Three major technological
and humanistic developments are converging. They are:
1. Collective mind-matter interactions
2. Peace-creating field effects of human group coherence
3. Proliferation of global collaboration technologies and social
Through this convergence, a holistic blending
of the East and the West is making the scientific exploration of
certain spiritual practices, which are aimed at creating peace,
a viable pursuit. With a rigorous Western approach to practical
application of Eastern wisdom, world peace may well be within our
This article first discusses the current state
of societal disharmony from an unusual perspective, one that considers
the underlying subjective issues of conflict. Next it addresses
how the science of consciousness is transforming our worldview.
Then it presents how an East-West convergence of science, technology
and spiritually gives humanity an unprecedented opportunity to bring
sustainable peace to our communities and to the world. Capitalizing
on this opportunity is the mission of CommonPassion.org.
A Different Model of Societal Disharmony
The peace-through-strength approach, both in our
communities and on the world scene, continually demonstrates its
limitations. Every "victory" contains the seeds of fear,
mistrust and hostility. Societal tension underlies attempts at reconciliation,
rendering them temporary at best. A more fundamental and sustainable
approach to societal harmony is apparently needed. This approach
might be viewed as the strength-through-peace approach, advocated
by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, discussed below.
This approach examines and addresses the underlying
subjective issues of conflict, a common one being tension or stress.
As R.K White argues in Fearful Warriors:
"Traditional approaches to peace
be effective in the absence of concurrent measures to drastically
reduce tension. High levels of tension or stress directly motivate
violence aimed at removing perceived injustices, threats or blocks
.they may also indirectly breed misperceptions,
fear, and dysfunctional cognitive and decision-making processes."
Consider this on a personal level. Recall a circumstance
between you and a spouse, coworker or business partner. Your stress
may have distorted your perception of the situation and ability
to make thoughtful, creative, harmonious decisions. Now multiply
this stressful influence times a hundred or thousands, as is the
case in many communities around the world.
If a sustainable approach to peace is possible,
it must alleviate this tension in a way that feels personal to each
individual, yet is not externally imposed. When this is accomplished,
cognitive and decision-making processes naturally tend toward more
Examining human consciousness as it relates to
peaceful relations seems as relevant as any externally motivated
means of resolving conflicts. However, implementing a community
or global strength-through-peace approach, without scientific evidence
will seem like a Pollyanna notion, extremely naive, or a gross underestimation
of a complex socio-economic-geopolitical dynamic.
Fortunately, decades of well-controlled scientific
studies suggest that this is the very approach that can and should
be taken to undermine the very roots of conflict and violence.
From an Objective to a Subjective Worldview
To understand this revolutionary approach it is
important to legitimize subjective experience. Think of the things
that matter most to you: happiness, love, inner peace, faith, belonging,
contentment, joy and creativity, all subjective experiences. The
chair on which you sit and the computer screen you view are mostly
empty space, made "solid" by the subjective experience
of your mind.
Our modern life of faster, smaller, virtual, more
ephemeral, more abundant
everything, can be stymieing and unsettling.
It can feel like we're losing our once-solid footing for life as
we race headlong into an era where less has become more and the
materialistic underpinnings of our worldview are dissolving from
the inside out. Many people are losing their reference point for
identity and security. This can be especially difficult and stressful
for the critical mind. As consciousness researcher David Orme-Johnson
"We live in an era in which science is evolving from a materialist
worldview to integrate into its theoretical structure the last great
frontier of science, consciousness. It is natural during this phase
transition for those steeped in a mechanistic paradigm to be critical
of the emerging scientific understanding that consciousness plays
a fundamental role in natural law. The scientific investigation
of consciousness is critical to our understanding of the natural
world and for solving the recalcitrant problems of humankind, which
are all ultimately problems of mind."
Once we give consciousness and its practical application equal footing
with machines, progress and commerce, we have a chance at uniting
three major developments that have resulted from advancing technology
and globalization. They are: 1) collective mind over matter, 2)
a human-based peace technology, and 3) massive global collaboration.
As Mass Mind Moves, So Does Matter
Imagine going to Las Vegas and playing craps.
Instead of everyone at the table hoping for a different roll of
the dice, you all agree what number you want to see. Believe it
or not, this might have a subtle influence on the probability of
those intended numbers occurring. This ability to influence random
events has been studied for over 75 years, according to Dean Radin,
PhD, author of Entangled Minds and The Conscious Universe.
Now imagine having dozens of computers spread
around the world whose job it is to roll electronic dice continuously,
creating a steady stream of random events. Do you think that a group
of people around the world could meditate on becoming more coherent
as a group, calming themselves very deeply without falling asleep,
and that human coherence could make those random dice-rolls not
What would you say if it doesn't even require
that much intention; that all it takes is an event that captures
the collective attention, like the death of Princess Diana, a tsunami
disaster broadcast on every TV station, or the tragedy of September
11, 2001? Dr. Roger Nelson, retired Princeton University professor,
heads the Global Consciousness Project. (http://noosphere.princeton.edu).
