Current world events suggest that the life of humanity has reached a major crisis point. The intensity of political turmoil in America and Europe, the protracted and brutal conflicts in the Middle East, in parts of Africa and elsewhere, the danger of further financial collapse, the looming long-term threats associated with climate change – all these are causing many people of goodwill to experience confusion, and even despair. It might seem that the illusion of separateness has taken hold again with a vengeance and that all the hard-won gains of the past decades concerning development, human rights, the building of good international relationships, establishing a wise environmental stewardship are being compromised, lost even.
Yet to accurately assess the world situation it is vital to adopt a detached point of view and see things in the context of a longer time frame. The study of human evolution shows that cycles of crisis, tension and emergence govern societies – large and small – and through periods of crisis and tension, adjustments are made, consciousness evolves and goodwill emerges into greater expression. While it is difficult not to become embroiled in the immediacy of world events and feel disappointment at apparent setbacks, these are often periods when important lessons are being learnt – lessons that will see human consciousness flower into greater expressions of goodwill as we move into the emergence phase of the cycle. We also have to bear in mind the speed of change that is occurring all over the world at this time, and just how fast consciousness is unfolding. Because of this, we can expect goodwill to be mobilised in new ways; and as a result it may not be long at all before the right adjustments are made in response to this current world crisis point and humanity emerges from it wiser and more willing than ever to move towards unity.
Bearing this in mind, if there is one thing that this unsettling time asks of people of goodwill it is to deepen alignment with that Reality where Life is known to be good and true. Only then does it become possible to see the magnificence of the unfolding Plan of those Divine Forces that guide our planet. Only from the perspective of the soul as it lives within us can we begin to see how consciousness is being alchemically transformed through humanity’s encounter with wholeness. The will to establish relations of sharing, justice, respect for all and an enduring sense of the oneness of life is quietly growing amongst individuals and groups. While the events of recent months do not change that – they do call for a deepening of the will to good, that quality of spiritual will that encompasses the will to-be, the will to love and the will to serve.
As a contribution to that deepening will, and to the fostering of the needed lucidity of mind and heart, World Goodwill has for the past months been shining a light on the role intuition plays in the re-shaping of our world and the reshaping of our spiritual lives. To those immersed in the gritty domains of politics, economics, international relations, ethnicity and race, the relation between intellect and intuition may seem irrelevant. Yet progress in each of those fields depends greatly upon that relationship.
In order to focus thought on the role of intuition at this time World Goodwill produced a booklet aimed for as wide distribution as possible: A Beam of Light Shining Upon Our Way : Reflections on the Intuition. It contains thoughts from scientists, philosophers, artists and poets. Please use the order form accompanying this newsletter to order copies for distribution at appropriate places, events and gatherings; and please share links to the digital copy through social media and email. At the end of October World Goodwill continued this focus with seminars in London, Geneva and New York, including a special gathering at the United Nations in Geneva relating the Intuition to Ethical Responsibility and the Sustainable Development Goals. More than talking shops, the seminars incorporated silence, meditation and visualization as a core part of the program and a key way to serve in the awakening of the intuition. Videos for all the talks, as well as copies of meditation outlines are available here.
This issue of the newsletter continues the focus on the relation between intellect and intuition and its role at this pivotal time in history with a selection of edited transcripts of sections of some of the talks at the seminars. It includes comments drawing on the Ageless Wisdom understanding of the intuition alongside a diverse cornucopia of riches exploring the role of intuition in transforming partisan politics, money and economics, science, education, ecology, healing, music and the arts.
Entering the Divine Imagination
Although some still regard the imagination as a means of escapism, a window into fantasy and make-believe, its true function is the opposite of this; it reveals the reality of the inner worlds – the subjective realms – through the externalization of force. The imagination is an ‘image-making faculty’ and, as such, it works with the intellect to concretize subjective energy into objective forms. It is manifestly foundational to creativity in the world of art, culture and science, which together so enrich the human psyche.
Due to the common association of the imagination with a dreamlike state, this may initially be a disturbing idea; but it is the quality and dynamism of the energy in which we choose to focus the imagination that determines our sense of reality. As Carl Jung wrote: “I am indeed convinced that creative imagination is the only primordial phenomenon accessible to us, the real Ground of the psyche, the only immediate reality.”1 In this spirit, each human being is a crystallized ray of the Divine Imagination that has struggled somewhat blindly through the evolutionary process to become what he is. As such he or she is an unfolding story and to take the next step forward in this story intelligent cooperation is required. The creative human imagination must be used in cooperation with the Divine imagination. And it is the intuition that is the bridge between the two. The intuition is the human and divine imagination fused and combined.
When this bridge of the intuition is established, the consciousness has access to the divine realm of ideas – the archetypes that have been created by the divine imagination and are intended to work themselves out into the manifested world as part of the evolutionary process. The intelligent, creative imagination is then used to externalize an idea by making an image of it that is suitable and intelligible for humanity’s present stage of evolution and understanding.
On this fact rests the great truth that each human being is intended to become a co-creator in the divine scheme of things. But where to begin? As we know from all the great world religions, the fundamental quality of Divinity is Love. Clearly then, working in meditation with the energy of goodwill and expressing goodwill in all that we do is a good start. Another outstanding quality of Divinity is Light. And this suggests that if we are to develop our inner vision and see into the Divine imagination, we must see clearly – and this is the basis of the intuition – love and light. Love is the quality that makes vision accurate. Without love, the selfish consciousness bends and distorts light and gets the wrong impression. Glamours and illusions appear often along with fanaticism.
Alice Bailey has written that “the Intuition is light itself, and when it is functioning, the world is seen as light and the light bodies of all forms become gradually apparent. This brings with it the ability to contact the light centre in all forms, and an essential relationship is thereby established.”
The three qualities that the intuition bestows are: Illumination; Understanding; Love. In another of Alice’s books we read that the objective of the Divine experiment on earth is “to bring about a psychological condition which can best be described as one of ‘divine lucidity’. The work of the psyche, and the goal of the true psychology, is to see life clearly, as it is, and with all that is involved. This does not mean conditions and environment, but Life. This process was begun in the animal kingdom, and will be consummated in the human… The first dim indication of this tendency towards lucidity is seen in the faculty of the plant to turn towards the sun.”
This is a simple and beautiful symbol. The plant turning towards the sun and unfolding the beauty of its flower in that light. This is exactly what the human being has to do by discovering and turning towards the inner light. On his own turn of the spiral, the spiritual seeker also conducts divine experiments. ‘Lucidity’ involves thinking deeply and creatively on the nature of our relationships with each other, with our family, friends, community, and nations. In this work, the imagination can be gainfully employed as a tool for experimentation and the lines of living light that lead deep into the heart of soul relationships can be discovered. By learning how to focus and concentrate light we are, in effect, focusing the very essence of our being into a spear of insight – one that illuminates the entire field of relationships in the higher and the lower worlds. The observer looks inwards in the spiritual light and outwards in that same clarifying light.
Progress towards this high ideal requires vision that is freed from national, cultural and ideological bias. Ever finer levels of dispassion, discrimination and detachment are required by all who serve humanity and who long for signs that the Plan of love and light is externalizing on earth. The refined emotional nature of the spiritual seeker can become so focused on outer effects and the rise and fall of humanity’s fortunes that insight becomes blurred by hope and despair. The spirit lifts with hopeful signs of growing synthesis only to be dashed again by the dark powers of separatism that still prevail. The stroboscopic effect of these alternating victories between light and dark forces leaves the seeker in a state of confusion as to where the world stands in relation to the Divine Plan.
