***This Vision is informed and inspired by the work of Dr. Marc Gafni.
Imagine a world ...
... in which every person leads a fulfilled life - full of meaningfulness, deep love and joy ...
... in which every person and every organization consciously contributes to the larger whole and is thus successful ...
... in which all actors in all communities - locally and globally - work together for the benefit of all, while at the same time all individuals are deeply appreciated ...
... a world in which everything is connected to everything and in which new synergies are possible ...
... in which every creative person who works on an innovative solution for one of our pressing local and global challenges, finds people and structures for cooperation and support ...
... and in which the available resources are matched with people's needs, the sources of creativity, in order to create the best for everyone ...
How would it be to live in such a world?
What would it take to create such a world?
Crises as drivers for evolution
Every day we see or hear the terrible news in the media and on the Internet:
war and terror,
climate change and natural disasters,
the extinction of species,
the refugee misery, hunger and slavery, as well as
the resurgence of extremism all over the world.
All of this not only threatens us personally. It's not just threatening to a specific group, nation, or culture. No, for the first time in human history, the survival of humanity itself, or at least the survival of our humanity, is at stake.
And what do we do?
Perhaps we have given up long ago to regularly listen to or watch the news because we feel overwhelmed by so much negativity.
Or we react with consternation, fear, horror, or even anger ... and deal with it just as long as the respective horror news lasts, only to return to “business-as-usual”.
The retreat into the private life ... "What can I do in the face of a global crisis of such magnitude?", we say.
Or we blame ourselves for not being more active. We look at our great role models like Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, Jesus, Buddha, Einstein, or whoever that is for us, and think we should be like them. And since we are not, we make ourselves bad ... and yet we do not act ... precisely because of it.
Perhaps we also wonder why we no longer feel anything when we hear about thousands of children who die every day of hunger or hunger-related diseases. As a seminar participant once said to me: "We simply cannot imagine such dimensions."
At a seminar in Berlin I read the front pages of the newspapers every morning about a bear cub in the Berlin zoo that was bottle-raised and just refused to eat. All of Berlin was in bear fever. And I couldn't overlook the fact that, at least at first, the fate of this one bear child automatically touched me more than the fate of the countless human children who were fighting for their survival at the very same time.
Why do we close our hearts ...
... in looking at the humanitarian and ecological catastrophes that not only affect us humans, but in which we play a major causal role?
We experience an increase in life-threatening illnesses such as cancer, cardiovascular diseases, addictions, burnout and depression, but also relationship problems and loneliness, unemployment or fear of losing our job, etc.
Outrageous pain is omnipresent.
All of this seems to justify even more our retreat into private life. After all, we have enough to do to deal with ourselves.
We speak of the Me generation, the increase of narcissism - both as a personality disorder and as the new normal state in our society.
Is it really that normal?
Beneath all these symptoms, there is one major thing lurking: FEAR. It is the fear that my own life does not count, that it does not matter whether I have lived or not:
=> What can I do looking at the global catastrophes that are threatening the survival of humanity?
=> Not that there is nothing to be done, but ... Isn't it all just a drop in the ocean?
Thanks to the media and the internet, we are now in a position to experience our mutual connection and interdependence first hand. We see the effects of what we do and what we leave behind on people whom we have never met personally.
We can even follow in “real time” how our actions affect nature and the earth's ecosystem.
We see the suffering of humans and animals all over the world to an extent that at best “God” could in the past. But unlike God, to whom we have attributed omnipotence as well as omniscience, we tend to experience ourselves as powerless in the face of this suffering.
And that is perhaps the deeper reason why we close our hearts in the face of this suffering and the impending catastrophe, and we withdraw into private life instead of becoming active and doing everything to alleviate the existing pain, to solve the existing problems and to avert the impending apocalypse.
"The gap between our ability to feel the pain and our ability to heal the pain is too big."
This sentence by Dr. Marc Gafni touches me deeply. It opened my eyes to a deeper mechanism that is at work here. And it also opens my eyes to an unusual way out of resignation.
There is another way
As Einstein so aptly put it: We cannot solve our problems at the level at which they arose.
