Zen, Leadership, and Transformative Technologies
Gordon Greene, Ken Kushner and myself recently made a trek to California to meet with a number of key players at the intersection of technology, meditation and leadership – and what a great set of players we met! Special thanks to Dinabandhu Sarley and the folks at 1440 Multiversity, which is rapidly coming together into what promises to be an incredible learning venue. We’re pleased to be bringing Zen Leadership to Multiversity’s Service Week this fall in a special training for not-for-profits. A special thanks also to Mikey Siegel for connecting us with his consciousness hacking, transformative colleagues and welcoming us into their community. While Gordon, Ken and I each have specific interests in this area, we also share a sense that this is one of the most important discussions of our age, and one that we hope to make a rich contribution to.
By way of context, the three of us are old-school tech enthusiasts, each getting a doctorate in a branch of science before there was an Internet, and training for decades in an even older tradition: a highly physical form of Rinzai Zen. We see the potential for the technology tools of our age to make more efficient what is already a highly efficient technology for training the human being that nevertheless takes years to master. For example, Ken has worked on a biofeedback device – a harameter® – to more readily foster the deep abdominal breathing that characterizes our physical form of Zen. We also see the potential for the technology of our age in the form of super-AI to radically reframe what it is to be human and how consciousness evolves in the future, which is a critical area for leadership.
In our experience, Zen can inform how transformative technologies (TT) can further serve humanity vs. serve further delusion.
When it comes to the evolution of consciousness or spiritual/mystical experience, the hope or promise of TT is that it can get us there much faster than does the grit and determination of years of training. But where we think “there” is comes out of a state of consciousness – wherever we are currently and how our “I” looks at things. Some of us want “there” to be permanent bliss that people have told us is enlightenment (akin to heaven-on-earth). Some of us want “there” to be the peak performance of a flow state, either our own or as part of a killer team that can function as one. Some of us want “there” to be wise enough that as we acquire the technological tools of the gods we don’t blow it and wipe ourselves out. And certainly increasing resilience, performance and wisdom are among the reasons I bring Zen to leaders.
But Zen training shows us a different kind of “there” – not just a shift in subjective experience, but a transformation in the physical scaffolding of the human body such that it functions in service of the whole picture.
We become the transformation. And it’s not always blissful, and we don’t always hit our target, or come out smelling like roses. But we move naturally with the flow of life and its myriad changes, one-with joy, one-with suffering, beyond up and down, life and death, self and other. We are a voice for TT that more readily brings the human being here: to being an instrument of transformation in service of the universe that we are.