let’s say, five people to be the sacrificial victims, or even one person to be the sacrificial victim of those who are attacking?
That’s a major issue in the Hebrew lineage conversations, which revolves around actually a number of mythical stories that exist in the biblical canon.
Do you save a city by giving up one person?
It’s a more complex issue, but the general vector of conversation is, absolutely not.
Absolutely not, that we actually don’t make that kind of calculation with a human life, and that there’s actually irreducible dignity to unique personhood.
Now, stay close with me.
This is subtle.
It’s not simple.
It’s subtle, it’s not simple.
But of course, why is it not simple?
Because we have something called war.
Now, what’s war?
So I was sitting with the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala, who had invited me after an argument that I’ve told you guys about at different times, to visit him, and we were talking about war.
The Dalai Lama said to me:
People think I’m a pacifist, that I’m against wars, and it’s not true. I think there should be an army; there needs to be an army. Because there are some issues that we can only handle, in a world that has despotic totalitarian dictatorships, we need to be able to at times respond with force.
Now, I agree with the Dalai Lama at this moment in history. To respond with force means: we’re willing to give up the lives of some young men, and in certain armies, young men and women, for the sake of keeping the larger whole safe.
So it doesn’t mean we never make a calculation.
I want to be very careful about this, it’s actually a very subtle issue that requires an enormous amount of attention.
We do at times make a calculation, and there are countries that have a draft, where someone can actually be drafted [to go to war]. They don’t even get to make a choice about whether they participate in that war.
Wow, that’s not simple.
What does it mean for my son Eytan and my son Yair, who are both commanders in Special Forces in the Israeli army? (That’s how they did their army service.)
What does it mean for them to literally risk their lives, to keep school buses safe in Israel, to keep them safe from blowing up?
Why are they risking their lives?
Well, because they’re actually understanding themselves as part of the larger whole, and they’re making a heroic decision that they are willing to risk their lives.
So it’s not that there’s no conversation to be had, there is a conversation to be had, and it’s got to be a subtle and careful conversation.
But here’s the point.
You can’t have the conversation absent First Principles and First Values.
It’s a subtle point, but it’s everything.
In other words,
— if you don’t understand that every human life has infinite value, and that, in principle, it’s worth giving up the entire city and not handing over one person,
— if you don’t understand that in your body,
— if you don’t understand the irreducible dignity of every human story, which is not just a separate self story, but it’s the Kosmos’s story in person in that human being,
— if you don’t know that that story has infinite value, and it’s precious beyond imagination…
… that every smile and every gesture of love by that person,
and every expression of kindness and goodness,
and every creative moment,
and every jot and tiddle of pain and anguish,
that all of that matters infinitely and participates in the infinite field of person and meaning…
— if you don’t get that, then you can’t participate in a conversation about how you do trade-offs at the appropriate time.
Because what you’ll do is, as Stalin believed, as Mao believed, as Genghis Khan believed in his own way, what you’ll basically do is you’ll make a calculation which says:
I’m willing to give up, at the drop of a hat, hundreds of thousands of people, in order to accomplish my goal, whatever that goal is. Because I do a quick calculation, I do a transhumanist calculation, and I operate in order to save humanity. I’m willing to give up a lot of it because it’s a natural, logical calculation.
- Every human being is all of humanity, and all of humanity lives in every human being.
- We have to start from the premise of the irreducible value of uniqueness; uniqueness as an ultimate value; the irreducible value of an individual life, the irreducible value of the unique quality of intimacy that person incarnates
- If I’m not living in the field of value, and I’m not living in the field of First Values and First Principles, then there’s no way to have the conversation.
Now, clearly, we can’t have the full conversation at this moment in time.
But what we know is, the second you make a move towards eugenics, what you’re doing is, you’re actually solving the problem the easy way.
The Thanos solution is actually the easy solution, and that’s why the Avengers understand that Thanos is actually shortcutting.
But they can’t articulate why.
- He’s shortcutting because he doesn’t have First Principles and First Values.
- Because he doesn’t have First Principles and First Values, he actually goes for the logical shortcut solution.
- The logical shortcut solution is, since there’s not the irreducible dignity of every human life, what you do is in order to save half of humanity, you lose the rest of humanity, and you do it in a way that’s painless.
- But actually, there are many, many more creative possibilities on the table that Thanos has missed.
Our response to existential risk and our response to catastrophic risk is not to cull the herd.
It’s not that evolution is not nice, as early transhumanists said.
Evolution is actually the Love Story of the Universe.
That’s the big realization that Barbara came to as we studied together, that evolution is the love story of the universe.
In the love story of the universe, every individual love story matters, and when I actually focus my love and place my love’s attention on a challenge, I get wildly creative, and that wild creativity is born of love.
That creativity allows me to generate both new exterior and new interior technologies.
That is why, for example, there was the great prediction in the late 1960s that there would be a famine that would sweep the world, and the world would actually essentially collapse in exponentially unimaginable famines.
But the exact opposite happened.
The reason the exact opposite happened is because there was a young scientist in Mexico who developed a new way of fertilizing soil and working with soil and with crops, that allowed for exponential increases in the production of food.
