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First readings to enter collective intelligence

First readings to enter collective intelligence

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People ask me what they should read for their first steps in collective intelligence, wisdom and consciousness. As surprising as it may look, this questions opens to many fields that might seem out of scope, for instance the way we feed ourselves. Indeed, shouldn’t we see food, like so many other questions, as a collective intelligence question?

Migration towards holomidal collective intelligence requires a hero’s journey for pioneers. Tomorrow we will witness a massive migration. Today not everyone can do it (check Evolutionary Boot Camps), it takes pioneers to reach places where society has not settled yet. By “going” I mean live there, find and invent practical and pragmatic ways to build tomorrow’s humanity. It doesn’t dictate a way to think or live, all this will naturally emerge. We just have to see holomidal collective intelligence like a new continent, with its landscape and its intrinsic laws. Then we can decide how we want to live there. Our creativity will make the difference.

Some keywords: integral approach (body, mind, spirit), personal development, fine tuning between the being and the doing, subjective and objective realities, holopticism, invisible architectures… It requires lots of work, attention, patience, within ourselves and with others. A 24/7 challenge, tough and exciting.

As for what you may read, I’ll share here a non-exhaustive list:

Ken Wilber, one of the authors I usually recommend first:

  • A Brief History of Everything: a condensed version of Wilber’s work. It offers a good overview of the theory as well as his integral approach.
  • Sex, Ecology, Spirituality: Wilber’s core work. As massive as a stone, a book in which we can finally grasp the scientific depth and the real flesh of his colossal work. A must read if we want to get into serious grounded work.

Collective intelligence requires that we become literate about how consciousness works, and how we can map it (see Wilber as a map maker) by exploring ancient spiritual traditions or recent research work. One of these maps has the name of Spiral Dynamics, an outcome of Clare Graves work. One of his disciples, Don Beck, wrote this seminal book about it: “Spiral Dynamics: mastering values, leadership and change“.

As migration towards global CI is pioneering journey, it has its heroes (famous or anonymous, it doesn’t matter). This heroes journey is mostly initiatory and spiritual. No matter the epochs or the quests, we find the same invisible initiatory structures that all mythologies in all civilizations have told. This synthesis, we find it in the extraordinary work of Joseph Campbell. His richest and most famous work is “The Hero with the thousand faces“.

It naturally leads us to the spiritual journey, the one of life, of individual and collective human experience, and the pursuit of happiness. Lot’s of literature and initiatory work have existed for ever. My attention mostly goes towards contemporary approaches. Indeed spiritual traditions still nourish them and they link Orient and Occident. The Oriental civilizations have pushed to the edge the inner exploration, the subjectif knowing of the Self, of the Being, of the Universe. Brahman, the Ultimate Reality, God, the Universal, exist inside ourselves, in the non-dual experience, by communion, by the direct knowing of the here and now, the Substance, the Essence, beyond words. This approach requires direct experience. One can teach the practices and the maps to get there, but you have to go by yourself. Occident, on the other side of the planet, developed the dual knowing of the universe, through the subject-object relationship. We play on objects: I drop a stone and write down its speed and acceleration, I brake a particle in an accelerator and I count the fragments, I mix substances and I observe the chemical reactions, I cut a corpse in pieces to see the organs, I observe stars with a telescope and sink in the infiniteness of the universe, I combine axioms and deduct new theorems… In the dual approach, reality principle (the “it”) teaches us something universal, it questions our current beliefs. The more knowledge expands, the more the universe seems to reveal a truth that operates independently of the Being. The biologist feels humble in front of the laws of life, the geneticist faces the genius of the natural engineering, the mathematician has an epiphany before π or φ, the physicist vibrates in front of c and h.

The spiritual work that connects Orient and Occident happened quite recently, mostly brought by mystics able to inhabit in both cultures. For instance:

  • Pierre Teilhard de Chardin , an enlightened Jesuit, traveler, scientist paleontologist, one of the first in the Occident who formulated the link between the evolution of life and the evolution of consciousness. His  masterpiece, The Phenomenon of Man, is an absolute piece of poetry, nourished by this scientific rigor that authentic mystics have;
  • Sri Aurobindo, raised in England, spent the rest of his life in India. I see him as the most influent mystic of the 20th century, and maybe the 21st century. Inspired by the Upanishads and a man of modern times, we just begin to understand the magnitude of his phenomenal work. I recommend The Life Divine and The Human Cycle.

Food makes a whole topic and line of development of itself. I will write more posts on this. The way we eat shows where we stand in our journey to an expanded consciousness. No discourse will ever tell you the ultimate way to eat. But you may still want to learn some basics — everyone agrees for instance that too much fat will eventually kill you. You may want to become aware of the cultural biases and invisible architectures that operate through food. I do recommend “The 80/10/10 diet” from Doug Graham. Although this book explains how to evolve to law fat raw diet, it provides an impressive number of factual data about food, physiology, digestion. Then you can decide how you want to deal with it.

I will finish with my modest book that I wrote a few years ago, “Collective intelligence: the invisible revolution” (look at the picture in this post on the upper right). You can download it. I feel quite amazed by the success it had (translations and downloads). Each week I continue to receive mails from different places in the world. This book only focuses on the external aspects of collective intelligence, I left aside the spiritual and subjective phenomenology of collective intelligence. It provides is the foundations of this new discipline, it awakens many fundamental questions that concern us all.

Well, I hope you have something to start with now 🙂


  1. Robert Best says:

    Stigmergic signals in the sand. Merci!

  2. jf says:

    Avec plaisir 🙂

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