Meditation in the Age of Facebook and Twitter – Outline and reviews

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meditation in the Age of Facebook and Twitter  teaches  you the philosophy and the techniques to adapt the ancient principles of meditation to the world of today. In practice, this means you can leverage the power of meditation to engage with the increasing volume of messages in today’s world but still acquire a sense of flow and intuition.

Why should you buy this book? – Key ideas

In essence, the book explores ways to take meditation to the next level of evolution using neural techniques to improve social and visual (image based) meditation methods.  If you are already familiar with meditation, the book is the next stage of your journey. If you are new to meditation, the book is a path to explore in the world of today. While we discuss meditation from ‘shamanism to transhumanism’ we take a secular perspective.

The book is unique since it about the ‘evolution of meditation’ (As an early reader said: A ‘platypus’ of a meditation book   in reference to the Duck billed Platypus – an evolutionary missing link)

It explores meditation beyond the traditional ‘relaxation’ to a world of today where we have to manage a constant and often  conflicting sets of inputs and make split-second decisions based on these inputs. This is similar to the situation faced by an airline pilot,  for example – the landing of an airliner in the Hudson river. [1]

The book draws on lessons from the ancient to the modern:  from Shamanism to Transhumanism

The book talks of the ‘Fourth age of meditation’ – following the Shamanic , religious and ‘guru led’ ages of meditation. The fourth age of meditation is characterised as network led/social/transhumanist

The book also talks of a ‘Living in a post tipping point world’ (transhumanism, Quantum mind, Resonance, impact on society etc)

We also explore the idea of social meditation using neural technologies

As the Zen proverb says: The Journey is the destination – i.e. the book is a ‘platform’ and the ideas will evolve

What it means for you? Why are these ideas relevant now?

About 70,000 years ago, the Toba super-volcano eruption led to an intense interconnection between human beings causing an explosion in innovation and creativity.  Today, 70,000 years on for the first time, we are seeing another global interconnection through the Internet.

The creativity that will be unleashed by these connections will take us to a new age. We may call it ‘transhumanist’ but in any case, it will unify humanity as a whole by challenging us to use our minds in new ways.  Ajit argues that meditation will have an important role to play in this transformation by learning from the ancient past (Shamanism) to navigate the future (transhumanism)

The evolution of meditation

Meditation is the ancient act of directing attention to achieve a state of mindfulness. Meditation is an antidote to the emotional attachment of messages that we live with today and will increasingly do so in future. It is a mind–body exercise from a secular and a spiritual perspective. Meditation leads to a feeling of integration, such as in the experience of the Buddha who saw that joy and grief were two  facets of the same entity.

Meditation also leads to a sense of connection and hence to a feeling of empathy. It leads to greater intuition by reducing the stream of thoughts. When applied to today’s world, faced with an increased rate of stimulus, the challenge of meditation is to be in this world yet to be detached from it. The future of meditation could include not just ancient principles but also a deeper understanding of our brains and technology.

How would you teach Elvis Presley to meditate?

How would you teach Elvis Presley to meditate? On the one hand, for Elvis Presley, no amount of ‘going to a retreat’ or contemplation would help unless his lifestyle itself changed. On the other hand, the act of meditation, however brief, would lead Elvis to look inward. The contemplation would be an uncomfortable process because it would not be compatible with his outward lifestyle. In a meditative state, Elvis would not like what he saw, and at that point either his lifestyle would have to change or he would stop meditating because meditation would become too uncomfortable

Were monks ever meant to be on Facebook and Twitter?

Daisetz Teitaro Suzuki, the Japanese author and teacher of Buddhism, describes the traditional lifestyle of a monk eloquently in his book, The Training of the Zen Buddhist Monk (New York: Cosimo, 2007), when he emphasizes the importance of begging.  The lifestyle of a monk(which includes begging) is an integral part of meditation. That’s why so many attempts to meditate fail because we have to accept a completely different lifestyle and hence explore different techniques

The Buddha said – ‘He who loves fifty people has fifty woes; he who loves no one has no woes.’  In an age of social networks, many of us have more than 50 friends. Despite our friends, we also suffer from a sense of disconnectedness – which the Hopi Indians call ‘Koyaanisqatsi’ or a life in turmoil

Why study shamanism with transhumanism together?

