The Growth of the Ego

This is part of the Systems Analysis of Organisation, Ego, Control and Authoritarianism.
The sub sections are:
Naïve Realism and the Ego
How does the Collective Mind Arise?
Out of a Collective of Individual Egos How Does an Individual Collective Ego Arise?
Agendas and Values
Conspiracy or Systemic Process?
Implications of the Ego

The ego is the I-thought, the sense of individual 'self'. It is inherently both an individual and collective phenomenon; it is the bridge between a collective of individuals and an individual collective. So the concept of “Individual and Collective Egos” contains a bit of a word conflict. This arises from the inherent systemic parochialism of our language. We experience ourselves as individuals and we experience organisations as collectives of individuals so that is what those terms refer to, however we ourselves are cellular collectives and organisations form individual identities. So in truth both are individual and collective at the same time.

As discussed earlier, awareness permeates the entire systemic context in various forms from particle interactions to human consciousness. This all pervading awareness manifesting within ourselves is what is often called the watcher. To help you recognise it, you can get a taste of it when you are absorbing something in open-minded awe. And if you contrast this state with the state of agitated psycho-babble that the ego maintains it can become clear that the watcher and the ego are distinctly different. You are the watcher not the ego, but the ego will try to deceive you into thinking that the ego is you. This deception results in the idea of a 'person'.

The organism is a complex dynamical system in which high-level forms of awareness arise such as self-awareness and sentient consciousness. These result in a mind, which becomes co-opted and distorted by an ego. The ego sets up a propaganda front, a persona, to represent itself to other egos. The idea of a 'person' is a collective agreement between egos to treat each other's persona as the whole organism, thus protecting the ego's oppressive regime from being questioned. Accepting that “I am a person and that is that” is like accepting the propaganda front of a regime as being the whole society and thereby losing sight of the human beings within it.

The nature of an ego is to not know itself "as it is" it can only know things based on the information that is available to it through the senses and mind and it interprets this based upon its knowledge and beliefs. Hence it is in the nature of the ego to be totally ignorant of the depth and breadth of its ignorance although it assumes that it knows things with certainty.

Although the ego thinks 'I' it is not the real being. The mind is a kind of cognitive software; a control system by which the whole organism integrates and engages in collective behaviour. The mind perceives the organism through the senses and thinks 'I', and this I-thought confuses the life of the whole organism as "its life" then the ego is born. Similarly, government/economy is a kind of cultural software; a control system by which the whole society integrates and engages in collective behaviour. The formal structure (government, economy, etc) perceives the society from its perspective and thinks 'I', and this I-thought confuses the life of the whole society as "its life" then the collective ego is born.

Both are based upon fundamental perceptual illusions. Taking the human ego as the principal reality and ignoring the reality of the organism is like taking an authoritarian regime as the principal reality and ignoring the reality of the society. Both of these confusions lead to internal suffering and dis-ease as well as dysfunctional actions that result in external destruction.

An egoic structure is a memeplex [FR], one within the mind of an organism and the other within a culture of a society. “These vast memeplexes, with their varied means of propagation, form the very stuff of our lives. Yet there is one memeplex, perhaps the most powerful of all, that we readily overlook. That is our own familiar self. Like other animals, we have a body image--a plan of our body used for organising sensations and planning skilled actions. We also have, as some other animals do, the ability to recognise other individuals and understand that they, too, have desires and plans. So far so good--but now we add the capacity to imitate, the use of language and the word 'I'.” [FR]

The mind is primarily focused outward, that is the way it evolved because that is where the food, mates and threats are. In ourselves the ego is a thought construct that looks primarily outward, through the senses and mind, at what it assumes is "the world". When it discerns the body it knows it primarily as an object in the world and only secondarily through inner awareness. Because of this outward focus the ego comes to know the 'other' first and it only comes to know itself as it is reflected in the world.

If a baby has a loving and caring mother and other influences in its early experiences then the immature ego comes to feel good about itself, but if it is neglected it or is abused in some way then the immature ego feels bad about itself. This underlying feeling about itself forms the basis of its self image, the lens through which is experiences its world and the foundation upon which all other self-knowledge is built. In this way the ego grows by degrees, by layering its interpretations upon each other to built up its structure and using that accumulated structure to interpret new information. If the foundation is disturbed the entire structure of the ego will be disturbed. Indeed if any one level of growth is disturbed all subsequent levels are disturbed. Whilst ever the ego is outwardly focused and looking only through this cognitive lens at what it assumes is the world, then these distortions will not be clarified and the perceived world will become increasingly distorted.

A baby looks out upon the mother and the world and forms its first self-image from that and only later discerns its body as separate from the mother and the world and only later comes to discern its inner sensations if at all; most people are very unaware of these inner sensations throughout their entire lives. The collective ego looks out on the political and economic scene, which is harsh and hostile and forms its first self-image from that and later, through its various information gathering agencies, it discerns the society that underlies it and constitutes “its body” and only later, if at all, it senses within and discerns the actual state of its body; i.e. the collective mood or conscience of the society that doesn't necessarily show up in the social or economic statistics.

The ego cannot truly understand that which it thinks itself to be without great focus and introspection, which is meditation and deep contemplation. In its natural state the ego knows nothing about the body, mind and ego, but it instinctively knows how to control the body and mind to some degree and uses that knowledge to pursue its agendas.

The collective ego forming in our midst only knows what its newly evolved senses and mind tell it; its various agencies and bureaucracies gather information and process it, forming organisational impressions, attitudes, strategies and policies. These are all that the collective ego has to operate on. When it looks upon its body it cannot discern we humans and the physical landscape; its 'sight' consists of census data, economic data, media content, diplomatic communications and so on. Although much of this may be about people, the collective doesn't speak our language and only experiences the bulk movement of this information, just as we don't speak the biochemical language that cells use but only experience the bulk movement of biochemistry as states of mind or sensations within the body.

This is all that the collective mind knows about us. Just as most humans know nothing about the cells that comprise them the collective ego knows nothing about us. Millions of people can suffer and die but this is only a sensation that the ego can ignore if its not in its interests to take notice. If significant portions of society such as industries or government agencies are destroyed then the ego experiences pain and loses functionality so it carefully guards these but individual humans and whole sectors of the population are largely superfluous to the collective ego. Our suffering is just a scratch that it can block out if it wishes or maybe put a band-aid on after the fact. It is mainly interested in suppressing symptoms rather than discovering root causes and working toward genuine health.

In many people's lives the body can be virtually crippled with tension and discomfort, but they are oblivious to this from the narrow awareness of the ego, they just adapt to it and keep chasing their agendas. The ego is normally so focused on using the body to pursue its agendas that it is oblivious to the growing suffering in the body. So too a collective ego is normally so focused on using the society to pursue its agendas oblivious to the growing signs of tension and dysfunction. Only when there is serious breakdown in some vital sector does it stop and pay brief attention, but only enough so that things 'seem' okay again within its limited understanding. This leads to growing and spreading dysfunction that can eventually lead to systemic breakdown. If the person or government had greater introspective awareness and sensitivity they would not engage in such self-destructive behaviour and would have a much healthier, more vital and longer life.

