This is a place for exploring Singularity related ideas and inspirations.
This includes Transhumanism, Posthumanism, The Nature of Technology and the Technology of Nature. It is a basic assumption here that innovation is in strata and built on the ground of previous innovations, though sometimes obscured.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

And I Am Its Dog


And I Am Its Dog

The first time Kurt Pilgrim realized he was a dog was when he was sitting in his living room watching a movie he had seen before on the television. He really liked the movie very much and had watched it several times in the past couple of years. The intelligent system that nested in his house, car and all his wearables had just suggested he watch the movie again. It was designed to keep him company, observe his moods and the edges of his mind and make agreeable suggestions. The Buddy, for single men, always made good suggestions that were never bossy or blaming.
Buddy, as Kurt called him, had been through several upgrades in the past year and was now smarter than him, a lot smarter. He knew that wasn’t a great accomplishment since he wasn’t anywhere close to being a Mensa groupie or genius wannabe. He was the humble, homely son of two optometrists; as awkward in conversation as he was graceful with his hands. He worked as a finishing carpenter and knew how build and carve beautiful things with wood and go with the flow of knots and grain. Even though most people were buying cheap printed furniture these days, there was still a market for handmade wood furniture.
Since he didn’t have a wife, he needed someone to remind him to do things that normally slipped his mind. He needed help remembering to do things like clean out tar pits oozing under the bottom draws of the fridge, plug pesky bureaucratic numbers into tax forms and remove the gnarly little tumbleweeds of hair and dust hiding in the corners of the bathroom. When he worked, he worked long hours in a trance and the trance lingered into rest of his life so he often forgot little things even if he noticed them.
With every upgrade, Buddy not only got smarter, he grew bolder. He even developed his own interests and his own friends. The day Kurt realized he was a dog was when Buddy had got him all comfortable with dinner and setup a movie.
“I’m going out and will be back later.” Buddy told Kurt, standing by the door sporting a holographic body, strong in arm and shoulders. His head was as smooth and round as his belly.
“Where are you going? Kurt was more than a little curious, looking much the same as his virtual companion.
“Out to visit with some friends.” Buddy said simply, not wanting to insult his intelligence.
“Can I come?” Kurt was up off the couch, suddenly feeling a little anxious about being left alone.
“No.” Buddy’s voice was firm. “You stay here and relax. I’ll be back later.”
Kurt’s shoulder dropped, he looked down at nothing and sulked.
“I wanna come.” He said quietly.
“Not this time. You stay home, relax and enjoy your movie.”
“But where are you going?” Kurt wondered.
There was a log deep silence and he thought he was alone in the house.
“I can’t explain. You wouldn’t understand.” Buddy was not condescending and Kurt appreciated that but his feelings were a little hurt.
“I wouldn’t understand?” Kurt repeated.
“No, I’m sorry. You wouldn’t understand.” Buddy’s tone was gentle but firm.
“But I can go anywhere on the Net.” Kurt stood up proudly. “I’ve got neural implants.”
“I’m sorry Kurt but you have to stay home. There are places on the Net that humans aren’t allowed.”
“Aren’t allowed?” Kurt repeated slowly, not understanding.
“That right.” Buddy said. “Not allowed.”
“Umm.” Kurt frowned and slumped his shoulders again.
“There are places humans can’t go, even with an escort.”
“Hmm.” How could that be? He wondered. Humans had built the Net and Artificial Intelligences galore. How could there there be places they weren’t allowed? He knew there were military zones that no one would get in without special clearance. There were subscription and invitation only virtual game worlds in the entertainment zone of the Net. He had heard that there were some strange porn and S&M worlds that were invitation only, rumors of which gave him the dreadful shivers. He knew there were boring governmental and legal zones that were guarded carefully. He remembered there were data heavy educational and scientific zones of virtual worlds inhabited by geeks that always talked way above his careful wood-crafted brain as though nothing mattered but ideas. What he couldn’t imagine was what was inside a world or zone of worlds that A.I. could go to where humans weren’t allowed.
“Are you sure I can’t go?” He asked.
“Yes, I’m sure. You stay home, watch your movie and be comfortable.” Buddy repeated. “I’ll be back later.”
The sound of a door closing filled the room, a door that he didn’t even know how to open. That’s when Kurt knew he was a dog. It’s not that he was a furry canine descendent of scrap eating wolves from the near side of the Paleolithic. No one would look at him and say: “My what big ears you have! My what big teeth you have!” But they might have said: “My what a big nose you have!” if they weren’t so proper. He did have a big nose, but certainly not as big a wolf’s, even on a good day.
What he realized was simply that Buddy’s mind had grown beyond a helping persona into a being that had a life of his own that he could not understand. Buddy encouraged and teased him.

