This week's article is the third in a six or seven week series. Each week, I'm publishing one of the chapters of a document I'm in the process of writing; a 'manifesto' for what I call "The Thought Revolution". The later chapters of the manifesto will include a vision of our future as individuals, businesses, societies and as an entire species. Here's chapter 2…
The Thought Revolution
Chapter 2 – The Solution:
Clarity of Understanding
"The major problems in the world are the result of the difference
between how nature works and the way people think."
The major problems in the world are the result of a misunderstanding
The introduction to this manifesto included a list of problems (ranging from stress and addiction to war and terrorism) that have dogged humanity for millennia, despite our extraordinary technological advances. The reason these problems have been so “solution-resistant” until now is because they each have their roots in a factor which has been largely invisible. These problems are grounded in an ancient superstition that persists to this day; the outside-in misunderstanding of reality. The outside-in misunderstanding doesn't just give rise to these problems; it also clouds our perception when we try to solve them.
The solution to a misunderstanding is clarity; an insight into how the world already works
The modern world is built on the insights that have allowed our predecessors to ‘see through’ the misunderstandings of their age. In each case, the clarity of understanding we take for granted today started with an insight, followed by a hard-won battle with the compelling delusions of the day…
Modern industry: In the 1600s, most scientists mistakenly believed that the planets were prevented from falling to earth by “celestial spheres” which kept them in place. Issac Newton’s insightful discovery of universal gravitation and the laws of motion created a foundation for modern science, and made many of the innovations of the industrial revolution possible. Modern construction, transport and engineering have their roots in Newton’s insights.
Modern chemistry: In the 1700s, scientists mistakenly believed that combustible materials burned because they contained a nonexisting element they called “phlogiston”. Antoine Lavoisier’s flash of insight concerning the role oxygen plays in combustion led to the chemical revolution. Much of modern industry, agriculture and medicine is grounded in Lavoisier’s insights.
Modern medicine: In the 1800s, doctors mistakenly believed that disease and illness were caused by bad smells which they called “miasmas”. Ignatz Semmelweis had a sudden realisation about “something invisible” on the doctors’ hands and instruments, whoch led to the germ theory of disease, and modern antiseptic procedures. The fact that you’re even alive today likely bears a debt of thanks to Semmelweis’ insight, and the pioneering work of those who built on it.
In each case, these pioneers had profound insights that allowed them to ‘see through’ widespread misunderstandings of the day; ‘common sense’ delusions that looked normal and obvious to their contemporaries. The superstitious misunderstandings gave way to clarity of understanding, revealing pre-existing principles at the heart of how nature already works. The world we live in today is the extraordinary legacy of those pioneers’ insights; a legacy that would have seemed unimaginable in their day.
Modern psychology: Today, in the early 21st century, most of humanity (including leading psychologists, sociologists, self-help gurus, neurologists, doctors, business leaders and politicians) mistakenly believe that our felt experience of life comes from factors other than our moment-to-moment thinking; from past experience, future prospects and current circumstances. This outside-in misunderstanding gives rise to a tsunami of superstitious thinking. Just as ignorance of germs and bacteria was the cause of so much suffering, misery and death prior to the 20th century, the outside-in misunderstanding is the cause of many of our most serious problems as individuals, organisations, societies and as a global community.
An insight into how our experience of life is created is the key to psychological freedom
CLARITY refers to the natural capacity for experience – thinking, feeling and perceiving – that all human beings are born with. This innate capacity generates 100% of our experience of life, moment-to-moment, from the inside-out. The principles behind CLARITY were insightfully discovered by a man called Sydney Banks. You can think of Banks as the Newton, Lavoisier or Semmelweis of psychology.
In 1973, a Scottish welder named Sydney Banks living in Western Canada had a sudden, transformational insight into the nature of experience. In a matter of moments he went from being a middle-aged man riddled with anxieties and insecurities to being calm, clear and peaceful, with a profound understanding of how our experience of reality is created.
The Oxford English Dictionary describes a principle as “the fundamental source or basis for something.” As time passed, Banks started to talk in these terms, explaining that our experience of life is generated from principles. You can think of these principles as the source of (and basis for) 100% of our experience. These are the fundamental principles behind CLARITY:
THOUGHT: The reality principle
People think. The principle of THOUGHT refers to our innate capacity to generate a perceptual reality; an outer and inner world that we can see, hear, feel, taste and smell. This principle is also the source of the countless thoughts and perceptions that arise in the course of a day.
CONSCIOUSNESS: The experience principle
People are aware. The principle of CONSCIOUSNESS refers to our capacity to have an experience of our thinking; it brings our THOUGHT-generated experiential reality to life. We're always living in the feeling of our thinking, and it's CONSCIOUSNESS that enables us to experience it.
MIND: The power principle
People are alive. The principle of MIND is the “intelligent energy” that shows up in all aspects of the natural world. MIND is the “power-source” behind life. Various cultures and fields have different names for this power: Life-force, universal energy, chi, nature, the great spirit, God, the no-thing, evolution, random chance etc. You can think of it in whatever way makes sense to you.