But as the observer learns how to gaze into the phenomenal world on the soul’s ray of light, the realm of causative forces emerges into view and direct understanding supervenes. There is no longer any need for rumination, deduction or interpretation – consciousness and pure vision have become one and the same thing and the great transition from intellect to intuition has been made. In the words of the meditation seed thought: “The unfoldment of the intuition will bring about a world recognition of the Divine Plan. All life and all forms will then be seen in their true perspective and the synthesis of world evolution realised.”
Laurence Newey is Vice-president of the Lucis Trust
1. Carl Jung, Letters, Vol.1, p. 60
God Was Here… And I Did Not Know It.
You might agree with me that in these very modern times when everything seems rushed; when every face seems dimly lit by the soft, seductive glow of a hand-held device; and when we are perpetually bombarded with information streaming from pixels and billboards and television screens and screaming headlines, the urge to claim sanctuary, to root oneself in nurturing waters, is compelling. But where to find sanctuary? Where is home? I think these questions are implicit in the way we think about thinking – and surely relevant to the idea of moving from ‘intellect’ to ‘intuition’. It’s almost as if we are grasping at the endangered vestiges of the sacred barely alive in an increasingly global society that seems hostile to enchantment. Why else would we want to move from intellect to intuition? What is happening to occasion this shift?
In a very urgent sense (and in a very rhetorical sense as well), we are in an age of spillages and fundamental breaches in the borders of things. From the 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, to the ‘insurgency’ of Syrian refugees, to the surprising revelations that with the NSA the Americans spy on everyone else, and to the embarrassing implosion of courteous politics with leaked ‘locker-room tapes’ and Wikileaks journalism, it seems things do fall apart and centres are besieged and haunted. In a world of spillages, we are invited to question our concepts of purity, of static boundaries, and predetermined properties. We tend to think of the world in binaries: it’s us versus them, white versus black, male versus female, human versus nonhuman, god versus flesh, subject versus object, light versus dark. All that is alive and sacred is fenced into a very small space – perhaps the space covered by a halo. But is this the case? Is the world outside a halo dead and inert, or does the halo also spill?
The 17th century French philosopher, Rene Descartes, is credited as being the one who formulated the now popular dictum: I think therefore I am – a startling manifesto for the deadness and redundancy of the world. For Descartes, it was important to ground science in something that could not be refuted – in certainty. And so, with a thought experiment, he proceeded to question the existence of everything. He found he could summarily dispense with the existence of eagles, of rivers, of rainclouds, of sandwiches in London, of fire, the entire world in fact. But the one thing Descartes couldn’t doubt was that he was doubting. He thus came to the conclusion that doubt was evidence of mind, and that the mind was fundamentally separate from the material world. Of a finer, less discernible stuff – if you will. In this way, he formally split the world in ways that still resonate in how we meet the universe – as a resource, as a mute tool or backdrop to the glorious foreground activity of humans.
These Cartesian orthodoxies situate mind at a distance from matter. The scientific method is based on this assumption: that to properly know what a thing ‘is’, you lean away from it – in a sense preserving the distance between subject and object. One could almost see this as a bourgeois gesture of repulsion! ‘Ultimately’, Cartesian parameters have led us to localize thought, feeling, agency, and all the mysterious psychological events we are intimate with, in the brain. And so with broad brush-strokes, Descartes painted the portrait of a world where enchantment is always in short supply. We are en-souled in a world that has no soul until it is touched by our phallic presence. The soul is something shrivelled up, locked in the finite…in lack. The plot thickens, and the dynamics of longed-for escape are activated.
Today, our many systems of being and institutions are encoded with these Cartesian imperatives. When we roll over a tree, and expand the regime of tar and asphalt, and speak about climate change as if it were simply a matter of human continuity, or insist that the oceans and their unspeakable wealth of life actually cost trillions of dollars, we are performing a blind spot – a denial of the significance and agency of the world that is supposedly ‘around’ us. Thankfully, our Cartesian coordinates are met by troubling and disruptive influences that impugn this mode of being. ‘New’ stories are being told that would make us blush. What if the world is alive? What if there’s enchantment and mind and beauty and agency even in the things that feel dead and merely instrumental? I think therefore I am! – how rude! A perverse dalliance between matter and mind is afoot. And the awkward immanence of the sacred in the ordinary is continuing its unholy crusade.
At a time when the scientific world was caught up in questions about the nature of nature – and specifically the nature of light, whether it was a wave (showing interference patterns) or a particle (localized into small bits) – an 18th century London-born physician, Thomas Young, came up with an experiment designed to settle the question once and for all. He designed an apparatus which showed that light behaved like a wave, dispersed everywhere – a view that stood against Isaac Newton’s century-old belief that light was particulate.
Many years after Young, Niels Bohr, a Danish physicist, father of quantum theory and contemporary of Einstein, insisted that light was not inherently a wave; or a particle. It was both and neither. Einstein, his bitter rival, sought to rubbish his claims, insisting that the implications of Bohr’s thinking was that nothing existed as a given – or that things do not come already made. Einstein wanted to believe that the world had ordered, elegant, measurable material laws that governed how things related with each other – but here was Bohr basically saying that things themselves did not derive their ‘thingness’ from anything within. And that the property of a thing, the identity of a thing, its ontology, what makes a human, or a cup of tea, or a sandwich what it is, depends on how it is measured. Bohr was pointing out that the world is made of relationships, not things. It is within the context of relationships that things derive their ‘thingness’.
If the world is ongoing relationship, if there are no things in themselves, no sturdy boundaries that are not already a fluid congealment in a stream of more-than-human becomings, and if we derive disambiguation only within the context of this flow, then we have to rethink everything – even thinking. At least there’s something interesting happening that should warrant a second look at our ideas about the world – at our gourds of knowledge. We are talking about spillages here! Supreme spillages and leaks that cannot be helped.
Karen Barad, a theoretical physicist and feminist – whose work has greatly enriched my work with the world – formulated the concept of intra-action (as opposed to ‘interaction’) to describe how things are constantly melting into each other, and how there are originals. Donna Haraway speaks about infectious ecologies, suggesting that the world arises from a becoming-together – a sympoiesis, a moving together. John Shotter, ‘reflecting’ on these dramatic shifts, explains that all of this “means that no ‘things’ exist for us as fixed and permanent ‘things-in-themselves’ in separation from their surroundings. All ‘things’ exist as ‘doings’, as agential enactments, as focal things attended to from within a larger, ceaselessly unfolding, unbounded, fluid process. Thus, as beings within (and of) a world that is always in the process of becoming other than what it was before, we must learn to think ‘while in motion’, so to speak, and to treat our ‘thinkings’ as temporary results within a still continuing process of becoming.”
What all of this points to is that the “things we name as ‘thoughts’ are better imagined as intra-active processes occurring in the world at large. Thought is not localized to human brains. We are not special. Orcas have been known to conduct experiments on the people that thought they were conducting the sole experiments. But it’s not just dogs and cetaceans and animals that are large-like-us, it’s that we cannot with any certitude affirm that we live in the world described by Descartes – the world of isolated selves and impoverished others. We are with-nessing spillages across boundaries, and the phallic binaries between human and nonhuman, male and female, this and that, here and there, are breaking down.
