The 2007 Shift Report: Evidence of a World Transforming Readers’ Reactions

The 2007 Shift Report: OVERVIEW

The 2007 Shift Report: Evidence of a World Transforming, attempts to chart the transition we believe is underway from a rigid, mechanistic, and materialistic worldview to one that is built on a foundation of interconnectedness, cooperation, and the intersection of science and spirituality. This 80-page document, highlighted with sidebars, charts, and quotations, is organized into four major sections:

Section I – Worldview Breakdown
While acknowledging the benefits that the Newtonian paradigm has provided, this section makes clear that the limitations of this worldview are exceeding our ability to overcome them, leading to potential worldwide disaster. The impacts of such factors as trauma, stress, and the fragmentation of consciousness are addressed.

Section II – Worldview Emergence
The unprecedented intersection of biology, systems theory, neuroscience, and quantum physics is revealing the contours of a new worldview, potentially sparking a new human potential movement. From epigenetics and the study of resilience to chaos theory and insights into the “god experience,” researchers are revealing a world of untapped possibilities, individual as well as collective.

Section III – Integration / Application
This emerging paradigm is showing up in different ways in the major institutions of modern life. This section briefly explores those impacts in the areas of education, medicine, business, psychology, and international trends. IONS’ relevant contributions to these various areas are highlighted.

Section IV – Living Deeply: The IONS Transformation Research Project
This section describes the methodology and some of the most compelling findings of this ongoing ten-year project to map the phenomenon of individual transformation.

The Report is available at http://www.shiftreport.org/

Table of Contents

Section I
Collapsing and Colliding Worldviews

Social Roots of the Current Worldview Breakdown
Biological Roots of the Worldview Breakdown
Further Indicators of Worldview Breakdown

Section II
Worldview Emergence: Where Science Meets Spirit

Biology
Neuroscience
New Physics

Section III
Institutional Transformation

Positive Psychology: A Change in Focus
Health Care: A New Model of Medicine
Business: The Conscious Workplace
Education: Inward Pedagogy
Globalization: Toward a New Synthesis

Section IV
Personal Transformation: The IONS Research Project

Program and Methodology
A Model of Transformation
What Catalyzes Transformation?
Cultivating Transformation
Transformative Practices

Introduction
Everyone needs a worldview. Without a context for answering the basic questions of life, we can feel lost or disoriented. During the course of our lifetime, many of us have undergone fundamental changes in how we perceive ourselves, the universe, and our place within it. We are living in an era in which such transformation is fermenting across the planet on multiple fronts: personal, collective, spiritual, social, and scientific.

An increasingly greater proportion of people are recognizing that habitual ways of thinking and doing must change or we risk catastrophic outcomes. And yet the shifts in perspective being called for seem to exceed our capacity to respond. We are constrained by a limited way of thinking about the world and our potential—a worldview—that we have inherited from the past and that may be incapable of overcoming the challenges it has created. How can such forces be overcome? How do transitions in worldview come about?

At Vrije Universiteit Brussel in Belgium, a research center was founded in 1995 with the aim of integrating worldviews. It describes a worldview as having the following seven components:

1. A model of the world: Who are we?
2. An explanation: Why is the world the way it is? Where does it come from?
3. Futurology: Where are we going?
4. Values: What is good and what is evil?
5. Action: How should we act?
6. Knowledge: What is true and what is false? How do we know what we know?
7. Building blocks: What preexisting theories and models have been used to answer the questions of the other six categories?

In our current period of transition, most of us don’t have clear, complete, and consistent answers to all of these questions. One reason is that we receive information in fragments, not as an integrated whole. As well, there are often built-in contradictions and biases in the sources. Sometimes what we are told contradicts our own experience. The sixth worldview component, how we know what we know, becomes extremely important when we search for truth. What we conclude usually ends up being an amalgam of what we’ve experienced, what we’ve read or heard, and what we want to believe.

Achieving a balanced and an integrated worldview requires combining an analytic approach to knowledge with an equally valid and complementary inner way of knowing. This noetic way of accessing knowledge involves processes such as intuition and inspiration, in which the information is perceived directly rather than through deductive or inductive reasoning. We tend to think that science advances only through logical analysis, but this noetic process has influenced some of civilization’s most technological advances. “Eureka!” moments and dreams are often responsible for scientific discoveries, usually after a scientist has tried to solve a problem analytically.

One example among many is the Russian chemist Dmitri Mendeleev’s creation of the periodic table of elements in 1869. At that time approximately thirty elements had yet to be discovered, making it hard to classify the known ones because no clear pattern or set of clues existed yet for categorizing elements from their subatomic structure. Mendeleev struggled
with this problem until he had a dream. “I saw . . . a table where all the elements fell into places as required. Awakening, I immediately wrote it down on a piece of paper. Only in one place did a correction later seem necessary.”