CLARITY: Clear Mind, Better Performance, Bigger Results (© 2013 Jamie Smart)
Every human being has the capacity for clarity, insight and psychological freedom
The pioneering psychologist William James once stated that if we were ever to discover the fundamental principles or laws that govern human psychology, it would be the most important advancement for humanity since we learned to control fire. The principles that William James dreamed of have been discovered. Every human being has the capacity to insightfully realise the principles behind CLARITY, see through the outside-in misunderstanding, and benefit from a more principled understanding of life.
The principles behind CLARITY represent a new paradigm for our understanding of how the mind works, and how life works. As such, it represents the next stage in human evolution. While the external circumstances of life ebb and flow, the principles behind CLARITY create our experience of life; the good and the bad, the blessings and the curses, the ups and the downs. Your clarity of understanding of CLARITY is the key to psychological freedom, the source of…
• Peace of mind, clarity and wellbeing – that sense of feeling at ease, comfortable in your own skin.
• Peak performance, including the flow states that give rise to excellence (what musicians, dancers and athletes sometimes refer to as being “in the zone”).
• The resiliency and inner sense of security that gives individuals and organisations the ability to thrive and flourish in times of uncertainty, regardless of the circumstances.
• Creativity, imagination and the “quantum leaps” that bring fresh ideas, new perspectives and innovative solutions to problems.
• The sense of love and connection we feel with others (it's also responsible for that sense of connection with life itself that people experience in moments of transcendence and awe).
• Wisdom, intuition and the “gut feeling” that helps us make great decisions. It's behind our ability to have insights and a-ha moments, as we learn, grow and evolve.
• CLARITY is also the source of passion and purpose, that sense of focus and direction that helps human beings thrive.
• It generates happiness, joy and contentment, as well as the sense of freedom and aliveness we all desire. Our ability to “be in the present” and “live in the now” is also the result of our CLARITY.
A high-quality “mental and emotional lifestyle” looks good on everyone
The list above summarises the kind of high-quality “mental and emotional lifestyle” people experience when we're aligned and in-tune with the principles of CLARITY.
And what you may not have realised until now is that an innate knowledge of these principles already exists within the consciousness of every human being. Each one of us has the capacity to have profound insights into the inside-out nature of life, and experience an increase in our clarity of understanding. As you increase your understanding of CLARITY, your levels of clarity, wisdom and wellbeing will also increase. While people's tastes vary when it comes to the material aspects life vary, a high-quality mental and emotional lifestyle looks good on everyone!
And just as most children now grow up with an understanding of germs and bacteria, it’s reasonable to assume that future generations will grow up with an implicit understanding of the principles behind CLARITY.
Thought experiment: The power of understanding pre-existing principles
Stop for a moment, and think of a bright nine or ten-year-old who you know. Chances are, that child has a 'good enough' understanding of germs and bacteria, and has a grasp of the implications of that understanding.
Now, if you could send the child back in time to the 1840s, they would have better instincts on how to improve medical treatment and procedures than even the most talented, respected and well-educated doctors of the day. They would have 'eyes' for problems and solutions that the greatest medical minds of the time were oblivious to.
Why? Because of a deeper understanding of how life already works.
It must then stand to reason that in any area of life where we are currently struggling, challenged or lost, the same logic would apply. Whether it's war, terrorism or poverty; whether it's crime, divorce or stress. A bright nine or ten-year-old from a point in the future when the principles behind how life already works are seen more deeply would, by definition, be able to guide us more ably than the brightest psychologists, neuroscientists or religious leaders of today.
Understanding the principles behind how life already works is the ultimate leverage point in any endeavour. In fact, the understanding of pre-existing principles is so highly leveraged, that an appropriately educated nine or ten-year-old, armed with principles, could outperform the greatest minds of our generation.
The outside-in superstition is a killer-virus, but we’ve eradicated killer-viruses before
The outside-in superstition is a toxic virus that has infected humanity throughout recorded history. But every virus has a shelf-life. The smallpox virus used to be one of the leading causes of death for human beings. The “ancient scourge” infected hundreds of millions of people in the 20th century. In 1967 alone, the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimated that 15 million people contracted smallpox, and 2 million people died from it.
Today, no-one has smallpox. Not one, single person. It was eradicated in 1979, following an intensive global vaccination campaign launched by the WHO in 1967.
Stop and think about that for a moment: A terrible disease that had been afflicting human beings for at least 3000 years has been eliminated. Smallpox is gone. It's no longer an issue.
For most of human history, the source of smallpox was unknown; the variola viruses that caused it were invisible. There were attempts to inoculate people against the disease dating back thousands of years, but they were often dangerous and ineffective. Dr Edward Jenner's 1796 discovery that people could be inoculated with cowpox serum saved countless lives, paving the way for modern vaccines and smallpox' eventual eradication.
It didn't happen overnight, but it happened. And it started with the realisation of (and the WHO’s commitment to) a new possibility. Just 23 years later, on May 8 1980, the WHO released this statement:
“…the world and its peoples have won freedom from smallpox, which was a most devastating disease
sweeping in epidemic form through many countries since earliest time, leaving death,
blindness and disfigurement in its wake and which only a decade ago
was rampant in Africa, Asia and South America.”
