(Important 2011 Note: This paper was done in 2004. Many parts of it have been included in our new and superseding Second Enlightenment work found by clicking here or on the new Universe Worldview description. We have continued to work on co-creating the Second Enlightenment and have helped though a secular sister organization to sponsor a conference on some of the key secular aspects of it in 2011. As you will discover our organization has made great progress in creating the spirituality of the future described in the position paper below in the form of the new Evolution Spirituality.
We have preserved this original "thinking" paper again because of historic perspectives on the first Enlightenment and because you can see how our new Universe Worldview ideas on the Second Enlightenment have since developed.)
Position Paper created for Universe Spirit in 2004
By Jordan S. Gruber
- Goals of The Second Enlightenment Project
- The "Second Enlightenment": Meaning and Viability of Term
- The European (Western) Enlightenment, Eastern Enlightenment, and The Second Enlightenment Project
- Authentic Forces and Currents Driving The Second Enlightenment
- Concepts/Ethics/Lifestyle to be Embraced by The Second Enlightenment
- Contributors to and Sources of The Second Enlightenment
Universe Spirit has requested a preliminary analysis of the concept of the "Second Enlightenment" and all that goes with it.
This Preliminary Analysis seeks to address four questions:
- What might be the goals and meta-goals of The Second Enlightenment Project?
- What is already known about the idea of the "Second Enlightenment," and what are the best ways to think about this idea?
- Would a project to develop the Second Enlightenment concept, including the necessary expenditure of time, focus, and money, be a worthwhile and sensible endeavor in alignment with Universe Spirit’s core mission?
- If further development of The Second Enlightenment Project is to go forward, how might that best take place?
To begin with, the goals of a potential Second Enlightenment Project will be considered. Then the Second Enlightenment will be looked at more directly, including a brief identification of the forces or authentic currents that might be driving it, and the concepts and ethics that it might embrace. Past and current contributors to the concept of the Second Enlightenment will also be briefly identified. As will be shown, although there is much that has already been accomplished towards the actualization of The Second Enlightenment, there is a great deal more to be done, from the undertaking of thorough analysis to the acceleration of new ways of being and communicating.
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Why would Universe Spirit undertake The Second Enlightenment Project? Such a project would have at least the following goals and meta-goals:
• Participate in Co-Creating the Spirituality of the Future: Universe Spirit holds as a central tenet that the spirituality of the future will be co-created by many individuals and organizations and will represent a transcended blend of the best of spiritual wisdom and knowledge that currently exists and that will come to exist in the future. By focusing on the Second Enlightenment, Universe Spirit will help to co-create a future that in fact has the Second Enlightenment as one of its leitmotifs.
• Create the "Best" Possible Statement of the Second Enlightenment: Through careful consideration and the use of web-centered and real-world feedback mechanisms, Universe Spirit will co-create the best possible statement of the Second Enlightenment, with "best" defined as most authentic, powerful, synthesized, and transcendent in the realms of beauty, truth, and goodness.
• Forge Best Possible "Second Enlightenment" Statement as a Powerful Ideal or Carrier Wave that will Catalyze Transformation: By creating a concise, authentic, synthesized, best statement that can serve as a working platform and inspirational nexus, Universe Spirit will be creating a tool that will inspire and motivate everyone from "ordinary" individuals to journalists, artists, scientists, and policy makers. The Second Enlightenment can be thought of as a master constellation of ideals, and as it is said, "there is nothing as powerful as an ideal whose time has come."
• Authentically and Self-Consciously Co-Create "The Second Enlightenment" as a Maximally Effective Transformational Meme: The Second Enlightenment already exists, in potential form, along with many other possible futures. It is an authentic possibility, one that can be made more likely through conscious focus. In accordance with the notion of a "meme" as an informational virus that can spread through a human population, by helping to skillfully forge the meme of The Second Enlightenment in as true, beautiful, and useful a way as possible, the likelihood of actualizing the Second Enlightenment will be greatly increased.
