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The Most Important 25 Minutes of Your Life - Musings and Meditations

Updated: Apr 20

“Love is metaphysical gravity”

Buckminster Fuller

“At this point we don't have 'civilization,' we don't have 'humanity.' We have humans bumping into each other"

Daniel Schmachtenberger

A fascinating 25-minute video in which philosopher Daniel Schmachtenberger talks about synergy and emergence as mysterious and meaningful properties of the Universe.

Okay, I admit it: the title is a hyperbole, an exaggeration - but maybe not.

Kind of like a "clickbait" title, but maybe not.

It just depends.

On how you look at it.

I'm using this hyperbole deliberately right now to get your attention. That's what clickbait titles do, but usually with an intention that lacks integrity, like a flag that does not cover the cargo. Maybe the flag does cover the cargo here, it just depends. On how you look at it.

I promise to use such hyperboles extremely sparingly in this blog, only when it is really about something special.

When you come to the end of your life and reflect on all the things that happened in it, there will certainly have been more important minutes than the 25 minutes you will need to watch this talk by philosopher Daniel Schmachtenberger. 

But still: the value and meaning which you see and experience in the events in your life, and in your life as a whole, also depend on the story in which these events and your view of them are embedded. The greater story which does or does not help you to give meaning to or recognize meaning in your life, and human existence. So if something or someone provides information that changes that story, it may well be of great importance to the meaning of the whole of your life.

So the 25 minutes in question are the minutes you need to watch/listen to this talk by philosopher Daniel Schmachtenberger.

In those 25 minutes, Schmachtenberger sets forth his views on the two phenomena of synergy and emergence, the phenomena I mentioned in the previous musing on food forests. And he explains how those two concepts, if you think about them further, can radically change your view of existence, of the Universe and of your own life.

I am not one who usually reads the comments to a YouTube video, let alone quotes from it, but in this case I am providing a brief anthology of the first couple of comments to this talk by Schmachtenberger:

“One of the greatest speeches I've ever heard.”

“What I have been endeavouring to impart over the course of many years, in many different ways, in both private and public conversations, has just been crystallized in 25 minutes by Daniel. I am in total awe. Thank you. Thank you.”

“One of the greatest talks of all time.”

“I know you won't believe it but this video has fundamentally changed my life as i came to fully understand and comprehend it over the course of 2 months”

“This by far my favorite talk of all time”

“This 25 minute talk should replace a 4 year college degree”

“Top Class...Pure Poetry <3”

“This is going to sound hyperbolic but this may be the most important video on the planet.  It has the most vital information for humans to metabolize distilled into a 26 minute talk.”

“Most important voice on planet earth right now? If not please tell me who is.”

“Woooooow...God bless you, Daniel

The most enlightening video i have ever seen in my life.

“Can't get enough of Schmachtenberger.  This dude is like in a perpetual flow state.  And always such a great attitude!  He's able to clearly articulate complicated topics so that normal folk like me can grasp them.  Love it!  Thank you for this!”

For once, I am inclined to agree with comments on YouTube: this 25-minute talk is exceptional (I don't use the word "lecture" because Schmachtenberger is too gifted a storyteller to call his performance a "lecture," a word that usually implies a certain degree of dullness). I realize I may be creating expectations that are too high this way, but I'm taking the risk.

Like Alan Watts (see my blog post "Playing Hide and Seek with Alan Watts"), Schmachtenberger can captivate an audience with a playful unfolding of thoughts and visions in a way that is far too exciting and fascinating to call it a "lecture".

And like Alan Watts, Schmachtenberger is a thinker who can make stunning and genius syntheses of complex ideas, and share them in an accessible way in a flow of energy and sheer pleasure of thought and thinking, that ability of ours that we so often use in a flawed or faulty way.

And like Alan Watts, Schmachtenberger belongs to that category of thinkers for whom the word "philosopher" is somewhat too limited. People like Alan Watts and Daniel Schmachtenberger are visionaries and elders, who bring into the world a vision that goes beyond mere "left-brain thinking," analysis and reason, but who can demonstrate new connections that generate or rather make visible meaning and value.

In this talk Schmachtenberger addresses the nature of two mysterious properties that manifest themselves at every scale of the Universe, from sub-atomic particles over the self-organization of cells and organisms to the scale of galaxies.

These two phenomena are synergy and emergence.

