P2P Foundation

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Will the Next Buddha be a collective: dialogue about p2p spirituality

I received a letter from Janos Mate, a Hungarian economics professor I met at a recent buddhist economics conference in Thailand. Janos also studied the different spiritual value orders that inform the political and economic choices that societies make.

My own essay is at http://p2pfoundation.net/Next_Buddha_Will_Be_a_Collective with more material at http://p2pfoundation.net/Category:Spirituality

In the next entry. Janos Mate discusses our approach from the point of view of the primordial tradition. I will respond in the next few days.

Michel Bauwens

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Janos Mate on p2p vs. the primordial tradition:

Dear Michel,

I have just read your paper THE NEXT BUDDHA WILL BE A COLLECTIVE. I should not like to pretend as if P2P was known to me. This is the first time I hear of it, so I can read it through pristine eyes. (At least that is what I think.) Also, I know nothing of any previous debate of the subject. I feel happy about the approach being without percentages and statistics. It thus makes it possible for us to fathom not the surface details but the structures behind. I also find most of your thoughts important. To indicate those I turned some of your letters into red ― see the text of your paper below.
Now let us talk about the merit. In this respect I may be a captive of my own concept, which is built mainly on the European renaissance of ancient tradition. Let me outline a number of its successive arguments. (Please notice that the quotations from the books and articles printed in English are verbatim, while the quotations from the books and articles printed in Hungarian will be given in my own translation).

1) Astronomers say that perhaps some 5% of the Universe is visible material; the so called “black holes” may hold an additional 17% of it. Scientists only refer to the rest (78%) as “invisible energy”. That is probably what Einstein named as ‘cosmologic coefficient’. (So at least that is what my compatriot quantum-physicists say in Hungarian.) The Hindu term “Brahman”, the Buddhist term “Emptiness”, the Christian and Muslim term “God” and the Jewish term “Ayin Sof” also refer to something like that. (Not exactly, but only something like that.) Over the ages, this “field of cosmic energy” (present everywhere) has received a couple of more names. Some say it “mind”. Others name it “the birthplace of conscience” or “home of virtues”. Most people know even less. They talk in dualities: “God & Nature”.

2) To my mind, it is only the Jewish esoteric tradition (generally named as the Kabbalah) that gives a detailed account of how the world came about. Before making a try to explain the Kabbalistic view, let us suppose that somebody is the first one in history to invent, say, the turn-bench. After using it for some time, he shall, in all probability, find some ways of its use that he has not even dreamed of before. Another example: Let us suppose that somebody is the first one in history to plan a settlement. After some decades he shall have to face some problems of urbanization that he himself let happen ― even though neither him, nor anybody else was able to foretell those later problems. Interestingly enough, such a comparison of intensions and results help us to discover the inner workings of our minds. In other words: such a comparison helps us to self-discovery, to understand ourselves.

3) I give the following explanation in a most inappropriate language. What is more, my interpretation of the Kabbalah may also be mistaken. Yet,, here and now I can only say that – according to some Kabbalists (whose writings I know) – the world came to be because the Cosmic Intelligence intended to discover more about Himself-Herself-Itself. The Face wanted to gaze upon Face. That is: the Face decided to discover the nature of His-Her-Its otherwise hidden intentions (ideas, dharmas). In order to do that, He-She-It withdrew His-Her-Its invisible energy from places, thus allowing billions of voids (or “spasms and wrinkles” in the invisible energy known today as quarks”) to appear. As soon as quarks were provided, the Intelligent Cosmic Energy started to combine His-Her-Its hidden intentions (ideas, dharmas). That process may be described as four sets (or “four worlds”) of Sefiratic combinations; the final one arranges the quarks into forms. It thus manifests the mirror of existence.

4) So were born the phenomena of the physical world (including the flora and fauna and man’s mental activities). According to some metaphysical thinkers, the prophets of ancient times must have been fully aware of points 1) and 2) and 3) above; that enabled them to give descriptions and explanations of what the world and the essence of human existence was all about. They were capable of that as they had had an intimate “knowledge” or “insight” of the unity of material-and-energy-and-mind (named “Primordial Unity”).

5) The prophets have given different interpretations of the “Primordial Unity” to their disciples (so did disciples to their fellow citizens). So were built different civilizations. This is how Australian career diplomats Reg Little & Warren Reed introduce their book: “Civilizations are built around the myths and sagas which inspire the souls of men and women. More often than not the myths are built around the figures of sages, or spiritual leaders; Buddha, Laozi, Confucius, Socrates, Jesus Christ, Mohammed, to name a few.” (THE CONFUCIAN RENAISSANCE XV.) Americans (Joel Magnuson & John Hall) also conclude this, by and large (cf.: THE CONFUCIAN TRADITION AND THE ASCENT OF EAST ASIA; 2004)