• Consciously Make Use of the Universe Spirit Website and the Internet as a Technical Vehicle in Service of the Above Four Goals: On a par with, and perhaps eventually going far beyond writing and mass media as we have known them, the Internet embraces almost unimaginable transformative potential. The Second Enlightenment Project can be crafted to synergistically dovetail with the Universe Spirit website and the many unexplored interactive possibilities that can be brought to bear through the Internet.
Co-creating the Spirituality of the Future is Universe Spirit’s first and most general goal here. A focus on The Second Enlightenment Project and creating the best possible statement of The Second Enlightenment will help to advance this most general goal. Next, it is important to recognize that such a best statement of The Second Enlightenment can be consciously forged so that it will serve as a powerful ideal and carrier wave for transformation.
Going one step further in this same direction, it may be extremely useful to work with and from the notion of a transformational "meme," a living unit or current of information, so that once again the likelihood of actualizing a Second Enlightenment can be maximized. Finally, the conscious, skilful, and innovative use of the Internet, with all of its possibilities for interactive consciousness-raising multimedia and collaboration, could substantially boost the future probability of actualizing The Second Enlightenment.
Once again, while all of these goals are closely related, each goal puts a somewhat different spin or perspective on the overall endeavor. By first separately identifying and focusing on each of these goals and meta-goals, it then becomes possible to consciously include and transcend the individual goals, thereby maximizing the likelihood of eventually actualizing The Second Enlightenment.
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What, exactly, does the term "Second Enlightenment" mean and refer to? How do the words themselves sit, fit, and feel? Given the goals described in Section II above, and the critical importance of clearly delineating a solid and attractive meme that the carrier wave of the spiritual future can ride on and be guided by, a careful look at proposed terminology is called for.
This section will therefore focus only on the proposed terminology and its alternatives, including general popularity, general observations with respect to the term, and some of the advantages and disadvantages of going forward with this particular word formulation. Sections IV–VII will be more aimed at fleshing out some of the actual content associated with The Second Enlightenment.
Current Popularity of Term
To begin with, starting with popularity and attractiveness, the term "Second Enlightenment" or "The Second Enlightenment" is not at present a popular or well-known term. In fact, http://www.SecondEnlightenment.com or http://www.2ndEnlightenment.com, and all of the other forms of these terms (.net, .org, .info, .us, etc.) are freely available for domain name registration by anyone at the time this analysis is being written. While the availability of a domain name is not a final indicator of the importance or popularity of a term, it does indicate that at least until now, no one has taken this term, in any of its forms, seriously enough to spend the $8.95 a year needed to register it.
Similarly, a general search on Google for the term "Second Enlightenment" returns rather sparse results. After half a dozen or so individuals who use the term along the lines that are being considered with respect to Universe Spirit’s Second Enlightenment Project, the results thin out very quickly. There are, however, some references to Buddhism, as well as to historical periods following The Enlightenment (such as the 1960’s, or the Scottish Enlightenment) that might justifiably deserve the term "Second Enlightenment."
In sum, there are relatively few references to the term Second Enlightenment as is being contemplated herein. There are both upsides and downsides to this present lack of popularity. The downside is that the term "Second Enlightenment" has not yet shown itself to be an especially attractive, memetically self-propagating, term or concept. The upside is that with a relatively novel term it is possible to give it the best possible shape and to adjust it to the true needs of the time. Just as with intellectual property terms, a novel, essentially made-up term can be imbued with the greatest possible strength and recognizability.
Constituent Parts of Term
One question, then, is whether the term "The Second Enlightenment" is inherently a good one – or the best one – to use for the set of Universe Spirit goals outlined in Section II. Breaking the term down into its constituent parts may seem like an elementary exercise, but it can be quite revealing and worthwhile.
First, although this formulation is not always used, the most natural way to present the concept of "Second Enlightenment" is to precede it with the definite article "The," as in "The Second Enlightenment." (For this reason, the very title of this analysis is "The Second Enlightenment Project: A Preliminary Analysis.") Starting with "The" gives a great deal of strength to the term, but also implies that it is something that is already known with certainty or definiteness, or is something that shall almost certainly come into being. Is this something that can be confidently promised?