We believe that the convergence of noetic and analytic sources of knowledge about both the physical and nonphysical worlds is leading to important shifts in the dominant worldview. This evolution in paradigms is being ignited to varying degrees of intensity and depth across many cultures, such that the twenty first century has the potential to become the Age of Transformation. Indeed, the world’s current condition makes significant positive change imperative. Our efforts to map out this process have resulted in The 2007 Shift Report:

Timing is a key element in determining when transformation occurs within an individual or a society. Karen Armstrong’s recent book The Great Transformation describes the Axial Age, the period from about 900 to 200 BCE when “the peoples of four distinct regions of the civilized world created the religious and philosophical traditions that have continued to nourish humanity to this day: Confucianism and Daoism in China, Hinduism and Buddhism in India, monotheism in Israel, and philosophical rationalism in Greece.”

“The great transformation” of the Axial Age came about as a response to an unprecedented increase in violence, itself a result of wider access to transportation that placed people of different cultures into wider and more frequent contact with one another. This led not only to the exchange of ideas and goods but also to the desire to take enviable belongings away
from others and to suppress beliefs that threatened one’s own. To counterbalance these unleashed disruptive and destructive forces, various spiritual leaders appeared, advocating selflessness, compassion, and right action. Striking parallels exist between the Axial Age and our current era.

The travel industry and current technologies for communications have facilitated a truly global community while accelerating the spread of ideas and information. This cross-fertilization of knowledge and culture has led to alliances with tremendous potential for good but also to great animosity over social inequities that have become more obvious. Belief systems are
clashing, and both religious and scientific fundamentalism have grown with the intention not only to counteract but to suppress alternative points of view. Many people are confused about what they believe. Some have given up on believing in anything.

So constructive transformation has become essential. We are at a pivotal point in history that is more extreme in many ways than any that has come before. Although the ideals of selflessness, compassion, and right action have been around for some time, they have never been fully realized because of the human capacity for self-deception, rationalization, and other forms of escape and denial. And despite its many astounding discoveries, traditional science has its limitations. The Earth revolved around the Sun and the law of gravity operated long before Copernicus and Newton claimed it to be so. One wonders what else we don’t yet have the means or the imagination to discover or understand.

The emerging paradigm/worldview we are highlighting in this report has its roots in both science and mysticism and was sparked in the middle of the twentieth century, when leaders in modern physics and ancient Eastern spiritual and philosophical traditions found that their views of reality validated each other. It has continued to gain momentum, with profound implications for humankind. The analysis of data by physicists and the direct experience of mystics both report that we are not separate from one another—we are all interconnected. This integrated worldview further proposes that our thoughts can have a measurable impact on the physical world and that even the act of observation is an action with consequences.

The conditions are thus ripening for a scientific revolution, similar to the Copernican revolution, that could have a major impact upon society. Thomas Kuhn’s classic work The Structure of Scientific Revolutions points out the many parallels between scientific and political revolutions. Such shifts first meet with strong opposition—even though the new paradigm explains reality more clearly than the old did—but finally take hold when existing anomalies can no longer be ignored or rationalized away. Our era’s new paradigm may not be firm yet, but it is crystallizing.

This report is organized into four major sections. The first looks at the adverse impacts of the dominant worldview and how it has compromised our collective ability to move forward. The second describes some of the scientific advances and philosophical developments that have contributed to a broader understanding of who we are and what we are capable of becoming. The third section illustrates how paradigm shifts are showing up in a variety of institutional settings, and the fourth section describes the Institute of Noetic Science’s groundbreaking Transformation Research Project, which is generating deep insights into the nature of enduring personal transformation. We hope you are as stimulated by reading this report as we were in writing it

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Meditation and Spirituality An Interview with Deepak Chopra


The Share Guide: What do you think are the most significant health benefits of meditation?

Deepak Chopra: They are stress reduction, better sleep, lower blood pressure, improved cardiovascular function, improved immunity, and the ability to stay centered in the midst of all the turmoil that’s going on around you. Meditation helps you do less and accomplish more.

The Share Guide:
I understand there’s now 15 million Americans who are practicing yoga, but most are doing just asanas (poses). How many do you think are aware of the spiritual aspect of yoga?

Deepak Chopra: Not enough. Because when it started in the U.S. it was mainly as another form of physical fitness. Somehow that gained prominence and it became a fad–just a good way to improve flexibility and muscle strength. Of course, these are benefits of yoga. But the larger picture of yoga as it was meant to be understood originally is that yoga is union. It’s only now that people are actually becoming aware of the spiritual aspects of yoga.

The Share Guide: In your new book The Seven Spiritual Laws of Yoga, you describe the eight limbs of Raja yoga. And one thing that surprised me was that you said they’re not to be seen as sequential stages. I always thought the first limbs were preparatory for the last three, which are the meditation stages.

Deepak Chopra: That’s one school of thought, but not what I learned. I had my spiritual apprenticeship with the Shankara- charya school in India, and my immediate mentor was Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who brought Transcendental Meditation to the West. Maharishi was a disciple in turn of the Shankaracharya. That tradition goes back to the ninth century sage Adi Shankara. Their interpretation always has been that the eight limbs of yoga are practiced simultaneously. In that way it is similar to the Eightfold Path in Buddhism.

