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The Global Brain Awakens

Peter Russell

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 Manager.

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 text.

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....

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