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Awakening Consciousness - Bold New Visions for Us, the Earth and the Universe

Dec 01, 2009 11:14PM


by Barbara Amrhein

In our emerging global community, the digital age has propelled us, with ever-increasing velocity, towards a world that seems at once limitless and all-encompassing, yet infinitely smaller and more fragile than previously imagined.

Events that a few decades ago may have aroused a nation’s compassion or concern—drought in Asia, nuclear power plants in Russia and Europe, political upheavals in Africa—now have a recognized potential to affect every world citizen, both physically and spiritually. Today, as we text and Twitter, blog and link in to Facebook, MySpace, Badoo, Bebo and dozens of other social networking websites, we create instant communications that span continents, cross cultural barriers and bridge political divides. We awaken consciousness and forge connections.

Such connections are becoming the warp and weft of a universal fabric, weaving us all together. Now, inspired organizations are deftly exploring, encouraging and researching the global awakening that accompanies them.

One of the better-known is the Fetzer Institute (, in Kalamazoo, Michigan. A privately operating foundation, the institute is on a course to foster awareness of the power of love and forgiveness in the emerging global community, through research, education and service programs. This mission, according to Fetzer’s website, “rests on our conviction that efforts to address the world’s critical issues must go beyond political, social and economic strategies to their psychological and spiritual roots.”

In late 2000, the Fetzer Institute supported an initiative investigating the current character of group and collective consciousness, the Collective Wisdom Initiative ( The website is a dynamic clearinghouse for information, insight and individuals, all linked within the emerging field of collective wisdom. The organization’s motto, “Together, We Can Know More,” sums up its credo that to succeed, the quest requires a partnership between scientific processes and wisdom traditions.

Robert Kenney, Ph.D., a Fetzer Institute fellow and faculty member of the California Institute of Integral Studies, discusses his vision of collective consciousness: “By coming together in groups to consciously generate collective wisdom, we believe we have the potential to heal conflicts that seem impossible to heal; embrace with compassion, polarities and paradoxes that tear the fabric of our psyches and communities; and cultivate our capacities to love and forgive in groups splintered and polarized.”

He explains that as people come together as artists, educators, mystics, practical idealists, scholars, activists and especially, pragmatists, we bring forward some of our own light, seeking to do together what is not possible alone.

Heeding Our Inner Voice

The Global Oneness Project (, a nonprofit organization that produces films and Web-based multimedia featuring scores of world thinkers and visionaries, is exploring how the radically simple notion of interconnectedness can best be lived in an increasingly complex world. Since 2006, the nonprofit’s staff and volunteers have circled the globe, gathering and telling stories of creative, courageous people who believe that we bear responsibility for each other and our shared world. Founder and Director Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee, a producer, director, composer, musician and practicing Sufi, is the son of renowned Sufi teacher and author Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee.

While working on the film One: The Movie, in 2005, Vaughan-Lee the younger says he was struck by the response to the film’s focus on unity. “People from all walks of life and backgrounds were telling me they wanted to see more of this. So we developed the Global Oneness Project to explore how people around the world were applying a unitive consciousness to practical problems within their local and global communities.”

One of the project’s online interviews, among several highlighted here, shares the perspective of Vusamazulu Credo Mutwa, a Zulu sangoma (traditional healer) from South Africa. “We must awaken the Mother Mind within each human being,” advises Mutwa, author of several books on African mythology and spiritual beliefs and well-known for his work in nature conservation.

“Every human being has two minds: the Mother Mind and the Warrior Mind,” Mutwa continues. The Warrior Mind looks at things logically and says, “Two plus two is four.” But the Mother Mind does not think in a straight line; rather, it thinks sideways and upwards and downwards. “We must awaken the Mother Mind within us. We must feel what is going on in the world,” he urges. “We mustn’t just listen to newspapers.

“It is said by our Zulu people that women think with their pelvic area, where children grow and are born. We must think that way,” explains Mutwa. “I must no longer look at a tree [and see simply a tree], I must see a living entity like me. I must no longer look at a stone as just a stone, but I must see the future lying dormant in that stone.”

Bob Randall, another Global Oneness participant, is a Yankunytjatjara elder and a traditional owner of Uluru (Ayers Rock) in Australia. Randall is one of the Stolen Generation of the Aboriginal people, taken from his family at age seven. Throughout his life, he has worked as a teacher and leader for Aboriginal land rights, education, community development and cultural awareness. He expresses the awakened consciousness of oneness simply: “The land owns us.”

“Life is the binding and the connecting way, the oneness—if you’re alive, you’re connected to everything else that is alive,” Randall avers. “Our [Aboriginal] relationship to the land is different from the English [non-Aboriginal] way—the land owns us. The land grows all of us up. No human is older than the land itself.”

Thus, he observes, Aborigines have a caring, unconditional love and responsibility for the land. “You feel good when you’re in that space—you feel like you’re living with family,” is how he expresses this intimate relationship. Randall’s expansive smile and contented, warm radiance accompany his words.

“When you include everything that is alive in that space—and that is a huge space—it is a beautiful way of being. It doesn’t push anyone out, but brings everybody in. And this completeness of being who you are, where you are, is a beautiful feeling.”

