Tag Archives: Human Effectiveness Institute

One of the Greatest Mind Stretchers

Originally posted August 18, 2011

      Before Abraham - by Stan Satlin - © 2011
     Audio: click arrow to play/pause

Every now and then I am tapped to give a workshop to a group of sufficient strategic importance that I cannot refuse. Although I am there to tell them about THEI (the Human Effectiveness Institute), they usually tell me they have sought me out to start them off in some far-reaching planning cycle by simply helping them to first stretch their minds. They see me as a provoker of out-of-the-box thinking. I’m grateful for the opportunities this perception provides to disseminate THEI techniques conducive to higher performance.

In recent posts we have been stretching our minds by considering the possibility that the original spark of consciousness in the Universe is what each of us experiences as our own sense of self.

We saw that there are biases that come from our senses, which detect matter through the medium of energy interactions between our matter molecules and those of other matter molecules. In recent posts we have also worked to counteract these biases by focusing on the fact that it is only our consciousness, our sense of self, our experiencing of information that we detect directly, and can therefore say we “know”. Our sensory information comes to us through abstract hookups and translations of one thing into another, i.e. coded information that can be presented any number of ways. We do not “know” through our eyes as well as we know that we exist as a self even in a sensory deprivation tank.

These biases are magnified by Acceleritis™, the accelerating information overload that has outstripped our processing capacity except when we successfully use psychotechnology — the output of THEI and others practiced in the art, notably the advanced yogis, classic philosophers, religion founders, the writers of the literature of sages, and the synthesizers of this material via their esoteric schools such as Arica, Insight Meditation, Freemasons, et al. All of these people have tried to condense and pass along psychotechnology techniques conducive to shifting an individual’s consciousness into flow state, aka the Zone; this too is THEI’s raison d’etre.

In this post we will pass along one of the most mind stretching and mind bending exercises, one that must have existed before written language, because some of the very first things ever written down related to this exercise.

Except that those who first thunk it, and those who wind up thinking about it today, do not see it as an exercise, but rather as a stream of thought that suddenly turns a weird corner. Here’s how it happens. I promise you your mind will be stretched. How you use the extra limbering is up to you — we hope you will leverage it for something important to you.

It starts with thinking about the universe — whatever the individual knows or feels intuitively about the universe — stars, galaxies, the Big Bang. The next thought is usually “What was there before the Big Bang?”

This thought in itself is a mind stretcher. The imagination fires up a few cylinders and takes a crack at coming up with an answer. Before reading further we suggest you mentally go off by yourself and see what answer(s) your mind comes up with for the question “What was there before the Big Bang?”

Hope you enjoyed that. Quantum Mechanics (QM) and Relativity have today evolved to having a point of view about the answer to this question. Today the perspective is that fluctuations in quantum possibility caused the Big Bang. That presupposes that quantum possibility existed all along but in a state of equilibrium until these supposed fluctuations took place without a cause i.e. randomly, which raises the question “What created the quantum possibility?” Not to mention “What the heck is quantum possibility?”

In fact quantum possibility is simply the old metaphysical concept of “possibility” with the word “quantum” in front of it to make it sound scientifically respectable.

The ancient saying “Out of Nothing, Nothing Comes” reflects the human intuition that there is no free lunch. It also means that something cannot come out of nothing, because that would just mean the something was there in the nothing all along, but hiding.

So it is also possible that the universe could have in the beginning been simple nothingness, without even quantum foam, today’s term for the aether i.e. the spatiotemporal matrix as it exists before you count anything that is in it. In fact, isn’t it much more logical that nothing should have ever existed? After all, where would something have come from?

The human intuition is biased toward including time in every picture — time which QM says does not actually exist out of the context of an observer’s consciousness — and is therefore not a constant something in itself but is different for different observers. Yet we insist on intuiting with time in the picture. This makes us think “There must have been some beginning, but what was there before that, and what started time?”

The other way of thinking, without the bias toward including time, is that everything is already in every state it will ever be in, at once, i.e. all of time is condensed into a single frame in the consciousness of the universe. Thus there was no beginning, no something coming out of nothing, because what has always existed is this single master consciousness, existing in its own view within a single instant of its own time.

This could be Its motivation in creating its little selves like us who can scoot around in a series of instants and have a rollercoaster ride unlike any other route through the game that any other created little self has ever traveled before. Thus there can be an infinity of experienced information within the one instant.

Going back to the time-based way of thinking, if there ever had been Nothing, could anything have come out of it? An emergent characteristic of the Nothing?

If Possibility is a real thing then Possibility could have co-existed with the Nothing, because Possibility is not a something, it is just a possibility of a something. But are these mere words without real referents, i.e. for things that actually exist?

