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An Introduction
by André Gaudreault


After the work of Copernicus and others had demonstrated that the earth was not the center of the universe but only a part of a much larger system, the world began to change its vision of reality. The process took hundreds of years. Today, because humanity has become a dominant influence on earth, we are faced with another such change: from nature being a convenience for people, to people being a part of nature. The scope is similar. The practical significance is of far greater consequence than the Copernican revolution but we have only a generation to complete the change. ~ Mike Nickerson, Change the World I Want to Stay On

Our attempts to understand nature have always been directed towards four main areas of knowledge: energy, matter, life, and consciousness. Evolution itself has followed the same avenues. Our own evolution is repeatedly going through a similar process: first we recognize, at different degrees of definition, that there is energy present in matter, then this matter is organized into objects for our benefit, and finally this process has the effect of expanding our consciousness. Presently, we are going through one of these phases that will eventually raise our consciousness to a level never attained before. Our present understanding of life processes and the uses, excessive in many instances, that we make of matter are setting the stage for such a necessary step toward a higher level of consciousness.

Since evolution is a dynamic process, it is absolutely necessary to know where we come from if we want to understand where we are at present and where we are going in the future. It is a matter of momentum. Today, in all areas of science, a great deal of energy is being expended in the service of discovering where we stand in nature’s quartet (i.e., energy, matter, life, and consciousness). Unfortunately, since these efforts are made by specialists practicing their "art" in solo, they are mainly being employed to maximize the efficiency of our species' partitions, instead of being applied in concert with Nature in a symphony of life.

Ultimately, play in tunes with nature we will, or suffer dire consequences. The odds are not on our side. Ninety nine percent of all species that have ever lived are now extinct. It is serious. Our next move will be decisive. We have reached the point of no return. All our energies will have to be used in conjoint efforts towards the common goal of survival. Many other species have been confronted with the same predicament, but none, as far as we know, has ever known beforehand that they could do something about it. We do.

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In this essay, I will attempt to clarify some fundamental fallacies buried in our collective unconscious that we have committed in the course of our evolution, and which are affecting the perception that we have of our stance in the symphony of life.

To “set the tone,” let us look, as an example, at how Francis Crick–Noble laureate for his work in the discovery of the mechanisms of life (genes)–is looking at the soul and consciousness from the point of view of science, in his book, The Astonishing Hypothesis (1994). We must agree with Crick’s learned description of neurophysiology's state of research on these subjects, even if we should not agree with his philosophical standpoint and with his conclusions. Our disagreement should not be with his beliefs in the urgent need to step up research on consciousness, but with his beliefs in the way this research should be conducted. From the start, indeed, he wholeheartedly dismisses philosophy and strongly calls for an escalation of scientific experiments, because, according to him, the record of science in the search for truth is a lot more convincing than that of philosophy.

I must say that the record of one is not better than that of the other. All the assertions about truth are matters of timing and points of view. Indeed, as is the case with our past beliefs, many of today's "scientific" beliefs eventually will be looked at with contempt by future generations of people, who will then be in the process of uncovering today's hidden philosophical jewels and posthumously paying respect to the philosophers among us who are presently treasuring these jewels.—This is the price that true philosophers have to pay to perceive Reality’s leading edge.

The sciences are the flowers of our civilization. The sole evolutionary function of flowers —beside the "pleasure" they provide us — is to yield fruits, only to fade away and make room for new generations. Flowers have absolutely nothing to do with the successes or the failures of the fruits that they bear. When successes happen among seeds, the flowers that were there forerunners have long since disappeared. These successes and failures have to do with grounds of reality that are alien to flowers.

That today's scientists can be so sure of their philosophical stance and so convinced of their own endurance, follows from the fact that the last relevant philosophical breakthroughs supporting their beliefs were opportunistically made, at the beginning of this century, by “giants,” Einstein, Mach, Plank, De Broglie, Heisenberg, Bohr, etc, a long time ago in scientific terms. It is also true that other important breakthroughs outside of science have also been made by professional philosophers during the same period, but these breakthroughs were always made in accordance with the scientific points of view that were in style at the time.