Mind becomes matter, and matter no longer looks like the reductionistic, squeezed up quality we thought we had completely figured out. It is in this space that many are speaking about ‘intra-thinking’ or the idea that the mind is transcorporeal, disturbing boundaries between inside and outside, chastising our attempts to quickly ensconce ourselves away from the ‘environment’. The proposal that we ‘have’ souls – souls that are responsible for all our behaviour – is summarily disrupted when we studiously follow the transitional processes that exist between ‘mind’ and ‘matter’. I like to say that the soul is no longer within, or without – just ‘with’. It is in the spaces between, in relationship, in the wilds beyond our fences and within our fences that the soul thrives – and in a sense, we haven’t met the soul yet.
Our everyday navigations of the world, those things that we seem to know – even though we cannot back them up in ways that satisfy the public – are just as important as those knowledges that appear to be intellectually grounded. But I perpetuate a false binary in speaking this way. Grammar fails me here. Intellect and intuition are not two sides of a coin. They are not separate, and their meanings are still at stake. Both are world-making processes. If we adopt conventional understandings, and figure intuition as pre-conscious neural networks shaped by practice and behaviour, then it means the intellect – or the more conscious rational process implied in our cognitive practices – is part of that shaping. Both are co-constitutive, in the same way the ocean constitutes the shore and the shoreline characterizes the ocean. What might happen if we started to trust our bodies, our feelings – as what the world is doing?
In conclusion, this feminist posthuman redescription of the world coincides with what my people from Nigeria seem to know – that the world is alive, and we can learn to listen. That matter signifies, initiates, conducts experiments, yearns for, hopes for, listens, wonders, disturbs and creates. Suddenly the anorexic world of four coordinates – forward, backward, upward, downward – is interrupted (or should I say ‘intra-rupted’?) by perverse new directionalities: awkward.
We are part of a world that is stitched through and through with aliveness – a world that wasn’t finished in the mythical origin stories we tell. A world that is still figuring itself out, still undoing its own parameters, still working out its meanings. A world that is always at stake.
Perhaps, like Jacob – that old trickster character of Judeo-Christian affections – who slept in exile, placing his tired troubled head on a rock, cursing his hustling ways and the fact that he was once again fleeing a brother who wanted his head, we can awaken from the dream of Cartesian rifts, take a ‘better’ look at the world we constantly strive to leave behind, and exclaim, as he did, “God was here, the sacred has been here all along, right here…and I did not know it.”
Bayo Akomolafe is a world-renowned author and speaker, recognized for his “poetic, unconventional, counterintuitive, and indigenous take on global crisis, civic action and social change”. He is Executive Director of The Emergence Network.
The Keyword in Democracy is Relationship
In my lifetime there has been an extraordinary rising of human consciousness, a kind of wisdom emerging. You can see it in the growing power of human beings to work through conflict and find common ground and in things like the understanding of emotional intelligence. You can see it in the deep powerful growth in mindfulness and awareness of the spiritual dimension of life. Pictures of the world taken from outer space first appeared during my lifetime and millions of people became aware of interdependence and the fact that the earth is one living system.
Yet today what is really striking is the contrast between this emerging wisdom and the extremely partisan nature of the times. There seems to be a precipitous decline in public discourse and in democracy’s ability to foster conversation. The great philosopher and journalist Hannah Arendt says democracy needs a place to sit down, and democracy seems to have lost that place.
In my 30s and 40s with funding from the Rockefeller Foundation I began bringing together liberal and conservative groups on common enterprises. It was so successful that I was hired by a committee of the US Congress to design and facilitate retreats. Participants, who couldn’t have been more diverse, all agreed that relationships between members of congress were going into the gutter and needed to be resurrected. They came up with numerous proposals. But when they went back to Congress, party leaders made sure that none of the proposals were ever acted upon. If anything came out of the retreat it would decrease the power of the party leaders.
I realized from this that collaborative leadership was missing in the political life of the country. It struck me that what was happening in the US was similar to the red light going on in your car indicating that you need oil. If you didn’t put any oil in after the light had gone on you wouldn’t be surprised when the car stopped working. That’s what has happened in our country (and elsewhere in the world). We haven’t responded to the warning light. We have neglected to add any oil; have failed to foster collaborative leadership in our politics. We have neglected to foster the realization within the country that we are all interdependent and interconnected.
So with this recognition I went back to the drawing board and to beginner’s mind. I was struck by a fundamental truth about my body. When I come into a room I walk on a left foot and a right foot. If I lead with my left foot I push off with my right foot and vice versa. My feet know that left and right are part of the whole. It’s the same with my eyes. When I look at you I look with two eyes. When we do things, we use two hands. Our left hand and right hand don’t fight, they collaborate to tie a shoe, make dinner or hold a baby.
So at our body level it is clear that we are transpartisan beings. The problem is our minds which are inherently polarized. Statistics show that most people’s political attitudes are a combination of red and blue but we have to pretend that we are one or the other. When we see a pregnant woman we don’t care about the mom and not care about the baby, or care about the baby and not the mom. We immediately think what a beautiful sight. Life is coming to fruition, and it’s beautiful. We think about it as a whole. But as soon as it becomes political we think in terms of red or blue: a woman’s right to choose or a child’s right to live. These are the partisan choices we are given, even though we tend to include both conservative and liberal perspectives in the way we really think about issues.
In order to understand this I want to dive a little bit into the structure of human consciousness as it affects citizenship. And to do this I want to use computer software language. When Microsoft comes out with Windows 12 and I have Windows 10, I don’t think “I have 10 and so I am not getting 12”. Instead I wonder if Version 12 is better than what I have. I may not get it but I am curious. It is in this non-judgmental spirit that I want to explore different iterations of citizenship.
Citizen 1.0, Worldview based on one’s self. Self-interest is a very honorable thing. It’s what impels us to get a good job, have a roof over our head, and get a fair share of what we are supposed to get. If we don’t exercise something of this ego-based approach we don’t eat and we don’t survive.
Citizen 2.0, Worldview based on one’s group. Nelson Mandela described how when he was a kid, he just wanted to play in the woods, be happy and play with my friends. When he got older he began to care about black South Africans. I wanted black South Africans to have a better share in our country. He identified with his group and we are all glad that he did. We now have a whole world of people who are looking out for themselves: Shiites and Sunnis, Christians and Brits who want to be separate from the EU – all looking out for whoever ‘us’ is. This is a step forward from the egocentric worldview and it’s an honorable way of being a citizen.
Citizen 3.0, Worldview based on one’s nation. We get to the place where we say: I am an American, or I am a Kenyan, or a Frenchman or a citizen of UK. It means that we are identifying with something larger than our group and this is a step forward in consciousness. It is really a very big step because there are lots of Americans (for example) who think they love America but in fact are hating other Americans and calling them horrible names. So Citizen 3.0 means being willing to identify with something higher than your group. It can even be thought of as identifying with the soul of a nation. But Citizen 3.0 can also be antagonistic to other nations. There is a kind of Americanism that only wants to look out for us and doesn’t care about Japan or Africa. Trade agreements are approached only in terms of “getting the best deal for us”.
Citizen 4.0, Worldview based on multiple cultures. Increasing numbers of people are now spending time in countries other than their country of birth, learning a foreign language or falling in love with someone from another country. As a result increasingly large numbers are able to identify with more than one country. After Mandela realized that he cared about his group, black South Africans, he realized that blacks are not going to be free unless white South Africans also free themselves from apartheid. He grew to care about his whole country. And in prison he began to see that there would be no change unless other countries stopped supporting apartheid. Finally he came to the point where he identified with the struggle for freedom all over the world, including the freedom of all living beings.