The word shaman originates from the Tungus people of Siberia and means many things, from ‘medicine man’ to ‘healer.’

Shamanic traditions are typically 20,000 to 30,000 years old and Shamanism is practiced from Siberia to Africa. Meditation, Altered States, and chants form the basis of Shamanic spiritual practices.

Thus, Shamanic Meditation is one of the earliest forms of Meditation and Shamanism is the earliest spiritual practice known to man and unifies humanity before divisions arose between people

Living in a post tipping point/transhumanist world

For the first time in the last 70,000 years – all of humanity is increasingly interconnected. Ultimately, we could expect that we would be living in a hyper connected/transhumanist world.

The core belief of transhumanism is that human beings can be biologically and physically improved through radical technologies. So, transhumanism can be seen as a ‘radical’ personal development tool.  We are more interested in a corollary i.e.: “In the world of ‘super intelligence’, if human abilities are so radically enhanced, how would we meditate? And is there a ‘catalyst effect’ between the two?”

Could we meditate better if we used the brain itself in meditation by understanding the physiology of the brain

Brain computer interface (BCI) is a system that translates the electrophysiological activity or metabolic rate of an organic organism’s nervous system into signals that can be interpreted by a mechanical device. BCI products used to cost tens of thousands of dollars and are now down to just $100. When such neural devices are interconnected, what impact would we see?

  • If we take social networking to the neural level (the facebook of the connected mind), we could potentially – Record brain waves and see them, create a visual representation of your mind at a point in time (a thoughtform), Be able to share that thought form with others, Be able to do so cheaply and globally
  • If we treat the brain itself as an oscillator, we could ask: Does the brain resonate?, Can such brains synchronize or harmonize?, Is such synchronization spontaneous?, Can such synchronization be enhanced if we develop the brain?, Can meditation (as we define it here) help in that process?, Can emergent phenomenon arise from resonating minds?, Can synchronization and evolution of the brain be augmented by technology? And how does the brain itself evolve as we meditate?

Time

This journey is just beginning and it is interesting to see a historical timeline of how we have evolved as a species

-          The universe  is about 15 billion years old.

-          The earth is around five billion years old.

-          Dinosaurs existed 65 million years ago.

-          The human race, as we know it, has existed for about 100,000 years.

-          Toba was 70,000 years ago

-          The last ice age ended around 10,000 years ago, leading to greater travel and interaction between people.

-          The oldest traces of civilization in India , Middle East and China date back 9,000 years.

-          The Bible talks of a period about  4,000 years ago.

-          The Renaissance is only about 600  years old.

-          Steam locomotives were first launched in 1804.

-          The 747 (jumbo jet) was conceived in the 1960s and launched in 1970 as ‘a great weapon for peace, competing with intercontinental missiles for mankind’s destiny.’

-          The ARPANET,  and its commercial manifestation (the Internet), has only been around since 1988.

-          The World Wide Web has only been around since the mid-1990s.

 And .. in the near future

-          Craig Venter and his team discovered artificial life

-          Gliese 581 could be a ‘Goldilocks’ planet – not too hot and not too cold – hence capable of supporting life

-          The woolly mammoth could be resurrected from its DNA – la Jurassic park

So, perhaps these ideas of using the mind and the brain along with other transhumanist ideas may not be far away

To buy this book

Contact ajit.jaokar @ futuretext.com – Official release date Jan 30 2012

Meditation in the Age of Facebook and Twitter combines technology and meditation. Ajit’s thinking has often explored new areas where concepts of networks could be applied, including the technical and the social domains.  Early reviewers sent the comments below .

Reviews and comments

“In Meditation in the Age of Facebook Ajit takes on the difficult but important challenge of describing how we might learn to manage the ever increasing flow of information using meditation and more importantly how by using technology we could evolve meditation to a connected, communal and fundamentally richer experience.  The brain is the next frontier and Ajit’s exciting vision of the future is a template which can help drive our thinking and development forward.”