That these scientific standpoints could not, and still cannot be drastically criticized, as they should have been and still should be, is due to the fact that those outside of the specialized sciences lack the knowledge to differentiate between the "profundity" and the "obscurity" of these standpoints.

Consequently, all the latest breakthroughs in science have been made from academic disciplinary stances that have the effect of restricting scientists, and all of us with them, to setting a course on the particular path of realism that we are now condemned to follow for economic reasons, given the many existing social activities that are following the presently well established trends that modern scientists have convincingly set for us.

We are, indeed, condemned by science to keep to the beaten track of a limited representation of nature. But there still remain a possibility for us to realign our minds on other aspects of reality. I believe, along with Mike Nickerson, who wants to "change the world," that our efforts in cognition have to be drastically redirected, in much the same manner as they were when Copernicus reorganized the heavens at the dawn of the scientific era. This overdue revolution in our interpretation of the observations and suppositions that we are making in and about our microcosm (e.g., quantum mechanics, and string theory), and the discovery of the new meanings that these observations should have for our every day lives, will be as important and distressful for science as were Copernicus' De Revolutionibus and Galileo's Sidereus Nuncius for religion at the time.

Some are calling for a new Einstein in social science who will create a theory to solve our present existential problems. I am calling for a change of our point-of-view in the mental realm that will be accepted by everybody, — whether they be lay persons, natural or social scientists, or philosophers — and that will have the potential to transform our concept of reality before it is too late.

The alarm has already gone off. We must awaken to this new reality that is emerging in our mist and unite our minds in a spirit of cooperation across all realms of social activities: politics, business, judiciary, academia, religion, art, and domestic affairs.

It should not matter that from within each of these realms the present situation of the world seems overly complex. The solutions to our present predicament, if there are solutions to be found, will not come from within any single realm of activity, but from a point of view encompassing all of them. The infrastructures needed to achieve together this integration are already being set up in a World Wide Web of information.

This essay is an attempt to lay down stepping-stones amidst the stream of "uncertainties" that Western civilization encountered at the beginning of the twentieth century, and alongside which humanity has been drag on aimless pathways of information by normal-science. I intend to show that it is this stream of uncertainties that the "information superhighway" has to bridge, in order for all of humanity to peacefully enjoy the openness of the other bank, where we will all be more at ease, in our respective fields, to work at finding viable solutions to the problems created by our chaotic entry in the Third Millennium

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"Our time is a time for crossing barriers, for erasing old categories—for probing around. When two seemingly disparate elements are imaginatively poised, put in opposition in new and unique ways, startling discoveries often result." ~ Marshall McLuhan, The Medium Is the Message
". . . who will have the responsibility for lifting us out of the social and ecological morass into which we are inexorably driving ourselves[?]" ~ Noam Chomsky

The reason we are driving ourselves into an evolutionary morass is that we have indeed let the ultimate medium, ourselves, become the message. We have thus created an environment of knowledge, in which we have evolved as contented prisoners of a four-dimensional reality that we perceive from our limited point of view.

It has become our common responsibility to liberate ourselves from this intellectual and emotional confinement. Once we set ourselves free, we will have the opportunity to explore new dimensions of reality, while still using, at the outset, the mental tools that we have perfected with the meager resources that we had at our disposal during the relatively short period of our sapiens incarceration (In a philosophical cave). But, before we make any significant move as a species, a new sense of direction will have to be given to humanity as a whole.

Who will accomplish this task? Scientists? I doubt it. They are too respectful of the established rules. Philosophers? Please! They are still prisoners of Plato’s cave. Politicians? Good grief! These days, the term elected leaders has become oxymoron. Financiers? My Lord! I implore you, don’t let it ever happen. Businessmen? Well, maybe! If there is money to be made out there, that is where they’ll be.

