Chapter 6: Your Future in Cyberspace
"Whatever you do will be insignificant,
but it is very important that you do it."
"Mindfulness must be engaged. Once
there is seeing
there must be acting. Otherwise what is the use of seeing?"
Thich Nhat Hanh
"If you bring forth what is within
you, what you bring forth
will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you,
what you do not bring forth will destroy you."
(Quoting the Bible)
"Reality is a network of relationships."
Cyberspace is already tugging
at your mind through the attraction of the Internet, otherwise
you would not be reading this book. Some readers may have
already made a decision about the part they intend to play
in the colonization of this new land of mind. Others instinctively
realize that changes of great evolutionary importance are
underway and are beginning to see that the Internet can be
pivotal in these developments. Then there are those who still
are not sure what all the fuss is about. After all, the year
2000 arrived rather uneventfully. There was no apocalyptic
end to the world, nor was there a global computer crash, as
foretold by some. (1)
Now, as the 21st century begins its inexorable march into
the future, the odds seem to favor a continuation of the rapid,
yet steady progress we witnessed during the last century,
without any quantum change in our species' consciousness taking
place. Of course, some of us believe otherwise.
It is true that the vast majority
of the human species remain unconnected to the growing global
consciousness now taking root in the Internet. By the end
of the 20th century only a few hundred million people had
access to the Net. (2)
From the perspective of total world population, this represents
an extremely small minority, particularly when one considers
the fact that almost one-half of those with Internet connections,
at the beginning of the 21st century, reside in the United
States and Canada. However, when one compares the amount of
time it has taken to connect 300 million people to the Internet
with the amount of time it took for telephones and television
to achieve a significant number of users, this number becomes
quite significant. (3)
Keep in mind here that we are talking mainly about a technology,
the World Wide Web, that was only ten years old at the beginning
of the 21st century.
The speed with which this technology
has been adopted is several orders of magnitude greater than
we have ever witnessed before. Something much more powerful
than money is pulling our minds into cyberspace at this incredible
pace. Even government and business leaders who abhor the Internet's
anarchy are being drawn into its chaotic embrace. Along with
the exponential growth the Internet is experiencing, we are
also seeing major advances being made in other important new
technologies, such as human stem cell research, biology-based
computers, and high-speed wireless communications, just to
mention a few. Underpinning much of this progress is the communications
medium we call the Internet.
With each passing day, the
Internet extends its tendrils of information ever more deeply
into our lives. In hundreds of little ways, most of which
are never even noticed, our species-mind is growing and evolving
in cyberspace. Each day brings with it a new wave of minds,
each one experiencing the Internet for the first time. There
are now only a few hundred million minds that frequent cyberspace,
but before the next two decades have passed there will be
billions of minds with access to the Net. What will a first
Internet experience be like for them? I speak not about new
technology here but about the degree of freedom we will have
in cyberspace at that time. The answer to that question, of
course, is wide open. It has not been predetermined that speech
will remain free on the Internet, nor has it been clearly
established what is even meant by "free speech"
in relation to the Net. These great issues remain for us,
as a global community-at-large, to define. Reality is in our
Consciously Evolving Reality
"Man is born free, and everywhere he
is in chains."
Social Contract (1762)
In what kind of universe do
you live? Is your world view still governed by Newton's laws
of mechanics, or do you live in a quantum mechanical universe?
If you hold a belief in the laws of quantum mechanics, then,
if you haven't already done so, you may want to adjust your
world view to fit your physics. In a quantum mechanical universe,
"reality" depends on observation to precipitate
the objective world out of a myriad of quantum possibilities.
The fact that you are not a nuclear physicist does not mean
you can ignore the implications of their discoveries. A revolution
of consciousness has already begun!
How do you read the title
of this section? Do you think it means, "[We are] Consciously
Evolving Reality," or do you think it means that reality
is evolving on its own, but in a conscious manner, i.e., "Reality,
Consciously Evolving?" I see it both ways. My point is
that it is wise to keep in mind that the various ways in which
we use and interpret our language is what shapes our view
of reality. Listen to what Terence McKenna has to say about
evolution and language:
That's why it is so important to communicate, for all of
us to put our best foot forward, to put our best metaphors
on the table. Because we can move no faster than the evolution
of our language. And this is certainly part of what the
psychedelics are about: they force the evolution of language.
