Following on from our previous issue, we are continuing to explore the nature of truth as it is revealed in many areas of human life. This was the theme of the 2017 World Goodwill seminars in London, Geneva and New York. The focus in this issue shifts from truth in the media towards truth in science, philosophy and art, with the theme of education continuing to underpin many observations. As it was noted at the London Seminar, “It is towards [the] world of meaning that educational systems are slowly progressing, and as they place more emphasis on values, social responsibility and service, the living truth will be expressed ever more powerfully by humanity as a whole. Educational techniques in the future will then be based on an acknowledgement of a Divine Plan, with each child being helped to unfold his or her latent, spiritual faculties and to discover his or her part in that plan.”
As in part 1, the ideas of each Seminar presenter are summarised in this Newsletter, and full content is available on video at worldgoodwill.org/video.
In a recent Lucis Trust letter, the question of absolute truth and ultimate reality is presented through a quotation from the Rigveda’s Hymn of Creation. The Hymn asks: “Who really knows? Whence comes this creation? …he in the highest heaven is its surveyor. Surely he knows, or perhaps he knows not.” We see from this that truth is relative, for the discovery of truth at one level only serves to open up a greater mystery at another. Truth lies ever on ahead but as the search for it intensifies, the enquiring consciousness evokes the light of revelation, and the essence of that which lies just beyond our present state of consciousness can be touched and known.
As far as knowing the truth of another person – their essential quality – is concerned, this can only be achieved through Love-wisdom. This is an energy that uses the mind to penetrate into the heart of another and sees that person as a unique part of the whole. Those consciously treading a spiritual path are learning to work with this energy; but many more hundreds of thousands, if not millions of intelligent people the world over, are starting to draw on this energy subconsiously too. They are naturally becoming inclusive in their thinking – feeling a sense of shared identity with others and awakening to a measure of wisdom and a wider understanding of truth. Thousands more are combining this with a conscious search for meaning through meditation. Meditation brings spiritual light into one’s life, but it requires mental effort and the constant practice of dispassion. It asks us to face that which is distorted and unredeemed in ourselves and in others, and this is not a comfortable process. Stepping out of the disortions that we may encounter in the realms of the emotions and of the concrete mind takes time and persistent effort.
It is true that the barriers and hindrances to spiritual realisation are daunting in this manic period of human history. Materialism, selfishness, sentiment and the unenlightened, prideful intellect are just a few examples of the common glamours which veil and shut out the light. To dispel these veils, some of which enshroud us all to some degree and at some level, we have to keep observing the outer world as the world of symbols – and keep endeavouring to look through all forms and events to the inner world of meaning that gives rise to them.
This need is addressed in an inspiring dialogue between an Adept and a Disciple, written by the mystic, Jacob Boehme. The Adept speaks of the two eyes of vision – the left eye that observes nature, and the right eye that sees in the light of the divine. While the right eye looks forward into Eternity, the left eye looks back into time. The Adept says that a person’s will is easily transfixed through the left eye gazing into nature and the things of time, but searching for their higher reality through the gaze of this left eye will prove unfruitful. He implores the disciple not to let his left eye deceive him by allowing it to fill the mind with that which is without him, nor to look backward upon himself. Always be on guard and watchful, he advises. Don’t allow the mind to search for reality without oneself or look backward upon oneself. Instead, he says, let the Right Eye draw back the Left Eye so that it may not go abroad into the wonders and delights of Nature uncontrolled. Let the Right Eye of Eternity command the Left Eye of Time. Then the disciple will be bathed in the Light of God and he can descend safely in this light to observe the Light of Nature. Both eyes are then mutually beneficial and the world of lighted meaning that operates behind nature’s forms opens up to the disciple. He can then observe and work from a point of unity, of synthesis and understanding.