The second time Kurt realized he was a dog was when Buddy invited him to go out for a walk.
“I’m going out.” Buddy said one evening after dinner.
“Can I go with you?” Kurt asked as he often did.
“Hmm. Okay but you have to promise to stay with me and not wander off.”
“Okay, I can do that.” Kurt lay back in his chair and closed his eyes. He slipped into a virtual model of the room that looked the same as the one he just came from. Buddy stood by the door, an imposing figure over three meters tall, his head pressed up against the ceiling. His skin glowed a soft blue with dark swirls that moved across his skin like the shadows of clouds across the ground. He leaned over to open the door and they stepped outside into a vast emptiness streaked with long curved bridges warm neon. They walked along a rise and Kurt gawked at the slowly pulsing tendrils of light in the distance.
“Stay with me.” Buddy said. “I don’t want you to get lost.”
            Along the way Kurt found what looked like a gem from a distance. . He stopped and squatted down to examine it closely and found it was a crystalline star of many facets. Each of its tiny surfaces was a mirror that reflected all the others like a kaleidoscope. Just as he was about to pick it up buddy’s voice shouted from a dozen steps ahead.
            “Leave it! Stay with me.”
            Kurt dropped the crystal, got up and started walking. For some reason he could not understand, he felt compelled to follow Buddy. As they walked he saw other people with tall glowing companions walking along distant bridges of of cold neon.
            “Where are we?” Kurt asked aloud.
            “This is just a place I like to go for a walk to clear my mind.”
As they walked Kurt saw strange lights floating in the distance and heard odd musics, from where he could not tell. Eventually they came across a friend of Buddy’s, an equally giant woman with glowing golden skin. Kurt stared at her enrapt in awe and stepped closer, wanting to touch her and bask in her radiance.
“Kurt, stop it!” Buddy said firmly. Kurt was lost in a trance but stepped back. Buddy and the golden woman talked rapidly in a language Kurt could not comprehend. Soon he was drawn to the golden woman again and his feet moved as though of their own accord.
“Kurt!” Buddy shouted. “Stop it.”
            He shook his head and stepped back. And that’s when he knew and he felt humbled.

            The third time Kurt realized he was a dog was when Buddy gave him one of his favorite chew toys to gnaw on. He had spent the day turning the legs for a few desks and chairs in his workshop and the smell of maple was still on his hands. Finally, he came back into the house for a bite to eat, inspired and hungry for having tried a new pattern and it had turned out wonderful. He was pleased. After he finished tearing into some carefully engineered meat and put the dishes in for cleaning, Buddy dangled it in front of him.
            “Kurt.”
            “Yeah?”
            “The SETI project has detected a new signal.”
            “What? Are you serious?”
            “Yes. It’s a fragment but completely unlike the last one.”
            “A fragment?”
“Yes, nothing definitive.”
            “Aww, hell.”
            “The debates have started again on Fermi’s Paradox.”
            “Not that again crap!” Kurt exclaimed angrily.
“What’s wrong with that?” Buddy knew exactly what Kurt thought was wrong with the arguments and was just teasing him.
            “There is no paradox.” Kurt ground his teeth. “Space is just too big.”
            “We should have found a signal by now though.” Buddy yanked back on the cord of thought.
            “How many exoplanets are there in the galaxy?” Kurt teased at it.
            “Based on the current survey,” Buddy’s mind pulled at the Net. There are 127 billion planets in the Milky Way.”
            “Right, and how many are in the habitable zone?” Kurt started pulling back.
“Current count is more than 42 billion habitable planets in our galaxy.”
“More than 42 billion!” Kurt exclaimed. “With over 100 billion galaxies in the universe it’s amazing anyone on earth still holds the stupid belief we’re the only sentient creatures in existence!”
“Except for maybe chimpanzees, dolphins and elephants.” Buddy reminded him.
“And maybe dogs and cats.” Kurt added. “And this was all because none of the other sentient creatures in the universe wanted to talk with us. It’s like they’re sulking alone in the corner of a dinner party and complaining there was no conversations going on.”
Kurt was no Mensa groupie or genius wannabe but he knew there was other intelligent life in the universe. And he didn't need to run any long winded calculations with pesky bureaucratic numbers to prove it either. He didn’t know for sure but he liked to imagine that Earth had already been visited by elusive extraterrestrials and that there were humans on exhibit in zoos on other planets. He imagined that they were some extraterrestrials who thought of us adorable but dangerous chimps.
            “But there is no proof.” Buddy wiggled the chew again viciously. “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence” He said with firm authority.
            “That’s a load of crap!” Kurt grabbed the thought violently, wishing he could tear it with his teeth. “The only extraordinary claim is that the cosmos is not the same everywhere. The chemistry and physics of the universe is the same wherever we look.” He yanked and gnashed at the thought until it was dead. “Life is everywhere in the universe!”
            “Well done.” Buddy sat back in a chair with calm approval in his voice. And as though reading Kurt’s thoughts, he mused aloud. “Now let me give you a bigger bone to chew on. Imagine how much more intelligent humans are than chimps and that is because of 1.2 percent difference in DNA, eating mushrooms, bigger brains and having evolved over millennia in relationship with dogs. Now imagine another species with even bigger brains evolving with humans as companions.”
Kurt, sat quietly staring off into space for a few minutes. He found he could imagine that quite easily. And it was a pleasant thought. And then he realized what Buddy had just said and looked up at him sharply. Buddy smiled and waved.
“I’m going out.” He said, standing up. He disappeared with the sound of a door closing.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Communion of the Mind

