2. World Transformation
Here is a proposition. In order to outlast our escalating global survival-crisis, there is something we must get to grips with which involves far more than mere survival. We need to build something greater than an acceptably sustainable society and world which might just scrape through its looming crisis. The world of tomorrow needs to be much more than a mere extrapolation of the world as it has been. It needs to function on an entirely different basis from that which we have known to date.
This is because the causes of our current global crisis originate far back in earlier centuries, millennia and cultures. They are very deep-rooted, even though the grossest damage arising from these causes has really occurred only in the last few hundred years. These causes must be tackled at their roots.
What is called for is nothing less than an utterly new civilisation. This new civilisation must embody and express wholesomely new principles – otherwise the underlying causes of our ills will continue in some form or another. This, I believe, is a concrete imperative and a practical pending reality. It concerns the hard-headed and nuts-and-bolts fixers of the world more than anyone – for it is on them that specific and crucial global responsibilities lie, and it is they who will probably have to fix many details of the changes that are needed.
While world transformation involves a shift and breakthrough in basic principles, in world-views and probably in dimensions of reality and states of consciousness, there is still a lot of practical fixing to do, affecting our technologies, social structures, resources, natural environment, climate and people. With a thorough lack of guidelines and precedents for such a change, it is probably true to say that we will be guided through the future by our own realistic and wise-as-possible adjustments to rapidly-presented facts. We'll have to drive by the seats of our pants. It's analogous to someone who leaves behind their secure job, home and social position, casting loose into the unknown to find something new and meaningful: it looks difficult to do, but it sure is a relief once one starts doing it, and there's no looking back!
Though worldly-wise commentators and opinion-formers might huff and sneer at this idea of transformation, the key principle behind it all is happiness. Genuine, fundamental, unadulterated happiness. Happiness is a highly-motivating condition of open-heartedness, lightness of spirit and inclusivity which allows each and every person to feel okay about life, whatever happens, and to enact their lives authentically, without playing up to an image of what they think they ought to be. Happiness constitutes the core of genuine health, wealth and meaning in life – a feeling that the right things are happening and that one is in the right place at the right time. This is a subjective feeling, a policy-decision of the heart. Whatever our circumstances, we are challenged to elect to be happy.
As so many figures in history have proven, neither wealth, land, power nor security, neither political freedom, education, health, strength nor religiosity, have inherently provided happiness. Many of the happiest people in the world actually have quite simple, poor or conventionally-underprivileged lives, while the affluent and the free seem to have screwed-up eyebrows and dull eyes. Happiness is a kind of insight, a condition of the heart, which seems not to have a direct relationship with circumstances. If it had such a relationship, then the Dalai Lama would wish a plague on his Chinese oppressors, and Nelson Mandela would shoot all of his previous captors – and no one would be the happier for it.
The outward cultural expression of happiness lies in landscapes, social structures and the architecture of civilisation. It shows itself through creativity – a quality which usually has flowered during short 'golden ages' and seminal florescences across time, though not continually. Whole societies can become imaginative, creative and content – and this isn't always connected with circumstances such as economic growth. Societies can at times move a long way forward through an upsurge of purely human societal energy.
The civilisation of the future needs not only the ingredients necessary for planetary survival, but also those hearty, creative and human core-constituents which make for a happy and progressive world. The flowers in spring, the playfulness of children and the mutual-supportiveness of members of the public are at least as important as production figures and international treaties – if not more so. To compensate for the 20th century obsession with quantity, peripheral issues and complex appurtenances, which busily eat up our world to the point of destruction, we perhaps need in future to re-emphasise qualitative core issues, the matters at the heart of all life. In the 19th-20th centuries the 'developed' world has become spiritually underdeveloped – and interestingly, many of its children are learning inner development from the 'underdeveloped' countries.
