Future Thinkers Podcast, Episode 21 - Consciousness, The Three Bodies, and How Environment and Technology Affect Our States, with Mike Gilliland and Euvie Ivanova
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Euvie: In the last few months I’ve been thinking a lot about consciousness, different [00:01:00] states of consciousness and how they effect our lives both on the small scale, in terms of how we experience every day life, and on the big scale, in terms of what kind of impact we have on the planet, what kind of things maybe we think about on our death bed, the grander impact of our life and how consciousness plays into that. I’ve been thinking about consciousness for a long time, many years, since I was a teenager. Recently, I came across this concept of the three bodies and I found [00:01:30] it really useful for explaining different states of consciousness.

In the west, they are often referred to as the mind, body, and soul. In some eastern philosophies, they can be referred to as the physical body, the astral body, and the causal body. The astral body is synonymous with the mind and the causal body is synonymous with the soul. These three bodies, as they’re called, they exist simultaneously and they affect each other and they interplay with each other. [00:02:00] When I came across this idea, it became really apparent to me that in the west there’s a lot of focus on the physical body and on the mental body, as well, on the mind, but very little focus on the soul except in spiritual and religious communities.

I was thinking about the impact of that on the society as a whole and it became very apparent to me the problems that it causes. For example, when people are heavily focused on the physical body, focused on the fears and the [00:02:30] pleasures, the pain and the pleasure, they’re focused on avoiding pain and getting pleasure. They might be thinking a lot about how to avoid getting fired or avoid getting…

Mike: Dumped.

Euvie: Dumped. Or avoid getting offended by things. On the other side, they’re chasing pleasure. There’s this proliferation of all these food blogs and luxury travel blogs and pick up communities that teach you how to pick up girls. All this stuff is just focused on getting [00:03:00] pleasure. I’m not saying that this is bad – of course, we should experience all aspects of our being – but when you focus on one thing so heavily it tends to cause the other things to atrophy. There’s this hug focus on the physical body but also there’s – in other circles or maybe with other people – there’s a huge focus on the mind body, the mental body.

For example, this is colleges and all the PC cultural, the politically correct culture where people are obsessing about saying things in a way that doesn’t offend anyone [00:03:30] or just overanalysing things to the point of absurdity, where they make these intellectual constructs out of ideas that have no place in real life and nobody things about it that way. it becomes this perverse version of reality that just doesn’t apply. Obviously, thinking about things intellectually has its place but when that’s all you do, it causes other things to get screwed up.

Mike: Yeah. My experience of this has been the [00:04:00] belief that there are only two bodies – there’s the body and the mind. I think, like most of western society, people think that all of consciousness exists within the brain. Unless you’re religious, there’s no such thing as the external or non-local intelligence, like the soul. If you believe your consciousness arises from the brain, then it’s just a series of chemical switches that are going on and off, telling you when to eat, when to have sex, when to be afraid and run away and that kind of thing. If we just listen to those [00:04:30] impulses and we identify personally with that mental drive to do one thing or another, it creates a lot of problems, like you say.

One thing that woke me up, aside from the various books I’ve been reading about this, recently I had a few drinks and I got a little bit drunk. I was thinking about the experience of being drunk and I was thinking about the physical sensation of it, then the slowness of my mind and the hyper-concentration. Then I thought, in the moment, “Who’s the one thinking [00:05:00] clearly about this?” Because there’s the drunk mind that’s in a conversation with someone saying things that maybe I wouldn’t have said in a sober state, but then there’s the mind that’s analysing the mind interacting. That mind is totally sober. That mind was the one, at that moment, that was looking at the body and looking at the mind and thinking, “Huh, this is interesting.” Not judging it either, just observing.

You can bring that state of being into your conscious reality at will, [00:05:30] at any time. People who are enlightened exist in that reality and they know that their consciousness is identified as that non-local spiritual being that comes to the body and the mind when they need to, but primarily they exist in a spiritual mental state if you want to call it that.

Euvie: I would say that, actually, in the east, at least in the spiritual traditions, I think there’s too much focus on the soul or the non-local intelligence and [00:06:00] not enough focus on the body and the mind. Whereas, in the west it’s the opposite. In that sense, their idea of enlightenment is to solely exist in this causal body as it’s often called in eastern traditions, or the soul, and not exist in the physical body. Then, in some of the books that we’ve been reading recently, it was put in a very interesting way that if the soul wanted to stay as this non-local intelligence, it wouldn’t have come into the body. [00:06:30] The whole purpose of us being here is to experience life through this temporary state of being in the body and all the different experiences that come with it.

The limited perspective, existing in only the space and time and perhaps not experiencing higher dimensions. This is the point. While we’re in this body, we should experience the body and should experience the mind and the soul. We should experience all of them. I think this is something that some eastern spiritualities miss actually.

Mike: How do you address [00:07:00] the idea that western scientists have people who study the brain who say that consciousness is just a result of the mechanisms happening within the brain. Everything that exists is in physical reality is happening in the brain, there’s no proof that intelligence happens non-locally. We have to believe that this is just a result of physical mechanisms occurring. How do you talk to people like that who believe in this because there’s no proof otherwise?