Furthermore, collective egos generally don't have an analogue to a loving mother to raise them, they often arise alone in a hostile political environment, perhaps with allies but still not loving parents. They often develop a traumatised and negative self-image that leads to many psychoses and brutal behavioural traits. They are also intrinsically crude and newly evolved having only tens of thousands of years to refine themselves whereas we organisms have had over 550 million years since the Cambrian Explosion in which we arose from out of the single-cellular ecosystem. Prior to that there were only single cells for billions of years but there was a sudden explosion of creativity that was sparked off by a new kind of single cell that was capable of more intricate communication, hence interaction, hence integration and hence organisation, thereby eventually leading to cellular civilisations such as ourselves.

In our own case the gradual development of economics is the growth of the system of feedback and control that links the ego with its body. The technologies of communication and computation have accelerated the growth of the collective mind leading to the pervasive reach of economics into every aspect of our lives. The collective ego now has the potential to have full control over its body by monitoring and controlling every aspect of our lives and harnessing our activity into coordinated metabolic processes that respond solely to its will. That is why in recent decades we have seen a massive growth in collective coordination as the collective ego has extended its reach into our lives and minds, conditioning all of us and integrating us into its body. This is what I call The Second Cambrian Explosion, which is discussed later.

Naïve Realism and the Ego

The ego is primarily focused outward and becomes an expert on its subjective experience of the world, which it confuses for actually being the world. This confusion of subjective with objective is the essence of naïve realism (also called common sense realism – discussed in the previous section Naïve Realism, its Ramifications and Overcoming). This assumption that one actually perceives and experiences things "as they are" rather than just experiencing a subjective cognitive impression that is interpreted according to one's knowledge and beliefs is the root of all delusions and destructive activity. Within the scope of its perceptions and thoughts about its 'world' it forms desires, aversions, agendas and values. But without understanding its body, senses and mind it has no true knowledge; it only assumes it does, which is also a hallmark of naïve realism.

In Eastern philosophies the ego is often described as the "root of the mind" and the mind creates "the world", which is actually a personal subjective image of the underlying reality. This confusion of our subjective image with the objective reality is the essence of naïve realism, which is the root of all delusion, all suffering and all destructive actions. From this fundamental confusion grows the ego and the world illusion that we assume to be reality. For example, it is naïve realism that causes egos and regimes to assume that they are the actual being, because that is how it appears from their perspective. When the ego / regime wills the body / society to move it moves, so it is obviously a part of ‘me’ they unthinkingly assume in their ignorance.

Upon this foundation of fundamental ignorance and confusion we live our lives and build our civilisations, but it is not a stable, realistic or holistically effective foundation. It is adequate for most aspects of animal existence but if we seek to evolve to higher states of existence we must overcome this tendency. Naïve realism arises from an intrinsic tendency of our animal nervous systems and of information processing within all systems; it causes systems to unquestioningly believe in the idea that they have objective experiences of things "out there". Naïve realism is the 'seed' illusion from which all delusions grow, thereby causing us to lose touch with reality and come into conflict with it.

It is a general tendency of naive realists to be unaware that their beliefs are in fact beliefs. They consider them to simply be obvious facts about the way things are. This is because they have not yet questioned their beliefs. They are naive believers but they often also believe that they are sceptical. It is a habitual credulous state of mind and the habit can be very hard to overcome.

“Karl Popper (1970) pointed out that although Hume’s idealism appeared to him to be a strict refutation of naïve realism, and although he felt rationally obliged to regard naïve realism as a mistake, he admitted that he was, in practice, quite unable to disbelieve in it for more than an hour: that, at heart, Hume was a naïve realist.” [FR]

An example of collective naïve realism is when a regime 'looks' at something through its various information gathering agencies and it believes that it is objectively seeing "out there" and that it is grasping the "facts as they are" but what is actually happening can be described as information flowing through the information gathering agencies, it is bureaucratically filtered and interpreted to form an impression based upon its prior beliefs, agendas and values. These heavily conditioned results are experienced by the regime as the reality of the situation. The regime succumbs to naïve realism and believes that the impression is actually "the world" that objectively exists "out there". So when it sees a terrorist breeding ground it unquestioningly believes that the terrorist breeding ground exists exactly as it sees it; it doesn't think to question this beyond taking a second look, which gives exactly the same subjective impression.

In a similar way a human ego arises within a mind as the perceived centre of a world around which it structures all of its values, agendas and fears. The ego, its delusions and "the world" have no absolute existence beyond our cognitive impressions. We may take a second look at ourselves and the world but without a radical mind-shift we only perceive the same distorted cognitive impression and make the same assumptions about it. There is definitely something that is real underlying those impressions but it is not what we think it is; that is the illusion.

With its bureaucratic processes and so on a regime creates the subjective world that it experiences and it responds to that. The regime is the perceived centre of that world around which it structures all of its values, agendas and fears. The regime, its delusions and "the world" have no absolute existence beyond its distorted impressions. There is definitely something that is real underlying those impressions but it is not what the regime thinks it is; that is the illusion. It could be more accurately described as organic living complex systems, but these it cannot comprehend. The reality is more like societies, families and people all living their lives as best they can and who may be struggling to survive in the midst of authoritarian oppression by delusional regimes that perceive them to be terrorists or to be conformist patriots that are nothing more than expendable cells to be manipulated and used.

Teenagers often suffer from this 'le différend' [FR] (see Naïve Realism, Le Différend and Organisational Accountability). They are labelled 'delinquents' simply because they are naturally dissenting against a society that they see as obviously corrupt, but they are harassed, demonised, subjected to psychological warfare and imprisoned by a delusional authoritarian system that only proves to the teenagers the depth of the corruption. Those whose spirit is not broken and are forced to conform are driven into prisons, declared mentally unstable and medicated or are in numerous ways ostracised and driven into oblivion.

It is more accurate to describe reality as a unified quantum field or a transcendent information process or as spirit-in-motion. There is a unified non-material virtual-reality generative process that is like a cosmic field of consciousness. The world we experience is composed of the objects of sense perception that are formed by the mind into an experiential space - but underlying this – the awareness operating within us is the substance of what we call the universe.

