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Global Consciousness, Global Mind, Global Brain
1  Trustee and Executive Director Foundation For the Future Retired.


Two parallel streams of enquiry pertaining to Global Consciousness/Mind/Brain are converging. One stream of enquiry is establishing the emergence of this phenomenon as a logical outcome of cultural evolution, the penultimate stage in evolution that started with the big bang and along the arrow of time passed through the particulate, galactic, stellar, planetary, chemical and biological stages. The final upcoming stage being “ethical evolution”. All along adhering to and complying with the basic rules of selection for fitness and survival, in the narrow conventional sense. The stage of cultural evolution is of competition among memes, and selection for fitness of a set of them and the concurrent emergence of a metaphoric or figurative concept of Global Consciousness/Mind/Brain that is synthetic in nature, enabled by technological connectivity of the billions of humans in cyberspace, causing increasing collaboration and coordination on a variety of issues that have a bearing on the future of the species.

The second stream of enquiry, not scientifically proven, and may never be, is premised on an integration of ancient philosophical speculations. This second stream seeks to establish an implicit and Apriori universal consciousness/mind/brain, the presence of a field that is strictly “information” with non-local communication between minds, and an evolutionary process that has always manifested the phenomena of sociality, connection and group altruism, but now more evident than ever because of the exponential increases in human connectivity on the planet.

This paper will explore and assess these two propositions as fact or fiction and doing so put it in the context of the survival of the human species going forward.


The dawn of the 21st century represents a unique watershed in human evolution. Especially taking human evolution into account in evolutionary time frames, with particular emphasis on human cultural evolution.

A strong case can be made for the fact that as a species, we are on the pivot of major transitions. These may be described as a) Belief/Faith systems challenged by Knowledge, specifically the exponential growth in knowledge about the human genome, and the accompanying challenges to faith and belief systems worldwide. b) The power and influence of the Collective over the individual steadily eroding in favor of the Power of the individual, as is evident from the global trends toward liberal democracies and free markets in their many variations and the steady decline and fall of authoritarian regimes of all varieties. c) Local, regional, national human identity giving way and forcing the need for a Global and Planetary identity, once again evident from the increasing interaction of humans across the planet in all realms of human activity. Economic, Political, Social, Cultural, and the issues confronting the human species, all of which have approached magnitudes and levels that are no longer solvable based on our earlier orientations and identities. “They are transforming everything from geopolitics to the structure of families. And they pose problems on a scale that humans have little experience with. As Harvard University biologist, E.O.Wilson puts it, we are about to pass through “the bottleneck”, a period of maximum stress on natural resources and human ingenuity.”[1] 

Coincident with the onset of these transitions however is the timely emergence of what might be described as the phenomenon of Global Brain, Global Mind, Global Consciousness, providing an opportunity for humans as a species to manage these transitions.

Global Consciousness, Global Mind, Global Brain: A Consequence?

“In the eyes of the prophets of the eighteenth century, the world appeared really as no more than a jumble of confused and loose relationships; and the divination of a believer was required to feel the heart of that sort of embryo. Now, less than two hundred years later, here we are penetrating (though hardly conscious of the fact) into the reality, at any rate the material reality, of what our fathers expected. In the course of a few generations all sorts of economic and cultural links have been forged around us and they are multiplying in geometric progression. Nowadays, over and above the bread which to simple Neolithic man symbolized food, each man demands his daily ration of iron, copper and cotton, of electricity, of oil and radium, of discoveries, of the cinema and of international news. It is no longer a simple field, however big, but the whole earth which is required to nourish each one of us. If words have any meaning, is this not like some great body which is being born – with its limbs, its nervous system, its perceptive organs, its memory – the body in fact of that great Thing which had to come to fulfill the ambitions aroused in the reflective being by the newly acquired consciousness that he was one with and responsible to an evolutionary all?” [2]

Let us first look at the current situation. In simple terms, a human being can call upon the full range of human mental and emotional experiences on a global scale. In so doing we can remain solitary or collectivize on any scale. We can access, use, transmit, communicate in person or indirectly, data, information, thought, ideas, concepts, knowledge. We can initiate, organize, plan, schedule, act as individuals or collectively on any scale. It is as if we, seven plus billion individuals, replicate the exquisite beauty and complexity of individual brains. Marvin Minsky, in “Society of Mind” describes the workings of the individual human mind. “I will call ‘society of mind’ this scheme in which each mind is made of many smaller processes. These we will call agents. Each Mental agent, by itself can only do one simple thing that needs no mind or thought at all. Yet when we join these agents in societies-in certain very special ways – this leads to true intelligence.” [3] Here, the reference is to the compartments of the human mind related to language, memory, analysis and more basic elements such as synapses, nodes, dendrites, the chemical and electrical processes that accompany the workings of the human brain. If we were to simply consider each human brain as such a component, agent or agency in the 6 billion strong brains, we arrive at the same conclusion of a provisional creation of Global Mind. A result of the networking of humans on the planet via the technologies of the internet, the world wide web, powerful search engines, and the stored memory of our entire history on the planet in virtual cyberspace to call upon at will. All put in service to coordinate, plan, execute at any level of organization, hierarchy, structure.