“Nic Brisbourne, Partner DFJ Esprit and author of influential VC blog www.theequitykicker”

“Ajit Jaokar brings a refreshing optimism to the discussion of our technologically-developing world. Eloquently, he addresses the paradox of our existence in relation to social media and networking – a balance between mindful detachment (meditation) and the demand for increased connectivity. Jaokar’s exploration of the growing strength of networks over hierarchies reminds us of the vitality of our relational world which he argues can be fortified through technology and lead to a transhumanist meditative spirituality and an “exponential growth in human intelligence”. An uplifting view of the potential of our future!”

Dr. Meghan Craig, Counselling Psychologist www.meghancraig.co.uk 

“Ajit Jaokar shows us in his latest book the dynamic interplay between technology and consciousness, both on the individual, group and planetary level. We make technology and technology makes us is a well known fact. Question remains however how we all can effectively use new technologies to increase our humanity instead of diminishing it. Meditation, focus and presence seem to be core enablers in this respect. An important book for those who are fascinated by the convergence of neuroscience, psychology, philosophy, physics, sociology and Singularity. If you loved reading bestsellers like Flow, Connect, Power of Now and Theory U, you will find this book a fascinating next step.”

Yuri van Geest (TEDx Amsterdam, Mobile Monday Amsterdam, Singularity University, Quantified Self Europe)

“Meditation is an important neural tool that enriches millions of lives today and has done from ancient times. However, Ajit Jaokar’s book examines how technology and connectedness may play an increasing role in meditation and that we may be poised on the edge of a golden age for the practice.”

Russell Buckley – mobhappy

“This is a timeless book. As he sets out to understand how we might augment the ancient technology of meditation with modern social and neural networks, Ajit Jaokar takes us on a challenging ride to the edges of the future. A fascinating read from 60es counter-culture to the networked world of today!”

Ossi Urchs – Munich Germany – German Internet-Guru. www.urchs.de

“I have known Ajit since about 2003, long before his work was well known. At that time, I said in one social networking site that Ajit was the Leonardo of our age , for his ability to see connections between different elements and create new ideas, many of which have come to be true.  In his 2011 book, Ajit proposes the idea of

“Meditation in the age of Facebook and Twitter” He talks about a “new form of spirituality”, 21st Century Transhumanist Meditation. “In an  age of reason we are relinquishing the dogma of structured religion and gurus, but at the same time embracing a timeless spirituality that unites us rather than divides humanity.” A MUST read for those of us trying to find spiritual connection in a technological word.”

Maggie Baldry Newton Aycliffe UK

“This book takes the implications of the hyper-connectedness of social networking to a whole new level.  Prepare to be amazed as Ajit Jaokar takes a scientific look at how technology will change the way we think.”

Tonia Ries – New York

“Mr Jaokar provides a provocative thesis on how exponential changes in technology melded with mediation may afford humans the possibility to achieve a new level of connected consciousness. The ideas in this book should be discussed and debated for years to come as we all look to leverage technology to change the very essence of our humanity.”

Sunil Gunderia – www.gunderia.com

“Remember the Past, Live the Present, Trust the Future”

Can you live the Present forgetting the Past? Can you project yourself in the Future not knowing your Past? Ajit Jaokar is taking us for a ride into the Future, demonstrating the value of our Past and the glory of our Present. Never forget your roots to understand and go forward. A must read

Muriel Devillers – Founder – Managing Director – LUMU Invest Sàrl Luxembourg

“This is a brilliant and timely book for the modern age. In a time when there is so much noise and clutter, this is the kind of insight people really need. Ajit has captured the social zeitgeist into this compelling document that I would say is vital reading for people in all walks of life.”

Jonathan MacDonald Entrepreneur

 “It is already possible to control characters in computer games from signals in your brain via a $100 headset. In his fascinating new book Ajit Jaokar foresees a new era in which we have even more control over our brains and in which meditation could expand to hook up with social networks such as Twitter or Facebook. It is quite literally mind-boggling.”

