New Age philosophies say science and technology betray the promise of peace and abundance that the pursuit of knowledge has always implied. This is seen to be reflected in third world misery, in the specter of global ecological, economic and military disaster, and in the degradation of the human spirit through materialism.
The word that perhaps best expresses New Age aspirations is "holism." Holism includes many things but, most generally, advocates returning to respect for the ecosphere, earth, nature and life. In this context, many would say conventional science is mechanical, unconscious and polluting.
This commentary is based on extracts from the book, PROJECT MIND - The Conscious Conquest of Man & Matter Through Accelerated Thought. The author points to matter and the deprivation that matter engenders as being the most fundamental of mankind's problems. Accelerated Thought, as the basis of a new holistic and comprehensive science, is envisaged as the solution.
Science has the capacity to be a more holisitic, more vision-driven science. This give birth to more benevolent, more efficient, less polluting technologies. At the heart of our existential dilemma lies the incompleteness of our understanding of matter and its place in the cosmos.
What is the matter? "Matter" is the matter. Matter - the substrate of our daily existence - is the object of our needs and cravings, hopes and dreams. Matter sustains us, it is true, but it also divides and alienates us from ourselves and others. It forces us to compete and ultimately to conflict with one another.
What would happen in a world where matter and its manifestations of greed, envy, passion, vice, and injustice became irrelevant - actually neutralized by material abundance, security, universal health, longevity, and well-being? Is it possible for the negative influence of matter to be neutralized?
"Mind over matter" is not just a metaphysician's dream, it is the basis of all innovation. When you think about it, miniaturization - the art of getting equal or better performance from a smaller package - involves replacing matter with intelligence or "mind," in the sense that a 1950s room full of electronic tubes, heavy equipment and miles of wiring (representing much matter indeed), is today reduced to a chip that will sit comfortably on the tip of your little finger. That silicon chip, seen exclusively from the perspective of matter, is basically a pinch of common sand. The rest is intelligence - mind.
The intelligence of the chip consists of very special dispositions of matter, including highly specific material compositions, circuitry and other complex, functional patterning, all of which could be included under the term "form." It is this form embedded in the silicon of the chip that constitutes the essence of its intelligence. While the composite substance of that chip is the best material that could be found for the job until now, it is inevitable that newer and more "intelligent" materials (e.g., gallium-arsenide) will soon replace it. With technical progress, the marriage between form and substance grows more and more intimate, and the resulting "matter" expresses more intelligence and becomes more lifelike.
"Functional complexity" is form imbedded in matter. We see that, as matter becomes more "intelligent," the form that it embodies becomes more intricately structured. As matter and the form contained within it become ever more compatible and more perfectly mated, they eventually become indistinguishable from one another, until we can no longer discern where one ends and where the other begins. As intelligence becomes manifest, the aspect of matter seems to recede into the background.
Undoubtedly we will someday learn to measure and quantify intelligence. I believe this will then make possible the elucidation of a formula at least as elegant as Einstein's famous E=MC2, to show the spectacular inverse relationship between matter and mind. Observe the diversity, flexibility, richness, and subtlety of function in the human being - a truly miraculously compact package of capacities. Yet, in material terms, we are mostly water, and the rest merely biological precursors to an urn full of ashes. The essence of this "package" is the intelligence innate to our humanness - truly a triumph of mind over matter.
Technology - the increasing embodiment of intelligence in matter - problematic as it is from other standpoints, has raised standards of living and relieved us of much drudgery. Many New Agers overlook that, while ancient forms of inner, spiritual work indicate a desirable direction, these forms do not offer a challenge to which most modern people can relate. It is hard to imagine the masses sacrificing illusions and physical comforts for the uncertain and protracted pursuit of spirituality or even for the obvious merits of environmentalism.
While our lives are inescapably molded and conditioned by the discoveries of science and the products of technology, it is not a simple matter to influence research priorities even when we believe we know what those priorities should be. Our frustration before this seeming impotence tends to mask the fact that the problem is not so much which scientific inquiries we pursue or even a question of being more careful in the research we do pursue. The problem is hiding behind the seldom asked, more fundamental question of how to approach science altogether. While New-Age-type philosophies have long claimed that science tends to be "Cartesian," ignoring metaphysics, it has been a long time since anyone seriously questioned what we call the "methodology of science" or proposed a new methodology.
Notwithstanding widespread disillusionment with science and technology, our failure of planetary stewardship is increasingly attributed to a general failure of creativity, of vision. Some are beginning to conjecture that the breakthrough we need will of necessity be revealed through the faculty of creativity. Harman and Rheingold, in their Higher Creativity, go into this at some length. While today's visionaries of transformation are still far too vague, they do consider possible and even necessary, a world that is alive and conscious - without limits or boundaries. Yet they fail to be explicit about how even the best intentions can change deeply ingrained, centuries-old beliefs concerning the limitations that govern our lives.