Euvie: I don’t want to pretend to be a scientist or even pretend [00:07:30] that I understand quantum physics. From what I do understand, there are more than just the four I mentioned that we can experience. The three physical dimensions plus time, which is the fourth dimension. If there are more than four dimensions then, at some point, time becomes just a dot on one of the higher dimensions. All the things that have ever happened and will ever happen are just a dot on another dimension. Just think about the magnitude of that, think about how [00:08:00] limited our perspective is. It’s quite possible that, even if you think about it completely in scientific terms, that consciousness is just maybe connected to a higher dimension, maybe not we don’t know. It’s not necessarily the same thing as the mind.

Mike: Yeah, when you think about religion as the thing that most people believe is the spiritual gateway, it’s easy to see the way they butt heads and the arguments they use against each other. One side, Richard Dawkins, for example, is saying, “You can’t believe all of this stuff just because a book [00:08:30] tells you to believe it. Now you have to believe it and you have to follow all these rules, when it was just a man or several people at some point who wrote this book to begin with.” On the other side, you’ve got scientists who believe only in what has been proven, but that’s not what science is about. Science is not saying, “Don’t believe in what’s not proven,” it’s saying, “Believe in what’s proven and continually test that.”

It’s not saying, “Disregard anything that’s not proven,” it’s just saying, “We don’t know yet.” This whole idea of defending science like, “It’s not proven, [00:09:00] it’s not real,” is what gets us in these cultural bumps where we believe the earth is flat. No one’s proven yet that it’s round at that point, you can’t just defend what you don’t know. That’s a premise we have to come from a little bit here is that, yes, people do believe there’s only the mind and the body, so all we can talk about this sort of thing is from an experiential perspective. When you start thinking about this from the, “I am a soul having a temporary human experience,” [00:09:30] a lot of things in life start to make a little more sense. They just intuitively and naturally make sense. This is what Eckhart Tollie talks about a lot, he talks about identifying yourself as the observer of the consciousness.

The brain is just another extension of the body, it’s an organ that exists in the body, just like the heart. If you start viewing it not as if you are the brain, but as a mechanism that helps you to get through your daily life, then you start to think about things and think about the drives of your daily life. I think, [00:10:00] to a degree, have more control over your behaviour.

Euvie: Exactly.

Mike: You don’t need to be worry about being offended because someone insulted you or whatever, because nothing has been hurt but some self-preservation mechanism that’s happening in the brain that wants you to maintain your standpoint on something. If you don’t identify with the ego, let’s call it, then there’s no reason for you to get flustered and get angry and get offended and be offensive, because your non-local intelligence, whatever it is, is [00:10:30] not affected by it.

Euvie: No. Actually, that’s a perfect point for me to talk about something else that I’ve been wanting to talk about is the ego. Recently I had this realization that a way to think about ego that makes more sense to me actually is that it’s all the fears of the physical body expressing themselves through the mind. If you think about the way that, for example, if you get offended that somebody has a different point from you and you get this rage. It’s that physical response [00:11:00] but, because so many people think about things intellectually. They exist in the mind a lot, it’s explaining itself in the mind. “This person is threatening my existence by having a different opinion from me.”

That’s why I find it’s so useful to think about the three bodies. If you can identify which body each process belongs to, it makes a lot more sense and it helps you deal with it. For example, in reverse you can say [00:11:30] sometimes we get hungry – both you and I have this – we get really grumpy. Sometimes you can overanalyse this and just think you’re an angry person or you’re having a bad day when, in reality, all you need to do is just get fed and you’ll be fine.

Mike: Yeah. When I was a kid I swapped between believing in God and not believing in God. I jumped the fence a lot. I remember one time listening to a scientist, I can’t remember who it was but they said, “There is kind of an afterlife, [00:12:00] because no energy can be created or destroyed, matter can’t be created or destroyed. It just changes form. When you die, you become the grass and then you feed other animals and that kind of thing.” To me, what mattered and didn’t matter about that was identify. If my energy continues on but I don’t retain the identity, then why does this all matter to begin with? Now that I’m a bit older and I think about identity, I’ve been alive long enough to watch that identity change and the concept of it change and the things I believe myself to [00:12:30] believe in.

Those things all have been destroyed at some point or another, or changed, or have developed new versions of them. I’m realizing that conscious observer that sees all of these things happening is the person I am, and all of these other things are just constructs or identities that I build on top of my existence. Whether they stay with me or not doesn’t matter, it’s the observance and the awareness that I believe matters the most. All these other things you could easily just call them ego.

Euvie: [00:13:00] Exactly. Yeah, I think it’s very interesting how people get so attached to their identities, “I am this, I am that. I am a coach. I am a successful person.”

Mike: “I’m a feminist.”

Euvie: “I’m a feminist,” yeah. “I am a republican. I am a Christian.” People identify so much with these things when, in reality, they’re constructs, they’re made up concepts. Made up concepts, of course, are extremely useful for organizing our thoughts but you shouldn’t get so attached to them [00:13:30] that you can’t deviate from them at all.

Mike: It’s symbolic reasoning happening there where you have this group of people who kind of believe the same thing, so you don’t need to think if your values are mostly aligned with this group. It’s like an efficiency thing I think, when you start calling yourself a certain thing that has certain identities and values attached to it and you don’t need to think deeper about the things that you maybe don’t agree with. The whole republican versus democrat thing. How is it possible that an entire continent of people can believe [00:14:00] that all of their value systems can be divided down the middle between two parties? That’s the way it happens and that’s what people believe in is that one party fits their ideas about things, so they’re willing to compromise things that they don’t agree with to continue fitting in that group.

That becomes really dangerous, especially if you stop the growth in evolution of your self-identity or, actually, if you allow that growth and you believe your identity is this social, mental, ego [00:14:30] construct. Yeah, it’s easy to get caught up in that. If you don’t believe in that then the social meaning to that, the categorization you apply to yourself doesn’t matter anymore and all of a sudden you’re like, “This is all bullshit, isn’t it? This whole liberal democrat thing, this whole feminist, Christian, all of it. I don’t agree with everything from any of those groups, I agree with little bits and pieces of it. Why do we need the label in order to fit in and have a group of friends that we can go drinking with on Friday night?” [00:15:00] It doesn’t matter.

Euvie: This is completely random but it reminded me of that South Park episode. I think it’s a pretty popular one where Kanye West gets convinced that he’s a gay fish because somebody makes a gay fish joke that completely has nothing to do with him, he just takes it so personally that it becomes his new identity and he moves to go live under the sea and be gay with all the other gay fish. This is a really silly out there example but it illustrates it well, that people just take their [00:15:30] identities so seriously and, so often, that identity is decided by other people anyway. Why? Why would people take it so seriously?

Mike: I’m a big fan of Comedians, Bill Burr and Joe Rogan, those guys. They, a lot of the time, talk about the oversensitivity of young people – millennials, college kids – a lot of them don’t play colleges anymore. This group of people has become so socially sensitive that they’re driving off more, I think, advanced thinkers [00:16:00] and they’re in this bubble of, “Either believe the things I believe or I don’t listen to you.” In addition to that, there’s the South Park episodes with PC bros and that kind of thing. There’s a lot of people paying attention to this political correctness thing that’s happening with young people.

I’m not so sure that this is just a new development, that this is being perpetuated by colleges, I think it’s just the fact that a lot of young people nowadays have Twitter. When I was that age, going though [00:16:30] high school and everything and I had things I was thinking about that back then that I don’t think about now, at that point I didn’t have a pedestal to go on and spout my ideas to the rest of the world and I wasn’t able to filter ideas coming back at me. I think it’s just a result of these young people with less developed ideas having a megaphone to blast this stuff.

They can be angry at a comment by a comedian. Part of the problem is this isolation of censorship [00:17:00] that they don’t want to hear things that are offensive, they don’t want to be triggered, so they actually don’t hear anything that they don’t agree with.

Euvie: Yeah. Ego also has a big role to play here and I think ego is especially strong in young people, college aged people, because they’re still trying to figure out who they are. I think that the idea of identity being more fluid and not necessarily having to identify with everything you do or everything you think about is not really a point that they’ve come to yet. [00:17:30] They identify with something and anything that threatens that identity just seems like the end of the world. That perpetuates this sensitivity to anything that doesn’t agree with their point of view.

Mike: Let’s go back to three bodies. What has been your experience of the three bodies? I know from my perspective it’s been very limited and I was almost hesitant to talk about this, because I feel like such a student of this whole concept. To me, my whole life is thinking or [00:18:00] eating and sleeping and going to the gym or whatever. This whole idea of a third mind that I can now base my perspective from is awakening, it’s eye opening but I’m also just trying to figure it out. I feel very new to it.

Euvie: I don’t want to position myself as an expert at all. Actually, the older I get the more I realize how little I know. I’ve been thinking about consciousness a long time and spirituality has been just very interesting for me and I’ve had some revelations [00:18:30] I guess you could call them, or just very intense spiritual experiences quite early on that I really had troubling explaining in the words that I knew and the concepts that I knew. When I came across this concept of the three bodies, it was very illuminating for me because it shed light on some of the other experiences I had. For example, the completely non-local consciousness, I experienced that several times where, for example, when I was meditating or even earlier before I started meditating.

I felt [00:19:00] this flow of consciousness that had no opinion about anything, it was just experiencing and observing but not judging whatsoever. I had no idea what this was and just didn’t really have a word for explaining it. Through the eastern philosophy, it helped me understand it better. Actually, this concept of the three bodies illustrates it even better.

Mike: I’ve had experiences with it, too, but I never really knew what to call it I guess. There’s the one time in Thailand where we did mushrooms [00:19:30] and I was narrating going down the hills. I was swinging off branches and hiking down and just feeling like Tarzan a little bit. I was narrating the whole experience as I was going and then there’s this other voice in my head laughing at the fact that the monkey’s climbing down the hill and the mind is describing the monkey, then the soul is viewing the whole thing and thinking it’s hilarious and then I end up laughing to myself the whole way down.

Euvie: Yeah, I remember that. My experience was actually that the observing consciousness the whole [00:20:00] time. I don’t think I even spoke very much, I was just laughing at you and just observing what was going on.

Mike: Yeah. We’ve done those psychedelics every once in a while to reset the perspective. I think, for me, it’s had the effect of reminding me that I’m not just the mind and the body. Quite a bit in the last few months I’ve made it a habit to get out of my mind when I’m concerned with a problem or I’m fighting about something or there’s something happening in business [00:20:30] I don’t like, any number of things that happen in a day to day basis. When I get to this point of, I wouldn’t say overwhelmed but just a point where is start feeling negatively about what I’m thinking about. I made a habit of just shutting down everything, stopping working, closing the laptop, laying down on my bed and either meditating or writing in a notebook just what I was feeling.