'Synergy' is the process of different elements coming together to form a whole that is more than the sum of its parts, and that also can do much more than the individual parts separately. 'Emergence' is what that 'more' is or can be, that which is created by synergy.

An example of the combination of synergy and emergence is the forest, which I mentioned in the previous musings. A forest is an organism that is more than the sum of its parts, and in which connections constantly arise that cannot be predicted from the nature of the constituent parts individually, and that is true of all emergent properties in the Universe, from cells to planets to solar systems and galaxies or clusters of galaxies.

Just about everything that exists is a result of synergy and emergence, ranging from protons or electrons over atoms, molecules and cells, to an organism like a human being, which can think and feel and fantasize and philosophize, although none of the cells that make up a human being can, let alone the atoms that make up those cells.

And there seems to be a direction in the evolution of the existence of everything that is directed toward ever-growing diversity as well as the ordered harmony of that diversity, and that leads to synergy and emergence of new wholes from those differences, with properties that are more than the sum of the parts. An evolution that also seems to be directed toward the emergence of increasingly complex forms of consciousness, consciousness that can begin to reflect on the processes of which it is a part, and which in turn can become consciously part of new synergistic relationships and new emergent properties, such as, for example, a harmonious society or a 'humanity' as an organism and as an emergent new whole that is more than the sum of its 'parts' (ourselves).

The force that seems to prevail in the Universe is not entropy (or the slow decay of everything in ever-increasing chaos) but the duo of synergy/ emergence, the reason why we have such an improbably exuberantly diverse forms of existence in this Universe, in such improbable forms of harmony, cooperation, and ever-growing 'elegant complexity'.

And what underlies synergy and emergence is: attraction. If nothing were attracted to anything else, nothing would emerge. Attraction between elementary particles forming atoms, or between cells forming a human being, or between two people making a new life.

Thus the great Buckminster Fuller stated, "love is metaphysical gravity," and in this way this statement gains even more meaning. Perhaps we can think of love as the organizing principle of the Universe, love expressed both in the elementary forces such as the electromagnetic force or gravity, and in the attraction between cells, molecules or humans.

Schmachtenberger connects these notions of synergy and emergence to the meaning of existence, and above all the meaning of our own role in the existence of everything, for that is the essential point where we as a species, homo sapiens, currently seem to have lost track.

A new understanding of the meaning of the Universe, and of the meaning of our existence, and the potential that each of us embodies for being part of and contributor to the evolution of the whole, can help crystallize a tipping point to transition to a new kind of society. For that is what real thinking is: it is the growing understanding of the nature of reality at all levels, but also and maybe above all the relevance of that understanding to the personal life and well-being of each of us, and the well-being of all life on Earth.

I'm not going to say more about it for now, and would like to invite you to watch this video.

Take your time, it is not something to hastily watch or listen to in between things, because as the effusive praise in the comments suggests, it is worth your while.

Schmachtenberger is not a philosopher like the French who make an art of being incomprehensible. His language is accessible (he also uses profanities quite often, more than any other philosopher I know), but he does move pretty fast and you have to keep your attention focused all the time. But you can always press "pause," or rewind if you didn't understand something. One of the advantages of talks or lectures in recorded form. And you can also watch the video multiple times, something I would also definitely recommend. One of the commentators wrote that the significance of what Schmachtenberger makes clear here only began to sink in over the course of two months and after multiple views, but then it had a life-changing impact.

So maybe the most important 25 minutes of your life after all? It just depends. On how you look at it. All the same, it may be really important for an evolving understanding of who or what you and I are, and can be.

Someday I will continue musing on all that Schmachtenberger is saying here, because many connections can be made to what other visionaries and elders are saying. There are several thinkers working in systems theory and philosophy and various branches of science currently laying the groundwork for a possible new understanding of who or what we are, and what the Universe is, and we need that new understanding. Our current set of beliefs is taking us straight to the abyss, and a different set of beliefs can take us in a very different direction. Our beliefs are like eyeglasses that color everything we perceive, but very often we don't see the glasses themselves, and we don't realize how our perception is distorted by the glasses we are wearing. Our thinking is like the water in which a fish swims: the fish is not really aware of the water, because it knows nothing else. Our wonderful challenge is: to look for other and clearer water and swim happily further on in it, with a clearer view of both the water and ourselves.

To be continued.

So much for this musing, I wish you much intellectual and spiritual pleasure listening to Daniel Schmachtenberger, and until the next episode,

All the best to you,



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