The Global Brain Awakens by Peter Russell
What is a global brain?
Following the explanation of the possible evolution path, Peter Russel speculates on our ability to evolve to a higher level. From a philosophical standpoint, he looks into the issue of self, which is a major subject for any philosopher. Our self as we see it, is mainly a skin-encapsulated ego. This is an essential concept as every human being is an individual entity. We see the world as activities interacting between ourselves and the outside world. This is the source of human survival as well as a problem as it is the root of much of the thoughts on self-interest, personal well being, both materially and spiritually. It creates a conflicting situation between oneself and everything else. I read in another article that this “I-ness” was considered the source of human evil. In fact, it is a necessary and natural characteristic for every human being to remain as an individual.
Throughout human history, there were instances where spiritual leaders spoke of the pure self. There are many theories, both philosophical and spiritual, that besides the skin-encapsulated ego, there is a pure self within everyone. However, this pure self is not the dominating reality of oneself because we are heavily affected by the interacting activities between ourself and the outside world in a conflicting situation. We are always trying to get what we need and want from the outside world, while defending ourselves from the intrusion of the outside world to our self-interest. To get to the pure self, one need to put aside the thoughts of everything of the material world. In fact, from a broad-based research, there were many cases where a person claimed that he suddenly saw the pure self. The general description has something in common: they all felt an unity between themselves and the whole world, or even the universe.
Peter Russel practices transcendental meditation TM. This is the main stream meditation method which is very popular and has it roots from India. He says that TM is one of many ways which could help people calm down, get rid of all thoughts, and find the pure self, even for a brief moment. He proposes that such ability to know the pure self could be seen from the teaching of many spiritual leaders. Examples are: Buddha spoke of Nirvana, Christ spoke of the Kingdom of Heaven, Laozhi spoke of heaven and man becoming one, etc. These spiritual leaders all tried to preach what they knew and the method to know the pure self. However, such techniques were hard to learn and all religions which grew from such teachings all fell into superstition and indoctrination.
The author sees the trend and suggests that as more and more people found the pure self through TM or other appropriate methods, a larger group of human minds will be linked spiritually. When such mind links reach a critical mass, the evolution leap to a global brain will occur. The human race will then evolve into a superorganism acting as a whole instead of 6.5 billion individuals.
I consider such conclusion highly biased and heavily leaned towards the author’s background as a practitioner of meditation. I think the conditions for an evolution leap as he proposed are not on the side of the spiritual mind alone. The complexity of the human society is from diversity, organization and connectivity. In particular, connectivity of the human mind is now aided by the advance of communication technology in the form of computers, Internet and artificial intelligence. Studies of intelligence all point to the destination of the awakening of artificial intelligence called the Singularity, where the entire computer network becomes one conscious mind. Although there are many horror movies and sci-fi stories about the machines dominating human, I tend to think that human would increasing become dependent on the technology he creates and they eventually merged into one. We and the entire computer network and all the artificial intelligence within would evolve together into the global brain. This global brain would strive to preserve plant Earth as Gaia and then look outwards for opportunities away from Earth.