26 May 2010 |
Posted by Lama Surya Das | 1 Comment.
I just returned from conducting a week-long silent Advanced Meditation Retreat at Dzogchen Retreat Center outside Austin, Texas, and also leading a very friendly Dzogchen meditation weekend called “Living the Enlightened Life” at a church in Southern Calif. (Orange County) near U. of Calif. at Irvine—and here I find, surprisingly enough, that it’s warmer here this week in the Lake District of Concord, Mass., than it was in LA! Quelle surprise.
On the long cross-country plane ride, I happened to fall upon an article about evolution in the Wall Street Journal by Matt Ridley and got excited about some significant new research. The research was about why human beings suddenly, rapidly evolved 45,000 years ago from just one species — a rare predatory ape — into a planet dominator, with rapidly progressing technologies, producing new tools, agriculture (not just hunting and gathering), burgeoning populations, literacy, cities, environmental impact, in an accelerating fashion unseen among other species. Although, apparently, tools had been the same for hundreds of thousands of years and all the ingredients of human success — tool making, big brains, culture, fire, even language — seem to have been in place half a million years before, nothing much happened in terms of cultural or economic progress.
I had read Guns, Germs & Steel several years ago, by the brilliant Dr. Jared Diamond, about the development of civilization and modern society. Moreover, I’ve heard about the vitriolic ongoing Darwinian evolution-versus-Creationism debates in places like Kansas—who hasn’t?– where a majority believes in the latter idea (Creationism, the Biblical notion that God literally created this world in 6 days) and wants it taught as science in public school. But that was about the extent of my “research” into the subject of evolution, being more into the evolution of consciousness revolution and movement myself… Although I suppose these two fields are not unrelated.
Anyway, the cultural and economic progress, continuous exponential innovation, and scientific sophistication of the modern technological world seems to lie not in some genetic mutation or neural-capacity leap in our hoary old Neanderthal heads, nor in individual creativity and a few historical explorer-like leader-discoverers’ brilliance, as most of us believe and would seem to make sense. Rather, it probably stems from “a new idea, borrowed from economics, known as collective intelligence: the notion that what determines the inventiveness and rate of cultural change of a population is the amount of interaction between individuals… This idea holds out hope that the human race will prosper mightily in the years ahead — because ideas are having sex with each other as never before.” We are more interactive than ever on this shrinking, and even endangered, globe.
In other words, our success is a collective enterprise. That’s why I’ve launched a metaWisdom initiative and metaWisdom Dialogues online, along with my California friend and colleague Kevin Buck — to tap the collective wisdom and co-create a beautiful community and future together. Check it out at metawisdom.com.
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