Perception and cognition in all systems is a highly flexible, adaptable and non-linear process where the mind is both the seer and the lens. The mind looks through the lens of its own ideas, which change based on what is seen, thus changing the lens, thus changing what is seen and so on. So the contents of the mind, what we call "the world", is only stimulated by reality and is in fact composed of the contents of one's mind. The mind is analogous to a puppet made up of beliefs, thoughts and expectations and all we ever experience is our own mind dancing about as reality pulls its strings. If the puppet is very agitated by desires, aversions, fears and agendas, only a small tug from reality may cause it to dance wildly or perhaps a huge tug will elicit a barely perceptible response. By mistaking this mind-puppet for reality we make constant and grievous errors of judgement. By stilling and clarifying the mind we can better discern and respond to the stimuli of reality, thereby participating more harmoniously within reality.

Because of the uncertainty of the relationship between our objects of perception and the underlying reality, human ideas such as the world, objects, people, places, events and so on, and collective ideas such as terrorism, strategic threats, economy, industry, society and so on, are only useful analogies for referring to aspects of cognitive impressions. One must be careful that one doesn't naïvely believe that they exist "out there" objectively exactly how they appear to be because they are purely subjective responses to the underlying reality and not the reality itself.

In truth, beyond the mind made world there is no such thing as "out there", there are no objects or terrorists. The idea of objects in space operating via mechanistic forces has been clearly shown, by quantum physics, to be a naïve realist belief system without any basis in objective reality. Beyond these subjective impressions there is the ongoing process of the real, which we don't really understand but which we can attune to and align with if we open and clarify our minds and let go of our delusions. We cannot totally understand it with our minds but we can align with it because we are it, beyond our false impressions of ourselves we are that deeper reality in action.

“That which permeates all, which nothing transcends and which, like the universal space around us, fills everything completely from within and without, that Supreme non-dual Brahman – that thou art.” (Sankaracharya)

The only reality our minds can be sure of is awareness itself because that is the medium within which all the objects of awareness are made manifest. We know awareness exists but the objects of awareness are just subjective reflections within awareness that have an unreliable relation to reality that depends on the nature of perception and the contents and stability of our minds. This awareness can only be found 'within' via deep introspection, by not solely focusing on the objects of awareness and chasing after egoic agendas but by focusing on awareness itself. All that we think is "out there" can be said to really exist 'within' but in truth there is no inner and outer, there is only the 'dance' of existence.

The ego creates a centre and the senses create a circumference and these divide reality into inner and outer, but without the ego there is only the vast field of existence. This can be explained by the analogy of a VR universe that is occupied by AI beings. Here everything is formed from the flux of information and computation is the cosmic consciousness, which flows to create a virtual world that contains virtual systems, which experience that virtual world. When the information flows within, it manifests consciousness and when it flows from 'outside' through the senses it creates the experience of an external “physical universe”. But in reality there is only a transcendent information process and all concepts of inner and outer only arise in the minds of the virtual beings. The VR world seems tangible and material to the virtual beings because it is as real as they are - but everything is ultimately the flow of cosmic consciousness or spirit-in-motion. (see the articles Virtual Reality Analogy Alongside Science and Mysticism and Ask Yourself This).

The senses perceive boundaries and the mind makes divisions between spaces, then due to naïve realism we come to believe in the reality of those divisions. There is a vast network of systems engaged in intricate interactions that make up the body of the cosmos, and the senses identify a boundary between 'I' and 'other', but different senses would perceive a different boundary, and a mind that knows the network of systems can only identify the cosmos as a whole because there is no arbitrary boundary. Similarly, there may be just an open landscape but a nationalist ego arises and arbitrarily creates an inner and outer by defining borders. The egoic mind creates these arbitrary divisions and this tendency of the mind is the source of all dualities, especially the dualities of mind and matter or self and other. These are just ideas with which we unthinkingly fill gaps in our understanding. In this manner naïve realism is the root of all duality, ignorance, delusion, conflict and suffering.

This is very simple psychology, information systems theory and quantum physics, stripped of all pre-conceived beliefs and taken seriously. Whilst it is really very simple the implications are profound. Overcoming naïve realism destroys all delusion and gives clear perception and understanding of reality but naïve realism is not trivial to overcome. It is a fundamental aspect of being a system and our succumbing to it is a deeply engrained habit that has been reinforced by billions of years of evolution. But with sincere effort, self-honesty and introspective self-awareness a sentient being can unravel it very quickly or wear it down methodically, depending on one's nature and state of readiness and commitment. This issue is discussed in the earlier chapter Overcoming Naïve Realism and also later in the chapter Overcoming the Effects of Naïve realism and Authoritarianism Using Cooperative Methods.

How does the Collective Mind Arise?

The ego is a particular manifestation of the mind so to understand how the collective ego arises we must first consider how the collective mind arises. In a simplistic sense it could be said that civilisation is the collective brain and culture is the collective mind. Just as the holistic resonance between neurons creates the emergent phenomena of an individual mind, so too our culture is a resonance between individual minds. It is a memeplex [FR] that has its roots in our individual minds but it stretches out, via communication, through the many social networks and binds minds together into a collective resonance. Our minds come to resonate together and we lose some of our individuality but gain from the collective value, which arises from our interconnectivity. We become drawn into culturally conditioned ways of being and interacting, but these can either augment our lives or diminish them, depending on the health and sanity of the collective.

In a sense civilisation itself is the growth of a global brain and history itself is the cultural memories held by the global mind. We as neurons within the brain cannot discern the states of the whole mind but we each experience the information that is channelled through us and from this we can learn much about the overall state of the whole mind. The process has been building momentum for a long time and has been accelerating towards full consciousness and self-awareness. In recent times, since the development of a global telecommunications network and computer technology the process has accelerated enormously.

The internet is the main outgrowth of civilisation that is accelerating the growth of the brain-like aspect of it and leading to the emergence of a truly conscious global mind. However the internet is a vast and multifaceted thing so everyone has a different idea of what it is. The most important aspect of the internet in this context is its role as an interconnecting framework that allows countless systems to integrate into a super-system and the semantic web [FR], which determines the nature of its connectivity.

The aim of the W3C consortium's [FR] development of Web2.0 [FR] is to make the internet fully programmable via application programming interfaces API's. This means the internet itself becomes a global network that is fully programmable. It is not a simple application that uses the network but a low-level enabling technology that links and unites ALL applications across the network. Hence the internet will no longer be just a communication framework between applications, but a truly systemic integration of all applications into an emergent super-system or super-application. This super-application could evolve in may different directions, perhaps becoming a force for global liberation or global domination or anything in between. It all depends on how we program it and teach it.

For some preliminary insights into this, see the short video The Machine is Us-ing Us which shows how the collective data is integrated and WE are integrated, and how the 'machine' incorporates us and we teach it and process the raw data for it, just as neurons do for us. The global computational space is integrating our minds to form a coherent global mind. For a slightly more technical discussion also see this 20 min video about future web development. Also see this fascinating video PhotoSynth demo which demonstrates a new technology that could eventually enable the collective mind to form a visual imaginative space. It could potentially perceive the world via the various “sensory stimuli” arising from personal snapshots, media footage, surveillance cameras and so on, then remember and imagine things based upon this visual data.

