Vinay Profile picture
22 Aug, 54 tweets, 11 min read
I want to talk about why I'm so bone-deep hostile to the "consciousness movement" while being a life-long meditator.

First, an appropriate soundtrack for this little bit of thinking

Thread on.
So the consciousness movement has basically two phases which are relevant to this discussion. Pre-nuclear bombs and other existential risks, and post-nuclear bombs etc

The movement slips over that historical discontinuity with very little notice but something fundamental breaks.
Before the invention of the nuclear bomb there is no potential for human beings to destroy the plane of existence we occupy.

It simply wasn't a thing. We could cut down a tree, but we could not extinguish all life. Once that became possible, there was a half-assed attempt to fix
The half-assed attempt was the 1960s. Kids born around or right after the Nuclear Moment basically rioted against culture in all forms and talked about a transformation of our plane of existence into one filled with peace, love, and light. An evolution.

Thinkers like Buckminster Fuller did not exactly help: "Utopia or Oblivion." Very catchy phrase but it did not exactly map to the reality which was a grinding basked of increasingly bad problems as the fabric of reality continued to unweave around the Bomb's Ultratech Intrusion.
The Consciousness Movement in religions focuses on spiritual *practices* rather than spiritual *beliefs*.

In the 1960s many form a united front which asserting collective evolution is like personal evolution. If everyone does it this will fix the nuke problem.

They are WRONG.
Now what is it that goes wrong with this model?

Firstly, humanity's encounter with ultra technological intrusion in the form of the bomb is *completely outside of anything faced by previous humans, including the Buddhas, Prophets, and anything else you want to include.
Humans go from artillery pieces to ICBMs. A 2 ton bomb is replaced by a 50,000,000 *ton* bomb. To all intents and purposes this is a discontinuity: history is simply divided into two parts, pre-nuclear and post-nuclear. It's a veil like the one between subsonic and supersonic.
Aerodynamics changes completely between subsonic and supersonic flight. The Sound Barrier is two different physical domains, two "phases" of speed, like water and ice are two phases of temperature.

When this happens *to history* the world's religions do not recompute their paths
The second problem is the idea that cultural "evolution" maps in any way on to individual evolution. This is the core problem with Spiral Dynamics (makes signs to ward off the evil eye). Spiral Dynamics is an abomination.

It's like suggesting Law equals Freud's Superego. Just no
There are lots of ways to think about that error. From a complexity perspective: studying one grain of sand does not tell you how sand piles behave. From a psychological perspective: people in relation behave differently from people alone.

You can't just say "society evolves".
So what happens is that all the techniques of personal spiritual evolution are rolled out as social movements WHICH ARE INTENDED TO BE RELEVANT TO THE APOCALYPSE.

Today's lead offenders are the Ayahuasca Cults. In the 1960s it was The Hippies and the people looking to India.
Looking to India didn't do any good: Gandhi was dead, so there was nobody to talk to who really understood the interface between political change and internal spiritual development properly. On that stuff Gandhi was *the guy* and we will not see another again anytime soon.
So we wind up with a sort of "folk epistemology" where there are *reasons* why individual spiritual development, done at a large enough scale, is going to transform first society, then the world, then humanity's destiny.

Away from being KILLED BY TECHNOLOGY, to a transcendence.
But these reasons are never fully explained.

How exactly does an individual who meditates stop the world from dying? What is the "theory of change" linking individual spiritual effort to transformation of the plane of existence that we share?

ToC info:…
So that change from individuals doing spiritual practices for their own benefit, to the ideas that the very fabric of reality can be altered by combined individual spiritual effort - that is not, as far as I can tell, well grounded in anybody's religious tradition.

Can't find it
The closest you get are things like Mahayana Buddhists talking about teaching buddhism to hungry people being impossible unless first they are fed, and Jewish concepts of Tikkun ("completing the world") by Mitzvot ("virtuous actions").

But to stop an apocalypse? No precedent.
So what's happened here is a subtle shift: individual spiritual practice and work has, through the medium of Big Lies like Spiral Dynamics, become an engine of structural change in the fabric of reality which is meant to save us from being KILLED BY TECHNOLOGY.