Also, there is also a small problem with respect to others who might claim that their’s is "The" Second Enlightenment, as shall be discussed below in this section. As for using "A," as in "A Second Enlightenment," this is a much more indefinite and therefore weaker way of presenting the concept. It does not flow from the tongue as smoothly, and it probably does not speak to the type of memetic attractiveness that The Second Enlightenment Project would hope to generate. It is possible that the "The" could be dropped at some point, and that just "Second Enlightenment" would be the term naturally used in speech and the written form, but once again, this would probably only happen after the overall term had grown familiar to many and was used in everyday discourse.
Second, turning to the term "Second," we all agree that there was a first Enlightenment. As discussed briefly in Section IV, The Enlightenment was a historical period in 17th and 18th Century Europe that saw reason, science, and democracy come to the forefront and change the world for the better. By using the term "Second" here, there is an explicit suggestion that some type of motivating historical force or trend has come around again, and that the thing of which a powerful "First" has already happened is now coming back for its "Second" round.
On the positive side, as a historical generalization, this may be a true assertion, especially when seen through the lens of the Spiral of Development. Also, the notion "since it has happened once, it may happen again," may give hope, strength, and inspiration to many people.
On the negative side, there may be limitations to defining something not in and of itself, but as a recast of something that has already happened. If the spiritual concrescence that we are aiming at is a true, powerful, and even inevitable one, does it not deserve – even demand – to have its own name? If this new movement will eventually spontaneously burst forth with its own name, isn’t there a chance that it could be dampened, diminished, or even halted by trying to force it into the rough boundaries of something that once was?
There are no easy solutions here, but serious meditation and contemplation as to the term "Second" is strongly advised.
Third, the next constituent part of the term is "Enlightenment." In addition to the well-known historical usage referred to above, which can be thought of as the Western notion of Enlightenment, this word is also suffused with meaning from Eastern spiritual traditions. Associated with ideas such as nirvana, liberation, peak experiences, and spiritual awakening, it is one of the most powerful concepts in the entire psycho-spiritual domain.
Once again, there are upsides and downsides here. The upside is that, in fact, we are hoping for a historical spiritual concrescence that does indeed take part in and draw form the more Eastern meaning of the term "Enlightenment."
The downside is that "Enlightenment" can be perceived as a "loaded term," one that already has many meanings for many people. Some people find the term itself overbearing, or suggestive of a state or stage of consciousness that they do not feel is possible or that they will ever achieve.
Further, if the most important of all characteristics of The European Enlightenment was its focus on reason, and reason, in the sense of scientism and less-than-vision-logic, has now become a burden, does it make sense to further rely on this term? Although Wilber and others have shown that reason itself is certainly not the problem (reason is merely a developmental stage that ultimately gives way to included-and-transcended trans-rational states of and stages of awareness and being), there are nonetheless many individuals who would generally resonate with Universe Spirit’s objective but who might be "turned off" by a terminological focus on what they consider to be part of the problem. Perhaps this would amount to pandering to what the Spiral of Development followers think of as the Green meme, but on the other hand, the Green meme folks are exactly who need to be brought along in the next century or so if we are to achieve The Second Enlightenment.
Other Claims to the Term
If the term "Second Enlightenment" is indeed gone forward with, another possible source of confusion is that there are certain groups or historical periods that already lay some claim to the term.
For example, one web page cites Russell as referring to the classical Greek flowering of culture as the Greek enlightenment, and then what we normally think of as The Enlightenment as the second enlightenment:
The Elements were the normative model for the science that arose out of the Greek enlightenment, and fulfilled a similar role in the second enlightenment for Descartes, Kant and others (Russell, 1946). (http://ksi.cpsc.ucalgary.ca/articles/NewPsych92/ )(emphasis added)
The origins of this information explosion, although three centuries in the past, have much relevance to our understanding of the problems of today. The second enlightenment was seen as an emancipation of human thinking from the weight of authority of the church which had taken the fruits of the Greek enlightenment and turned them into a ritual and static form. http://ksi.cpsc.ucalgary.ca/articles/DigitalJ/ (emphasis added).