Just that little bit of brain shutdown that happened and the meditation [00:21:00] allowing me to stop thinking about it gave me solutions to problems that would have taken me weeks of thinking to actually come to. Just by not thinking, the solution came so quickly. I started making a habit of this all the time. All of a sudden, I noticed, “Wow, if I spend more time here and less time stressing and thinking and trying to work through problems with my analytical mind, I make so much more progress in day to day life.” I found that fascinating that not thinking could help so drastically in areas that I typically thought were supposed [00:21:30] to be thinking areas.

Euvie: Yeah, that’s very interesting. I’ve struggled with this myself, as well. I’m very mind identified. I guess I could say I was very mind identified through most of my life, very intellectual and trying to analyse everything. Then I just overanalysed everything to the point of where it just made no sense anymore. I’ve had the same experience that sometimes all you need to do is just let go and clear your mind, the solutions just come to you. [00:22:00] This concept of channelling I’ve embraced recently. I experienced it a lot through art and through dance and through painting and through music when I was younger but I didn’t really think of it in the same sense as channelling from your higher self.

Now, looking back, that’s exactly what it was, because you’re not thinking about how to sing a song, you’re just singing it. In the end, you’re like, “Wow, where did that come from?” When I used to write poetry, it would all just come to me as a dump and [00:22:30] I would just start writing and writing words. I’m like, “Where did that come from?” I find that very interesting because, yeah, if you identify that with the mind, as in western cultures people often do, it’s a mental experience, then they just start forcing it. They try to effort into creativity. Actually, this is something that Elizabeth Gilbert talks about in her new book a little bit. What was it called again?

Mike: Big Magic.

Euvie: Big Magic, yeah. [00:23:00] I really liked that book, I thought it was great. She talks about letting go and letting yourself channel this creativity through you instead of thinking of it coming from you. Actually, she talks about how – I think it was in ancient Greece or Rome, I can’t remember – they had this concept of a person having a genius or a person having experience of a genius, rather than a person being a genius. It’s similar because you’re just a vessel [00:23:30] for this greater consciousness, greater intelligence putting ideas through you. In her book, she talks about how people back then didn’t have problems with ego or famous people becoming egomaniacs – famous artists anyway – and how in the Renaissance era people started thinking of themselves or others being a genius rather than having a genius or experiencing a genius. So, this kind of egomaniac thing started happening.

[00:24:00] Of course, now, we see it so much with celebrities, how they get so full of themselves. Again, Kanye West gay fish joke. He’s just so identified with this thing that he’s doing.

Mike: It’s interesting what you said and what Elizabeth Gilbert’s experience of this has been. Being the consciousness experiencing the genius which, in a way, to me, still identifies with the mind. She’s identifying with the mind but it’s opening up the possibility that there might be a different type of consciousness or a source of ideas coming from somewhere else. [00:24:30] I still think there’s a bit of a fault in that, which is believing that you’re the mind having the genius experience. One thing I’ve been working on in the last few months especially has been, okay, I’ve got this new perspective where I try and stay in the soul, or whatever you want to call it, perspective – the observer I’d like to call that.

I watch the mind and I watch the body. One thing I started doing is viewing the mind as a tool to be utilized for some circumstances but not all. [00:25:00] I only engage my mind in things that the mind is actually built for: pattern recognition, getting into any detail work. As far as greater perspective solution and solving of bigger – almost soul perspective problems, like, “What do I want out of life?” That kind of thing, the mind’s not going to solve that for you. The mind will only take the goal that you set for it and then break it down into steps. That’s probably the best example is I’d set my intention from the soul perspective and then I [00:25:30] allow the mind to deconstruct that goal and that end purpose and give me steps to get there.

Euvie: Then the body to execute it.

Mike: Exactly.

Euvie: Yeah, that’s a really good way to think about it. It’s interesting that you pointed out the identification of the mind in that ancient Greek idea of a person having a genius, you’re totally right about that. I think a lot of current western philosophy and views on life stem from ancient Greek and Roman philosophy, which is quite different from, for example, [00:26:00] ancient Chinese or Indian philosophy.

Mike: Even if we’re totally wrong on this, it’s still helps from a purely usefulness standpoint and perspective standpoint of stepping away from the mind and the stresses and all of that, then intentionally setting the mind on things that it’s good at and can solve. That in itself, even if you don’t believe in souls or that the consciousness is coming from somewhere else, you can still utilize your brain functions a lot better for their purposes or [00:26:30] whatever goal you want to set for yourself.

Euvie: Again, we’re talking about identifying with ideas or not identifying with ideas. You don’t have to necessarily believe in any of this stuff to utilize its power or utilize its benefits. It just does something and just use it for the thing that it does and you don’t have to over think it.

Mike: I think the while idea of the three bodies is awareness and recognizing when you’re more identified in a certain body type, then giving that body what it needs. As long as [00:27:00] all the bodies are getting what they want – physical body getting the food, sex, sleep, and everything that it wants, then once that’s satisfied the mind is freed up to focus up on what it does which is problem solving. You could almost relate the whole thing to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs where you go up the pyramid. When your bodily functions are taken care of and your feeling of security and safety in your relationships are taken care of, you go all the way to the top of the pyramid where you’re focus on self-actualization. That, to me, from the standpoint [00:27:30] that we’ve built here of the three bodies and the soul perspective of consciousness, that is the perfect job for the soul.

Euvie: Exactly. That’s actually a great way of putting that. I love taking these different concepts from completely different disciplines and linking them together. Yeah, that’s awesome. In Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, at the top there’s self-actualization, creativity, flow, all this stuff that is difficult to explain in scientific terms [00:28:00] and maybe that’s for a reason.