6) As they are built around the figures of different sages, cultures are different. Each distillated a religion from its very prophet’s interpretation of metaphysical reality. Each shall remain different from the others, should it go on constructing a profane reality according to its traditional customs and values (hidden in its dominant) religion). German-British economist E. Schumacher says: „Humans relate themselves to their environment through… religious thinking… [Few people know that.] Most [western] economists and technicians suffer from metaphysical blindness...” (SMALL IS BEAUTIFUL, in Hngn, pp. 12.; 54) Fred Hoyle writes this in OF MEN AND GALAXIES: „Our environment is chiefly conditioned by the things we believe. Morocco and California are bits of the Earth in very similar latitudes, both on the west coasts of continents with similar climates, and… natural resources. Yet their present development is wholly different, …because of the different thoughts that exist in the minds of their inhabitants … The most important factor in our environment is the state of our minds.” Ruth Benedict is right at saying in her essay: „No man looks at the world with pristine eyes. He sees it edited by a definite set of customs and ways of thinking and institutions. Even in his philosophical probing he cannot go behind these stereotypes; his very concepts of the true and the false will still have reference to his particular traditional customs… The life history of the individual is first and foremost an accommodation to the patterns and standards traditionally handed down in his community. From the moment of his birth the customs – into which he is born – shape his experience and behavior. By the time he can talk, he is the little creature of his culture, and by the time he is grown… its habits are his habits, its beliefs his beliefs, its impossibilities his impossibilities. Every child that is born into his group will share them with him, [unlike anyone who was] born… on the opposite side of the globe.” (PATTERNS OF CULTURE)

7) Why are all these so important to the space age men? Because the results of quantum physics and astronomy offer a parallel with the prophets’ great emphasis on Primordial Unity. That parallel may throw new light on our social life (including our economy, our lifestyle, our ambitions etc.) A new impetus may be gained from the “confluence” of results of modern science (quantum physics) and religious teachings (derived from metaphysical values).

Therefore, unless it starts from the idea of “Primordial Unity”, no sociological attempt may be really meaningful and telling. Choosing any other standpoint is perhaps the undoing of most modern scholars. They endeavor to find some objective method to outline the structures. However, any such method is intrinsic of one or another particular culture, consequently may only result in but some particular validity and force. That is why multinationals bump into unexpected difficulties the moment they set foot on the ground of different cultures.

The promising procedure (as far as I can see it) takes the other way round. It starts from the “Primordial Unity” and arrives at methods. Anyone arriving from that direction shall have methods independent from the customs into which other individuals are born. However, such an independence makes most of our contemporaries feel uncomfortable; consequently there is a more or less gentle pressure on the authors to find methods (preferably: methods consistent with those that already exist) first. In that essay of hers, Ruth Benedict also pointed out: “In the less controversial fields like the study of cacti or termites… the necessary method of study is to group the relevant material [independent from any particular culture]… It is only in the study of man himself that the major social sciences substituted the study of one local variation, that of Western civilization. Anthropology was by definition impossible as long as these distinctions between ourselves and the primitive, ourselves and the barbarian, ourselves and the pagan, held sway over people’s minds.” Such sway may only be avoided by grouping the relevant information according to the viewpoint of the Primordial Unity. Interestingly enough, it is not only the “primitive”, the “barbarian” or the “pagan” whose hidden structures remain undiscovered. Our own ones also remain misunderstood.

Therefore, dear Michel, it is for you to decide, whether you accept the world view of your fellow Americans. If you do, you may “sell” your ideas easily (after all, your method is really something new and may result some new discoveries). In that respect, my knowledge is not comparable to yours. However, if you let yourself be conditioned by the patterns and standards traditionally handed down in America, you will have slim chances to say much about the root problems of societies in the North-Atlantic region. If you take such a comfortable point to start from, you will find much of the metaphysical tradition outside your range, as if it were not more than “background music”.

You only have good chances to say much about the root problems of societies in the Euro-Atlantic region if you know ideas born outside of that region. For example (as far as I can see it) John Heron may contradict masters of metaphysics by saying “the spirituality of persons is developed and revealed primarily in their relations with other persons. “If you come to think of it: the way man creates his reality according to the definite set of customs accepted and handed down in his society. So Heron suggests that you should mix reality with what some customs make us think to be reality. Also, as far as I know, spirituality describes persons’ relations with the Primordial Unity and not with other persons. That is where all the mistaken ideas about “love for others” stem from. Buddha never used the word: “syneha”. He would use “metta”. That is not love in the sense westerners use that word.