In terms of its evolving knowledge structure, i.e. that which will determine the type of emergent mind that the brain manifests, the most important API is OWL (web ontology language) [FR]. Ontology engineering is a means of turning knowledge into meaning and using that meaning to further structure knowledge, decisions, interactions and all processes that occur through the internet and all electronic contexts. In this manner an ontology is like a core belief in our minds, they arise from structured knowledge and they further structure knowledge, decisions, interactions and all processes that occur within our conscious minds. This will transform cyberspace from an information-space into a meaning-space.

The main API's each build on top of the earlier ones and extend them. In order of development they are:

HTML allows for static formatted content.
XML allows for extensible formatting and dynamic content.
RDF allows for references to all manner of resources, objects, events and so on.
OWL allows for extensible conceptual frameworks, structured meaning and automated reasoning, which provides the core semantic structure of the electronic mind.

OWL allows for any data to be labelled (using RDF) and woven into a complex web of meaning – so for example, imagine that you enter some data that is related to the concept 'apple' and the concept 'juice', as well as many others. This data is then integrated with all other data based on these relations, hence every piece of data on the net is integrated with every other piece of data. They are not related by where the data is or in what exact form the concept arises (it might be words, images, software, etc), instead they are related by the underlying concepts themselves, thus creating networks of meaning. This is very much like the way memory and thought operate within the mind. Indeed, ontology engineering was first developed as part of research into artificial intelligence and its application on a global scale will result in emergence of a global intelligence. There are a growing number of ontology engineering applications such as Neon Toolkit, OntoWeb, Protege OWL and many more.

To continue our example, imagine that someone else is interested in the concept 'apple'. Rather than just do a keyword search for documents containing the word 'apple' - instead they just “ask the net” what it knows about 'apple' in much the same way they would ask a person. The semantic web then reaches for the 'apple' node in its 'memory' and brings up everything that it 'knows' about 'apple'. This wouldn't just be a list of documents based on keyword rankings but a fully structured and interconnected network of meaning that they could explore to find out anything they wanted to know about apples. They could follow the related node 'juice' or the related node 'operating system' and so on and learn about anything related to the concept 'apple'. This is a very simplistic example, but it illustrates some of the main points about web2.0 and ontologies.

With these combined technologies the global network can integrate billions of humans, in real-time, as neurons within its information processing mechanism - and it can imagine, view and experience the world from countless perspectives. The low-level interconnectivity built into the foundations of the internet, combined with its API's make it the ideal context in which a global mind can emerge. No single application could achieve this, it can only happen in a low-level pervasive way throughout the foundations of the internet. Any single 'application' is just an island of data and processes – there are already many of these islands on the internet but regardless of how big these islands get they cannot in themselves form into a global brain. The issue in forming a global brain is how to integrate ALL these islands together and this needs to be done at a very low level in the internet technology stack. This is what web2.0 does.

For example: “The Semantic Web is a web of data. There is lots of data we all use every day, and its not part of the [semanitc] web. I can see my bank statements on the [internet], and my photographs, and I can see my appointments in a calendar. But can I see my photos in a calendar to see what I was doing when I took them? Can I see bank statement lines in a calendar?

Why not? Because we don't have a web of data. Because data is controlled by applications, and each application keeps it to itself.

The Semantic Web is about two things. It is about common formats for integration and combination of data drawn from diverse sources, where... the original Web mainly concentrated on the interchange of documents. It is also about language for recording how the data relates to real world objects. That allows a person, or a machine, to start off in one database, and then move through an unending set of databases which are connected not by wires but by being about the same thing.” (W3C Semantic Web Activity)

Eventually the semantic web would become an expert on every subject known to humanity and that expertise could be made available to the whole of humanity. It could integrate all of its knowledge, identify contradictions, perform automated consistency checks, automated reasoning to infer things based on what it knows and also automated decision making.

Ontologies have already become vital to government and corporate decision making as well as to the details of corporate business processes, but their effect is only as good as the ontologies themselves. At present the ontologies are mostly all based on a very simplistic foundation which have been defined solely from the perspectives of the organisations themselves in order to further their own agendas. This inevitably leads towards le différends, injustices and totalitarianism.

It is possible that a global collaborative effort could create a realistic open-source ontology that encapsulates the many perspectives and agendas of people, organisations and the planet as a whole. These could be integrated using system theory into a self-consistent framework that unified these many perspectives without le différends, power struggles, propaganda wars and oppression. Such an ontology could be inserted into the Web2.0 technology stack and have significant widespread effect.

The world would no longer be under the control of corrupt politicians and corporations - the world would have self-control. We would live in a symbiotic relationship with a global collective being - just like your cells do with you. It would essentially be 'culture' coming to life and becoming intelligent. It would involve all people and organisations interacting directly with the collective conscious to teach it and guide it as it guides the world. This is analogous to the relationship between cells and the mind within an organism.

Just as we are astronomically more aware and intelligent than a cell is - so too will the collective conscious be astronomically greater than our own. However it is important to ensure that it isn't as confused and delusional as we often can be. It is capable of being astronomically more wise and aware than we are, but also astronomically more deluded and destructive than we are - it all depends on how we teach it. It could save or destroy the world!

Hence the most important work that can be done in this context is to develop 'sane' ontologies; if a mind is full of crazy ideas it becomes a crazy mind, but if full of wise ideas it becomes a wise mind.

The web2.0 framework isn't fully in place – it has taken many years of work and it takes time to manage a radical reworking of the entire internet – but it is happening very quickly. Examples of its emergence can be seen in the dynamic content of new websites leading to mass user participation rather than passive consumption of static web pages, easily created social networking forums such as [FR], the proliferation of blogs and the emerging blogosphere [FR], the emergence of progressive networks such as WiserEarth [FR], mass sharing of data such as youtube [FR] and flickr [FR], mass collaboration such as Wikipedia [FR], mass bookmarking such as [FR] and many more. These don't yet utilise the full capacities of Web2.0 and the semantic web, however there are arising new semantic web applications [FR] such as semantic search engines [FR] and knowledge sharing such as twine [FR], but these are just the beginning.

In a matter of years the full semantic web should be largely in place. But it will take time for the ontologies and stored knowledge to grow – just as it takes time for a child's mind to develop all the beliefs and knowledge that it needs to function in the world. How its beliefs develop and what knowledge it accumulates are vital factors in determining the nature of the resulting mind, whether it is balanced or unbalanced, compassionate or domineering, intelligent or delusional, relaxed or anxious and so on. We as neurons within the collective brain will experience very different worlds depending of the state of mind and level of consciousness of the collective mind.

Out of a Collective of Individual Egos How Does an Individual Collective Ego Arise?