This mystical passage seems so relevant at this time when the left eye of so many good people is being drawn outwards into nature through an uncontrolled fascination with the products of technology. High Tech developments provide some truly wonderful benefits, but at the same time, too many are becoming obsessed with technological gadgetry that monopolises their time and dissipates their attention. They are being unwittingly drawn down into the material world and time, at the expense of rising up into the light of the inner reality where true revelation lies. We now have connectivity and information at our fingertips, but the speed and volume of information that we are constantly processing is leading to a downward looking humanity, and where the vision is lowered, the voice of conscience is in danger of slowly submerging too.
The left eye that becomes entranced and fixated with outer things is one of the biggest threats that technology poses. There is a wonderful article in The Guardian entitled “How tech hijacked our brains”, reporting that some of the developers of social media in Silicon Valley, are worried about the psychological effects on people who touch, swipe and tap their phones 2,617 times a day. This results in the phenomenon of continuous partial attention, wherein everyone has a limited focus and “everyone is distracted”. Some designers of these technologies are taking radical steps to wean themselves off their addictive features. James Williams, a former Google strategist, who co-founded an advocacy group “Time Well Spent” wonders why the design of products and their effects on people’s thinking and choices is not “on the front page of every newspaper today”. He fears that the attention economy may erode our ability to reason and make decisions for ourselves and may well even affect the functioning of democracy. Williams asks “will we be able to recognise it, if and when it happens” and “If we can’t, then how do we know it hasn’t happened already?”
This exemplifies the nature of glamour, a term which refers to the many distortions created within consciousness by wrongly motivated desire and sentiment. Glamour is largely ruling our behaviour without our knowledge. The addictive nature of speed, coupled with the lure of the electronic nature of matter combine to make a potent force. Technology which serves humanity so well, can also lead us into a soulless cyber world where the left eye rules and conditions the mind into thinking that “this is all there is”. The addictive nature of technology can easily lock the unwary into the realm of glamour, as securely as any of the more familiar desires that have kept humanity a prisoner of the planet for so long.
In contrast, the growing worldwide trend towards meditation and spiritual disciplines like mindfulness train the restless mind to become a still reflective pool that can catch and reflect the soul’s light. In this way the search for truth is advanced as the right eye of divine vision starts to shine a light on the glamours of our times. Despite everything, there is today much cause for hope in that the public is awakening and recognising some of the distortions of truth that are characterising so many areas of human affairs. This is all a part of the search for truth – stripping away obstructions to the greater awareness that each individual is a part of something more universal, something filled with wonder, meaning and intention. Through the cleansing of the senses, a spiritual vision of human destiny will ultimately gain control, and we can take heart that it is already revealing the glamours, ignorance and egoism that are holding humanity back. The right eye is being activated and shining a light forwards to a future era where the good, the true and the beautiful dominate. As this light grows stronger, the left eye will safely comply with the vision that the right eye beholds, and together they will transmit the energy of their combined gaze into nature to heal, transform and redeem.
As in the previous issue, the ideas presented at the three Seminars in November could have been arranged in various different ways. The sequence chosen passes from Patrice Brasseur's philosophical reflections on how, as consciousness evolves, truth can be viewed as ever more inclusive, to Jim Ryder's musings on how the quest for truth through science can be connected with both religion and politics in society, leading to a more mature recognition of the inter-relationship between the various branches of human culture. This growing sense of inter-relationship mirrors the interdependence of the UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and better enables the achievement of these goals. Karen Elkins, who was interviewed for this issue to supplement the ideas presented in her dynamic visual seminar presentation, connects the importance of being open-minded in our approach to the truths which science may reveal with the need to recognise and respond to the uniqueness of every individual we seek to educate. This emphasis on the uniqueness of the individual person finds a strong echo in Deborah Ravetz's endeavours to identify the inner truths of the deep self, a quest which she has followed through the medium of literature, painting, and the artistic form invented by Joseph Beuys, social sculpture. Turning to a more directly physical inquiry into the truth about the human body, Dr. Albert van der Velde shares his experiences of finding innovative ways to treat type-2 diabetes through a different model than the conventional, medication-heavy one suggested by evidence-based medicine. Finally, Cécile Sorbier expands the focus from truth in the human kingdom to the truths which ecology may reveal, in our quest to understand how to improve our relationships with the other kingdoms of nature.