Victor Keegan  author and creative developer” “former assistant editor of the Guardian

“Ajit Jaokar is a great thinker of our time. ‘Meditation in the Age of Facebook and Twitter’ makes sense of our modern conundrum to detach and connect. Many will relate to the conflict of meditation with lifestyle that Ajit explains can act as a catalyst for a deeper change within you. In this book, you will learn about the ‘Fourth Stage of Meditation’, the way to balance spirituality, technology and humanity. It will appeal to creative thinkers interested in what is possible with our own mind.”

Angela Dunn, Blogbrevity, Social Business and Innovation Consultant 

“In his new book, Ajit brings together a lot of different elements on mediation and technology in an interesting way. He also provokes thoughts and questions about a possible future and about how one can influence the future and be influenced by it.  This book is a great starting point to better understand the elements and innovations that will influence us and how we can become better humans in a hyper-connected world.”

Rudy De Waele, Speaker, Entrepreneur, dotopen, AppCircus, Singularity University. Barcelona

“In his journey, Ajit encounters two eternal beasts – the human mind, that infinite source of energy and the powerful beast known as the Internet, the one that made the human evolve into the social creature of today. He masterfully reconciles these primal and emerging forces to offer the reader a glimpse of things to come. A journey worth taking, on a path clearly delineated, in a book that is skilfully written to be pleasant and overwhelming.”

Tariq El-Haj Omar, Strategy Consultant Dubai

 “With this new book, Ajit once again pushes the limits of our understanding and provokes our thinking by proposing a new relationship between technology and spirituality. Exploring the importance of the ‘meditative state of mind’ and, daringly, a new ‘connectivity aspect’ of meditation, Ajit succinctly addresses the possibilities of trans-humanism, brainwave technologies and the possible fusion of social networks, technology and traditional meditation. If you are ready to dive into a mind-boggling new ‘Gedankenexperiment’(thought-experiment) that will supply serious

food for thought, get this book and dive in!”

Gerd Leonhard, Futurist, Author and CEO of The Futures Agency Zurich

To buy this book

Contact ajit.jaokar @ futuretext.com – Official release date Jan 30 2012

A row of electric buttons – Google is not making us stupid it is making us like Henry Ford ..





My latest book is about the mind, meditation and its implications for human evolution..  Hence the findings that Google Is Ruining Your Memory to be interesting ..

A recent study suggests that even if you may have a little deficit in your memory with age, the internet is speeding up the process. Not because it’s damaging your memory, but because you’re simply using the internet as a crutch. The information is at your fingertips, so you don’t have to remember.

In my view, this ‘study’ follows a long line of similar work that states the obvious.

Others who have engaged in this scaremongering include the likes of  Nicolas Carr ( who seems to have made a career out of Internet bashing and Google bashing ..)  and the  neuroscientist Susan Greenfield who claims that social sites such as Facebook are causing alarming changes in the brains of little children.

But I believe that instead of making us less intelligent, the Internet is making us more intelligent by being selective .. and the model for that type of intelligence is Henry Ford

The findings of this study made me remember a section in Napolean Hill’s classic – Think and Grow Rich in which he describes how lawyers for a Chicago newspaper attempted to prove that Henry Ford was ‘ignorant’.

The attorneys asked Mr. Ford a great variety of questions, all of them intended to prove, by his own evidence, that, while, he might possess considerable specialized knowledge pertaining to the manufacture of automobiles, he was, in the main, ignorant.

Mr. Ford was plied with such questions as the following: “Who was Benedict Arnold?” and “How many soldiers did the British send over to America to put down the Rebellion of 1776?” In answer to the last question, Mr. Ford replied, “I do not know the exact number of the soldiers the British sent over, but I have heard that it was a considerably larger number than ever went back.”

Finally, Mr. Ford became tired of this line of questioning, and in reply to a particularly offensive question, he leaned over, pointed his finger at the lawyer who had asked the question, and said, “If I should really want to answer the foolish question you have just asked, or any of the other questions you have been asking me, let me remind you that I have a row of electric push-buttons on my desk, and by pushing the right button, I can summon to my aid men who can answer any question I desire to ask concerning the business to which I am devoting most of my efforts.

… Any man is educated who knows where to get knowledge when he needs it, and how to organize that knowledge into definite plans of action.

