Wednesday, July 27, 2016

The Shakti Centre 

For Integrated Spiritual and Social Transformation

The Shakti Centre is envisioned as a living community and learning centre for integrated spiritual and social transformation, effecting both inner and global healing from a fulcrum of deep spiritual realization of our interconnection and unity with each other and all of creation. Recognizing our Oneness with the unified field of Consciousness that gives rise to all that is, we seek both to deepen our connection with its eternal Essence and actively co-create with it in its evolving expressions, helping to shape the future of humanity and the planet at this critical time of quantum transformation.

The centre would explore and develop a much-needed new spiritual path that integrates spiritual realization with personal and planetary healing. We believe that the inner and outer levels – spiritual, psychological, social and environmental – need to be addressed in a unified context, both conceptually and in practice, in order for any truly effective evolutionary transformation to gain ground. To this end, we would draw upon ancient spiritual traditions as well as scientific and whole-systems socio-economic and ecological perspectives, all of which have important parts to play. Another central aim of our work is to foster more feminine, interconnective values in the collective consciousness and more women’s co-creative leadership in spirituality and society; we see this as an intrinsic part of the shift to a higher, more balanced evolutionary consciousness.

In practice, the Shakti Centre would serve as a convergence point for several key movements emerging today: interspirituality, integral spirituality, engaged and evolutionary spirituality, including the integration of feminine wisdom into the global consciousness. Each of these movements bridges divides: between the diverse spiritual traditions, spirituality and psychology, spirituality and social change, spirituality and science, East and West, men and women. Collectively, they represent a larger movement today – a quantum leap in consciousness and humanity’s evolution -- to go beyond religious, cultural and gender divisions, and foster in their place the spirit of interconnection and Wholeness, as both inner experience and in our outer societal forms. We see the Shakti Centre as a space that can help to generate, and focalize, this movement.

It has become undeniably clear that a quantum shift is needed today, from a society based on separation, competition and conflict to one based on interdependence, cooperation and unity. Such a shift needs to come from a deep understanding, and experience, of the essential truths of our existence; it cannot be a superficial change, a technological, political or legislative fix, at the outer levels alone. We need to go beyond old authorities, dogmas and divisions, and join together to draw upon the deepest source of our true unity – with each other, nature, and the greater field of existence, visible and invisible, manifest and still-unfolding -- to create a new paradigm and a new world, liberating potentials beyond our present imagining as we move to a higher order of evolutionary consciousness and the social structures it gives rise to.

At the Shakti Centre, then, we take the deep spiritual realization of interconnection and Oneness as the fulcrum for both inner and outer transformation. We seek to realize and put into action its implications not only in the spheres of spirituality and personal inner healing, but in the social, economic and ecological spheres that both shape and reflect our consciousness at the outer collective level.

Virtually, these ideas are in the air, but there is also a great need for a place on the ground where people can come together to live this new paradigm in practice. To this end, the Shakti Centre would offer to all who are called the opportunity to help co-create an integral, evolutionary paradigm of spiritual and social transformation highlighting the following aspects:

1. Universality: Distilling the universal essence of the world’s spiritual traditions. Developing a universal language of spirituality, practices and forms that have the depth and power of the highest spiritual traditions but are not religion- or culture-dependent, nor embedded in a patriarchal context.

2. Direct experience: Offering techniques that are directly experiential, leading to the ultimate experience of Oneness with the unified Source of Consciousness that is our true nature. Dogma and division are bypassed with approaches that facilitate the direct experience of unconditional love, interconnection and Oneness, the central principles of spiritual realization and the core of mystical union at the heart of diverse spiritual paths.

3Integration, inner and outer: Integrating work at the psychological and energetic levels -- the levels of inner personal healing -- as part of the work of spiritual transformation; and integrating work at the social, political and ecological levels – the level of outer global transformation -- as a natural outflow of our inner work. This includes the visions of integral, engaged and evolutionary spirituality.

4. Bringing in the values of the feminine: Helping to instill the feminine qualities of interconnection, compassion, co-operation and co-creation into spirituality and society; promoting women spiritual teachers and social leaders fostering holistic and innovative approaches, and working together with men who recognize and support the importance of bringing greater balance into the collective consciousness. We believe that those qualities deemed feminine – loving, caring, empathy, communion -- though they have been historically relegated largely to women, are in fact the natural birthright of both genders, the gateway to the realization of our wholeness, essential to both our survival on this planet and our highest spiritual evolution.