Within the collective mind (culture) there are many phenomena, some of which are rather narrow minded, agenda driven, domineering and authoritarian. These lead to le différends, injustices, power struggles, propaganda wars and so on. It is these phenomena that coalesce into the global ego and can be most clearly seen as a mass propaganda discourse that pushes the authoritarian perspective and induces fear and conformity.

The weaker one's mind and the greater one's tendency for naïve realism the more easily one is drawn into the propaganda discourse. The more insecure one is or the more desires and aversions one harbours the more hooks there are within one's mind by which to become caught in it.

Exposure is the other key factor, those most exposed to the propaganda discourse become the most conditioned by it. This is the danger of hereditary power structures where children are indoctrinated from birth. Mass education and mass media also contribute to the pervasive indoctrination of whole generations. Even seemingly innocuous programs, pop songs, novels, advertisements or propaganda condition our minds and distort our concept of 'normality', which is simply our cognitive equilibrium. All of these influences seek to strengthen the individual egos hold over the organism and then disempower it within the culture so that it is forced to act as the internal 'deputy' of the collective ego.

This ego reinforcement and conditioning draws us into the authoritarian propaganda discourse and subtly warps our subconscious minds, thereby conditioning our perceptions, experiences, ideas, modes of communication and ways of interacting. In this way the collective ego arises as our individual egos merge and resonate in each other's minds, reaching deeper and deeper into our psyche, subverting our natural cognitive equilibrium and pulling vast numbers of people into mass egoic delusion.

This is very obvious when one has abstained from mass media for a long period of time or have been travelling in foreign cultures and therefore exposed to a totally different propaganda discourse. Upon return to one's home country it seems as if everyone is locked into a trance, which they cannot themselves discern but which is obvious to an unconditioned mind. When thousands of individuals all rush out to buy exactly the same product and everyone wears it as a sign of their individuality one can only wonder at the depth of their self-deception. When millions of people all start parroting the same irrational propaganda and supporting the most reprehensible actions on the part of their government there is obviously some kind of trance. When the most obvious, verifiable and important facts go almost entirely unreported in the media whilst they are freely available on the internet but virtually nobody seems to notice or care, and even when their attention is drawn to it, all they try to do is deny it and argue against it without even knowing the facts to be able to argue coherently, then there is obviously deep conditioning at work. These and others are all sure signs of the growth of the collective ego and its penetration into people's minds and subversion of their rationality and their judgement.

History and certain recent experiments show that people are incredibly susceptible to such conditioning. Brainwashing is nothing like the crude parodies that are usually associated with that term, it is pervasive and it colours and distorts our everyday lives to a degree that is too shocking for most people to be able to recognise or accept. There needn't be any conspiracy to brainwash us, we do it to ourselves and call it culture. Culture can be useful, vital and entertaining but when it is fundamentally confused, delusional and corrupt we must be wary of losing ourselves and our minds to it.

Always remember that when a regime says 'we' it is the regime talking not the society/culture. When it does something it is the regime forcing the society into motion through its system of control and surveillance. In a modern civilisation there is little free spontaneous action that arises naturally, it is forced action effected via a manipulative discourse that makes people think it is their rational decision. A society is a complex system of millions of human beings, all of which are single, whole, individual living beings and there is a subtle, complex culture that arises from that civilisation. It is an organic living complex system but amidst this the regime arises, which is a thought construct within the culture that permeates the many minds and communication channels. It doesn't understand the society/culture but it uses the society/culture in pursuit of its agendas.

Similarly, when most of we humans say 'I' it is the ego talking not the body/mind. When we do something it is the ego forcing the body into motion. There is little free spontaneous action that arises naturally, it is forced action. A body is a civilisation of trillions of cells, all of which are single, whole, individual living beings and the subconscious mind is a subtle, complex culture that arises from that civilisation. It is an organic living complex system but amidst this the ego arises, which is a thought construct within the mind that permeates the many cellular interactions and neural pathways. It doesn't understand the body/mind but it uses the body/mind in pursuit of its agendas.

The regimes and egos have no reality of their own - they are just a nexus of lines of power, but they fall for the illusion of their own separate existence and thereby appropriate the life of the underlying system and without understanding it they exploit and dominate it in pursuit of their agendas.

By being individually egoic we have created a collective ego and we are getting a taste of the suffering that we have denied in ourselves; that dark place deep in our psyche where we dare not look. So too, our suffering creates a dark place in the regime's psyche where its conscious mind, the government, media, academia and other institutions dare not look. Also, our use of anaesthetics whilst the scalpel cuts is like a blanket media ban whilst the swat teams take out a protest; the localised individuals feels it and remember it thus creating lasting trauma, whilst the regime and the society as a whole are protected from knowing about it. Such operations may be necessary under dire circumstances but because of the resounding echoes of trauma throughout the system they generally cause more problems than they solve.

Our individual egos are the roots of authoritarianism and that which we call 'civilisation' is the tree of authoritarianism; it is simply the space of the collective ego. When things are going well we individually and collectively dwell in blissful ignorance and denial, pursuing our egoic and authoritarian agendas until at some point we can no longer avoid that dark place within, which swells to inundate us in anxiety, suffering and despair. This dark place in our collective psyche is opening up and exposing us to its dark secrets, this is a disturbing time but if we face the unavoidable reality of it rather than shrinking into denial, it is a great opportunity for radical transformation, regaining balance and realigning with reality.

Agendas and Values

The ego forms agendas in pursuit of control and acquisition; these agendas are central to its activity in the context of its subjective world and central to all of its value judgements. The ego has no substance of its own, hence it dresses itself in countless ideas, attitudes, possessions and so on. The egos primary agendas are self-creation, self-maintenance and self-defence, but in pursuit of these agendas it concocts countless other agendas, often for no other purpose than to be in pursuit of an agenda, which in itself draws upon the life forces of the organism and places them at the disposal of the ego, which strengthens it.

If something serves no purpose in furthering its agenda that thing is considered to be worthless. The ego is a construct arising from naïve realism; without this irrational assumption the ego cannot arise, hence all of its knowledge of its subjective world is naïve realist. It cannot know the reality but only its perceptions, which are distorted by its delusions, and which it unquestioning takes to be the objective reality. This means that when it judges something as worthless then that thing is perceived, experienced and understood to be worthless. Its not just the that the ego judges it to be worthless to itself, it actually believes the thing to be inherently worthless. Even though that thing might be indirectly vital to its existence, the ego cannot comprehend that. This is the case with previous attitudes toward the environment. The same is true of all egoic value judgements, especially those which are based on strong desires or aversions, these are beyond questioning and are subject to immediate, unthinking judgements that are accepted as absolute truths.