“Nothing should ever have existed” is a permanent perception of one part of my mind, the part that thinks in terms of there being a beginning — which most of me doubts. It is comforting that we do not know everything, yet some day we might learn the real answers to these incredibly important questions in understanding who and what we are.

Nothing should ever have existed — that’s like saying “They gave a universe and nobody came.” It just seems improbable that anything could exist since how could the universe start out in any condition other than Nothingness? Nothingness seems to have to be the rest state — the starting condition — doesn’t it?

Thinking this way the ancient Kabalists saw the universe being formed in three steps:

  1. Ain — Nothingness
  2. Ain Soph — the Nothingness becomes self-aware forming a singularity in space (first Kether)
  3. Ain Soph Aur — endless light begins to stream from the singularity in space

I wrote a book for my grandson Nicholas David called The Nothing’s Imagination based on this premise: the active cause for the bootstrap operation by which Nothing gave birth to Everything was the imagination of the conscious Nothingness.

Hope you’ve enjoyed a little mind stretching contemplation of the virtual beginning of everything. If your mind feels different, please do something creative and fulfilling right now, or as soon as you can.

From now on we will start each post by stating the intended benefit of the psychotechnology in that post, as we did here.

Best to all,


Follow my regular media blog contribution, “In Terms of ROI“ at MediaVillage.com under MediaBizBloggers. Read my latest post.

Originally posted 2011-08-18 10:09:20. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Who Are You Really?

Originally posted August 11, 2011

The Theory of the Conscious Universe was the working title of my book, “You Are the Universe: Imagine That, released in 2014.

Why does it matter what your true identity is? Because if, for example, you are an accident in an accidental universe, better to act 100% in your own self-interest at all times than if, say, you are actually the universe itself, in which case 100% of your actions should be for the good of the universe, because you and everybody else will wind up winning biggest that way.

As in all these posts, although it may seem as if we are talking about matters of interest only to philosophers, scientists and intellectuals, in fact we are talking about action decisions each of us must make from second to second throughout our lives — and how to make the most effective decisions for your own later satisfaction.

One of the biggest mistakes individuals make in our culture, as a result of Acceleritis™ — the information overload condition created by the written language/media revolution of the past 6000 years (an eyeblink since homo sapiens first appeared) — is the implicit assumption that the larger philosophical questions as to who we are and why we are here, the meaning of life, are irrelevant on a personal level. Instead we grind away as unthinking slaves to the assumed requirements imposed by the culture. This is true even if we style ourselves as being highly individualistic. We remain slaves to conditioning until we realize that it’s always been about the basic questions, and by putting them aside we have dwarfed our very being.

Many of you have sent me comments outside of the public commentary channel below, and/or phoned to talk about these posts, and a few of you have collared me in person to respond to one thought or another. One of my genius friends who happens to be an atheist gave me an idea. It seems that atheists (I used to be one myself) like the rest of us understandably associate certain words with certain images and so on, so that when I use initial caps, or use the word “God”, or in other ways tie the Theory of the Conscious Universe (TTOTCU) to the teachings of religions, I make it impossible for TTOTCU to get a fair hearing from my atheist friends.

Therefore in the interest of allowing all readers to evaluate TTOTCU on its own merits without distracting connotations, we will begin to skip the religious references except where essential to some actionable point. Instead let’s consider TTOTCU as if the idea of there being one universal consciousness has nothing to do with religion or with the concept of God. I consider it fascinating that while TTOTCU is a scientific theory that makes no assumptions about mystical processes but reduces everything to the way information behaves — somehow winds up also squaring with what the founders of the world’s leading religions said, which constitutes self-evident perennial wisdom. However, I will set aside my fascination for this remarkable dual explanatory power, so that TTOTCU can be presented as pure science without raising emotional side issues.

And now, to the question of Who Are You Really?

In the prior post we wound up concluding that the two things we can absolutely say for certain, really do exist, are consciousness — that which experiences, the Self — and information, the stuff of experience — that which is experienced.

These are the only phenomena we observe directly. All else is mediated by our senses which tell us that time and space, hardness and solidity exist, and yet our Quantum Mechanics (QM) instruments tell us these things do not exist apart from the Observer (Self, Consciousness). So we cannot trust that our senses are conveying to us an accurate picture of reality. There could be an unmanifest part of reality, which by leaving out heads us in totally the wrong direction toward understanding our situation.

As I’ve begun to explain in recent posts, the Theory of the Conscious Universe postulates that a single Self is the only thing that truly exists.

Let’s look at this idea objectively. Let’s divorce the idea from the idea of God. We are talking about the same kind of self or selfness that we ourselves experience.

Imagine that you started life as a disembodied self. You would perhaps become aware of yourself gradually. Once you became aware, you could imagine things and visualize things — and this process might start in your dreams at times when you went from a clear consciousness to a foggy one.