Patrice and Frédérique Brasseur are the founders of Psychosophie. Drawing on the inspiration of Alice Bailey and Agni Yoga, Psychosophie is at the crossroads of philosophy, spirituality and psychology. (This presentation was prepared by both Patrice and Frédérique and presented by Patrice.) Addressing the World Goodwill event at the United Nations in Geneva, Patrice began by noting that there is a deep connection between truth and right relations. The ideal of right relations is the soul expressing itself completely through the personality, generating an atmosphere of light and love, and uniting all the kingdoms of nature. In the real world, different understandings of right relations depend on what different groups consider true, which in turn depends on their stage of consciousness.
Patrice gave an example of the differing perceptions of gender roles in a traditional village, and in an egalitarian democratic society – because what is accepted as shared truth in a particular culture differs widely. Another example: a libertarian might argue that the only way to reach the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is through the autonomous actions of individuals, and ‘trickle-down economics’; whereas a person with a more holistic vision stresses our shared responsibility for the Earth, and that replacing competition by cooperation is the way to reach the SDGs.
Harmlessness is a key requirement of right relations; and we should therefore be careful to avoid premature judgement of others’ understanding of truth and right relations. Otherwise, we may identify their relationships as unjust, and our understanding as automatically superior. We must take seriously the duty outlined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to respect all people, and to implement this respect in daily life. “In order for a relationship to be just, it is necessary to be in accordance with the truth proper to our state of consciousness, within the environment in which we live.”
Patrice suggested that we have two duties – to apply the truths we believe in to all our daily relationships; and to continually seek to make our concept of truth wider and more inclusive. However, defining truth in relation to reality is difficult, as there are multiple realities. Indeed, truth is only a symbol or representation of reality, which is always something more “The quest for truth is a mental process of discerning, of understanding the fundamental laws of the Real; and this Real is always beyond the truth we are to approach.” Until we become genuinely intuitive, we will struggle with the many different symbols of truth on the plane of mind. All truths are partial and need to be grounded in individual experience to work out. For example, if we hear that “Everything is one”, can we integrate this understanding into daily life? If we do so, we may find that our attitudes to others change, with increasing interest in cooperation and a broader expression of brotherhood; the SDGs may grow in importance in our minds. It is by applying truths in this way that we can convince ourselves of their validity “we must become scientists of the inner life.” In so doing we learn that every truth forms a part of a wider truth, and our understanding can continue to widen “At whatever level we may be, the truth is always the next step.”
So we may say that we do not go from error to truth, but that we progress from smaller partial truths to larger ones. In that sense the truth is everywhere, no matter where we stand on the path of the evolution of consciousness. “Truth is the certainty to which everyone has access according to his or her level of consciousness, the certainty that serves as a basis for his or her evolution, up to the next step.” This helps us to understand that every teaching is true, as all are useful at specific points on the evolutionary journey; and once a teaching has been integrated, one can move on to wider truths, but those teachings still remain useful to those who have not yet encountered them. Thus we should understand that it is unhelpful to think of those who do not yet value the SDGs as wrong; rather, the SDGs are not yet part of their truth. This underlines the need for continuing education.
Patrice concluded that all truths are not equal – the more global in application a truth is, the more important it is. But we should not neglect smaller local truths because of this. The main question we should ask ourselves regularly is “What useful truth am I willing to implement?” This is how we can expand the work of right relations. Even the SDGs are not the final truths for the planet, but are a very useful stepping stone that everyone can grasp. worldgoodwill.org/video#pb
Dr. James Ryder served as Vice President of Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company and head of the Advanced Technology Center. A close friend of World Goodwill, we were saddened to learn of his passing in June 2018. Speaking in Geneva, Jim began by defining science as “a meditation on the nature of the universe” (light/matter/energy/force), which exists within the context of culture (our customary beliefs and shared values). Within that culture, science relates to religion (“a meditation on the meaning or sense of belonging”); politics/governance; and the arts. We can distinguish between the purpose and the role of each of these ‘pillars’ of society.
