Our Task

If you haven’t seen this beautiful short film, please give yourself a transformative treat and spend a half hour immersed in its quiet drama and wisdom.  You will be glad you did.  It puts the rest of this post in proper perspective.  The earth is tiny, it is our one and only home, and we will survive only if humanity realizes this and acts as one people, at one with our planet, making it a safe, healthy home equally for all.  If we can undergo that transformation of our heart and consciousness, as these three astronauts did, we will transform the world.

Dedicated to Gus Speth, who formulated the wisdom on which this post is based in his essay in The Coming Transformation: Values to Sustain Human and Natural Communities.

Let future descendants of the human race say
that when our generation saw the unfolding ruin
of the stable earth that had made life possible
and of the free, just, equal, democratic societies
that humanity had evolved over hundreds of years,
we responded by laying down our lives to save
all that goodness, and to become even better.

i. We Shared Our Awareness of the Threat

We used our voices and all forms of art
to raise awareness of the threats
and to unite ourselves
in shared compassion and concern.

ii. We Chose Wise Leaders

The leaders we followed sought not self-aggrandizement
or partisan advancement, but humble wisdom,
aware that no one person or side could solve this alone,
that we needed to work together across divides,
and that we needed a higher power, the spirit of life,
the way of nature within and around us, to help us evolve.
Collective wisdom showed each practical step of the path,
courageous leaders led us boldly down it.

iii. We Gained New Vision and a New Story

We realized humanity could not make needed changes
without a changed consciousness that could see our oneness,
an enlightened way of perceiving ourselves and all life and earth,
a deeper understanding of what the meaning of life is
and what humanity could become.  We needed to discover
how we could fulfill as a society the ideal love of neighbor
that spiritual and philosophical leaders had taught
for three thousand years. We needed a new story
of the journey of the universe rooted in ancient traditions,
letting their shared dreams guide and inspire us,
and rooted in advanced social, physical and life sciences,
opening doors of possibilities unimagined until now.

iv. We Formed a United Movement toward a Shared Goal

We saw ourselves as one people on a journey
out of exile across a desert waste to a new Promised Land.
We saw that we were working toward the same goal,
whether our first concern was one ecosystem or another,
one cause of justice or another, one tribe or another,
we were one people, one movement,
and we needed one another.
We could get there only as one.

v. We Communicated Compellingly

We used all the skill and technology that we had.
We communicated the new positive vision and story,
the urgent calls for action, tirelessly, creatively,
by word of mouth, by broadcast and book, by worldwide web.
We shouted it from rooftops, from street corners,
from every pulpit and lectern. Children found their voice.
They led when adults remained dumb.

vi. We Created Working Models, Living into the Vision

We lifted up existing models.  We created new models.
We began living as if already in the Promised Land,
as if already one, as if already nonviolent, harmonious,
just, equal, compassionate, loving, kind.
We began building a golden civilization
brick by brick by the golden rule
and we did not stop until the ancient dream at last
stood gleaming on a restored and rejoicing earth.

vii. “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for…”

Let future generations look back from that renewed world
and say that we were the ones
who made the change, who made it possible,
who threw off the shackles of selfishness, of ego,
of competitive pride and greed,
and who took the leap into the realm of love
that humanity was born to create.
Let them say that the crises of 2020
were the final labor pains of a new world,
the final push.

That urgent push is our task.

If you only 60 days to save the world…

Less than 60 days now…

I invite you to look deeply into this photograph.  I’ll reflect on it below.

The spirit of life is in every cell of this morning glory with its drive to survive and thrive.  The spirit of life is in the roots and leaves and it is especially in the golden heart of the flower where the seeds of the future take shape.  Solutions to life-threatening problems evolve in that golden room such as innovations the plant must undertake to deal with a changing climate or persistent virus. 

The innovations humanity needs to undergo are not genetic, but they, too, need to come from our heart’s core.  That is the place within us each where the spirit of life inspires the collective evolution of human consciousness to meet our life-threatening problems.  We need to look deeply into that golden room, listen to the still small voice of the spirit and act on what it guides and empowers us each to do.  That is our greatest source of hope for this time.

