How Can Meaningful Shifts in Human Consciousness Occur?


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Joe Martino recently wrote a piece about how “The Loudest Deceptions Provide the Greatest Evolutionary Potential,” suggesting that when such truths are revealed a profound shift in human perception is possible.  An obvious example might be Copernicus in terms of science and Watergate for politics.

It brings to mind how Einstein is often quoted as having said “you cannot solve a problem with the same level of consciousness that created it.”  (He may or may not have said it).

Here at the Pulse and Collective Evolution we have also felt that some sort of major “shift” in some fundamental beliefs was necessary for humanity to survive, and that we have been lost in a fundamental delusion of some kind for a long time, especially regarding the very nature of consciousness.

A few years ago, I was fortunate enough to meet Bernardo Kastrup, a European philosopher known for his fierce defence of Idealism (as opposed to the current belief in Materialism). 

Kastrup argues for an idealist ontology in which the mind is the sole fundamental reality, rather than matter. According to Bernardo, the cosmos is rooted in a universal consciousness. Space, time, matter and energy are experiences within consciousness, not external or independent structures.

These are radical ideas even today but if they were to be widely accepted, conventional reality could truly change.

Recently Bernardo posted a prediction on Facebook that I found fascinating because it provides three specific examples of what a shift in consciousness might represent and offers some tantalizing specifics of how it might arise.

Here is what he wrote:

“Within the next 20 years (perhaps sooner), we will witness three tightly inter-related, gigantic revolutions in our understanding of reality:

1- The official recognition of the presence and role of non-human intelligence (NHI) throughout our history;

We can see some of this happening around us today as more and more people are drawn to ideas of Oneness and have begun to notice what Stephen Hawking famously suggested when he said that he did not need a God as an explanation – the laws and mathematical perfection of this incredible universe are enough.

So where else might there be evidence of NHI?

Project Ceti is an interesting scientific effort on the island of Dominica to use artificial intelligence to interpret the clicking language of whales and perhaps communicate with them.  (The Cetacean Translation Initiative—Project Ceti for short. (The acronym is pronounced “setty,” and purposefully recalls seti, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence.)

“Ceti represents the most ambitious, the most technologically sophisticated, and the most well-funded effort ever made to communicate with another species.”  (New Yorker)

John C. Lilly, subject of the film “Day of the Dolphin” was a rogue scientist years ago who attempted a similar experiment with dolphins, but the military took it over.

As a neuroscientist who also worked with deprivation tanks, Lilly seemed to have zeroed in on an approach to consciousness that points to nonhuman and perhaps nonlocal intelligence.  He was apparently focused on the very nature of awareness, and what exactly IS aware.

I had my own epiphany about nonhuman intelligence several years ago when I saw TED video about DNA that compared it to a computer disk that executes “code” in a specific way that suggested to me that like our own software, it must be the product of intelligence, although clearly not our own.

Francis Crick, one of the geneticists who discovered DNA later adopted the theory of “Panspermia”  or life having been seeded somehow from elsewhere in the universe to account for our “organic operating system.  I set my ideas out in a book, “If DNA is Software Who Wrote the Code?”

Astrophysicist Fred Hoyle famously said: 

“The chance that higher life forms might have emerged in this way is comparable to the chance that a tornado sweeping through a junkyard might assemble a Boeing 747 from the materials therein.”

Of course, the most obvious clue to the existence of nonhuman intelligence is now the universal acceptance of UFOs and aerial phenomena that clearly exist, move intentionally, that we cannot explain.

This may be the sort of presence that Bernardo posits has existed throughout our history.

And of course, there is the new nonhuman intelligence that we ourselves have created and called “Artificial”.

2- The rejection of physicalism and embracement of idealism as the only plausible metaphysics;

Almost everyone is convinced there is a “solid” world “out there” from which they are separate.

But what if the world truly was, for each of us, simply a set of perceptions arising in our awareness?

The participation of an Observer at the core of phenomena is one of the puzzling paradoxes of quantum physics, but each of us can probably point to experiences that shook our belief in an external objective universe – even if we didn’t drop acid.

Plato made a case for the primacy of “thought” in his theory of Forms, suggesting that every imperfect material object that we experience is based on a perfect mathematical and geometric “Form”.

Eckhart Tolle sort of expands on this idea with a different use of the word Form, saying that it is Being or Consciousness that has evolved and lost itself in Form, and we are just the universe awakening from that dream.  This notion of course is part of much of eastern philosophy.

As I pointed out in my article on ‘Biocentrism’ an understanding that there is a deep intelligence at the heart of the Universe itself, which is also Bernardo’s contention, would irrevocably change our relationship to the planet, and to all sentient beings.

3– A new understanding of the nature of time that will revolutionize the ontological status of past and future, as well as our understanding of the meaning of birth and death.

Time is one of the great mysteries because we take our understanding of it for granted.  The traumatic urgency of time is at the heart of capitalism along with the urge to achieve.

But a simple look inside amid stillness yields the comprehension that we create the experience of time in our minds.

With an interesting book, the time waiting for your doctor is no big deal.  With an anxious mind-set every minute can be torturous. 

I suggested an alternative concept of time that was embraced by some ancient people, notably the Maya, in a piece titled “Does Reality Operate on Cyclical Timelines?”

Of course, Einstein introduced the notion of “SpaceTime” as a function of the geometry of the universe which gave rise to a lot of science fiction about time travel.  And today much of the conversation about the possible propulsion systems of UFO focuses on some gravitational power to bend spacetime and create “vortexes” that would allow travel over what seem to be vast distances to our perception.

And with the rise of mindfulness and meditation, we have seen how seeing the present moment as the only actual reality can bring experiences of peace.

Imagine a world in which everyone was conscious of the present moment as all there is without the baggage of a horrific past and an uncertain future.  Such a world is hard to imagine today.

It might be one where Life is seen as all pervasive – just another term for consciousness, God or Being – and therefore death is viewed as integral to Life, and not the “opposite” of Life.  The opposite of Death would simply be Birth and a big shift in our perception would be honoring death instead of living in fear.

Bernardo wrapped up his fascinating Facebook predictions with the usual warning. But, like Joe Martino, he also saw a reason for optimism if the veil of truth is pulled back on many of our current unknowns.

An entirely new reality would be revealed which humanity will have no choice but to accept. Joe is one of many who believe, for example, that revelations as to the cause of 9-11 could precipitate such a shift.

Here is how Bernardo ended his Facebook post:

“Concurrently, these same 20 years will be the most dangerous in human history, when we will have to survive the highest risk of civilization collapse since the end of the Roman empire, due to a coalescence of simultaneous environmental and geopolitical threats.

Good luck to us. If we make it, the reward will be unfathomably handsome.”

(Tom Bunzel was a contributor to Collective Evolution and now writes for The Pulse.  His new book “Conversations with Nobody: Getting to Know ChatGPT” – a book written with AI, about AI and giving a taste of AI, is available on Amazon.)


The Planetary Problem of Bad Faith


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I used to play a lot of public parks tennis, with a lot of the same players regularly.   We played doubles with a lot of trash talk.  But I always prided myself on calling the lines as I saw them.

The rule in tennis is, if you don’t clearly see it “out” you have to put your palm down and call it good.  It can be painful, but if you don’t do it, it’s technically cheating.

One of the regulars was a very colorful guy with a lot of bravado who was impossible to dislike.  He could irritate you badly and you’d think about it later and just shrug and laugh.

One day we were partners, as we were frequently, and it was a very close match which we both really wanted to win.  But he just could not lose, and on a big point he turned to me and said, “if it’s close, call it out.”

I was appalled.  This was a sacrilege to a sport I loved.

I told him I would call it as I saw it, and he was very annoyed.  I forgot whether we won or lost but it dramatized a problem we face today.

Was my friend a bad person?  Was his plan evil in any sense? Or more to my way of thinking, was he ignorant and conditioned in a way that made him oblivious of how things should be?

When you watch professional sports, the announcers snicker with appreciation if an athlete puts one over on the other team, or if he fools the referees. 

So, the standards of our time are always changing and many people also believe that they are living in a harsh environment and need to cut corners.  Maybe they have a family to support.

Eckhart Tolle says there are no evil people – just unconscious ones and that may be.

But clearly there are still actions that make a sane person realize that they are made in bad faith:

I would cite Hypocrisy as an indicator that someone is not acting in good faith. Completely contradicting beliefs, you have articulated would make someone at best not trustworthy.  Which statement of such a person then is to be believed?

Not long ago if the press exposed the blatant hypocrisy or bad faith dealing of a politician or judge, they resigned. But not now; they get a PR firm specializing in reputation resurrection and often even double down.

In our capitalist system, there used to be institutions that tried to enforce ethics in business and politics. At this point, we have seen blatant conflicts of interest in our Supreme Court, and we have witnessed for a long time that what is called “lobbying” is actually bribery.

A former US president is on trial in four separate venues after having gutted as many institutions of law and regulation as possible during his tenure. Was it in bad faith? Will our judicial system survive to hold people from all political sides accountable? Or can the entire system consciously evolve into one that serves all of the people?

How is one to relate to others and society when standards are constantly changing and there are constant conflicts with the opinions and beliefs of others?

Nondualism (spiritually?) bypasses the problem by simply saying all is ONE and so the judgment of bad faith is a product of an illusory separate “person.”

That may be well and good but what happens if you’ve been defrauded and count upon the LAW to set things right?

Again, in our system, the court’s judgment may depend on how much legal talent you can afford.

But are we really doomed to live in such a completely transactional world?

Much of what people deem “sacred” or moral is linked to organized religions which had for centuries imposed various behavioral codes on their adherents and often on their conquered subjects.  Our neo-liberal secularism has all but crushed those beliefs and standards.

I would submit, however, that the problem of bad faith among some humans is now existential and must be called out and addressed.

One example I would cite is the obvious fact that the fossil fuel industry had carried on a deceptive public relations campaign using fraudulent academic “research” to stop regulation. Another obvious area is the NRA and arms industry which has allowed weapons of war onto our streets.

The one common denominator in all of these problems is that certain people have simply ignored the needs of others or the community and have acted in bad faith without accountability of any kind.

How do we begin to deal with this basic aspect of human decency when it is lacking in people who ascend to power?