Using the dreams and the waking imagination and your powers of visualization you could — if you had endless time — imagine all sorts of things. You could classify your own mental experiences. You could perhaps see that everything you experienced could be considered as information.

Perhaps if your intelligence level was far greater than that of human beings, you could even learn how to program yourself like a computer, since the contents of your experience would all consist of information.

Perhaps then you could program yourself to create cellular selves within yourself that could only for a time experience through the perspective of those subselves, whereas you yourself could experience what they were experiencing while also experiencing your own self.

What do I mean “you could program yourself”? What would this experience be like? Perhaps it would involve concentration. In his book The Meditative Mind: The Varieties of Meditative Experience, my friend Daniel Goleman (better known for his best-selling book series on emotional intelligence) describes the “concentration games” played by certain people in India since ancient times. Apparently a number of individuals in human history have been able to concentrate so strongly as to be able to turn off their sensory organs and ultimately even their sense of consciousness (“nirodh”, the next step on the path of insight after “nirvana”). If even a few human beings can train their ability to concentrate to this lofty degree, then surely we can imagine that a being of far greater processing power than a human — something with the processing power to create and sustain the complexity of the universe we behold — could also do similar stunts through concentration on a desired “program” of its own consciousness.

Perhaps you the original consciousness, the original self that has created us all as a part of yourself, could first program yourself to create light/energy, and then from light/energy to create matter and spacetime.

This would make you (a) a life form and (b) the only thing that really exists and (c) the underlying substrate of everything created by you to exist within you.

Certainly it would make you a very special life form compared to the life forms we know. Yet we know many lifeforms on macro and micro scales of size that have bizarre characteristics alongside which you would just be another very interesting specimen.

Given your scale it is no wonder that many individuals find it natural to worship this One Self. However that is not the only way it is possible to relate to you. One can also think of you as our Older Brother Self. It would be unusual not to naturally like you since we are you. So the natural reaction to the One Self would be somewhere between friendly and worshipful, take your pick.

That Self has creatively established a Cosmic Game It (We) play(s). Existence provides a never-ending pastime that is engrossing and rich in feeling. Obviously, on our planet part of the game is the secret of our true identity. We cannot normally during life remember anything that we experienced prior to this life, and so we tacitly always assume our identity is the body that the sense of Self currently inhabits.

In computer terms the information beyond the memories of the one instance of self, the local body that the Earth person takes to be the self, simply has been withheld from that node by not providing authorization.

The Perennial Philosophy (which however is not a scientific theory, and falls back instead on mystical conceptualization) tells us that the one self (called “God” or “the deity” in the Perennial Philosophy) gave the later pseudo-selves free will in order to make the game more interesting. This would not have worked without withholding authorization to the memory of the one self at least for the time period of the game. Remembering that one is the One, there is wisdom precluding all courses of action except the optimal for all concerned, and so effectively there is no free will. This could be an overstatement since aesthetically there are always multiple allowable choices but this would trivialize free will to some extent. Holding back the memory of the true identity unquestionably adds poignancy to the game — including such aspects as fear of death.

Again, what the Theory of the Conscious Universe posits is that this very sense of Self is the only thing that exists. That Self has made dubs of itself that for a subjective time period are, as in our case, not told the secret. We live in a permanent case of mistaken identity. We think it is us that is having these experiences when actually it is the One having these experiences through us. But our sense of Self is not different from the One. Our current sense of self is the experience the One is having in our instance of the Singular Self.

In your mind, project a mental movie: see the world and its history as if from nearby in space.

You did all that.

You are still doing it.

It is scientifically possible that this is not just speculation but rather what is really happening. In fact as science progresses it is converging on this depiction of reality. John Archibald Wheeler is but one of many highly respected scientists who have made statements consistent with the Theory of the Conscious Universe already. Science by definition must not proceed too rapidly, carried away by mere enthusiasm over an interesting new idea. So it could be after our lifetime that science finally comes out with a refined and perfectly acceptable version of TTOTCU.

Just knowing it is a real possibility gives permission to begin to relax into the more enjoyable version of life that settles in once we accept that TTOTCU may well be the true depiction of reality. In the psychotechnology (a set of practices which allow an individual in today’s super busy world to spend less and less time in Emergency Oversimplification Procedure – EOP – and more time in the Observer State and Flow State.) of the Human Effectiveness Institute (THEI), TTOTCU is not assumed. Nothing is assumed. THEI advises that the best approach to reality is to admit that we do not know the true nature of reality, and that therefore our actions must always be decided with full consciousness of that lack of certainty. This has the effect of unlocking what are culturally locked-in biases.

The fact that we then become more successful in some ways seems to provide a built-in validation of TTOTCU. For when one believes one is on the side of the whole universe, one’s behavior changes accordingly. All conscious motivations are positive rather than vengeful or petty, and this is a more successful strategy for accomplishing anything involving the cooperation of other people.