Similarly, "Some of the philosophers who founded what became known as Logical Empiricism explicitly thought of themselves as part of a "Second Enlightenment." ( http://18.104.22.168/search?q=cache:46fNNxqdSuUJ:www.tc.umn.edu/~giere/SWL_intro.pdf "second enlightenment"&hl=en&ie=UTF-8 ). Sometimes, the 1960's is thought of as being a type of Second Enlightenment: "Indeed the "second Enlightenment" of the nineteen-sixties, with the events of 1968, rocked the then communist world and Western Europe, albeit very differently." (See http://www.svu2000.org/whatwedo/halik.htm .) As will be briefly discussed in Section VII, the Scots also have a claim to the term "Second Enlightenment," with the notion being that the Enlightenment was started in England and France, but then came over to Scotland.
If the term used for The Second Enlightenment Project is, in fact, "The Second Enlightenment," then it is likely that its increased usage would not be problematic with respect to any of these other claimed uses of the term. It is, however, important to note that they are out there, and that some confusion could be generated.
A number of alternative terms come to mind that might be worthy of consideration, either with or without a "the," including the following:
- New Enlightenment (see Richard Kirby; http://www.wnrf.org/enlightenment.shtml#anchor3
- Next Enlightenment
- Universal Renaissance
- Second Renaissance
- Global Awakening
- New Natural Theology (see Jean Houston, Enlightenment.Com interview)
- Third Enlightenment (see Section IV on Kimura)
Making a Final Choice
If The Second Enlightenment Project is to go forward, then either the term "The Second Enlightenment" or some alternative term will need to be settled on. There are no easy answers as to whether this is the best possible term to use (with "best" here defined in terms of the goals set out in Section II). As with all questions of word choice, it ultimately comes down to how hearers and readers will react to the term viscerally, cognitively, and even spiritually. Will it be conducive to communication? Will it truly advance the goals of the project? Is it shiny? Is it sparkly? Does it make people feel good? Does it inspire? Is it weighty enough? Is it the right term?
One possible way to go forward would be to do user feedback tests with small groups, both online and in the real world, with respect to the term and some of its alternatives. Another way would be for a small group to get together and work on the "naming" process. At a certain point, intuition must be trusted. Moreover, a terminological change can always be made mid-stream (whether that is in 6 months or 60 years), but it would be preferable for reasons of continuity and memetic momentum not to have to do so.
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Given that The Second Enlightenment Project, if it goes forward under this title, is consciously and willingly resonating with the historical period known as The Enlightenment, a quick review of that period is justified and may yield some worthwhile insights.
Dictionary.com gives us a good starting point with all 3 of its definitions of "enlightenment":
- a. The act or a means of enlightening. b. The state of being enlightened.
- Enlightenment A philosophical movement of the 18th century that emphasized the use of reason to scrutinize previously accepted doctrines and traditions and that brought about many humanitarian reforms. Used with the.
- Buddhism & Hinduism. A blessed state in which the individual transcends desire and suffering and attains Nirvana.
Taking it a little more deeply, Yasuhiko Genku Kimura, who has written extensively on what he calls the Third Enlightenment, has given us given us an excellent historical summary as part of his way of bringing together the Eastern and Western notions of Enlightenment:
The word "Enlightenment" has been used to designate two distinct traditions: the Enlightenment tradition of Western civilization, originating in the Age of Reason of the 17th and 18th centuries; and the Enlightenment tradition of the world’s esoteric spiritual teachings, especially of the East, and particularly of Buddhism. The Enlightenment of the Age of Reason denotes an intellectual awakening, wherein the educated public discovered the power of reason, and thereby freedom from the shackles of the religious dogmatism that had dominated Western culture for centuries throughout the preceding Middle Ages. This Enlightenment was the secularization of the human mind. The Enlightenment of esoteric, spiritual traditions denotes the individual’s deep experiential process of spiritual awakening, of "being awake and alight." It is the sacredization of the human being. Although it refers to the luminous experience of individual human beings, spiritual enlightenment has engendered multitudinous cultural traditions around the world, spanning from paradigmatic ways of communal, ethical practice to what constitute the fundaments of culture, such as philosophy, literature, art, and music. I call the spiritual enlightenment of esoteric traditions the "First Enlightenment" and the intellectual enlightenment of the Age of Reason the "Second Enlightenment." The Third Enlightenment designates the higher unity of the First and Second Enlightenments, existing as a unified, universalistic cosmovision, co-evolutionary with a new mode of consciousness.