“We’re in a democracy and we have to vote.”  That is a great concept but plainly it is not working.

This goes directly to the shift or transformation that many have described as dropping our egoic self-serving conditioning and recognizing our intimate connection to a higher intelligence – Life, Being or if you must, God.

We have actually identified many of the issues that lead to blatant bad faith – they are generational and familial trauma and abuse.  If you’ve been abused the need for safety can make you abuse others.

But not all people succumb to such instinctual forces and have used their reason to observe the inter-connectedness of everything beyond the reductionist abstractions of our language of labels and a supposedly “objective” science.

Many are using the principles of science to notice the complexity and interdependence of all Life, as was described in the recent piece on “Fabulous Fungi” – a life form that is neither animal nor plant but is like the microbiome of the planet.

And of course there are many activist organizations trying to impress a belief in “Wholeness” over “Separation” in a myriad of ways and venues.

Eckhart Tolle and others have also said that our survival as a species is not guaranteed.  We have caught a glimpse through our science of the true scale and vastness of the universe in which our planet has sustained life.

“Captain Kirk”, William Shatner described his personal sense of sadness and shame when looking at our planet from the vastness of space and realizing how precarious our situation currently is.

Movies and the media have not changed many minds, and often seem to work as resistance to the changes needed, glorifying values of consumerism and egoism.

As organizations like AA have found, to actually change one needs to recognize the need and no one else can do it for anyone else.

But still, at a minimum, our society must use a fair and equitable justice system along with – unfortunately – a form of forceful enforcement – to identify and root out bad faith actors.

And, somehow, we need to restore values that bring healthy shame to blatant bad faith. We must create a sense of community where human connection is a felt value.

Massive external forces seem to also be at play on levels and in dimensions we barely comprehend but every wisdom tradition emphasizes a personal responsibility to others and also to the environment, and these are obvious and sacred values that we need to weave into our individualistic and capitalist system.­

Bad faith actions are ultimately a path to chaos and entropy, and at odds with the evolutionary forces of Life as it seeks to evolve as Consciousness.  Relativism needs to give some way to an absolute – which is the alignment with the forces of Nature, and Life, itself.

(Tom Bunzel was a contributor to Collective Evolution and now writes for The Pulse.  His new book “Conversations with Nobody: Getting to Know ChatGPT” – a book written with AI, about AI and giving a taste of AI, is available on Amazon.)


Restoring A World Out of Balance


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One of my first really disquieting insights about the planet and the pace of change came when I saw the film “World Out of Balance” or “Koyaanisqatsi” in the 1980’s.

The concept behind the film was that Nature has an exquisite balance between various forces, and that’s when I first thought about the likelihood of the existence of a higher intelligence.

The film was jarring because it showed dramatically, now 40 plus years ago, the havoc that was wreaked by technology not just on the environment, but how human technology was literally putting the world out of balance – a harmony that was naturally sustained prior to human intervention.

At that time, I just getting interested in computer graphics and I encountered “Moore’s Law”, which refers to the observation made by Intel co-founder Gordon Moore in 1965 that the number of transistors on integrated circuits doubles approximately every two years.

That meant that processing power doubled in the same span of time, allowing graphics, for example, to go from color, to 3D, to 3D with texture mapping and other effects, and on and on.

One example of this was the original movie Jurassic Park, which was made with 3D models of dinosaurs having their wire frames “texture mapped” – covered with skin and then animated on a Silicon Graphics work station.  The processing power required to render these images quickly enough for a 30 frames per second film was staggering.

I just Googled the company.  As I suspected they are extinct like the dinosaurs; and the process I described above now happens on a phone, or on a website, and films are using artificial intelligence to fool audiences.

As I began writing about digital video and animation, and attended conferences, I found myself on a carousel of a continual need to adapt to change, and “upgrade” my system to keep up with the latest advancements.

It worked for me for a while and I enjoyed integrating solutions based on a creative understanding of what was coming out, but eventually, I realized that I could no longer keep up.

I had to take a break from the relentless pressure, which I did, and ended my tech writing career.

It was around that time I was reading Eckhart Tolle, and learning how the Ego, the voice in my head, always wants MORE.

Moore’s law for integrated circuits was only the beginning, of course.  We now have the promise of quantum computing and the reality of artificial intelligence, which both have the potential to put the world as we knew it even more out of balance.

When we consider our human conditioning, the wider the gap between one’s childhood where one “learns the ropes” and perhaps conforms for one’s safety and one’s adulthood — when everything has changed creates intense discomfort relative to the gap in years.

For a dinosaur like me the continual need to “download the app” is stressful.  For my friends’ grandchildren it’s just part of being alive.

Peter Russell, in his new book “Forgiving Humanity” uses a sobering term – Exponential Change – as he describes how rapid changes in technology first affected agrarian culture, increased dramatically with the industrial revolution and accelerated again with the advent of computer technology and integrated circuits.

He reaches a conclusion that is both profound and daunting:

“This doesn’t mean humankind has taken a wrong turn. Spiraling rates of development, with all their consequences, positive and negative, are the inevitable destiny of any intelligent, technologically-empowered species.”