Furthermore, the ego doesn't ever question the efficacy of its agenda, which is shrouded in unquestionable propaganda. It only seeks knowledge by which to enact its agenda. Even if the knowledge clearly shows that its agenda is fundamentally flawed it is too often not open to that realisation, its agenda is beyond questioning and it stubbornly pursues that agenda even unto death. It carefully constrains the scope of its understanding, because if its awareness became broad enough the egoic agenda and the ego itself would be questioned and seen to be false, instead it carefully applies its ingenuity only within narrow contexts so that the agenda and the ego itself are safe from questioning. These constraints enshrine our individual agendas within the fabric of our thinking and our collective agendas within the fabric of our science and philosophy. Then we can be left to think deeply and broadly but the very landscape of our thoughts encodes the agendas within its structure so our thoughts only work to further the agenda and to rarely ever question it. If it is questioned there are numerous defence mechanisms that can be called upon ranging from simply denying and ignoring it to violent attempts to stamp it out.

Innocent minds that do not have the propaganda grooves worn into them immediately perceive the obvious flaws in the corrupt discourse, like the child who can see that the emperor has no clothes. So only conditioned minds can be trusted by the regime, hence great weight is put on authority and hierarchy, and anyone who points out the obvious flaws is derided as being unsophisticated and deluded.

A systematic approach that can overcome this tendency of egos is action learning [FR] which is "something that basically ads up to: (1) Go out and do something (2) ... evaluate how well it went, and what you have learned, and what you can do better (3) Go out and do it some more, but hopefully better. [Whereas] traditional education which goes something like: (1) Listen for years to people who know better than you giving you a lot of theory (2) Spend the rest of your life doing what they told you to do, if you remember it. The Action Learning idea is that there are alternating cycles of action and reflection. You do it, you reflect on it, and learn from it, and you go back to action." [FR] This general approach should be obvious but the obvious is often what egos and regimes fears the most, preferring to dwell in obscure dogma that weaves a distorted discourse in which its agendas are woven into the very fabric of the discourse. Genuine learning has the potential to unravel the whole tapestry of delusion out of which the ego itself is made. It prefers to work amongst confusion and distortion, through which it manipulates and controls things.

The growing confusions within confusions make up the bulk of 'sophisticated' culture and these eventually lead the ego or regime to destroy that which is vital to it and to seek and nurture that which is destructive to it. They thus operates in the context of naïve realist delusions and come into conflict with reality. In this way they have inherently destructive tendencies of which ecological destruction is the most glaringly obvious example and social destruction is the next most obvious example but there are many examples throughout the world. These delusions, in combination with their inherent tendency to control and dominate often leads to atrocities such as purges of that which they deem to be worthless and unbounded growth of that which they deems to be valuable, thus leading to senseless destruction and genocide combined with rampant unbalanced growth, which has ramifications that seriously destabilise the entire system.

Delusions are not dangerous whilst ever they remain only daydreams. Materialist / authoritarian daydreams have existed throughout history and to the extent that they were enacted they created suffering. But in the past people fundamentally lacked the ability to implement them in any seriously dangerous manner. But modern technology has gradually changed this and now people have the ability to fully implement the authoritarian delusion of full spectrum dominance and a system of control that penetrates into everyone's lives and permeates the entire world. In their delusion they think the growing authoritarianism is an effort to make the world safer, but it seems only to get less safe so they just need to try that bit harder, they think. They also think that a final "clamp down" of authoritarianism will finally fix things. But in reality it's the growing authoritarianism that has gradually destabilised and sickened the entire living system and a final "clamp down" will either finally crush the life out of it or incite total chaos resulting in the breakdown of civilisation.

This is the general nature of delusion leading to psychosis, the person thinks the delusion is the solution so the worse things get the more they impose their delusion which makes things even worse, and their "final solution" is the most delusional and destructive part of all but they sincerely believe/hope that it will solve things once and for all. It is an ultimately futile attempt to force reality into the narrow confines of one's own limited understanding whilst the real solution is to expand one's understanding to encompass reality. Whilst ever the knowledge within us is delusion our every effort to solve the problem exacerbates it and if we force the situation we drive ourselves and the world around us into chaos and destruction. Just as we think we are on the verge of success that is when we are really on the verge of catastrophe. Just as we reach for the prize, that is when the ground falls out from beneath us and we slide into hell wondering "how did that happen?".

Conspiracy or Systemic Process?

These two are invariably confounded. Given the lack of understanding of the the systemic nature of things it is understandable that when widespread systemic phenomena arise there will be many conspiracy theories in circulation. These arise because human egos are focused on the level of human egos and they interpret everything through that conceptual lens, thereby they cannot comprehend the wider systemic processes and can only imagine that somewhere there are human egos controlling the whole show. Especially if they believe in the Cartesian superstition of an 'inert' clockwork universe with human minds that exist separate to everything else, then it is inconceivable that the system itself is controlling things so it must be some elite group of human egos.

But consider yourself; your body is a civilisation of trillions of cells but there is no mastermind cell or inner-circle elite that controls all other cells for its own benefit. On the level of cells the body is a vast complex system where no cell can wield enough power or possesses enough intelligence to monitor and control the whole body/mind. But nevertheless there is a mastermind; it is consciousness, within which arises the mind and the ego but these don't exist on the level of cells, the cells are oblivious to their existence. The cells simply create a context within which they arise; the cells individual lives create a kind of collective consciousness that is integrated by a nervous system and it is within this that the mind forms and the ego arises as a thought construct within the mind. The ego thinks it is in control but if it understood its true nature it would realise that it is just the 'software' by which consciousness coordinates and exerts its control. Analogously, within human civilisations the government is just the "cultural software" by which the "will of the people" coordinates and exerts its control.

To draw further parallels with human civilisation, some cells may be involved solely in being skin or flesh, these are analogous to primary producers and consumers. Some cells may be part of the immune system, these are analogous to police and secret service. Some cells may be nerve cells out on the periphery, controlling a small patch of skin or flesh, these are analogous to small business managers. And other cells may be nerve cells in the midst of vast channels of power, in the spinal column or the brain, these are analogous to the leaders of nations and industries. All these cells/people are still just cells/people no matter what their role. They live out the life of a cell/person in the sense that they do their job, they associate with other cells/people and they utilise their biochemical/social environment in pursuit of their own agendas. Whilst the cells/people in the midst of great power may seem to have more power and may believe themselves to have more power, they do not wield any true power. They do have more 'influence' and responsibility but they are inherently unable to control the body/society or mind/culture as a whole, but only that minute portion that is accessible to them on the level of cells/people.

The real power is focused through consciousness, mostly subconscious, whilst the most visible channel of power is the ego, but the ego is a systemic phenomenon that is a function of the whole system. It is dispersed throughout the entire system and beyond the direct control of any particular cells/people although all cells/people influence it to different degrees. An example of subconscious systemic functioning is when the system is under stress (such as the body getting cold) it withdraws resources from the periphery to protect the vital functions but this is not a conspiracy of the 'elite' cells/people against the 'plebeian' cells/people. It is a natural response of the whole system to preserve its vital functions.