A paradox.
On one hand, all of our problems are caused by human actions.

On the other hand, for the most part, the humans taking those actions feel powerless to take any other actions.

It's like the penguins shuffling forwards towards the water: one penguin will be first, but shoved.
And the things that makes the penguins shuffle towards the ice's edge and push one of their number into the water to check if there are Orcas waiting to eat them?

The penguins have no control of these things: their *environment* forces the penguins: they must eat fish in the sea
So we have this *environmental* change: "here, now you have the possibility to slay all life" and the mere fact of that possibility being on the table starts a bunch of ratchets in society. Kings do what they always did, but now that results in nuclear arsenals not sword arsenals
And this is because of an environmental change: the Bomb changes the rules of the game, and once that rule change is made, the players continue towards their own biologically preprogrammed instinctual goals.

Everybody wants a better life for their kids. But with a Bomb in play?
The very fact of the presence of the nuclear bomb channels those basic biological drives into building them! It's like punching a hole in the bottom of a bucket and being surprised that the water flows out: gravity is a son of a bitch. You can't fight it, not as a water molecule.
In fact inventing the nuclear bomb reshaped the nature of our plane of existence. It changed the world topology from a steady state circular world, to one with an extremely intense teleology: biological competition now drives towards a preprogrammed extinction event.

MAD world.
Now let's get back to this point about individual spiritual practice.

The individual meditator now exists in a world with a hole in it. The energy continues to drain into Ultratech warfare rather than fixing planetary systems and space exploration.

Meditation doesn't fix that.
And I want to show you that distinction again.

Meditation as an individual practice does not contain within it any mechanism to reshape the world we are in at a "topological" level. You can be as nice to people as you like, but there's still a nuke bomb and a competition ratchet
Ah, you say, "but if we all meditate, the competition ratchet will go away."

To which my response is simple: that's as much a re-engineering of this plane of existence as the invention of the bomb was, for sure.

And you can just about see the outline of it: a cure for war.
*So* many people get therapy and meditate that the entire fabric of society changes, to the point where we de-escalate all conflicts, feed the hungry, educate the people, and war as a principle dies.

Then we uproot the nuke.

I just don't know of a single source for this idea of rearchitecting the fabric of reality at that level by collective spiritual effort. Lots of traditions have Divinely Ordained Laws of one sort or another, more honoured in the breach of course.

But this kind of wholesale fix?
Even in Mahayana Buddhism or Islam, the collective Will of the People does not dictate the fate of the world.

Individuals become enlightened through their efforts, but it's not like this place becomes automatic enlightenment for everybody. Islam still has an End of Days concept.
But somewhere in there, in that cultural flux - maybe it was Ram Dass or Tim Leary, or someone like that - somewhere Give Peace A Chance became a story of

"*individual* spiritual transformation will save the world"

And that's a completely new story about what Spirituality *IS*
And that story about what spirituality *is* - this "transformation of the plane of existence through collective individual spiritual effort" theory?

***I think that theory is ahistorical bullshit cooked up by drug-addled hippies.***

It's not just a practical problem of numbers.
Let's go back to our penguins on the ice. Individual spiritual practice does not mean the penguins do not need to eat. They might be unwilling to push another penguin into the water *first* to see if it's safe, but they're still going to have to get in.…
So our individual spiritual practitioners, no matter how many there are, are still dealing with a situation where the natural territorial instincts of most of their peers are now combining with the Ultratechnology Intrusion of the Nuke: they're now fighting *nature itself* to win
And this, again, is a total systemic transformation that was not within the broad scope of spiritual practice at any previous time.

Nobody ever conceived of a theology where we had to achieve total planar transformation by individual effort in order to survive. Not historically.
Now along comes global warming: a worse version of the same challenge, because with nuclear war, *somebody has to start one* and that's an act of will.

