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Artwork Before Metamorphosis by Sophie

About the book

In this book, we want to share our find­ings in the unknown ter­ri­tory of human expe­ri­ence that we think is of para­mount impor­tance to human evo­lu­tion for the future. In explor­ing this new land, we have encoun­tered three phe­nom­ena: trans­for­ma­tion sig­nals, dynamic skills, and onto­log­i­cal invi­ta­tions. Cur­rently, we see our­selves as a trib­u­tary to those who have already set foot there and come back with remark­able infor­ma­tion. Informed by this, we have dis­cov­ered a unique approach to the evo­lu­tion of human needs and skills. Our story is about how we can move the world toward healthy progress, with new oppor­tu­ni­ties for us to learn and develop as indi­vid­u­als and collectives.

There has been no other time in his­tory where human influ­ence has been so strong and vis­i­ble here on Earth. Regard­ing the future, great new chal­lenges have appeared on our doorstep that demand soci­eties to change. Cli­mate change, the destruc­tion of nature, and grow­ing inequal­ity are some of the symp­toms that all point to a very fun­da­men­tal prob­lem, which is the way we think and act as human beings.

So, the ques­tion becomes ‘How do we as human beings need to change and grow to over­come these issues?’ This is what we are tack­ling in this book. To address that very ques­tion, we need to look at our behav­ior his­tor­i­cally as social beings. We also need some robust tools for light­ing the way for­ward. In par­tic­u­lar, we need an approach that is prac­ti­cal enough to give us the direc­tion and guid­ance for the rad­i­cal change that is needed.

We have lost the con­nec­tion to the future and it is high time to get it back. Essen­tially, our con­nec­tion to the future relies on the abil­ity to trans­form our­selves through learning.

Cur­rently, we progress pre­dom­i­nantly within the exist­ing para­me­ters of our con­vic­tions, belief sys­tems, world­views, or obser­va­tional dis­ci­plines. This means that every­thing we develop, cre­ate, dis­cover, research, and are will­ing to expe­ri­ence only enters our con­scious per­cep­tion within these para­me­ters. In other words, we are stuck with the ways we have learned to ful­fill our basic needs in the last hun­dreds of years.

The devel­op­ment of indus­trial soci­eties meant a huge leap for­ward in how we learned to respond to this call. In essence, our learn­ing has been based on mas­ter­ing the ful­fill­ment of our basic needs: food, safety, shel­ter, self-expres­sion, self-deter­mi­na­tion, and the abil­ity to enjoy. It is only nat­ural that those prin­ci­ples drive our thoughts, feel­ings and actions. The man­age­ment of our basic needs over a long period of devel­op­ment has pro­vided us with a pow­er­ful skillset that does just that: secur­ing our basic needs through try­ing to con­trol, reg­u­late and steer life itself. Man­ag­ing in this sense also means cre­at­ing a rather sta­tic world view that only addresses our basic need skills. All our actions are based on these deeply engrained convictions.

We will take a his­tor­i­cal look at the per­spec­tive of learn­ing: How the two great influ­en­tial forces of how to dis­cern and how to cor­re­late have enabled our learn­ing capac­ity through the devel­op­ment of sen­sors, proces­sors and dri­vers. More­over, we will explore the role of mean­ing and the sense of future to our abil­i­ties to transform.

As our analy­sis will show, stick­ing to our basic needs is sim­ply not enough for the future. It only per­pet­u­ates the vicious cycle of peo­ple con­stantly ful­fill­ing and then over-fill­ing their basic needs. 40% of the US adult pop­u­la­tion is already obese. The aver­age car size car is grow­ing, even if there fewer fam­ily mem­bers to share them. Simul­ta­ne­ously, global warm­ing is advanc­ing in leaps and bounds. The years of 2015-2018 were the four warmest years in recorded his­tory. Microplas­tic pol­lu­tion is spread­ing all around the world. More­over, riches are con­cen­trat­ing on ever fewer hands. In 2017, the world’s rich­est 1% got 82% of the wealth. Wealth in our soci­eties is not cas­cad­ing in ways that would enable every­one to have their basic needs met.

We seem to be slow learn­ers in see­ing the long-term impact of all our tech­ni­cal inno­va­tion and devel­op­ments. We see that short-term ben­e­fits are obvi­ous, but in the ini­tial design­ing phase of prod­ucts, the long-term side-effects are sel­dom taken into account.
Even in our per­sonal lives, for instance: the amount of anx­i­ety and stress reduc­ers that peo­ple are using to deal with the symp­toms of our present way of liv­ing, are just tak­ing away the symp­toms and have lit­tle effect on the cause.

To any mind­ful observer, some­thing seems to be fun­da­men­tally wrong in how we are liv­ing our day-to-day lives. We are doing the best we can and still we find it very hard to deal with these chal­lenges. Mostly we come up with solu­tions that, because they are designed in a sim­i­lar mind-set as we are used to, in the long-term gen­er­ated new challenges.

Our claim is that it has to do with our cur­rent state of being, which is pre­dom­i­nantly focused on ful­fill­ment of basic needs. To get past this, a much more intel­li­gent human behav­ior has to sur­face, before we make the con­di­tions for life unbear­able for civ­i­liza­tion of our size. We need to take the bold step as a human race and get to the next level of how we are and act in this world.

In this book, we will explore a new learn­ing that is in an area that lies beneath or above or out­side or beyond our exist­ing learn­ing para­me­ters. We see that all our cur­rent and future chal­lenges are point­ing towards an upgrade of our abil­i­ties. We will intro­duce the new level of human behav­ior that we call dynamic skills. Here we will not be locked any more with our self-cen­tered needs, but we will go far beyond them. More­over, we will describe how to be more dri­ven by the invi­ta­tions that come from out­side our­selves that con­nect us firmly to the future. We will con­clude this book by pro­vid­ing tools how to get con­nected to those invitations.

In fact, we are already observ­ing this rad­i­cal shift tak­ing place, though in early stages. In the near future, we hope this change is going to be rec­og­nized as a pen­e­trat­ing sig­nal into every cor­ner of our human com­mu­ni­ties. Our civ­i­liza­tion is ready for the next step: The future is call­ing us and we need to design our actions accord­ingly. As indi­vid­u­als and col­lec­tives, we can­not any­more ori­en­tate our actions on the basis of ful­fill­ing our present needs only. Learn­ing to col­lab­o­rate with future is the real chal­lenge we are fac­ing today. Over­com­ing this thresh­old will only hap­pen if we start to per­ceive and learn the skills capa­ble of tak­ing us past the cur­rent chal­lenges into a vivid con­nec­tion with future. It will ask a lot from our abil­ity to learn, our way of life and our being to sup­port the nec­es­sary transformation.

The future is always there if we enable our­selves to let it coop­er­ate with us.

Will you sup­port our work?

Markku Wile­nius & Peter Paul Gerbrands