To elaborate the workings of such a society of minds, it will be useful to employ an example that illustrates the functioning of the individual mind. “To start to see how minds are like societies, try this:

Pick up a cup of tea.
Your grasping agents want to keep hold of the cup,
Your balancing agents want to keep the tea from spilling out.
Your thirst agents want you to drink the tea.
Your moving agents want to get the cup to your lips.

Yet none of these consume your mind as you roam about the room talking to your friend. You scarcely think at all about balance, which has no concern with Grasp. Grasp has no interest in Thirst, and Thirst is not involved in your social problems. Why not? Because they can depend on one another. If each does its own little job, the really big job will get done by all of them drinking tea.” [4] It shouldn’t be too difficult to draw a parallel functioning of global mind with individuals as the elements of such coordination for the “Big Job”. It is in this sense that one could establish the fact that “Global Mind” is indeed in the making for the first time in human history. This also points to the fact that “one dissects a body, but finds no life inside. What is mind? One dissects a brain but finds no mind therein.” [5]

There is then the problem of Consciousness. If we allow for the possibility that Global Mind is a moving, provisional construction and not a thing in itself, what about the notion of Global Consciousness? Once again, reverting to the current findings on individual human consciousness can help. “Understanding consciousness requires the consideration of the “movie in the brain” that we create on an ongoing basis and the “self” that is participating, observing and owns the movie in the brain. Current research points to the fact that “ the idea of spectator is constructed within the movie, and no ghostly homunculus haunts the theater. Objective brain processes knit the subjectivity of the conscious mind out of the cloth of sensory mapping. And because the most fundamental sensory mapping pertains to body states and is imaged as feelings, the sense of self in the act of knowing emerges as a special kind of feeling-the feeling of what happens in an organism caught in the act of interacting with an object.” [6] In other words, there is no specific thing identifiable as “self”, the conscious observer, as such the act of being conscious is also a provisional construction. It should be obvious that this can be extended to incorporate and accept the notion of “Global Consciousness” operating with individual brains acting as collaborating creators of the movie. Otherwise, if we were to insist on “this notion of a homunculus – a little person inside each self-leads only to a paradox, then, that inner self requires yet another movie screen inside itself, on which to project what it has seen, and then to watch that play within a play – we would need another self inside a self..” [7]

The insistence, therefore, on the separateness of the brain, mind, and consciousness as entities that can be objectified and understood is proving to be wrong. “I think therefore I am” is an erroneous proposition that served us in good stead within the paradigm of a mechanistic world view in laying bare a lot of smaller truths, but no longer valid. “Nearly all our scientific colleagues still seek “mechanisms” to “explain living matter”, and they expect laws to emerge amenable to mathematical analysis. We demur; we should shed Descartes’ legacy that surrounds us still and replace it with a deeper understanding of life’s sentience.” [8]

Vernadsky and Teilhard De Chardin stipulated that “have detected one and the same fundamental processes, always recognizable. We saw geogenesis promoted to biogenesis, which, turned out in the end to be nothing else than psychogenesis. With and within the crisis of reflection, the next term in the series manifests itself. Psychogenesis has led to man. Now it effaces itself, relieved or absorbed by another and a higher function-the engendering and subsequent development of the mind. In one word noogenesis. [9]

We have thus far explored the notion of global mind and global consciousness as a synthetic outcome of the evolutionary paradigm since the big bang, culminating in the final stages of human collaboration and coordination on a global scale, signaling the final phase of cultural evolution.

Global Consciousness, Global Mind, Global Brain: The First Cause?

At the outset it should be stated without equivocation that the alternate postulate of apriori Global Consciousness, Mind, Brain that we are about to explore are not proven scientific facts and may never be proven. Even so let us not ignore Kuhn’s warning and stay imprisoned in a paradigm that does not currently show or allow for the possibility of an “apriori” existence of Consciousness, Mind and Brain either.

There are alternative postulates regarding global consciousness/mind/brain that need to be examined. Postulates that illuminate and point to a more integrated coherent, and certainly appealing conceptual framework perhaps. This framework is in contrast to the notion of “emergence” of Global Mind and Global Consciousness described above in a narrow sense as a logical extension of evolutionary processes in the cultural realm in the conventional sense. An end point described as “Omega Point” by Teilhard De Chardin. The alternative postulates are premised on the philosophical and scientific speculations pertaining to the presence of Apriori Universal Consciousness/Mind, of the now Scientifically defensible concept of Gaia within an enlarged and expanded comprehension of evolutionary processes inclusive of Synergism and Sociality, the indications from Physics of the possible presence of an “Akashic field” of information that allows for non-local communication, collaboration and coordination.

The fundamental starting point for this alternative paradigm has to be speculations about Universal Consciousness as laid out in the Vedanta of Indian Philosophy.

“The identity between the world and Brahman is explained. On this ground that all is known when the “one” is known is accounted for. Since all entities are real only as the effects of Brahman and as ensouled by Brahman, it has been said, “That is True”. In no other way are they real. Just as, in the illustration of clay and its products, the products are real only as of the nature of clay, even so the world is only as sustained by the indwelling Brahman. [10]

The universal, omniscient backdrop of Brahman as the primary stage for all further acts and scenes of the evolutionary drama, Maya, as described in Vedanta, explains the onset of the multiple layers of differentiated Consciousness, Mind, Brain, Matter, actually in the reverse, as manifestations, that are distinct and yet one and the same as the original consciousness. A logical fallacy it would seem but defended as follows. “The signfication of an identical entity by several terms which are applied to that entity on different grounds is coordinated predication. In the illustration of (say) a Purple Robe, the basic substance is one and the same, though purpleness and robeness are different from it as well as from each other. That is how the unity of a Purple Robe is established. The central principle is that whatever exists as an attribute of a substance, that being inseparable from the substance is one with that substance.” [11]

In that all is undifferentiated Brahman (Nirguna Brahman) giving rise to differentiated Brahman (Saguna Brahman), “we shall realize that there is but one force in the world, a single unique current which passes through us and through all things and which puts on one substance or another according to the level of its action. It is this force which links up everything, animates everything; this, the fundamental substance of the universe: Consciousness force, Chit Agni. (consciousness heat). [12]

Which then leads to the realization that, “there is a consciousness also in the plant, in the metal, in the atom, in electricity, in everything that belongs to physical nature; we shall find even that it is not really in all respects a lower or more limited mode than the mental.” [13]

As Prof. Erwin Laszlo puts it, “The Indian Vedic tradition regards consciousness not as an emergent property that comes into existence through material structures such as the brain and the nervous system, but as a vast field that constitutes the primary reality of the universe. In itself, this field is unbounded and undivided by objects and individual experiences. Underlying the diversified and localized gross layers of ordinary consciousness there is a unified, non-localized and subtle layer: Pure Consciousness. [14]

The paradigm of “evolution” has also come a long way from its original moorings in Darwinian Selection for fitness and survival of the individual. New comprehensions in Biology, especially the   decoding of the DNA molecule caused subsequent reframing of the survival argument in terms of the selfishness of the Gene but still confined to the notion of individual fitness, selection and survival. But a lot has happened since then. A large body of work now supports a much more comprehensive view of evolution itself. The most important of these new findings are that the mind body separation is an aberration. An expanded and extended version of Evolution, Gaia and Self Organizing criticality are important new additions to our repertoire for considering human futures. It is not in the scope of this paper to delve into great detail about these concepts but to state the essence of these ideas briefly. Extended versions of evolutionary theory are inclusive of the notions of group altruism, synergy, non-linearity, symbiosis and the like. Gaia is the idea of the Earth as a single organism, depicted as Mother Goddess and we as humans but a connected part with everything else and self organizing criticality applied to humans, as a process that allows for individual(s) participation but not the determinants of the final outcome.