The purpose of science is to organise our knowledge about the universe. This is distinct from the choices we make on how to use this knowledge. Science finds its application in engineering, and in the technological side of medicine, driven by cultural needs which can be expressed in religion and politics; religion finds its ‘application’ in politics and government. The purpose of religion is to search for meaning; whereas its role is to help the individual understand “who or what you are”, by building relationships with the Divine. Moving on to politics, which can be defined as ‘who gets what, when and how’, this guides government. The purpose of government is to exercise authority over state policies.
Jim suggested other ways of looking at these definitions: science illuminates what seems to be true; whereas religion illuminates what we believe, want or desire; and politics is involved in determining exactly what is created (according to scientific knowledge and its appliance through engineering). Thus, society is based upon a dialogue between facts/knowledge (science), values (religion/philosophy), and policies (politics – although corporations are playing an increasing role).
Using the metaphor of light, he suggested that while physical light (science) reveals material facts, metaphorical or subjective light (enlightenment/religion) reveals that which lies behind the outer garment of matter. Looking at history, our modern ideas are not so far away from the ancient understanding. Thus, some scientists are now studying consciousness, and recognising its ubiquity throughout the universe, so bringing science and religion into harmony, and providing a firmer basis for positive technologies to be brought into being through politics and government. “That consciousness is ubiquitous in the universe was the ancient wisdom, and that’s where science is trending today.” The inter-relation between science, religion and politics is fundamental, though it is not often understood. Likewise the interdependence between the different SDGs must be understood in order to realise them. worldgoodwill.org/video#jr2
Karen Elkins is the founder, editor and designer of Science to Sage, an online magazine featuring leading edge thinkers in science, spirituality, philosophy, art and ancient wisdom. She is the author and designer of the forthcoming book, Inside Out Visual Journey into Our Universe. She also co-founded Silbury Education and Resource Centre for Gifted and Creative Learners in Vancouver, Canada. Interviewed by World Goodwill for this Newsletter, Karen described how her passion for seeing the interconnectedness of things evolved. It grew out of her work seeking to link subjects in an inter-disciplinary way across the curriculum at Silbury Education and Resource Centre for Gifted and Creative Learners. Experts were brought in from different areas and Karen began to see patterns (“you begin to look at nature with wisdom”). This was further fuelled by her work with scientists as she began to develop the digital magazine Science to Sage.
Through her work on the magazine and through her explorations at Silbury, she began to see the triangle as an organising pattern/principle throughout nature – light, water, molecules, changes in the states of matter. Its nature is fractal, and woven by a “golden ratio”, which can be imagined as a golden link weaving life into light reflections, which can lead to a state of awe. But while stimulating a sense of awe and wonder became an important aspect of Silbury’s work, the initial impetus was to accept and nurture the uniqueness of each child – “how do you tap into their need to fulfil… their destination?”; and then the endless variety of approaches to knowledge expanded her vision – “there’s an endless way of exploring and discovering”.
Discussing the challenges for the education system to meet the needs of the expanding consciousness of today’s children, Karen noted that putting an individual’s unique reason for incarnating into a standardised box can create a crisis for the soul, and tackling this requires both teachers and parents to support the individual’s passions. She also noted that being ‘gifted’ is not enough, children also need fortitude, support, and understanding. Their natural capacity for exploration needs nurturing, along with their unique unfolding sense of purpose. And different kinds of learners need different approaches. She shared her own experience of learning anatomy later in life, where she found that to remember, she needed to draw; and around a third of the children she encountered needed a visual approach to learning which gave a sense of how all things are interconnected, and the wonder of nature, something which she also sought to implement in Science to Sage. She explained how working under a home schooling regime allowed her to bring in experts from many different disciplines, and how children were given more options to present their learning than just through the written word, e.g filming, animation, robotics, allowing the children to become creators.