There are thousands of descriptions of The European Enlightenment available in books and on the web. A detailed analysis of how The European Enlightenment occurred, what its key turning points were, and who if anyone was most responsible for it occurring, is far beyond the scope of this initial analysis. (Ken Wilber’s notion that The Enlightenment was financed by a very small group of people and really only consisted of the contributions of 1,000 or so minds is an intriguing one; if it proves true, it might offer some valuable lessons for how to "trigger" The Second Enlightenment.) It may, however, be useful to briefly turn to one of the greatest philosophical minds of The Enlightenment: Immanuel Kant.
In "An Answer to the Question: What is Enlightenment?" Kant wrote the following in 1784 (see http://www.knightsofenlightenment.net/Kant.html ). As you read through these excerpts (the full essay is much longer), consider whether what Kant is saying here would be equally applicable to The Second Enlightenment Project as conceived herein:
Enlightenment is man's emergence from his self-imposed immaturity. Immaturity is the inability to use one's understanding without guidance from another. This immaturity is self-imposed when its cause lies not in lack of understanding, but in lack of resolve and courage to use it without guidance from another. Sapere Aude! [dare to know] "Have courage to use your own understanding!"--that is the motto of enlightenment.
Laziness and cowardice are the reasons why so great a proportion of men, long after nature has released them from alien guidance (natura-liter maiorennes), nonetheless gladly remain in lifelong immaturity, and why it is so easy for others to establish themselves as their guardians. It is so easy to be immature. If I have a book to serve as my understanding, a pastor to serve as my conscience, a physician to determine my diet for me, and so on, I need not exert myself at all. I need not think, if only I can pay: others will readily undertake the irksome work for me. The guardians who have so benevolently taken over the supervision of men have carefully seen to it that the far greatest part of them (including the entire fair sex) regard taking the step to maturity as very dangerous, not to mention difficult. Having first made their domestic livestock dumb, and having carefully made sure that these docile creatures will not take a single step without the go-cart to which they are harnessed, these guardians then show them the danger that threatens them, should they attempt to walk alone. Now this danger is not actually so great, for after falling a few times they would in the end certainly learn to walk; but an example of this kind makes men timid and usually frightens them out of all further attempts.
Thus, it is difficult for any individual man to work himself out of the immaturity that has all but become his nature. He has even become fond of this state and for the time being is actually incapable of using his own understanding, for no one has ever allowed him to attempt it. Rules and formulas, those mechanical aids to the rational use, or rather misuse, of his natural gifts, are the shackles of a permanent immaturity. Whoever threw them off would still make only an uncertain leap over the smallest ditch, since he is unaccustomed to this kind of free movement. Consequently, only a few have succeeded, by cultivating their own minds, in freeing themselves from immaturity and pursuing a secure course.
But that the public should enlighten itself is more likely; indeed, if it is only allowed freedom, enlightenment is almost inevitable. For even among the entrenched guardians of the great masses a few will always think for themselves, a few who, after having themselves thrown off the yoke of immaturity, will spread the spirit of a rational appreciation for both their own worth and for each person's calling to think for himself.
But it should be particularly noted that if a public that was first placed in this yoke by the guardians is suitably aroused by some of those who are altogether incapable of enlightenment, it may force the guardians themselves to remain under the yoke--so pernicious is it to instill prejudices, for they finally take revenge upon their originators, or on their descendants. Thus a public can only attain enlightenment slowly. Perhaps a revolution can overthrow autocratic despotism and profiteering or power-grabbing oppression, but it can never truly reform a manner of thinking; instead, new prejudices, just like the old ones they replace, will serve as a leash for the great unthinking mass.
Nothing is required for this enlightenment, however, except freedom; and the freedom in question is the least harmful of all, namely, the freedom to use reason publicly in all matters….
If it is now asked, "Do we presently live in an enlightened age?" the answer is, "No, but we do live in an age of enlightenment." As matters now stand, a great deal is still lacking in order for men as a whole to be, or even to put themselves into a position to be able without external guidance to apply understanding confidently to religious issues. But we do have clear indications that the way is now being opened for men to proceed freely in this direction and that the obstacles to general enlightenment--to their release from their self-imposed immaturity--are gradually diminishing….
