Peter Russell earned an honors degree in theoretical
physics and experimental psychology, and a masters degree in Computer Science
at the University of Cambridge, England. He then traveled to India to study
eastern philosophy. Since then his prime focus has been the exploration
and development of human consciousness, integrating eastern and western
understandings of the mind. Russell is the author of several best-selling
books, including The White Hole In Time, The Brain Book, and The Creative
This excerpt is adapted from his latest book, The Global
Brain Awakens, published by Global Brain, Inc. Rather than reprinting one
section whole, we have merged several selected paragraphs so that you can
get a quick overview of Russell's message. If you are inspired to read
more, The Global Brain Awakens develops these ideas more fully in the original
The Emerging Global Brain
The interlinking of humanity that began with the emergence of language
has now progressed to the point where information can be transmitted to
anyone, anywhere, at the speed of light. Billions of messages continually
shuttle back and forth, in an ever-growing web of communication, linking
the billions of minds of humanity together into a single system. Is this
Gaia growing herself a nervous system?....
With near-instant linkage of humanity through this communications technology,
and the rapid and wholesale dissemination of information, Marshall McLuhan's
vision of the world as a global village is fast becoming a reality. From
an isolated cottage in a forest in England, I can dial a number in Fiji,
and it takes the same amount of time for my voice to reach down the telephone
line to Fiji as it does for my brain to tell my finger to touch the dial.
As far as time to communicate is concerned, the Planet has shrunk so much
that the other cells of the global brain are no further away from our brains
than are the extremities of our own bodies....
At the same time as the speed of global interaction is increasing, so
is the complexity. If this rate of increase is sustained, the global communications
network could equal the brain in complexity by the year 2000....
The changes that this will bring will be so great that their full impact
may well be beyond our imagination. No longer will we perceive ourselves
as isolated individuals; we will know ourselves to be a part of a rapidly
integrating global network, the nerve cells of an awakened global brain.
A New Level of Evolution
One philosopher who spent much of his life contemplating the integration
of humanity into a single being was the French priest Pierre Teilhard de
Chardin. One of his principal conclusions was that humanity was headed
toward the unification of the entire species into a single interthinking
group. The fulfillment of this process Teilhard referred to as the Omega
Point, the culmination of the evolutionary process, the end point toward
which we are all converging....
Another philosopher with a similar vision was the Indian mystic Sri
Aurobindo, a contemporary of Teilhard's. Sir Aurobindo saw evolution as
Divine Reality expressing itself in ever higher forms of existence. Having
passed from energy through matter and life to consciousness, evolution
was now passing through the transformation from consciousness to what he
called "Supermind", something so far above consciousness as to
be beyond our present dreams of perfection, the ultimate evolution of Spirit....
How far away are we from the point in time when this might happen? This
new level may well come even faster than either Sri Aurobindo or Teilhard
envisioned. It could possibly happen within a few decades. Such a transition
is going to require some very rapid changes on the part of humanity. On
the one hand, an individual need only pick up a newspaper to see just how
far humanity is from being a cohesive, integrated whole. On the other hand,
society is much more than a collection of disassociated individuals going
their separate ways. Evolutionarily speaking, we maybe in a sort of twilight
zone, neither one thing nor the other. As it turns out, this is also a
characteristic aspect of evolutionary transitions.
Opening Of The Heart
The enlightened person experiences a deep and universal compassion,
and his life usually becomes one of service, not just service to humanity
but to the whole world. In the words of a Buddhist scripture, "The
fair tree of thought that knows no duality bears the flower and fruit of
compassion, and its name is service of others."
The enlightened person knows a reality that lies beyond the everyday
Duality of "I" and "not I" and the suffering it causes,
and his compassion for humanity makes him want to help others to achieve
this realization as well. For this reason many Buddhist teachings have
proclaimed that the enlightened being does not rest till he has seen the
enlightenment of all beings....
It is toward this goal of universal enlightenment that humanity needs
to move. Those who have achieved enlightenment have generally been few
and far between. But, if the world is to be transformed and a high-synergy
society is to become a reality, such a shift in consciousness will need
to be widespread.
The Evolution Of Work
One change in particular might be our attitude toward work. Traditional
areas of employment may very well decrease in the future. Increasing technological
innovations and automation in a diverse range of occupations could mean
that society would not need everyone to work full time. If, in addition,
there were to be a significant shift toward higher states of consciousness,
with a consequent decrease in our material needs, employment could drop
still further. The net result would be a considerable freeing of time and
the opportunity to explore other areas of our lives in greater depth....
Currently most of our intellectual and mental abilities virtually stop
growing around the time we finish our formal education, unless we are engaged
in activities that require continual updating, reeducation, challenge,
and stimulation. With lifelong education the opposite trend would occur:
the continued growth and unfolding of our innate, and largely untapped,
potentials would become the norm rather than a privilege.
Moreover, the current emphasis of education on facts and information
would give way to a balance between the development of knowledge and the
development of the knower. Society would enter a new renaissance as creativity,
intuition, and personal development became valued as highly as science,
technology, and economic development are today. Technological progress
would be seen not as a threat to the quality of life, but as a liberator,
allowing people to move on in the direction of self-actualization, thereby
improving the quality of life in the most fundamental way possible....