Rohan Ravi

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The evolution of consciousness and culture

The evolution of consciousness and culture is a classic principle in spiritual societies throughout time where this knowledge of an evolving universe has been at the very least intuited. We have understood that in order for the world to change consciousness has to evolve, and since consciousness and culture are inter-related, so too does culture have to evolve through our own vehicles. I wonder how much consciousness there is of this movement in consciousness toward the new in this TED community. My guess is that there is quite a lot of consciousness around this topic. But i also feel that unless we begin to embody this new consciousness as ourselves in everything that we do, so that this consciousness can begin to transform the world around us, we will be falling short of the radical potential to create a new culture of higher values together.

  • Jul 15 2011: Humanity is becoming increasingly more rational, overral.
  • Jul 27 2011: adopting the theory of mass consciousness and culture would naturaly follow as a result.(Just my opinions and in my mind that neither makes it right nor wrong)Thank you all so much for you alls time and have a great night/day(if time as we understand it actually exists at all) and take care.dont think the world is ready for it and there is no garuntee on how it would play out on a global level.
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    Jul 17 2011: "Through mutual interaction biology in humans becomes culture, and viceversa, culture opens and stimulates the neural passages of the brains, accounting thus for the varieties of brains in humans, and for cultural diversity. Culture conditions and stimulates biology, while biology conditions and makes culture possible. Cultures and brains may be distinguished from one another through identification with certain functions or combination of functions that are exercised habitually, or become neural hard-wire through repetition, or habit. " Antonio.T De Nic olas "The Biocultural Paradigm: The Neural Connection Between Science And Mysticism" 1997

    A direct quote by way of introduction to some of the work referred to in my post below.If all cultures and all individuals are continually feeding "consciousness" this vast non corporeal energy field containing all life, some in ways that serve life, some in ways that harm life, I am thinking that actions needed for a sustainable global community can't await a cultural transformation. It has to be as Joe and others suggested in our conversation on the source of consciousness, out of multual interests..actions and goasl we can agree on as a global community that transcend culture and belief systems and of course which transcend soveringnty. That action must come from what Tom Atlee calls "co-intelligence"..from making wiser decisions collectively about the things happening around us and to us that affect all of us and all future generations..
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    Jul 17 2011: Rohan, Ed, Salim....excellent company in which to think about the co-fecundity, co-creation of culture and consciousness and the question of how we evolve a global culture from our defacto global pluralistic world where no one country can live in self determined isolation from all others.

    The work of Colavito, Wilber,deNicolas, emphasize "biolculturism". Colavitos work makes a lot of sense to me in its suggestion that the five different parts of the human brain, each with its specific function, in effect represent the history of culture in humanity reflecting both our biological evolution and our cultural evolution. While I don't believe consciousness resides in biology , many trying to make this biological connection to consciousness agree that the right brain, the source of our ability to imagine is the part of our biology that allows us to directly and knowingly engage consciousness .Each culture, each belief system, according to Colavito ( as further explicated in de Nicolas' work in the late 90's) "resides" in, is centered in a different part of the brain, many not including or developing any "right brain" activity. Wilber's Sex Ecology & Sprituality, of the same period , lays out cultural and spirtual evolutio nin or or less the same terms. I am not deeply immersed or well versed enough in any of this literature to speak from it or to it with any mastery but at my superficial level of exposure to it, it has provoked my own thought and my own questioning. My very supericial , very rudimentray grasp on how all this might fit together and what it means for forming a global cukture of stewradship for the planet and for one another is far from unified. It's a list of ideas, at the moment. A central idea though is that consciousness contains many different streams of energy not all working together or toward any higher good.
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      Jul 17 2011: A very interesting discussion. of consciousness. In my talk, I avoided the left/right brain metaphor because the research has advanced so much further. Also, such binary assessments of the mind understate its quantum and analogue complexities, that I believe through millennia of plasticity has enabled the human spirit. Our mind is not a discrete package of left and right. This is not demonstrated by holding up a dead one that looks so.