The eight limbs are Niyama, Yama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana, and Samadhi and are all actually combined into one discipline. Yama and Niyama are rules of social and personal conduct, so why not include them as things that you do? It’s about the internal shift in attitude that you have to make.

Pratyahara and Pranayama are actually forms of Raja yoga, and therefore they are complementary to Asana. Dharana, Dhyana, and Samadhi are supposed to be the culmination of this practice, but all eight limbs are still part of your daily practice.

The Share Guide:
All right, so we can work on all the limbs at the same time.

Deepak Chopra: Right, and we should.

The Share Guide: I’d like to ask you about mantras. I received a personal mantra from Dr. Warren Mills, one of your Primordial Sound Meditation teachers. Can you discuss what mantras are in general and what is specifically beneficial about receiving a personal mantra?

Deepak Chopra: There are many kinds of mantras. The mantra that you are using as part of your Primordial Sound Meditation instruction as taught by the Chopra Center, is called a bija mantra. The word bija means seed. It’s the most basic kind of mantra there is, and it’s traditionally used for transcending or going beyond the realm of thought.

The way that mantra is selected is based on your time of birth and your place of birth. Based on that information, the person who is giving you the mantra can actually know the exact position of the moon at the time and location of your birth. There are 108 such positions, and so there are 108 mantras, and they are selected according to this principal. These days we have a computer program to do this, so we can take your information and immediately get your astrological chart. This knowledge goes back hundreds of years.

Now there are other mantras, of course, that have very specific effects. There is a huge body of knowledge on mantras for healing, for wealth consciousness, for invoking specific deities that are symbolic representations of psychic energy within your own self. Ever since I was a child, I’ve used thirty or forty different mantras for different reasons: for making me go to sleep if I can’t sleep; for increasing my energy; for increasing my desire for knowledge, etc. Usually mantras are given by teachers who are very knowledgeable and intimate with the tradition. In fact, they are passed on from teacher to disciple. Then the disciple one day becomes a teacher himself or herself, and passes the mantra on again. But as I said, it’s a huge body of knowledge.

The Share Guide:
I am familiar with some for specific things like the Lakshmi mantra for generating righteous wealth. What about kirtan, which is devotional chanting with music?

Deepak Chopra
: Kirtan is devotional chanting, but it does not always involve mantra.

The Share Guide: Regarding the seed mantra, is that supposed to be chanted out loud or quietly?

Deepak Chopra:
Silently. Because it’s a seed mantra, at some point in meditation it disappears.

The Share Guide:
Another aspect is the yantra or the mandala. I think those words are interchangeable.

Deepak: Yes, they are.

Share Guide: We use the Sri Yantra mandala in meditation class to gaze on while we meditate.

Deepak: Right. The Sri Yantra is the visual vibration of the mantra OM.

Share Guide: I’ve been told to draw the energy from the center of the Sri Yantra into your heart chakra. Is this how you use it, or are you just supposed to gaze at it?

Deepak: That’s one way. But you can just sit quietly and gaze at a yantra and it will draw your attention into the bindu (the point in the center) and then you disappear in it’s unboundedness.

Share Guide: I see meditation as a way to bridge the apparent gap between the physical and the spiritual. What are your thoughts on this?

Deepak: Meditation has only one reason: to get in touch with your soul, and then go beyond that and get in touch with the consciousness that your soul is a ripple of. It might be a good stress management technique, but there is only one real purpose, which is the means to enlightenment.

Share Guide: When I interviewed Dr. John Hagelin a couple of years ago (he also works closely with Maharishi), I remember him talking about five states of awareness: waking, sleeping, dreaming, meditating, and the fifth state which really intrigued me, a state of enlightenment in action, keeping that consciousness in your actions.

Deepak: There are actually seven states of awareness. Deep sleep is the first; dreaming is the second; then the third stage is waking; the forth stage is meditation; the fifth is called cosmic consciousness, which is when you have that internal experience of meditation in deep sleep, dreaming, and waking, so you are established in that state even while in action.

Then beyond cosmic consciousness is the sixth stage of consciousness which is God consciousness, where you become aware of the spirit in the objects of your perception. So you look at a flower and you can feel the presence of divinity within it. Or you look at a telephone or a table or a shoe and you can feel the presence of the infinite in it. The infinite is everywhere. And the seventh stage is the ever present witnessing awareness in the object of experience. They fuse and become one, and when that happens then you experience enlightenment–you see the whole world as an expression of yourself and you see that the ground of your being is also the ground of all existence.

By Dennis Hughes, Share Guide Copublisher

Deepak Chopra, M.D. is a bestselling author, teacher, trained medical doctor and pioneer of the mind-body connection. His books include The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success, How to Know God, The Spontaneous Fulfillment of Desire, and The Seven Spiritual Laws of Yoga. Dr. Chopra cofounded The Chopra Center for Well-Being in Carlsbad, California to advance the cause of mind-body-spiritual healing, education, and research. He regularly gives lectures and seminars around the world.

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