Happiness: what an unquantifiable and indefinable notion! Yet, the experience of happiness is calming and exciting, meaningful and liberating, unlocking our potential and opening entirely new scenarios previously unavailable. Perhaps happiness is the most essential and crucial factor in human survival. Its cultivation might be the most urgent item on the global agenda – not as a consumer ploy or a twisted propaganda heist, but as a keystone priority for application in every land and every department of life. The outcome might be not an abdication but a profound re-assumption of our true responsibilities. Even assuming and carrying out responsibilities generates happiness.
Lawmakers, government agencies, charitable sponsors, lifestyle designers and social engineers can facilitate conditions which might be conducive to happiness, yet they cannot create happiness. Happiness is a state of mind and heart, and when it arises it inevitably involves meeting up with and transforming our pain – the stuff which keeps us unhappy. Our pain and the memory of it, whether thought about or held secretly deep down in our cells, obscures our capacity to find happiness with what we have or to specify and manifest what we truly need. In later essays, I shall expand on this theme to paint a picture of a kind of world which might be unreservedly acceptable to all humans. I hope also to give a hint of retroactive meaning to the painful and, for many, meaning-poor existences which many people have led throughout much of recorded history.
Don't get me wrong. I don't have The Big Answer. Some people believe they do possess it, and that's a common habit of belief. Big Answers charge their price, and they have been a major cause of suffering in the past. Neither Christianity nor Communism succeeded in bringing happiness to people – though there might have been brief and localised outbursts. No Big Answer seems to have the capacity to embrace everyone.
What I do have is a sense of the process involved – or at least, where it might start. From there on, the big determining factor is humanity's capacity to respond insightfully to whatever arises, and to make the best use of it. It's like an unfolding chess-game. This might be our guiding factor – to take our lead from events. To look very carefully at those events and at what they say. To look penetratingly at ourselves and our societies. But most of all, to act and respond appropriately, with an intertwined sense of both vision and pragmatism.
Various problems arise here. How do we decide, and who decides? What do we do about those who wish to keep things more or less as they are and to make life difficult for others? What is appropriate or right? How do we know? Will our economies support it? Who wins, who loses? When will it all be over? Will it make life more difficult or easier? How can we trust in the process if we don't know what will happen? Can humanity be trusted? These essays seek to shed light on questions such as these. And only time will tell.
Increasing numbers of people are catching on to the notion that world transformation is necessary – even if they hold this notion secretly to themselves or if they hold it even unbeknownst to themselves. World transformation isn't just a tweaking of the knobs and an adjustment of a few key factors, neither can it be simply legislated or organised. Reforms can be circumvented, undermined or evaded by anyone with the gall to do so – and nowadays politics has resolved itself into a game where appearances of change have superseded and subverted real change. World transformation is larger than we can see, and the destination lies beyond our conception. Scary! Yet it's a process. If we were given the Final Answer tomorrow, we would take fright and run away from it or we would condemn it as impossible.
World transformation needs to be freely entered into by all people concerned. It involves much more than a majority decision. If 95% of the world's population is in favour and 5% seriously detract, the whole process can be scuppered. So one of the big questions I'm addressing concerns how transformation might come about. I would suggest that the transformation of the Soviet Union in the late 1980s was a sign of things to come – the changes there took place quite fast. Yet, for the world as a whole, it isn't a question of replacing one materialist system with another, and there won't be a ready-made replacement system to move in either. So the Russian analogy is limited in scope.
One of the big problems involved with world transformation is: we just do not know. We don't even know what exactly we need to know. It's a remarkable situation. It lacks precedents. This kind of project hasn't been done before, and it runs against ingrained historical habit. However, world transformation is possibly the only option available to us. The alternatives seem to involve demise and difficulty.
Getting to grips with all the issues involved worldwide – ecological, social, demographic, agricultural, psychological, cultural, you name it – is gigantic, daunting and dreadfully complex. This was demonstrated in the years following 1989: the world-public response to the widespread awakening which occurred in 1988-89 has been, in the 1990s, a timid shut-down, a retraction from hope and a creeping parochial tribalism which shies away from the vastness of it all. Blinded by the light of future potentials, we have turned back to face the other way, hoping it will all disappear or sort itself out. A ot of people want change, as long as it doesn't really change anything that seriously affects them.
