I haven’t gone enough into Buddhism to understand whether what is described in this article by Richard D. Bartlett constitutes as secular version of it, but from my limited knowledge, it would appear so.

That’s not in any way to downplay the important insights that Rich brings to the fore in his writing. For example, asking the question about group dynamics when some or all of the group drinks strong coffee. Or wondering what the largest group is that can hold a single conversation.

Fascinating stuff, and firmly in the realm of philosophy of conviviality and solidarity. One to return to.

I want you to see your self as a superorganism. And I want you to see the superorganisms that you are part of. I want the perceived boundaries of your self to leak.

I want you to see how your agency is not a tidy black box contained inside the envelope of your skin, but distributed in a network, intra-penetrating with other people. I want you to feel the incorporeal beings steering your choices, and I want you to learn that you can steer their choices too.


Just as a we can see the distinct layers of “cell”, “tissue” and “organ” at the micro-scales, I want you to see the distinct layers at the macro-scale. I want you to see that a group of 5 people is a distinct superorganism with distinct competencies. A group of 150 people is another species of superorganism, it can do other things.

You may be thinking to yourself, what the fuck are you talking about Rich? I can’t explain it, you have to see for yourself. Maybe I can give you some instructions to help you see like a superorganism.

Source: Seeing Like a Superorganism | Richard D. Bartlett