Let us further listen to Heron: “If you regard spirituality primarily as the fruit of individual practices, such as meditative attainment, then you can have the gross anomaly of a “spiritual" person who is an interpersonal oppressor, and the possibility of “spiritual" traditions that are oppression-prone.” Notice that he explicitly confesses that (before examining any traditional thought) he is already conditioned by the idea of anti-oppression. That is not the way to go up to the heights of “Primordial Unity”. Nota bene some sages (look at Bhagavad-gita 5.18; The Tao Teh King 2.1 + 2.2; or the Gospel of Thomas 22;) warn against any such label as “good” or “bad”. I should not say as if such a thing as oppression exists not. I only say that such a standpoint belongs to a very humble layer on the hierarchy of spirituality. The lion’s triumph is the death of the antelope. If you are pro-antelope, you will condemn God for arranging so cruel laws of nature. If you are pro-lion, you may also curse the Lord for sending pray rarely. If you are pro- “equilibrium of nature” (which is a higher layer on the hierarchy of attitudes), you will agree that such killing is desirable when the savanna is abundant in antelopes. And the starving of lions is desirable when antelopes are scanty. Another example: a couple of months ago there were reports from Australia about a horrible bush-fire. A biologist has called our attention to the fact that certain plants developed a technique of waiting for the frequent bush-fires to get their rivals destroyed and so gaining more ground to live on. From their low-rank point, ‘good’ means ‘a fire destroying my rivals’.

If I were you, then – instead of proving that the peer production characteristics apply in the spiritual realm – I would try the other way round. You should not throw away what you have worked out already. I suggest that you should also try another path. You should at least try to start from the Primordial Unity. How about starting from quantum physics and the spiritual realm and so arrive at the question of peer production? In order to illustrate my suggestion, I have e-mailed to you some explanatory text to the Jewish esoteric teaching of Kabbalah. That text conveyed new ideas to me even though I had been previously studying the Vedas, the Upanishads, the Gita and The Tao Teh King. It is not easy to digest. For example: on reading page (say) 15, I realized what the first page sentences of that text might have meant.
Admittedly: I am neither pro-Jewish, nor anti-Jewish. I accept the Kabbalah as one of the spiritual teachings. Like those other teachings, the Kabbalah also offers unique guidelines. In fact: it is an asset.

I suggest that perhaps you should think it over whether you could arrange and edit most of the above thoughts in form of an interview that you conduct.

I am ready to go on co-operating with you regardless to your accepting any of my words above. Nevertheless I suggest that – if writing about spirituality – you should more often quote masters of spirituality.
Dear Janos,

Thank your for your letter/comments and for taking the time to respond and critique the paper.
Let me first say that I find your reference to Primordial Unity and the Value Orders of great interest, including the metaphysics of the Kabbalah. Like you, I treasure the insights of thousands of years of the various wisdom traditions. However, I make no claims to metaphysical expertise and must remain agnostic in these matters.
But I key question is this:
- The value orders are undoubtedly real, but it there a hidden unity, an objective reality behind them?
I have been influenced, amongst other traditions, by the metaphysics of critical realism, so I do actually accept that there is a objective reality out there, that we can approach under certain conditions. So, I reject any notion that reality is a pure construction of the human mind. But perhaps contradictorily, I also think that spiritual realities are co-constructed by spiritual traditions, what you call the value orders. Like Jorge Ferrer and John Heron, I believe that we are now in an age where we should communally construct shared (but not necessarily similar) understandings of the spiritual world we live in. That is, there should be an open inquiry amongst a community of equals, with freely accepted guidance from those that may have gone further on the path of that self-same inquiry. Amongst such guidance, I would include all the voices from the past, enshrined in the cultural-religious traditions and their value orders. But we take none of them at face value, and critically evaluate and experience their injunctions and worlds of experience. I think that ideally, an individual may attempt to undertake a voyage through the different value orders by him/herself, but as this requires a particular motivation (and perhaps desperation), and it is in any case impossible for any individual to recapitulate the whole world’s experience, we can undertake this collectively by allowing individuals from different frameworks and value orders to encounter each other.
Given your sixth paragraph, and your insistence on our embeddedness in value orders, I would say that yes of course that is of course true, that is how heritage and education are transmitted, but it is also something that can be, at least partially transcended. The very socialization of individuals in a culture, also gives us the tools for autonomy, to critically reflect on that heritage, to encounter other traditions, and compose one’s own understanding.
I wonder what you make of the reality that today, the value orders are blending. For example, western capitalism, born out a particular history and value order, is in turn influencing the other regions and cultures of the world, being adapted in particular ways. In turn, because of the more open communication channels, these different value orders are also being received in the West, being adapted in particular ways. No doubt the value orders still exist and carry their influence, but they are also much more exposed to hybridization as never before.
One should also never forget, that traditional religions were born in class societies, in fact along with them, and that the originally greater unity of shamanic practices was shattered by these opposing value orders, each of them being rather coercively imposed and culturally transmitted in particular regional areas. Once the coercion falters, we see a fragmentation occurring (witness the evolution of Protestantism), while also today, individualism causes individuals to compose their own spiritual understandings, made up from a variety of influences.
When this process happens in a peer to peer context, this freedom of recomposition increases even more.
You then go on with making the strong claim that all spiritual inquiry should start from the Primordial Unity, and that methods should be developed “independent from the customs into which individuals are born”.
This is a very strong claim, that Primordial Unity exists and that such independent methods can be devised.
The Buddha is a Collective is in fact an answer to that, inspired by the work of Jorge Ferrer and John Heron. It is to gather a community of equals, to devise freely chosen methods of inquiry, and to share and exchange the findings of such inquiry with each other. It invites us to be open and transparent about our respective frameworks though, as I’m not sure we can be truly and fully independent of them. The key is then to acknowledge and share our frameworks, accept the adventure of inquiry, and see what each brings back from the journey. B y shedding a multiple light on that object of inquiry, we are then hopefully more able to see a greater, more integrative part of the truth.
In a further paragraph, you seem to think I’m an American, you are mistaken, I’m from Belgium, and though I’m of course influenced and embedded in that original culture, like you, I have once undertaken a journey to encounter these ideas ‘born elsewhere’. I’m assuming John Heron has done the same, therefore, you are also misreading him.
I’m fully with John Heron where he expresses a critique of oppressive spiritualities, and am disappointed that you differ in this. That is a choice you make, but I believe that a spirituality that is non-coercive and non-oppressive is fully possible, if only because I have experienced it myself, and that spiritual understandings should be dis-embedded from coercive structures and its justifications.
Humans are neither antelopes nor lions, though we are partly animals (of course we are fully animals, but we add layers of conscience and complexity that makes us particular as human animals). In fact, not only that, but we even have the power and potential to heal many some of the natural splits in nature. For example, an antelope and a lion cub, born in a loving human family, may in fact not chase each other!
The truth that the world is a terrible place, that cannot possibly be the work of a loving God, has been expressed in Gnostic spirituality. There is undoubted truth in that, but there is always the aspect of love, as also expressed in human beings, which can heal much of the terror that is naturally embedded in that world.
The peer to peer ethos is in part an attempt to create more love in the world, not just as human beings with each other, but also in our relations with other beings. What if that ethos was in fact the best way to experience the Primordial Unity?
Dear Janos,

