What is Big Think?  

We are Big Idea Hunters…

We live in a time of information abundance, which far too many of us see as information overload. With the sum total of human knowledge, past and present, at our fingertips, we’re faced with a crisis of attention: which ideas should we engage with, and why? Big Think is an evolving roadmap to the best thinking on the planet — the ideas that can help you think flexibly and act decisively in a multivariate world.

A word about Big Ideas and Themes — The architecture of Big Think

Big ideas are lenses for envisioning the future. Every article and video on bigthink.com and on our learning platforms is based on an emerging “big idea” that is significant, widely relevant, and actionable. We’re sifting the noise for the questions and insights that have the power to change all of our lives, for decades to come. For example, reverse-engineering is a big idea in that the concept is increasingly useful across multiple disciplines, from education to nanotechnology.

Themes are the seven broad umbrellas under which we organize the hundreds of big ideas that populate Big Think. They include New World Order, Earth and Beyond, 21st Century Living, Going Mental, Extreme Biology, Power and Influence, and Inventing the Future.

Big Think Features:

12,000+ Expert Videos


Browse videos featuring experts across a wide range of disciplines, from personal health to business leadership to neuroscience.

Watch videos

World Renowned Bloggers


Big Think’s contributors offer expert analysis of the big ideas behind the news.

Go to blogs

Big Think Edge


Big Think’s Edge learning platform for career mentorship and professional development provides engaging and actionable courses delivered by the people who are shaping our future.

Find out more

Globalization Isn’t Just for Economists

April 13, 2012, 12:00 AM

The world really is getting smaller. 

I’m a 56-year-old Jewish Baby Boomer from Manhattan who became a spiritual seeker in my early twenties. Typical of so many of my generation, I looked for Enlightenment in the East, not the West. I traveled to India in 1984, and three years later, in a brief encounter with an extraordinary teacher, I found what I was looking for. Shortly thereafter, I started teaching myself and have been traveling the world doing just that ever since.  

In the decades since, the East has been coming to the West, and vice versa. I recently returned from a teaching trip to India supported by the Times of India Foundation where I was launching the Indian edition of my new book. I was speaking at schools, colleges, conference centers, bookstores, and ashrams. One thing became clear almost immediately after I arrived. The great surge of modernization in that ancient land is generating enormous stress for the multitudes who are striving to cash in on the new opportunities for prosperity. I could feel it most strongly when speaking to young people. They are under overwhelming pressure from their families to excel and conform: do well in school, get a good job, get married, have kids, send them to college, and—best case scenario—move to the USA so they can do it all in the promised land.  Three decades earlier, I had come to India to find my soul. Now young Indians want to come to America to find material success.

The most revealing incident happened at my first talk at a college in Mumbai: I noticed that the title had been changed from “Spiritual Self-Confidence” to “Self-Confidence.” I was surprised—India has always seemed to me to be the one place in the world where no one has a problem with the word “spiritual.” When I inquired as to why it had been removed, the organizers informed me that if they used the word “spiritual” in the title, young people wouldn’t come. “Spirituality is for grandparents,” I was told. 

So, in my talks, which many young Indians did attend, I found myself in the odd position of explaining to them that India’s great gift to the world has been her rich spirituality and that her greatest luminaries have been powerfully enlightened men and women who all, in one way or another, courageously bucked the status quo in pursuit of their own higher development. I emphasized how rare and challenging it is to become a truly independent agent in this world. That was why, in every talk I explained how, unknowingly, we are all conditioned—by our families, culture, and the times in which we’re living—to see the world in the way we do. That was why I asked them, “Do you ever think for yourself about the meaning of your life? Are you thinking your own thoughts, in the way that your culture’s greatest luminaries have done?”

Shortly after arriving back from India, I led a week-long retreat in the Mojave desert in southern California. People came from all over the world, including Australia and Europe. But what was most intriguing to me was that two Asian women familiar with my work came all the way from Taiwan to spend that week with me exploring the depths of meditative stillness and the secrets of consciousness. The world really is getting smaller and more integrated and more incredible every day, I marveled. If fifty years ago you were to tell somebody that Americans would teach Enlightenment in India and that Asian seekers would come to California to learn about what the Buddha taught from an American Jew, they would never have believed you. I can hardly believe it myself.


Andrew Cohen is the best-selling author of Evolutionary Enlightenment: A New Path to Spiritual Awakening. To download a 38-page excerpt, click here.

Image Credit: Emjay Smith/Shutterstock.com



Globalization Isn’t Just fo...

Newsletter: Share: