I'm going to get right to the point. The world is in our hands. This complex jewel of a planet, through billions of years of evolution, has created a species whose influence is global, rather than local, a species equally capable of monumental creation or devastating destruction. As we gather in this Garden of Healing here today, we find ourselves stretched between the anchors of the past and the promise of the future, entering into that transitional space of in-between that tends to create such confusion. Herein lies a great awakening, but also a great sorting.
Human civilization, birthed from the primal world of nature, has matured from the infancy of cave dwellers, to the teeming toddlerhood of early civilizations, and endured the sibling rivalry of 5000 years of warring empires to emerge at the present time in the throes of adolescence, undergoing a rite of passage into the next age. Like initiatory rites of tribal cultures — where failure can indeed bring death — this passage will either destroy us or deliver us. Whether we like it or not, the challenge is here and the choice is ours. How do we find our way through?
The parallels to adolescence are many. As we reach adult size in terms of planetary population, our physical growth must be replaced by spiritual awakening. Our ability to wield immense power, whether in spacecraft, airplanes, computers, genetic modification, global warming, or nuclear weapons, this power requires a spiritual maturity, one that is being evoked by the dangers of our time. To reach the future successfully, each of us must awaken as deeply as possible to the enormous potential that lies buried within us, on this sacred planet of paradise.
In this initiation, we are passing through a techno-spiritual cusp, a time of unprecedented change, where, just as it is for individuals, the values and defenses that may have saved us as children will only work against us as adults. Never before have we been faced with the possibility that our actions will destroy the web of life in which we are woven, but never before have each of us had such opportunity to bring change to the world around us, and to influence the future. Sitting on this precipice, which do we choose, glory or destruction, heaven or hell, paradise or pitfall?
That may seem like a pretty silly question, yet it seems we often choose otherwise. Do you live in paradise? Or is it something you dream about, plan for your vacations, pay large sums of money to find? There's very few people that would describe their daily lives as paradise.
Yet, there is no reason why we cannot have paradise right here on earth. No reason why our lives cannot be exciting, beautiful, meaningful, and abundant. We live in an abundant universe. If abundance is not apparent in our lives, perhaps we are not living in harmony with the natural laws of the world around us.
I firmly believe it is possible to create Heaven on Earth. Not only is it possible, it is relatively easy, fun, even natural. It simply involves paying attention to a few simple principles — principles that reflect both the world within us and the world around us, principles that are derived from the ancient mind-body healing system based on the chakras. This system, which evolved out of the Tantric period of yoga philosophy in the first millennium A.D., describes seven essential levels of human consciousness. These levels describe a pattern of evolution that offers guidance to both the individual and the collective. To align ourselves with chakra principles is to align the human nervous system — and our culture — with the deep structure inherent in nature. It is to align ourselves with who we really are, both within and without. This is actually far easier than living askew to our alignment, which is what we are doing presently.
Matter matters. What does this mean? Matter is the material world we live in, derived from the word mater, or mother. It is the mother, or matrix in whose likeness we are made. We are this matter, we walk upon it with every step, ingest it daily, interact with it at every waking moment. When things go wrong — and there are many things terribly wrong in the world at this time — we turn to each other and ask — or should be asking — "What on earth is the matter?" To answer that question we must look at the things that really matter.
What does it mean to matter? It means to have substance, importance, weight. If something matters, it cannot be ignored. Its reality is essential to the cause in question — our very survival. To not matter is to be inconsequential, unimportant. If something doesn't matter, it certainly has no effect on the future.
For something to change the future, it must matter. If we are to save the precious biosphere of this planet, we must make matter matter. If it doesn't, we will surely lose the health of our biosphere, and hence, life as we know it.
Like children who have been given simple blocks in which to learn how to build, the structure of matter around us contains elaborate mysteries our sciences are only beginning to understand. If there is an enduring scripture that has come down to us through time, written by an intelligence far beyond our comprehension, it is engraved within the elaborate complexity found in matter. From the great spiral galaxies still birthing stars to the subatomic particles blinking in and out of existence, matter is our history book, our biology lesson, and our first challenge of survival.
Yet, we live in a culture whose major spiritual traditions have denied the importance of matter. In an effort to divert consciousness to the eternal aspect of spirit, matter has been denigrated as lowly, base, or inferior, and therefore less worthy of our attention. We are told that the earth is an inanimate object, to be used at our disposal, and this belief is destroying our environment. We are told that our body's messages are to be ignored or transcended, and this has created a health crisis. Our corporations have ignored the fact that people and principles matter, and they are crumbling from corruption.
When something basic to our existence is denied or repressed, it emerges instead in shadow form, which is materialism. To make matter matter does not advocate materialism, but instead calls for us to make matter sacred again. It is when we have lost touch with our environment, with our bodies, with the healthy taste of food, with that crisp edge of survival that our nervous systems were primed for — it is then that we reach for the substitutes of material comforts to fill the hole. So why is matter important?
Matter gives us our structural integrity. It is what holds us up, gives us solidity and support. In the realm of rocks, integrity is what makes a rock hard and durable. Hard rock is what allows the mountains to hold their shape beneath the eons of rain and wind, giving us the beauty of landscape. Things that are hard are durable, are things that last. They have integrity.
Integrity is a word we use to imply ethical behavior. Integrity implies consistency, like following through with an action we have said we would do. If we copy nature in how we live, then we become consistent with nature. We are therefore in integrity with natural forces, strengthened by patterns that provide our self-consistency, and therefore built to last. If we demean our integrity, we create weakness. We fall out of alignment with nature, the very force from which life is sustained.
So to make matter matter, is to validate that it matters what we put in our bodies. It matters what we do to the environment. It matters what we buy in the marketplace. It matters how we treat our home, our possessions, our bodies. Like I say, we ignore this issues at our own peril, a peril that spins us away from nature, away from the way our bodies have evolved, away from the integrity of our biological nature.
To make matter matter, is also to be willing to take a stand for what really matters. To call our representatives in defense of the environment, in honor of our principles and ethics. And when we do make matter matter, when the fundamental principles of nature are respectfully in place, then life becomes more pleasurable, which brings us to our second principle:
Pleasure is nature's antidote to pain. If we live in a world where people are suffering — from emotional pain, physical pain, illnesses, isolation, poverty, oppression — to the point where they don't even dare to FEEL anymore, then perhaps we have veered too far from the pleasure principle.
Studies have shown that pleasure and violence have an inverse relationship. This means that societies that are more sexually permissive — that incorporate pleasure as part of their everyday lives — have considerably less violence. By contrast, the cultures that are sexually restrictive tend to create more violence. We have only to look at some of the more extremist aspects of certain religions, such as the Taliban, to see this principle in action.
When we deny pleasure, we begin to numb our senses, and hence our ability to feel. With the senses denied, we become insensitive, guilty of senseless acts, and must sensationalize in order to feel anything at all. But when we open ourselves to pleasure, our senses open up as well. Then, we can be sensible, as well as sensual, which is how I "sense-you-all." Doesn't this make more sense?
But is it that simple? What about the perils of pleasure? Isn't pleasure an endless quest that leads down a slippery slope of addiction and disgrace? Or is it perhaps the absence of the natural pleasures of life, such as healing touch, healthy food, a good night's sleep, sexual fulfillment, music, laughter, and beauty that lead us into those false pleasures that never really satisfy, but only create a craving for more. For true pleasure, rooted in the senses is deeply healing and brings contentment — in the moment, without a need to take in more. To please each other is to make each other happy, to give pleasure. And I don't know about you, but my Mama always taught me to say "please."
Matter matters and pleasure pleases. What can you do to bring more pleasure into your life? You can begin by reclaiming the simple healing force of touch. Touch has been so tainted by its association with the sexual arena that we're afraid to make genuine contact with each other anymore.
To touch is to be in touch. To be in touch is to be aware and awake. To touch each other is to begin to break down the barriers that keep people apart, bound by the illusion of separation. It is nature's most basic way of healing. And its very touching.
What would a world be like in which everyone were in touch and glowing with pleasure? What would your energy levels be like if your day was filled with things that delighted your senses and imagination? How would you treat your co-workers, your neighbors, your friends, if life were joyful? Pleasure is so often found in the simple things — like spending time with friends, paying attention to clothing, music, environment, so that every moment of your day becomes more pleasurable. Can you bring flowers to place on your desk at work? Can you wear clothes that please you, that feel good on your skin, with colors that nourish you and those who look upon you? Can you help bring pleasure to others, make their life a little easier? How would that make you feel if you lived in a world that was pleasing to the senses? How would you behave?
In the chakra system, the second chakra is associated with the element water. Without pleasure, life becomes dry and dull, but when life is pleasurable, it becomes juicy!
At the root of pleasure is the god Eros, the god of erotic attraction, the universal force of feeling and allurement, the force that brings things together. In a world that is falling apart, where people are waging wars and destruction, where celibate priests undermine the sanctity of young children, where rape and pornography abound, would we not do well to mend our ways with Eros, to invite this force into our lives consciously, this force that brings things together again, and honoring this god in a way that is healthy and pleasurable? Again, to deny something natural is to create its more destructive shadow form.
To end violence, isolation, and the drudgery of daily life, we can use pleasure as a healing force and embody the second chakra principle: Pleasure pleases.
Once we have a foundation of principles that matter and are delighted with the feeling of pleasure, there is a natural emergence of energy and joy. This brings us up to the third chakra, and our third principle:
But if this is our dominant paradigm, we must realize that it is actually a submissive paradigm, one in which there are more people submitting than there are dominating. It is now time to become Paradigm Pioneers and outgrow the submissive paradigm. Notice I don't say overthrow, but outgrow. One invokes a fight, the other a maturity. I know with my own kids, I let go of control as I saw their maturity emerge.
The submissive paradigm keeps us in a childlike state, obediently doing what we are told. In the crisis of adolescence, however, the old ways no longer work, and obedience breaks down — as it must, if we are to evolve something new. Yet, we still don't have the maturity of adults. For this we need to change "power over" into "power-with." This kind of power is built by forming alliances instead of factions, cooperation instead of competition, peace instead of war.
But before we can subvert the submissive paradigm we need to find the power within. In order to resist the training of submission, we must employ a corollary to this principle: Dare to individuate. To individuate is to step out from the crowd, to be willing to go against the tide, to take a stand, to say no, or perhaps yes, when those around you are conforming to another way. Margaret Mead once said, "Never doubt that a single individual can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has." Only by daring to individuate will things ever change.
Individuation awakens our power. When we become free of other people's expectations, we can speak our truth, act authentically, and learn to live by our own wits. Every act we make is an act of choice, an act of directing our energy. If we claim this will consciously and conscientiously, we begin living by choice not chance.
We have more choices now than we ever have. We have more power — the power to splice genes, to influence the climate, to make war, or to fly to the stars. But raised from a paradigm of powerless, we're not used to having that choice. We're used to being passive, to letting someone else lead the way, do the work, make the decision. But our leaders are now failing to do that wisely, and this is a calling to awaken our power.
Where do you want to direct your energy? Toward what kind of goal? When are you not living your true will? When are you submitting? The violent systems of our world, such as the Nazi party, the Taliban, the Stalinist regime, are all rigid, dominator systems, systems where the wills of many submit to the powers of the few.
The shadow side of a disempowered people is a world of dominators and victims, a world dominated by ego, where everyone is vying for approval and looking for ways to increase their power. If we act authentically from the individuated center of our own power, the need for constant ego enforcement is vastly reduced. But this requires a new maturity, that takes us out of the power struggle altogether and into our next operating principle.
What does it mean to live love? The Sanskrit name of the heart chakra is Anahata, which means unstruck, unhurt. We will not be able to break through to the age of the heart chakra until we stop causing hurt to each other, until we stop killing, stealing, harming, each other and the environment around us.
To live love is to treat things as if they mattered. If they matter, we care for them. To care is to give to, to protect, to commune with, to love. We don't do this out of guilt, intimidation, or force. When we do it out of love, because we want to, because it matters to us, because we care. Yet, it seems we have fallen out of love with the world. Without pleasure, without beauty, when we lose our freedom and power, we become disenchanted, disillusioned, disconnected. We use and abuse, like an adolescent cleaning out the refrigerator with no thought for tomorrow. And like the adolescent, we are in the process of coming of age, coming of age into the heart — initiated by today's challenges into taking a stand, opening to the cleansing waters of feeling, into waking our will, to grow into an adulthood marked by the responsibilities of caring for our world and of parenting the future.
