Is Technology Proof of Universal Consciousness?
February 28

The experience of a larger mind that transcends individual minds is nothing new. People have stumbled onto it with regularity throughout history, including in our era. As writer Craig Hamilton says, “Indeed, rescue crews, sports teams, dance troupes and music ensembles have for years been reporting remarkable experiences of team synergy or group flow that have lifted them up to undreamed-of heights of coordination and effectiveness.” I’ve often had this experience during CPR events on hospitals wards and in emergency rooms, when the entire resuscitation team functions almost wordlessly and effortlessly in total synchrony. This experience is also common in combat, which is one reason why war has been so devilishly difficult to eradicate throughout human history.

Expanded views of consciousness are being taken seriously in the down-to-earth, highly practical business world. In a seminal paper entitled “The Power of Mind: What If the Game Is Bigger Than We Think?” published in the Journal of Management Inquiry in 2004, management specialists C. Marlene Fiol and Edward J. O’Conner, of the University of Colorado at Denver, suggest that our current ideas about the human mind and its supposed limitations may themselves be limited. They ask, “What if organizational realities were more malleable than we believe? What if organizational members could alter their physical surroundings even just occasionally through focused mental attention?” They review evidence from numerous fields suggesting that the human mind may be capable of affecting physical reality from a distance and into the past and the future. They conclude, “[T]he evidence for the impact of focused mental attention is sufficiently compelling and the potential implications sufficiently important that we believe it is time to explicitly examine the organizational implications of the power of the human mind.”

A generation ago, academic talk of group intelligence and the possibility that mind might modify its environment directly, unrestrained by space and time, would have been considered professional suicide.

Today’s youngsters — the so-called Millennials, Net Generation, Generation Y, Digital Natives, or whatever we call the cohort of young people born between 1980 and 2000 — seem to embrace the ideas of collective consciousness and extended mind more effortlessly than any previous generation. Being online with others nearly all their waking hours provides them a direct experience of a kind of group intelligence. Linked continually via their electronic appendages with their peers, they are practically the one mind come to life. Will the gadgets make it easier for these kids to take the next step and grok the deep oneness of consciousness of which the great traditions have spoken for millennia?

Lest the idea of a unitary, group, or universal mind be dismissed as new-age woo-woo, we should note that some of the most distinguished scientists of the 20th century have endorsed this perspective. The renowned physicist David Bohm said, “Each person enfolds something of the spirit of the other in his consciousness. Deep down the consciousness of mankind is one. This is a virtual certainty… and if we don’t see this it’s because we are blinding ourselves to it.” Anthropologist and psychologist Gregory Bateson: “The individual mind is immanent but not only in the body. It is immanent also in the pathways and messages outside the body; and there is a larger Mind of which the individual mind is only a sub-system…” Physicist Henry Margenau: “There is a physical reality that is in essence the same for all… [This] oneness of the all implies the universality of mind… If my conclusions are correct, each individual is part of God or part of the Universal Mind.” Nobel physicist Erwin Schrodinger also believed that minds are united and one. He said, “To divide or multiply consciousness is something meaningless. There is obviously only one alternative, namely the unification of minds or consciousness… [I]n truth there is only one mind.”

In his book Infinity and the Mind, mathematician and author Rudy Rucker relates a telephone interview with Kurt Godel, the author of the famous theorem that bears his name, and who is widely regarded as the greatest logician of the 20th century. Rucker had been puzzling over the nature of consciousness and whether machines can think. He asked Godel if he believed whether “there is a single Mind behind all the various appearances and activities of the world.” He reports, “[Godel] replied that, yes, the Mind exists independently of its individual properties.” Rucker then asked if he believed that the Mind is everywhere, as opposed to its being localized in the brains of people. Godel replied, “Of course.”
These world-renowned scientists and thinkers did not arrive at their conclusions about the nature of consciousness in fever dreams, but by a careful analysis of evidence and experience. Yet there is a near-total blackout within current science toward these views and the abundant evidence supporting them. In its failure to acknowledge the unitary, collective, and fundamental nature of consciousness, science has set itself against the experience of many of today’s brightest kids. This is a profound contradiction from which science is suffering, evidenced in its failure to attract and retain youngsters whose sense of being in the world does not resonate with the brain-based, isolated, individual, limited views that have been deified during the 20th century.