In response to this, many transformation-oriented people can get rather metaphysically extreme about things. Since the details and issues of our situation are so complex and immense, worldly political, economic and technical concerns are sidelined in favour of a transcendentalist, inter-dimensional, spiritualistic viewpoint derived from channelling and metaphysical sources or wildly dissenting beliefs. Ascended Masters, angelic hierarchies and ETs. There's nothing wrong with this – I am a metaphysician too and subscribe in my own way to similar crazy notions – yet the cosmic picture is only a part of the answer and a part of the process.
As is the case with healers, therapists, aid workers or anyone supporting and serving others, these great spiritual beings can assist us only if we're helping ourselves or are willing to be helped and to act proactively in our transformation process. In other words, we must get our hands into the muck and apply our elevated visions to real-life situations with zero avoidance – otherwise visionary belief becomes escapist. No matter what we believe or subscribe to, if our real-life behaviour harms others or overlooks their needs, something is missing. If visions don't achieve manifestation, they aren't working.
Many who subscribe to the idea of world transformation have a notion that, with the help of higher powers, photon belts, God, archangels, Pleiadeans or meditative link-ups, there will come a day when the world is quickly magicked into a new level of consciousness. Since this involves an outbreak of love and positivity, it is assumed that everyone will respond positively to it. Somehow everything will get sorted out. All the bad guys will get miraculously wiped out or converted – or perhaps 144,000 good guys will be saved while the rest of us get fried in the final reckoning.
These notions certainly appear to simplify the vast task of planetary transformation and they handily cut the world's population too, in some people's view. Yet this magic-wand scenario, I would suggest, is a spiritual expression of modern Attention-Deficiency Syndrome – the wish to have it all solved in one fell swoop. It's also an atavism of age-old apocalypticism: with a wave of the hand, God sorts it all out for us.
Whether or not these beliefs are proven to be true, they do tend to represent a caucus of despair, a philosophy of disempowerment and of giving up on humanity. We cannot rule out sudden global shifts of consciousness – anything is indeed possible – yet to subscribe to such beliefs rules out and evades wider and more realistic possibilities. It eliminates the need to look at the fullness of the situation before us in detail and at the apparently gargantuan task of transforming human consciousness. It can also hamper viable metaphysical work, since even in psychic worlds accuracy and appropriateness of intent and vision are all-important. Poor thinking and envisioning of future possibilities thus can weaken the cause of spiritual breakthrough. Non-believers find it difficult to buy into philosophies which bear little visible relation to their experienced reality or to the position most of us stand in.
The metaphysical approach is thus insufficient on its own to deal with the global task at hand. A vision constitutes the start of something, but not it is not everything. After the vision comes the effort. The manifestation of a vision involves guts, some thunder, sweat and many initially-uncomfortable learnings. Meanwhile, engineers, environmentalists, social reformers, health practitioners, aid workers, diplomats and other 'hands-on' operatives cannot afford to lose time buying into what they might regard as flaky transcendentalist ideas which might not deliver the goods – they too are dedicated to positive change. As a result, the movement for worldwide change tends to bifurcate into two camps, divided and disregarding one another: the love-and-lighters and visionaries on one side, and the hands-in-the-muck front-line empiricists on the other. The movement for change is sectorised, even tribalised, to the degree that it is difficult to bridge its gaps. Yet bridge them we must.
What engages me, then, is this question: how can we bring together the overall spiritual-cultural visionary awakening of humanity with the nuts-and-bolts pragmatic and organisational questions which face us today? For our primary question is not to try to find a single neat and simple Big Answer – which is rather neurotic – but to develop ongoing evolutionary processes of change by which answers and solutions may evolve. As Edison once pointed out: 'genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration'.