That’s an exterior technological creative breakthrough.
But we need to do something even deeper:
- We need to make breakthroughs in interior technologies, and we need to change the very vector of the story itself.
- We need to actually tell a New Story of value, of First Values and First Principles.
- That New Story of value will actually inform where we place our resources.
The importance of data science to develop solutions to existential risk
Do you know how important data science is in the world to actually developing creative, impactful solutions for existential risk?
Do you know where most data scientists are spending their time?
None of them, virtually none of them are spending their time actually engaging existential and catastrophic risk.
Do you know where virtually all of the data scientists in the world are spending their time today?
- They’re working for Google.
- They’re working for Facebook.
- They’re working for TikTok.
- They’re working for Microsoft.
- They’re working for Apple.
These are all for-profit companies that are hoarding, not even investing back into the market, unimaginable profits.
Most of them are not paying any kind of normal taxation, some are not paying taxation at all, because of legal loopholes.
Financial resources owned by Sergey Brin are $150 billion.
Why does Sergey Brin need $150 billion, with all due respect, Sergey?
Sergey is actually a good friend of a close friend of mine.
So Sergey, love you, man. But yo, man, what are you thinking?
Google is engaged in a process of exponential power and profit, and they’ve actually siphoned off all of the data scientists, so much so that universities today can’t find professors of data science, because no one wants the job.
Because making a couple $100,000 a year at a university doesn’t compare with the golden handcuffs of the Google, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, Microsoft, Oracle, or Apple package.
So we’ve taken, for example, data science, which is a critical vector that we need to deploy in order to actually generate new possibilities of engaging catastrophic and existential risk, and we’ve actually siphoned off that critical creativity into a Success 2.0 win-lose metrics rivalrous conflict story:
Let me actually make another $800,000 a year in order for me to succeed in my monadic separate self dissociated existence, which is actually an optical delusion of consciousness.
So if that’s where we’re going, if that’s the story we’re telling, well, then the only solution is Thanos.
But if we tell a New Story, what would it mean to tell a New Story of value, where if you’re an up and coming data scientist,
— you actually want to go work on the World Hunger Project,
— you want to work on a new form of micro-financing,
— or you want to work on new forms of education?
You want to work on actually using the Tech Plex to generate new forms of individuated Unique Self education and transformation that shock Reality, and introduce a Unique Self Utopia that’s been unimaginable in history.
We’re only going to do that if we actually create a new sense of vision, of virtue, a new sense of courage, a new sense of nobility, where we’re called to be knights at the new round table; we’re called to go on a noble quest.
And it would seem ridiculous to us to actually go and make $800,000 at Microsoft, what an utter waste of a lifetime, when I can take my Techno Plex creativity, and apply it to the transformation of Reality, where we create a motivational architecture of nobility and honor and value, and we want to participate in that nobility and honor and value.
So you begin to see it:
In that new motivational architecture, at the very center is the irreducible dignity of every human story.
Not just the therapeutic dignity, but what underlies the original impulse of therapy, which is that that story matters.
That story is not just reorganizing the past, although that needs to be done.
It’s the fullness of presence in the present, and it’s that Unique Self responding creatively, and giving their unique gifts to the call of the future.
Oh my God, that’s what an evolutionary spirituality needs to look like, where:
I’m an Evolutionary Unique Self. I’m Homo sapiens who’s evolved and become a new human and a new humanity, Homo amor. I’m The Universe: A Love Story in person, creatively playing my instrument in Unique Self Symphony, as we’re omni-considerate for the sake of the whole.
That’s the vision.
That’s wildly exciting, and what an insane delight to be here on One Mountain Many Paths and to be working together in these source code conversations!
Barbara is with us in every second, and we’re all together.
We’re all creating a Unique Self Symphony together.
I’m madly delighted, as we move into prayer.
So let’s just go into prayer and turn to the Infinity of personhood in Kosmos, which we call God.
God is not a cosmic vending machine.
God is our experience of personhood that we all participate in, exponentialized into infinity.
God is not just the Infinity of Power.
God is the Infinity of Intimacy that both lives in us and holds us, and holds our irreducible dignity, and embraces our holy and our broken Hallelujah.
So we move into prayer.
I know that when you’re on schedule, it’s like, I got what basically we talked about this week, let’s run.
But I want to ask you if you can, stay with us.
Just let’s open up.
Let’s pray together.
Let’s pray together for the new world that we so desperately need to usher in together.
So take us inside to the holy and broken Hallelujah, to prayer, to Leonard Cohen.
Evolutionary Sensemaking with Dr. Marc Gafni every Sunday in One Mountain:
: The second shock of existence, which we began talking about in 2011 after I gave a series of talks at Venwoude, where Chahat and her partner, Ted Wilson, organized a community for 30 to 40 years. Mauk Pieper, who studied with me [Marc] and studied for several decades with Ted, came to a series of talks we gave on Unique Self as a response to existential risk, and Mauk wrote a little book called Humanity’s Second Shock and Your Unique Self.
: “The political phrase wag the dog is used to indicate that attention is purposely being diverted from something of greater importance to something of lesser importance.”: “Wag the Dog.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., 30 June 2022, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wag_the_Dog