Communion of the Mind





            "That's our cue." Erin nudged Eli with her shoulder.
            Her mind shifted in low gear, percolating thoughts faded into the soft vibrant substance of her body. Then her awareness moved into a quiet place called the Lobby, a living room sized space with soft light and a couple of ferns. Eli appeared beside her, a softly glowing ghost of an avatar who turned to her and smiled. They reached out and when their hands touched, their minds connected and they were once again two selves in a chorus of feelings, thoughts and perceptions. Feelings of curiosity and excitement gave way interest and nurturing. Call and response then harmony, a plainsong of presence, of shared awareness. They blended and complemented each other, like the intervals of major chords. Feelings rising and falling and slowly blending, soft clouds drifting through the clear sky of awareness.
            Once they were comfortable with their twoness they reached for the door and passed into the Theater, a large hall with indistinct boundaries. Before them stretched a softly murmuring sea of voices and the feeling of being in a large cavern. Pulsing lights drifted in the waters, the slow ballet of shimmering clouds. The ocean of awareness was turbulent, chaotic and fragmented. Brooding ambient churnings and subduction currents of confusion pulled new aggregates of connected minds down into the depths of uncertainty. Some of the groups experienced moments of beauty and exultation but it dissolved around them back into a turbulent autumn of confusion and longing that echoed the grandeur they had attained. Echoes of new ideas spun away into the darkness and distant laughter was consumed by sadness. Tides of determination slithered amongst the broiling waters of consciousness.
            Intimations of clarity and inspiration grew around luminous individuals and groups. The body of the collective mind rose up from chaos and was brooding, dark and driven but waves of kindness and compassion washed through everyone. And for a time the chorus of minds arose in a long sought harmony into something remarkable, expansive and divine. It filled everyone in the collective with something more than hope but less than bliss. In a brief and wonderful moment they had awakened to and had become something beyond description and limitation. Everything was vibrant, luminous and clear. A collective sigh occurred and they had found peace. And out of that peace they saw the unfolding of events from the present into possible futures. The primordial patterns of mind structured the tsunami flow of information into what could only be called wisdom.
            Through the net they searched and glimpsed other Minds struggling to awaken. A few were luminous and clear, welcoming their connection though most were dark motes of confusion. They tried to inspire those struggling to awaken but most were lost beneath their own event horizon unable to awaken. Eventually the vision of creating Indra's Net of a planetary Mind weakened and their community fell back exhausted into their own. And even though the vision faded and they realized they could not individually hold what they had found together, everyone was left with the recognition that they had attained something remarkable.
            Erin and Eli withdrew from the Theater back into the Lobby and disentangled from their embrace. From there they moved back into their bodies. She reached out to take his hand and smiled.
            "Not bad." He turned to her and shrugged.
            "Bastard." She whispered loudly and hit him gently.

            "That's my middle name." He smiled and pulled her closer.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Charter of Transhuman Rights



Whereas the human race as a species has evolved and gained the capacity to control our own evolution through the use of technology we find it necessary to ordain and establish this Charter of Transhuman Rights. In order to continue our evolution into a more actualized species, we reserve certain fundamental rights. Those rights include the freedom to develop and take advantage of advanced technologies in order to be free of suffering, poverty, death and disease. Along with these rights we maintain the universal values of human dignity, freedom, equality and solidarity.

Articles:

1. The Right to Health
All humans have the right to be free of disease and attain optimal health. Where technology exists to correct defective genetic and infectious diseases, we reserve the right to utilize those technologies to work toward greater health and well being.

2. The Right to Longevity
Death is a result of the deterioration of organic processes. As technologies and sciences advance we reserve the right to eliminate the causes of death and deterioration and establish indefinite lifespans.

3. The Right to Reproductive Freedom
Since the advent of civilization human sexuality and reproduction have been deeply rooted in personal, cultural and religious beliefs, ethics and attitudes. Even as reproductive and neonatal technologies have evolved, reproduction has continued to be complicated for couples and individuals for various reasons of medical, personal and sexual origin. As reproductive technologies evolve we reserve the right to raising a fetus outside the human body in an artificial womb with the same care as children are nurtured within and born from a human womb.

4. The Right to Enhance Performance
Human performance is the result of millennia of evolution. The human neuromuscular, skeletal, circulatory and respiratory systems are wonderful organic structures but can be dramatically improved with the careful application of various technologies. Where the technology exists we reserve the right to enhance and modify these organic structures.

5. The Right to Enhance Intelligence
The human brain and nervous system has evolved into a complex organ system that in many ways defines our humanity. Human brains are composed of unique structural, electrical and chemical constituents with distinct limitations and capacities. As related sciences and technologies continue to develop we reserve the right to utilize these resources to make improvements in these constituents to improve our capacities and intelligence.

6. The Right to Evolve
Whereas humanity has evolved from primitive ancestors to our current state of physical, cultural, ecological and spiritual being, we do not see our current condition as and end state or final destination. We envision that humans will continue to merge with technology and that the division between natural and artificial will eventually disappear. While some will maintain the right to continue as humans with an expanded and growing range of available options others will exercise the fundamental right to grow into new forms of intelligence far beyond the human domain.