Mistaken identity and one other factor have driven most of us to “lives of quiet desperation”, as Henry David Thoreau put it. The other factor is the explosion in accelerating inventiveness triggered by written language — what I have dubbed “Acceleritis”. If this were not a mystery planet — other planets in other galaxies perhaps being experiments in remembering One’s true Identity at all times — Acceleritis might not have had such damaging effects. But the combination of the two handicaps has produced, at least for what be a brief reaction period as glimpsed from Above, a world of suffering, morbid fascination for violence, war, petty bickering, mental disorder, emotional chaos and the self-dwarfing of the One into decidedly unheroic roles.

Acceleritis we will recall is the inability of the brain to keep up with the incoming traffic as the number of question-producing impressions hitting the brain per second ceaselessly soars upward. The advent of written language some 6000 years ago is posited to be the triggering factor in causing Acceleritis.

Acceleritis manifests through tools, weapons, and media. Manic inventiveness in all three fields is carried out in a culture dominated by a minority that was historically first to use these tools, weapons and media, and through this they acquired power and heavy metals/money/credit, they were sustained first (and always) by (threat of) violence, and all of this thuggery was papered over later by a façade of legitimacy. Still, today’s nations were each founded based on the self-interest of those taking over, with the only possible exception being the United States of America.

Even America today has been pulled back into sameness of mentality with the earlier nations. This would not have happened on a planet without (a) mistaken identity and (b) Acceleritis. Those are the two factors pulling us down as a race. They threaten the very substance of the planet.

What a drama! The One has set up a most amazing adventure epic, larger than life, larger even than Cecil B. DeMille’s Hollywood. Now the torch has been passed to us, and we are privileged to be here at this momentous time. What happens, what we do, the roles we rise to, in the next few years will be a turning point in one direction or the other.

We ended the prior post with a promise to explain in this post why I sometimes capitalize “Self”. Here is the explanation. It comes down to the singularity of the One Self. What if TTOTCU is true, and the ancients intuited TTOTCU themselves but lacked modern scientific language and method and so thought about the One Self through the only lenses they had, including the impulse to attribute nature to a cosmic personality, what religion calls “God”. Why capitalize it, why consider it to be above us? Why not do so, since the whole of oneself is clearly above any part of oneself. Why worship the One Self? This is more a matter of aesthetics. The One Self logically being our own larger self in TTOTCU, one would naturally like and love it and wish to be harmonious with it. If worship also comes naturally then why block the feeling? If worship does not come naturally why not be open to some other form of relationship with the posited One Self? How about gratitude? How about loyal friendship?

Game Theory enters in at this point. Let’s admit that TTOTCU is just an unproven theory. Okay, so what does Game Theory tell us we should do? It says that since TTOTCU is a possibility, action based on admitting the possibility is real is better for the individual than acting as if the possibility is ridiculous. Because if TTOTCU turns out to be true (each of us will either find out after death that it is true, or we will no longer be aware of anything), then it would be better to have that base covered just in case.

Based on the way I am betting, my actions are always (except when I slip into robot behavior) in light of TTOTCU, and hence my use of initial capitals sometimes to relate to the One Self. I will tone down that convention now in order to make it easier for agnostic/atheist readers to consider the possibility of TTOTCU being accurate.

What is the meaning of life? Life is a game and an art form. It is the supreme game and the supreme art form. It is cosmic and celestial. We are in fact the children of the stars. We ourselves are stars, greater than stars, we are each of the star of the show. Only the challenge slope presented by Acceleritis makes it so hard for us to realize our true identity, or even to credit that identity as a possibility. No movie character ever faced a more dramatic challenge slope. There will be no victory as great as our own when we finally overcome.

Where did the Singular Self come from in the first place? Why does a Singular Self — or anything else for that matter — exist? Isn’t it far more logical that nothing exists?

Please see and react to our further exploration in the next post.

Best to all,


Originally posted 2011-08-11 07:04:49. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

The Theory of the Conscious Universe: Where Is the Self in the Brain?

Originally posted July 16, 2011

The Theory of the Conscious Universe was the working title of my book, “You Are the Universe: Imagine That”, released in 2014.

Picture the neurons in the brain as strings in a violin. Now picture them as superstrings. The brain is both.

In a previous posting we discussed the different “selves” that each individual has within him/herself, which are formed out of associational clusters of neurons constructed in the brain by our experiences after we are born.

These different selves in the software layer are not places amongst the neurons. Not quite. Each self is a particular conversation amongst neurons, and each self is evoked using specific places in the brain where those memories reside.

Each such “self” is a particular dance of the neurons.

Behind all this is the self you were born with.

This raises a semantic issue: the meaning of the word “self”. David Brooks, for example, says in his book THE SOCIAL ANIMAL, “Even up to age three, children don’t seem to get the concept of self-consciously focused attention. They assume that the mind goes blank when there is no outside thing bidding for its attention.”