      It is a living thing not a mechanism. As I said at INK and TED, and described from within in Rise and Shine, the human mind is the world's (likely the universe's) first fully functional, analogue, quantum computer.

      Look forward to reading more comments. Thank you, Simon
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        Jul 18 2011: Simon,

        Thanks for your comment. I am an advocate for people with brain injury and cognitive disabillity so your remarkable story is one I will use and make reference to. Like Jill's story ( Stroke of Insight) it speaks to the power of your personal will and dedication in rebuilding yourself almost from the ground up.

        I am going to send your TED talk to my friend Seymour Papert, one of the great minds of this century, who suffered devastating brain injury 4 years ago that affected motor skill and language centers. I am sure he would enjoy hearing from you.

        .I have the sense that you are using the word "consciouseness" to refer to a brain centered function. It is my personal experience, and that of hundreds of thoursands of others, that our inner observer and the larger field "consciousness" oustide of us are non-corporeal. My own sense of how it all works is that the brain is more like a receiver than a creator of the energies and information of "consciousness" ( and that whether we do it knowingly or not, the way we live our lives becomes part of that consciousness)

        I would like to learn more about your personal program of cognitive circuit training

        As a contemplative, I too engage practices intended to excercise and align my inner faculties. I do "brain excercises"..I do excrcises to increase my ability to focus and concentrate, I do excercises to deepen my own centerdness . Would be interesting to hear more from you about your own practices to strengthen and build your cognitive abilities. Perhaps you'd consider hosting a TED conversation to go into that more deeply?

        In your talk you made two references to the awakening of conscioyness and cultural transformation which is the topic of this conversation. Could you share a bit more of your thoughts on that with us here?
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          Jul 18 2011: Lindsay,
          Thank you for sharing my talk with Seymour Papet and your thoughts. My reference to consciousness as flowing from the world and universe's first fully functioning "quantum" analogue computer expresses a "quantum" element that is unbounded. As you know, it is an infinite field and I'm not sure it's possible to summarize it better than that. My book has a chapter on Innerspace and is an exploration of my consciousness during coma, while other parts share he many facets of cognitive training I experienced, and practice today. My goal is a nonprofit to focus on these, and grow awareness both of the gaps between potential mind and actual mind, and how many might bridge them. You might wish to "Like" my Facebook site as I'll announce developments there at:

          Thank you for contributing to awareness of this key question of our times.
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      Jul 18 2011: Hi Lindsay, it is interesting that you mention Ken Wilber. Which books of his have you read. And have you been involved in the Integral community at all. I personally find Ken Wilber's AQAL model indispensable to understanding the world. But at the same time i see that the map is not the territory no matter how good that map may be. Which is why i mention in this post that we have to embody the understanding as ourselves. In other words we have to become it. Which is why i feel we need community.
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        Jul 18 2011: Hello Rohan..Wilber is not one of my prinicpal "guideposts" but on the subject of "consciousness" one could hardly have a conversation that does not refer to him. After 3 months at TED conversations where I see currents and patterns that I don't see in my everyday life here on my remote Maine island I spent a day on retreat studying Sex Ecology and Spirituality and it is amodel that helps me understand what I see.

        I believe that what we need now to cure or ailing planet and care well for all who live here now, to be good stewards for those who will follow us we need to move and act in what modern wise man Tom Atlee calls "Co-Intelligence" I don't agree with Wilber that it is through the "enlightened" that the cultural and political changes we need to effect will come into being. Tom has written beautifully about that in a recent post at his blog:

        I believe that every time an individual steps forward in service to others, offering whatever gifts or abilities that person has to serve and build community, to comfort and heal broken people and a broken planet, the collective consciousness somehow "takes over" and magnifies, and makes possible the dissemniation of that gift into the world. That act alone, that act of giving of oneself in service to others, somehow engages an unimagianble enabling power that doesn't require any inner work or preparation on the part of the person. The act of commiting to the service of others transcends all belief systems, all IQ, all brain development, all knowledge. Every time we intentionally plug our unique gifts and abilities into serving others, into healing our broken world, the full power of consciousness engages to allow that gift to do its best work.
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          Jul 18 2011: Lindsay, i don't think that's what KW actually believes. That only the enlightened can participate in cultural transformation. His AQAL model provides a theoretical framework that can be used by anybody at any level of development.
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        Jul 18 2011: Rohan,