There is a lot to be said for this response from Henry Ford and it indicates an optimistic evolution path for humanity!

That row of buttons is now Google and you don’t to be as rich as Henry Ford to have access to them at your fingertips. Thanks to the Web and the Internet, Information is now democratised ..

The launch event of my next book – Meditation in the Age of Facebook and Twitter : Personal development through social meditation – from shamanism to transhumanism

Meditation in the Age of Facebook and Twitter: Personal development through social meditation – from shamanism to transhumanism is a book about the evolution of meditation. The title, Meditation in the Age of Facebook and Twitter, is limiting and perhaps even a little misleading, because I hope the ideas I discuss in this book will outlive websites like Facebook and Twitter.

The book was announced on June 6, 2011 at the B B King Blues Club & Grill in Times Square, New York as part of The Realtime Report’s Realtime NY 11 conference and the official launch date is Jan 20 2011

The Realtime Report conference is an appropriate place to launch the book! We live in a ‘realtime’, ‘always-on’ world and these networks and connections impact our minds and, as I propose, the very nature of human evolution.

Most people accept that Meditation can bring about a lasting change in your life. At the simplest level, it can help you relax. But meditation, as we describe in this book, could be a lot more i.e. a technology that could lead to an exponential uptake in human intelligence and evolution.

The book draws on both the ancient and the modern taking a secular perspective

A friend who read an early draft of this book called it a ‘platypus of a meditation book’ in reference to the Duck Billed Platypus . The Duck Billed Platypus is an evolutionary ‘missing link’, an interim stage. Like the Platypus, this book is evolutionary bridge between meditation as it is understood today and the evolution of meditation as spirituality, technology and an understanding of our minds converge.

Meditation conjures up images of a monk-like existence divorced from everyday life. In contrast, I propose a different image, that of an air traffic controller, where your mind receives many inputs, the stakes are high and split second decisions and intuition are a part of the job.

While the stakes are less serious for us, we all relate to this situation and if meditation can help us solve the problem, it can have practical use in our increasingly complex lives

In this book, I propose that we are now entering the fourth age of meditation (following the previous ages of Shamanic meditation, Religious meditation and ‘Leaderful/Guru Led’ meditation). In the fourth age of meditation, meditation becomes a technology that will cause an exponential uptake in human intelligence and evolution. The starting point for this exponential uptake of human intelligence is our brain and our mind. More specifically, the exponential uptake of intelligence could be brought about by a connectivity and enhancement of minds through networks and technology. In that sense, meditation is a ‘transhumanist’ technology and networks are the underlying paradigm of the fourth age of meditation.

All networks, including neural networks and social networks, have a common theme. In the fourth age of meditation, we take a network based ‘two-sided view’ of meditation. On one hand, meditation is a disconnection from the emotional attachment to the flow of messages. This is the historical/ conventional understanding of meditation. But we also explore the other side of meditation i.e. the ‘connectivity’ aspect of meditation, with it’s fascinating possibilities.

The book shows you meditative techniques using brainwave technology.

It addresses questions like:

• How will our brain evolve through transhumanist meditation?

• How can we use technology to enhance our meditative state?

• What are the future implications for society, culture and spirituality?

• If we take the approach of ‘gedankenexperiment’(thought experiment), how would the world look like as we evolve?

• How would our Identity and relationship with the world change as we continue to change, evolve and enhance our minds through a fusion of meditation, networks and technology?

The book also studies social meditation augmented by technology as an on going exploration. Working with Neurosky headsets (see the cool technology behind this at Neurosky brainwave technology) we are creating a collaborative, technology based meditation concept using the Neurosky APIs. Think of it as a ‘game’ where you can synchronize with each other in a group

If you want to stay in touch and also receive the first chapter after the launch event, please email me at ajit.jaokar at futuretext.com . The book will be launched in August in Europe and October in North America

The Lost Tribe Of Palau – Is the Singularity nearer than we think?

I am a big fan of documentaries and the Lost Tribe of Palau is indeed one of the most interesting documentaries in recent times.