Mike: When you exist in that perspective, the tendency is often to give back or create things or view society and people and life and consciousnesses is, “We’re all in this together. This is not A versus B or whatever, we’re not on separate teams. We’re not competing, this is everyone together.” One thing I forgot actually to bring up when I was thinking about using the mind as a tool to achieve tasks that the soul sets for it is setting up in your day to day routine little [00:28:30] trip wires for yourself to get the needs of all three bodies. We’ve been thinking about this because we just moved into a new place in Bulgaria and we’re looking around our apartment thinking how we’re going to decorate. We want to start getting into better habits in the morning: waking up early, meditating, stretching, planning out the day, visualizing what we want to do and achieving the highest success of what we set out to do for the day.

There’s certain things that we’re starting to set up in our environment [00:29:00] to get us to automatically think about those things, so we don’t have to use energy on deciding to do them. You get out of bed, the first thing I see when I walk in the living room is my two vitamin bottles sitting above the TV. I’m like, “Yeah, I should take my vitamins.” I take them, go to the sink, then that reminds me I’ve got to drink some water, so I drink water. Then I’ve got written on our windows on the wall all of the things I want to do for the day, all the goals that we have, all the morning habits I want to have. As soon as I walk to the wall, I see that and I remember, “[00:29:30] I’ve got to meditate, I’ve got to stretch.” I have been thinking a lot setting up environments that allow you to do the things that you need to do and create habits that you need to do and fulfil aspects of consciousness that you normally have to think about and effort to do. Instead, having your environment dictate these things for you.

Euvie: Engineering your environments to produce certain states of consciousness for the body, mind, and soul, or even if you don’t think about it as the three bodies but just producing certain [00:30:00] states. For example, we were thinking about how the way that cities are designed in different parts of the world tend to produce different kinds of society. Of course, the society builds the city but also, after the city is built, it influences the society. It’s a cycle. For example, in some parts of Europe they have these little squares, so people gather in these squares and they gossip and drink coffee and play chess or whatever. [00:30:30] It fosters a sense of community and mingling and you’re never lonely because whenever you’re walking down the street there’s a little square and maybe you see someone you know and you say hi. It creates this constant social interaction, sense of community. Whereas, in North America, the way that the streets have been designed in many cities, especially newer ones, it’s very linear.

When you’re walking down the street there aren’t really very many places where people are just hanging out where you can run into them and interact, unless you consciously make a point [00:31:00] of dropping by your favourite coffee shop.

Mike: I didn’t know this until I arrived in Europe for the first time, about four months ago. I’ve heard about these squares that people go to and it’s a lot more social in Europe. When I got there, it really made sense. The architecture has affected societies so much. Then I remembered growing up in a smaller town in western Canada and thinking about the communities and the separation caused your behaviour to change in a way that you wanted to go to certain places to accomplish certain [00:31:30] things, because you couldn’t get it in your little community. After arriving in Europe, I thought back to Asia about how most people live in their place of business.

They’ve got a room in the top floor of their house and they come down, they open the doors, then they’ve got their business there too. Everyone lives where they work. It creates this environment of people watching, outside of these businesses. Your whole life is existing in this space of only a couple metres, right, and there’s just so many people in, say, Saigon. So many people in that city, [00:32:00] so you create your little social communities in such a tiny amount of space. Then you can see how that affects people, too, not having a sense of your personal bubble like we do in the west. There’s just no way you can get it, so people don’t worry about it.

Euvie: Yeah, that’s very interesting actually. The hem, these little narrow alleyways where families live. Like you explained, they have these little houses that are very narrow, maybe just a few metres by a few metres, and they go vertically. [00:32:30] The first floor is the shop or the restaurant or whatever kind of business they have, a sewing business or something. The second floor – and maybe sometimes they have more floors – the second floor is for family to sleep. Because a lot of them don’t have air-conditioning, the doors are just open all day long. They’re living in the first floor, it’s also the living room. They’re living out in the open all day. Everybody’s watching each other and their family life just happens. It’s not so isolated and separated.

Mike: Yeah. [00:33:00] That’s another thing I didn’t think of is when you have kids, too, it’s more a communal thing, raising children. You’re in such a tight amount of space and you know your neighbours. You’re more comfortable letting your kids go walk around because you know your whole social circle is within a few metres away from where you normally live. Another example, Thailand, the exporting of rice. There’s these different little pockets of completely different lifestyles and culture all the way through Thailand. There’s Bangkok, the big city [00:33:30] structure, the hustle and bustle, got to get to work, traffic, all of that stuff. That whole, to me, it’s a western concept, because that’s where I’m from, of societies existing in a city. I feel at home in Bangkok in terms of, “This is predictable, how this should happen.” How people move, where they go, what they do in their schedules and that kind of stuff.

Then you go up to Chiang Mai, it’s a lot more laid back. Everyone’s riding motorbikes, everyone’s got their jobs but the city is more spread out. You start noticing these little pockets of where [00:34:00] people hang out. There’s streets that are just built for the tourists that none of the locals go to, unless they want to earn money. Then coming to Europe, too, we’re in a city called Plovdiv in Bulgaria. There’s one main walking street in the city, you go from one end to the other. I think it’s about 40 minutes to walk the whole thing. There’s lots of little shops and stuff and then there’s coffee shops and restaurants. Then off some of the side streets there are bars and everything.