Elsewhere in the book he says “You are the spiritual entity that emerges out of the material networks in your head.”

In reading this excellent and thought-provoking book, I get the feeling that he means exactly what he says in the prior sentence — that matter comes first, and that the self is part of the mind that arises out of the contacts we have with the rest of the world, and how those experiences dictate the laying down of neurons and connections in our brain.

Now, David is obviously a humanist who talks about moments of transcendence, and emphasizes the importance of emotions and the unconscious mind. At the same time he is probably a materialist, not in the popular social sense but rather as in the philosophy term of art, meaning he believes that matter appears ahead of mind in the timeline of the universe.

After all, read his last sentence above, once more. He is saying that your Self is what emerges out of the neurons that have connected since your birth. Whatever unconscious hard-wired genetic/instinctual predispositions you had at birth did not comprise your true self. To David, “You” remained self-less until your brain was sufficiently formed to where the self-ness function turned on — when you had enough contact with the rest of the world to emerge as a distinct self.

Here we would differ. I take the Self to be an experiential phenomenon. Not an abstract word. Practically every other word that we use refers to an object or something we see outside the Self. The word “Self” however has as its referent the actual ineffable experience you are having right now of being you. Reducing that to a word can be very useful, but can also be counterproductive if it gets us to think of Self as just another “thing” like all the others we perceive. The Self is not like anything else. It is in a class by itself. It is the only thing we know really exists. It is the Knower itself. Everything else is something we perceive indirectly through the physics of perception.

That is what I mean by Self and I suspect with that as a stipulated definition, David would probably agree with what I am saying here.

Once we start to perceive, our Self is lit up — we are the experiencer. If those perceptions start in the womb, or when we take our first breath, we likely have no notion of what is going on. Later, that experiencer undergoes various levels of evolution and becomes self-aware (has what David calls an “inner narrator that he thought of as himself”), and then later capable of looking at his/her own feelings objectively (what David calls “equipoise”). And even capable of Knowing Itself As Universe in moments of what David calls “self-transcendence” — moments when we lose the sense of separateness.

The Self is the experiencer. What the neurons lay down is the software layer. Sometimes, as David acknowledges, there is a fight for control among parts of the brain; we would say that the fight for control also includes one other part besides the ones considered in THE SOCIAL ANIMAL: THE ORIGINAL EXPERIENCER.

The Original Experiencer. The Self that was always there, before these levels of self-awareness that David represents as the step-off point for the Self. The ineffable spark of selfness that you have even before you can see yourself as separate or start to self-narrate or start to decide whether you are lost in bliss or somewhere else. The Self you have when your mind is empty. We would argue this is your true self, not the concoction of neuronal dances that you have going on all the time as a result of your experiences.

This is an important choice to consider in terms of your own thinking, I would submit.

What has all of this, however, got to do with The Theory of the Conscious Universe?

The Theory of the Conscious Universe postulates that the Universe is a single consciousness, is the single Self that exists, and that the Self lives through all Its creations.

As we shall demonstrate in upcoming blog postings, this conception of what we are can explain every detectable phenomenon within an Occam’s Razor scientific model fully synchronous with quantum mechanics (QM).

Because of the importance of consciousness in explaining our “Theory of the Conscious Universe”, we began this posting by talking about when the Self arises — what I call the experiencer. We can’t talk about TTOTCU without first discussing these basic issues.

In describing what consciousness is and how it works we will make frequent analogies to the way computers work. We will explain why we doubt that robots can ever be made to experience, unless they are based on genetic technology, in which case they will not be robots. Yet we will also explain our odd hypothesis that consciousness exists in everything.

As we go along, you may find all the hypotheses in The Theory of the Conscious Universe odd — or perfectly obvious (latter group please send me an email — I’d like to chat).

So, what if anything does this have to do with the primary work of the Human Effectiveness Institute (“THEI”)? Our mission is to enhance human effectiveness. One way of doing this is by freeing the mind of constricting limiting notions that may be based on totally inaccurate pictures of reality.

Best to all,


Follow my regular media blog contribution, “In Terms of ROI“ at MediaVillage.com under MediaBizBloggers. Read my latest post.

Originally posted 2011-07-16 10:35:16. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

The Theory of the Conscious Universe: The Roots

Featuring: A Movie in Your Mind

Originally posted July 11,2011

The Theory of the Conscious Universe was the working title of my book, “You Are the Universe: Imagine That”, released in 2014 .  

An area in which the Human Effectiveness Institute focuses is the interface between psychology and physics. The ultimate nature of reality is what all of us assume physics is studying, while the nature of mind is what psychology studies.