All of our previous solutions and technological advances have neglected essential aspects and factors of the overall system and thus created more and bigger problems than they attempted to solve.
The next generation of solutions requires that we take all of these factors into account.
Crises have always served as drivers for evolution.
Whenever the given complexity, awareness and ability to love at the existing level creates more problems than it can solve, a crisis arises.
In a world where in all my life I couldn't get out of the tribe or nation I was born in, and where the greatest human-made environmental disaster possible was to start a forest fire or leaching the fields that were tilled, it is enough to take care of my neighbors, to sacrifice to the gods, or the One God, and to protect myself from wild animals, envious neighbors, other tribes, or nations. Today the same behavior leads us into the middle of the global crisis.
Within this crisis, the pressure caused by the growing problems grows.
At the same time, a kind of pull increases from a still unknown level of emergence. It is like a memory of the future that calls us to break new ground.
One thing is certain:
In the face of the global problems that we as humankind and as human beings have to solve, our ability to deal with the existing complexity must increase dramatically.
And above all, it needs people who REALLY care about solving these global problems.
But how can we do that?
=> Shouldn't each of us have to be an “Einstein”?
=> Are there perhaps a few people who can hold this kind of complexity and come up with solutions that the others then can implement?
=> Do these few really have an overview?
=> Will that which even appears to these few today as a whole not turn out to be just as partial in a very short period of time - like all our earlier approaches?
=> What about all the rest of us who just want to live our lives and still, in our best moments, long to be able to make a real contribution?
I believe that if we knew how we could make a real difference, most of us would take immediate action.
What if it was possible?
=> What if we could wake up every morning with a feeling of enthusiasm, passion and purpose?
=> What if we could know exactly our place in the world and how we could fill it with joy?
=> What if we could experience fulfillment and joy while making a real difference by being completely authentically ourselves?
=> What if we could be and participate in a community that is aligned with the shared mission and vision to truly create a world that works for everyone?
And yes, that is exactly what is possible.
And I am no longer satisfied with less.
The next step of humanity
How evolutionary thinkers like Teilhard de Chardin, Sri Aurobindo, Jean Gebser, Buckminster Fuller, or currently Ken Wilber, Barbara Marx Hubbard, who died in 2019 (with whom I had the pleasure of working in the years before her death), and Dr . Marc Gafni (with whom I have been working closely since 2011) show us, a lot is pointing to the idea that humanity is about to make a major evolutionary leap.
Barbara Marx Hubbard made the term “Conscious Evolution” known for this: Evolution becomes conscious of itself in humans, and humans begin to consciously participate in evolution.
This can create a new coherence in the actions of individuals, so that humanity as a whole awakens. She also calls this step “Planetary Awakening”.
And in her collaboration with Marc Gafni it became:
The Planetary Awakening through the Unique Self Jazz Symphony (the improvised, harmonious interplay of the unique voices and instruments of all in a shared music)
After everything we know so far, the universe is - like Dr . Marc Gafni says - "not a fact, but a story, not an ordinary story, but a love story, not an ordinary love story, but an evolutionary love story."
In short, it goes something like this:
About 13.8 billion years ago some-thing suddenly came out of no-thing emerged. And that is perhaps the greatest miracle of all.
Why is there anything at all and not rather nothing?
Philosophers and theologians have always been concerned with this question.
But that's not all, this something has exactly the properties that enable it to produce an awareness within billions of years that it is precisely this process that can become conscious.
And while writing, I am just aware of the incredible fact that - although hardly anyone of us is ever older than 100 years and almost no one has yet left our earth orbit, let alone our solar system - we still have an image (however imperfect) of this incomprehensible great and ancient universe and its history.
Within the first fractions of a second of this big bang - which, strictly speaking, is still ongoing - the physical laws that we still know today develop. Elementary particles are created and then annihilated through collision.
In the following billions of years, in which our universe continues to expand and cool down, more and more of these elementary particles come together - attracted by one another through a mysterious force that we, at The Center for Integral Wisdom, call Eros, even if it expresses itself at this level as the various physical forces - and form atoms: first hydrogen, then helium, later larger atoms, up to all the elements known today.