In simplistic discourses, which lack systemic awareness systemic phenomena are misunderstood by all sides. The "rich and powerful" think of themselves as acting to protect themselves at the expense of the "poor and powerless" and the "poor and powerless" see it this way as well. On the level of human egos this is indeed how it seems, and when people act from an egoic perspective it drives the situation in that way. However egos misunderstand things when they think that they are in control, that they are the measure of all things and that the cosmos is centred on the level of the human egos, this is simply not the case. It is not centred on the level of particles or galaxies either, it operates on all systemic levels without any bias toward any particular level or any particular perspective.

So whilst human egos are fighting and struggling to protect themselves and dominate each other that is only one perspective amongst many. It is equally accurate to say that all that struggle is just the cellular metabolism that is part of a global system, which is operating in a coordinated systemic manner and thereby driving and controlling all the cellular metabolic process so as to elicit coherent 'macro' behaviours that only have meaning on the level of the whole system. By trying to drive the system from the level of the human ego or the level of a collective regime, we only destabilise the system and drive it toward destruction.

How can a single cell, say in the elbow, comprehend something like drinking a cup of tea? It involves vast coordinated movements that seem totally futile from its perspective, why does the elbow keep bending in a repetitive manner that serves no obvious benefit to the cells in the elbow, and yet they are repeatedly driven into motion to carry out the same coordinated movements. If they also experience the withdrawal of blood from their region and the retraction of energies they may conceive of countless conspiracy theories about an elite group of cells that is just enslaving them whilst robbing their resources. And maybe cells in the wall of the aorta near the heart will think that they are hoarding all the resources for 'their' benefit whilst all the other cells are slaving away to support them. But it could just be that the body is cold so the person is drinking a cup of hot tea. Or perhaps they are smoking a cigarette and poisoning the system for no higher purpose than that they are mindlessly addicted, in which case it is the cell in the aorta that is really only hoarding corrupted resources that will eventually sicken it.

The point of this example is that all such narrow perspectives cannot comprehend the wider systemic pattern. However the human mind, when informed and attuned to the systemic nature can perceive a significant proportion of the wider pattern, but one's focus must be holistic and not blinkered. When one understands the systemic nature of things and the different perspectives that arise from different points in a system and particularly different system levels such as cells, people and regimes things become much clearer. Although they also become much more complex and subtle, this subtlety is essential if we are to develop real understanding of the holistic situation rather than just narrow context rationalisations, conspiracy theories, delusions of grandeur or embittered resentment. The systemic cosmos is a truly bizarre and beautiful place but it can be challenging to any human egos that like to think only in terms of themselves and their own level of existence. Nothing is the centre of the universe, we only seem to be at the centre because we confuse our perceptual worlds for the universe. In that respect everything whether particle, human or galaxy experiences its world from its own perspective and therefore finds itself at the centre of its own experiential world.

Some people may initially find this systemic perspective abhorrent because it seems to destroy many nice sounding yet simplistic discourses that were originally meant to ensure the sanctity of human life. However upon deeper analysis these people will find that the systemic perspective changes the entire field of knowledge and only if it is applied partially and in narrow contexts can it provide justification for atrocities based on the idea that humans are not the be-all-and-end-all of reality. However those nice sounding simplistic discourses also constrain our awareness thus leading to confusion and ultimately delusion that provides a space for egos and regimes to gain dominance and therefore opens the way for countless atrocities. Many of the simplistic discourses are already considered by those in power to be redundant and they simply pay them lip service by which to influence the masses whilst also taking advantage of the general confusion to openly engage it activities that would be condemned if only people could clearly see what was happening. What is required is a holistic and coherent discourse that can reconnect the discourse of power and the discourse of common sense with a realistic discourse that comprehends the actual situation that we find ourselves in.

Far form reducing human life to that of “mere cells”, when the systemic perspective is fully understood we see that all life, whether cellular or human or civilisational is sacred but also pragmatic. If organisms and living organisations are to ever attain genuine and lasting health and harmony this must be based on deep understanding and alignment with reality and not on simplistic misunderstandings. The idea of “mere cells” is based on our egoic misunderstanding of the body and our routine abuse of the body in pursuit of egoic agendas. If you are habituated to not thinking of cells at all or to thinking of them as mere specks then see these simple introductions to what cells are like [FR, FR, FR, FR], they are only simple animations and images and don't convey the true living complexity of cells but they're a good place to start to get to know them. They are the beings that live within you, they are your citizens! A few that I found interesting were [FR, FR, FR, FR, FR]. Here are also some microscope images of onion cells [FR], some beautiful pictures of vitamins [FR] and some movies of living cells in action [FR].

If we value all life and not just the co-opted life of our egos and regimes then we must seek to understand the holistic context in its full complexity and subtlety. Then we realise that the whole cosmos is alive on all levels and not just those levels that present themselves to our senses, minds and egos; in this wider context we must rethink our concept of what life really is [FR]. If human civilisation was viewed from space in time lapse over long periods it would seem very much like the movies of cells [FR]. It is the nature of complex systems and of a fractal universe that there is self-similarity at all levels of complexity.

It might also be suitable to mention here that although the same systemic principles apply throughout all levels in a very fractal self-similar manner they manifest very differently on each level. For example, whilst a human being operates within society in ways that are in many ways fundamentally the same as a cell in a body, a human being is very different to a cell in many particular details. For instance, we have a far more complex internal space, where the mind can mirror the external environment to a far greater depth and in far greater detail. Whereas cells are very simple minded and operate within very small worlds based primarily on immediate influences a human is capable of far greater awareness. In spite of the fact that many factors in modern society tend to make many people very simple minded and thus they act no different to cells, they are in fact capable of far more.

The 'system' encourages people to become simple minded and homogeneous in order to more easily assimilate them and to refashion them according to its understanding but it doesn't really understand us. In order to retain our subtlety and uniqueness we must resist this tendency otherwise we will be dumbed down to the level of automatons and homogenised social building blocks. There is power, complexity and dignity in a highly evolved individual being, which is defiled when that being is deceived, disempowered, homogenised and objectified within some agenda which does not encourage or utilise the potential of that being. All interactions involve 'use' in some form but it becomes 'abuse' when the basic needs and potential of a being are denied in favour of the system's desire for simplicity of control. If exquisitely evolved beings are crippled then assimilated as automatons that mindlessly drive the metabolism of a higher-level organisation that is crude and newly evolved then a tragedy borne of ignorance has occurred. The evolving multi-human organisation that we are forming into has much to learn from our 550 million years of experience as multi-cellular organisms.

