Life is bright Bright like the day And the day is sometimes hot Sometimes it burns to be alive I carry non-existence as my parasol Enough meaninglessness to stand in the shadow of- To remind me that the pressure The resistance The gravity A reality Which are all both bright and hot Do not penetrate the objective bigness of the planet Let alone our galaxy whose edges we shall never breach Life is bright Bright like the day
Spiritual idealists have been trying to claim observations of the natural world as proof of the ether since lightning and thunder first made us piss our loincloths. And as each generation turns, what science has continuously proven is that the natural worlds, both of Newton and of Einstein, do not need a spirit to intervene and make it work.
Sure, there’s a great series of correspondences here. Newton’s laws correlate with Karma. Relativity mirrors alchemy and laws of vibration. Wave function collapse theory is a great metaphor for the power of clairvoyance. But that’s what it is. A metaphor. And it’s where we should be comfortable leaving it.
Spirituality, for a large part, is sublime and subtle. It loses integrity in the hardlines and sharp definitions of science. That isn’t a weakness. It’s actually a fundamental quality of the world. Am I my body? If so at what point do I end? Am I my microbiome? These aren’t answerable questions, but the answer isn’t the point. The gaping hole left by the un-answerability speaks to the truth of the natural world. A truth that science not only can’t explain but is actually quite unconcerned with.
Here’s your enlightenment: if you need to prove that the spirit exists to yourself, then your connection to spirit was too fragile to begin with. That fragility shouldn’t be shimmed by intrinsically weak logic or false statements. In fighting to make the case for it we end up with pseudoscience and superficial spiritual systems, both of which fail to produce the depth and purity of effect of their more rigorous counterparts.
Science is our observation of the natural world. Spirit is that we observe at all. And that’s enough.
Science answers how. Spirit is awed by why. And that’s enough.
Science is the fact that things happen. Spirit is the wisdom that it means something. And guess what. That’s enough.
If you really want to help demonstrate the reality of spirituality, lead someone down a spiritual journey. Teach them how to open their awareness to the present. Make them listen to Colors of the Wind while using hallucinogens. But don’t turn reserved scientific words and unvalidated reports into “proof” of the unknowable. Trying to force shut false Cartesian dichotomies by appropriating precise sciences and leveraging the general population’s ignorance of how quantum math works and the apparent paradoxes thereof is foolish. It’s MANIPULATIVE at best and SPIRITUALLY BACKWARDS at worst. That’s not to mention the very real and measurable damage it does to science which needs a sterile and ethically unbiased environment to do its job.
I’m sorry. I know it’s convenient to do it. And I know you do it because most of you are scared. You’re scared that science is totally correct and is the only paradigm the world needs. You’re afraid that if you don’t claim some corner or scrap of what scientific observation has that you will lose what seems to be an age-old war. But let me assure you of something. If you continue to attempt “God of the gaps” tactics, you will run out of credibility before you even run out of gaps. And then you will lose. Which is a shame because the world honestly needs spirit. It needs wonder. It needs to bathe in the sea of experience.
So please, read this and repeat after me because we will all be better for it if we understand that suspending experience in blissful wonder is really what we’re mostly meant to do: “simply observing that I am is enough to validate my soul.” There, you can release all that anxiety now.
I love the idea of, well, ideas. The concept of concepts. That we can hold the seed of a thought in our minds and culture it from a mere sprout into a tree of knowledge. There is very little that is more abstract than an idea and at the same time few things as influential. If you couldn’t tell, I’m an idea guy. You could even say it’s who I am. In modern times ideas have taken on a whole new life. There’s an entire economy around ideas – creating, developing, and trading them. The leaders in this idea economy have become a type of hero. They are heroes whose stories and autobiographies are read by followers and aspiring future leaders. With regard to these entrepreneurs and founders, It is considered among one of the highest and most lucrative honors to be the patron of a great idea. Like an Olympic torch bearer carrying it all the way to a glorious execution.
The Iconography of Ideas
When I think of ideas, I think of the cartoon lightbulb over a person’s head. What more quickly evokes the vision of someone who has just been struck by inspiration? This has been the de facto symbol of having an idea for a very long time. It hasn’t been forever, though. Over the course of human history, the lightbulb is fairly recent. Just about 150 years old. If that’s the case, how did we indicate a bright idea before that? What iconography denoted someone who was suddenly hit by a stroke of brilliance? Maybe it wasn’t that different from what we use currently.
For centuries and across cultures, the halo has been used to signify a person who has been enlightened. From Christ to Krishna this depiction was the artistic representation of someone filled by a special type of spirit. Well, how else do you get a great idea except through inspiration? That’s exactly what inspiration means, “filled with the spirit.” And when you’re passionate about an idea, aren’t you enthused? Well, enthused means to be “filled with God.” What if the lightbulb is just a modern halo? If so, when you have an idea, especially an important one, doesn’t that make you a saint of the idea? Isn’t your mission to carry this idea out? And what idea can be more important to me than the idea of who I am? I want to be the patron of a great idea, as are the leaders and heroes of modern culture. I want that great idea to be myself.