from your contribution I gather that you take the Primordial Unity to have 'objective being', similar but even more fundamental than the 'being' of planet Earth. And when you elucidate how what we could call reality comes into being by the agency of a Cosmic Intelligence in 3) I guess you are speaking of the same or similar basic "being" - Primordial Unity and Cosmic Intelligence at the root of everything that "is".

Furthermore, if I understand you correctly, you are convinced that (some) modern physicists and cosmologists/astronomers arrive at finding this same Primordial Unity in quantum physics and "invisible matter/energy". (point 7.)

And also you seem convinced that the prophets and sages tap into the same metaphysical/transcendent dimension to then channel their culturally filtered message and practices in a localized version of a universal truth.

Given these assumptions it is only natural that you would exhort Michel and the rest of us to start from Primordial Unity and derive p2p from that. But I beg to fundamentally differ...

As far as I can see there are two important perspectives (among others) at work in forming a spiritual conviction and/or self. In one perspective there is indeed some Cosmic Intelligence at the basis of it all; Plato's Ideas come to mind or the God of the Books (Jehova, Allah) or even - the secular version - that the nature/essence of a thing is in the thing itself. God, Idea or Essence is objectively existent and I, the subject, can or even should properly align to the given metaphysical/transcendent Being/Essence. In this view I can only "find" and "discover" what is already there.
The other important strand is that whatever may be the case it is 'me' that determines what it is, what it means, what it's nature is, etc. Reality is (or may be) independent of the observer, but is absolutely neutral and meaningless in itself. Everything is projected on this neutral reality by the mind. Any truth or essence is basically created (or culturally co-created by its participants) and projected onto the universe. In this view I am the agent and 'creator' of reality.

One would say that we cannot hold both views; logic demands - apparently - that either things/situations/entities "emanate" or in some other way communicate their essence (their primordial unity, for instance), or they don't and all such essence, meaning, law or whatever is projected onto basically neutral phenomena.
But most likely it is, as in most important human affairs, simply juggling paradoxes - we can, and actually do, mix logically incompatible matters often. Actually, as in any ecology, in the very same niches you find antagonisms, symbiosis, competition, collaboration and otherwise categorically and philosophically incompatible beings/entities/phenomena.

And that's what I basically think the "Next Buddha" - or the fabled world-religion in the making - is going to be: an ecology of several collectives (like the human being is a collaborative/competitive assembly of cells) of humans, maybe even together with disembodied beings like angels, devas or entities sliding on slopes of quantum-probability. Already there is quite some experience with Circle Beings (or whatever we want to call discernible 'beings' that are experienced and interacted with in certain settings), experiences which prompted both Helen and me to contribute a couple of blog posts to this topic that Michel picked up on and carried further.
As such there is no reason to decide amongst the many truth-claims as to which one should have collective priority; a circle being can perfectly take care of its priorities itself...

Thinking about the ecology of (spiritual) convictions it is obvious that those convictions that claim exclusiveness or to be an Ultimate Truth or the best way to the Absolute (or Salvation or whatever) are still carrying a dominator gene in them that is very useful for oppression. I'm very much with John Heron, Jorge Ferrer, and many others in calling attention to that very fact.
The difficulty with the (big) spiritual traditions is that they are patriarchally informed and carry a hierarchical social message: At the Top is God (by whatever name you want to give "This"), then come the most Enlightened, then the lesser enlightened and so on until at the very base of the pyramid the ignorant or, depending on the spiritual practice, non-believers that can be abused and done away with. These are typical for oppressor or dominator paths and it is extremely difficult to relate with them on a wholesome level if one does not 'belong' or at least act as if.