It’s easy to outline a four-level model. But the journey itself is quite challenging. I believe that all of these levels co-exist in all of us all of the time. We are a dynamic confluence of all of these levels of consciousness within ourselves. The key is to be aware of this; it creates a certain degree of compassion. Ultimately I feel that being a global citizen is to be somebody who advocates for an ecology of world views, recognizing that your world view is not the only one. It requires a wisdom and humility to hold all of these levels of citizenship in your heart, and a willingness to lead beyond the borders that divide human kind.
This is where intuition comes in. If we are whole and have an innate embodied sense of our own wholeness and the wholeness of creation we are going to be better able to have a peaceful just and sustainable world. It requires an ability to drop in to the deepest truth of who we are at this moment, grateful to be one who holds together left and right and center in my own being. If we refuse to abandon this inner sense of power and truth we can look at all that happens around us from that grounded place of wholeness and oneness.
The key word in democracy is relationship. If I refuse to turn someone who has a different opinion into my enemy, and if I am engaged in the relationship with that person, I will be able to engage in a respectful adversarial position. Take as an example different perspectives on trade agreements. Discussions need to be adversarial so that through learning and relationship we can actually deepen our wisdom – because of our differences of opinion. I have experienced this on every level in my life so why can’t we experience that as a nation? I believe we can hold ourselves in adversarial advocacy while grounding ourselves in this inner sense of wholeness.
We need to see those with different viewpoints to ourselves as adversarial complements. If I say ‘let’s spend money to fix this problem’, I need an adversarial complement who will say, ‘we are in debt – the money doesn’t exist’. And if I have the attitude that we are in debt and therefore can’t spend money on kids who are hungry I need a complement who will say, ‘but we are a decent and compassionate nation and we can take care of each other’. This is what I mean by the need to value adversarial complements, recognizing that this is part of seeing the whole. I think it is the challenge we face, and what is missing in our culture today.
I have been through my own journey moving from Red as a youngster, to Blue at College, to arguing and advocating, to mediating and working with the US Congress. That was the journey of the Soul. I believe that the souls of nations are also on a journey. And I believe that there is a deep connection between my soul or your soul and the soul of the nation. The biggest gift of loyalty and allegiance to America, my country, is to bring the fullness of my soul to this country. For the soul’s journey is very connected to the soul of the nation and to the soul of humanity.
Finally, I want to recall Einstein’s challenge: problems cannot be solved at the same level of consciousness that created them. This relates to the soul dimension. You can’t solve problems at the level of intellect that created the problems. You have to drop into what some would call the heart, others would call intuition and others might call wholeness. But whatever we call it, we have to move to a higher level of awareness to meet the challenges we face.
Mark Gerzon, Founder and President of Mediators Foundation, has fostered Collaborative Leadership skills at the UN, US Congress and around the world. He is author of numerous books on global citizenship – his latest title is: The Reunited States of America: How We Can Bridge the Partisan Divide. Mark concluded his talk with a set of 3 concrete action steps that people in the US can take to help build a non-partisan political culture.
Thinking about Thinking, Music & Intuition
‘From Intellect to Intuition’ is a fascinating topic that leads us to think about thinking. We live in an age when scientists who spend fortunes searching for ever smaller particles look at their computers and instruments, and seemingly think their own thought processes are somehow less real. Some New Age teachers and gurus even tell us, ‘Thinking is the problem’, and speak of ‘the monkey mind’ that gets in the way of ‘true perception’.
Many today say that thinking is something that goes on in the privacy of our heads. Alan Watts, philosopher and writer on Zen, says: ‘The mind grows thoughts as the field grows grass’. Can the human body actually produce thoughts?
There is another way to look at this. Can the world of which we are a part not produce thinking within us just as it does the colours and aromas in flowers, the sounds in nature, the tastes in fruit, and the creative wonders we see all around us? Can thinking be subjective when we can actually think about ourselves as objectively as anything else? Science today can detect changes occurring in the brain, and some think these are the causes of thought. However, if we saw footprints on the sand, would we assume that forces in the sand caused them?
When we look at the world and its countless phenomena, this panorama of sights and sounds, textures and colours, would be completely bewildering if we were not able to think about it and distinguish what we are looking at, hearing and touching. Thinking is really a form of seeing, and is the sense through which we see something above and invisible to what is given to the physical senses. Thinking is actually a form of clairvoyance, and the richness of our inner life depends on how much we learn to develop and focus our thinking/spiritual perception. The curiosity we feel (sometimes or often, depending on our character) is actually the unseen, conceptual aspect of what we are outwardly perceiving, rising up within us. Here we can distinguish between the Intellect, the ability to separate, distinguish and order the things we perceive, and the power of Reason, through which we can reunite the concepts separated by the intellect into a wholeness. Both are necessary. The former requires the ability to differentiate and separate phenomena, the latter the ability to see what was always there: unity.
The ability to see/think the content of something is Intuition. All objects contain thoughts in their forms, and we can learn to read them. If everything revealed its inner nature immediately to the physical senses, there would be no need to think at all (nor would there be any need for the sciences), but this is not the case: the mind, rather than being a sort of super-computer, is an organ of perception. And we can see that fundamentally there are two types of thinking: that which is in accord with reality and that which isn’t – the latter being fictions of all kinds. Both have their place. What is important is to be able, through Intuition, to distinguish them, and also to distinguish the difference between living, willed thoughts, and passive thoughts which stem merely from words; words which may be very logical but still have very little to do with reality.
When we can see that thinking is not just a product of our brains but a living aspect of reality coming to consciousness within us, we become ever more open to Intuition, the perception of the spiritual content around us. And a great aid to seeing more deeply – through and not with the eyes, as Blake said – is love.
How is the intuition connected with freedom? Well, when a person acts from instinct, they are not free, nor when led by feelings – loyalty, duty, pride, etc – nor even when guided by lessons learned from previous experience, or moral principles received from external authorities or studied and understood. These can all play a part, and mostly do, but when we can act from intuition, seeing through a love of the action what is right in the situation (which may or may not coincide with any of the above), we can act freely. ‘Nothing is more rare, in any man, than an act of his own,’ said Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Most people necessarily act for the reasons outlined above, from notions of personal welfare or moral standards or today, ‘PC’ ideas. When someone breaks the PC code, thousands of automata-like people will protest. Much of the New Age is as rule-bound, its followers as uniformed, as in any controlled society of the past. Beyond all this we each have the possibility to act freely when we follow our love for the objective, our moral intuition. We can surely conceive of being free if we allow ourselves to act from a completely original, intuitive decision. This is very much related to artistic creation.
The arts involve creative play of all kinds, and, beyond the realms of entertainment and propaganda art, there is the striving to reveal deeper truths. This is what the sciences do, but in concepts, ideas and explanations, whereas the artist reveals truths through works of art that can speak to the viewer or listener on an intuitive level. Music is a good example, because it is an art form that can speak to everyone, children, adults, people of different cultures, even babies still in the womb.
When we think of what we hear in the world we can distinguish three kinds. Firstly there are sounds, which can be produced by every material substance, and which tell us something of the material, of its density, softness or brittleness and so forth. When we hear these sounds, we are led out of ourselves and into the inner nature of the substance.
Secondly there is utterance: the voices of other people, the sounds of animals and birds and living things. When we hear voices, even if we cannot understand the words, we can feel something of the soul nature, the feelings of the other, and again we are led out of ourselves into the being of the other.