Responding to a question on her perspective on what many perceive as a time of crisis in planetary history, she noted the cyclic repeating patterns that appear in history, and the need for balance to emerge. She cited the archetypal hero’s journey as a pattern that needs to be followed, yet few are prepared to do so because of their desire for predictability, and also because we are conditioned from an early age to be submissive, and to conform to expected norms (“how do we embody and empower the essence of what we’ve come here to be with the essence of kindness? with the essence of righteousness?”) She said that we need to get back to human values that produce better circumstances for all.
When asked about the ‘truth-tellers’ she has encountered in her work with Science to Sage, Karen noted that some might be well known, while others are not. Karen was also influenced by Eastern spiritual traditions and the foundational work of Gregg Braden, as well as by John De’Pew and Richard Merrick, both of whom worked to bridge science and religion. These connections suggest that at some point in history, there was one story, which then fragmented, leading to the fractured picture we have today. The ‘truth tellers’ Karen features in the magazine are pointing to the original unity, and the common symbolism linking different traditions. Each tradition shines a light on a particular aspect of the whole, but we mustn’t forget the underlying commonalities, allowing us to accept diversity and live in peace. “My dream would be that people could find the common ground and accept the diversity and live in peace.”
This led to a discussion about the importance of encountering other cultures, and people’s fear of change. Karen related this discomfort to the electrical nature of the human vehicle. She noted that learning something new was for her energising, but because of our differences, might create anxiety in others, as we are also based on cyclically repeating patterns and habits. Karen mentioned work which she has found particularly useful: Dr Joe Dispenza uses meditation and visualisation to help people create new patterns of thought and behaviour, and also relate to the subtler realms. She has also done breathwork and past-life regression, and she believes that everyone needs to find their own path: “There is no one way for any one person to arrive at what they need at their next level.” Sometimes for her the ultimate answer has been prayer. “Ask and the door shall be opened.” All of these have helped her to shift out of stuck patterns.
She noted that the news media is currently stuck in a mode of telling stories which create fear and division, which can be incredibly destructive to the soul. The process of dispersing this negative atmosphere of thought and emotion, which those who are working with truth and light are doing, is something featured by both World Goodwill and Science to Sage; and Karen noted how it is a process of applying the same timeless wisdom in a new context. If this can be done skilfully, then it may be less threatening to those who fear change.
Karen shared how the visuals of her most recent book have allowed her to appreciate how we are all responsible for the repeating patterns of energy we project into the world. She also noted that science itself is slow to acknowledge the need for a new approach, which recognises the pervasive presence of consciousness and life throughout the universe, and the positive effect all beings can have upon one another by projecting lighted, loving thoughts. She mentioned the Earth’s electromagnetic Schumann resonance, which is the same resonance as the heart and the brain, linking us and making us mutually responsible; and the fact that humans and the Earth are both mostly water. We need to recognise our resonance with the Earth and take care of it, for it is the ground of our existence – “we are crazy when we do not honour the Earth”, and while there are many servers around the world, we need also to engage our leaders to take this vision forward. worldgoodwill.org/video#ke
Deborah Ravetz is an artist, philosopher and author, and she also works with social sculpture, the artistic form pioneered by Joseph Beuys. Deborah began by noting that in all of her work, she works with people – she also helps people to find their vocation – “I am interested in the releasing of the deepest self in service.” She asked, “What is the personal?” While she has found people seem apologetic about being personal, she believes that it need not be just self-indulgence, for “if you speak about the personal in a certain kind of way it gets lifted up into the realm of the universal”.
She shared her childhood fascination with reading – through this, she encountered the Holocaust in the novel Exodus. This deeply moved her: she didn’t see it as specifically a German problem but as a universal question about how it could have happened and what one would do in similar circumstances. So the Holocaust, as a sort of wound, became for her a kind of organ of perception, and later in life, she went with her husband to Auschwitz, and read about its commandant, Rudolf Höss. He had originally wanted to be a farmer, but because of his experiences as a guard at Dachau – where hardness and heartlessness were praised – coupled with his fear of showing vulnerability, he had not listened to the longings of his authentic self, but had instead turned into a monster.
She linked this lack of authenticity with her childhood experiences growing up in northern Rhodesia, (now Zimbabwe), where her mother and grandparents had migrated after the war. Her family, and other British ex-patriates, led a life of relative luxury, which contrasted strongly with the poverty of their servants. Yet Deborah sensed that the luxury was used primarily to numb the sadness caused by the suppressed trauma of the war. Being sensitive to this sadness, even as a child Deborah experienced depression. She then encountered the novel Where Angels Fear to Tread by E. M. Forster, which explores the moral dilemma around ‘respectable’ behaviour versus true happiness. Reading this at 10 years old gave Deborah hope that there was another way of looking at the world, and that she would be able to find people who wrote books like these when she went to university.
When she finally went to university she discovered that even there, problems of hiding our true selves under a social mask persisted, and that you need to actively seek out people who are willing to be authentic “everywhere we go we are finding it very difficult to really say and be who we are and find out how to talk about it.” She cited the philosopher Theodore Zeldin, author of The Hidden Pleasures of Life, who believes that the signature of our time is the complete uniqueness and importance of every single person, and that finding out that biography, and what we live for is very hard work. The willingness to really encounter difference in another person through deep listening is very important.
Through a deep interest in discovering what makes another person unique she was drawn to the work of the German artist, Joseph Beuys. Deborah noted that there is a kind of mythology about part of Beuys’ life, linked with his experiences during World War Two, and suggested he is telling this myth to shift the listener into the mythological consciousness, which deals with truths beyond the ordinary realm. Returning to Germany after the War, in a deeply traumatised time overshadowed by the threat of nuclear holocaust, Beuys decided that it was really important to widen the remit of art. He coined the phrase social sculpture. The idea is that “the artist finds their deepest question, their deepest sorrow, what is hidden, ignored and denied in our culture” and seeks to find the medicine for that question. The question is brought up in some type of artistic form, in such a way that it warms the place of the wound, and out of this a kind of ethical aesthetics comes about – the pain is felt so deeply that our heart is changed, and we want to find out how to be part of the solution.
Deborah was fortunate to be trained by one of Beuys’ pupils, and the social sculpture she created is called The Search for the Deep Self, which seeks to research this question of why people are so afraid of being seen. She noted that everyone has probably got words they have been called that are wounding to them, and for her it was ‘intense’. She couldn’t understand what was wrong with this. She mentioned how, in Ibsen’s Peer Gynt, when Peer Gynt is approached at the end of his life by the Button-Moulder, he is told that he will be melted down for buttons because he has lived such a mediocre life that he might as well not have existed. Deborah drew a parallel with German philosopher Hannah Arendt’s idea of the banality of evil, noting that Arendt described Adolf Eichmann, one of the architects of the Holocaust, as someone who had failed to have a conversation with himself, to allow his inner life to disturb him: the Button-Moulder is saying something similar to Peer Gynt. Peer Gynt asks what he could have done differently, and the Button-Moulder replies that he should have lived life more intensely – an answer which thrilled Deborah. When Peer Gynt asks how to do this, the Button-Moulder replies that it is difficult, but the point is to try, and that the key is you must learn how to die and to become.
For Deborah, this was the start of her being able to find words for her deepest question, because her intensity meant that nearly all of her conversations tended to be deep, something which could be scary for others, and also for her, since others’ fear could look quite like hate. Deborah noted that Goethe had written about dying and becoming, and that the person who is unable to do this is someone who wants a truth that never changes, a fixed ideology. But unless we work with the struggles that life throws at us, they may become transformed into neuroses. Dying and becoming is about letting go of the old, and finding yourself in a place that could be called the desert, where you feel deeply anxious. Deborah noted that understanding this helped her to understand and sympathise with the behaviour of her parents and grandparents, because they had never been told that the deep processing of wartime trauma was unavoidable, and was the middle of a place of transformation.