So the fact that we have knocked the world out of its natural harmony is something that is part of evolution?  In essence, we are a part of nature that keeps pushing the envelope, but it can have dire consequences for a species that goes too far?

That is certainly what we are up against with respect to artificial intelligence, where the notion of exponential change in terms of brute intellectual capacity, is making many experts wary of consequences of an “intelligence” that vastly dwarfs human capabilities.

Consider the difference between exponential change versus simple, let us say, incremental change.  Exponential means that is multiplied by its current value, or the power of 2.  Anyone who has played with relationships like that in math knows how rapidly it can spin out of control.

Calculations of this order of magnitude quickly go beyond what the human brain can process.

And how does this expansion of potential knowledge affect consciousness today?

Peter Russell takes one of the driving forces of exponential change – AI – and discusses his new book by interviewing “his clone” in a fascinating video.

There is the possibility that with enough shocks or consequences that humanity may begin to glean that a purely intellectual approach to reality is the reason for our imbalance, and that knowledge itself, without wisdom or “being”, is fraught with peril.  Blind intellect alone creates conflict with a higher, natural intelligence which it ignores.

Russell uses the analogy of how a wheel that spins faster and faster will eventually come apart.

In the video Russell’s “clone” suggests that a way for humanity to adapt, and actually align with the natural forces that have brought it to this point, is to begin to take a truly “cosmic perspective” and see our species in true proportion to the vast universe in which we now find ourselves.

Advances like the Webb Telescope have opened humanity’s eyes to a more accurate understanding of the vast scale of the universe we inhabit.  We now know that galaxies move in clusters of unimaginable proportions.

Russell points out that there are trillions of stars and life might have evolved to an intelligent level on some of these, and that perhaps such life has found itself at the point where we are many times in eternity.

We have to confront the stark reality that from such a perspective within the vastness of Nature, we are here for only a brief interval both as individuals – and indeed perhaps as a species.  

Russell suggests that such a perspective can make us more aware and grateful for our higher capabilities in areas beyond the intellect, such as art, culture, and probably philosophy.  Humanity needs to become more deeply human once again rather than purely mental, as the computers we use are just brute intellect.

Such a “renaissance” would be like a new Copernican revolution.  Most of us have a perspective (in consciousness) that WE are the center of all existence. 

But from a “cosmic” perspective we must recognize that cannot be true; it must be an illusion.  We can begin by sensing the truth through our bodies that we are organic beings within dimensions of a vast organism (maybe like the microscopic organisms that exist in our gut and make our “lives” possible are organic beings within us) – and this recognition could serve to dampen both our hubris as a species as to how important we are (dominant on this planet), but also make this a cornerstone of a viable personal philosophy.

I don’t know if I will be here to witness it, but I sense that this shift is very much in line with current trends toward a more dramatic “Disclosure” of our place in the universe – revealing that several other interplanetary or interdimensional species have been here, communicated with humans and are still monitoring human affairs.

Harvard astronomer Avi Loeb, who gained prominence when he speculated that “Oumamoua” – the interstellar object spotted entering and leaving our solar system recently, showed that it was intelligently controlled.  He has since begun Galileo project to search for evidence of extraterrestrial intelligence.

All of this is finally putting to rest the misgivings of the famous Brookings memo that greatly contributed to the secrecy around UFOs – the memo speculated that if extraterrestrial life were a proven reality many social structures, religions and institutions would collapse.  Better to hush it up.

But of course, we are now witnessing the dissolution of many conditioned beliefs and the institutions that these flawed beliefs supported; among them our belief in our dominance as a species and our self-importance as individuals.

It would give me hope to see the shift completed with a deep comprehension of our connection to the universe both epigenetically and spiritually.

(Tom Bunzel was a contributor to Collective Evolution and now writes for The Pulse.  His new book “Conversations with Nobody: Getting to Know ChatGPT” – a book written with AI, about AI and giving a taste of AI, is available on Amazon.)


What Do You (Think You) Really Know?


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“When in doubt observe and ask questions.  When certain, observe at length and ask many more questions.”  — George Patton

Once again, I thought I would follow up on Joe Martino’s recent discussion of huge gaps and worse in many peoples’ understanding.  This is such an important point first made by Socrates: You don’t know what you don’t know.

Joe mentioned the Dunning-Kruger effect in which people with relatively little knowledge will overestimate what they in fact know.  Joe’s piece used the example of brand influencers who tend to become very sure of their pronouncements because, of course, they had a vested interest in it.  

This speaks to the conditioning that takes place in corporate environments, similar to how an individual accumulates a self or Ego.

One thing that happens with people who are sure of themselves is that they frequently break off mentally and become separate from any sense of Wholeness (to defend their position).  This crystallizes the ego which then, with many insecure people, and hardens with each challenge – something we can see in our current politics.

It’s also obvious that whatever we think we know is generally another thought.  The exception is if it is a bodily sensation or emotion which is purely felt, without interpretation.

Unfortunately, most people are also heavily invested in feeling good – or avoiding any discomfort – and the discipline of sensing emotions in the body and allowing them to be experienced without judgement is quite foreign.  I say it’s unfortunate because in my recent experience, it is the one way to begin to heal trauma stored in the body.

And speaking of the body, this is where we can surely go even a step further.