I want to, for good measure, add a word about Good and Bad. You say (thank you for giving the sources!) that the authorities warn against such labels, yet you do not seem to notice that doing so - warning - is already being caught up in this dance, for isn't a warning intrinsically saying, "That way is not good"?
As human beings, I think, we cannot escape knowing good and bad (we cannot uneat the fruit of the tree of knowledge, to use a Biblical metaphor); the empiricist scientific conviction that there are 'neutral facts' rests on an, alas unconscious, ethical system that believes "neutral" and "fact" to be good, in this case, the thing to go for, the most desirable course of action... and that is what ethics is all about, isn't it?

Kind regards,
Hi Mushin,

Many thanks for your illuminating contribution.

I have found that in my experience, people with very different frameworks can actually agree on common priorities, see for example the peer to peer meme itself, which is taken up by people from very different political backgrounds. Similarly, traditional religions, though authoritarian in their essential spirit, also carry many different fruits, including people with exemplary lives and benevolence.

I am very interested in the economics of consciousness :
- the impact of consciousness on to the experience of the creation of relations leading to scarcifying access to sets of relations, or to increasing the abundance of access to sets of relations,
and its potential non-linear emergent properties.


hmm, briefly give my own point, although might not relate it directly to references given in text :

- it seems to me that all is relation.

- that nothingness is nothingness ( and thus is ) and can have a relation with itself when becoming aware of itself, which in turn can become aware of itself too,
and hence from which all relations can then further build themselves on, on various stages of negentropy/organization and creation of relations.

- that from the moment that this creation of relation is made, in a position which is out of time,
there are a potential of infinite levels of abstraction, all connected with each other,
and that the direction of the way they are experienced depends on the position from which one relation or set of relations has an overview and makes choices of further relation making : its consciousness.

- that a non attached consciousness allows to develop perspectives at other, sometimes broader levels of abstraction / perspectives

- that a distributed system has characteristics of a non-attached consciousness,
and allows the creation of more relations , hence greater complexity, by not crystallizing specific relations, yet being able to use configurations of relations it chooses for.

- that a distributed system of distributed systems allows for greater emergence of more distributed systems in a variety of levels of abstraction then a distributed system that is limited within the consciousness/navigator of one individual.


- I would like to visualize such systems of relations, to understand how to make the choice to maximize opportunities , by increasing the potential of making choices to make choices.

- I would like to visualize the consciousness of such processes , and how such trans connected processes influence each other.

I explain sets of axioms for one possible way of visualizing :


I define two directions of consciousness :

- addicted / attached ( direction which I decide to call negative, although not good or bad )
- intentional / non-attached / capacity to increase its distribution ( direction which I decide to call positive, although not good or bad )

yet I feel they are a non linear system, and each consciousness of process is an object on which other processes can build themselves.

I see the first dimensions of a process that create a process object as :
1 - trust ( the opening of a channel )
2 - action ( the flow of love/action enabled through the opening of the channel/gate/first dimension )
3 - contemplation ( visualization on the action )

contemplation enabling inspiration(s),
which are, in my view,

0 - inspiration

and inspiration being the points which can open up new channels ( 1 )

A continuation of ( a non linear system of potentially positive and negative values of ) 0,1,2,3 ,0,1,2,3 0,1,2,3 ... becomes a "string". ( which can contain multiplying or dividing of simultaneously experienced strings )


Addicted direction of consciousness , in the way I see it, are negative values ( not bad or good, simply negative direction ) of process ( -1 / closing down of trust : fear ; -2 / reduced flow of love in that particular dimension related to reduction of channel-trust ; -3 reduced contemplation from reduced experience/action )

until such addicted string of processes leads to death of the string : when the consciousness which experiences it continually stays addicted to one specific string, it becomes increasingly aggressive to defend the survival of this string ( when its consciousness can not lead to more distribution of the string from which consciousness experiences )


Each of these "process objects/dimensions" , are branes ( like russian puppets / matriochkas ), at a certain level of abstraction,
and each of these process objects contains other process objects, and is contained in other process objects,
which each have the potential to choose their own direction of consciousness.

Each process object at each level of abstraction / brane , and the consciousness in which each process object is experienced ,can impact the consciousness of the experience of the other process objects.

Both directions of consciousness are participating in the creation of reality by building relations on and from each other, although non attached consciousness leads to increase access to increased choice of choice, in other words is a direction that enabled a metadirection for increasingly accessing higher levels of abstraction.

The 3 dimensions and inspiration, forming strings, are from the point of perspective/abstraction of the observer.