Keats referred to being able to be in this place as being in negative capability, which is being able to embrace uncertainty. Keats suggested that it’s a mistake to try to rush out of this place with an intellectual plan: if you can only endure the experience, the future comes towards you, your old life falls away, and you get exactly what you need. Deborah was excited to read this confirmation of her own experience, and remarked that this was a problem in institutions too – we have not learned that failing and being lost can be very creative. She also encountered this in her teaching at art school, which inspired her to write The Art of Being Human.
Deborah found further confirmation of these ideas in the German poet Rainer Maria Rilke. Rilke suffered from the sense that the world had been reduced to the making of money and the pursuit of happiness, with all struggle, pain, death and mystery being deliberately ignored. In one of the Duino Elegies, Rilke referred to this as the city of pain, where everything is on the surface and life has lost its savour. He then describes another world, the land of pain, where death is seen as taking one beneath the surface of life. It’s only there that “struggle and anxiety when felt lead to a flowering, a flowering of insight and a reaching of a depth of joy”. Finally, Deborah concluded, this struggle with your deepest question is within your power, and it is only in persisting in this struggle that you have the chance to break through to new life and truth. worldgoodwill.org/video#dr
Dr. Albert van der Velde is an Integral GP in the Netherlands and Co-founder and Board Member of Stichting Voeding Leeft (Food Lives Foundation). Albert began by suggesting that we need to become more connected with our bodies. He discussed his sense of the incompleteness of the evidence-based medicine model, because his experience as a general practitioner had shown him the impossibility of identifying individually applicable treatment plans based on average results from randomised studies. Furthermore, since every cell in the body undergoes 80,000 electromagnetic reactions per second, simultaneously working together in billions of cells – who can say that they can gather evidence and truth from this incredibly complex situation? Thus, “we need to focus more on the awareness of interactions in our bodies.”
Albert noted the changes which have taken place in the evolution of the human physical form, with more and more obesity and diabetes, in the last sixty years, as the increase in electromagnetic and chemical pollution and highly processed foods have impacted us. He observed that there is a conflict between these rapidly increasing impacts from our environment and the genome, as our DNA needs thousands of years to adjust. There is now more understanding of how the vast majority of diseases are caused by environmental pollution. Our metabolism is disturbed by these impacts, including a rise in the amount and variety of sugars in our processed foods, (the World Health Organisation now recommends sugars should be less than 5% of our energy intake per day) leading to metabolic distortions like insulin resistance and low-grade inflammation, due to disruption of the proper functioning of fat cells in the body. And other factors, such as insufficient exercise, abnormal gut bacteria, chronic stress and sleep loss also play a part.
Albert stated that chronic inflammation can lead to different chronic diseases, as supported by the work of Dr Dariush Mozaffarian of the Harvard Medical School. Albert was shocked to realise that some medications he was using to treat his patients with type-2 diabetes were actually making it harder for them to recover. So together with two friends he started the Stichting Voeding Leeft (Food Lives Foundation), an independent platform to educate people on how food affects our health. The aim is to treat food as a medicine for chronic disorders on an individual basis.
They have found that, with group encouragement, it is easier to stick to a specific dietary regime and lifestyle changes, and that increasing body awareness helps people to sense what foods are good for them. Their six-month intensive program, focusing on giving information about the disease, learning to cook healthy foods, take exercise, and give coaching on how to tackle possible obstacles, has helped people to reverse type-2 diabetes.
Albert also noted that the interaction between high levels of glucose in the body and proteins may lead to the creation of advanced glycation end-products (AGEs). He highlighted a relatively new diagnostic tool for AGEs which uses light, and expressed the hope that in the next ten years we will recognise that the formation of AGEs has a lot to do with all kinds of chronic diseases. He cited the belief in a life force underlying all outer forms by almost half the world’s population – known variously as chi, prana and ruach, a concept that is missing in the West, and concluded that “If we could all incorporate the idea that… everything on the planet has a life force, and we can work with it, I think we have a lot we can do…with health and well-being.” worldgoodwill.org/video#av
Cécile Sorbier is the Environment Director for Femmes Internationales Murs Brisés (FIMB). Their mission is “to unite all who work for a return to higher values”. The organisation connects 350 million people in 105 countries, weaving together education, humanitarianism, the environment, inter-faith, business, health, art, culture and sport.