To attempt such a move, though, is not the business of any of these people. If we are entering "the outer edges of reality," we need concepts that are at the outer edges of science, philosophy, politics and religion. We need ideas that haven’t been tried yet. So, by definition, none of the members of the previously mentioned establishments can go there before these concepts have been established.

It is not that our institutions will have to be relinquished. Not at all. In these outer edges of reality, all of our social institutions [e.g., military institutions] will become objective entities that we will have to use for the betterment of humanity as a whole as our ancestors learned to use sticks and stones for their own survival, when they first grew out of their instinctive state of mind and evolved into the self-centered gender Homo that we have become.

Since the time has come for us to consciously go forward in evolution, the onus is on us to understand the supramental reality that is opening itself up at the outer edges of our mental confinement, and which will become our next theater of operations. (The term "supramental" was coined by Sri Aurobindo, I believe, and Satprem used it in La genese du surhomme / Essais d’évolution experimental. Buchet/Chastel, 1974. )

For this, we will need a new paradigm— again, made of trials and errors. This time, though, it will be somewhat easier, since we will have a collective memory of the mistakes that we made as sapiens. But, even then, this new paradigm will still be "incommensurable" (it will have nothing to do) with the one we are presently using to make sense of our sapiens perspectives.

We have become used to thinking we know what we are talking about. The truth is, we simply don’t know. At the "End of History," we are like newborns: we have all the potential, but we still have to raise ourselves in a new environment, as Homo novus.

We should not worry. From now on, everything will be okay. I believe that the worst of this rebirth process is behind us. As a pregnant species, indeed, we have suffered all the pain that we can endure, and spilt all the blood that we can afford. We need to set ourselves free from our own womb and take our first breath in this dimension that is opening up in front of us. Our first moment of rebirth will not exhibit itself as a burst of tears, as it does when we transit alone, as individuals, from unconsciousness to consciousness, but conversely, as a collective burst of laughter, once we have finally entered the supramental stage of our development, as a new species.

The process has already begun. We are presently going through a human paradigm shift, which will have the same significance for everybody in all realms of societies: for academics and common law prisoners, for drug dealers and politicians, for Palestinians and Jews, for Christians and Muslims, for atheists and believers, and for lay people in general to scientists in particular. The process of cultural differentiation through which we had to go during our common gestatory past as sapiens foetus will no longer matter. Nobody will be excluded. This collective achievement will be a rebirth for all of us. The era into which we are entering must be an era of global understanding and forgiveness, or there will be no new era. We will have become a stillborn species. . . .

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Many of us know intuitively that such a momentous change is happening. The media is thriving on it. Presently there is an ad on TV for a well-known insurance company, telling us that "nothing remains constant, but change itself." Welcome aboard! This is a nice way to remind us that we are alive. This slogan is indeed a decent interpretation of homeostasis, the most fundamental principle of life, defined as the tendency of biological systems to maintain an internal state of equilibrium in response to the changes in the environment.

This tendency to homeostasis is indeed present in all living systems, from individual cells to organisms to the biosphere as a whole. The process is dynamic and universal. In the domain of life, changes happen constantly. Each level of organization has both a direct and an indirect influence on the state of equilibrium of all the other levels, from within cells to the biosphere as a whole.

What is important, here, is not solely that each level of organization has a tendency to maintain internal equilibrium, but the fact that, in order for this dynamic equilibrium to be maintained, there must be communication between all adjacent levels of organization. When there is a lack of communication between levels, diseases occur. As an example, some researchers have found that the reason cancerous cells multiply themselves anarchically may be due to the fact that signals for their divisions are not coming from outside the cells, as they usually do in normal cells, but from inside the cancerous cells. This has the consequence of producing an uncontrolled growth of cells (cancer), having no relation to the functions normally carried out by these cells in the organ that constitutes their environment.

