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This is an excerpt from Shariff Abdullah’s upcoming book, “The Ecstatic Society”. Elements of this writing were quoted in “Lawyers as Changemakers” by J. Kim Wright.
The study of individual consciousness has been going on for quite awhile. You can get a degree in “psychology” from just about any college or university. There are branches called “Humanistic” and “Cognitive” and other cool names. (Even cool organizations like the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS) studies individualizedconsciousness.)
While every single college and university offers courses and degrees in "psychology" (I've got one of those myself!), I would guess that NONE of them offer courses in inclusive consciousness, and most especially in cross species collective consciousness.
In fact, most of us think that individualized consciousness is the only kind there is. It is not.
There is a collective, inclusive consciousness, formed by the interconnections of a critical mass of hearts and minds. And, this Inclusive Consciousness can act in the world in ways that an individual cannot act, cannot even comprehend. The indigenous peoples of the world, the ‘Keepers’, have been practicing this consciousness since our human beginnings. Our survival on this planet requires us to re-learn Inclusive Consciousness.
Inclusive Consciousness is a form of consciousness that cannot be seen by reductionists, because it doesn't reside in an individual. Putting a rat in a maze, a yak on a hill, or a human being on a treadmill tells you NOTHING about the collective, emergent, inclusive behaviors of rats, yaks or humans.
I can sequence your DNA, giving me a window into the essential makeup of your physical body. But that doesn’t tell me whether or not you prefer coffee or tea. I can study your brain chemistry, heart mechanics and hormonal secretions, but it doesn’t tell me why your heart skips a beat when your beloved looks at you and smiles. I can examine your hunger response or your sleep deprivation or your alcohol consumption, but none of that can tell me why you are so happy at your family gatherings.
Think of Inclusive Consciousness as communication between beings… one that takes place beyond physical connections, without words, or even concepts. Or, think of it as a political governance system… one where all parties share the same vision, mission and values, where none are in conflict, because all are an integral part of the Big Picture, the Emergent Vision… the One.
The Inclusive Consciousness is an ongoing conversation with all LIFE, not with just an aggregate of individuals from one species. Inclusivity is something that happens at a level that an individual simply cannot comprehend. But the Whole can Comprehend and be comprehended. (This is why indigenous people seem ‘simple’ or ‘naïve’ to people who practice “I am Separate” thinking.)
This is consciousness that does not take place in the realm of words and thoughts. To the extent that it is acknowledged at all, it is referred to as “intuition”, or a “hunch”, or a “gut feeling”. Because this consciousness starts and ends beyond the "individual", it lies beyond the individualized human mind.
But, before you think I am lapsing into sappy sentimentality, Inclusive Consciousness is (and can be) both powerful and objectively measured.
Humans who act from Inclusive Consciousness are (and will be) simply SMARTER than those who cannot. Not smarter in terms of grades or degrees, but smarter in terms of LIFE. Because they will be seeing from a different perspective, from a more complete perspective, they will be perceiving in the longer term, and acting more comprehensively than others.
Smarter… not better. Consider three people, watching the news on television. Tom is blindfolded, so he can only hear what’s going on. David has earplugs – he can see, but not hear.
And Sally can do both. She is simply better informed than the other two.
Inclusive consciousness will be the doorway into the true relationship between humans and All-That-Is.
The implications of creating community, across all boundaries, opens the door to vast possibilities. The opposite is also true: the implications of denying community and connection, of clinging to our misguided notions of individualism, robs us of our true humanity and creates and worsens the challenges that we face: from global climate change to mental, social and spiritual illness and dysfunction.
If you put the right piece of glass in front of your eyes, you can see the hairs on the exoskeleton of an ant, or a super-cluster galaxy at the edge of the Universe.
With the right equipment, you can do a thermal scan on the people sitting at a local bar, drinking beer – you can see who's getting drunk, who's got a fever, and who's just getting too close to the fireplace.
It all depends on the lens…
For the past 10,000 years, the predominant lens has been that of the individual human being, what I call the solon. From that lens, what we call "humanity" is a collection of solons.
My lens is different. I choose the perspective of the ‘Keepers’, the indigenous people. I see “humanity” as a collection of inter-dependent, inter-related, inter-active sub-sets… no better and no worse than any of the millions of beings with whom we share our planet. I see holons.
To solve our problems, we need a re-boot of what we think of as “humanity”. It can’t happen too soon.
Talking about things like poverty, global climate change, racism, environmental degradation, social justice and other challenges, from the delusion that an “I” is separate from a “you” (the consciousness of exclusivity), is meaningless. It’s a problem, trying to solve itself.
The house is on fire. The fire department shows up, lights flashing, sirens sounding. They're ready to put out the fire – but the only thing in their tanks is gasoline, not water.
Just as you know that you can't put a fire out with gasoline, you also ought to know that a person who believes in exclusivity cannot develop a world-encompassing, inclusive solution. It will always be tainted by their "I am separate" worldview.
The concept of Inclusive Consciousness is your corrective lens. What we will be able to see through this lens is simply beyond our current understanding of the way the world works. The way WE work. Some will be fearful of the implications contained herein. And, what we fear, we tend to reject.
So, I am braced for a tad of rejection…
“A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.” Albert Einstein, 1954
This is crucially important to our understanding our place in the Universe. The world of the classical physicists is a world of exclusivity – “I” am here, and everything else is “out there”. This is a fundamental point. Everything we've been taught about how the world works is based on this fundamental flaw, this “delusion of consciousness”, as Einstein put it.
A deluded consciousness gives us a model of a deluded world. We operate from a deluded yet elementary premise of exclusivity: that ‘I’ can do anything to that ‘Object’ over there, with no effect on ‘me’.
I can burn the eyes out of the test rabbit. I can give tumors to a rat, and watch it die a horrible death. I can destroy a forest, while calculating the number of board feet of lumber that it will yield. I can make a ‘killing’ in the stock market, without giving thought to the thousands of people thrown out of work. I can rape a woman. I can rape the land. I can push the button on a drone, and kill people half world away, in a country I've never seen. I can do all of these things and more, while firmly believing that these actions will have no effect on ‘me’.
What if that kind of thinking is simply wrong? Not wrong in the sense of being bad, or evil or misguided (although it is also all of those things). Wrong in the sense that it simply is not how the world works. Your actions always have an effect on you. Closing your eyes does not mitigate the effect.
What we have learned, we can unlearn. We still have the eyes… we just need to use them. We can choose to see the world from an atomized perspective, or we can see a larger, more beautiful and complete world, from the lens of “We are One”. We just need to open our eyes.
DR. SHARIFF ABDULLAH is a consultant, author and advocate for mindfulness, inclusivity and societal transformation. Shariff’s meta-vision and mission are simple: we can create a world that works for all beings.
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