Cécile described ecology as the recently emerging science of relationships between organisms and the surrounding ‘non-living’ world; thus an ecologist is an advocate of nature, whose attitude may be coloured by own world-view. Ecology synthesises ideas from many different disciplines. Yet it is also instinctive, in the sense that all children naturally study their relations with other creatures. Childhood experiences influence our attitudes to the ‘other’, which, in the broadest sense means other living beings. As we grow, our understanding of what our environment is also expands, thus enriching our observations. “To become an ecologist, we do not study a science, but the results of a multitude of interactions between a multitude of sciences.” And we discover there is no end to the depth of study and thus no fixed, final truth. Thus, we are all ecologists, we each hold a part of the truth (“we each hold a part of the truth, because we have acquired a unique vision that is indispensable to the whole of knowledge”), and none of us has access to all of this knowledge.
This helps us to understand the difficulty in discerning the truth about the issues of ecology today. Expertise and passion in one area of ecology may still mean ignorance in another. Cécile gave an example of some bird-watchers who were so intent on their observations that they accidentally trampled a rare orchid. And this makes the struggle to reconcile the protection of ecosystems with the uses humanity may seek to make of them particularly challenging, given that political decisions are not generally made for the greatest good of all life, but according to the ambitions of people seeking election or re-election. So how do we break down walls in a non-violent way, to see the world as a whole? How do we establish right human relations in favour of ecology?
We need to have the will to go beyond our fears and limitations, to open ourselves to others. Thus, through respect, responsibility and mutual help, we can generate humility, simplicity, patience and service. Cécile gave some examples from FIMB’s work: in India, Sanjeeta, an ecologist and the president of FIMB Gujarat, has found that the way to achieve good ecological outcomes, build goodwill, and meet the real needs of villagers is to encounter them in an unexpected way, by cycling to them. As women are expected to walk, this helps break down gender stereotypes; and as someone who could travel by car, it shows her personal effort to connect with the villagers’ situation. Thus she is more likely to be respectfully heard. In Africa, Arouna, the president of a youth centre in Burkina Faso, is a storyteller. To solve a problem with water delivery, he conducted a consultation with local people and set up a low-cost service which generated two jobs and was simple to implement. The youth were happy as they were able to fully participate, and FIMB had only to encourage and support Arouna in his approach. In Europe, although our farming is supposedly advanced, the productive capacity of soils is in decline, due to a continuing lack of respect and care. The co-founder of FIMB, Alexandre Homé, invented agricultural Ki, a powder that can be used to dose soils homoeopathically, to restore their natural vitality. The results are positive – increased production, fewer diseases and parasites, shorter growing periods, and more vigorous plants that are sometimes bigger, and with better flavour.
Cécile concluded by sharing FIMB’s initiative for the protection of Life, the Oath of Humanity, and noting that, in the face of the many troubles facing our planet, “We have no other choice but to participate, with all of our commitment, acceptance, and openness, in full awareness of our limitations and strengths, in order to serve the future.” worldgoodwill.org/video#cs2
Reflections on Truth and Discernment
As part of the preparation for the Seminar, a booklet with thoughts from a wide variety of sources was prepared. Below are a few selections. To receive a printed copy, please write to us or download HERE.
The water in a vessel is sparkling; the water in the sea is dark. The small truth has words which are clear; the great truth has great silence.
Trust those who seek the truth but doubt those who say they have found it.
Truth, as it is, is seen and known. Forms in the outer world of phenomena (outer from the angle of the soul and therefore encompassing the three worlds of our familiar daily living) are seen to be but symbols of an inward and spiritual Reality.
I am certain of nothing but the holiness of the Heart’s affections and the truth of the Imagination.
The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement. But the opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth.
Some people think they have discernment when actually they are just suspicious. Suspicion comes out of the unrenewed mind; discernment comes out of the renewed spirit.
I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality.... I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.
Martin Luther King, Jr