All of these aspects of consciousness transformation – the integration of feminine wisdom, of diverse spiritual traditions, of spirituality and psychology, as well as spirituality and social change – are in movement today. The trend is towards inclusion and integration, breaking down barriers between fields of knowledge and between different segments of society. But up until now there has been no physical, on-going base where these various strands of thought have been brought together and furthered into a comprehensive vision of integral spiritual practice and evolutionary social change.

To this end, we see the Shakti Centre as a chalice for transformation, creating a space for alchemy by drawing together the parts, each with their unique strengths, into a dynamic Whole. The centre will offer a physical base in which different levels of approach to consciousness transformation -- spiritual, scientific and social – can cross-fertilize and flourish into a wholistic, integrated vision and network of action for change. Such an on-going community, offering the opportunity for sustained and engaged exploration and practice, has the potential to gestate the kind of spiritual and social alchemy so critically called for today.

Combining the strengths of an ashram, research centre, healing retreat, and sacred activist model, the Shakti Centre seeks to evolve and offer paths to both inner and outer peace, and the realization of our highest potential personally, interpersonally and globally. Going beyond dogma, division, and all authoritarian forms of power or ideology, we would offer tools and support to all who come to find the core of wisdom within, and to discover and express their own unique gifts to the Whole.

The Shakti Centre in a Global Context:
Convergence Point for Emerging New Paradigm

We are not alone in this vision. The Shakti Centre sees itself as a crucible, catalyzing the convergence of several powerful trends that are already in motion. Under the pressure of growing global crises, a larger movement is unfolding in the public awareness today, rapidly gaining momentum towards a critical mass. As stated in the website of the Global Peace Initiative of Women, with whom we work in close conjunction “all have similar aims – bringing a unified, integral spiritual vision to bear on social transformation. There is a natural progression and synergy in these three trends, which follow from and build upon each other, based on three seminal ideas ripening now in the collective consciousness:

1) Interspirituality (world spirituality) That all of the world’s wisdom traditions meet in a common ground of certain universal core truths, particularly that of the interconnection and unity of all life;

2) Engaged Spirituality (sacred activism):  That this core spiritual truth needs to be applied in sacred action for social transformation, especially in the face of today’s global crises and

3) Evolutionary Spirituality (conscious co-creation):  That this integration of spirituality and social transformation, done consciously, is evolutionary – i.e., conscious evolution or co-creation. We no longer see ourselves separate from the Divine force that is shaping us but, knowing ourselves as part of it, actively co-create with it the next stage of our own and humanity’s evolution.”

At the basis of these realizations is the pivotal recognition that spirituality entails both eternal and evolving aspects. The spiritual dimension of our evolution (which re-contextualizes the purely materialistic aspects of evolution put forth in Darwinian theory) has important ramifications at the individual level; the level of spiritual traditions; and the collective evolution of society as a whole. The Shakti Centre vision addresses all of these levels, both in understanding and practice.

At the individual level, the Shakti Centre would offer an integrated approach, using integral psychological and energetic healing processes to help people bring the deepest spiritual realization of interconnection and unity into reflection at all levels of their own being. Opening up the channels of communication and congruence between the levels of our own being in turn opens channels of flow, receptivity and interconnection with the greater unified field, both of energy and consciousness. Integral psychology and integral spirituality have much to offer in this direction, and the Shakti Centre draws upon these approaches. We would also use dialogue and circles to help people share and support each other in their unfolding journey.

At the level of spiritual traditions, the Shakti Centre sees the growing movement towards interspirituality (or world spirituality) as an intrinsic part of their evolution today. As noted in the report of the GPIW Delhi Sufi-Yogi Dialogue, 2010: “Evolving a tradition, in the larger world picture today, emerges with a new meaning: it means delving deep for the core essence, joining together with other groups likewise committed to finding their common unity; and then applying it in the world in action.” The Centre would bring together the perspectives of the different traditions in a deepening exploration and interchange, distilling the universal truths at their core as a basis for world peace and transformation, and gathering the practices that lead to a direct experience of interconnection and Oneness, to apply both in practice at the centre and for intercultural healing and reconciliation. In this aim we join hands with the interspiritual and world spirituality movements.