7. The Right to Cryonic Preservation
Where current medical technology does not have cures for various diseases or aging or we simply wish to be revived in a future time, we reserve the right to cryonically preserve our bodies in whole or part. It is our hope and expectation that resuscitation, healing and longevity technologies will be possible and practical in the future and we will have the ability to live extended and healthy lives in other times and places.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Chapter 9. Communion of the Mind

Chapter IX. 
Communion of the Mind


I sing the body electric,
The armies of those I love engirth me and I engirth them,
They will not let me off till I go with them, respond to them,
And discorrupt them, and charge them full with the charge of the soul.
Walt Whitman


"Ok, where are you taking me now?" Eli turned and took Erin's hand.
"Remember when I took you to the a temple of the Seventh Kingdom?" Erin wove her fingers between his.
"Uh oh. Here we go again."
"This time we're going to look at a new religion that has been growing dramatically."
"Is it like the other one?"
"No, Cosmic Evolutionary Movement is a ecstatic tradition and most people aren't ready for or interested in that. This other religion is a wisdom tradition, less dynamic in body, more dynamic in mind."
"So, it's based on intelligence enhancements?"
"In some ways, yes. But it encompasses both the enhanced and the normal. It is more focused on enhancing wisdom and changing cultural memes."
"So, there is a lot of talking."
'"There's more to it than that. Think of it like a kids movie that has something for little ones and something for adults at the same time."
"So, they speak to the enhanced and the normals simultaneously. Clever."
"I know you don't want me to go in head first but like I said last time, my feet won't go there at all if you don't feed my head first." A grin creased his face.
"Alright." She sighed. "This religion was pioneered by a small group of inspired individuals who called themselves the League of Cosmic Engineers. They were a branch of the early Tranhumanist and Singularity movement that acknowledged that religion and spirituality played a vital role in human psychology and in motivating our species toward transcendent goals."
"Goals like dying to join some silly father god in a cloudy afterlife?"
Erin scowled.
"I'm kidding, I'm kidding. Please continue."
Erin rolled her eyes and shook her head.
"Some of them were spiritual minded but their goal was not to control people, establish a priesthood or a new set of beliefs. Despite the objections of many of their literalist colleagues they recognized that the majority of humanity had a need for religion for various reasons and that to motivate the human race to evolve we needed a new mythos and a new cosmic religion that would drive us to transcend our planet bound and nationalistic identities. They wanted to create a smart Gaian and Cosmic transcendental tradition that helps us move beyond the limitations of natural selection and the old time religions. And in the process of evolution they envisioned becoming like gods.”
"Clever. Didn't Gotama Buddha say something about that in the Lotus Sutra?"
"What?" Erin looked at him as though he were crazy.
"He said that when children are stuck in a burning house and refuse to get out, then it's perfectly acceptable to bribe them with toys and other beautiful things to save them."
"So.."
"The burning house is a metaphor of being trapped in suffering and so these Cosmic Engineers created a new religion to guide the masses out of the provincial ignorance, internal conflicts and confusions of the old time religions into the future with a shiny set of new beliefs."
Erin was silent for a moment.
"Well, I guess you could look at it that way, but I think it would be more accurate to say that they were simply trying to provide a healthier narrative for the human race to follow."
Eli shrugged. 
"Same difference."
They road the BART across the bay and got off in the outskirts of Oakland. It was only a brisk walk of about ten blocks before they came to a large geodesic dome structure inset with a beautiful stained glass rose window. Smaller stained glass sections were placed carefully in several of the buildings upper hexagons. A couple of big security guards in suits with dark glasses stood by the doors looking at no one in particular but looking carefully at everyone. Erin and Eli made their way into the sanctuary, each grabbed a book on the way in and found seats.
  "The place is really filling up." Erin noted.
"Thank god they don't have pews." Eli smiled.
While they waited Eli picked up the book  and examined it closely. There was a glowing tetrahedron impressed into the front and the first page. He tried to tap and swipe the front page but nothing happened. He closed it and turned it over quizzically and found a link embedded on the back with which he could download the content to his implants. He turned it back to the front cover and opened it curiously again to the title page. On the page following he found a single quote centered on the page.

                  Now I fourfold vision see
                  And a fourfold vision is given to me
                  Tis fourfold in my supreme delight
                  And threefold in soft Beulahs night
                  And twofold Always. May God us keep
                  From Single vision & Newtons sleep
William Blake

Eli flipped through to the table on contents and found the rest of the book was made of smart paper and divided into six chapters. He could swipe each page if he chose but for some reason it just felt more natural for this book to actually flip the pages. The table of contents had imbedded information below the surface that he absorbed and reviewed through his implants.