Thirdly there is musical tone. When we hear musical tones and lines, they speak to something within us, arising within us in the same way that the intuition, the spiritual content of something, can arise within our minds. When we hear music, we intuitively know that it was not produced by the forces of nature or by animals. No, while the material world can produce sounds, and ensouled beings have voices of all kinds, it is spiritual beings who can produce and love music. (Nature’s musicians are really the birds, those creatures who love to lift themselves off from the earth.)
Music, containing tones, sounds and sometimes voices, can speak to us spiritually, from within ourselves, and also to our souls and bodies. In this lies the secret of music therapy. In the three realms of music (melody, harmony and rhythm) we can intuitively see the connections respectively with the spiritual, soul and material worlds, and with our own forces of thinking – a melody is like a train of thought – feeling and willing. This also finds its correspondence in the three kinds of musical instruments: the strings, wind and percussion instruments. When we listen to music, we can feel, intuitively, that we do not hear through the ears alone, although they are usually given the credit. No, we ‘hear’ or ‘feel’ the different instruments and tones all over and within ourselves: some in our bones, some on the skin, some in our respiration and heartbeat, some in our lower limbs, some high above us; our entire being can be filled with musical figures.
When we intellectualise about music we lose it, the music vanishes. When we listen with full attention, it can speak to us at the deepest levels, and we may have the intuition voiced by Mozart: ‘The music,’ he said, ‘is not the notes but in the silences between.’
John Dalton is an award-winning harpist who regularly speaks about the mystery of music, accompanying his talks on the Harp. He is a former Manager of Rudolf Steiner Press in UK, founder of New View Magazine, and former editor of Avalon Magazine.
Intuition, Money, and Service
To speak of intuition is to speak of our spiritual life; that which is not physical but quite material to all of humanity. There are numerous cosmologies that speak about this intuitional self, but essentially it is that which is unique to us, our individuality, our essential Self: the ‘I am’ of who I am. I can share my intuition and participate in a collective intuition, but without that first inward experience of Self, the sharing cannot emerge.
The spiritual life has to be free. When it is not free somebody is telling me who I am and that doesn’t feel good. We sometimes do that to each other. Inner freedom, spiritual freedom, absolutely has to be respected. That is a cardinal spiritual law. It is our verticality, our uprightness.
And then somehow or other we have to be in the world knowing that each person has their own individuality. We need to talk to each other and find ways of being together. That is how we create agreements. And it is the agreements that carry our social life.
Money is an agreement. All the money we are working with represents nothing more than an agreement. We have created all sorts of different kinds of currencies to make exchanges based on a set of agreements. Federal currencies are the accepted modality. They are rather convenient as we can carry the notes with us and get them from machines as we travel. But we live in all sorts of currencies through which we make exchanges including the currencies of love, relationships, and reputation. They are moving all the time; what allows them to move, to transact, is the nature of our agreements.
No transaction takes place without some agreement, and those agreements are governed consciously or unconsciously by the principle of equality. You cannot create a rule or an agreement for somebody else. We try to create unilateral agreements all the time, but they never stick. No agreement is sustainable for individuals, organizations, or nations until they sit down together and meet as equals and come to an agreement that recognizes both. In an agreement between equals one is not more powerful than the other. That is what I would call how we have power with each other rather than over. This involves a paradigm shift in the nature of power, and the important thing is that it can be built into the agreements that we make. That is what money represents ideally.
Yet money is energy, and I would also argue that it is a measure, a store of value; it allows us to move in our economic life and in this framework of agreements around valuation. It is also not a singular thing because money allows us to do lots of things. We can purchase things, we can lend money to people, we can give money and the inner gesture of each of those kinds of transactions is quite different. We are all trained to think that money is only about transactions. You go to the bank or the ATM and you get your money: this is a transaction. You don’t even have to talk to anybody. But you wouldn’t lend money to somebody without a conversation or an agreement of some sort. There is an inherent mutual and timebound relationship in the lending function around money that is quite different than, let’s say, a purchase or going to the ATM.
Then there is the whole question of gift money and how and what moves that. To my mind that is a place where intuition can emerge in the agreement world, because we intuit who can make best use of money that I don’t need. That is where the gift is. It also involves an imagination of someone fulfilling their destiny path, and getting something done that their mind has been set on. But in giving I am also completing something of my destiny path because I recognize that in somebody else. This is where the intuition shows up in a relation to gifts, allowing the gift to move. There is still an agreement, even when the giver says there are no strings attached. It is the agreement that allows the transaction to happen but there are no time boundaries around it.
“Time is money.” This leads into the question of service which is, for me, a hugely important concept in economics. Service means that we have an inner capacity to recognize the needs of others. Why would you serve someone if you didn’t recognise their needs? Somebody has a need that calls on a certain altruistic force from us, which is not really about our individuality, although it is informed by that. I don’t need an agreement to recognise somebody else’s need. I can just do it. It is a function of being awake to what I call compassionate interdependence. It is an awakening to the fact that we really depend on each other, and if we do not pay attention to each other we won’t meet each other’s needs. Without compassionate interdependence we would go to a very anti-social place where money and power would be used only to take care of ourselves. This would mean withdrawing from the energetic system. Self-interest is also a myth because we are absolutely dependent on others to get done what we need to do. It is a big lie to say that you just take care of yourself and work only for yourself. If this were the case no-one would be sitting here in this conference room, there would be no chairs, no coats to wear, no aeroplane for me to fly here. We haven’t yet unmasked that myth because money and economics are still measured by accumulation instead of by circulation. It is circulation that demonstrates interdependence.
There are three realms here: intuition, which is spiritual and the work of each individual; money, which is agreements; and then the whole world of service which is about being awake to other’s needs. Hopefully there is a way for me to meet the needs of others and they’ll meet mine so we are in a circulatory and reciprocal relationship. That is a threefold picture of how we are in the world. The challenge is: How do I integrate agreements with my free spiritual self and my altruistic heart centred awareness of other’s needs? The difficulty comes because we tend to treat the three realms as quite separate entities. Take the realm of money, for example. We often experience a visionary quality when we consider the things that can be done in the for-profit or the not-for profit world. But when we think about the money involved, this abundance is often replaced by scarcity, the ‘never enough’ opposing force. How do we establish a different relationship with money that frees up both service and the intuition? The three realms are related to each other and they are parts of a whole. They mediate each other. In many ways freedom is a mediator between recognising other’s needs and our agreements. We are always free to renegotiate an agreement, but we are not free to do whatever we want once an agreement has been made.
Hopefully these thoughts will encourage a deeper awareness of a kind of wholeness in relationship to intuition, money, and service, and awaken a recognition that they are not separate. Whilst the principles change in each realm, we are still whole human beings and we want to bring the best of ourselves into each of those realms. We are constantly creating agreements, not because I am more spiritual than you, but because we are created equals as human beings and we are in the world of service. The real task is to understand the needs in the world that are truly needed and how my service can meet those needs. So in some senses intuition is in service to money, money is in service to service, and service is in service to intuition: they inform each other and are part of a whole system.
John Bloom is Vice President, Organizational Culture at RSF Social Finance (formerly Rudolf Steiner Foundation), a financial services organization offering investing, lending and giving services to those who are committed to improving society and the environment. Since 1984, RSF has made over $450 million in loans, grants and investments. John has recently been appointed General Secretary of the Anthroposophical Society in America.