Thousands of registered Life Planners around the world begin each life plan by asking three questions in the EVOKE process that my brother, George Kinder, developed:

  1. I want you to imagine that you are financially secure, that you have enough money [and time] to take care of your needs, now and in the future. The question is…how would you live your life? Would you change anything? Let yourself go. Don’t hold back on your dreams.  Describe a life that is complete, that is richly yours.
  2. This time you visit your doctor who tells you that you have only 5 – 10 years left to live. The good part is that you won’t ever feel sick. The bad news is that you will have no notice of the moment of your death. What will you do in the time you have remaining to live?   Will you change your life and how will you do it?
  3. This time your doctor shocks you with the news that you have only one day left to live. Notice what feelings arise as you confront your very real mortality. Ask yourself:  What did I miss? Who did I not get to be? What did I not get to do?

Today Americans need to reframe that second question.  Instead of having five years to live, we have less than 60 days to save our democracy and save the world.  We have until Election Day, Tuesday, November 3rd, 2020.  Many people on both sides are framing this election as a matter of life and death, and I believe they are right.

So the urgent Life Planning question now is, if you have only until November 3rd to save our democracy and the world, what will you do in the time you have remaining?  Will you change your life, and how will you do it?

Take a few minutes or an hour to think about that, and then if you feel inspired, please share with us your intention for these days by clicking on the Comment button below and writing in the “Leave a Reply” box that will appear.

Then consider the third question, once again reframed for our situation.  The shock is not that you have one day to live, the shock is that you wake up on November 4th and learn that the side lost that you believe could have saved our democracy and world.  Take a minute of mindfulness to note carefully the painful feelings that arise.  Then ask yourself: What more do I wish I had given?  What more do I wish I had done?

The original 3 Questions have both spiritual depth and practical power.  George Kinder is a Buddhist teacher, a student of psychology and literature and the first winner of the Financial Planning Association’s Heart of Financial Planning Award.  He has been named “One of the top Icons & Innovators in the financial planning industry,” and “The first of 15 transformational advisors whose vision most changed the industry,” and he has been inducted into the Financial Planning Magazine Hall of Fame.

Accolades have come to him for one reason: these three questions and the actions we take based on our answers have the power to change our lives, and have done so for tens of thousands of people.  They lead us to our deepest heart’s core to find what the spirit of life is calling us to do and be.  They release our creative and entrepreneurial gifts.  They motivate us to help life around us improve and evolve in ways that lead to greater life and love—exactly what you would expect when the spirit of life is freely flowing through us.  The results of these questions have changed the world.  Now, perhaps, they can save it.

I hope and pray that you will listen to your heart’s core and that you will make the changes necessary to give all the time, energy and resources you can in this time of greatest need.  Please use the days left before November 3rd to save our democracy and world.

If you have questions about how to fulfill what you feel called to do, feel free to use the comment feature below and ask for what you need. Thank you!

 

This Website’s Purpose Redefined for a New Time

Dear Readers,

The Welcome Page of this website now has a new statement of purpose.  You can read it here.  Please use the share buttons at the bottom of the page if you think people you know would be interested in this.  Thank you!

This Website’s Purpose

Summary:

“Who is there big enough to love the whole planet? We must find such people for the next society.”  E. B. White, “Intimations,” December 1941

This website has a passionate purpose: to help us become big enough to love the whole planet, not just in theory but in practice.  It seeks to help us become citizens who have the vision and the will to create the next society that is founded on a shared love of the whole world.

The passion behind this website is the same that you can hear in Greta Thunberg’s voice, or the Black Lives Matter protests.  We have reached a crisis point.  We have no more time, we cannot pass this on to any future generation.

There will be no future generations if our generation does not reply to E. B. White’s question, “Who is there big enough?” with the answer, “We are!”  But how can we become such people, and how can we change the world quickly enough?

I hope you will find inspiration, support and practical help for accomplishing that here.