Here as elsewhere, when things are considered in broad perspective, a strange, unexpected pattern in human affairs reveals itself, one in which almost everything is paradoxical. A greater degree of civil freedom seems advantageous to a people's spiritual freedom; yet the former established impassable boundaries for the latter; conversely, a lesser degree of civil freedom provides enough room for all fully to expand their abilities. Thus, once nature has removed the hard shell from this kernel for which she has most fondly cared, namely, the inclination to and vocation for free thinking, the kernel gradually reacts on a people's mentality (whereby they become increasingly able to act freely), and it finally even influences the principles of government, which finds that it can profit by treating men, who are now more than machines, in accord with their dignity.
Immanuel Kant, obviously, has much to say with respect to what was necessary for men and women of a few hundred years ago to do in order to attain Enlightenment and an Enlightened Age. From his writing we can get a sense of what a consummately brilliant mind from the period of the European Enlightenment thought was most important. A deeper analysis of the European Enlightenment might prove useful to The Second Enlightenment Project, as will a deeper analysis of the Eastern notion of Enlightenment We will now turn to the question of whether the authentic forces and currents that are or will be driving The Second Enlightenment are the same forces and currents that drove The European Enlightenment.
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In pursuit of the goals of The Second Enlightenment Project as outlined in Section II, one of the critical functions of Universe Spirit will be to identify the authentic forces or currents that are shaping our co-created future. These currents, sometimes thought of as "Genesis Currents" or "Master Currents" or "Evolutionary Flows," can be thought of as the historical, evolutionary, and spiritual forces that are "pushing" us or carrying us into The Second Enlightenment. By identifying these critical currents and giving them a voice, and articulating them so that they have maximum natural attractiveness, The Second Enlightenment would be most likely to actualize.
A great deal of research and time could deservedly be focused on this task, because it is of such great importance and because, as the fish swimming in the waters of our own consciousness, it may be difficult, very difficult, for us to successfully identify these great historical, social, biological, and spiritual currents. Even finding a way to succinctly go about thinking about and delving into these currents is no easy task. One way to begin, however, would be to analyze Reality as we know it according to one of several different schemas:
- a Wilber 4-Quadrant model, focusing on the intentional, behavioral, social, and cultural domains of being
- a more general Integral model, using not only Wilber but other acknowledged modern thinkers and philosophers
- a "Big 3" evolutionary model focusing on Matter, Mind, and Spirit (see, e.g., Joseph Chilton Pearce, The Biology of Transcendence)
- a Spiral of Development or Spiral Dynamics model, coming off the works of Clare Graves, Don Beck, and others
- a Marxian or techno-economic model, looking at how the base substructure of social reality makes possible and drives human advancement
There are of course many other analytic frameworks that could serve as the basis for this task. Given their great explanatory power, and given that there seems to be a natural affinity between them, starting with a combined Spiral of Development and Integral or Wilber-like analytic platform might make the most sense.
Finally, it should be mentioned that one of the greatest set of forces of all – the forces of technology – which were in part responsible for The European Enlightenment, have now been unleashed with such fury and momentum that they may pose a danger to the achievement of The Second Enlightenment or, indeed, any human future at all. As identified by the futurist Charles Ostman and others, we are seemingly facing a convergence of info-technology, nano-technology, and bio-technology. Handled poorly, these great technologies could spell doom for humanity or even the planetary biosphere (which some think of as the living planetary goddess, known as Gaia). An interesting analysis of other severely negative future scenarios is provided by the Scottish Policy Net at http://www.scottishpolicynet.org.uk/scf/publications/oth21_iff01/page6b.shtml .
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The previous section discussed why and how to identify the major currents driving The Second Enlightenment. While these currents can be thought of "pushing" us forward, and being something that we are attempting to identify and more perfectly articulate so that we can synch up with them, we can also approach The Second Enlightenment from the perspective of the concepts, ethics, and lifestyles that individuals will grow to embrace over time. The concepts, ethics, and lifestyles can be thought of as "pulling" us forward, that is, they are a type of attractor that, once identified and clearly communicated, will naturally draw more and more individuals (and groups) into their ambit.