Listening with the Heart

Bringing everyone in represents the life work of Ibtisam Mahameed, a Palestinian peaceworker on the board of Middleway, a non-governmental organization (NGO) promoting compassion and nonviolence. A Muslim, Mahameed embodies interfaith respect and understanding in her bid for global oneness, encouraging Palestinian, Jewish, Druze and Christian women to learn about each other’s religions and cultures. She asks us all to learn the language of mutual love.

“First,” advises Mahameed, “we have to learn about all the principles found in the world. As a Muslim, Arab, Palestinian woman, I know my principles. But I don’t know yours. In order for me to understand your principles, I should ask you about them, and understand what they are.”

Next, we need to learn mutual respect from each other, urges Mahameed. We need to know how to listen, not with our ears, but with our hearts.

“I should tell you that I want to give you my hand, not to betray you, but to say you are welcome in my home. I shall like to visit you at your home, to hear more from you and to hear more about the world. This is what I call the ‘language of mutual love in the world.’”

One Mind, or Electronic Membrane

This universal language already speaks intuitively to thousands, though skeptics may dismiss the concept as a gossamer New Age theory. If, indeed, such global connectivity exists, can it be scientifically proven?

The research of Dean Radin, Ph.D., a laboratory scientist and author in the field of parapsychology, may provide some preliminary answers. Radin discusses the possibility of a global mind and whether that global mind could “wake up.” He suggests that, with the Internet, humans may be approaching a system sophisticated enough to carry the electronic membrane, or “brain,” of a global self-awareness.

Radin’s Global Consciousness Project has tested the relationship between mind and matter to determine whether collective human attention corresponds to a change in the physical environment. Intriguingly, it does. (More at

“We have six billion or so people in the world… and there is already some experimental evidence suggesting that there is something like a global mind reaction to large-scale world events,” remarks Radin. The Global Consciousness Project has empirical markers for 200 major events [including the televised courtroom verdict of the O.J. Simpson murder trial and  9-11 attacks] that have attracted attention around the world. “We find changes in the physical environment as a result of that attention—changes that, by any conventional theory, shouldn’t be there,” says Radin. “And yet, they are there.”

At this point, scientists haven’t concluded that a global mind exists, but if evidence is suggesting that something strange is going on—“then maybe the mind of Gaia is waking up,” Radin reasons. “Or, maybe… there has always been a giant mind, but we weren’t quite clever enough, until just now, to begin to get an inkling that maybe that was what was going on.”

Shifting Societal Structures

American spiritual teacher, activist and artist angel Kyodo williams believes a shared collective consciousness—and conscience—can benefit all of humanity. This founder of the new Center for Urban Peace and author of Being Black: Zen and the Art of Living with Fearlessness and Grace, reminds us that societies can change on a massive scale.

She speaks of how we can replace the view of separation: “That view can be shifted [exchanged] as no longer the acceptable way in which we do things, in the same way that we no longer accept slavery. That was an economic choice—how will I get my cotton picked if I don’t have slaves, that’s just impossible, I can’t give that up. Well, we’ve had changes in society that said, you will have to find another way. We have to make the structures of society unwilling to bear separation as a way of approaching things, individualism as a way of approaching things.”

That united commitment is crucial. “We are participants in a process that will always be larger than our imagination or our best sciences can fully explain,” advises Mary Evelyn Tucker, a senior lecturer and senior scholar at Yale University. “‘Can we evolve fast enough?’ is a critical question.”

Summoning Spirituality

Tucker, who is active in Yale’s School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, as well as its Divinity School and department of religious studies, has authored many books, including Worldly Wonder: Religions Enter Their Ecological Phase. She focuses on the vital role of spirituality in her Global Oneness interview and is prominently featured in a newly released film, A Thousand Suns, which PBS will broadcast in early 2010.

“I do sense that the possibility for human evolution, human consciousness, is absolutely at hand,” says Tucker. “These alternative ways of being that have grown in the periphery of our societies and other societies around the world are coming into the center, are being valued: ecological economics, green politics, alternative technologies, sustainable farming and food. All these suggest that this evolution is very much in progress. If we have a reverence and respect for moving it forward with deep spiritual strength and grounding, I think we can do it.”

Sufi teacher, dreamworker and author Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee, Ph.D., concurs with Tucker’s emphasis on the importance of calling upon spiritual grace (visit He writes and lectures extensively on the emerging global consciousness of oneness and our individual spiritual responsibility during this time of transition.

The world is going through a time of crisis, and during any time of crisis, there is the possibility for transformation, Vaughan-Lee the elder asserts. The good news is that, “Many people around the world are committed to this work of oneness on financial, ecological and cultural levels,” he explains. “There are many, many fields in which humanity is coming together in new ways…

“But what I have found lacking in a lot of approaches is that they think we have to do it all ourselves. And I think we need the help of God. I think we can participate; I think we can be attentive, receptive, for when the Divine comes. Can we do it ourselves? No. Can we wake up the world? No. But we can be ready, waiting and prepared.”

Story Source: For more information and video interviews, visit

Barbara Amrhein is an editor with Natural Awakenings magazines.

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