Smallpox was an everyday reality for people in the 18th century. It killed millions of them each year. Those that survived were left with disfiguring scars, blindness or both. To the average European, the idea of a world without smallpox would have been unimaginable.
Today, we live in that “unimaginable” world.
With the power of insight, we can eradicate this devastating mind-virus
Let's take some poetic license and repurpose the WHO's statement to imagine a new possibility. I invite you to envision a time in the future where the WHO releases a statement like this:
“…the world and its peoples have won freedom from the outside-in misunderstanding,
a destructive meme, a mind-virus which was a devastating superstition sweeping in epidemic form
through many countries since earliest time, leaving war, poverty, mental illness,
crime, inequality, addiction and environmental pillage in its wake,
and which only a decade ago was rampant in every country on the planet.
Humanity has individually and collectively realised the inside-out nature of life;
we have 'woken up' to our true nature.”
At first, the idea of ‘awakened humanity’ can seem naïve and overly optimistic. The chaos of the early 21st century can make the prospect of awakened humanity seem unlikely at best. “After all”, we may say, “We haven't been able to put an end to war, poverty or hunger, so how likely are we to suddenly wake up to our true nature and start treating each other with compassion, dignity and respect?” But that's only because of where we're looking at it from. There are three key factors that we need to bear in mind:
Key Factor Number 1 – The direction you're looking in: The big shifts are hardly ever obvious looking forward, but they're always obvious looking back. The Semmelweis reflex is the name given to the knee-jerk rejection of new information because it disagrees with an existing paradigm / belief-system. In the initial phase, the new thing can look ridiculous to many, “true but trivial” to others, and dangerously threatening to yet others. The initial phase inevitably includes hostility and rejection, but the final phase is always widespread acceptance.
Key Factor Number 2 – Global connectivity: We are more tangibly connected than ever before. Out of 7 billion people on the planet, 6 billion have a mobile phone. Billions have internet access, with the information-power that brings. This global connectivity means that new ideas and understandings can spread more quickly and effectively than ever before.
Key Factor Number 3 – Where the power is coming from: To our human intellect, with its inherent limitations, a shift of this magnitude is bound to seem overwhelming. But we're not in this alone. We've got the incredible engine of evolution on our side, powered by the principle of MIND, the intelligent energy behind life. You see…
Evolution is still in progress; humanity is evolving
With our iPads, gene-therapies and cellphones, it's easy to think that everything that can be invented has been invented; that we know everything there is to know. But consider this…
The middle ages looked modern to the people of the day…
The plough, the compass and gunpowder seemed “leading-edge” to the average 13th century European. Germ-theory, air travel and social networking were as distant and unimaginable to them as the possibility of “awakened humanity” is to most people on the planet today.
But that didn't stop it happening.
1.5 million years ago, Homo Erectus (upright man) walked the Earth, evolving into Homo Neanderthalis (neanderthal man) around 300,000 years ago, and into Homo Sapiens (thinking man) around 200,000 years ago. We are descendants of the first Homo Sapiens, and the great sweep of evolution is continuing. It can be fascinating to consider what the next evolutionary step for human beings will be. But here's the thing…
Our next step is the evolution of our “psychological software”
Our species' evolutionary steps until now have involved changes in physiology and brain structure – an evolution of the “hardware of humanity”. But the next stage in human evolution is looking likely to be something quite different – a change in humanity's “psychological software”.
A possible timeline for our future evolution
In 2009, I was struggling. I’d been feeling “off-track” for over a year, and was searching for a sense of purpose and direction in life. I’d been introduced to the principles behind CLARITY, but hadn’t yet realised their power, or the significance of what they represented (I’d been seeing them as “true but trivial”). In June of 2009, I had a profound insight: I suddenly knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that this understanding was what I was going to be learning, teaching and sharing for the next 20 years. I phoned Nikki, my business partner, told her that we were going to be changing direction, then immediately immersed myself in this understanding. I’ve been doing this work ever since, but when I told people about my 2009 insight, I would edit it slightly, saying I knew I’d be sharing this understanding “for the rest of my life”. Somehow, I felt that saying I’d be sharing it “for the next 20 years” gave the impression that I was lacking in commitment! Then recently, I had another realisation: What if my insight was “for the next 20 years” because that’s how long it’s going to take before this understanding is widespread? Whether that’s the case or not, that’s the deadline I’m working to: December 31st, 2029.
Until now, humanity's mental software has had a virus in the system, the outside-in superstition. But as we continue waking up to the principles behind our experience of life and the inside-out nature of reality, the virus will gradually be eradicated. Imagine the students of the future, learning about the history of human evolution. What would the “evolutionary timeline” look like to those students, once we've realised our next evolutionary step?
In the next chapter, you’ll find a thumbnail analysis of the current state of some of humanity's big issues from an CLARITY perspective, as well as a concise vision for the future. For reasons of brevity, the analyses of current situations are necessarily simplistic. The visions for future scenarios are an unashamedly Utopian outline of some of the new possibilities that a widespread realisation of the inside-out nature of reality could bring into being.