If the biosphere is effectively a living organism, as I believe it is, then it is obvious that human individuals are behaving like cancerous cells. This is the problem. The biosphere is suffering from a collective brain tumor, a cancer only interested in its own growth. If this is the case, then the only rational thing to do at the moment is to find ways for us to go into remission. The present essay is an attempt to show the world that such a remission is possible; and that, if it happens, it will be exquisite in ways that cannot be foreseen.

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"... populations and organisms are quite different kinds of systems with different kinds of structure. To speak of them as ‘sharing a common attribute’ [cancer, in our case] is to obscure what should be kept clear." ~ T. A. Goudge

Goudge is basing this assertion on the differentiation that he previously made between the concepts of organism and population, in the section ‘Populations as the units of evolution’ in his book, The Ascent of Life:

"[Many] considerations are relevant to the contention that both individual organisms and populations have a ‘structure’. If this term is understood in a general sense to refer to the fact that in both cases we can distinguish a set of parts having a certain spatial arrangement and certain modes of functional correlation with each other, then the contention is no doubt defensible. But such a general approach fails to take account of the important respects in which the two cases differ. Thus, for example, the parts (cells, tissues, organs, etc.) which enter into the structure of a multicellular plant or animal are so intimately co-ordinated that as a rule they are in direct organic continuity with one another. But the structure of a population is not usually characterized by the organic continuity of its parts (the individuals that compose it). Furthermore, the functioning of the parts of a plant or animal structure is directed toward maintaining a state of relative equilibrium within the organism as a whole or between the organism and its environment [homeostasis]. The behaviour of individuals in a population, however, is not ordinarily directed towards preserving its equilibrium."

But, during the next decade, at the same university, the University of Toronto, Marshall McLuhan was visualizing the effects of the oncoming World Wide Web on the world population in these terms:

"Electric circuitry involves men with one another. Information pours upon us, instantaneously and continuously. As soon as information is acquired, it is very rapidly replaced by still newer information. Our electrically-configured world has forced us to move from habit of data classification to the mode of pattern recognition. We can no longer build serially, block-by-block, step-by-step, because instant communication insures that all factors of the environment and of experience coexist in a state of active interplay." [Also a good description of homeostasis.]

We can see that these two thinkers, Goudge and McLuhan, did not agree. The first was telling us that there is no direct "organic continuity" in populations of individuals, and the second that human populations "coexist in a state of active interplay." Both support my hypothesis, though, that Homo sapiens is giving birth to or is evolving into a new species, Homo novus. Goudge was talking about human populations prior to the advent of the Internet, McLuhan, about the effects that these nascent channels of communications would have on the behavior of human populations. They both were talking about the possibility of the human population being a supraorganism. The first did not believe that we could, simply because, at the time he wrote this, we were not yet one. And the second, without mentioning that we are effectively one, was describing the emerging web of communications between humans, using the same terms that he would have used to describe a living organism in which "all factors of [their] environment and of [their] experience coexist in a state of active interplay." (M. McLuhan, op.cit.)

If we belong to a species that is a living organism, we must prepare our youth to act as individuals belonging to a living organism, by directing their behaviour "toward maintaining a state of relative equilibrium within [society] as a whole [and] between [society] and its environment" (T. A. Goudge, op.cit). We must stop preparing our youth to become part of a viral economy, obsessed by its own growth, at the expense of everything it can invade, just as our financial and political leaders are presently doing with their lustful, selfish, and environmentally pointless investment schemes and their lingering and transparent war peddling.

