Replacing Our ‘War Rooms’ with ‘Peace Rooms’ by Barbara Marx Hubbard

Evolution is evolving from unconscious chance to conscious choice. We are entering the first age of conscious evolution.

Why? Because we obviously affect our own evolution by all the choices we make — from the food we eat, the number of babies we have, the cars we drive and the weapons we build.

Humans have no experience at being responsible for global change at this level. We are facing, as Bruce Lipton and Deepak Chopra recently wrote, the possibility of the collapse of our life support system. Or, I believe, the emergence of something new, something better than we have ever known before.

This shift in evolution began overtly in 1945 when the United States dropped the first atomic bombs on Japan. The signal went out to the world: We now have the power to destroy life on Earth. I was 15 years old. I could see at that time that self-conscious humans, in top-down competitive structures such as nation states, organized religion and global corporations, could not handle this degree of power. We had suddenly gained capacities we used to attribute to our gods. We can blow up worlds, and we can build new worlds in space. We can travel with the speed of light by image; we can create new life forms or destroy our life; we can tap into immense energy or run out of energy.

I began to ask a great question: What is the meaning of our new powers in science and technology that are good, and what are positive images of the future that are equal to our new powers?

I read religion and philosophy as a young girl and found that no one knew the answer. The powers were so new.

I went to Bryn Mawr College and found I could not even ask the question there. There were no subjects on it. My father used to say to me, “Barbara, you are the best in the field… but there is no field!” I went to Paris in 1947 to study at the Ecole des Sciences Politiques. Despair and a sense of the absurdity of life were rampant in Paris after two world wars and the bomb. One day I was having lunch on the Left Bank, and a handsome American walked in and sat down next to me. I asked him my question: “What do you think is the meaning of this new power that is good?” and he responded, “I am an artist, and I am seeking a new image of man commensurate with our powers to shape the future.”

The idea crossed my mind, “I’m going to marry you!” And I did. He told me that when a culture loses its story and its image of the future, it declines. We had clearly lost our story of progress, and the image of humans now portrayed in the arts and theater was of a disintegrating destructive force. Yet I had innate hope and had to find out what I was hopeful about.

I went to see President Eisenhower in 1952, just after he became president. My father was an old colleague of the president. I was taken into the Oval Office. He greeted me kindly: “What can I do for you young lady?”

“Mr. President,” I said, “I have a question: What do you think is the meaning of all our new power that is good?” He looked startled, shook his head and said, “I have no idea.” So it flashed in my mind, “Well, we better find out!”

This has been my life quest, and I believe just now we are discovering the proper response. We do have a new story. It is the universe story. When we place ourselves in this 13.7 billion-universe story we discover the pattern and an evolutionary process of action we can do. We see that our crises are comparable to past evolutionary shift points. The only difference is now we are conscious that we are causing our own extinction. This is what I call “conscious evolution” — the greatest wake up call we have ever had for the human species to grow up!

Here are some lessons we can learn and apply to our own situation:

Problems are evolutionary drivers.

Crises precede transformation.

Evolution takes jumps through greater synergy: Separate parts coming together to form a new whole greater than and different from the sum of its parts.

Evolution creates radical newness. Once there was no earth, then earth appeared. Once there was no life, and life appeared.

Evolution raises consciousness and freedom through more complex order. According to Teilhard de Chardin, the great philosopher, the “noosphere,” the mind sphere or the thinking layer of earth, with all our Internet and global intelligence, is about “to get its collective eyes.” We are about to connect center with center and heart with heart.

Empathy is rising. Spirituality is growing. Healings are happening. The Internet is connecting us everywhere. A “wheel of co-creation” is forming in every field and function — innovations in health, education, energy, conscious business and environmental awareness are accelerating and beginning to connect — a whole system breakthrough out of the whole system breakdown.