And no culture, so far as I am aware, has ever consciously
tried to evolve its language, with the awareness that evolving
language was evolving reality. (4)
If McKenna is correct, and
I believe he is, what can we do to accelerate the evolution
of language itself? Sadly, we have allowed ourselves to reach
a point where we have actually outlawed most entheogens, and
where we have marginalized persons who practice various shamanic
techniques, which are some of our best tools for linguistic
evolution. We have been so arrogant as to brand Mother Nature
an outlaw for evolving and continuing to grow these plants.
For all but a few brave psychonauts and shamans, using entheogens
to accelerate the evolution of language is far too dangerous
to undertake. Fortunately, a new communications technology
has evolved-one that can launch us into a mind-space in which
we can more rapidly evolve our language, and thus our reality.
Those who hear Gaia's plaintive cry for help can now use the
portal of the Internet to launch their minds into cyberdelic
space. It is there that the collective human species-mind,
the noosphere, can enter into union with Gaian consciousness
and form a true World Soul, which has the power to evolve
our common reality any way we choose.
By suggesting that the Internet
serve our species as a new sacred medium, I am in no way implying
that the shamans and psychonauts of this world discontinue
using various archaic techniques for entering entheospace.
However, I think most of these bold warriors will agree that
only those with the requisite mind-set will want to undertake
some of the more demanding ecstatic practices. What I am saying
is that we now have a tool, the Internet, which all persons
on Earth can eventually use to expand their consciousness.
Within twenty years, virtually all people on the planet will
be able to launch their minds into cyberspace. Once there,
the minds that are most in tune with Gaian consciousness will
find their way to cyberdelic space where they can come together,
in all their complexity, and jointly awaken in the noosphere.
Will entering entheospace by
way of cyberdelic space provide less potential for mind expansion
than the ingestion of entheogens? This depends upon how one
defines "potential." I see the different portals
for entering entheospace as having more of an effect on the
type of thinking than on a potential for expansion of mind.
For example, reports from shamans about their journeys after
ingesting a sacred plant sometimes convey an other worldly
or cosmic perspective of the reality they encountered. This
is both good and necessary, but as The Tibetan Book of the
Dead warns, "Do not take pleasure in the soft white light
of the gods, do not be attracted to it or yearn for it."
Only extremely well grounded people are able to resist the
lure of the ecstatic experience that is found in psychedelic
space. It takes years of training for a shaman or psychonaut
to learn how to move beyond the god-realm, where existence
is full of pleasure but is often unproductive. Entering entheospace
through the portal of cyberspace may provide a degree of protection
from this appealing trap for those who do not have a serious
enough intent in the beginning.
Recently, I had the good fortune
to receive a copy of a little book titled Brainticklers II.
Imagine my delight, when reading the introduction to this
book, to hear the authors say:
Questions jump start thoughts. Within the world of chemistry
and physics, thoughts can be understood as chemical reactions
with electromagnetic effects in the mind and body. Since
every action ripples subtly through the universe, it appears
that all thinking has universal impact. Our thoughts also
shape our beliefs which, in turn, frame our every action,
whether as individuals or as nations. As technology propels
us forward into the age of information, thoughts have become
more transformative than in any previous millennium.
Often a question must be asked before significant new thoughts
In addition to being a tool
to use in tailoring one's world view to quantum reality, this
book exemplifies the old adage that questions are far more
important than their answers. What sets Brainticklers II apart
from other such exercises is that to answer them you first
move your mind forward in time to the year 3000. If you follow
the authors' brief instructions, I think you will find that
the questions they pose will actually force your mind to expand.
Here are a few examples:
To what degree will humans be able to manage and prevent
what we now call natural catastrophes-tornadoes, earthquakes,
lightning? How would society decide when to intervene? (7)
If we find positive proof of extraterrestrial life, how
will this affect our view of God, angels, ourselves? (8)
In 3000, what 20th century human-built structure will be
visited by the most people? Why? What human-built structure
of the 20th century is most likely to confuse people in
3000 as to its purpose? Why? (9)
Before you ponder these questions,
first try answering them from the perspective of a person
living in the year 1000 who is being asked these questions
about the year 2000. By so doing you will stretch the bounds
of your consciousness just enough to let it expand into a
space where it begins to form rational answers to questions
like these. If you take the time to think about such large
questions you will soon see how they effectively stretch your
mind. By joining discussion groups that are working on similar
questions, your consciousness cannot help expanding. Already
there are thousands of global discussions taking place on
topics that are directly related to the long-term survival
or our species and the environment in which we live. Maybe
it is time for you to add your voice to this worldsong, if
you have not already done so.