Since 1998 this project has been running a network of random event
generators distributed around the world. When actual events of world
interest happen, a change of the random numbers to non-random occurs,
which cannot be explained through traditional physics. Over 200
events have been evaluated, from natural disasters to the death
of celebrities to global meditations, and have shown that as humans
become more coherent, it appears that matter does too, with odds
against this phenomenon occurring by chance at over 1,000,000 to
Graph of Accumulating Deviations
The above figure presents the cumulative deviation of the formal
results from chance expectation, which is shown as the horizontal
black line at 0 deviation. Truly random data would produce a jagged
curve with no slope, wandering up and down around the horizontal.
The dotted smooth curves show the 0.05 and 0.001 probability envelopes
that help to define significant versus chance excursions.
The jagged red line shows the accumulating excess
of the actual Z-scores relative to expectation for the complete
dataset. 13 of the originally specified events are excluded from
the formal set for rigorous calculations. These have problems such
as weak or incomplete specification, overlap or dependence with
other events. The rigorous subset is based on a careful, skeptical
assessment made in 2003 and 2004, and uses empirical normalization.
This assessment resulted in more careful application of rules to
avoid problems in event definitions.
As extraordinary as these consciousness field
effects are, something even more interesting happens when we study
what occurs to other humans under special cases of intentional group
A Human-Based Peace Technology
One of the most remarkable imports from the East
isn't curry spice; it's a phenomenon referred to as "a fourth
state of consciousness." When this state of consciousness is
shared within a group, it appears to have a peace-creating influence
on others in a community.
The first three states of consciousness you are
already familiar with: 1) wakefulness, 2) dreaming while you sleep;
and 3) deep sleep.
The fourth state, according to Robert M. Oates
in Permanent Peace, seems to be a combination of two seemingly opposed
human states: minimum physical-mental arousal and maximum awareness.
The former is akin to deep sleep, where the body and nervous system
are minimally aroused, with no sensory or mental activity. The latter
is a rarified, gentle type of awareness that transcends normal wakefulness
- a pure, self-referral type of awareness - awareness circling back
to become aware of itself
awareness of awareness, so to speak.
While this fourth state of consciousness is uncommon,
it is a natural human state. It has been studied extensively for
its remarkably positive effects on human health and well-being.
In this state, breath slows down, heart rate decelerates, skin conductance
increases (the opposite of the Fight or Flight response), brain
functioning become more coherent from left to right and front to
back, as indicated by the EEG.
The method used to experience this fourth state
of consciousness is an inner practice called transcendental meditation
(TM). The full complex of effects as described above does not seem
to be achieved with most other forms of skilled relaxation or meditation.
TM comes from the eastern Vedic tradition. It is the oldest continuous
system of human knowledge, called the Perennial Philosophy. TM is
not a religion, does not involve contemplation about religious or
secular ideas, nor does it involve concentration, which is characteristic
of some meditation and religious practices. It is a simple, inner
practice that allows the active mind to settle to its silent self-referral
The reason TM is being highlighted here is because
it is has been the subject of most social studies, and has a well
developed theory of consciousness and its individual and collective
effects. These studies tested the hypothesis that societal stress
underlies violence, aggression and conflict, which can be reduced
by inducing into the community a fundamental calming and harmonizing
Remember the Global Consciousness Project where
groups of people appear to influence a change of random numbers
to non-random? Considering this, it's not too far fetched that humans
can affect other humans to behave in a more coherent, harmonious
way as well
by becoming more coherent and harmonious within
Since the late 1970s, studies of large peace-creating
groups of TM practitioners have consistently shown a reduction of
violent crime and terrorism. They come to a city, gather in large
groups for a period of weeks or months, and a significant drop in
crime is subsequently observed below pre-existing levels. These
groups, numbering in the hundreds to thousands, seem to create a
calming and harmonizing effect in the surrounding communities.
What is particularly encouraging in these studies
is that violent crime isn't the only aspect positively influenced;
it appears that all members of a community, including policy makers,
social architects, police officers, husbands and wives, teachers,
children, virtually every segment of a society, all seems to be
influenced in a way to be more harmonious: within themselves, between
each other, and with their environment. Think of what could be accomplished
if citizens in these communities would form similar peace-creating
groups and thus provide this effect on a continuous basis. The future
of neighborhood crime prevention programs should include similar
peace-creating group activities. These activities may include TM
but studies currently underway sponsored and conducted by CommonPassion.org,
may show other types of activities can be effective.
The table below summarizes three studies that
demonstrated significantly reduced crime in the capital regions
of the Philippines, the United States and India. A time series analysis
showed that this drop was not expected based on prior causative
factors, and could not be accounted for by weather, seasonal cycles
or change in police coverage. Because two of the three groups were
composed of Westerners visiting Asian cities, these studies also
demonstrated that peace-creating groups apparently operate on a
fundamental level that transcends political, cultural or ethnic
differences. (The Journal of Mind and
Behavior, 8, 67-104; The Journal of Mind and Behavior, 9, 457-485)
Decreased Crime in the Capital Regions
of the Philippines, the United States, and India
Another study, performed in 1993, is shown below. It was a National
Demonstration Project of TM conducted in Washington, D.C. from June
7 to July 30, 1993. It tested the efficacy of a peace-creating group
for reducing crime as measured by FBI Uniform Crime Statistics.
Soon after the start of the study, and during a near-record summer
heat wave, violent crime began decreasing and continued to drop
until the end of the experiment (maximum decrease 23.6%), after
which it began to rise again. The likelihood that this result could
be attributed to chance variation in crime levels was less than
two parts per billion (p < .000000002). The drop in crime could
not be attributed to other possible causes, including prior causative
factors, temperature, precipitation, weekends, and police and community
anti-crime activities (Social Indicators Research 47: 153-201, 1999).
Reduced Violent Crime in Washington, D.C.
The remarkable effects demonstrated by the 50+
well-controlled TM social studies is not outside the realm of your
own personal experience, you may have just never considered it this
way. Imagine going to a gathering of friends who respect you, desire
your company, and are calm and enjoying themselves. This gathering
would feel welcoming and you'd be more likely to have a relaxed,
enjoyable time. You'd feel confident, creative and resourceful.
You'd feel a harmony with your friends that would transcend inevitable
differences. Contrast this with attending a court hearing with obvious
interpersonal polarities, skilled adversaries and ill intentions.
In the presence of this field of tension and conflict, you may feel
uneasy, strained, mentally agitated, uncreative, perhaps even cognitively
impaired, and not in the best decision-making mode. Both scenarios
involve a localized consciousnesses field that you influence and
that influences you
a very common human experience.
Mainstream science is just now recognizing this
consciousness field. It's been there all along, though, harboring
our hopes, frustrations, fears, joys, sorrows
While a handful of very powerful people may be able to influence
a nation for its betterment or detriment through political, economic
or violent means, the mass of people connected through technology
can now bring something much more rewarding to life. This brings
up the final development.
Massive Global Collaboration
Massive collaboration in today's highly connected
world is something dramatically different than we're used to. It
is about deep changes in the structure of our society and economy
that are touching virtually every aspect of human affairs.
As Dan Tapscott says in Wikinomics, How Mass Collaboration
Changes Everything, "Billions of
connected people can now actively participate in innovation, wealth
creation and social development in ways we once only dreamed of.
And when these masses of people collaborate they collectively advance
the arts, culture, science education, government and the economy
in surprising ways
discovering the true dividends of collective
capability and genius. These changes are ushering us toward a world
where knowledge, power and productive capability will be more dispersed
than at any time in our history-a world where value creation will
be fast, fluid and persistently disruptive."
The power to add immense value to humanity and
disrupt the cycle of conflict, violence and societal disharmony
has been demonstrated repeatedly by the two previously mentioned
developments. Now, combined with the proliferation of massive collaboration
technologies - made evident by the large scale successes of MySpace,
YouTube, Second Life and Wikipedia - these two social endeavors
can be scientifically explored to discover their ability to impact
Imagine a massive global collaborative of peace-creating
groups whose purpose is social harmony, comprised of members from
every religion, meditation practice and indigenous group. They would
come together locally and globally, learn how to apply the findings
of prior social studies, and develop an open-source technology that
validated the social harmonizing effects of their combined efforts.
One of the products of their collaboration would
be a "social harmony index" reflective of the value in
social capital gained by their efforts. They would regularly monitor
indicators of social harmony and coherence, like the level and severity
of emergency calls, crime statistics, socially responsible investing,
and other real-time data sources. They would then feed that composite
index back to participating groups over mobile phones, podcasts,
television, radio and the Internet.
This index would serve as a social coherence feedback
signal that would help integrate all the diverse tendencies in society
for a mutually enhancing common good. This will educate and empower
ever-larger numbers of people to participate in the most effective
peace-making program ever developed. One that puts the power of
peace in the hands of those who benefit most: the individual. This
would be ideal for the Millennium Project of the United Nations
University and incorporated in their annual State of the Future
When this is done, peace may well be within our
reach, and science can help us get there.
References and Resources:
- List of Scientific Research on the Maharishi Effect,
by David Orme-Johnson, PhD:
- Dean Radin, PhD, author of Entangled Minds and The
- Global Consciousness Project, Roger Nelson, PhD:
- Source for TM Social Studies summaries: http://wwwPermanentPeace.org
- Wikinomics, How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything:
- David Orme-Johnson, PhD: http://www.ThruthAboutTM.com