The organizational principle of this age is cooperative partnership. This means we cooperate with our will, which we gained in chakra three. We are in partnership with the world around us, and like all partnerships, the joy opens when it is based on love. We have been provided a most exquisite planet — beautiful, abundant, mysterious, powerful. We have been provided incredible bodies in which to take the journey of life. We have been provided tools to see, to listen, to move, to learn. We have been provided hearts that feel, that know, and that care. They live and beat at the core of each one of us.
But we are just now learning to live in partnership, learning what true relationship means. Men and women are only just now approaching equality, for the first time in thousands of years, if not ever. Women have only recently won the right to vote and are still fighting for their sovereignty over reproduction. We are only just beginning to have enough contact with foreign lands that we can entertain partnership with cultures different than our own . The United Nations is only 57 years old, a mere infant in the time scale of cultural evolution, still learning how to coordinate its power. To live love is to ask what we can give, not what we can get. We need to shift from a goods based economy to a service based economy, which is an economy based on ever renewable resources. The more we give, the better it gets for all of us. But we need to give from the individuated sense of power and passion, not from an indiscriminate denial of the self for which we fought so hard to awaken.
To live love is to enter a system of perpetual reciprocity. To learn that the word deserve means to come from service. There is enough for all if we hold it together. The difference between illness and wellness is the difference between I and we.
To live love is to open our hearts to compassion. It is to co-create a world out of partnership with each other, partnership with the earth, partnership between mind and body, self and other, male and female. young and old. It is to replace conflict with cooperation, realizing that both sides of a conflict have important truths that must be honored. It is to enter win/win negotiation, leaving behind the either/or, us/them, win/lose paradigm. And when this partnership is based on principles that matter, on pleasurable experiences, built with awakened wills, then love follows naturally.
To enter adulthood is to enter the adult conversation, to offer the fresh view of youth, but to forge a dialog between the old ways and the new. We are just getting to the point where technology can make this possible,where conversations can occur globally instead of just locally, and we all can be witness to much of it through the internet and the media.
If we are going to change the world to something our children can live with, we MUST enter the conversation. That means anytime, anywhere that you can. You can talk to people in the grocery store, on the bus, in airplanes. Talk to your neighbors, your co-workers, but most importantly talk to people with differing opinions. If you see someone throwing away something that could be recycled, respectfully suggest there's another place to put it. If you see someone hitting a child, tactfully ask them, "What's the matter?" and see if they need help. If you read something in the paper, or hear something on a talk show that you agree or disagree with — write a letter or call in to the show. Send out emails. Make your voice heard. Be part of the change you wish to see. Enter the conversation.
The first step in entering the conversation, of course, is to listen. We all know what it's like when someone bursts into a room and interrupts the conversation without having heard what's been said so far. You are more likely to be well received by listening first.
What do we need to listen to? We need to listen on many levels: first and foremost — to our own inner voice, to the cries of our truth inside, the truth of our convictions, the truth of our experiences, to the things that really matter to us. We need to listen to the voices of those around us, to the world conversation (whether we like it or not) that takes place in the news, so we can hear the trends in our culture, the cries of our children, the cries of other nations. We need to listen to the youth population, without judgment, because our future will be in their hands. We need to connect with them, converse with them, learn from them, share our wisdom with them.
I've heard it said that a parent spends the first years of a child's life getting them to sit up and speak up, and the rest of their childhood telling them to sit down and shut up. That's what happens in the old power paradigm. But it's time now to stand up and speak out. To stand up and shout!
Where are you afraid to speak your truth? Where do you not say what you mean, whether in a small way with your significant other, or a larger way, in the way things go on at work, in your community, town, or country? How can we expect our representatives to stand up and speak out for a new way of being if we don't do it in our own little lives?
A silent majority is an oppressed majority, part of the submissive paradigm. A silent majority at this time on the planet will lose its forests, its waters, its safety and its freedom. A silent majority is a silent assent to remain stuck in the past instead of creating the future. So, now we come to the question, how do we do that? This brings us to our sixth chakra principle:
The most recent evolutionary development in the human brain is the frontal lobes of the cerebral cortex, the part of our brain that can learn from mistakes, plan for the future, and interestingly enough, the very same part that's involved in empathy, community, and moral sensibilities. This means the ability to think about our future, and develop our behavior accordingly is a relatively recent phenomenon. In fact, it's so recent that it seems it hasn't quite occurred. There are still only a handful of people who are live from the possibility of what can be, rather than what has been, who are looking to the seventh generation, rather than just the next quarter's financial statement. This lack of vision results in a serious social downturn: a poverty of imagination.