The evolution of our consensual
reality is one of the most important projects to which we
can apply the new technology we call "Virtual Reality,"
VR. As the pioneers in this new medium of mind improve their
art, everyone will benefit. Before long, this technology will
reach the point where you can enter a VR world that is governed
by the laws of nature you establish, and is also very realistic
in its primary details. As you become the master of your virtual
worlds, you will find it much easier to bring these visions
to physical fruition once your mind returns from cyberspace.
By first exploring new modes of living in virtual worlds,
we will be much better equipped to navigate our way through
the infinity of parallel universes that await our arrival.
For our species to survive, it seems imperative that we build
a new consensual reality, one that fosters a deep understanding
of our planet's ecology.
"We see what we believe and not just
and to change what we see it is sometimes necessary
to change what we believe."
The Cosmic Serpent (1999)
While it is not my intention
to provide a specific plan of action, throughout this book
I offer suggestions on ways in which one might better infuse
oneself with the spirit of the Internet and thus become a
more integral part of the noosphere. The following is a brief
summary of these earlier suggestions.
Have Daily Conversations with Gaia
From time to time I have read
scholarly speculations about the birth of the ego. One school
of thought on this subject is that, until around the time
of the Greek poet Homer, when men and women heard a little
voice in their head they thought they were hearing the voice
of the gods speaking directly to them. Eventually, some hypothesize,
it was recognized that this little voice was actually the
human ego and not the gods speaking directly to us. Perhaps
it is time to reconsider the source of those little voices.
Perhaps our ancient ancestors actually did hear voices other
than their own.
this past year, I have paid more attention to the source of
some of my thoughts. In doing so, I have come to the realization
that more and more of my thinking has to do with this planet,
her ecology, and the biosphere as a whole. My Western-trained
mind, of course, notes that these thoughts obviously come
from somewhere in the depths of my psyche, that my subconscious
has deemed it time to bring these thoughts to the surface
of my mind. Yet I cannot help thinking that perhaps, just
perhaps, it is Gaia's voice I am hearing. Is it possible,
I wonder, that humankind became so enamoured of this thing
we call the ego that we lost our awareness that there are
other entities who still communicate with us in some non-verbal
ways? Shamans claim to have the ability to communicate with
non-human entities. Why shouldn't everyone be able to use
this facility, I ask myself?
Now I approach these questions
from a different point of view. To satisfy my Western mind,
I allow for the possibility that these thoughts of deep
ecology that seem to spring forth unbidden are simply
evidence of my own consciousness becoming more aware of the
world in which it finds itself. To satisfy my soul, I like
to think that Gaia is speaking directly to me. So, when I
see a little shard of glass while walking on the beach, it
isn't my conscience telling me to pick it up, it is Gaia,
herself. For me, the message has more meaning if I think of
it in this way. In the end it really does not matter where
these thoughts are coming from, as long as I heed them.
If you give it just a little
thought, you know, deep in your heart, that it is important
that we quickly change the way we are treating our environment.
Our little planet is groaning under the weight of the billions
and billions of human beings who have come to live here. Most
nations on Earth have strict laws governing the admission
of new residents. Yet where are our planetary restrictions
on the admission of new spirits who come to live in human
bodies? Common sense alone reveals population control as the
starting point for much environmental action. Recycling is
no longer an option, it is one of our more important survival
strategies. Searching out and supporting companies that have
a Gaian consciousness, "green" companies, is no
longer just a nice thing to do, it is a survival strategy
for our species.
Unfortunately, most of us do
not have the luxury of spending as much time outdoors as we
would like. In fact, most of us spend more time involved with
our technology than we do with what we think of as nature.
Think of how many daily interactions each of us has with technology.
Our kitchens, bathrooms, sources of entertainment and news,
books, even the shoes we wear while walking in the woods are
all technological artifacts. Just because our species has
become quite expert at harnessing technology doesn't mean
our technology is without spirit. This book is about some
of the ways in which the Internet is infused with spirit.
It is not a cold or dead piece of machinery. The Internet
is as much a product of the evolution of life as we are. It
is the physical manifestation of our species-consciousness.
Through the proper use of this sacred medium we can not only
communicate with each other, but also better understand what
is on Gaia's mind.