You start to notice the effect [00:34:30] of this architecture of this walking street on the culture. I think that’s a fascinating thing that blew my mind recently. Like you said, in the United States and in Canada, it’s just so grid-like and so built on utility. People become isolated and you miss out on the walking street, the square, that kind of thing. No wonder people are, I guess, more closed off and they have their personal bubble and they have their sanctuary in their apartment. No wonder [00:35:00] they start feeling isolated after a while.

Euvie: Yeah.

Mike: The architecture doesn’t allow for mingling.

Euvie: Yeah. I think actually the coffee shop culture that has developed in North America more recently, maybe in the last decade or so, has been really good because it’s making up for that lack of social place where people go to hang out and run into friends. You still have to do it consciously, you still have to do to the certain coffee shop where you know you’re going to run into people, but at least there’s something.

Mike: Yeah. We were thinking about our ideal house, [00:35:30] too. We were thinking about the design of it. It was really, from my perspective, this western sanctuary thing. I wanted to have the whole place set up so I never had to leave. Then I realized that’s the same thing we do in Canada, which causes that isolation. It doesn’t matter how awesome your place is, you’re going to crave that social interaction with people. If you don’t set up your environment to also include that, then isolation is just a natural thing that happens out of that, [00:36:00] if you design your environment not to have social interaction built into it.

Euvie: Yeah. Also, I think this causes people to seek social interaction in more artificial ways. For example, they go out to the bar, go out to a club. But that’s an environment that’s engineered for a certain kind of social interaction. For example, you’re expected to be drunk, there’s loud music playing so you can’t talk to people. It creates this artificial interaction that is not always what you’re looking for. [00:36:30] If you can design a city, design your community, to have social interaction happening more naturally and more fluidly throughout the day, I think it would be a lot healthier for all of us. The social interaction doesn’t hang on loud music or drinking or getting five cups of coffee into you.

Mike: Yeah. It makes you wonder if the club is developed out of the insecurities of dating, where you’re like, “Fuck, I don’t want to have to say anything and embarrass myself or talk. [00:37:00] Let’s go to a place where it’s too loud to talk. That way, we can just get straight to the sex.”

Euvie: I think that’s exactly what I was made for.

Mike: That’s depressing.

Euvie: Yeah, it is a little bit depressing. Anyway, I want to backtrack and talk about how these different environments create different states of consciousness or different states of being, how we can engineer our outside environments in macro and micro scales [00:37:30] to affect our states of consciousness. We’ve been talking a lot about habits and meeting the needs of the three bodies. How can we create these different environments for ourselves that automatically meet the needs of these three bodies just by going through our daily Life without having to consciously think about these things? Will power is a limited resource. Making yourself do things, you can only make yourself do things a limited [00:38:00] number of times throughout the day.

Mike: Yeah. With this new habit routine we’re going through, I’m exhausted by 11 am. Because it’s not a habit yet, I’ve had to effort on all of it.

Euvie: Yeah. If we can create these environments that foster these different states, just naturally, well, it would feed all of our three bodies and leave more room for doing things consciously, as opposed to having to effort just to do the daily things. I know that this is not really something that a person can just [00:38:30] manifest out of nowhere, because it requires city planning, but I wonder if people were aware of this as a culture if it would help the cities to be built in a way that fosters social interaction on a daily basis.

Mike: We met someone in Saigon who, she’s a westerner and she had been very interested in physical representations of digital spaces. That prompts a new question for you – how would you integrate digital interaction into these spaces? Because that’s become such a huge part of our life. [00:39:00] We were just at a club last night and it was really shocking to see how many people spend most of their time buried in their cell phone when they’re in a supposed social environment. How do you integrate the digital communication and technology and that sort of thing that they’re so engrained in our lives, how do you integrate that without it getting in the way?

Euvie: I don’t know, that’s a difficult question. I think we’re still in an awkward teenage phase of using technology. I actually think we talked about this in our episode. [00:39:30] We recorded an episode a few months ago and then ditched it. We talked about this a little bit, how we are in a very awkward teenage phase when it comes to how we use technology; we have all these tools but we don’t know how to use them.

Mike: There’s no culture built around them yet that makes sense. You might be in the middle of a conversation or a date or something, then someone looks at their phone and you’re like, “Okay, guess we’re done.”

Euvie: I think this will happen naturally. Just as a teenager learns how to deal with their hormones [00:40:00] and with their newly developed organs, they just naturally, through interaction, figure it out after making a ton of mistakes. I think the same thing will happen with technology. I don’t think we can force it necessarily, we’re all teenagers in that sense. I don’t know if anyone knows better yet. Maybe technology will fade into the background. Right now, we still have these very awkward devices that are separate from us and separate from our environment. Maybe in the future [00:40:30] it will be more integrated into our environment.

Mike: That’s what gets me so excited about virtual reality and the Oculus Rift and everything. I know it’s just at the beginning stages. Give it another decade, where it’s integrated into our glasses or our contact lenses and that kind of thing, it becomes part of our daily life and then technology no longer has to interrupt us.

Euvie: Exactly, yeah.

Mike: I think that’s fascinating. That’s the next level of consciousness evolution, when you have all of this information at your fingertips. What body is that, Euvie? The internet body?

Euvie: [00:41:00] That’s a good question, I’ll have to think about that. We were talking about engineering environments. I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit recently. Actually, as a kid I was really interested in this architecture on a macro scale, how do you engineer certain social interactions with the environment. I was obsessed with theme parties, because that’s how I could engineer a certain kind of type of social interaction based on putting people in character basically. If it was an Alice in Wonderland theme party, [00:41:30] people would act really whacky because it was socially acceptable within this context of the party to do that.