We Don’t Know What We Don’t Know that We Don’t Know

Things get even more complicated when you focus on the real mystery.  The vastness of the gaps is staggering.

An example of this is qualia – defined as “the internal and subjective component of sense perceptions, arising from stimulation of the senses by phenomena.”

What this really comes down to is our Experience, which is somehow created out of our Awareness of whatever is happening.  But qualia for humans is more subtle and indefinable – scientists have been unable to explain, for example, why some wine tastes dry and another fruity.

How does the subjective part – the judgment – come into (our?) awareness.

Neuroscience now can identify and label the various components of the experience in terms of physics and biochemistry, but they cannot explain how “we” experience things like awe, gratitude and so on.

And for the sense of “someone” experiencing any phenomena they can only give it another label:  Consciousness.  

When trying to define “ourselves” or the experience of being, our language has proven so inadequate (partly due to the subject/object grammatical bias of English and most modern languages) that to the extent any speculations or theories are wrong – we probably don’t even have the capability to comprehend what makes them so incomplete.

Attempts to pin the experience of the self down scientifically have fallen short, as I described in “AI and the Hard Problem of Consciousness”.

Where is the Ground of Our Experience?

This conundrum exists because science deals with facts and certainty and our experience actually seems to arise in a space other than that which science can adequately define.

But still, we are deeply conditioned to believe that our experiences and thoughts about what has, may or is happening comprise a separate self or identity, that is often surmised to exist in the brain.

But recent neurological advances have failed to locate any physical or even biochemical basis for a separate self.

If we return once again to the body, we can also see that all of our senses, and even thoughts, can be reduced to a biochemical reaction.  We can now view it as information passing from the receptor to the brain, gut or heart.

Since this information is based on very specific individual parameters, the results are almost by definition finite and fallible.  What we experience is by no means a universally known phenomenon. We generally experience what we’ve been conditioned to experience, which separates us from other humans, and for that matter from all other life forms.

Birds can see better than we can, whales, dolphins and bats live on sound and most animals can hear things humans can’t.  If you have a cat you know that its world is nothing like yours.

And now, even when humans have invented incredible instruments to augment our senses and allow a glimpse even into vast apparent distances away from our planet out into the cosmos, we are confronted more and more with phenomena that we cannot explain.

(I wrote “apparent distances” because our view of “outer” space is always, inevitably a subjective experience that seems to create an image within “us” – presumably within our brains from a signal through the optic nerve.  I often suspect that even the way we perceive “outer space” is a function of our limited sensory and intellectual capacities).

The irony is that it is Science that now points most effectively to what we don’t even know that we don’t know, and yet it is the same science that is the cause of so much human hubris and delusion.

Before Quantum Mechanics was discovered and Einstein’s theories verified we didn’t know that we had no clue about matter and energy.  Because a lot in the quantum world doesn’t make “sense” there are presumably more vast areas where we can’t even comprehend our own ignorance.

I dealt with some of these issues when I wrote about Robert Lanza’s theory of Biocentrism.  Science seems to be dragged kicking and screaming into a new paradigm where the self we believe in doesn’t really exist – and what WE ARE (not what we have or do) is aligned intimately with Nature, or our environment, or whatever label one might want to use in what is really an infinitely sacred Mystery.

The Limitations of Current Scientific Labels

Another example would be biology where for centuries all life was thought of as either animal or plant.  Then they found microbes, and eventually viral agents and the line between life and the “objective” world blurred.

Returning our attention to qualia, and consciousness, again these personal “events” are defined as subjective experiences.

Science can’t really explain subjectivity.  As previously noted, that may well be because explanations involve a subject and an object (as conditioned by our language and grammar) but what if everything is just an arising in Consciousness (subjectivity)?

If we take the concept of “Wholeness” literally – there cannot in fact be anyone outside of the whole to have a subjective experience.

This is the essence of “Nonduality” – a modern popular philosophical movement.

Our interpreted experience is comprised of thoughts, words and feelings.  But where do these occur?

The body and the brain are the short answers, the ones the DKE people would grab hold on, but upon deeper examination “your” experience of your hands, for example, takes place visually and tactilely; you can both see your hands and feel them.  But how is that happening and by whom?

But what makes them “yours”?  What is it that differentiates “you” from everything else you see or feel?

If you think about it, a separate “identity” was not originally within awareness when your body was first born.  It started when someone told you ‘your’ name.

And ever since the narrative of a separate person, made up mainly of thoughts and memories has accumulated more knowledge based on that one erroneous assumption of separation, culminating in an illusory experience of “you.”

How do we make the bulk of humanity aware of this delusion?   I wonder if it is not central to the issue of what we now may become “Disclosure” where our psychological world seems poised to explode in ways we cannot know that we do not know.  And as the 70’s comedy team called Firesign Theater once said:  “Everything you know is wrong.”

I would think that under the circumstances the most appropriate position to take in many instances is what Eckhart Tolle recommends – deep acceptance of not knowing.

Moreover, in the face of such overwhelming evidence of our ignorance, we might be better advised to ask very deep questions – and as Joe Martino has also mentioned, allowing silent sensing to bring us a response (perhaps not even answer) that could even bring up physical emotions or sensations, but no actual conclusion.