The new methodology mentioned here and outlined in PROJECT MIND plans to reconcile science with spirituality and make science whole and "holistic." It is called "Accelerated Thought." It is a vision-driven, contemplative method that obviates long, expensive, tedious cycles of hypothesis and experimentation. By using more of the mind than ever before, the scientist will be able to penetrate more deeply and more quickly into the secrets of matter.
Although it will use special psychological techniques, environmental aids and sophisticated computerization, the key of Project Mind - the project - is its understanding of the fundamental nature and importance of essential individuality. To generate the ultimate expression of individuality is to release the incredible creative potential hidden at the deepest levels within human essence (man's fundamental form and substance).
Just as the Eureka experience provides brief moments of brilliant insight - the divine sparks of genius and inspiration that have fueled the sudden advances in scientific progress until now - Accelerated Thought will provide sustained creative vision. This will establish an ongoing link with higher consciousness. This will fuel the transformatory breakthrough-science of the future and render it holistic and comprehensive.
Although the Eureka experience is not exactly Accelerated Thought, it is very closely related, and its habitual exercise is the trademark of creative genius. A series of Eureka experiences can under favorable conditions induce, in a properly prepared person, a chain reaction which can develop into Accelerated Thought. Accelerated Thought is a high-energy mental process whereby realizations (consisting of problems and solutions) arrive second by second in rapid-fire sequence rather than once a week, once a year or once in a lifetime.
Traditionally, creativity is seen to be a tool for "problem solving," comprised of discrete stages including self-application, incubation, Eureka, elaboration, etc. - depending on the point of view. This insistence upon separate phases rests on the almost universal misconception that the run-up or ignition phase forms an integral and inseparable part of the creative process, and thus must be repeated anew for each creative thought or act. But the ignition of a process or engine is, or at least should be, nothing more than incidental to its running. In these terms, the process of creativity, as popularly perceived, is likened to an automobile that stalls every few inches and never actually gets going. Creativity is almost universally considered to be an inherently brief condition and not the continuing state that, potentially, it is.
What is it that constrains genius and the discovery of breakthroughs? There is no formal policy to hold back progress. Quite to the contrary, there is plenty of rivalry, competition and incentive to egg scientists on. However, conventional living siphons off our energy and conditions us to a low grade, "reflective" form of thought that we mistake for real, conscious thought. This is the key to understanding why things rarely go exactly the way we want them to and how we are so easily deflected from our purpose no matter how resolved we try to be.
Conditions of existence around us provide little opportunity for the development of the spark of creative consciousness with which we are all born.
The generation of Accelerated Thought, described in detail in PROJECT MIND, is accompanied by a spectacular increase in vitality and a feeling of elation. There is an accumulation of awareness for real possibilities that lifts the mind and the individual as a whole to a more integrated and conscious level of functioning.
But even more important than a new vision-driven scientific method fully harnessing creativity, are the results it will bring such as the acceleration of our already growing mastery of matter.
The commercial exploitation of scientific breakthroughs generated through Project Mind and its clones - replications that will inevitably spring up in science and industry - will follow its natural course. But modes of exploitation and the attitudes of those who concern themselves with commercialization will, in a dynamic atmosphere of hope, increasingly reflect a genuine concern for the welfare of others.
Drexler, in his Engines of Creation, describes how abundance could come about. He convincingly speaks of nanotechnology, nanocomputers, molecular engineering, nanomachinery, gene synthesis machines, cell synthesis machines, cell repair machines, assemblers, replicators, etc. He lovingly calls these, "engines of abundance," and deeply regrets their delay. He easily envisages molecular-sized nanomachinery supported by nanocomputers manufacturing or "growing" before one's eyes, a home or car or steak dinner using almost anything, including sewage and garbage, as raw materials. Molecular synthesizers and replicators are almost visible on the horizon.
Regardless of what technical means become available, we must come to realize that it is the limits of our vision that determine the risks of abuse and pollution. While many people pay lip- service to the ideal of rising above materiality, the very real perspective of matter not mattering is hard to imagine.
The new conditions postulated by PROJECT MIND will free us from material lack and we will begun an adventure in which we are freed from physical and biological restrictions.
1. See, Kun, T. 1993. PROJECT MIND - The Conscious Conquest of Man & Matter Through Accelerated Thought. Indian Rocks Beach, FL: Unimedia.
2. See, Harman, Willis and Rheingold, Howard. 1984. Higher Creativity. Los Angeles: Jeremy P. Tarcher.
3. See, Drexler, K. Eric. 1990. Engines of Creation. N.Y.: Anchor Books