Engaged Ecology: An Intuitive Practice
I recently compiled some of the good ideas from my teachers into a set of seven principles and practices I called ‘Engaged Ecology’. I use the word ‘Engaged’ to express an Ecology that moves beyond intellectual concepts to actual transformation and deep practice—ways of being, thinking, and acting, that restore us and our most basic relationships. Transformation, I propose, is an intuitive process.
An Engaged Ecology is a set of values and instructions derived from Nature that can guide us back to harmony and restore our fundamental relationship with the Earth. I will explore the first three principles – the most simple ones; the ones closest to the body.
We begin with Principle 1 – Nature’s brilliant design is all-pervasive.
We, of course, are Nature. You have only to look deeply at your own hand, with your own eyes, to conclude that you are a wonder of nature, a confluence of conditions and energies that made ‘having a hand’ and ‘having eyes’ possible. If you look deeply enough, you will see the sun, the rivers, the nutrients in the soil that have nourished your very existence, right up until the present moment. For billions of years the Earth has sustained life – and will continue to do so, with or without us. Just as we rise with the day and fall asleep at night – so too nations and empires rise and fall – entire galaxies and innumerable worlds manifest and dissolve from view. This idea should not make us feel insignificant, but rather miraculously special. We are present – utterly precious and unique – in the here and now – a grace note in the symphony of reality.
Our Practice, then is to cultivate awareness of our essential existence – our true Nature. And to do this, we first must stop. Stop running and chasing, stop planning, and even stop intellectualizing. Awareness cannot occur without stopping. In my practice stopping always begins with returning to the breath. Our breath is Life’s precious gift – with us from the moment of birth until the last exhalation of death. Bringing our awareness to our own quiet breathing while sitting without distraction for even a few breaths every day is a sure way to come home to our true self.
Many of you have a meditation practice, I'm sure. I encourage you to add breathing meditation, if it is not part of your daily life.
As the philosopher Sri Aurobindo said, ‘What is … needed for the appreciation of the deepest truth of beauty is the awakening of a certain vision, an insight and an intuitive response in the soul.’ Basking in the sun for a few moments, even drinking a glass of water can bring great joy when we practice this way. It is only by stopping and becoming aware of life’s wonders that we can truly awaken – ‘see with our soul’ and hear with our heart – the essence of intuition.
The second principle is that Nature adapts and self-regulates – continuously adjusting to changing conditions.
Like a river, we too must be open to learning and change. In a Kosmos study which I conducted with my fellow Annenberg School alum Dr. Jen Horner, we surfaced the idea that group work is changing, becoming more improvisational. What does that mean?
It means we make the path by walking. In the same way that the stream and the bank of the stream are inseparable as an act of co-creation – we, as group workers are becoming more intuitive, continuously adjusting to obstacles and new conditions. Improvisation and intuition are closely linked. Each is a conversation. For something to happen, we have to listen. For the improv to be beautiful, self-mastery and self-control are required– think of the virtuoso jazz musician or ballet dancer. They have to be good at what they do. Next, is awareness of the players most proximal to us and how together in real time we generate energy. And finally, there must be an intuitive sense by all members of the whole – the greater purpose – where we are heading.
By practicing with this level of openness and flexibility in our views, we benefit from the wisdom and creativity of others, paying special attention to the voices of the marginalized, the indigenous, the shy ones, the introverted.
So, we may have strong views about what we think others should do, yet greater insight and beauty is revealed through the practice of deep listening, self-control, and going as a river. Many organizations and groups fail, because some members have not done the inner work to master their ego and strong emotions. They feel they have all the facts. Accumulating facts is not wisdom. What we think we know is subject to change and no one has all the answers.
Principle 3 – Nature expresses innate potential.
Practice – Developing empathy for all forms of life
All living things are engaged in the process of unfolding their innate potential. We vow to recognize and encourage the potential of all beings, from the smallest of life-forms, to people, ecosystems, and the Earth as a whole. We will not support acts that kill or destroy life, in our thinking or in our actions and way of life. We will examine the impact we have on non-human animals and make an effort to reduce their suffering. Industrial farming, animal testing, the use of animals for public entertainment, and hunting endangered animals all cause great suffering.
All life has value in itself, and this value is not dependent on usefulness to humans. We must work to change our view that humans are superior to other forms of life on Earth and protect diversity.
We can practice by looking deeply at the foods, clothing, and other products we consume and choose not to purchase or use them if they ‘contain’ the unnecessary suffering of people or animals. We can choose local and hand-made goods, Fair Trade and humane products, and simply live with less.
Again, intuition plays a strong role in the choices we make. Let’s say I am trying to conserve water by taking a shorter shower. But, residential use of water is literally a drop in the bucket compared to the wasteful practices of industry and agriculture. Many of the ‘green’ practices we are asked to adopt are misleading… punitive. It’s your fault we’re running out of water.
This is a kind of system-wide misdirection of the so-called Green Economy. We mustn’t confuse acts of personal sacrifice for organized political activism. People are dying because the water is being stolen, diverted, tainted and commodified. If you have been following the action at the Standing Rock Sioux reservation, you know that, right now, our brothers and sisters are enduring hardships to protect our waters.
And the painful fact is that even if we all cycled to work and used wood stoves it would have a negligible impact on global warming and pollution.
So why do we bother changing our consumption habits? Why do I take a shorter shower? Intuitively, you know the answer. We do so as an act of prayerful solidarity with those who have less, and as an act of respect for the Earth. Out of our love for the Earth.
David Whyte says: “Human beings have an intuitive capacity and knowledge that somewhere at the center of life is something ineffably and unalterably right and good”.
This is the spirit of Goodwill – if we listen, it guides us. Like the moon through the darkness. May it guide us to work closely with others, and continually seek ways to protect the lives of people, plants and animals, minerals, ecosystems, and watersheds – even if it means risk to ourselves.
Rhonda Fabian, digital editor of Kosmos Journal (www.kosmosjournal.org), is a writer, filmmaker and CEO and co-founder of educational media company, Fabian Baber Communications. Rhonda is ordained in the monastic tradition of her teacher, Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh.
Fostering the One Humanity
Humanity is a family of 7 billion humans. Seven billion persons, each one searching for happiness as their main motivation in life. Everyone just wants to be happy. Problems arise with having or not having what we want or when my feeling of happiness excludes your feeling of happiness. These problems bring pain and all other versions of unwanted feelings.
Patanjali’s short yoga sutras, a jewel of Hindu philosophy, synthesized this in his account of the 5 KLESHAS, or obstacles to the experience of union. “The lack of awareness of Reality, the sense of egoism or “I-am-ness”, attractions and repulsions towards objects and the strong desire for life are the great afflictions or causes of all miseries of life.”1 If we would know our true state of being, if we would know who we really are, all our problems would be gone.
Consciousness gets identified with the matter with which it gets involved. It descends into matter, on an involutionary path, until the turning point. Evolutionary climbing towards the soul and later the spirit, if we use these terms, is the path of release from the obstacles to union so that the grip of avidya (ignorance) gets less and less firm. The result is that our identification changes. Identifications become subtler and harder to spot and to see.
The story of the descent and ascent of the human has been described so many times with so many words throughout history that it is now mostly clear in the minds of those who study the path. Many people know so much. And deeper realizations are also happening where knowledge is being transformed into knowing and firm action.
So many people are talking about one humanity, about oneness, the connectedness of all. In the last year when I seriously started considering doing a Ph.D. on this subject I saw the vast number of people touching the same heart of humanity. Science is revealing so many concrete examples of research that are showing the unavoidable fact that we are one.