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"The aim of science is to understand and explain the evolution of natural phenomena by studying the relations which exist between them." ~ Pierre Lecomte du Noüy

At this point I do not expect anybody to understand, from my perspective, the relationship that exists between the stock market and military activities. Many people understand these relationships, but they do it from inside the system, from the point of view of "progress." I do not. My intention is to later explain these relationships as I see them from outside the system, from the point of view of evolution. It will not be easy. No terms are readily available to explain what I mean. All the terms that I can use have obsolescent progressive connotations. I am not interested in progress —especially when I realize where it is leading us. Evolution is the antithesis of progress. I have to forge my sentences in the teeth of progressive conformists, our leaders, from the left as much as from the right, who are making a living leading humanity towards the edge of the deadly cliff.

While the other animals are aware of and adapt to the immediate environment in which they live, they are not aware of the global environment in which they evolve. Everything they perceive (prey, offspring, refuge, etc.) exists as an extension of themselves; the global environment in which they evolve is "invisible" to them : e.g., fish are not aware of the sea in which they swim nor lions of the savannah in which they hunt.

The same is true for us: the four dimensions in which we exist is also an extension of ourselves. During our own evolution as a species, we have always been aware of the local environment in which we were progressing, but we never had any clues about the global environment in which we were —and still are— evolving. We progress within existing paradigms, but evolve into new ones allowing us to eventually expose other levels of reality.

To show this, let us look at some paradigm shifts that happened during our mental progression as Homo. During our journey into the mental world we have been in contact with many different environments. Of course, we have always been part of the same universe, but we have understood it at different levels, using different paradigms.

It all started when we understood that we could use sticks and stones to manage our way through life as a group. The great apes were also using tools —probably the same that they are using now. The difference between them and us resided in the fact that we abstracted the meaning that these "tools" had for us as a group, while apes never did. Tools thus became entities that we could use mentally to collectively plan ahead. It is at this point that we started our journey into the mental dimension of reality, into the "abstract domain." (Monod) From then on, we gained the capacity to "objectify" reality and use it for our own purposes. At first, it was in caves around fires, then around chiefs and elders. By then, we knew a lot about nature, but certainly we were not yet aware of it as an objective entity. We were still like fish in the water, not yet able to objectify such an encompassing entity. There was still a lot of mysticism surrounding the global environment in which we were living. It was only much later, from 5,000 to 10,000 years ago, around the time of the agricultural revolution that we would have become aware of the earth, per se. Paradoxically, it was probably only after we needed to observe the heavens to make out the times of planting and harvesting that we gained the mental capacity to objectify the earth. Even then, it was not the earth as we know it now. It was perceived to be flat and supported by turtles swimming in the sea surrounding us. Even then, we were probably not consciously differentiating between the heavens and the earth. It was only later that we came to understand that there was a heaven above, and that it was of "another nature" than the earth on which we live. By then, the earth became round, for some of us at least, but still fixed at the center of the universe. It was only 500 years ago that we finally understood that the earth was spinning on its axis once a day and revolving around the sun once a year. But we still did not have the same notion of the universe that we now have. Only later, did we finally begin to understand that our galaxy itself was just an atom in the immensity of the universe.

It probably did not happen this way. Our mental development must have been intermittent, with much starting and stopping. The fact is, though, that our understanding of nature was not given to us from the start, but by every step forward that we made in knowledge, via paradigm shifts, which transformed us as a species and gave us new opportunities as individuals. It is such a momentous step forward that I believe we as a species are presently making.

To understand what is happening now, let us look at the last observable step in our understanding of nature that we made as a species: the Copernican revolution, when we "shifted" from the "geocentric" paradigm (the earth fixed at the center of the universe) to the "heliocentric" paradigm (the earth revolving around the sun). Before Copernicus, we were all raised with the belief that the earth was fixed at the centre of the universe. This belief was not formulated as such, it was simply obvious that the earth itself does not move but that the sun travels daily from east to west. To explain these phenomena, and the others that we were observing in the heavens from this point of view, we had to invent many concepts:

  * The world was divided into two different realms of reality: the heavens above, ruled by a perfect order, and the earth below, the sphere of imperfection;

* The notion of perfect circular motion was used to explain the diurnal motion of the sun and the annual motion of the fixed stars;

* To explain the fact that the stars and the planets were not falling on earth, which was the natural thing for all objects heavier than air and fire to do, we invented the notion of crystalline spheres organized in different levels, on which the "fixed’ stars, the "wandering" planets, the sun and the moon were attached;

* Epicycles (small circles centred on the circumference of larger circles) were used to explain the apparent retrograde motion of the "wanderers" (the planets);

* Other ad hoc concepts, which we do not need to understand anymore, such as deferent, equant and prime mover, were also used.