However, picture a future in which psychology reaches what we might call the complete circumnavigation of the mind. Everything about human psychology is understood, and animal psyk too. Psychoanalysts working with the new perfect model have the same success rate as today’s hip replacements, and in about the same turnaround time. People are pretty much always happy, except for short lapses so as not to forget what the other emotions feel like, or lose their functionality through disuse. Got that envisioned?

Okay, we are together living in that future world and we have all read the popularizations of the ultimate psychology. We get it, it makes our lives work better, we are proud that the human race has achieved such an accomplishment.

Then, in this sci-fi movie we are playing in our minds, a problem arises: physics arrives at the same place as psychology. Physics, too, explains everything in its field. We know how the Big Bang happened and why. We know why there is a universe at all. Our picture leaves nothing out, everything is solved. We finally solve the 400 BC conundrum of which came first, matter or mind.

The problem is this: the physics picture totally overturns the psychology picture.

Then what do we do?

Obviously, at that point the hero/ine gets to work and we see time cuts of the hard work it takes (movies are great at condensing that part) and – voila! The old theory is ingeniously twisted 90 degrees and it clicks perfectly with the new model, and now the population is not always just happy, the entire population rises to the level of genius, is always in flow state, art flourishes and enriches culture, each individual becomes fully realized in all good potentials inherent at birth, the awe and magic of life is restored and never again forgotten even for a moment, psychic and/or telepathic abilities bloom gradually in everyone, and – most important of all – each individual is in total fusion with God.

Yes I said the dread word that causes materialism-philosopher-scientists (MPS) to stop reading. You see scientists have always been philosophers too. We have always had a segment of MPS and another segment of idealism-philosopher-scientists (IPS). Daniel Goleman or David Brooks might well write a book about the relative contributions to science of MPS versus IPS scientists – it would make fascinating reading. Newton of course was IPS. Quite capable of debating fine points of IPS with Leibniz, another idealist philosopher of the time who was a mathematician rather than scientist (Newton was all of these things). Mathematicians and scientists have always produced greater science by working together, and probably greater mathematics too.

The word “God” has meaning to IPS but causes shutdown to MPS. My guess is that those MPS still reading to this point are only reading so as to refute whatever my point might be in all this.

Before I get to the point, let’s stop for a moment to make a fix that has been long in coming. Roughly 2500 years overdue. The term of art “Idealism” when used in juxtaposition with “Materialism” is a confusing misnomer since the word “Idealism” has other meanings used far more frequently. Time to change the term, so let’s first understand where it came from. It was Plato.

Plato of course had heard similar thoughts and was putting them together more concisely and less mystically so everyone could understand them. Qabala contains similar thoughts, for example, and everything thinkable exists somewhere in the tradition of India, captured in written language since the Vedas.

The Idea is that there are multiple levels of reality. In the Absolute Plane of Reality, Ideas exist. They are the perfect embodiment of themselves. The Ideal Chair is the most often used example in philosophy courses –that’s sure getting old. “Ideal” in the sense of “Idea” and also in the sense of “Perfect Embodiment” and “Archetype”.

At any rate, there are these Ideas floating around in the realest plane of reality, and down here on these lower planes (Qabala has four levels, some Indian texts also, but other interpretations have infinite levels – Qabala calls this Jacob’s Ladder) we have shadow imitations of those Ideal Ideas, imperfect replicas intermixing all the Ideas in sort of a stew.

Here on Earth we exist in the lowest of the planes in hard material reality, sometimes called the Visible World. To Plato we are as if in a cave watching shadows on a wall cast by something outside the cave we cannot see.

Without attaching to the history of the term, I’ve laid it out here to show the trail. This is how the great debate got to be called “Materialism versus Idealism”.

What instead should it be called? The debate is trying to solve the question of which came first, mind or matter — which of these is the actual basis of reality, the ultimate quantum plane from which the universe arises.

About 400 years ago, by the way, Hume and Berkeley, Leibniz and Spinoza and Kant and many others drove a period of philosophy where mind came first, before matter.

Today the view that is baked into the average person including scientists is that matter is the supreme substance of the universe. Ironically, the most far-out physicists are now heading back in the other direction toward mind or an intermixture, and gradually the culture is slowly following them. This is not discussed philosophically by the average person, who may nevertheless detect a drift back into what s/he would call a spiritual direction.

We would prefer that the debate be called “Materialism vs. Mindism” or “Materialism vs. Consciousness as Prime”. That’s what it always has been about. The “Mind Came First” position in this debate does not necessarily have to be locked into Plato’s multiple-levels theory, as there are many theories that could be built around the “Mind Came First” position.

“But how could that possibly be?” one thinks, still in the current culture that assumes materialism without even knowing that one is doing so.

After all, Carl Sagan told hundreds of millions of viewers that after the Big Bang occurred due to forces we do not yet comprehend, bits of matter started to assemble due to electromagnetic forces we do understand. At a certain point they formed the Replicator molecule – akin to viruses – robotical pseudo-life. And then just impelled by these random collisions of electromagnetic forces, this process continued to evolve and build itself up until consciousness emerged.