I believe that humanity is not so far from a collective jump onto the level of basic living of the qualities of the soul. Patanjali’s sutras outline the steps needed to overcome the obstacles or KLESHAS to our awareness of union, and individuals have trodden these steps in the past and still do. But now the collective field is so charged that it will soon start spilling over and surprising us where it is not expected.
The path to conscious living as one big caring human family is becoming more and more attuned to the One Love, One Mind, and One Will. My observation of the world is that so many individuals are so near to attuning just enough to not be able to do each other any harm and even start actively caring and helping each other… so near. It is like a cup full of water and every new drop is spilling it over. Once it starts flowing it will be an irreversible process. Our inner knowing of sameness, of sharing the same dreams and fears and pains is so strong. It is also easy to see that quite the opposite is happening: that there is an undercurrent which is trying to stop the quantum jump. But I believe that the extremes that we are seeing in the world are announcing the strength of the undercurrent of the movement of the Good, of the GOODWILL of All.
Together with friends, Nina Meyerhof and I are working on a project in Auschwitz. This is the most horrifying and condensed expression of evil in history. The project is focused on how to go from there into a future where anything like that will be impossible. We know that today similar things to Auschwitz are happening in the world. How to go beyond the possibility of being able to do something so bad to each other? It is not important who is the oppressor and who is the victim. For me it is always just a question of HOW CAN SUCH HORRENDOUS ACTS BE POSSIBLE? That should vibrate in every one of us and push us in the actions that we know are right for each of us to do. It is daring to say that it does not matter who is the villain and who is the victim. Can you imagine the power of forgiveness needed to look at something like Auschwitz if you are the victim? And the same if you are the villain who realises the result of his actions. The feeling of guilt is ruining many.
When seeing the violence happening now in the world I sometimes try to identify myself with the man in the tank who is firing on other human beings. How can he do it? (Yes, it is mostly He). I understand the process of command, hate arising out of pain, the process of defending and then using the chance... I can easily see how this is possible when human nature is disconnected from the whole.
But I can also see the simple change that can happen when someone identifies with the Other and sees himself in the other. He sees the other’s mother and he sees himself. He sees the children of the other and sees his. When seeing the simplest smile of a woman he loves and thinks of the sadness of not coming home. Such small connections can “poison” consciousness with knowing the whole. And the “field” is really getting filled with information about our interconnectedness. From fully scientific inputs to totally practical knowing of the Oneness and Sameness of all. The outside is reaching towards the inside and the inside is trying even harder to come out. The touching points are happening in human beings all over the world.
To touch the heart of the One Humanity is to know the importance of every colour in the world. It is knowing that every soul is different but knowing the Oneness of all. It recognizes the importance of everyone, each with his gifts and message.
General change happens when the root standpoint changes – everything adapts to that. It is my belief that the One Humanity, the brotherhood and sisterhood of all, is nearer than we can imagine. The bowl of knowing is quickly filling up with the facts of the One Life and people will respond accordingly.
Domen Kočevar is a lecturer, writer and representative of the Theosophical library of Alma M. Karlin, Celje, Slovenia.
1. I. K. Taimni, The Science of Yoga: The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, Section II, Sutra 3, p. 130
Teaching Intuition to the Intellect in Today’s Schools
Alice Bailey has written that: “The nature and true significance of meditation, and its use on a large scale in the West… may eventually supplant the present methods of memory training, and prove a potent factor in modern educational procedure.” How can intuition be a teaching tool in today’s schools? What can we do today to foster an education more focused on its development in the schools of tomorrow? The challenge now is to educate the intellect so that it will become more receptive to intuition.
The intellect is the concrete mind that receives, collects and analyses knowledge to apply it e.g. learning to count or to use mental arithmetic to make purchases. The more we advance in our studies, the more we refine the use of the intellect for reflection on specific subjects. We touch the frontier of the abstract mind, the realm of universal ideas, when we use the intellect for reflection on global aspects or abstract notions. However it is important to recognize that the intellect is now so highly cultivated in our society that it arrests intuition in action.
In Philosophy From A to Z, it is stated that “all intuition has the nature of the discovery of an object, of a new idea”. We evoke the “divine nature of intuition”.1 It draws us nearer to the understanding of the heart. In the process a “truth” that resonates and harmonizes with our inner being is validated, so that we may live it more fully. It is the link between our “real” inner world and the daily environment of our earthly world, permitting the passage from the invisible world to the visible world.
Why “teach intuition”?
The learner is more responsive to the world of knowledge when learning with the heart or by the heart. Group creative visualization is a teaching tool that stimulates the awakening of intuition in young people and adults. The teacher not only imparts knowledge to his students, but successfully carries out an educational project in collaboration with his students. They then become accountable within a class group. To visualize and creatively imagine is, for the students, to create new mental substance in the world of today. It is this substance, this medium of thought, which enables them to build together the world of tomorrow.
Teaching “me = Us” helps to establish a creative atmosphere in the class group: the learners feel tuned to the same frequency during their classes, as if on the same wavelength. Differences are no longer seen as disagreements, but as an enrichment of the class group. In today’s new schools, we teach work, cooperation and collaboration as a group. Several alternative educational movements2 are establishing this method of learning together in a creative fashion. Steiner education promotes and implements creative play: games with “unstructured material in order to develop the imagination.”3 The Montessori method uses a more sophisticated approach which respects the rhythm of awakening and learning of each child.
The Teaching of Intuition, at Present
In the world of early education, the terms spiritual and intuition do not imply a mystical education, but an education in non-separativeness (hence group work). This is reflected in the universal values that we find in civic education or in citizenship in the national education program in France, for example, and the awakening of essential creativity (the inner is expressed outwardly) without imposing a rigid framework of artistic expression. Creative freedom is fostered through a renewed and repeated artistic technique so that learners can refine their individual expression.
The Finnish Example
But intuition is also the art of building bridges between present and future. In the schooling of 6 to 16 year-olds, Finland is an example of a synthesis of traditional education with those of Steiner and Montessori, adapting to the needs of young people. In teaching the practical and the intellectual, children are encouraged to follow their chosen path.
In Education in the New Age4 we see that children of different age groups are polarized in one body or another. During the “first ten years,” children are taught “to deal intelligently with information coming … via the five senses to the brain.” This requires teaching the child to “respond to creative impulses to make and produce what he sees and hears.” There is a focus on arts and crafts, drawing and music. Then, after eleven years of age, the mind becomes dominant in children. The teenager learns to “rationalize his emotional and desire impulses, and to discriminate the right from the wrong,” in, for example, history and civic education. Thus, he sharpens his sense of values. Alice Bailey suggests that “the study of psychology” and “the nature of the soul” be added to the curriculum at the age of seventeen. Meditation could then be taught from the age of eighteen, as “deep thinking “ in such subjects as mathematics, the sciences and life on earth because it would foster the capacity “to focus and to intuit.”5
Art and Intuition
According to Steiner, the school routine is an important issue affecting the development of young learners. Fatigue should be avoided by giving an artistic form to the teaching. It is the artistic sense where “Between the I and the physical body are the astral body and the etheric body.” It cultivates in children a sense of goodness, so they can “feel, experience the beauty.... it is at school age, in this domain, they are most receptive.”6 Marie-Laure Viaud writes that in the field of artistic creation, man learns to shape matter so that it can reveal a spiritual reality. The young learner must first be able to live this reality inwardly, to express it artistically. Artistic creation cannot be done without a “deepening of the inner life.”7 Indeed, according to Paul Klee, art makes visible the invisible.8
The teaching of intuition is, in itself, an art. In the realm of intuition, the student should be guided to use his creative imagination: “the source of art is the creative imagination that captures the spiritual and brings it to the visible world from the invisible world.”9 In today’s schools, we develop the learning of knowledge, but too often leave aside art or the creative imagination. This may slow down or even paralyze the development and expression of intuition.