Meta levels of abstraction of the 3 dimensions being for example , for positive values :
meta 1- trust of trust : faith
meta 2- love of love / action of action : care
meta 3- contemplation of contemplation : increase of awareness ( ? )

an increase of awareness leading to an increase of the number of points of

meta 0- inspiration of inspiration : increase of capacity to choose ? / choice of choice / capacity to set a position in the system / intention

negative meta values leading to a reduction of the capacity of the number of points of meta 0 / intention ,
through reduced resilience ( reduced trust of trust ) towards such intention, potential reduced care as a result of reduced faith, and reduced increase of awareness because of reduced use of care/potential reduced flow,
decreasing the distributiveness of the string ,
hence increasing the potential of loosing its autonomy of choice making / increasing its potential to be coerced by another process /
by not being able to choose,

while at the same time needing to be aggressive to protect the survival of a string with decreasing capacity to create/distribute itself, hence increasing its "need for control", including on others.


the difference between positive and negative values of consciousness being that the positive value "experiences control of what can according to its intention" and the negative value of consciousness is "needing to experience specific control, according to its need of coercion, to be able to survive"

each of such "experience of direction of consciousness" can lead to very similar "positions of experience" in the system,
but lead to different outcomes after the experience of such position according to the experience of the direction of its consciousness.

( by the way it sounds complicated when expressing it verbally, but if you see it visually, its very simple )


When visualizing such non linear system, one can see that a string of positive processes of consciousness, when encountering a negative process, can turn its direction of consicousness.

For example, if I travel ( opening up of channels ) but end up in a situation ( which is a process in which the process is contained ) which leads to a negative contemplation , it can lead to a reduction of trust in traveling.

But if I can counter such negative experience through a greater point of perspective at larger branes / process dimensions, which enable me to create a contemplation from a broader perspective on my negative contemplation, I can restore a positive direction of the experience of consciousness by reversing the flow from a greater dimension.

hence various levels of abstraction ( branes containing other branes ), can continually influence each other and mutually create each other.

One can also apply examples to the current monetary system.

Example of a negative experience of consciousness ,

such as a system based on coercive debt , such as the current mainstream monetary system :

- you "have to" pay one particular person or "have to" pay back debt to a bank entity ,

- especially a coercive debt monetary system which is addicted :
it needs to grow to pay for debt plus the interest on the debt,
the ones that have accumulated other peoples debt have higher coercive powers increasing the potential to increase further their accumulation of debt ,
artificial scarcity can be created by those that accumulate debt to coerce others who do not have such accumulation in following their interests and specific expectations, potentially dis empowering initiatives which are not approved by access to coercive debt units.

So there is an addiction to "need for monetary growth", including through non productive speculation which allocates existing resources to the ones that already have most access to it ( and not necessarily to the ones that most need it ),
and increases the incentive for scarcity for the ones that benefit from it and can actually use it to maintain or increase their control the system.


example of positive experience of consciousness in a monetary system :

a intentional debt monetary system,

which is a distributed system, in which all owe to intention,
intentional market being set by the emergence of intentions of peers in the system,
but can also be decided and acted upon without needing to rely on the emergence of intentional choices.

intentional debt is a "reversed coercive debt", as it allows peers in the system to "choose to contribute" according to "what they can" towards shared intention,

and allows visualization ( awareness ) of all peers in the system in relation to "emitted requests" in the system , as intentional debt = request for support , and requests for support can create ontologies according to the level of abstraction of the intention, and how intentions mutually empower each other.

It can be a collaborative system, and not a competitive system, and can lead to mutually empowering emergence through increased distributed interdependence when its users share such intention.

The system can be used to allocate resources there where they are most needed according to the emergent intention of the system, as to create new opportunities.


All this can be visualized in a process dimensions visualization.
ps: when one starts to visualize this non linear system, one can continue wandering around it, and see al kinds of things and elements.

For example, inspiration ( which is a experienced point of reference in the system , from which the process of experience can continue experiencing by creating distributed or addicted process dimensions ),

can also be seen as shared between experiencing agents ( peers such as you, or me ).

One can also add directions in relation to how these inspirations are being observed in the system.

For example, through the texts we share with each other we are sharing reference points of inspirations, which can potentially further create processes.

And the direction of inspiration from my perspective is from me to you, and then there can be feedback of positions from you to me, the feedback in itself being the process dimension ( trust, love, contemplation ) between the two points of reference.

There are zillions of process dimensions happening all the time, and I build on a continuity of reference points which I contribute in setting and perceiving...

The direction of the inspiration depends on the point of view of the observer.


Also, what is interesting to understand is the energy flow.

Addicted processes seem to need to take energy from other structures/processes at lower levels of abstraction,

while distributing ( I also call it "metatizing" ) processes seem to be able to open up to receiving energy from larger/more abstract process dimensions ( from the point of view of the experience of the observer ).

As human beings, we seem to be taking energy from plants, animals, ... through eating them,

yet it seems also that some of us can experience some vitalizing energy flows from process dimensions which seem to be at higher levels of abstraction,
which we may not be observing from our yes, but from our capacity to non-attachment accessing such larger branes/process dimensions,

and Qi energy flowing from its larger dimensions to feed us when we can open to it.

