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Pinchbeck: 1

As our resident shaman Daniel Pinchbeck reaches the end of his countdown to 2012, he envisages a future harnessed by humanity's global brain

Twelve months ago, I began a column for Dazed & Confused, looking toward 2012. Now upon us, this year completes the 5,125-year Long Count of the classic Maya civilisation of Mexico and Guatemala, in alignment with the prophecies of many traditional and indigenous cultures. From 1,500 years ago, the Maya foresaw our
time as a threshold of transformation and upheaval, the birthing of a new consciousness and an evolutionary leap for humanity and the earth. I believe that this is indeed happening now. The evidence is all around us.

As I discussed in previous columns, we confront an ecological crisis that threatens to annihilate our civilisation and potentially drive our species to extinction, or close to it, within this century. We are seeing accelerating species extinction, climate change, global depletion of basic resources such as oil and fresh water, melting of the ice caps, increase in natural disasters, manmade holocausts like the British Petroleum spill in the Gulf of Mexico and the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe in Japan. As temperatures rise five degrees in the next 50 years, scientists such as James Lovelock predict a vast reduction in human population – eking out survival on a much hotter, drier world – by 2100. The human species unleashed rampant destruction in the last centuries, as we developed our technological and industrial powers while locked in a mindset of separation and domination. We are now reaching the end of this paradigm, with the potential that something new can spontaneously emerge.

In fact, we are seeing that new thing emerging with Occupy Wall Street – now Occupy Everything – a new social force that has swept the world in the last few months. This leaderless, non-violent movement built within 30 days from 200 brave outsiders camping out in a small park in the financial district, has grown to hundreds of thousands of people in over 600 cities around the world. By the time this essay comes out, it will likely have morphed again. This rising up is happening outside of all political and institutional frameworks, following the blueprints of past insurgencies ranging from the Arab Spring to the Zapatista rebels in Chiapas, to the movement of Argentinian workers who took back their factories after the collapse of their economy a decade ago. The movement is forming its own deliberative bodies through General Assemblies, as people have done during past insurrections in France, Russia, and elsewhere.

This movement is an immune system response on the part of the collective human organism to the virus of domination that threatens to destroy our world and our future. It also reveals that humanity is amalgamating into a collective intelligence, a global brain, able to react and respond to threats as a holarchy, without centralised control. Over the next few years, we will see the development of new social institutions, alternative media, and instruments for exchanging value that support collaboration rather than competition and control. What I believe will happen is the rapid superseding of the current political, social, and economic structure to install a planetised society – call it civilisation 2.0 – based on restoration of the natural world, local communities, decentralised or horizontal power relations, equitable sharing of resources, and liberation of the physical, intellectual and creative commons.

We are the lucky ones who get to participate in the creative evolution of this movement toward human solidarity and liberation, if we so choose. Tangible and immediate steps we can take include divesting ourselves from large-scale financial institutions and multinational corporations, pursuing a path of voluntary simplicity, and offering our talents, resources, and skills to the ongoing insurrection. We can scrub away our inheritance of egotism and entitlement through various esoteric practices now globally available – personally, I prefer to vomit up the bitter residue of my persona through the occasional whopping dose of ayahuasca or some other psychoactive sacrament, but to each his own.

I recognise that many people remain cynical and pessimistic about the fate of the world. They have been indoctrinated into a narrow rationality and reductive empiricism that puts forth the hypothesis that consciousness is only brain-based, with no spiritual continuity possible after death. This hypothesis has not been experimentally confirmed, and in fact there is much evidence that consciousness is not brain-based, along with increasing data from scientific experiments that reveals the legitimacy of psychic or “psi” phenomena. From my exploration of shamanism, I have discovered that humans possess tremendous paranormal capacities. Just as we learned to harness electricity in the 19th century, transforming the geophysical nature of the planet through this energy in a mere 150 years, we will develop methods to harness psychic energy in the next decades, and use the collective field of psi to repair much of the damage we have done to our climate and our home planet.

It turns out that the Maya had it right. History is a giant alarm clock. As the bell starts to ring, we awaken from the dream, and remember who we are.

DANIEL PINCHBECK is the author of BREAKING OPEN THE HEAD, 2012: THE RETURN OF QUETZALCOATL, and the just-published NOTES FROM THE EDGE TIMES. He edits and is featured in the documentary, 2012: TIME FOR CHANGE