The Call to Transform

E. B. White was by far not the only voice ever to call us to transform ourselves to a more enlightened consciousness that can see the true oneness of all life and to transform the world into a place of oneness and love of neighbor as self.

The wisest humans of every culture and spiritual tradition have called on humanity to make this transformation.  The voices began at least twenty-five hundred years ago at the dawning of the Axial Age and have continued with increasing urgency—Greek philosophers, the Hebrew prophets, Buddhist, Taoist and Hindu teachers, Christ and the contemplative Christian tradition, Sufis and indigenous wisdom-keepers.  In the 20th Century Albert Einstein, Dorothy Day, the Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. were only a few of the many who cried out for our transformation.

Today Greta Thunberg and Malala Yousefzai, Pope Francis and the Dalai Lama, Joanna Macy and Mary Evelyn Tucker and thousands more are telling us it is now or never—we have reached the crisis point where human consciousness and society must undergo this transformation or face the real possibility of extinction.

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.  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.”  (To read similar words from others click here.)

We have very little time.  The next decade is our chance to limit the scale of the environmental crisis and create a sustainable, just and peaceful global society.  Much excellent, detailed work has been done to envision what a healthy civilization and planet would require.  Bringing about world transformation seems achievable, but as Gus Speth says, “only in the context of…a new consciousness.”

We may elect leaders who will work on world transformation, but for them to have the power to overcome opposition and make the changes we need will require a new dominant cultural consciousness.  Building that support and political will seems like the harder task.

This website will focus especially on how we can transform our individual consciousness, the foundation for cultural and world transformation.

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)

“If you want to awaken all of humanity, then awaken all of yourself…. Truly, the greatest gift you have to give is that of your own self-transformation…”  Hua Hu Ching 75, attributed to Lao Tzu 

“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.”  George Kinder, A Golden Civilization and a Map of Mindfulness

How Can New Consciousness Evolve Now?

The Tree Sprouts New Branches, Human Consciousness Evolves, the World Is Transformed

One year there was solid bark, the next year a new branch had burst through where no one could have expected it.

I was clearing a field once and liked where a maple tree was growing, but it had been shaped by the old thicket and was bent over toward the light.  A neighbor knew trees better than I did and insisted I was foolish to think it would straighten up and flourish, but I was happy in my foolish hope and left it.

He was right, the old trunk did not change direction entirely, but it sprouted a new branch like the one above, and that branch grew straight up and soon became the new lead trunk.  The old, bent trunk diminished to be a side branch.

We face a crisis in human evolution that threatens to destroy the world that has carried us to where we are today.  We are in danger of turning our planet into a habitat in which humans cannot survive and, along the way there, turning our civilization into a crucible of survivalist fear and violence in which the human spirit cannot thrive.

We do not have at this time the collective will to change our ways and act for the long term well being of our habitat.  We do not take the necessary actions as a society even when we hear the urgent cry of scientists, see the first stages begin of the suffering to come and acknowledge the wisdom of the religious traditions calling us to care and act.

Our hope is that the human spirit can rapidly evolve to have that collective will.

We know it is possible because humanity has evolved through crisis points in the past.  Whole new branches of insight and understanding and new ways of living have sprung from the solid bark of old ways.

We have hope, and that hope resides in our hearing the calling within our hearts as we look at what is happening in the world, and then exploring where that calling leads.  The hope is for our individual transformation that will give us the wisdom and power to transform the world. Continue reading

The Calling to the Golden Room

Sometimes it takes many calls to convince us of a calling.  The Hebrew judge and prophet, Samuel, needed three callings and the help of old, wise Eli to work through his confusion.  Jonah needed God’s voice, a storm at sea and the belly of the whale to overcome his resistance.

The Rev. Samuel Schaal, a Unitarian Universalist minister from Texas, approached me at a Life Planning workshop in the fall of 2011 where I had shared the vision of the Golden Room.  He asked me if I would write it down for him, because he felt it could be useful for others.  It was just one more in a long series of calls spanning two decades, but it was the one that finally convinced me that I had a calling to bring this project to life.

It came along with a growing sense of urgency.

Photograph by Lesley Wellman

Continue reading