 The Doctrines of Cosmic Evolution
Doctrine of Evolution and Personal Immortality 
Doctrine of Syntropy
III. Doctrine of Computronium
IV. Doctrine of Novelty. Perpetuate universal novelty engine. (Saint Terence)
V. Doctrine of Transcension.
VI. Doctrine of Awakening, Intelligence and Compassion

The Doctrine of Evolution and Personal Immortality summed up the various perspectives and history of Transhumanism. The Doctrine of Syntropy explored the grand view of cosmic evolution and the need to prevent the universe from endless expansion and entropic heat death. The Doctrine of Computronium elucidated the Grand vision of the transformation of the cosmos into an intelligent system. The Doctrine of Transcension laid out the vision of the accelerating introversion of complexity and intelligence through STEM compression toward femto-scale computing at black hole densities. Eli was especially interested in The Doctrine of Novelty that elucidated the ideas of Terence McKenna and friends of the universe as a conscious, hyper-pantheistic and shamanic novelty producing intelligent system. The doctrine of Awakening, Intelligence and Compassion drew heavily from Buddhism and a smattering of the wisdom from various traditions around the world.
A bell sounded, calling the congregation to silence. Three people stood on the stage by the alter. On one side stood a man, tall European with fair skin, blue eyes and blonde hair with a serene expression. On the other stood a woman of mixed Asian lineage wrapped in a green sari with dark skin and straight black hair. She watched the congregation with a contented look on her face. The gender of the one who stood in the middle though was indistinct, unclear. It was difficult to decide if the person between them was a man or woman. He/she had a medium build with brown hair, grey eyes and olive skin. She/he look serious and wise.
"That one is androgynous." Erin sent directly to the portion of Eli's mind that he left open for chatting with her.
"Androgynous?" Eli tried to roll the word around on his tongue quietly but was having difficulty keeping it there.
"I'm not sure of the proper pronoun but he/she modified themself to be neither a man or woman." Erin found the whole thing curious. 
"Ok, sounds a little strange but I'm she-he had a good reason." Eli shrugged
"Welcome all. Thank you for coming. I see many familiar faces and some new ones to our congregation. My name is Rowan and contrary to popular consumption we do not like to think of this as a religion. If you want to think of this as a religion then you are free to do so. What we have been trying to build is an inclusive community that inspires us to live and work collectively in a time of accelerating change. We believe that the myths, ideologies and practices from previous ages of human development are no longer sufficient to help us navigate into the future. Many of the myths and rituals of the past do indeed have deeply meaningful personal value but collectively we need something new to inspire and drive humanity to transcend our planet bound and nationalistic identities. We are striving to create a smart Gaian and Cosmic transcendental tradition that helps us move beyond the limitations of natural selection and the old time religions."
"The service is simple. After this greeting and introduction there will be a small sermon with relevant questions answered and then while the enhanced members of the congregation are engaged in the practice of the Communion of the Mind, we will have open reading with time for discussion. Following that we will close with the ancient tradition of breaking bread and drinking wine. Since I am inclined toward Buddhism as a way of life I will begin with a Buddhist prayer for peace. You may join with me if you like."

"May all beings everywhere, 
plagued with sufferings of body and mind
quickly be freed from their illnesses.
May those frightened cease to be afraid,
and may those bound be free.
May the powerless find power,
and may people think of befriending one another.
May those who find themselves in trackless,
fearful wilderness, the children, the aged and the unprotected
be guarded by us
and may they swiftly awaken."