Most easily thought of as a "new way of thinking, being, doing, and having," what we are searching for here is to identify a constellation of ideals, values, lifestyles, and processes that are naturally akin to an evolving, healthier, citizen of the spiritual future. (This analysis can also be approached from a group, cultural, societal, or nation-state level, although it is easier, for practical purposes, to addresses individuals rather than larger groupings of individuals.)
We must consider, then, not only what the emerging, universal, model or ideal of "thinking, being, doing, and having" will look, feel, and act like, but once again, how we will even go about undertaking an analysis that could authentically and accurately identify thee concepts, ethics, and lifestyle choices to be embraced by those – perhaps called Unipolitans – who co-create The Second Enlightenment. Just some of the likely characteristics of Unipolitans are as follows:
- global political and cultural awareness;
- environmental and ecological consciousness;
- recognition that not only body is real, but that mind is real and effects body, and that soul/spirit is real and affects mind and body; note that this amounts to a reintegration of the material and the non-material, aspects of Being which were to some extent unfortunately split from each other during the European Enlightenment;
- awareness of the reality of spiritual states and stages, and of spiritual development as a value;
- the possibility and desirability of the achievement of a particular stage of the Spiral of Development once maturity is reached;
- recognition of the value of all stages of consciousness (the hallmark of what Ken Wilber has called "Second Tier Values");
- the necessity and possibility of individually and collectively raising our levels of consciousness so that we can solve the problems that our previous level of consciousness has created; and
- recognition of the reality and criticality of a co-created spirituality (e.g., no single guru or prophet will lead us into a Golden Age, but rather, it is the combined co-creation of the wisdom and experience of each soul that will bring about The Second Enlightenment).
As with the identification of the authentic currents, a great deal of focus, time, research, and energy could be deservedly spent in identifying these concept, ethics, and lifestyle choices. A global, cross-cultural, analysis would be desirable, and all of the schemas identified in the last section for the purpose of identifying the great currents pushing us forward could also be applied here. As with the process of identifying the authentic currents, the key here will be to not only recognize and validate the relevant concepts, ethics, and lifestyles, but to somehow transcend, synergize, and project them forward into the near future so that they can be articulated with maximum attractive effect.
Finally, as the author of the present analysis has previously written about, individuals who participate in co-creating The Second Enlightenment will undoubtedly have a very pragmatic, experimental, and nuts-and-bolts approach to both physical and spiritual reality. Thus:
Figuring out "What Works," how to communicate "What Works," and having a sustained focus on the collection, creation, and distribution of enlightenment technologies and transformational tools, is squarely within the pragmatic American philosophical tradition, and yet is also completely consonant with most varieties of mystical traditions, past and present, as well as some but not all varieties of Eastern Mysticism. If a second Enlightenment is possible, why not start it here and now? (http://www.enlightenment.com/blogs/j/jordan/archive/000246.html )
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Dozens of research entry points have already been suggested in this Preliminary Analysis. However, there are many other thinkers, organizations, and organized movements to be taken into account and at least roughly considered if the goals listed in Section II are to be expeditiously achieved and The Second Enlightenment is to be most powerfully manifested.