And modern physics is on the verge of leading us toward an affirmation of some wondrous old postulations. “As long as a particle is not observed, measured or interacted with in any way, it is in a curious state that is the superposition of all its possible states. When however the particle is observed, measured or subjected to an interaction, this state of superposition becomes resolved; the particle is then in a single state only, like any ordinary thing. Because the state of superposition is described in a complex wave function associated with the name of Erwin Schroedinger, when the superposed state resolves is said that the wave function collapses. [15]

Prof. Lazlo then goes on to say: “At the quantum level, reality is strange and it is non-local; the whole universe is a network of time and space transcending interconnection. Could the non locality of the most basic elements of the universe be due to a fundamental field?” [16] Could it be that the Akashic field is active in not only the cosmological scale, but also the ultra small scale of physical reality?[17] “Is this why we wake up in the middle of the night with a brilliant idea because others have been thinking about the same thing giving us the benefit? Or is this why a dog knows that his master has arrived long before he walks through the door? If one accepts the fundamental continuity between body and mind, thought is essentially like all other physiology and behavior. Thinking, like excreting and ingesting, results from lively interactions of a being’s chemistry. If what is called “thought” results from such cell interactions, then perhaps communicating organisms, each themselves thinking, can lead to a process greater than individual thought.”[18]


Two different perspectives on the nature and content of Global Brain, Global Mind and Global Consciousness have been presented thus far. The first as an emergence at the end point and the second as an apriori starting point Both are of course provisional hypotheses. What cannot be contested however is that something is afoot at a level higher than the brains, minds and consciousness of humans at the individual level. It can be described as Brains, Minds and Consciousness operating as an entity at the planetary level. An operating unit above and beyond that of the sum of the awareness of the billions of individuals. It will be safe to conclude that at this point, that the idea of Global Brain, Global Mind and Global Consciousness is neither fact nor fiction.

It is for all intents and purposes a unique time for humans on the planet. We are at a crossroads as a species. Our survival as a species will depend on how we conduct ourselves. In this context, the idea of global brain, mind and consciousness may be fiction or figments of our imaginations, even so, it may be necessary for us to invent one or pretend that this exists to energize and motivate us to act in our collective interest to survive. Nothing less will do and we are running out of time.

At the planetary level a “perfect storm” is brewing. A storm comprising multiple elements that portend disastrous outcomes if we don’t pay heed and attempt to resolve them at that level incorporating the notion of Global Brain, Mind and Consciousness. Elements such as: i. the failure of Governance at the level of the Nation State based on narrow, provincial identities for humans, ii. Anthropogenic Climate Change, which according to many scientists who have concluded that it may already have reached a stage of “irreversibility”, iii. Global poverty and inequality for a majority of the planets inhabitants pointing to a failure of existing sanctities in Economics, iv. Nuclear proliferation, v. Global Demographic Transitions pointing to political, economic, social and cultural turmoil, vi. The centrifugality of “individualism” overpowering the “centripetality” of the collective, leading to a multitude of pathologies, and so on.

It is not an accident that a manifestation of the idea of Global Brain, Mind and Consciousness is what is now current in the terminology of future studies, viz. Conscious Evolution. A term that allows for the notion of human involvement as “Active Walkers” ( Lui Lam) in an evolutionary process, where we have the opportunity to guide ourselves into a safe haven. Failure to do so may very well result in our going the way of the Dinosaur.


  1. Musser, G. Sept.2005. “The Climax of Humanity” Scientific American. Pg.44
  2. Teilhard de Chardin,. 1959. The Phenomenon of Man. New York: Harper and Row, pp. 245-246.
  3. Minksy, M. 1985. The Society of Mind. New York: Simon and Schuster, Prologue p.17.
  4. ibid. p.20.
  5. ibid. p.41
  6. Damasio, A. Dec. 1999. “How the Brain Creates the Mind”. Scientific American, p.117.
  7. Minksy, M. 1985. The Society of Mind. New York: Simon and Schuster, Prologue p.50.
  8. Margulis, L. and Sagan, D. 1997. Slanted Truths. New York: Springer-Verlag, p.182.
  9. Raghavachar, S.S. 1956. Vedarthasamgraha of Sri Ramanujacarya. Mangalore: Sharada Press, p.V.
  10. ibid. p.VI.
  11. Satprem 1968. Sri Aurobindo, or the Adventure of Consciousness. Ponicherry, India: Sri Aurobindo Ashram Press, p.63.
  12. ibid. p.53.
  13. Laszlo, E. 2004. Science and the Akashic Field. Rochester, Vermont: Inner Traditions, p.155.
  14. ibid. p.19.
  15. ibid. p.31.
  16. ibid. p.35.
  17. Margulis, L. and Sagan, D. 1997. Slanted Truths. New York: Springer-Verlag, p.181.
  18. Teilhard de Chardin, P. 1959. The Phenomenon of Man. New York: Harper and Row, pp. 181.
  19. Margulis, L. and Sagan, D. 1997. Slanted Truths. New York: Springer-Verlag, p.156.
Keywords: Emergence, Synthetic,Information Field, thrival