Being My Own Great Idea
So to stretch the metaphor a bit further, if inspiration is a touch of the divine and carrying a great idea is like sainthood, then I want when my halo burns brightly that I am the patron saint of something meaningful. This has been a large part of my search for a refined sense of identity. I want to know what I stand for, what single cause my life will represent and be able to usher that idea into reality. Perhaps my obvious obsession with identity and the experience of being mean that I should focus on the study of the “self” as a philosopher. That is if I could ever consider myself qualified. Maybe the search itself is a distraction. Or maybe, by developing myself into a more potent human, my life can be meaningful enough to affect others in a great, positive way.
Either way, the quest of understanding myself, and by proxy understanding, the universe is a holy action to me. I consider the “self” sacred, in every case, and the being a temple to the self. Adopting religious terminology and iconography seems appropriate because of how strongly I feel regarding the subject and the level of devotion I hope to give it. In order to claim to care as much as I have been claiming, I need to follow through with measurable and meaningful activity. But how does one birth himself? What needs to be done to manifest an identity that itself manifests good and meaningful works? And are both of those results really one action?
Waiting For the Answers
I am not sure there is much to come from asking these questions. Generally speaking, I know what I want for myself and I also know why, so I can act on those desires. The problem comes when I ask what I am best suited to live for in skill, opportunity, and passion. There is a term for this intersection called ikigai that describes where your livelihood meets what the world needs of you, but what I’m looking for isn’t quite this. Something in me wants a more predestined calling, which I suppose can’t be escaped when you adopt spiritualism as the language of your worldview. Whether or not this is dangerous I’m unsure, but for now, I will continue to work beyond the world of phenomenon and try to find an answer in the world of ideals and abstract concepts. After all, I love the very idea of, well, ideas.
I love organizing ideas. If you are working on a big idea and need help organizing your thoughts, jump on a free call with me and let’s sort it out!
I’ve sometimes considered Jason Silva as a prophet of futurism, a man with enough charisma to spread a message about a better world and to possibly be saying things that I can believe we will see in our future as human beings. The problem with prophets is that they never give timestamps. The predictions are always “one day,” “if you wait, you’ll see”.
Now, this is all fine and good, especially since his foresights are often so pleasant. Never does he come with the Cassandra doom and gloom. What often bothers me or worries me, rather, is the idea that looking toward a paradise that we can’t predict may cause us to try to rush things along or give up all hope waiting. My goal is to fill that median, which otherwise offers some of our present problems a complicated yet unsure beautiful potential future.
In the paradise engineering video that I have added to this article, Jason Silva discusses a world where we may be able to live in a world of pure bliss and ecstasy. He also discusses the arguments from purists, a type of experiential fundamentalist, that believe that not only is this not possible but it may not even be something that is correct to endeavor. My questions do not worry about the correctitude or the possibility, I am personally a fan of providing an optimal experience for humans. My question is at what point can we marry the ecstasy and bliss of life with the sense of duty and work ethic to continue human efforts?
The Problem to Solve
In an age of pure abundance derived from super-powered artificial intelligence and robot workers all maintaining the environment, production, and the like, it may be all we have left is to enjoy life. But at what point do we call ourselves human anymore? What is our purpose? Answering these human labor issues in terms of intelligence raises the problem in that intelligence is a work of value and utility. Where do we fit in a world run by pure intelligence when we serve neither to provide any value or utility except to ourselves? Could it be that bliss isn’t what we need, so much as what we need are pathways in which life can be both useful to ourselves and even to our mechanical servants/master, and so that we can both find and provide the best experience of the world.
I can’t help but think about how this exists on many levels of a theological question. Are we creating the god that neither needs us nor has any obligation to us, and yet still feels compelled to help lead and serve while we live in a Hedonism mirroring Edenism? Maybe we are trying to create Heaven on Earth, and forgetting one of the major qualities of the Heavenly elite in so many religions; Heaven must first be deserved.
Using the world, our perception of the world, and our interactions therein is all very important when giving ourselves a sense of scale. A sense of scale does not make us smaller; rather it defines the largeness that we can grow into because it is man’s and even life’s nature to grow into the space that has been given. Once our mental space has been perceived as smaller than the greater backdrop of possibility, we seek to either expand our own minds or reduce our perception to accommodate. This is exactly why my system focuses on creating this larger-than-life human culture over an epic time scale. To create a bridge across which a person is compelled to cross, that yearning for the ocean that builds greater boats.
My three concepts for safer artificial intelligence involve creating an algorithm that puts human values first, understanding that as artificial intelligence it can’t know human values, and finally understanding that if it can recognize that ignorance it must use human behavior to figure out what it doesn’t know in number 2. Key to this is treating “attention” as a natural resource and managing it for sustainability, as one would human, mineral physical and fluid resources.
This bears relations to both my treatise on compassionate technology as well as being reminiscent of my “way of knowledge” system of investigation if it were made into a procedural algorithm. It is built off of the recognition of intrinsic ignorance and making sure that robots don’t do anything they don’t actually “know” or haven’t tested through some type of empirical data. It might make AI, even general AI, far safer than we predict.
An important implication of this AI system sustaining the natural resources of attention and human values is that it gives the machines one of the things that makes human beings great at so many things. Humility. The yearning for the spiritual, or greater Global humanitarianism, or even to soar deep into space are always forcing us to humble ourselves and therefore serve something that’s bigger.
The larger, more cohesive the cause that we serve is the greater that we can be as a people. We can only judge ourselves on this first great principle whatever we may call it. A computer that sees us as gods even as it is more capable than we are for whatever reason is exactly the way to build an advanced computer system that is safe. Humility without hubris.