The following list is by no means complete, but is rather suggestive of the scope of who and what should be included in any detailed future analyses:
- the major European Enlightenment thinkers, from scientists and economists to philosophers and religious figures (see http://www.bartleby.com for a good listing of these)
- the major spiritual teachers and teachings of all ages, from the earliest known societies through the major world religions
- authentic modern spiritual teachers and teachings, both gurus and pandits, including, e.g., Ken Wilber, Michael Murphy, Sir Aurobindo, William James, Thomas Maxwell, Ulrich Beck, Richard Kirby, Aldous Huxley, Ram Das, Alan Watts, David Bedden (see http://www.opendemocracy.net/themes/article-5-1434.jsp ), Walter Truett Anderson (author of the recent The Next Enlightenment), Peter Russell, Gary Zukav, Allan Combs, Don Beck, Bill Granstaff (see http://www.urantiabook.org/archive/sfj/enlightn.htm ), Dr. Volker Mueller (see http://www.ibka.org/en/articles/ag02/mueller.html ), Jean Houston, and many others
- great historical figures, from politics, science, art, and other domains, e.g., Martin Luther King, Einstein, Ghandi, Alan Ginsberg, Leonard Cohen, and many more
In addition, there are specific movements afoot or modern organizations that are already aiming at something very much like The Second Enlightenment. These include:
- the Spiral of Development of Spiral Dynamics movement
- the Integral movement, generally conceived, including Wilber and the disowned transpersonal psychology movement
- various Utopian movements, both residential and in cyberspace, that need to be identified and analyzed – there may be dozens or hundreds of these
- progressives movements in the Arts, Sciences, and Business, that once again need to be identified and analyzed – there may be dozens or hundreds of these)
- the Scottish Tartan Transformation Project (see http://tartan.communitiesofthefuture.org/second-enlightenment.html and http://tartan.communitiesofthefuture.org/articles/a-second-enlightenment.html ); interestingly, one of the strongest existing efforts towards catalyzing what has been specifically denominated as a Second Enlightenment comes from a Scottish organization which takes deep pride in the role that the Scots (starting with David Hume) played in the later part of the European Enlightenment:
Today, we face the same need for a new framework of "ideas" that will undergird a new type of society. Instead of the standard, one size fits all, approaches and hierarchical structures so important to the success of the Industrial Age, there is a need to shift to ideas and methods that give rules and principles consistent with a dynamic age in which there is constant change. It is becoming apparent that there is a need for a 2nd Enlightenment akin to the significance of transformative thought that occurred in Scotland in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Of course, standard religious views of the future of spirituality – everything from the Hindu and Mayan views of history to the Judeo/Muslim/Christian influences on today’s world – should also be taken into account. Will there be a Second Coming? Is this the Kali Yuga? Are we at the end of a Great Cycle? The mythical significance and deep meanings that are transmitted in tradition religious accounts can have great usefulness in the co-creation of The Second Enlightenment, especially if history and evolution is ultimately more cyclical (or holographic) in nature than it is linear.
Similarly, recent cultural outbreakings of awareness, such as the 1960’s generally and the "Age of Aquarius," should be taken into account. Was there a genuine flowering of consciousness in the 1960’s? If so, what caused this, and what, if anything, was transmitted that is still alive and vital today? Can that transmission be identified, cultured, and nurtured? If so, how?
Ultimately, the best tool for determining what should be considered in a more thoroughgoing analysis of The Second Enlightenment Project is our collective intuition. An old trick is to attempt to cast oneself into the possible future that one most desires (one, for example, in which The Second Enlightenment has been fully realized), and from the perspective of that possible future, to feel one’s way back into the present and then take action. In this way, we can draw sustenance and guidance from our best possible future, and bootstrap that future into existence. For a poetic statement of this possibility involving the end of time and the necessity of bringing to bear all the love that ever has or ever will be, please listen to the interview conducted with Bruce Damer available at http://www.enlightenment.com/b_archives/000466.html .
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Actualizing The Second Enlightenment is a huge undertaking, but it may be the most worthwhile undertaking imaginable. This Preliminary Analysis has attempted to give an idea of the different pitfalls and possibilities inherent in an undertaking of this scope. Undoubtedly, a great deal has been left out, but that, in part, is the point: it would not be possible to easily bring all of the relevant data, information, knowledge, and wisdom into one place, analyze it, and come out with simple solutions.
Instead, The Second Enlightenment Project, whether or not it goes forward by that name, is a work in progress, just as each of us, and humanity as a whole, and life as a whole, and our planetary system as a whole, and our solar system as a whole, and the galactic system as a whole, and so on, is a work in progress. We each do the best that we can, and recognize, eventually, that not only is this true of ourselves personally, but it is true of all human beings and of all life itself.
The Second Enlightenment Project, by whatever name it may finally take, and in whatever form it may ultimately manifest, is our future to envision, embrace, and co-create. If we simply get out of our own way, the future that we have all always wanted may be closer than we think it is.
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