In a nutshell, Palau is very isolated group of islands in the Pacific ocean some 500 miles (800 km) east of the Philippines and 2,000 miles (3,200 km) south of Tokyo.

The Lost Tribes of Palau are the fossilised remains of a miniature, island dwelling people found on Palau. Initially, it was thought that because the people will miniature, the remains were those of ancient man. However, carbon dating revealed that the fossils were relatively young i.e. between 3000 years old and 1400 years old.

Since the last fossils were 1400 years old, the theory is: people of normal stature arrived on the island 3000 years ago and within around 1600 years, they became miniaturised due to limited resources on the island

Why is this significant?

The rate of evolution is the unique factor here i.e. nowhere do we see such a rapid rate of evolution in human beings from people of normal height to dwarfism within 1600 years (and not over millions of years as we normally see)

Now, let’s co-relate this to the idea of singularity.

The simplest description of Singularity I can find is: The singularity is the point in mankind’s future when we will transcend current intellectual and biological limitations and initiate an intelligence and information explosion beyond imagining.

This is interesting enough, but the concept of the Singularity has gained momentum due to Ray Kurzweil indicating a specific timeline for singularity, much of which within our own lifetime.

When I first read this, I was a bit sceptical since it’s one thing to say that the singularity is near but another to say that its happening in a matter of decades ..

But Palau may change that view ..

If human evolution can be so rapid, unaided, then .. maybe we could achieve super human intelligence augmented by technology and networks ..

That’s an interesting thought .. Is the Singularity nearer than we think?

Speaking at the Humanity+ UK conference in London on Sat Jan 29

The Humanity+ UK 2011 conference, being held at London’s Conway Hall on Saturday 29th January, is an opportunity to meet some of the most interesting futurist thinkers in the UK -  to listen to their ideas, hear about the progress of their projects, ask them questions, and debate with them.

The principal theme of the conference is “Making a human difference”.

The speakers have been announced as follows (in alphabetical order by first name):

  • Ajit Jaokar – Meditation as a transhumanist technology;
  • Dr Amnon Eden – Scientific notions of Technological Singularity;
  • Dr Anders Sandberg – The future of ideas on machine intelligence;
  • Anna Salamon – Survival in the margins of the singularity?
  • Dr Aubrey de Grey – Approaching the human longevity escape velocity;
  • David Pearce – What is empathetic superintelligence?
  • David Wood – Five key questions for futurists;
  • Dean Bubley – Session chairman;
  • Professor Kevin Warwick – Human Enhancement: A Practical Guide;
  • Luke Robert Mason – Traversing the Transhuman: Bridging the Gap Between Biology and Technology Through Art;
  • Dr Marios Kyriazis – Achieving human biological immortality;
  • Michael A. Woodley – How clever-sillies might thwart the singularity;
  • Pieter Bonte – Estranging ourselves from nature: from existential principle to transhuman practice;
  • Rachel Armstrong – Living megacities: the forthcoming habitat of synthetic biologies;
  • Richard Osborne – The next steps to the solar system;
  • Tom Michael – Evidence based cognitive enhancement: a neuropsychological perspective.

See http://humanityplus.org.uk/speakers/ for more details.  The agenda for the day is at http://humanityplus.org.uk/agenda/.

To cover the costs of hiring the main rooms in Conway Hall for an entire day, there will be a small entry fee for attendees.  This is described at the pagehttp://humanityplus.org.uk/registration/ – which links in turn to an EventBrite page.

Examples of the kinds of questions that will be explored during the day:

  1. Setting aside hype, what are the realistic scenarios for progress with emerging technologies that have the potential to make us all smarter, stronger, healthier, longer-lived, kinder, more fulfilled, and more sociable?
  2. What are the most serious risks (“existential risks”) facing humanity over the next few decades, and what is the role of technology in both worsening and solving these risks?
  3. What are the implications of rapidly changing technology for what it means to be human?
  4. What are the pros and cons of aspiring to a “Humanity+” phase of evolution, with powers and experiences as far above those of present humans as human experience exceeds that of pre-human apes?
  5. If people want to become involved in activism supporting Humanity+, what are the best steps they can take?