Instead we have a situation where if we just go about our ordinary lives, the combined impact is death…
And the concept is that we need a spiritual awakening of a kind which causes everybody to change their behaviour to the point where they do not consume more than they can do without harming the world?

*Monks* barely renounced that hard. It doesn't *start* to pass the smell test.
So what happens when we kick this pin out from underneath the staggering tower of post-1960s western cultural change?

If spiritual practice is done *by us, for us* and does not materially or immaterial contribute to saving the world, what precisely are we left with to save it?
Firstly, we are absolved of responsibility *at a spiritual level* for the fate of the world.

We can be like the Meditating Penguin, and refuse to shove other penguins into the water to check if it's safe, but we are still going to get into the water ourselves to eat. Game rules.
But the problem in our Penguin World is that the water used to be fairly safe, and now the iceberg is melting.

Yes it's true that in some sense it's a collective action problem. But the incredibly deep fissures torn in the world by the nuclear weapon (superpowers) prevent change
The second consequence is more subtle.

Right now the world is *packed* with spiritual freeloaders, high on their own supply, convincing themselves (and others) that their higher consciousness is *for the benefit of other people*.

Ego-perversion of Bodhisattva vows you could say
Damn near every spiritual movement promises some kind of modification of global outcomes, if only you'll give them a free pass, believe what they believe in, or even better - donate!

"We are fixing the world!" proclaim the Hippy Bodhisattva Elite. It's a whole thing, a worldview
And there is a general sense that *if we put these people in charge* somehow things will come to a different conclusion than high-tech war destroys the world, or global warming eats us all.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

They don't have any of the right tools at all.
Now what does *this* tell us about the global situation?

1) There's a hole in the bucket, which is that Ultratechnological Intrustions - with our current society - are all lethal.

Nuclear *bombs*, bio*weapons*, nano*war*.

We're still fighting, but these tools are Too Much.
2) Spirituality, to stop Ultratechnology Intrusions from killing us, would have to remove the root causes of aggression from pretty much 51% of the global population.

And it would have to manage international export of violence too.

There's never been a spirituality like that.
Such a spirituality would transform the entire human species more than monastics are transformed by Full Renunciation. Not Remotely On The Cards

But because this is held out as *possible*, now the death of the world results from humanity's individual/collective spiritual failure
And so we have a subtle blame shifting: Nuclear Deus Ex Machina rewires it so that normal human competitiveness turns into Planetary Deathscaping

But if everybody mediates *real hard now* we can get rid of Human Competitiveness. And failure to deliver this now makes it our fault
And this is kind of the weird part: we are *failing to assign blame to the people punching holes in the bottom of the bucket*.

It's *really obvious* by the time that Mutually Assured Destruction is fully installed between US/USSR that humanity's leaders have completely fucked up
And yet we don't seem to fix the problem by *patching the bottom of the bucket* - power down the nuclear reactors, kill anybody who builds another one before they can make a nuclear bomb.

The suggestion instead is that somehow spirituality will save us: "transcend the bucket."
My observation is this: I think we have used spirituality as a way of shifting the blame for the state of the world from our leaders to ourselves, in much the same way that children think "I am bad so they beat me" rather than "my father is a violent alcoholic."

Control fantasy.
We were collectively afraid of what our leaders had done by scaling production of nuclear weapons.

So afraid that we repressed the terror and constructed a spiritual fantasy *that we could control the world* rather than facing the unacceptable truth of what our leaders had done
The only way out of the situation we are in is to seal the holes in the bucket: we have to get rid of the nukes and the blower/nanowar machine.

Seems impossible? It's the only option on the table. So we had better make it possible.
====== thread ends ======
And now some links is a free text which explores a world in which we've mastered the biotech/nanotech threat… is the meditation I teach, a bit… is my company

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More from @leashless

10 Sep
God, I'm tired of trying to persuade people not to destroy their world, and to take care of the victims of prior attempts to destroy it.

People want to stay asleep at the wheel, in their comfy little ruts, even though they are two wheels off the cliff already.

It's Panic Time!
What does it take to move people's attention off their wallets or petty political rivalries on to the core question of the day: how do we regulate technology so that it doesn't destroy all of our lives?

