The Golden Room, A Golden Civilization: Four Steps Toward Saving the World, Step One

This oak was cut down years ago.  Its structure remains, but is decaying and breaking.  Its heartwood core is gradually softening and rotting within a circle of cracking bark.  Meanwhile, what is left of the oak collects fallen leaves and galls.  It holds acorn shells and droppings that squirrels or birds have left.  It grows moss.  Each humble contribution will feed the roots and heart of a future tree that will rise from the same ground.  All that has ever fallen on the oak will live on in it, including light and rain and the remaining essences of other lives.  The new tree could not exist without all the lives and ways that have gone before.  They are its hope, as it is theirs.

The Golden Room, A Golden Civilization: Four Steps toward Saving the World

This is the first of several posts about the relationship between the Golden Room we each have within us and the Golden Civilization that would arise if we each lived in, from and for our Golden Room or heart’s core or truest, deepest self.  The second step will show that we do not all have to do this, a surprisingly small percentage of us could make the difference to save the world.  The third step will show a map of how we can get from here to there.  The fourth step will talk about some of the tools and practices we can get busy putting to work right now to speed the transformation.

Here is the outline of this series of related posts:

In this post we will hear about the first step from many voices.

Step One:

We KNOW this! We have heard it over and over. Yet we have not taken it seriously enough to ask how, and to set out as a people to accomplish it.

Now we must.  We have no other choice and no time to lose if we want to protect what we love and save what we depend on to survive and thrive.

We know this step because we have heard our wisest elders saying it increasingly stridently.

Heeding them and asking ourselves what we can do in our lives to follow their direction is the first step toward saving our world.

We can do this.  The following three posts will talk about why this can work and how we can do it.  Thank you for doing your crucial part.

First, some recent voices:

Gus Speth sums this crucial wisdom up beautifully in his book The Bridge at the Edge of the World: Capitalism, the Environment, and Crossing from Crisis to Sustainability.  Speth co-founded the Natural Resources Defense Council and World Resources Institute.  He Chaired President Carter’s Council on Environmental Quality and served as a senior advisor to President Clinton’s transition team.  He was Dean of the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.  Here is what he says:

“Many of our deepest thinkers and many of those most familiar with the scale of the challenges we face have concluded that the transitions required can be achieved only in the context of what I will call the rise of a new consciousness. For some it is a spiritual awakening —a transformation of the human heart. For others it is a more intellectual process of coming to see the world anew and deeply embracing the emerging ethic of the environment and the old ethic of what it means to love thy neighbor as thyself. But for all it involves major cultural change and a reorientation of what society values and prizes most highly.”

George Kinder, the founder of Life Planning and author of The Seven Stages of Money Maturity and Transforming Suffering into Wisdom: Mindfulness and the Art of Inner Listening and an upcoming book on the Golden Civilization:  “If you want a golden civilization, you must start with what is golden inside of you. If you want a civilization that will thrive for a thousand years, you must start with what is timeless inside of you.”

The co-founder of Centering Prayer, Thomas Keating, says, “If one is truly transformed, one can walk down the street, drink a cup of tea or shake hands with somebody and be pouring divine life into the world…. The essential thing…is the transformation of one’s own consciousness.”  (Mystery of Christ p. 275)

Joanna Macy said: “It is no longer appropriate to think only in terms of even my nation or my country, let alone my village. If we are to overcome the problems we face, we need what I have called a sense of universal responsibility rooted in love and kindness for our human brothers and sisters. In our present state of affairs, the very survival of humankind depends on people developing concern for the whole of humanity, not just their own community or nation. The reality of our situation impels us to act and think more clearly. Narrow-mindedness and self-centered thinking may have served us well in the past, but today will only lead to disaster. We can overcome such attitudes through the combination of education and training.”

Albert Einstein said:  “The unleashed power of the atom has changed everything save our modes of thinking and we thus drift toward unparalleled catastrophe…. A new type of thinking is essential if [humanity] is to survive and move toward higher levels.” (New York Times – May 25 1946, p.13 – ‘Atomic Education Urged by Einstein’)

Martin Luther King Jr. said: “We as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values.  We must rapidly begin the shift from a “thing-oriented” society to a “person-oriented” society.  When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism and militarism are incapable of being conquered…”

Mahatma Gandhi said:  “There comes a time when an individual becomes irresistible and his action becomes all-pervasive in its effect.  This comes when he reduces himself to zero.”

And now for some ancient voices.

Here is a passage from the second chapter of the Hindu Bhagavad Gita that was central to Gandhi’s philosophy, translated by Eknath Easwaran:

They live in wisdom
Who see themselves in all and all in them,
Whose love for the Lord of Love has consumed
Every selfish desire and sense-craving
Tormenting the heart.  Not agitated
By grief nor hankering after pleasure,
They live free from lust and fear and anger.
Fettered no more by selfish attachments,
They are not elated by good fortune
Nor depressed by bad.  Such are the seers….

When you keep thinking about sense-objects,
Attachment comes.  Attachment breeds desire,
The lust of possession which, when thwarted,
Burns to anger….
But when you move amidst the world of sense
From both attachment and aversion freed,
There comes the peace in which all sorrows end,
And you live in the wisdom of the Self.

There is a story from the Desert Fathers and Mothers in Thomas Merton’s collection of their sayings from the early centuries of Christianity that goes like this:  Abba Lot went to old Abba Joseph and said to him, “Abba, as far as I can I chant the psalms, I fast some, I pray and meditate, I live in peace, and as far as I can, I purify my thoughts.  What else can I do?”  Then Abba Joseph stood up and stretched his hands toward heaven.  His fingers became like ten lamps of fire and he said, “If you will, you can become all flame.”

And here are voices from the Judeo-Christian scriptures:

Isaiah 60:1-5a: Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. 2For darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the Lord will arise upon you, and his glory will appear over you. 3Nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn. 4Lift up your eyes and look around…  5Then you shall see and be radiant; your heart shall thrill and rejoice,

Jeremiah 29:13-14: 13When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart, 14I will let you find me, says the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, says the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.

Jeremiah 31:33-34: 33But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, “Know the Lord,” for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord...

The Apostle Paul in Romans 12:2: 2Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.

This is the first step toward saving the world: recognizing that it is from the cultivation of the Golden Room that a Golden Civilization will arise.  As Gus Speth summarized the collective wisdom, we need the rise of a new consciousness, a transformation of the human heart, a new way of seeing in order to bring about a major cultural change and a reorientation of what society values.

Again, we can do this!  The following posts will talk about why this can work and how we can do it.  To go to the next post in this series you can click here.

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