At a New Spiritual Inflection Point

by on June 8, 2013

Star-thumb_100We stand now at the Fourth Inflection. The First Inflection occurred when our ancestors gained self-reflective consciousness, and the Second was marked by the movement to settle in villages turning their backs on the nomadic hunter-gather way of life to grow crops, which then formed the basis for urban life.  Since that time thousands of years ago, with the exception of some notable world changing inventions (i.e., firearms, movable type), progress was relatively gradual.  The Third Inflection began with the rise of modernity in Europe about 1600 C.E., leading to an extraordinary surge of innovation called the Industrial Revolution continuing to the latter decades of the 20th century. Now in the early years of the Fouth Inflection we have come to recognize the potential of our technological capability to once again reunite humanity into a single global society.

From the vantage of the early years of the 21st century, we are now presented with the question as to its meaning and what might we expect from this point forward. What is clear so far, our new global society is an expression of whom and what we are. Not so clear is what these developments portend for our future.  Inflection points are inherently unstable allowing seemingly insignificant events to explode, having great and far reaching effects. All historical periods without exception have had their challenges as well as their promises. For us it is climate change, social instability, growing inequality, cynicism, alienation, failing political systems, spiritual disconnection, an all too familiar list of concerns perhaps, save for its planetary scope, encompassing over seven billion people where information can be communicated to virtually any point on the globe in a matter of seconds.

Then there too needs to be considered the challenges of the near-future, with the coming of nanotechnology where we might witness the end of material want, the combining of artificial intelligence and automation dramatically limiting the role of human labor, or marrying artificial intelligence with robotics and then again with medical science and radical life extension, all conspiring to re-define what it is to be human. In themselves each development brings increased benefit, yet we cannot avoid questioning whether our current social system  and value structures are capable of providing us with the crucial tools, in the form of understanding and structural capabilities necessary to allow us to adequately meet these immediate and imminent challenges. Then there is the question what about us as thoughtful, concerned individuals as well as all those whom we care about, not just in terms of avoiding the negative, but the desire to accentuate the positive in order to infuse our personal lives with meaningfulness?

The questions for us – together as a society and to each of us as individuals – are of equal importance and intimately interrelated one to the other. The wisdom and practices of the past have served their purpose well getting us to this point. It is now time to move beyond them so that we can continue traveling our path of evolutionary development to the next destination. Once we accept the prerequisite of first needing to understand we bear total responsibility for our lives, both individually and communally, we will then be able to begin forming a stronger, more stable foundation from which we can further expand our potential.

The path towards the realization of these goals is marked by the question of meaning; who are we, why do we exist, and what is our purpose. It is the question which makes us human and unifies us as one. It is this question from which all else about us flows in our search for an answer or compels us to follow the proscriptions of one already found. It is the question that makes us spiritual beings and it is in the question we can find answers.

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