We need one more conscious effort to connect the positive to make the shift in time — to midwife our own birth toward the next stage of our evolution. We may be one fraction of an evolutionary second from either connecting what is creative and loving and innovative, or devolution and extinction. This situation is dangerous, yet natural.

What do we need to do right now? I believe it is time to rapidly connect what is working in every field and function and communicate through all media as fast as we can our creativity, innovations and capacities to make it through together. We should be calling upon each other, everyone on earth, to know that they have a part in this “birth.” Each of us is given an impulse of evolution within, a heart’s desire to realize our greater potential. Wherever we are, whatever our situation, we are capable of “giving a gift to the shift,” from one phase of evolution to the next.

In 1984, I ran an idea campaign for a “Positive Future” for the vice presidency on the Democratic ticket. I proposed a “peace room” as sophisticated as a war room in the office of the VP to scan for, map, connect and communicate what is working. I was actually the other woman along with Geraldine Ferraro whose name was placed in nomination. In my speech I shared, “It is now in our capacity to destroy civilization as we know it, or to build a world of unprecedented opportunity for all people.”

What we need now is a “peace room” or a “synergy center,” a new social function to connect the positive in time.

Dec. 22, 2012, has been selected as day one to consciously contribute to this process. It is our first Planetary Birth Day to celebrate the coming of the next era of evolution based on what works.

Birth 2012 has been initiated and will be produced by The Shift Network as a convergence of what is working; we will celebrate human creativity and call for the greatest experience of mass coherence and compassion the world has ever known. We will connect with positive innovations, projects, people, artists and musicians — every way we can to converge and emerge together as a newly-born planetary species.

Barbara Marx Hubbard
has been called “the voice for Conscious Evolution of our time” by Deepak Chopra and is the subject of Neale Donald Walsch’s new book “The Mother of Invention.” A prolific author, visionary, social innovator, evolutionary thinker and educator, she is co-founder and chairperson of the Foundation for Conscious Evolution. She has recently partnered with The Shift Network as a global ambassador for the conscious evolution movement; a shift from evolution by chance towards evolution by choice and is co-producing a global multi-media event entitled, “Birth 2012: Co-Creating a Planetary Shift in Time” on Dec. 22, 2012 — a historic, turning-point event awakening the social, spiritual, scientific, and technological potential of humanity.

The Problem With Socrates ~ Deepak Chopra

I was one of many readers intrigued by a recent op-ed piece in The New York Times about finding out who we really are. Under the title, “In Search of the True Self,” the piece was by an associate professor at Yale, Joshua Knobe, who attempts something very ambitious. He wants to solve the dilemma that humans are divided between our civilized and our animal nature. The question is far from abstract. Sexual drives have brought down governors and congressmen; violence in the form of terrorism obsesses us; and thousands of deaths by gunshot every year are part of the background of American life. So much for the animal side. On the civilized side we have philosophers pushing the value of reason over passion, the doctrine of “know thyself,” and Freud’s argument that civilization cannot exist without paying the price of suppressed unconscious drives, most particularly sex and violence.

Knobe makes the issue more personal by giving the example of a fundamentalist preacher who has devoted himself to a crusade against homosexuality, taking the common position among fundamentalist Christians that gay sex is a sin and the “gay lifestyle” is against God’s commandments. The wrinkle is that this particular preacher is himself gay and has fought against his sexual inclinations his entire life. Thus, for one man the ancient doctrine of “know thyself,” says Knobe, reaches a fork in the road. If the true self is rational, this man is obeying his true self by living according to higher values — his Christianity — instead of giving in to animal drives. (The preacher, who admits that he sometimes loathes his attraction to other men, takes this self-hatred as a good sign, since it is in accord with God’s own attitudes).

On the other hand, many modern people find such a position abhorrent. They would argue that the preacher’s true self can be found by stripping away the veneer of moral judgments and giving in to the impulses that it takes such effort and self-denial to suppress. If the preacher were out and proud, for example, he would be expressing who he really is. Clearly there is no agreement on the true self, which brings up what philosophers call the Socratic problem. We owe to Socrates, who lived in the age of Pericles in fifth century BCE Athens, our Western admiration for reason.

