Herd or Free will

An interesting thread on Herd or Free will

Question of the Day March 22, 2011 Herd or Free Spirit?

Since, as earthlings, we are an animal, we have the inherent animal trait of herding. Do you follow the herd or are you a free spirit? If you follow the herd, are you aware of where it is taking you? If you are a free spirit, are you aware of where that is taking you?

Thanks Ian – Great Question.

For me, it is something of the “golden mean” (neither the vice of excess nor the vice of lack – but the virtue of the mean).
The trick, as always, is choosing a view which is broad enough to find an appropriate “mean”.

Sometimes it is appropriate to “go with the flow”, and sometimes it is necessary to make the flow go with us.

I try to make myself as aware as possible of my own situation, and that of the herd; to grant as much freedom as possible, while keeping us all alive.

[followed by]

Well put Barbara.
And thank you to Mike, Kathy, Stacy and Ryon for adding perspectives.

We need the herd in so many ways, and it also has its dangers.
Can you imagine how much each of us would know without the herd to teach us language, and without the accumulated knowledge of the herd passed down as culture in the widest sense.
Not very much.

Each of us is a result of ever more complex interactions of the herd, and of extreme individuals within the herd pushing the boundaries, and bringing back that knowledge.
We are each the beneficiaries of the many thousands of cultural experiments that have been done by many herds over the last 10,000 years, and the lessons learned by them about what works in herds, and what doesn’t. That episode of cultural evolution is there for us to study, and we are starting to.

The efforts of many on the edge of the herd, or off alone or in small groups, have bought so much knowledge and awareness back to the herd, and made it available to all.

Today, via the internet, more people have more access to more information than ever before.
Most of what we all believe is probably false at some level, yet on average, over time, most of us get closer to aligning our understanding with the reality our interrelateness and in becoming aware of our own infinite capacities for love and creative (and hate and destruction).
We have few limits.

One of the trends of evolution is to ever higher levels of cooperation.

Cooperation requires a herd in a sense, and it may contain individuals at any of an infinite number of levels of awareness and capability in another sense. Cooperation does not necessarily require similarity in any overall sense – just alignment in certain key areas relating to relationships within the herd and security.

Yes we have many layers.
We have control systems at all layers.
We have some influence over all layers, and all layers exert influences both ways (up and down through the hierarchy).

Our subconscious is vastly more capable than our conscious, vastly faster and more knowledgeable.
It is a herd within us.
Like the even vaster herd of cells making our body.

Yet we are also free, in a very real sense.


[followed by]

Hi Sharon


I agree with you that most humans have little understanding of what we are.


We did not come with an instruction manual.

It took almost 4 billion years for us to evolve by a process of evolution by natural selection, at many levels.

Along the way we came up with stories involving gods, and these evolved over time.

In the last few dozen decades we have come up with ever more refined understandings.

The questioning of dogma by thousands of brave individuals, willing to suffer the censure of the herd, have lead to us to a new set of levels of scientific understanding, both of ourselves and the world around us.


We now know, beyond all reasonable doubt, that our awareness is a process that emerges from a human brain immersed in language and culture, and that both the human brain, and the culture within it, have evolved by the process of evolution by natural selection.


Yes we are active creators, and perhaps the hardest thing to allow into our awareness is the idea that there is no purpose given by existence.

There are certainly purposes given by cultures, and we as creative individuals, have the power and responsibility to choose our own purposes.


Yes our existence is an astounding fact.

Yes we need to question the frenzy of modern life.

Yes we need to think about higher objectives.

Yes we can imagine and act upon creating freedom.


The shifting of consciousness can be profound, in creating a context where we identify as self, as family member, as tribe member, as citizen of region, country and planet, and where we identify with life itself.

From this context, of identifying our true relationship, to all life, we may begin to choose actions in alignment with what is required for our own survival, that of our kind, and of all other kinds of life.


We alone, as a species, have the tools and technologies to do this.


We cannot do it my going backwards, to tribal stories about gods.

We can only do it by going forwards, and creating understandings which allow us to see all things in their relationship to each other, and to create what actually works, at all levels.


One of the things we need to do soon is disinvent the myth of money.

About Ted Howard NZ

Seems like I might be a cancer survivor. Thinking about the systemic incentives within the world we find ourselves in, and how we might adjust them to provide an environment that supports everyone (no exceptions) - see www.tedhowardnz.com/money
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2 Responses to Herd or Free will

  1. holessence says:

    Ted – I don’t know why it struck me so funny, but I almost shot hot tea out my nose with wonderful laughter as I read this sentence this morning:

    “We did not come with an instruction manual.”


  2. Hi Laurie

    Yes, it struck me as funny when the thought popped into my awareness too.

    We have this idea that it should be clear how we came to be what we are – mostly because most cultures operate on “top down” declarative knowledge. When the leader says something is so, then it is so.
    That is how human society worked for thousands of years – leaders supplied the instruction manual.

    Now something else is taking over.
    Individuals are starting to question everything, including all the stories of how we got to be who we are, and what is appropriate to choose to do with our lives.
    Lots of notions on which lots of institutions are based are being seriously called into question, at all sorts of levels.

    We are, finally, starting to get some real idea of how we came to be what we are, and are starting to get some small idea of just how powerful being human can be.

    It’s not just about wishing things into existence, that doesn’t work. Wishing alone is without power, but having a clear vision, a clear wish, and then aligning actions in reality with that wish, can bring amazing things into being.

    And as Francis Bacon so eloquently put it “Nature to be commanded, must be obeyed”.
    And in order to do that, we need to know what we are, at every level of awareness we can master, and also what is the environment in which we exist.

    None of this came in an instruction manual.
    We each have to figure it out for ourselves, though we each get to gain some benefit from the work of many who have come before us.
    Unfortunately, almost all of them made starting assumptions that later proved to be invalid.
    Even in the last decade, our understanding of what we are has transformed from what it was 30 years ago. The rate of change continues to grow exponentially.

    I am cautiously optimistic for the future of humanity.

    Thank you for engaging.


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