References:

  • Hamilton C. Come together. EnlightenNext.org. http://www.enlightennext.org/magazine/j25/collective.asp. Accessed March 27, 2010.
  • Dossey L. War: a Vietnam memoir. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine. 1999;5(1):12-17, 96-100.
  • Fiol CM, O’Connor EJ. “The Power of Mind: What If the Game Is Bigger Than We Think?” Journal of Management Inquiry. 2004; 13 (4): 342-352.
  • Bohm D. Quoted in: Weber R. Dialogues with Scientists and Sages.
  • New York: Routledge and Kegan Paul;1986:41.
  • Bateson G. Steps to an Ecology of Mind. San Francisco: Chandler Press;1972: 467.
  • Margenau H. The Miracle of Existence. Woodbridge, CT: Ox Bow Press;1984:111.
  • Margenau H. The Miracle of Existence. Woodbridge, CT: Ox Bow Press;1984:120.
  • Schrodinger E. My View of the World. Woodbridge, CT: Ox Bow Press; 1983:31-34.
  • Erwin Schrodinger, What Is Life? and Mind and Matter. London: Cambridge University Press; 1969:139.
  • Rucker R. Infinity and the Mind. New York, NY: Bantam; 1983: 177.

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  • Marie Friquegnonm

    Interesting. Philosophically speaking, paradoxes arise when we try to speak of a single consciousness as common to all, or distinct consciousnesses unique to each sentient being. This was pointed ot in detail in the eighth century by the Indian philosopher Santaraksita.
    The truh about consciousness may transcend the disinction between one and many. By analogy, a tsunami is identifiable as a wave yet is part of the ocean.

  • Yon_claude

    The Borg Generation.

  • Matt_dee86

    In an attempt to find out if there really is any evidence for a universal consciousness or a ‘universal mind’, I came across this article.  While you say “these world-renowned scientists and thinkers did not arrive at their conclusions about the nature of consciousness in fever dreams, but by a careful analysis of evidence and experience”, the only examples you give of what they have to say are nothing more than assertions.
    With “deep down the consciousness of mankind is one. This is a virtual certainty… and if we don’t see this it’s because we are blinding ourselves to it”, we could replace the first sentence with anything.  Why am I to believe his statement is a ‘virtual certainty’?”There is a larger Mind of which the individual mind is only a sub-system”.  Really?  How does he know this?  Why should I believe it? What has he done that made him come to this conclusion?I personally feel no more certain that there is a collective mind or universal consciousness after reading this.  I would have liked to have read about some of the actual evidence and careful analysis that brought them all to the conclusions they’ve made.  Not just the conclusions themselves.

  • Lawrence Bosek

    The Internet is a technological representation of a global mind. Just look at the computer as it is a representation of a technological human: It has correlating components such as speakers-printer (voice), camera-scanner (eyes), mouse-keyboard (communication), microphone (ears), RAM, (short term memory, disc drives (long term memory), ethernet-wireless (thought waves), motherboard (spine-neural), processor (brain), etc.

    More and more computers are connected together which makes up the internet or “technological universal mind.” While “science” is yet to acknowledge conscious connections between humans, and considering we have built our computer technology “in our image,” it is not far fetched to suggest there is indeed a “universal mind” connected through consciousness or perhaps through one of the many dimensions that are being talked about in quantum physics. Religions and mystic traditions have considered the idea for thousands of years already.

    Consider that a single cell has its internal components, a group of cells make up an organ, a group of organs make up a system, a group of systems make up a body, a group of bodies make up a community, a group of communities make up a nation, a group of nations make up the planet, and etc. It becomes easier to see the cancer that we are on this planet by infighting with each other so much, as cancerous cells do, unlike the systems, organs, and cells in our body’s that more often work collaboratively together in a healthy thriving environment. Our further understanding of consciousness and how connected we are will bring us closer together as a human species, and likely even help cure the cancers.