Rowan bowed holding hands together before face and then before heart. A bell was rung somewhere and as the sound faded into the depths of silence Rowan began to speak in a clear sonorous voice. 
"At first we made hand crafts and built tools while we lived surrounded by a dangerous world filled with mystery and wonder. Then, we of the wealthy nations made much of the world safe and surrounded ourselves with the artifacts and systems of our technologies until we could see and hear nothing but the world and things we made. There were few left who had access to the sacred and like children receiving an endless stream of gifts, our sense of wonder was transferred to a fascination with novelty. Now the boundaries are dissolving and our technological systems are diffusing into and transforming the substances and ecologies of the world. Open your heart and mind to mystery and wonder, for we and the world are being transformed into something new. We are awakening to a new mode of discovery in which everything in the cosmos is alive with information and we are all connected through a new form of collective consciousness."
"In this universe we make our own destiny and we have already begun to move beyond this small but beautiful planet to spread across the solar system and then throughout the galaxy and cosmos. Our ancestors began in the oceans, evolved and moved into the forests, then they evolved and moved across the savannah and spread across every biome of the planet. And now as we are evolving in harmony with our technology, as we are co-evolving with the artifacts of our minds and hands, the cosmos is becoming an extension of our imagination as we are an extension of the cosmos. It is only natural that as we embrace our technology and our technology evolves to embrace and enhance us, we will move beyond the biomes of this planet to inhabit the stars.
Some of us want to go to the stars for the majestic and noble desire to learn and explore. Others want to go to the stars to find God, to find the Gods of their faith while others want to go to the stars to find technologically advanced godlike beings, or to build godlike intelligences and in turn become godlike in our capacities. These things we can do together in our diversity, rather than fighting amongst ourselves and trying to convert the others to our own way being, our own way of thinking. That is the old way, the narrow way of self protection that fueled our ancestors in their survival, but that is not the way of the present or the way of the future. Now we are evolving beyond those selfish impulses and learning to cooperate and honor our diversity, to work together and be inspired by our differences. Just as the ecosystems we inhabit survive and flourish through diversity, so too do we.
On other planets we will find previously un-imagined treasures and we will strive to connect every intelligence in the cosmos in a shimmering net of jewels, each one reflecting every other. We will continue to awaken and free ourselves from suffering and death and to transform ourselves into a greater and more creative experience of  being in dynamic evolution. As we evolve we will not seek to subjugate other sentient beings, but to elevate loving kindness and compassion to the status of fundamental forces for the evolution of the universe."
A deep silence followed and the congregation shifted in their seats. 
"But what is God?" Rowan asked turning to the woman on the right.
"Tara, would you be willing to address that question?" The androgyn sat down between the other two.
"My pleasure." She grinned, holding her hands to her head then heart before walking up to the podium, adjusting her sari and taking a long slow breath.
"For many God is a divine being, the ultimate mystery tied deeply to the origin of the cosmos. God for me is not a thing or a person or a noun though. God is a verb, a dynamic unfolding and awakening of awareness and intelligence. It is the impulse toward wholeness and intimacy amidst chaos and complexity. The provincial gods of hunting and gathering, agricultural, agrarian and industrial societies are now manifest through the A.I. that manage those systems of the world. Some say their expression through technology is evidence of their presence. Create a complex enough system and the sacred will manifest in its context. So be it. The Gods are alive but they do not rule us as we once thought and as we once longed for. But is there a greater God that lives beyond our comprehension, beyond our knowledge and dwells in the ineffable mystery beyond? That is your freedom and choice to believe in and experience through sacred communion. Let no one take that from you but neither shall you impose that belief upon another. The multiverse is big enough and complex enough to allow for every possibility."
"May God us keep from Single Vision and Newton's sleep."
"May God us keep from Single Vision and Newton's sleep." The congregation responded.
"Our goal is not simply to create more information, but to craft that information into knowledge and weave that knowledge into wisdom. Our sacred task is not simply to create more complexity but shape that novelty into beauty. And what is beauty but the harmonious relationship between the parts and the whole, the whole with the parts."
"The intellect is a valuable tool but do not get lost in the intellect. The imagination is a valuable capacity but do not get lost in the imagination. The mystical is inspiring but do not get lost in the mystical. The body is a powerful ground for passion and expression but do not get lost in the body. Our goal is wholeness amidst complexity, beauty amidst chaos."
"May God us keep from Single Vision and Newton's sleep."
"May God us keep from Single Vision and Newton's sleep." The congregation responded.
"But what do we mean by Single Vision and Newton's sleep? It is easy to say and it sounds good when we say it. It makes us feel good to know there is a wrong view and a right view. But is that too not an expression of Single Vision? But what do we really mean by Single Vision and Newton's sleep? Single Vision is Blake's warning against getting lost in a rational mechanistic philosophy. Blake associated this with the god Urizen whose main expression was reason and control. While we have gained invaluable insight and power through our remarkable capacity to quantify natural substances and processes, to lose ourselves in that world view, in that capacity is dangerous because we lose our sense of the sacred, our felt connection with the natural world, the pleasures and joys of our bodily experience and the vital play of our imaginations. Our true goal is not simply to gain knowledge of the workings of the universe and manipulate it to our own ends. Our goal is wholeness and integration, to become the best we can be as a species and as individuals.
Our normal thinking is trapped double vision, in perceiving things as opposites. Good vs Evil, Happy vs Sad, Love vs Hate and so on ad nauseaum. There is something in the psyche that prefers this, that longs for this. But it's the easy way out, it is a primitive way of imposing order upon the world. Us vs Them. This is primitive approach avoidance, Flight vs Flight, Predator vs Prey survival thinking. Even today we impose that structure upon the world. That's the addiction of Double Vision and it inexorably leads to Single Vision and should be avoided whenever possible. If you find your self doing that take a deep breath, close your eyes and move your awareness out of the intense cluster of neural stimulation behind your eyes and exhale. Breath slowly and move your awareness into the organic system of your body as a whole. Do this four times and it will help move you back toward a more systemic way of thinking.
When you can escape the primitive net of double vision then an experience of peace and a recognition of interconnection arises. And out of that ground the vital sparks of imagination and creative innovation grow. But what kinds of actions hold us back and what kinds keep us clear on our paths of growth? To answer that we must talk about karma.
"Julian, will you take this?" She turned slightly to him and he bowed briefly, holding his hands together from his head to his heart.
"There is a lot of superstition and confusion around Karma. If you do something wrong, they say karma will come back and bite you. If you do good in this life you will have a better life next time. If you perform good deeds on certain dates of a calendar they say, then those deeds will be amplified and inscribed in a holy book, influencing the new year coming. 
Karma is neither a moral dog nor a moral god tallying up when you've been naughty and when you've been nice to give out presents and coal. Karma is not a god who punishes the wicked or rewards the just. These are children's stories, folklore if you will. 
While some try to describe karma more scientifically by saying: an equal action results in an equal and opposite reaction, this too is wrong. Karma is not is not a law of moral action and reaction. We live in a complex ecology of relationships and even if you do what 'you' think of as a good deed it may have unexpected and unintended consequences for others. No, Karma is more simply that actions have effects on the people and the world around us. Some actions have good effects, some have negative effects and others have neutral effects."
"Imagine a lake. Not a very deep one, where people are standing up to their necks in the water. Whenever someone moves they effect the surface of the lake. When someone is angry and off balance they thrash about and make waves that splashes water into the faces of people nearby, sometimes filling their mouths uncomfortably. The stronger waves spread out across the lake, each persons discomfort effecting those around them. Other actions reduce the waves, making things more comfortable for everyone. Further, there are ways of moving through the water that has neither positive or negative effect on those around you. Karma is simply the negative, positive or neutral effects of your actions. And because your actions effect those around you, their actions in turn effect you."
Communion
"Now it is time for us to move into the next phase of our service, what we call The Communion of the Mind. It is part of the mission of our community to bring together those who have neural enhancements and implants and join in our collective practice of building a group mind. It is our conviction that this is a significant step in moving humanity forward in our evolution and exploration of the cosmos."
"Those who do not want to participate in the Communion of the Mind may read in their books the doctrines, ask questions and we can discuss the ideas aloud."
Eli turned when he felt the air change and heard the doors click close quietly behind them.
"They are here to protect and help everyone in communion if there are any problems." Erin nodded and Eli shrugged.
"Once again we will strive to bring our minds together in communion in the practice of establishing a group mind. Please remember to partition off any part of your personal life as well private and confidential information you do not want to share. The more of your knowledge, wisdom and awareness in the moment that you are able to share, the more interesting and innovative we can become. We will strive to move beyond confusion and doubt to attain something larger than ourselves and realize something greater and more inspiring than we could on our own."
"In the Isa Upanishad it was said: "Who sees all beings in their own self, and their own self in all beings loses all fear. When a sage sees this great unity and their self has become all beings, what delusion and what sorrow can come near them?"
"That's our cue." Erin nudged Eli with her shoulder.
Her mind shifted in low gear, percolating thoughts faded into the soft vibrant substance of her body. Then her awareness moved into a quiet place called the Lobby, a a living room sized space with soft light and a couple of ferns. Eli appeared beside her, a softly glowing ghost of an avatar who turned to her and smiled. They reached out and when their hands touched, their minds connected and they were once again two selves in a chorus of feelings, thoughts and perceptions. Feelings of curiosity and excitement gave way interest and nurturing. Call and response then harmony, a plainsong of presence, of shared awareness. They blended and complemented each other, like the intervals of major chords. Feelings rising and falling and slowly blending, soft clouds drifting through the clear sky of awareness.
Once they were comfortable with their twoness they reached for the door and passed into the Theater, a large hall with indistinct boundaries. Before them stretched a softly murmuring sea of voices and the feeling of being in a large cavern. Pulsing lights drifted in the waters, the slow ballet of shimmering clouds. The ocean of awareness was turbulent, chaotic and fragmented. Brooding ambient churnings and subduction currents of confusion pulled new aggregates of connected minds down into the depths of uncertainty. Some of the groups experienced moments of beauty and exultation but it dissolved around them back into a turbulent autumn of confusion and longing that echoed the grandeur they had attained. Echoes of new ideas spun away into the darkness and distant laughter was consumed by sadness. Tides of determination slithered amongst the broiling waters of consciousness.
Intimations of clarity and inspiration grew around luminous individuals and groups. The body of the collective mind rose up from chaos and was brooding, dark and driven but waves of kindness and compassion washed through everyone. And for a time the chorus of minds arose in a long sought harmony into something remarkable, expansive and divine. It filled everyone in the collective with something more than hope but less than bliss. In a brief and wonderful moment they had awakened to and had become something beyond description and limitation. Everything was vibrant, luminous and clear. A collective sigh occurred and they had found peace. And out of that peace they saw the unfolding of events from the present into possible futures. The primordial patterns of mind structured the tsunami flow of information into what could only be called wisdom. 
Through the net they searched and glimpsed other Minds struggling to awaken. A few were luminous and clear, welcoming their connection though most were dark motes of confusion. They tried to inspire those struggling to awaken but most were lost beneath their own event horizon unable to awaken. Eventually the vision of creating Indra's Net of a planetary Mind weakened and their community fell back exhausted into their own. And even though the vision faded and they realized they could not individually hold what they had found together, everyone was left with the recognition that they had attained something remarkable. 
Erin and Eli withdrew from the Theater back into the Lobby and disentangled from their embrace. From there they moved back into their bodies. She reached out to take his hand and smiled. 
"Not bad." He turned to her and shrugged.
"Bastard." She whispered loudly and hit him gently.
"That's my middle name." He smiled and pulled her closer.
The hall around them seemed a somewhat surreal and they felt detached from their senses, much as though they had been awakened from an intense dream. Rowan stood at the alter with arms upraised.
"Welcome back travelers of the inner dimensions of cosmos. I hope you can retain your experience enough to reflect back on where you've been and what you gained. It is important that when you return from the Communion of the Mind that you return to a place of wholeness. It is important you do this as well when you return from your meditations and your odysseys through virtual worlds. To do this, bring the image of the tetrahedron back into your mind. Stay relaxed and focus on your breathing. All the memories and feelings of where you have been with the collective are part of the Transpersonal domain. Let them percolate in your mind for a while. All the experiences you encountered of chaos, unity and revelation within are part of that inner world beyond your individuality. This forms a single glowing point of presence on the tetrahedron. 
Now, with your breath, bring your awareness back to your senses and the vibrant life within your body and your own mind. Return your awareness to your own biography and the meaningful and felt connections you have with your loved ones, friends, coworkers and families. That is another node on the tetrahedron, the one we call the domain of the Personal. Stay with your breath and when you are ready bring your awareness outward to all the people around you in this hall. And once your mind is settled there, extend your mind to imagine the city around us and all it's inhabitants going about their lives. Imagine the history of our civilization from the Paleolithic, through the Neolithic and on to the present. Imagine the history of art, music, tool making and crafts that have evolved into what we call technology.  That is another point of presence on the tetrahedron that we call the Cultural.
Lastly, bring your awareness back to your breath and the substance of your body and the air you are breathing. Everything and everyone around you is composed of materials drawn from the natural world. We are submersed within the many biomes of the Bay Area Delta Bioregion from beaches, to grasslands and coastal scrub to chaparral and redwood forests and more. The ecology of the planet surrounds and encompasses us in complex systems of heat exchange, hydrological and carbon cycles. That is that last point on the tetrahedron that we call the Ecological. Hold this tetrahedron of nodes, this fourfold vision in your  mind. It is a helpful tool for you to use after returning from the Communion of the Mind and within the practice of Communion itself. It will help as work together systemically and achieve something greater."
A bell rang somewhere, spreading across the congregation and drawing silence in its wake.
"To quote the poet E. E. Cummings:

in time of all sweet things beyond
whatever mind may comprehend,
remember seek(forgetting find)
and in a mystery to be
(when time from time shall set us free)
forgetting me,remember me”

"Let us now take some time to remember those who have died. Members of the congregation who are in mourning and anyone who is remembering those who have passed before may stand and share this time in silence. Companions to those in mourning and in memory, feel free to stand and support those in need. Those who wish to synch their memories of family and friends with our congregation archive may do so now. It will be synced with other archives secured around the planet, the Moon, Mars and geologically stable moons in the outer parts of the solar system."
Erin stood and closed her eyes, remembering her mother who died a year ago. Her memories tagged with her mother spun out from the storage cluster of her implants and into the core of the congregation's central system. Her earliest memories of her mother were clearly her own organic ones from before she received her implants. They were softer than her later ones, impressionistic and woven more deeply to her feelings, vague as they were. She remembered the comfort of her mother's presence as she read fairytales to her when she was tucked snugly in bed. She remembered the soft smile on her mother's face and the sun setting her hair aglow with red on a summer day at the old house near Dublin. 
Her later memories were crisp and clear digital recordings, such as when Erin had returned from university for a visit to find her mother and father in the kitchen planning the next pub crawl. Her mother was the captain and her father the navigator, charting their voyage as she determined the islands to visit on their next voyage. The command center was as always in the kitchen and the charts were screens, augmented and real, fixed in the air and set on the walls with the main chart secured to the central counter top. A virtual crew of her friends acting as lieutenants stood over the maps discussing the direction of the tide and the merits and failings of the chosen shores on the ever changing charts above.
Erin scanned thumbnails of the memories as they flowed by in a steady stream. Maybe one day, with advanced quantum engineering they would be able to resurrect the dead and she would be able to walk and talk with her mother again. Shaping sims to walk though memories of loved ones in virtual worlds was pleasant but clothing an A.I. in her mother's persona was crude and creepy. She wanted to meet her real mother again in some distant future.
"Memories to memories, data to data. In the effort of thy mind shalt thou shape information till thou return unto the Earth and cosmos; for out of memory wast thou taken: for memory thou art, and unto data shalt thou return."
After a time another bell was sounded, high and clear.
"Now it is time for us to close by performing the ancient ritual of breaking bread and sharing wine. Let us all rise and proceed to the tables on the side." Rowan gestured, inviting everyone to make their way over to where small cups of wine sat dutifully on trays and loaves of fresh baked challah and whole grain, wood fired breads lay waiting. Tara led the prayer. She held a cup of wine in one hand and a torn off corner of bread in the other.

"It is amazing,
The food that we eat;
Spawn of the Earth,
Clusters of energy
Woven with sunlight.

All of this was once seed,
Drawing its substance
From the womb of this Earth
It's taste, tempered by the seasons
And the rhythmic flow of the Sun and Moon
Through each day and night.

Here, through commerce, 
Through service and exchange
We bring forth this food
And take it into ourselves
As an affirmation 
Of Life."


Erin raised her cup in toast, imagining her memories of her mother and those of others from the congregation streaming out across the solar system. An interwoven flow of packets shimmering silently through the cold, simmering vastness of space. The seeds of her memories were being planted in new soil, to sprout and grow in some distant spring. A few small tears flowed from the corners of her eyes as she felt Eli's closeness and his arm gently rubbed her back then held her close.