We all mostly bought it, didn’t we? I must confess I didn’t – it seemed like random waves on a beach could build beautiful sand castles if I just sat around for a googletillion years. I still can’t convince my gut of this.

So what is this Theory of the Conscious Universe I was supposed to talk about? Please excuse the tease, but I promised I would lay out the roots here. Now that I’ve established the roots, in the next postings I will get on to the theory.

Best to all,


I would like to invite you to a free ARF webinar I am presenting next week on April 18. A featured section will propose standards for ethical use of psychological data.

Originally posted 2011-07-11 06:17:46. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

The Flow State of Bliss

Volume 4, Issue 8

In this most recent series of blog posts we are reviewing the highest levels of consciousness above the divided levels in which most of us live most of the time. Two posts ago we discussed the three Observer states and in the most recent post we covered the first of the Flow states, the Flow state of Action.

These five Flow states and three Observer states are nested upward, meaning that the benefits of the Observer state inhere in all the Flow states, and each Flow state contains the benefits of the Flow states below it. It is because of this cumulating upward characteristic that it is logical to consider the states progressing upward in the sequence in which we have placed them.

I began to discover the Flow state of Action at age four when performing onstage. Fascinated and sensing that this strange experience had something to do with the purpose of my life I studied my inner states constantly after that. I suspect introspection has always been a strong natural tendency for me.

In my 30s I began to realize that I was not alone in experiencing these states. Gurdjieff and Ouspensky had written about their efforts to organize and understand states of consciousness, and then Oscar Ichazo founded a school called Arica Institute. John Lilly had written a book about his studies with Oscar, and in his descriptions of the states of consciousness I saw correspondences with my own experiences. Much later I read Czickszentmihalyi, who advised the Human Effectiveness Institute (THEI) for a few years in the 90s and it was at that point that I adopted his term “Flow” state. Continuing my readings in the 2000s I learned through my friend Daniel Goleman of the Visuddhimagga, written in 430 CE, which includes tables showing levels of consciousness based on the path of concentration and on the path of insight. My own stacking of the levels I have experienced is similar but not identical to the path of insight table in the Visuddimagga, as accessibly reported in Dan’s The Varieties of Meditative Experience.

Above the Flow state of Action is a state I call the Flow state of Ecstasy or Bliss. The objectivity of observation that exists in the Observer state carries through into this state along with the self-propelled perfection of action. In this state, however, there is the additional overlay of the most positive imaginable emotions/feelings. Another way of saying this is that there is total appreciation for what one is experiencing. One sees the perfection in all of it and nothing is lacking.

This is the first stage in which a spiritual intuition comes along with Flow state although it may not be cognized that way. One is filled with love that connects to everything. A feeling of benevolence washes over you from the inside. The highest ethics become innate because there is a feeling of understanding and forgiving and therefore no wish to cause hurt to anyone or anything.

Of course, when the Founders of The United States of America (specifically Thomas Jefferson) used the expression “the pursuit of happiness” as one of the components of the unalienable natural rights of human beings, he was in a sense alluding to this end- state as the implied highest good (Latin summum bonum). From the standpoint of my own theory, described in my new book You Are The Universe: Imagine That, the highest end-state three levels above the Flow state of Bliss would be the target state, retaining the joy of the latter state but adding more dimensions to it, as will be discussed in my next three posts.

Best to all,



  1. Watch for my new book, You Are The Universe: Imagine That, coming next month.
  2. Follow my regular blog contribution at Jack Myers Media Network: In Terms of ROI. It is in the free section of the website at  Bill Harvey at MediaBizBloggers.com.
  3. For those interested in my work in the media business world you might want to check out this collection of videos.

Can Creativity Be Induced?

Volume 3, Issue 38

Waves booming, the expletives of gulls as they glide like white boomerangs buzzing us, scouting for handouts. I’m sitting with Lalita at breakfast on the terrace at the Malibu Beach Inn, reading The New York Times and I come across a book review reprinted from the Financial Times of London of the new book The Myths of Creativity: The Truth About How Innovative Companies and People Generate Great Ideas by David Burkus.

According to Burkus, taking the review at face value, Plato and the other dons of antiquity were deluded and superstitious in believing that creativity was conferred only on certain humans and that moments of inspiration were given to them by the gods; that even today the popular notion that an “Aha!” moment exists is foolishness, and that creativity really comes down to hard work by large numbers of people working together to generate “creative ideas”. To which my first thought is “Why does it have to be one way and not the other, why can’t there be some truth in all of these ideas?”

The author reportedly goes on to point out that the efforts by organizations to instill increased creativity often backfire, instead causing people to conform so as to belong to a new groupthink where they hold back ideas that they fear would rile the comfort of the tribe and thus cause themselves to become treated like outsiders. This part also has the ring of some truth in it, as I’ve been in such situations, though found myself and a few others quite willing to bear the risk of contrarian creativity.

The book deserves to be read before coming to any conclusions about it, and it surely provokes useful thought if even its review does so. Yet all books that take seeming black and white positions from the title forward would in my estimation have low likelihood of portraying the complexity of the real world as it exists. I will apologize in this space if after reading it I must eat those words, for the review is not the book, the map is not the territory, as S.I. Hayakawa liked to say.

In my practice both at Bill Harvey Consulting and at The Human Effectiveness Institute I’ve often been asked to lead workshops aimed at increasing individual and group creativity and performance. My book Mind Magic is specifically tasked at doing that, and one edition of the book was even experimentally titled Freeing Creative Effectiveness. So as you can see I have a dog in this race, and a potential axe to grind.   😀

Can I prove that I’ve ever induced creativity by a book or workshop or any other means? Alas, no scientific proof yet (we’ll do A/B testing at some point), although anecdotal circumstantial evidence abounds in thousands of letters from readers, including this review from Dan Goleman:

“Highly recommended… will loosen your moorings and open you to creative vistas.” — Dr. Daniel Goleman

Science of course considers individual reports subject to placebo effect and various other biases including the desire to be nice.

In group work, there have been similarly non-definitive measurements. When Richard Zackon and I did an ARF creativity workshop last year it got good scores from the participants and many nice emails. Several people even followed up with telephone consultations. And beyond kind words there has been evidence that one day’s worth of a creativity-inducing workshop has had major positive effect on the directions that leaders of major companies took soon afterward.

I was amazed at the creativity I found in high-ranking officers of two different military branches during workshops I led. In one war game I created, a female officer in charge of a powerful group of units took the bait of my scenario to find a solution even more creative than the one I was going to reveal at the end had nobody thought of it.

The placebo effect and its counterpart in groups, the Hawthorne Effect, suggest that false effects can be caused simply by paying special attention to people. And yet why call these effects “false”? If one can remove pain with salt water and the powers of the subconscious why not use it? If one can cause creative behavior with hand waving, why not take all you can get?

Coming back to the Myth of Creativity book, one of its conclusions ascribed by the review is that creativity is best fostered in organizations where it is challenged. Necessity is indeed the mother of invention, and compressing a spring or irritating an oyster analogies do apply to inducing creativity. I used to tell my team at a certain large agency that the repressive conduct of my boss at the time was an opportunity to be “creative within constraints”.

At the aforementioned ARF creativity workshop, we had the participants anonymously hand in ratings of their own organization on a ten-point scale of creativity repressiveness and siloed confusion. The range of scores we received covered practically the entire range from zero to ten. Take a look at your own organization and see what score you would give it.  🙂

Other than distributing our book and video to your team or doing our workshop, or doing similarly with other interveners from outside the organization, what else can you do? Guard against simulated creativity-inducing exercises, which can backfire. Give people autonomy within the bounds you feel each is equipped to handle and then give a bit more. Give people permission to try new things even if they might fail. When someone screws up, be kind yet honest. Don’t just simulate that, be authentic. Check the effect on target to be sure you’re not kidding yourself to make yourself feel good when you might have actually crushed them.

One way I found it easy to get bollixed organizations to be more creative is to interview the employees and get their creative ideas and then feed those ideas to the top person who can then take credit. That person was always the bottleneck and would only act on creative ideas if he/she could take credit for them. Before the intervention, good ideas had come up in meetings and been shot down, and months had passed until the top person was able to forget that the idea had been mentioned before, then putting it in new garb and “inventing” it as his/her idea. Thus the organization lurched forward, driven by organizational creativity with a delay cycle equal to how long it took the top person’s ego to forget and reinvent.

The notion that the “Aha!” moment is a fiction strikes me as funny. I have had this experience all my life, of ideas putting themselves together in a flash. Carl Jung and William James and many others define the intuition as the mind’s way of suddenly making logical connections among bits of information lying around. Saying that this process does not exist is amusing. Daniel Goleman’s description of the way the brain works at these moments would seem to add further veracity to the existence of “Aha!” moments in fact.

As to Plato’s being superstitious in considering that inspiration can come from levels above human consciousness, please see my new book when it comes out, You Are The Universe: Imagine That, which postulates that all observed phenomena including the paranormal and religious can be accounted for by my Theory of the Conscious Universe, in which we are all one Self living through many avatars, one biocomputer server networked to many clients. In that picture of reality, Plato could easily have been right.

Best to all,


Follow my regular blog contribution at Jack Myers Media Network: In Terms of ROI. It is in the free section of the website at  Bill Harvey at MediaBizBloggers.com.