That's the core issue: global warming, mass surveillance, combat robots.
I ploughed this territory 10 years ago, and published Mother of Hydrogen, an SF novel about how the human race survives nanotech and biotech wars, and manages a rogue AI problem.

The solution proposed in that book is the only one I believe will work.
Read 28 tweets
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Bull and bear markets mean something different at a two trillion dollar market cap.

You've gotta understand we're turning an enormous ship here. A bull/bear event *now shifts the destiny of nations* not just your college/house/retirement fund. It's a dramatic world-shifting tide
What does that mean?

Well, we still don't have fundamentals - it's almost impossible to evaluate what bitcoin *should* be worth. Everybody's evaluating it based on what it will be worth in future.

That paradox is the most dangerous thing in crypto. We *desperately* need utility
I *started* @mattereum to solve the utility problem, by the way: you wanna buy houses, cars, gold, vacations, wine, art, you name it *in a crypto-native way* we do that

Not "turn your BTC into dollars on the fly". I mean we sell physical stuff *as a cryptographic rights bundle*
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I find myself wondering this morning how many people actually get my work - here we are, 20 years in to me continually writing, teaching, communicating, building - and I can't tell if a lot of people get it and are mostly quiet or if very few people actually got it.

Which is it?
It probably helps if I define it: here is my best short summary.

1) The human race is currently running the world like a death camp for poor humans, and particularly for the other species we farm or drive into extinction.

2) Fixing this situation is possible, but requires will.
That's the core thesis. Then,

3) It is possible, by mass collaboration using any available mechanism (open source, markets, new religious movements etc.) to live without this continuous catastrophic violence.

Read 13 tweets
6 Jul
I want to talk a bit about this magic number, GDP CO2 intensity. It's a purely technocratic construct, but it measures something important.

Take the total carbon emissions of humanity in kg, and divide by the total size of the economy, in $.

You get grams of CO2 per dollar made
Grams of CO2 per dollar made is the essential problem.

We can either reduce the number of dollars made, degrowth, or we can reduce the amount of CO2 per dollar through renewable energy, energy efficiency, and maybe technologies like carbon capture.

260 grams per $: it's a lever
Now let's talk about carbon budgets. Earth's natural processes bind about 16 gigatons of CO2 per year, roughly 2 tons per human.

Humanity emits about 40 gt per year say 5 tons per person. Top 10% Americans are at about 70 tons per year, a quarter million dollars earned at 260g/$
Read 15 tweets
6 Jul
Yeah, fuck this for a game of soldiers.

You know how we got into this mess? Dumb fuckers who *knew* global warming was The Crisis of Our Age and prioritised trivial social justice concerns over planetary survival.

Evil will triumph because good was stupid.

This gets bad now.
If 2020's Black Lives Matter protests had been about fossil fuel driven global warming annihilating agriculture in Africa, a hell of a lot more black lives would have been saved - along with lives of every other kind.

American police being pigs is a confined issue. CO2 is Famine
And I am *fucking over* being polite about this.

your. cause. is. irrelevant. garbage.

We are *unbelievably fucked* on climate, and its going to exterminate hundreds of millions, poorest first, in nearly all of the scenarios we face going forwards.

I do not lack imagination.
Read 7 tweets
5 Jul
Am I a climate activist dreaming he is a tech CEO, or a tech CEO dreaming he was a climate activist?

How many years do I have to make money to convert into humanitarian research and materiel at this point?

I'd been gambling on another 5 years. I don't know if we have that long.
We could get *completely* smashed flat by a genocide-level heat event in a poor country, one where people can't cool down in their cars when the AC gives out, and tens of millions could die.

The infrastructure for "walk out of the heat" has not yet even started seriously.
I know how to do it, roughly - umbrellas for shade as people walk, hexayurt rest stations, trucks with water. Shopping trolleys and similar for the disabled, old, and young.

You can move millions if you keep trucking in water to the people marching.

And they need a place to go.
Read 5 tweets

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