So non-attached love / faith / awareness opening up such access to increased healing Qi energy, and possibly also relation making at higher levels of abstraction.

Hence it would be interesting to be able to better visualize, and become aware, of relation making at higher levels of abstraction, and enable some kind of meta cortex to which we can contribute collaboratively, mutually defining positions in dimensions of meaning, and such system also potentially including the visualization of the positions of process objects which mutually define each others position.

It would also be interesting to find out if we can develop a civilization which would be based on energy coming from larger process dimensions, instead of relying on smaller process dimensions, as it seems much of our current civilization is.
Hi all

if I may make a brief comment...

Janos is coming from a perennialist, metaphysical, transcendentalist perspective. Michel and Mushin are coming from a more historical and postmodernist (apologies for these ridiculous generalizations!) perspective. (Guys, if I'm misinterpreting you, please let me know; I've only skimmed the conversation, i find it hard to read from a screen). It is only recently that I have become interested in this particular dialectic, and the fact that a true and, at the risk of dropping a "New Age buzz word", integral (or "integrative" to be more precise, in my book I discuss both terms) understanding requires taking both into account. That means both the eternal and transcendent, and the historical, relative, and conditioned. In the Jain, Buddhist, and Sufi metaphor of the blind men and the elephant, both are equally partial, equally necessary, and equally limited. In my book in progress, called The Integral paradigm (some of the themes listed here), I propose a new paradigm that can include both (and also all other partial perspectives). I also have some comments on my blog, see for example my latest blog post The historical and autobiographical approach.

What I call empathy or (following Martin Buber) the I-Thou relationship is intimately related to participatory ethics/epistemology/philosophy/spirituality, except that I extend it to all sentient beings (Sentientism). Certainly, I agree that the age of abusive gurus is over, and that a true spirituality is co-creative and participatory. At the same time I fully acknowledge esoteric, transcendental, realities too; I have no wish to through out the metaphysics/esotericism baby with the authoritarian pseudo-spirituality bathwater.

Anyway Michel I'll print out your essay and read it in more detail, and maybe add another comment when i have.

best wishes
Thanks Alan,

Janos has written a new contribution, which I will add soon,

Hi Michel

I look forward to reading Janos' reply. It's certainly an interesting topic. I've printed out the discussion on this page, so I'll read it more carefully. I read your essay and it made me realize that i hadn't properly mentioned p2p and p2p spirituality in the first chapter of my book, so i'll go back and revise that.

Certainly i find myself agreeing very strongly with a lot of what you are saying, and the movement away from a child-like dependence on authority figures to a community of equals is an important one. Indeed, it may be something taht is totally new in the history of humanity, at least on this scale (i'm sure there have been many earlier example son a small scale) a growing beyond spiritual childhood to the stage of self-responsibility and co-creation. And of course, the movement away from insular esoteric groups to a spiritual "commons".

But having said that, i remain critical of any excessive acceptance of postmodernism, which i would argue is just one partial, perspective, and not, as its proponents claim, some amazing insight that somehow rfutes and disproves gnosis-based perennialist and transcendentalist insights (this is also the trap Wilber has fallen into with his "post-metaphysics"). That's why I mention the Jain idea of manysidedness (anekantevada). So folks like Ferrer and Kirpal, while doing good work, are still writing from a rationalistic persoective. Anyway, I discuss this dialectic in my book. Also among the areas I am interested in is expanding p2p to include both gnosis and sentientism. This is to provide a "third position" that can hopefully integrate the two apparently diametrically opposite poles of Perennialism and postmodernism.

Interesting choice of title... I only had a skim through the text of the essay, but as a Buddhist myself, and as someone aware of some commons/p2p trends I thought I'd respond a bit on that question in the title, as I think there are some parallels with what you are saying within Buddhist teachings already.

From the standpoint of Nichiren Buddhism, and I think of many other mahayana schools, Shakyamuni the historically recorded prince of the shakya tribe is only the first Buddha. Many mahayana schools, mine included, argue that every living being has the capacity to reveal their innate Buddha nature or Buddhahood - and therefore that there is already a latent potential for Buddhahood in all things. In the last key segment of the Life Span chapter of the lotus sutra - one which as adherents to this faith we say twice a day in prayers - it says - "At all times / I think to myself / how can I cause living beings to gain entry into the unsurpassed way and quickly acquire the body of a Buddha" - so is this not already a wish to have many buddhas?

The thing is, they are not necessarily collectivised - one person or group can be opposed to another, and that's another natural thing in life, and as your article says, that doesn't mean there can't be still unity between those people or groups.

But this is the key difference to what you are saying in that title - that it is the collective rather than the individual who is a Buddha. I would say yes the sum of or collective body of practitioners is something good and valuable in that connections between things (e.g. friendship) are very important, but the Buddha, at least according to my faith, resides in the individuals who practice Buddhism and bring out Buddhahood in their lives, not in their sum total.

