Friday, November 25, 2005

The Ideosphere and Change

The Spring/Summer 2005 issue of Kosmos featured an article by Yasuhiko Genku Kimura called "Kosmic Alignment." I want to present and discuss a few of his ideas.
[T]he prime mover of the world is not technology per se but idea. Technology is only an artifact of idea, the prime mover, but not the prime mover itself. Idea, and idea alone, moves the world. This means that we can move the world with our own thinking through the generation and propagation of ideas. The problem, however, is that the majority of humanity remains the consumer of ideas without being the producer.

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For the locus of thinking is within the individual. It is not the collective but the individual composing the collective that alone can think and generate ideas. The ideospheric transformation of the kind I speak is a synergetic phenomenon that emerges when individuals in sufficient numbers become authentic, independent thinkers, that is, originators of ideas, producers of dialogues, and contributors to the network of conversations that comprises the world.

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In following the evolutionary thrust for optimization that is driving our collective transformation toward an unprecedented height of culture and civilization, the ideospheric configuration we require for the 21st century is omnicentric, having independent yet interconnected centers within the intellectually and spiritually sovereign individuals, living and working as self-authorities in the matter of thinking, knowing, and acting. Then, the thinking, knowing, and acting of these authentic individuals will synergetically co-develop throughout the omnicentric configuration of the evolving ideosphere. The Information Revolution that is underway with the omnipresent Internet is simultaneously the manifestation of, and the apparatus for, this new omnicentric configuration of the ideosphere.

There is more to the article than these small quotes, but this series of ideas felt important enough to think about more fully.

First, a complaint. Kimura writes as though he is proposing intellectual theory, when in reality he is proposing a "call to arms." He is challenging us to become the vehicles for cultural transformation rather than waiting for it to happen around us. He is also challenging us to "be the change we want to see in the world," to paraphrase Gandhi, and that is not an intellectual endeavor--it is a matter of human connections.

I want thinkers like Kimura to write in such a way that we can become passionate about the message, about change, about taking a place among the movers and shakers with a vision for a better world.

That being said, there is a lot to like about Kimura's vision. If we each can become the producer of ideas and find ways to get them into the world (like blogging), we each can make a contribution to global evolution. However, we can't all be producers--someone has to consume what we produce. Therefore, it falls to those of us who have a vision, or who are already working toward change either individually or collectively, to be leaders.

So far, so good--until someone with power and tools and really bad ideas decides to change the world to conform to his/her vision (think Bush/Cheney, or James Dobson, or Hitler). What Kimura doesn't discuss is how the "bad" ideas can be weeded out from the "good" ideas. This is clearly necessary and involves a degree of moral development that we can all agree is worldcentric. Yet, how do we prevent egocentric people with power and a bad idea from changing the world to match their vision? Tough questions that may require tough answers.

Here is Kimura's answer to the question:
The act of idea-generation through authentic thinking and the sustained engagement in the conversation of humankind, if conducted in the context of pursuit of truth, beauty, and goodness, will lead to powerful moral action that will engender a New World.

This functions well as a general idea, but not as a useful limit to power. This is where I get politically incorrect: not all ideas are created equal, as Kimura clearly suggests. There needs to be some form of check on bad ideas, unevolved ideas, or ideas that can cause harm, pain, or suffering. Perhaps a free market, a kind of capitalism of ideas, is the best solution. If one looks at the internet, it becomes apparent that people choose valuable ideas by frequently visiting their creators (think blogs and web magazines, not porn). So the internet is a good example of how bad ideas can disappear over time.

Yet, people live at different developmental levels with different worldviews. A Buddhist, such as myself, will have nothing in common with someone who frequently visits Christian family sites, or conservative blogs, or porn. But we each think that our worldview is valid, and there are likely to be a lot of other people who share that view.

I think the differences are fine. They support Kimura's suggestion that the internet is one of the variations on his omnicentric (as opposed to concentric) ideosphere. Many of us are here for that very reason. This is a free-flowing marketplace of ideas without a clear center--in fact, there are many centers or hubs where the biggest ideas are generated.

This is how we will change the world. Kimura suggest that individual transformation is based on collective transformation. I think it is the opposite, but I am a Buddhist. Real change happens when individuals evolve and want to make a difference in the world through volunteering, creating a new business or service, or simply changing from a job that reduces freedoms, choices, or resources to one that expands freedoms, choices, or resources.

True change starts with the individual--with each of you who are reading these words. It can be very simple (the "butterfly effect"): commit a random act of kindness, give an unexpected compliment, extend yourself to someone who might need you.

These are ideas made tangible. Expand on them. Make your life about creating opportunities for compassion. If you can figure how to make a living doing that, then do it. I became a personal trainer to help people. It turns out that it isn't my knowledge of diet and exercise that creates the most change, it's my compassion--it's listening without judgment, it's empathy, it's supporting my clients to make changes in who they are, not simply how they eat.

We can do this in our families, among our friends, with strangers. This is an idea that can change the world; one act of kindness or compassion each day. How hard is that? It won't be apparent to us in our lifetimes. We may never see the benefit of our actions. We must simply trust that if we extend ourselves to other people, they will extend themselves to others, and it will become a chain reaction.

Believe in the power of your ideas and change the world.
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