I found that very fascinating but recently I’ve been thinking about that we have macro environments and micro environments. A micro environment is your room, maybe your office, your car. Then macro environment is a city, your street, your neighbourhood, those kinds of things. I guess these digital spaces would be both macro and micro. In micro, [00:42:00] there could be an augmented reality room where the wall is a screen or you have notifications pop up in the corner of your eye when you’re getting a call, because you have a retinal implant that is connected to your communication device. Yeah, a lot of different ways to think about it. What excites you about these new technological advances and how they could potentially create different conscious states or different bodily states, mental states?

Mike: [00:42:30] This goes back to what we were talking about of the puberty of technology. I think people typically think it’s negative, our brains are atrophying in a way because so much of our memory is now existing in little notepads on our phones. For sure, if I didn’t have my phone or my computer, I would forget the vast majority of things that occurred throughout the day because they happen in digital space now. That said, what I think it’ll do – we talked about the fourth body being the internet potentially – what I think that’ll do is be more of a [00:43:00] bridge for us on a mental, physical, and spiritual level. Now, it won’t be a matter of thinking something and then having body language and actual language that has so much room for error, now we’ll have something that’s, “No, this is exactly what I said or thought. This is the image or the picture I conjured in my head and I know that the technology is transmitting that exact replica to you.”

I think it’ll help a lot with communication and empathy, because empathy is subject to [00:43:30] the medium of language. It’s not perfect but technology will definitely – it may not be perfect but it’ll help us bridge communication gaps and maybe take us another step in the direction of a more collective consciousness. Since I spend so much time on the internet and I was one of those last generations that were alive before the internet existed, then having the internet come along and have the borders go down and, all of a sudden, we have access to each other across the planet, we can see all these different cultures as they emerge online, [00:44:00] I started to realize that we’re a lot more similar than I ever thought.

I thought people would be from a different planet compared to where I grew up. Sure, the background, their background story is a lot different, but the desires and wants and needs and everything of people are all the same. That’s something the internet has helped me realize is that we’re all deeply similar and that that’s okay. This whole idea that we have to be different to stand out and be our own little, special, unique snowflake… I don’t care about that as much. Now, [00:44:30] it’s about how can we be more unified. It makes all of these concepts of borders and countries and everything seem really, really silly. How can you only care about the events happening in your wealthy little country compared to the events happening just a couple hours flight away from you, or an instant message away from you where people don’t have enough food to get by because of our level of consumption in the west?

The internet and this method of communication has just opened my eyes to how similar we are on the [00:45:00] mental and physical and spiritual level. If the communication bridge becomes better, if the thinking becomes better, then what kind of awareness of each other are we going to have 10 years from now?

Euvie: That’s a really interesting example of the environment engineering a certain mental state or certain state of consciousness. It’s almost like the internet is helping in our spiritual awakening.

Mike: I think so, definitely. It’s a reflection of how people use it. When you say, “The internet isolates you,” well, you can [00:45:30] put down the phone and go meet up with a friend and have coffee or something. You can decide how you want to use it. I think once the culture surrounding technology develops a lot better, then we’ll use it a lot better. I think especially if it just goes into the background a little bit. Right now, it’s just in order to be connected you have to pull this thing out of your pocket, look at it with your face, people see that, they’re like, “Get away from me.” If that all is existing behind the scenes as a mental thing, I think that would be way better. We’ll have such a deeper [00:46:00] level of empathy with each other.

Euvie: I think that’s a great metaphor – the teenager. If you just replace technology with sex and repeat the whole thing you just said, it’ll make so much sense to you. You just have this thing and you have to pull it out in order to interact and it’s awkward and you don’t know how to use it and it’s in the foreground and that’s all that you’re thinking about.

Mike: Yeah.

Euvie: It’s exactly like that. We’ll get over it, it’ll be fine. It doesn’t mean it’s [00:46:30] a lost cause just because he’s masturbating constantly.

Mike: Yeah, totally. I had forgotten about this conversation because, at the time, the reason we had started talking about this was because we had met a much of people who were frustrated with technology and they’re trying to escape – this is while we were in Asia – trying to escape to places where technology is not as infiltrated in the society. Unfortunately for them, they discovered it’s just as infiltrated everywhere they go – [00:47:00] in tiny little villages in the middle of nowhere, everyone’s got a cell phone. Yeah, they had this idea about it that it’s just evil, you’ve got to get away from it. People are just buried in their phones, they want to get back to this having face to face conversations thing again.

Actually, if you look at the guy or girl buried in his phone, he’s not just looking at a brick and doing nothing. They’re communicating with people that you don’t see. Actually, it’s enabled communication to such an amazing level that we’ve never had before. Just because you’re [00:47:30] the lonely guy without the phone on the bus while everyone else is buried in their cell phone land doesn’t mean everyone’s anti-social, it just means they’re not interested in you.

Euvie: Yeah.

Mike: There’s nothing necessarily wrong with that. Maybe it’s not as neighbourly but you can always find a chat room or something. Do they exist anymore?

Euvie: I don’t think so. Maybe 4chan.

Mike: Maybe stop being a dick, you’ll find friends.

Euvie: [00:48:00] Yeah. I think people just aren’t forced to interact with the people in their immediate vicinity anymore. Instead, they seek out people who are more like minded over…

Mike: Non-local.

