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.” Continue reading

More Introduction to this Site: We Need Metaphors

The English word metaphor comes from a Greek root.  The “meta-” part means across.  The “-phor” part means to carry.  The Greek root meaning of metaphor is “to carry across.”

A metaphor is an image we use, a bridge that carries meaning across from one thing to another.  For instance, when we say that our spiritual quest for oneness is a journey home, we carry all the connotations and images of journeys and homes over to add to our understanding of the spiritual quest.  A metaphor is a plank thrown across a ditch to move studs onto a deck to frame a new house.  A metaphor is a door we open to enhance our lives.

Metaphors can be beautiful images that add meaning by associating one idea with another—we can read poetry and look at photographs for the sheer pleasure of how they transport us and expand our hearts and minds—but metaphors have urgent, practical uses as well.  We need them in order to grow, in order to build, in order to journey toward new understandings and destinations.  We need them as individuals living increasingly complex lives, and today we need them as a society facing threats to so much that we love and depend on to survive.

The Golden Room is a metaphor that first came to me as a vision (to read it, click here).  The metaphor has extended over time in two directions:

  • the image of making an inner journey to and through our heart’s core Golden Room;
  • and the image of building an inner home or outer ideal life that is an expression of our heart’s core calling and becomes the Golden Room in and from and for which we live.

This website moves back and forth between spiritual and material realms over the bridges of these two extended metaphors of journey and building.  They are not meant to provide a map or house plan to follow, they simply help describe the ways we go about finding and living in and from our Golden Room.

In Life Planning we try to go as deeply into the heart’s core as we are able to reach. Continue reading

What Is Waiting in Your Golden Room?

by Thomas Cary Kinder

What is waiting in your Golden Room?  A surprise, probably.

Often the EVOKE Life Planning process turns up surprises:

A successful business executive goes through EVOKE to help plan for retirement and uncovers an old secret dream to run a bait and tackle shop, and no one is more surprised than she is at the joy it brings her.

A man uses Life Planning to help plan the next phase of his career, which is to launch a nonprofit to address global poverty, only to discover that before he can undertake any major new enterprise he needs to reconcile with his father.  He is surprised to discover how much that pain is draining his vigor.  He sees how valuable his father’s wisdom and support could be as he confronts the obstacles it will take all his vigor to overcome.  It could delay his launch date, but there is no question he needs to do it.  The Life Planning focuses on how he will go about it, and sets aside exploring the nonprofit path for later.

The first time I went through the EVOKE process I was a pastor who had been overworking for years and was on the brink of total burnout.  My Life Planner was the Yoda of all Life Planners, but even he could not help me get through my exhaustion, bitterness and hopelessness to find the light in my heart’s core.  We flailed around in impenetrable shadow until finally I nearly screamed that I just wanted to run away to a cabin in the woods and have everyone leave me alone.

Surprise!  I am writing in that cabin now, where I have come to meditate and write and be rejuvenated many times a week for ten years, thanks to a sabbatical grant from the Louisville Institute and Lilly Endowment that enabled me to build it.

The forest around this cabin has been logged over the years, and there are stump sprouts–clumps of as many as five trees growing in a tight circle around where a tree was cut.  Other trees have fallen and rotted where they lay and a line of trees has sprouted up fed by the rot.

We come to a transition point in our lives and may envision the tree that will rise out of the old life, but other things may need to grow first.  Surprises may pop out of our Golden Room.  We look down and see not a sapling but a vigorous clump of mushrooms, and if that is what we find, that is what we need to do, trusting that either we will discover our greatest fulfillment in this unexpected direction or that this is what the universe or Spirit needs of us now, and it will lead to something else.

The EVOKE Life Planning process calls the light we find in our Golden Room a Torch.  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

Introduction: The Vision Behind This Site

 

One afternoon in the late 1980s I was lying in bed with a fever, trying to meditate or pray a listening, contemplative prayer. I was turned on my side looking across at a carved wooden trunk that belonged to my grandmother when she was a girl. I felt called to get up and open it. I did not move, but I experienced everything that followed as absolutely real. I got up and opened the chest, and instead of seeing blankets, I saw a ladder dropping down into darkness. The same voiceless voice that called me to the trunk told me to climb down. As I went down, the light overhead grew smaller and finally disappeared. I was climbing through total darkness down a tight and hot tunnel. I was sweating. I was scraping my skin on the sides. I felt claustrophobic. I was afraid and had no idea that it was leading to any good, but I felt I had to keep going down.

After a long while, a golden glow appeared below me. I grew calm and curious. The ladder ended and I dropped down into a small room like a cave. Its walls were as smooth as yellow clay, but it was dry and warm. There was no visible source of the beautiful golden light. It just was. I was looking at the wall in front of me with wonder when I got the sense that someone else was there. I turned around and saw a man dressed in a white robe squatting on the floor, looking up at me and smiling. He said, “My name is Michael, and I am going to help you take what you find here and share it out there.” As he gestured with his arm the wall behind him turned into glass, like the wall of a bus station waiting room, and I saw the world outside and people passing by. Then the vision ended, and I was back in bed.

Over the next twenty years that vision kept coming to mind, and I pondered it. It was not clear to me what to do with it other than to keep up my contemplative practice and keep writing and working as much as I could from the place within me where I found my connection to God and my truest self. Over the years I learned much about how to live in and from the Golden Room, but I thought that what I was learning was meant to guide my own life.

Only recently did I come to understand that the vision is not for me alone. It is for us all. It is for the world. And it is urgent.

That is why I have created this site and why I welcome you here: to give you as much encouragement and assistance as I can for you to find your way to your own Golden Room and live in it and from it. This site provides insights, inspiration and tools to help you do that, as well as company for the journey and celebration along the way.