When Twitter first appeared, I responded to their idealistic side, which aimed to form a global community that could create change beyond national boundaries. Tweets are now used for a million reasons that don't aim as high. But it occurred to me that tweeting might be an excellent way to test the shift in consciousness that has been long awaited and equally long pooh poohed.
Who is right, the skeptics who see no evidence that consciousness is rising on a mass scale or the futurists who foresee a completely altered humanity? It's impossible to measure such a huge phenomenon, but I decided to start small. On a daily basis for the past two or three years I've tweeted about cosmic consciousness, mind outside the brain, the nature of reality, the failure of materialism to explain awareness, and other Big Ideas on the edge of acceptability by mainstream science.
To my surprise, the response has been overwhelmingly positive. Each tweet starts a dialogue almost the instant the tweet starts circulating. Naysayers and skeptics also participate, but instead of dominating the conversation -- or crushing it -- which is what you'd find in official scientific circles, the main result is open, eager curiosity.
Here are the three most popular tweets from a day last week:
1. Photons have neither color nor brightness. The world is made manifest through the light of awareness.
2. Taking existence for granted & assuming that science or religion are the path to truth are the greatest impediments to awakening.
3. The perceived physical world is a representation of a perceiving physical brain. Both the world and brain are immaterial in their essence.
Although each one states my own viewpoint, the statements are broad enough to be good debating topics, and each touches on a mystery that needs exploration.
1. Light is transmitted as quanta known as photons, which strike the retina and travel through a complex processing in the visual cortex to produce the experience of brightness in the world. But photons are not bright themselves, or dark. So how does the world "out there" light up?
2. Science and religion both claim to offer a form of enlightenment. The scientific version consists of a rational explanation of all natural phenomena, along with the attendant elimination of superstition and other irrational beliefs. Religion's version is a clear connection to God and the higher reality represented by divinity. If you assume that these opposing choices are the right answer, or if you turn your back on the whole issue, no form of awakening is possible. The mystery is to find a way forward that makes enlightenment real and personal.
3. There is a long tradition in philosophy and mystical religion that sees the physical world as either an illusion or something unprovable. Against this tradition stands materialism, which takes as its first premise the reality of the physical universe. But this common-sense stance solves nothing. Reality must be processed by the brain before it can be experienced or measured. There is no objective platform outside the brain where we can stand and see the real for what it is. This fact upsets conventional science but has become a fruitful seed for thinkers who want to solve the mind-brain problem.
As you can see, the topics aren't easy, yet a wide range of responses soon crops up. Since a tweet can be no longer than 140 characters, it engages those who understand my position along with those who ask, "What's he smoking?" and others who just offer abuse. A Twitter following of 1.5 million has burgeoned around these discussions, which rolls forward by a thousand people every day, often several times a day. I've come to believe that moment-to-moment engagement is what forms a community that transcends not just boundaries but the constraints of conditioned thinking. Those constraints are the main obstacle, not religious or political opinions, to a new level of consciousness everywhere.