        I am sure you are far more steeped in Wilber's teachings than I and am glad if his teaching inlcudes the possibility of anyone, whether on a spirtual path or not, particpating in and controbuting to cultural transformation in a postive way...
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      Jul 16 2011: Can you tell me more about this force downwards?
  • Jul 16 2011: You asked "where does consciousness come from"? It's simple, it comes from the community. So why does it seem as if we've lost consciousness? The influence of warlike nations, the lack of resources, and the inability of the elders to teach the young, has caused communities to lose their consciousness and ultimately their caring and compassion for others. In America, some Indian nations welcomed the strange visitor but that visitor who was corrupted by their own environment took niceness for weakness and destroyed the native nations. This "bad" from visitors brought down the Indian nations who were good to the land, and fair to their fellow man.
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    Jul 15 2011: "The evolution of consciousness and culture is a classic principle in spiritual societies throughout time " strating with this sentence
    You want to mean there was no evolution in culture or consciousness who are not spiritual ?

    If so your whole premise is invalid (sorry to say that), because rational, logical , scientific minds evolve more .................only scientific minds have courage to say what is proven fact today , can be wrong tomorrow............
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      Jul 15 2011: Well, thats basically the flaw of the scientific paradigm or scientism. Which is basically a pseudo form of religious fundamentalism. If you want to point out flaws in my own understanding of consciousness please do so, i am will and ready to admit where i am wrong or where my thinking can go further. But merely stating your point of view isn't getting us anywhere.
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        Jul 16 2011: Hi Rohan
        Actually I tried to point out the Flaw of premise not your understanding. But seems I was not clear.

        First of all I did not take it as a debate Spiritualism / Religon Vs Science. (Plenty of discussion here on the subject is going on here already, moreover my view due to it quite opposite root , that kind debate is unnecessary and never ending one, which is visible also here in TED)

        Let's discuss point by point

        First point what I focused is the term "Evolution" of your premise, which I took as a process change (slower than revolution).
        Do you think spritual mind really evolves while scientific mind is static ? Or both changes but spiritual mind changes faster (I have my reservation to say Society as a whole to be Spiritual it's more individual)

        Second do you think "Consciousness " only evolves from spirituality ? (as that's the notion I got form your sentence that I referred in my earlier post here.

        Like you I am also ready to understand flaw of my post. Thanks
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          Jul 16 2011: Firstly i don't think consciousness only evolves through spirituality, although when we talk about the evolution of consciousness and culture there is a big spiritual dimension to it. But what we are also talking about is our morals, ethics, psychology etc. So consciousness and culture evolve through these different mediums.

          And referring to your earlier post. I do think a scientific mind is needed in order to understand these complex topics. One needs to be at at least a logical, rational stage of development or the orange meme if you want to use SPIRAL DYNAMICS, in order to begin to cognize these higher truths.
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          Jul 18 2011: Rohan,I agree with you competely that consciousness does not only evolve through spirituality.

          All of the energy we generate in our lifetime, good and bad, feeds consciousness whether we intend it or not. We are constantly engaged within, and engaged by, consciosness whether or not we are aware of it or intend it.

          I also do not believe ( as further developed in a post above also replying totyou) that we need to "be transforned" or engage a path of pirtual transformation to contribute to the massive global cultural transformation we must undertake to bring our use of this fragile sphere back to a level of sustainability.

          Finally, as a contemplative, my purpose is to strengthen myself for service to build my faculties of will, to elevate my "seeing" and hone my build and strengthen my faculties of will and concentration.. my purpose is not to understand "consciousness" or to seek my own spirtual enlightenment or transformation but to be ready and able to serve to the best of my somehow make my life meaningful to others. .
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        Jul 16 2011: Thanks for clarifying. Seems we are on the same page.
        My feeling is that now a days techonology of connectivity has got higher impact on our consciousness and culture than ever before.