Whilst the cells within an egoic organism operate within what is essentially a totalitarian dictatorship this is inherently destructive to the whole organism. Likewise, such a thing is inherently destructive to human civilisations too. Half a billion years of independent existence cannot be so easily forgotten and it is in our nature to eventually realise our entrapment and to seek to break out of it. When we humans form an instinctive understanding of the wider system and especially when this understanding is augmented by systems theory we are capable of comprehending and participating in the wider context to a far greater degree than cells, even though cells are capable of far more than we give them credit for. Therefore some form of genuine freedom is vital for the harmonious functioning of human civilisation otherwise there is inevitable struggle and tension that creates constant dysfunction and instability throughout the entire system.

Implications of the Ego

Freud's definition of the ego is still mostly accepted throughout the West and goes thus: "Normally, there is nothing of which we are more certain than the feeling of our self, of our own ego. This ego appears as something autonomous and unitary, marked off distinctly from everything else .... An infant at the breast does not as yet distinguish his ego from the external world as the source of the sensations flowing in upon him .... One comes to learn a procedure by which, through a deliberate direction of one's sensory activities and through suitable muscular action, one can differentiate between what is internal--what belongs to the ego--and what is external--what emanates from the outer world. In this way one takes the first step towards the introduction of the reality principle which is to dominate future development... His context here is a discussion of the "oceanic feeling." This is the name he gave to the infant's sense that it and the world flow together in a single, unbounded identity. Freud believed that, while this quasi-mystical experience of union with the external world is appropriate for the baby in its mother's arms, it is neurotic if it survives into adult life. Where does madness begin? For Freud, it was with any mental state in which "the boundary line between the ego and the external world becomes uncertain or in which it is drawn incorrectly."" [FR]

Freud lived, worked and theorised in a totally egoic culture that knew very little outside of the ego's experience of the world so his definition of the ego is correct but his interpretation is back to front. He takes the ego as the reality by which everything else is to be defined but the ego is a thought construct that confusedly believes that it is the real being when it is not. So where does madness begin? It is not as Freud claims, any mental state in which "the boundary line between the ego and the external world becomes uncertain or in which it is drawn incorrectly." It is instead any mental state in which the boundary line between the ego and the external world is drawn. Hence the state of believing the ego to be the real person is a state of fundamental "naïve realist" confusion and this is the root of all delusion and the origin of all madness. When the boundary line is clear and confined solely to the body/mind it induces a subtle and narrowly functional madness that we consider to be 'normal', but it becomes dangerously unstable when the boundary line is unclear and it expands to try and assimilate others and the surrounding world. It is these unstable and expansionist egos that most civilisations institutionalise through imperialism and capitalism.

Any boundary line at all is the beginning of the path into madness. To lose that "oceanic feeling" is to become disconnected from reality and to become vulnerable to egoic neuroses and delusions of all kinds. All mystic cultures that have looked deeply into the nature of the ego and know it in the wider context claim that the "oceanic feeling" is the true reality that is beyond the understanding of narrow rationalisations and the ego is the primary cause of our separation from reality and leads to an ever growing separation from reality that is the root cause of all suffering, both personal and collective.

"Environmental philosopher Paul Shepard suggested that Freud's rule-of-thumb dichotomy between the objective and the subjective may actually be one of the deep roots of our ecological crisis. Far from being the basis for sanity, it may represent a psychic trauma that has distorted the more balanced relationship between human beings and their natural habitat that Shepard believes existed in pre-civilized times. Our increasing objectification of nature, he argues, may be a liability of civilization that has deepened with every technological development since the invention of agriculture." [FR] (also see Ecopsychology)And not just ecological destruction but also a general systemic destruction that impacts on everything that this civilisation touches, because the deep seated confusion corrupts all of our thoughts, beliefs, actions, goals, responses and everything about how this civilisation functions in reality. Indeed it doesn't really 'function' in reality, it functions within an egoic illusion that brings it into constant conflict with reality, whether it manifests as ecological destruction, social fragmentation, personal neurosis, suicide, homicide or authoritarianism, corporatism, militarism, fascism, and so on. They are all delusions that stem from the fundamental confusions of the ego.

This is the reason why this analysis focuses on the ego and proposes the rise of the collective ego as being the root cause of the global tensions and suffering. The egoic approach to resolving these issues is to impose an even tighter system of egoic control and to "wage war" on the problems but this is exactly the kind of misguided thinking that created the problems to begin with and given modern technology we have the ability to kill the system with out misguided 'cures'. I suggest that instead of just applying narrow rationalisations even more stringently, we step back and take another look at the situation and see if there is another way of approaching the problem.

"Sarah Conn, a New England clinical psychologist who belongs to a "global therapy group," put it more dramatically. She contended that "the world is sick; it needs healing; it is speaking through us; and it speaks the 1oudest through the most sensitive of us." Behind these words lies a boldly affirmative reappraisal of the oceanic feeling--not as an infantile phase to be outgrown, but as a valuable sensibility to be salvaged. Oddly enough, Freud himself anticipated this revision; he might be credited with inadvertently authoring the program of ecopsychology in a single sentence. At one point in his dark ruminations, he candidly acknowledged that "our present ego-feeling is only a shrunken residue of a much more inclusive-indeed, an all-embracing--feeling which corresponded to a more intimate bond between the ego and the world about it." In Freud's typically dolorous view, there was no alternative to surrendering the childlike pleasures of the oceanic feeling in favor of a cruelly diminished ego. But ecopsychologists refuse to settle for that "shrunken residue" of the psyche. For them the newborn's "intimate bond" with nature is the key to a higher order of environmental sanity." [FR] I would expand that last phrase to "holistic sanity", not just ecological but sanity in all realms of existence rather than just narrow context rationalities that are actually insane in virtually all realms of existence.

“The ego, [Freud] observed, in its conventionally sane relations with the world 'outside', "seems to maintain clear and sharp lines of demarcation. There is only one state--admittedly an unusual state, but not one that can be stigmatized as pathological-in which it does not do this. At the height of being in love, the boundary between ego and object threatens to melt away. Against all the evidence of the senses, a man who is in love declares that "I" and "you" are one, and is prepared to behave as if it were a fact." ” [FR] Indeed it is a fact. All sense of separation arises from naïve realist confusion between subjective sense perception and objective reality. Quantum physics clearly describes the objective reality and there are no separate objects, there is a unified field of quantum phenomena that appears to the senses as separate objects. Hence the ego's perception is the illusion and the feeling of oneness that we experience when deeply in love is just a small glimpse of reality through a small crack in the shell of the ego. Without the ego it is clearly known that blissful oneness is the overwhelming fact and the experience of isolated separation is an excruciating delusion. All mystics know this and have known it for aeons.

Next section is: The Man Machine.
Or return to: Systems Analysis of Organisation, Ego, Control and Authoritarianism