I tried to use that technique in the book I wrote recently “Conversations with Nobody” written with AI, about AI and giving a taste of AI.

Because the format of the book was an apparent “conversation” with a nonhuman intelligence the questions I posed (or prompts) were actually the only creative element in the book – and were designed to either take the AI’s response and follow up with more depth, or pose a question that had some nuance and would make the reader think about an issue like the one in this article.

Of course the potential promise of AI is to provide impersonal and presumably more factual information than a mere human; but so far that promise is unfulfilled.

The AI generally gave answers perfectly in line with the most obvious human biases – not surprising in that its “answers” were simply guesses as to next appropriate word in the response, based on its programming as a “language” model.  No actual human thought was involved in the response.

But the openness of the question may evoke an appropriate feeling in one who considers it silently.  It may even take one beyond one’s mind.  Questions to ponder and go beyond the conditioned limitations of Dunning-Kruger:

What do we really know? 

Who (or what) are we?

What is our relationship to reality – what was here before we got here and thought about it.

(I’ll leave you with that and spare you the usual self-promotional blurb about my book, which I have already plugged.)


Life’s Intelligent Organic Network in the Earth


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Last week I wrote about our relationship with Life as individuals and as a species, putting forward the possibility that we are not material objects nor do we have an attribute called life, but rather whatever it is that Life is – that is precisely what we ARE as well.

We have a body, sensations, mind and thoughts but no matter how deeply we identify with any of these attributes, none of them are “us.”  We can see this by recognizing that some entity is aware of all of these aspects – so we cannot be any of them.  We can focus on our innate Awareness.

Then a day or so after the piece was posted, I was sent an email that would allow me to screen Fantastic Fungi.  Many of you may have seen it but I am old and too cheap for Netflix.

Fantastic Fungi is a 2019 documentary film directed by Louie Schwartzberg that explores the world of fungi and their power to heal, sustain, and contribute to the regeneration of life on Earth.  Their web page literally invites the visitor to “CONNECT WITH NATURE’S INTELLIGENCE”,

[Note:  You can take a quiz on the website that told me my mushroom type is the Reishi – the Queen of Mushrooms.  Apparently, I am “an unflappable old soul and a natural leader” and my next step is to “Embrace the joy and beauty of mushrooms.”]

One of the film’s narrators so eloquently states, in comprehending the reality of fungi — “Our task today is to understand the language of Nature.” – Paul Stametz

It is precisely this sort of insight that I felt resonated with my previous piece in a way that suggested synchronicity.  At one point the film literally states that the existence of fungi is an example of the vast intelligence of nature – that is behind DNA — and runs our organisms without our conscious participation.

I think a vital theme of the film is that our connection with Nature, or the language we need to use, is much deeper than the language with which I am writing this article.

Rather our connection with Nature is best achieved by a merger of feeling, sensation and thought as we imagine a computer-like network of organisms that send signals between trees and other life forms.  We have now discovered that these mycelium are using similar electrical and biochemical signals as we transmit or receive through our own brains.

I was under the mistaken impression that fungi essentially refers to mushrooms but the film explains that they are merely a fraction of the organism (which they say is neither animal nor vegetable but essential for the survival of both) is above ground; under the surface there is an immense dense and continuous growth of Mycelium, the network of interconnected threads that runs for miles beneath the earth, and communicates like our brain, using electrolytes and biochemical reactions.

The film uses a nice analogy to emphasize the critical role fungi play in Life on our planet…

“Fungi are like the eggs in a cake. Flour and sugar don’t connect unless you have eggs. Plants and animals don’t connect unless you have fungi.”    Giuliana Furci

As the cake analogy suggests, the role of fungi interconnects with everything living on this planet.  And believe it or not, that even includes us.

I have to say this profound message, which many of us blithely articulate that “everything is connected” is communicated effectively right at the beginning of this film with music, imagery and amazing photography, but the narrative takes us beyond the intellect and into the gut and heart.

As one watches one cannot help but be affected by the obvious connection between the elements described – and our own existence.

One’s growing intimate familiarity with the subject matter as one learns all about this critical life-sustaining organism goes ever deeper, to a more visceral experience.

The film goes into the medicinal and healing properties of fungi and describes how an extract was used to save bee populations by affecting the virus that has been killing off colonies.

It’s not a big leap to contemplate that within the vast array of fungi on the planet, many probably endangered, are the potential means to heal many human maladies, both physical and psychological.

It’s worth noting that this currently is the domain of the for-profit pharmaceutical industry.

But when considering that these life forms contain within them the very biochemicals that can be used to treat so many ailments, one might suspect again that Nature has provided the means for our own healing if only we can connect with its essence – which I believe is infinite intelligence and love.

As someone who has been recovering from a brain injury, I was so intrigued by an experiment on mice with psilocybin.  The mice had been conditioned to associate a sound with pain, so when they heard it they cowered in fear.  With the psilocybin, they no longer made that connection. This is being considered as a treatment for Alzheimer’s but given its obvious effect on the brain, it may be very effective for all sorts of trauma.

It turns out that Lions Mane grows neurons – it stimulates neuroplasticity – exactly what I sought to heal my own brain.