Join and Build New Communities
It is belaboring the point
to continue encouraging you to become more active in the universe
of global villages that are to be found on the Internet. Yet
this may be a good place to make it clear that there are many
important online communities that do not have their focus
only on the ecological crisis our species is now facing.
Virtual communities are forming
around every aspect of our lives and the life of this planet.
One of the great advantages the Internet brings us is that
no longer are we restricted to only the physical communities
in which we spend our daily lives. Granted, it is very important
for us to remain involved in our local communities, be they
small towns, farming communities, or a neighborhoods in a
larger city. It is to these communities we can bring the lessons
we learn from the virtual communities to which we also belong.
The human mind is far too great
to be constricted to just the confines of these physical bodies
that now support our consciousness. Human consciousness is,
or at the very least appears to be, one of the high points
reached in the evolution of biological life on this planet.
This great gift of consciousness is far too precious to remain
in just one geographic location. There are countless communities
of mind already functioning in the Internet, but if you don't
find one to suit you then begin to build your own community
While I appreciate the concept
of virtual communities, I would like for us to develop a better
way to think of these assemblages of minds. Again, I am dissatisfied
with the word "virtual." Online communities are
every bit as real as the community in which your body interacts.
As you become more involved with this new form of community
you will experience, at your deepest level of awareness, just
how real are these minds with whom you have connected. Not
one of us is alone on this journey through space and time.
At times our situations may seem to be without hope, yet we
know better. We are truly all connected, both to each other
and to all life forms. So it really comes down to opening
up your life a little more. If you do, you will most certainly
find one or more communities of mind in which you can live
I find it remarkable that there
are still so many people who do not see how their daily actions,
collectively compounded by millions of others, are destroying
our environment. In the United States, our gluttony has made
millionaires out of many fast food kings. That same gluttony
is one of the primary reasons the Amazon's rainforests are
being decimated. Fully one-third of all the species of life
to be found on this planet live in this incredible place.
Yet we endlessly quest for another hamburger, more lumber,
more captive birds for our homes, and on, and on, and on it
goes until the day arrives that we discover that it actually
is too late! What are we going to do then?
Hopefully, there may still
be time to stop this rape of Gaia's body. It is important
that we quickly come to an understanding, on the level of
our species-consciousness, that we are literally ripping out
our own lungs, not just in the Amazon, but in forests throughout
the globe. The Internet is a good place to begin spreading
more awareness of these important issues. Perhaps what we
are now seeing, as the green movement continues to grow in
cyberspace, is the first stirrings of awakening in the noosphere,
the awakening of our collective consciousness.
Just because the Internet provides
nearly instantaneous access to information, patience and advance
planning are still required when purchasing material objects
from online merchants. The next time you order something online,
take a deep breath just before selecting the shipping option,
and then select the most energy-efficient method your schedule
will allow. This is not always going to be an easy decision.
It may even take some research on your part to find the best
shipping methods for a given product. (10)
Assume responsibility for even the smallest details in your
life, for they are directly connected to everyone else's little
details, which if left unattended can sometimes roll up into
a big problem for our environment.
If your company offers a work
at home policy, take advantage of it. Telecommuters and other
home-based workers are already reducing our nation's overall
energy consumption. Today most of these savings are in the
form of lowered energy requirements for commuting to and from
work. As more businesses see the value in having home-based
employees, we hope to also see a reduction in the construction
of large office complexes along with their high energy demands.
If your company does not offer the option of working at home
a few days a week, promote the idea yourself if it makes sense
for your type of business.
Now that human consciousness
has become actively involved in directing some of the processes
of evolution, we each have the option of deciding how big
a part we wish to play in the conscious evolution of our species.
These are serious steps we are taking, and if we let our hearts
be guided solely by personal desires and greed, what are we
teaching our children? It is by our examples that we teach
our children, and our children are the ones who will soon
be called upon to make some very difficult decisions-decisions
that will affect the state of all life on this planet for
millennia to come. Let us teach our children well.
Help Save Free Speech
It will come as no surprise
that there are mighty forces being marshaled in an effort
to end the freedom of speech we now enjoy on the Internet.
The surprise to many people, however, may come in knowing
the source of one of these threats. While we citizens of the
U.S. smugly assume that it is only communist dictators who
want to limit access to information, we have not been paying
close enough attention to our own back yard.