Euvie: Non-local, yeah. They’re not restricted by their geography anymore. Instead of being friends with some random guy that you didn’t really like just because he lived next door, now you can be friends with somebody in Singapore because they have the same interests and beliefs as you.

Mike: Yeah. Actually, that creates that vacuum chamber effect, too, where you’re only surrounded by people with the same [00:48:30] opinions and ideas. We’ve seen that just in this little expat traveling entrepreneur thing, where you get surrounded by this mentality of, “I’ve got to optimize. What’s the top 10 things I can do to increase the revenue of my business?”

Euvie: Productivity.

Mike: Productivity hacks, that kind of thing. You’re like, “Dude, is this all you have? Is this your whole life?” That’s what happens though. When you’re interacting only with people that have those same beliefs, you start to put yourself in a little echo chamber.

Euvie: [00:49:00] Again, the teenager mentality really perfectly illustrates this. We’re still in very early stages of the internet, early stages of technology. Going back to this idea where people are blaming technology for all the problems in the world – technology is just a tool. If somebody takes a felt marker and draws a dick on the wall, do you blame the marker? Is the marker evil? No, it’s the person who drew a dick is a dick.

Mike: I believe the patriarchy that made the dick the symbol of power [00:49:30] that made the kid want to put the dick on the wall. It’s always the God damn patriarchy. Why don’t you talk about the problems that exist in these different bodies? If this is a new concept to someone, like it was to me just really recently, then the idea of there being problems outside of mental ones and physical ones is pretty new. Give me an example of a soul problem and a mental problem.

Euvie: Right, okay. The soul problem that I just suggested, [00:50:00] that you feel like you have no purpose in life, you have no meaning in life, you have trouble dealing with your creativity, you have all these creative urges but you don’t know how to express them. These are soul problems, in my opinion, in the way that I think of it. It depends on how you live your life but what I would do is I would meditate and try to find what it is that I actually want, what I want out of my life, how I want to express my creativity, [00:50:30] why I’m here, then build the things down from there. Then go down to the mind and create a plan for how I’m going to do this thing that I feel like I’m meant to do, then put it down to the body and then the body does it.

You’re talking about mental problems. For example, people overanalysing things. They’re just existing so much in the mind that they’re out of touch with reality. For example, the PC stuff that we talked about earlier. [00:51:00] Bodily problems are very obvious: too much drinking, not enough eating, all these things. Basically, if you’re not taking care of one of the three bodies, it causes problems. If you’re overstimulating one of the three bodies, it causes problems. Which is why I find it so helpful to think about the balance. All the three bodies need to have satisfied the things that they need, but you need to take care of all of them. It’s a holistic approach.

Again, [00:51:30] I don’t want to say that this is a fact and this is how it is. I just find it a really useful concept to understand these different needs and different states of being and to be able to think about them in an organized way.

Consciousness is a subject that has been pondered by philosophers all over the world for many thousands of years. In many spiritual traditions, there exists a concept of the three bodies – three overlapping entities that comprise the human being. They are often referred to as the physical body, mind body, and spirit body. This is a very useful concept that has become somewhat lost in the modern world.

In our capitalist societies, there is a heavy emphasis on the physical body, with the focus on chasing pleasure and avoiding pain. In educational and corporate institutions, there is a heavy focus on the mind – in gaining knowledge, using logical thinking, and solving problems.

The concept of the soul or spirit as a part of human nature is sometimes neglected in the Western world, except in spiritual and religious communities. But whether you believe in its existence or not, it can be very useful to understand why our ancestors put so much emphasis on the idea that humans were made up of three overlapping bodies. Interestingly enough, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs closely mirrors this concept, as we can see below.

The Three Bodies

In many spiritual philosophies around the world, the concept of the three bodies is a rather prominent idea. This concept is discussed in the philosophies of Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, New Age, and Christianity. The emphasis is often on wholeness and the balance between the three bodies. This has to do not only with health and well-being, but also with self-actualization.

In the different spiritual traditions that talk about the three bodies, they can be referred to by different names, but the idea is more or less the same. The physical body is the realm of biological functions responsible for survival, and is home of the five senses. The mental body (also called astral or subtle body) is where our thoughts, emotions, imagination, logical reasoning, and understanding of abstract concepts happen. The spirit body (also called the causal body) is the limitless aspect of our nature where all things exist, where self-actualization and transcendence happen.

These concepts also overlap with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. We can think of the bottom tiers as corresponding to the physical body – our physiological and safety needs. The middle tiers correspond to the mental body – love, self esteem, desire for knowledge, individuality. The top tier corresponds to the spiritual body – reaching one’s full potential, purpose, meaning, and transcendence.

Environments, Technology and States of Consciousness

In the second half of this podcast episode, we talk about how environments affect different states of consciousness. We compare different locations around the world, and how city design affects social interaction and lifestyle. We discuss how we can engineer environments that foster healthy states of body, mind, and spirit.

We also touch on how modern technology is in its “awkward teenage phase”. We talk about how future technology will be more seamlessly integrated into our lives.

In This Episode of Future Thinkers Podcast:

  • Consciousness, the three bodies and the balance between them
  • How they are represented in Eastern and Western spiritual traditions
  • Understanding the needs of the different bodies
  • Collective consciousness and transcendence
  • Consumerism and physical body-identification
  • The problem with the political correctness culture
  • City design, and how it affects us
  • Engineering micro and macro environments for specific states
  • Future technology and seamless integration

Mentions and Resources:

Recommended Books:

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