As we reach our adult size in terms of global population, we begin shifting from pro-creation to co-creation. We are moving out of the ages where fostering large families was the normal expectation into a time when people are having fewer children or none at all. Instead we are learning to co-create — to co-operate in creating the future together, a future that can be the paradise this planet was meant to be. We all must join in the task of weaving this vision.
A global vision will not be created for us by some distant leader, as it is an essential part of the adolescent initiation that we become creators of the future, no longer waiting for parental figures to do it for us. This vision is also too large for any one leader or teacher, but will be co-created together, as each one of us puts forth the little piece of the vision we carry within our hearts. As in any creative synergy, it is the melding together of ideas that creates the best product — and it is usually far beyond anything a single person could imagine.
So the vision is yet to emerge, but we can begin to name the elements we would like to see. I would guess that if each of you were to imagine your favorite fantasy of paradise, one element they would all have in common is beauty. Beauty makes the world pleasurable, beauty calls forth the best in us, and beauty invites love. Beauty tells us we are close to the divine, for everything in the natural world has beauty. As the sixth chakra relates to seeing, we want to envision a world that has beauty.
Beauty opens the imagination. And as Albert Einstein has said, "Imagination is more important than knowledge." We must have imagination if we are to envision a future. We must step out of the box of the past, and create from an entirely new platform. And if we create from beauty, we are more likely to be pleased with what we get, more likely to love and care for it, and more likely that it will last.
And we want a world that is based on truth, love, freedom, pleasure, and respect for things that matter, elements of the chakras we have discussed thus far.
And in order to live by the principles of the sixth chakra, which embodies light, we need to enlighten. To enlighten is to teach, to reflect light, to recognize light when we see it and send it back. Kings and sages have always been depicted as surrounded by light — but in truth, the gold of their crowns and jewels simply reflects the light back to the gazer. So when you see light in another reflect it back to them. Appreciate another's goodness. Express it. Celebrate it. The more we bounce this light back and forth, the more light we create for us all to see.
And the more we lighten up, through pleasure and empowerment, through love and laughter, through opening our eyes to beauty, the better we can see the big picture, and begin to understand the consciousness that is behind it all. This brings us to our seventh chakra principle:
It is one thing to have a global brain. It is quite another to have the global brain wake up. When seen from the perspective of the earth as a planetary organism, we could say that Gaia is growing her cerebral cortex, one whose frontal lobes, may actually be capable of planning for the future, and like the frontal lobes within our very skulls, foster empathy and moral sense. Just as the internet is a vast field of consciousness from which we download information, our natural world is a universal web of consciousness from which our individual minds receive information whenever we focus our attention. Because our attention span is short, and our band width narrow, we have a limited understanding of the whole — like the blind men who experience different parts of the elephant. But as we expand that consciousness, gain more information, enter the conversation and weave that information together, we get a sense of the larger picture and the greater intelligence behind it.
How do we expand that consciousness? First of all by waking up and paying attention. Our world is in danger, and danger is always a stimulus for awakening. How much do you pay attention when driving on a curvy, dangerous road in a blinding downpour? As the global brain gets wired into an organ of consciousness for the entire planet, it is essential that each of us, as agents in that global brain, pay attention, not only to what we are doing, but what we are thinking, seeing and writing.
Current events, as they become more and more precarious, are commanding and focusing public attention.They are asking us to wake up, to question, to analyze, to discriminate, and for those that are open to it, to pray for guidance. Because this vast field of consciousness does have an innate intelligence, one that has been time tested through eons of evolution to bring us right here to this incredible present moment of initiation.
To drop into meditation and ask for guidance is to enter into conversation with this divine intelligence, with a higher power. We enter this relationship, not as passive obedient children, but as co-creators of the future, undergoing the rite of passage to the next age of awakening, the coming age of the heart. But if we are the ones being initiated, this higher power is our initiator. It is time to awaken to the power that is ours, but to equally awaken to its awesome responsibility. As adolescents, our physical growth is complete. Our spiritual growth must now begin. The world is in our hands and the future is ours. May it be divinely inspired.
Download a sample chapter of Anodea's new book: Waking the Global Heart: Humanity's Rite of Passage from the Love of Power to the Power of Love.