What then is that sum total - well, that's the interesting thing about your article. I will ask other Buddhists I know about this - to see what this "buddha collective" is, because I think it is the "Kyo" or thread - in Nam Myo Ho Renge Kyo. As you can read in this wikipedia article - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daimoku - "Nichiren established the practice of chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo as a means to enable all people to put their lives in harmony or rhythm with the law of life".

And in this article, Kyo is defined as "the interconnectedness of all phenomena" - http://www.sgi-uk.org/index.php/buddhism/nam-myoho-renge-kyo

But still, I'll try and find out (via more than internet links!) what we define in the Soka Gakkai faith at least, to be this connection between people.

Dear Skoria,

Thank you very much for this perspective. You are right that there is a big difference between individual enlightenment and what we are discussing here. In a way, my own approach has been informed by the great many people claiming individual enlightenment, yet being systematically embroiled in all kinds of abuses, some of which I have experienced myself.

There are different solutions to this, mine is that 'Enligthenment' is a technical realization of the witnessing mind, and does not in any way guarantee more ethical and just behaviour. A related issue is that in the highly complex societies we are now living in, it is illusionary to put any expectation into particularly wise individuals, but rather should expect and work on wise collectives. This does not mean that we do not need wise individuals, on the contrary, but that their relative role changes, as well as the general expectations of what a 'guru' can do. In our p2p context, a wise individual can contribute to the realization of a wise collective.

On a side note, something which I have not experienced but that people like Mushin and Yeshe have been working on, is the nature of circle being, a form of awareness that transcends the individual, and is located within the relationality of the particular group that is assembling.

Having printed out and carefully read Janos', Michel's, and Mushin's comments, i can now give a more qualified reply.

Concerning Janos' reply to Michel's essay:

I agree that there is an ontological foundation to things – he calls it “Primordial Unity”, I prefer the more abstract term “Reality” (with a capital “R”). in this regard, both Janos and I are diametrically opposed to anti-essentialist, anti-transcendentalist, postmodernist philosophy.

Like Janos (paragraphs 3 and 4) I also have drawn from the profound insights of Kabbalah

However I have to respectfully disagree with his paragraphs (1) and (7) asserting the New Age theme that mystics and esotericists on the one hand, and scientists on the other, are describing the same reality. As I understand it, science describes physical reality, mysticism the Transcendent behind both the physical and supraphysical realities.

I have ambiguous feelings about the Traditionalist thesis (para. 4 and 5, compare with the writings of Rene Guenon, Frithjof Schuon, and others) that all the great religious founders tapped into the same universal truths or Truth, but varied it according to their own culture etc. I don't think by any stretch of the imagination it could be said that, say for example, Buddha and Mohammad were talking about the same thing. This is not to disrespect either, only to point out the danger of a too glib (as opposed to a critically informed) universalism. At the same time, the Traditionalists have made many important observations regarding the necessity of gnosis rather than rationalism when considering Reality (Schuon is particular good in this regard; the other Traditionalists tend to be more intellectual).

Concerning Michel's response: I find myself in total accord.

But concerning Michel's reply to Skoria, and also Jeffry Kripal's views as cited in Michel's very interesting essay, that Enlightenment or the Mystical state does not imply moral behavior: it is important to bear in mind Sri Aurobindo's observations regarding what he calls the Intermediate zone, which is a dangerously misleading transitional stage between ordinary consciousness and true Enlightenment that it seems that most on the path to Enlightenment have to traverse. Here the alluring mixture of truth and falsehood makes it easy to believe that one has already reached the goal, even if one is far from it. This explains the phenomenon of abusive gurus. But in the case of the authentic enlightened being, such as Sri Aurobindo and Mirra Alfassa (the Mother), Ramana Maharshi, Anandamayi Ma, Nityananda, and others, you will never find a single example of abuse or selfish behaviour, no matter how hard you look. Therefore the authentic mystical state (as opposed to the intermediaries) is indeed a profoundly moral and ethical one.

Concerning Mushin's reply to Janos; my only disagreement here is that I do not associate metaphysical insights like Spiritual Hierarchy (the Great Chain of Being) with dominator behaviour. It is worth remembering that in the West the theme of metaphysical (not religious!) hierarchy begins with the Neoplatonists, who were among the most exemplary figures of the late classic world. If these teachings were later abused by medieval feudalism and religionism to justify their authoritarian standards, that no more refutes them than that the antics of American televangelists discredits the original teachings of the historical Jesus. Moreover, one can also look to egalitarianism and anti-hierarchism and find plenty of pretty bad human rights abuses there as well – the Terror in post-revolutionary France, Mao's Cultural Revolution, and Pol Pot's Year Zero. My own position is that both hierarchy and egalitarianism are equally necessary, but also each on its own equally one-sided. This is why I favour an integral (or integrative) philosophy.

Finally, I see particupative spiritual projects - along the lines outlined here by Michel and Mushin - as represneting very promising and exciting new directions for exploration.




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