Faced with a society where each person had his own opinions about everything, Socrates went from citizen to citizen (he would talk to anybody, rich or poor) and asked them basic questions about their beliefs. At first the questions seemed innocent, but by the end of the discussion, Socrates had unearthed the illogical or prejudicial basis of things held to be true. The person could see, by the light of reason that the truth was far different from what he supposed. Socrates’ method was to outwit ignorance by calling on the higher faculty of rationality.

Ever since, up to the triumphant rise of science, enlightenment has been equated with reason and ignorance with unreason. So what is the problem with Socrates? It is that Socrates himself was also a champion of un-reason. He said that he had a mysterious inner voice that told him when he was doing wrong (his daemon), and that this voice had a divine source. Socrates was famous for his traditional worship of the Greek gods. In addition, he revered the inspired state known as divine madness.

Divine madness was something to be valued highly, because it was the source of art, music, love, the imagination and our connection to the soul. How did Socrates balance reason and unreason? He didn’t. Sometimes he speaks from one aspect of himself, sometimes from another. The Socratic problem is that when you look closely, the father of Western philosophy cannot be defined one way or the other.

Prof. Knobe has a novel idea for solving the riddle of the true self. He proposes a new field known as “experimental philosophy” that would do research into tough problems that have plagued philosophy for centuries, such as the riddle of the true self. For example, he and two colleagues at Yale asked 200 subjects a series of questions about their true selves. But a trick was involved.

The questions were weighted toward a liberal and a conservative bias. The point was to see if a person’s value judgments influence his ideas about the true self. Would a conservative approve of fighting against one’s homosexual impulses and a liberal approve of the opposite value? Naturally. Would this give each of them a different idea of which side of human nature was the true side? Yes. People see reality through the lens of their prejudices and social beliefs. The finding isn’t very startling, and I think the whole endeavor may be futile.

If you ask people who they really are, why should their answers mean much? They haven’t undertaken the inner journey that Socrates was pointing toward. “Know thyself” doesn’t mean taking a 30-minute quiz. It means going through a lifelong process of self-reflection, contemplation, and questioning. The point is that when this journey is taken seriously, the opposites within ourselves are resolved.

The war between reason and unreason exists at many levels of the self, but it doesn’t exist at the level of the true self. A river has turbulent currents until you reach the very bottom, where the water is calm and barely flows. This has been the position of the world’s wisdom traditions, and the true self has gone under different names: Atman, spiritus, the soul and many others. A true experimental philosophy, which sounds like a very good idea, would test the proposition that unity lies beyond duality. That is what philosophy has tried to do since the beginning. For a conflicted gay Christian, such a journey seems far more promising that batting him around between various opinions, right and left.

I think that the Socratic problem is the result of confusion. Whether we are speaking of Jesus, Buddha or Socrates, the result of “know thyself” doesn’t end in a muddle. Each of them spoke of a higher reality that could be reached, and as the journey unfolds, reason and unreason each play a part. Reason sorts out contradictions and analyzes what is happening as inner experience shifts. Its chief value is to pierce through self-delusion, just as Socrates did with his Socratic method. Unreason brings intuition and insight.

Its chief purpose is to deepen one’s experience until the presence of the divine is actually real. Rather than warring against each other, these two aspects of the self are allies in the battle against a common enemy: illusion. So the muddle is ours, not Socrates’. By definition an experiment that seeks to find the true self by asking 20 questions is secretly on the side of rationality, as all data collection is. The results are skewed in advance. After all, a subject who said “This is a stupid experiment. I’m outta here” would be just as true to the self as someone who sat still and obediently took the test — maybe he would be even more true. But all such statements are secondary. The true self means little until it jumps off the page of a philosophy textbook and becomes a vocation, a vision and the ultimate goal of life.

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