"Eros = the experience of radical aliveness yearning for ever-deeper contact and ever-greater wholeness." - Dr. Marc Gafni
More and more atoms are coming together, becoming intimate with each other, so to speak, attracted by mysterious forces that can be described, but in no way can be explained by today's physics (we know how, but not why). These atoms now begin to form molecules - initially simple, then increasingly complex - with completely new properties that cannot be explained by the sum of their individual parts. For example, water has very different properties than the hydrogen and oxygen atoms from which it is composed.
Intimacy = shared identity in the context of relative otherness * mutuality of recognition * mutuality of pathos * mutuality of values => shared purpose = shared passion - Dr. Marc Gafni
At the same time, our Kosmos continues to form into galaxies, stars, solar systems, and planets.
And suddenly: life!
A biological big bang:
Complex molecules are attracted to each other and form self-replicating structures, surrounded by semi-permeable membranes: single-celled organisms.
And with it the beginning of biological evolution:
Single cells become multicellular, multicellular become complex multicellular.
The cells mysteriously begin to cooperate in a self-organizing manner.
Complex multicellular cells create the whole variety of species: plants, fungi, insects, fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, mammals... and finally humans.
And there is cooperation not only within individuals, but also collectively within the various species and even beyond.
In evolution it is seldom the strongest who survive, but rather those who are best adapted to their environment.
And the ability to cooperate and love has always been an adaptive advantage.
And then, around 100,000 years ago, the beginning of cultural evolution:
The first humans, who lived together in nomadic survival hordes for millions of years, begin to use tools and develop language.
The development of horticulture brings forth a new consciousness with a magical tribal culture.
And the cultural development goes on and on.
With the emergence of agriculture, a mythical, ethnocentric awareness arises all over the world, including all people - far beyond the previous tribal boundaries of around 150 people - who share these myths. The first religions and nations arise.
The worldcentric Enlightenment of the modern age goes hand in hand with the beginning of the industrial age.
With the information age, postmodernity begins with its understanding of context and perspectives and its ecological and multicultural focus.
And slowly it dawns on us that evolution has a direction. The inherent drive or Eros of evolution has a telos, a goal. We live in a - as Barbara Marx Hubbard has called it - telerotic universe (telerotic = Telos + Eros), which is developing in the direction of ever-increasing complexity, awareness, and ability to love - the latter at least potentially. Because what grows with complexity and awareness is freedom of choice.
Not even elementary particles are completely determined. Strictly speaking, it is not even a matter of particles, but rather probability waves that only manifest as observable particles under certain circumstances in moments of interaction (= intimacy) with one another. But even our closest relatives, the mammals (or at least most of them), are still largely instinctive. And for us humans, too, freedom of choice is apparently still very much in its infancy. Because if we are honest, we are mostly determined by our ego-based patterns and defaults.
And yet, with seven-league boots, we are approaching the point of no return.
Our next steps will either lead us collectively into the abyss, or we will make the conscious choice for our own evolution:
The choice to REALLY become lovers.
But what does love actually mean?
"We live in a world of outrageous pain. The only response to outrageous pain is Outrageous Love. "- Dr. Marc Gafni
Some speak of unconditional love. But what does that actually mean? Should I really love a Hitler? What would that mean?
All too often, "unconditional love" has degenerated into a cliché, with the accompanying pictures of angels, roses, rainbows and transfigured looks.
What Outrageous Love means is the opposite of that. It is an active love that does not rest until the last pain is healed and the last tear is dried.
It is the same force that underlies the Big Bang and that ensured that elementary particles find each other and form atoms, that atoms find each other and form molecules, that molecules become cells and cells become multicellular. It is the same force that underlies biological evolution and that continues in cultural evolution.
We can rightly call it Evolutionary Love - or Eros. And if we look closely, we can see that love ITSELF is subject to evolution in all of this: from a physical, unconscious attraction to a pleasure-controlled, mostly subconscious drive, to a force that is subject to conscious choice, which is far beyond our immediate environment.