One official United States
government web site has already been caught planting hidden
on the personal computers of some people. (11)
Allied with businesses that record our meanderings through
cyberspace to better target advertisements, the White House
was caught using information gathered from reading cookies
to track the Internet habits of people who appeared to have
any kind of interest in "drugs." This illegal monitoring
of U.S. citizens even included surveillance of people who
were reading about ways in which to keep their children from
getting involved with drugs. If you ever visited the White
House web site and on some later date visited another web
site that discussed any aspect of drugs, there is a good chance
your name still is filed under "drug interested person"
in a government data base.
Another instance of a governmental
attack on free speech and privacy comes from the United States
Congress. In 1996, Congress passed legislation providing for
censorship of a significant amount of online information.
This was done under the guise of protecting our children.
Fortunately, our courts struck down this proscriptive legislation.
The fact that restricting free
speech is unconstitutional does not seem to bother today's
legislator. Using our children as a shield to pass Internet
censorship legislation did not make it past the courts. Today,
the War on Drugs is the reason being given to restrict what
is already widely available information, both on the Net and
in print. Champions of the emotional anti-flag burning crowd,
Senators Orinn Hatch and Dianne Feinstein have also teemed
up to bring us the "Methamphetamine Anti-Proliferation
Act of 1999." From its title, this act sounds like legislation
the majority of Americans would favor. The heart of this act,
however, has something far greater in mind than controlling
an outlawed substance. It is information that is the target
of this act. Here is what one online news organization has
to say about it:
The Methamphetamine Anti-Proliferation Act shows a complete
disregard for the First Amendment and the principles upon
which it was based. Hatch and Feinstein's alliance represents
a desperate attempt to stop the flow of information to a
public that has grown increasingly tired of a war on drugs
that appears to be both ill-reasoned and socially harmful.
It may be difficult to understand
what is going on here, but veterans of free speech battles
involving the Internet are well aware that those in positions
of power will take whatever means necessary, under any guise
they choose, to restrict our access to information. Laws like
those proposed by Hatch and Feinstein are obviously unenforceable.
Even elementary school children know enough about the Internet
to realize that there simply is no way to constantly check
and re-check links on every web page to see if they lead to
some "unacceptable" information. What acts like
this are meant to do is to force people to censor their web
sites for fear of being arrested if they provide a link to
any information our esteemed members Congress do not think
we are mature enough to have. Let us as least be honest in
our debates and list these confrontations under their proper
category, the War on Freely Available Information.
In the final analysis, free
speech is actually the cornerstone of the Internet experience.
Those who have already experienced this wonderful and exciting
exchange of ideas and information have, I believe, an obligation
to see that the Net remains a place where any and all ideas
may be freely exchanged. As Erik Davis so clearly points out,
however, we cannot simply sit back and expect to see the Internet's
atmosphere of freedom remain unchecked:
The Dutch media activist Geert Lovink calls the initial
years of the Net's mass popularity Dream Time: "a short
period of collective dreaming, passionate debates, gatherings,
and quick money to be made." Unfortunately, such periods
do not last long before they succumb to the tug of more
prosaic historical forces, and especially to the powerful
undertow of money and power. In different ways, this has
been the sad story of communication utopias from the telegraph
to radio to television. Creative possibilities and novel
social forms are winnowed and routinezed [sic]; technologies
are packaged for consumers rather than hacked; commercial
interests and the state alike colonize the new communications
space as a "natural" extension of their domains.
Whether or not the Internet will simply replicate this
admittedly simplistic scheme remains to be seen. (14)
The Internet has given our
species its best hope yet to break free from the shackles
of those who want to control information for their own ends.
Since the earliest days of the Net, the mantra has always
been, "Information wants to be free." We all have
a big stake in how securely the basic human right of free
speech becomes established on the Internet, and it is up to
every one of us to do our part, no matter how insignificant,
to ensure that freedom of speech remains a fundamental characteristic
of the Internet.
There are many things you can
do about attacks on free speech. If you are technically inclined,
become involved in the work of the Internet
Engineering Task Force (IETF). (15)
So far they have done a terrific job in keeping the government
at bay. Or write to your Congressperson and Senators about
your beliefs regarding free speech and the Internet. Perhaps
you agree with legislation that I find too restrictive. If
so, then do some research, establish your position, and then
make your position clear to your family, friends, and neighbors.
But in one way or another, take part in the global discussion
of this issue. Whatever you do, please do not take your right
of free speech and its resulting state of cognitive liberty
for granted. It is perhaps our last and only hope for building
a better world.