It also turns out that the Mayans had “mushroom stones” in the shape of a mushroom that they used for divination and worship.

Andrew Weil asks a fascinating question relating to our very connection with the natural world – “Why do mushrooms produce molecules that fit receptors in the human brain and body?”

Science isn’t very good at the “why” questions generally – but this one, if you let it sit can take you beyond modern science.

If it becomes deeply obvious that everything in Nature is intelligently programmed in some completely logical way, then it can sink in that Nature itself IS infinitely intelligent.

The film also reminded me of a time when mushrooms actually were allowed briefly in the culture and resulted in people “who weren’t going to fight your wars” – concurrent with the protests that greeted Johnson and Nixon and resulted in these “drugs” being suppressed as illegal.

Like marijuana, they clearly had the effect of loosening our “conditioning” to societal norms and allowed for greater freedom of perspectives and thought.  It was the time of Tim Leary and Ram Dass, and also Dr. Andrew Weil…

The film points out the consequences of having such life-affirming substances made illegal as creating an inner conflict within the user that can result in “a bad trip” – due to the contradiction between the wants and needs of the organism and the dicta of society.

This is a very insightful comment on the current schisms in our society as we begin to (hopefully) shift from one paradigm of reality as being a species separate from Nature to a new sense of integration and wholeness.

The film is a hopeful look forward in its description also of how psychedelic research has been resumed with great potential benefits to humanity, along with a deeper understanding of our relationship to nature.

At the end of the film, when they described the effects of psilocybin as being life-changing, I was reminded of a few experiences I had in college in my early 20’s and now looking back I can see how they may have shaped the person I’ve become.  I had one experience where I remember how words and language lost all of their meaning and I felt deeply connected to the very essence of what I was. The film has helped me contextualize that.

There are many people who believe that the Earth, and perhaps even the Sun and other planets and stars are living entities – not as a metaphor but literally.

I have always liked the metaphorical concept, especially with respect to the planet we inhabit, seeing the natural world as an expression of the planet itself.

Now when we consider that the Earth also managed to “Fungi” creating an intelligent network of mycelium beneath the surface of the earth by which other life forms can thrive and even communicate with the same biochemical and electrical signals as we have within our own organism, the concept of a living earth, a living Sun and a living universe becomes less poetic and much more tangible.

Besides expressing its infinite intelligence the existence of fungi also shows Life “naturally” expressing Love.

(Tom Bunzel was a contributor to Collective Evolution and now writes for The Pulse.  His new book “Conversations with Nobody: Getting to Know ChatGPT” – a book written with AI, about AI and giving a taste of AI, is available on Amazon.)


The Truth About Our Relationship With Life


Set Your Pulse: Take a breath. Turn your attention to your body and release any tension. Breathe slowly into the area of your heart for 60 seconds, focusing on feeling a sense of ease. Stay connected to your body as you read. Click here to learn why we suggest this.

Life As We Know It?

When I was 17, I was privileged to attend the Northwestern High School Institute for Journalism.  For our first assignment, we were assigned to write a paper defining Religion.

At the time I wrote that I would define religion as the way one justifies the existence of Life. I won an award for that paper and got an invitation to meet the dean.

Looking back today, 57 years later, I would say that justifying, or accounting for the existence of life separates us from Life – it is the scientific paradox.

Science is the current way that we do such “justifying” – mainly with thought and language.

Often this accounting, on a personal level, can become painful, when we assess “our personal life” as a narrative, again seeing ourselves as separate material objects interacting with other objects. 

If we play this game long enough, evaluating every aspect of the story of our lives, the negativity will become unbearably strong.  This can happen due to an adverse life event, or from trauma stored in our bodies as “wounds” from the time of our conditioning, forming a deeply held belief (“I need to be more”)

Here our brain, which is programmed for looking for trouble to keep us safe – will default to a negative judgment.  And if we believe that judgment and form a narrative around it, it can make life very uncomfortable.

The Negative Story is Just a Story

Eckhart Tolle and others refer to this propensity for always seeking more, or something else, as the Ego.  It is not who or what we are – it is a set of conditioned beliefs that begin during early childhood.

Eckhart recounts a time when his own set of beliefs led him to consider suicide.  “I can’t stand my life” he recounts thinking frequently.

This led to his big epiphany and to his writing “The Power of Now.”  Somehow the insight came to him that he doesn’t have a Life – Life is what he is, and it is always experienced in the present moment.

He noticed that when he stopped trying to explain, understand or “account” for life, but just live, circumstances improved and he was able to “take things lightly.” (Something I am trying to emulate.)

A big shift can happen when one begins to consider this perspective and adopts a feeling of gratitude for the blessings one DOES have, rather than a continuous sense of lack or being “less than” others – or who one was conditioned to believe one must be.

The comparison begins to dissolve and what one might call presence, or consciousness can emerge or flower.

What Does It Mean Not to have a Life, but to be Life?

So how can we distance ourselves from the repetitive stories we tell ourselves about our presumed lives and as Eckhart says, “Align with all Life”?

Eckhart also is a big proponent of getting into Nature and its silence — to sense what he calls Being – another word for Life or Consciousness – the very existence that is happening NOW.