By the time the Copernican system was perfected at the end of the 17th century, all these concepts had become obsolete; we did not need them anymore to explain the phenomena that we were observing in heaven. It did not come easy. Giordano Bruno was burned at the stake in Rome, in 1600, for having anticipated the modern conception of the universe, i.e., the sun is a star, seen closely, and Venus, Mars, and Jupiter are planets like the earth, seen from afar, and to have "exposed the philosophical implications of the Copernican theory." (Funk & Wagnalls Encyclopaedia, in Micro Soft’s INFOPEDIA) The church and the secular establishments did not accept that, since their members were grounding their power on the belief that they were at the centre of it-all. But, after they all died, the truth, as usual, triumphed.

The same is true today. The shift in our thinking that needs to be accomplished at the moment, though, does not have anything to do with the revolution of the heavenly bodies nor with our understanding of the elementary particles of matter, or with our knowledge of nature, but with the evolution of our worldly behaviour through time —with the knowledge of our own evolving nature.

We also look at our nature as if it is "fixed" in time. We hear it all the time: " It is human nature"; "Human nature does not change"; "We cannot change our nature." But is it true? If we define a species in relation to the environment in which it lives, are we the same now as we were when we thought that the earth was flat? Ho! It is true that Genghis Khan probably thought that the earth was flat, and that this did not stop him from being as violent as we can be today. It is also true, though, that he did not have the same opportunities that we have today, because he lacked the present environment of knowledge. He was living in the same objective environment as the one in which we live today, but his mind was shaped by an environment of knowledge totally different from the one in which we are raised as modern-day human beings. At any rate, I contend that our intra-species violence is not the consequence of our nature, but of our ignorance, as we will later see.

What would happen if one day soon we discovered that there is a reality beyond space and time that we can collectively apprehend and use to our benefit? Will it be as when we first entered the spatiotemporal reality in which we live presently, and understood that we could use "sticks and stones," at first to "break bones," and then to eventually go around the world in 90 minutes? Would it not be the beginning of a new era, as it was when we first transcended our biological nature and unconsciously started our rational progression into human nature? This new era has already been recognized by some of us. Satprem, following Sri Aurobindo, has already mentioned in La Genese du surhomme that humanity is evolving into a "super species," and that our descendants will be as different from us as we are from the great apes from which we descended. We are presently entering the supramental realm of reality in which, I am sure, we will regain consciousness of the aspects of the environment that were lost in the process of our becoming conscious human beings, but which are still perceived by the other animals. (cf. Rupert Sheldrake’s work).

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It is at this point that I usually perceive empty eyes, and I hear the dismissive comment from "scientists" that this is "mystical." This remark, at this point of my reflection, always sends me back 10,000 years, to when we still believed that the earth was supported by turtles. It is not mysticism any more than it is normal science! Mysticism is the antithesis of science: mystics firmly believe in what they do not see but can spiritually experience; while scientists systematically doubt everything they see, even if they can experience it rationally. Both camps are in possession of a complementary aspect of the truth. As with quantum mechanics’ complementary, each of these aspects of knowledge entails the other. Neither mystics nor scientists, on their own, can come close to what truly is. The next level of truth will be found in a synthesis of these two types of cognition: spiritual and rational. We will come back to this aspect later. For now, let us look at the evidence that supports the hypothesis that we are on the verge of becoming a new species.


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