In the 21st century, awakened to the “virtualization” of images, young people are more in sync with the ability to visualize. These are the generations growing up, generally, in front of television or computer screens, especially in the West. In adolescence, the young function with this mental and virtual model of the representation of the world. The teacher or educator must awaken intuition by reconnecting the child to his inner images more than the external images from screens.
Creative Will and Intuition: an Effort of Goodwill
For the teenager, raised and fed on television and digital images, to imagine “on his own,” may constitute an effort of will. Moreover, an “education, which focuses on delivering knowledge stifles other areas of the life of the soul because of the impersonal nature of the images it conveys. By the use of the will, the soul is active from within itself.”10
Welleck defines this phenomenon as will by “intention,”11 or the direction of thought. When using the will to create images, we make an effort to imagine forms in mental substance as precisely as possible, to stabilize them so that they do not become fleeting: “mental images can be conducted and directed deliberately, instead of in an uncontrolled way.”12
Aïsha Guennoun is a teacher in France and a co-worker at the World Goodwill and Lucis Trust HQ in Geneva.
1. La philosophie de A à Z, Hatier, see “intuition”.
2. Montessori, Freinet, Steiner, une école différente pour mon enfant? by Maire-Laure Viaud, ed. Nathan, Paris 2008
4. Education in the New Age, Alice A. Bailey, p. 9
6. In Bases de la pédagogie, éd. Anthroposophiques Romandes, 1988; (p.351)
8. Montessori, Freinet, Steiner, p.252
9. ibid., p.30
10. L’enfant endevenir, Ernst-Michael Kranich, ed. Triades, 2000, Belgium, p. 33
11. Die Polaritätim Aufbau des Charakters, Berne 1950, work cited in L’enfant endevenir, p. 33
12. ibid., p.34
Soul Education for Social Change
If we are to change our behaviours to realize our sameness and our connectivity, then our educational system must also alter. Our systems need to reflect the deepest understanding of what it means to be human and to live at a time when the essence of a global society is truly the interconnectedness of all intentions and deeds. The need for moral education and the rising potential of the empowered voice of individuals has been in a process of evolution. To take this deeper is to know that the next relevant educational model is to educate for tapping into higher consciousness and translating the experience into societal actions for external global harmony. We must lead with our hearts, use our minds to further our understandings of how our universe works, and then learn how to behave as one family of humankind.
Our present-day schools are institutionalized by rules and regulations. They tend to hold a mechanistic view and maintain the status quo. The focus is on downloadable information. They are slowly becoming aware of the need to alter their purpose but are reluctant to change, and are compelled to produce students that succeed in the world of materialism we have developed. Thus, the focus on success is defined by financial success and the continuation of competition between individuals.
In soul education there is a letting go of these models of success accompanied by growing understanding and acceptance of the need for fulfilment of the self. In this model giving and receiving are vitally relevant. The soul becomes the expression, knowing that one is revealing and offering an individualized purpose.
Our Higher Consciousness is calling us to remember the true purpose of life. Our Higher Consciousness no longer wants to only function on an integrated personal level. Our Higher Consciousness is calling us into greater understanding. We are being asked to find deep appreciation of diversity and, yet, realizing and integrating with the fact that the sum of all parts make a greater whole. We are the family of man. We are One Humanity. Our lives must encompass justice and sustainability.
World Service is the outer manifestation of the inner realization that we are all One. As I meet the other, I am meeting the self. As I meet the self, I have givingness for the other. If I do not feel depleted and fearful of not having, I give and I receive and am in balance with nature’s call. With this we collectively become builders of the new culture…the Culture of Peace.
During the 2000-2010 Decade for the Culture of Peace and Nonviolence,a Manifesto was written and supported by all the living Nobel Laureates and UNESCO, and endorsed by a U.N. resolution. The tenets are: Respect All Life, Reject Violence, Share With Others, Preserve the Planet, and Rediscover Solidarity. These are only words and now each of us must translate these words into action.
Educators are realizing that education needs to build the culture that unifies humanity. It is no longer realistic to imitate what has come before us. We need to step out and collectively build a unitive system as one human family based on the understandings enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
We as educators must learn to reach into the consciousness of the student—to touch that very inner core that exists beyond pain and pleasure and is in a state of isness. This core does not need to grow self-esteem—nor does it need more information on rules of how to live ethically. It knows within itself that life is sacred. It knows its self as full and complete. This evolved self often called the Soul, loves and shares and dares to live a life of meaning with service to others.
Soul Education consists of the seeking of spirit within the self to enhance all learning. This consciousness quest fosters intuitive knowingness and self-awareness. The sense of feeling whole and complete allows every individual to then integrate with others. The process of infused personal wisdom that reaches into historical consciousness matches our understanding of learning for meaning.
Soul Education is a process of soul searching—looking inward to go outward— where typically no competition exists and the other is as valued as the self. The individual senses the importance of all of life. The ethics and values that emerge are the universal laws of life. These universals are dictates that exist in every culture and show us we are one human family.
These Universal Laws tell us that all living things are alive and have spirit. Spirit is consciousness available to be tapped into. All of life is thus interconnected. Each action we take has infinite ripples in this web of life. Consciousness is being aware of this law of One. Love is the interconnection of all there is while fear is a human separateness that is learned. Love is the Law. Spirit connects. To Educate is to bring this forth.
The ethics to live as a just, compassionate, loving human being are intrinsic results of this inner quest. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights lists these Ethics for all of Humanity. The Fuji Declaration takes this one step further as signatories: Affirm the Light of Consciousness; Commit to Peace and to Live and Act on Behalf of All; and Strive to Free the Human Spirit, and Advance Harmonious Human Civilization.
Soul Education for this emerging New Age of Peace requires many new useful techniques, including: visualization processes for asking one’s self “who am I?”; and teaching in multiple groupings going beyond the traditional age barriers and recognizing that age is only a preconceived construct of intellectual development…that a soul knows no age.
Then there is the concept of Altruistic Learning that implies learning to make another happy is to truly serve one’s own needs. There is Reflective Learning that asks the learner to ask the self the questions rather than restating what a teacher has said. In this mode, the teacher is facilitator rather than instructor. Experiential Learning becomes very important as the learner experiences and analyses and incorporates meaning to build the self and reflect on the Self at the level of the Self. Furthermore, it is important to think in terms of Systems Learning, meaning not to be so focused on details but rather to see the whole and understand how things operate. We presently teach so many isolated facts that the mind must attach itself to without the facts having any real personal relevance. But if we think as life really functions, in wholeness, then we begin to see the parts as part of a whole and a developmental system. Human Beings then develop a sense of the greater story of life. Finally, Transpersonal Learning is a methodology which asks the individual to transform and go beyond what is the moment in the present thinking and step into the potential of learning; to Transcend Learning which encompasses the whole seen from above.
Dr Nina Meyerhof is President and Founder of Children of the Earth, a non-profit offering programmes around the world, inspiring and uniting young people through personal and social transformation to contribute to the creation of a peaceful and sustainable world.