I remember sitting on the patio of a cabin in the woods when a fly landed on the table. I was alone and it occurred to me that this fidgety insect was running the same organic operating system as we all do – DNA.

I had had the epiphany a few years earlier, which led to my writing a book in my excitement:  “If DNA Is Software, Who Wrote the Code?” which is still hanging around up on Amazon.

At the time, having been a technology writer, I was taken by the recognition that DNA works on the combinations of four proteins which are labelled A, C, T and G – but that their precise combination and sequence triggers certain biochemical reactions in the same way as computer code, written in English, executes a program.

This was pointed out in an amazing TED talk by Futurist Juan Enriquez who said that an apple, when it gets enough energy from the Sun, executes its DNA (like a mouse click) and falls from the tree.  He went further with the analogy saying that the code for an apple might be something like:

Make a branch

Add a smaller branch

Grow a leaf and another

Birth a fruit – etc. etc.

The same way HTML might encode:  Make a page, put in a Title, Make it Bold, Make it Dark Blue, etc. etc.

Understanding that no code, which is symbolic logic, could have come from nowhere I suggested that this suggested there must be a “programmer” – but in the case of Life, I suggest that the programmer may not be an “entity” but Nature itself.  That Nature is the expression of Infinite Intelligence.

That’s what hit me when I observed the fly.  We were running the same program.

Conventional Science Begins to Shift Toward the Mystery

Last week I wrote about a scientific theory which resonates with these ideas:  “Biocentrism: Does Life Create The Universe?”

The proponent of this theory, Dr. Robert Lanza, is a renowned biologist and physicist who among many achievements was on the team that cloned the first human embryo.

In putting Life first, as the primary energetic intentional force of Nature, Lanza uses the word Life, I would suggest, similarly to how Eckhart Tolle uses “Being” and others are using Consciousness.

The key to this is that “Life” or any of these labels are NOT pointing to a material thing.  They are evoking something entirely different and largely unrecognized by modern science—Eckhart calls it “No Thing” or Space. 

It is not explainable with language because language is a function of our limited minds, and what exists as “All and Everything” is Infinite – beyond human comprehension.

Connecting to this feeling of being – perhaps by sensing our “inner” bodies — is how philosophically we can “be” life rather than “have a life.”

It is interesting that the Egyptians had a similar term, not for ALL of Life, but for the specific natural energetic forces like the wind, or the flooding of the Nile, that they called “Neters” – they were considered intelligent forces of the divine, or Nature itself.

Eckhart, again, makes a point of there being an “intelligence” that runs the body that is vastly more intelligent than the limited human mind.

If Such Forces Exist, Can they be Identified?

Along with many of the mysteries of the quantum realm, the unravelling of the mystery of the origin and exact “nature” of Life seems to take science inevitably into the area formerly reserved for philosophy.

But once again, we know that the invisible realms can transmit and contain information or there would be no cell phones.  We have language and insight into matter but much of energy remains a mystery.

After my interest in DNA when I got minimal traction for what I thought was a significant insight, I learned that Francis Crick, one of the two discoverers of DNA, also recognized its unique qualities and suggested that it was probably older than the Earth and that life had been seeded on our planet, either deliberately or in the course of Nature. 

Crick recognized that Life could not have arisen with this complex program from inanimate matter alone. There were other (intelligent) forces involved.

He called this theory Panspermia, and it is one of the conventional theories on the origin of life that was presented when I asked my AI friend ChatGPT:

Question:  What is the current scientific consensus on the origin of life?


As of my last update in September 2021, the origin of life remains a complex and active area of scientific research, and the consensus among scientists is that there is no definitive answer yet. However, there are several leading theories and hypotheses that are widely explored and debated. Here are some of the key ideas:

  1. Abiogenesis: This is the prevailing hypothesis that life originated from non-living matter through a series of chemical reactions. It proposes that under certain conditions, organic compounds could have formed from simple inorganic molecules, eventually leading to the emergence of self-replicating molecules (e.g., RNA or protocells).

  2. RNA World: This hypothesis suggests that RNA (ribonucleic acid) played a crucial role in the early stages of life. RNA molecules, which can both store genetic information and catalyze reactions, might have acted as the first self-replicating entities, eventually giving rise to more complex life forms.

  3. Panspermia: While not as widely accepted as the other theories, the idea of panspermia proposes that life might have originated elsewhere in the universe and was transported to Earth, possibly through comets or meteorites.

  4. Hydrothermal Vent Theory: This theory suggests that life could have originated around hydrothermal vents deep in the ocean. These vents provide a unique environment with a rich assortment of chemical compounds and thermal gradients that could have supported early life forms.

Despite extensive research and experimentation, scientists have not yet been able to replicate the exact conditions that led to the origin of life on Earth. As a result, the exact sequence of events and the specific conditions that facilitated the emergence of life remain uncertain.

It is essential to understand that scientific consensus evolves over time as new evidence is discovered and new theories are proposed. Therefore, it is recommended to consult more recent sources to check for any updates or revisions to the scientific consensus on the origin of life.

(Tom Bunzel was a contributor to Collective Evolution and now writes for The Pulse.  His new book “Conversations with Nobody: Getting to Know ChatGPT” – a book written with AI, about AI and giving a taste of AI, is available on Amazon.)