At the level of the collective evolution of society, and the desire to bring it forward from the deepest spiritual basis, the Shakti Centre shares its primary visions and aims with the movements of engaged spirituality (or sacred activism), and evolutionary spirituality (or conscious co-creation.) What is distinct in the evolutionary approaches, building upon the integral, interspiritual and engaged approaches yet taking them a step further, is the conscious, co-creative movement into the unknown. The perspective of conscious co-creation recognizes that none of the spiritual traditions has the last word, that there is no ultimate authority outside us, but rather in our own deepening and at the same time unfolding connection with the eternal Essence of all creation, the Unified Source, the Divine.

Whether this is explained in spiritual or scientific terms, the essence is the same. Interestingly, both spiritual and scientific visions converge here. Evolution is understood as an on-going process, and at the same time one which unfolds from an eternal essence, a unified implicate order, which, as we align with it, we begin to express in our own vision and actions, merging in synergy with others tapping into the same invisible order. Thus, as we deepen into our own connection with the universal essence, we simultaneously ride out the unfolding edge of our collective evolution as humanity. This is very exciting, opening up vast new possibilities, and also critically needed today. Because the other recognition intrinsic to the evolutionary perspective is that, while we are moving into the unknown, there are also certain evolutionary patterns we can become aware of, which can shift our evolutionary trajectory from one, as Barbara Marx Hubbard says, of “evolution by chance to evolution by choice.”

Scientists have realized that evolution proceeds not in a straight, continuous line but what they call “punctuated equilibrium” – meaning phases of growing complexity in a system or species which must be met by an equal growth in connectivity and cooperation in order to jump to the next level – or else go extinct. As many have realized today, we are at a crisis point; we need to leverage this as a shift point. We need to recognize our unity with the very Source of Creation, and from our deepest connection with it, effect in ourselves and others a quantum leap to a higher order of consciousness that embraces all of our gifts in a whole-systems transformation to a world of new possibilities. The more closely we align ourselves with the Source of our own being, the Source of Creation itself, the more expansive our consciousness and our reach; we become active co-creators in the shaping of the future of humanity and the planet, active agents in the Eternal unfolding.

Each of these three vital phases in our evolution – inward, outward and onward (inner/integral, outer/engaged and evolutionary/co-creative) -- would be supported and nurtured through the Shakti Centre facilities and collaborative network.

Because we also seek to integrate feminine perspectives and wisdom, so critical to this evolutionary shift towards greater balance and unity in spirituality and society today, we’ve gathered a core group of women spiritual teachers and leaders, along with men who honor the crucial need for the feminine at this point in history. An important part of our work is to create new visions, structures and processes which actively integrate feminine voice, values and perspectives, at both the spiritual and social levels, both at the Shakti Centre itself and as a model for the larger society. We feel that as a collective, both women and men, we need to identify these values and give them top priority, bringing them into expression at the highest levels of consciousness as well as the highest levels of society.

Peace-making, caring, interconnection, communion – the qualities traditionally associated with the feminine – are needed more urgently than ever to heal our current global culture of violence, domination and destruction. Our premise is that the next step in our evolution, personally and globally, depends upon the re-integration of the highest principles of the feminine in the collective consciousness and structures of society. This necessary synthesis of the higher feminine and masculine values has profound ramifications at all levels: the spiritual, psychological, social and environmental.

Interconnectivity in Action:
Overview of Practical Structure and Activities

Interconnectivity, at all levels, is a central theme of the Shakti Centre: to reveal connections not otherwise seen, and facilitate connections between the dimensions of our own being, with others, nature and the planet, generating a global network for conscious co-creation and transformation.

Meditation and deep reflection would serve as the foundation and springboard for such transformation, inner as well as outer. In particular, forms of meditation leading to non-dual realization, expanded to embrace more feminine styles and approaches, along with supportive and integrative energy and bodywork, will be the focus of the spiritual practice, and the fulcrum for both personal healing and engaged social action.

As the inner work proceeds, we would encourage participants in the creative expression of new inspiration and insights, as well as connecting them with outer sacred activist projects and collaborative networks through which they can act in the world, bringing to fruit new visions at every level – including the social, economic, political and ecological. The work of the Shakti Centre would thus span the spectrum – and open up the connections – between the level of our deepest inner self-discovery and our active calling in the world.

At a practical level, in addition to being a sanctuary where people can come to work on their own inner spiritual and psychological process, through meditation, healing, dialogue and circles, the Shakti Centre would thus also serve as a crucible for greater social change, bringing the level of inner, individual development to bear on the outer collective. There are at least three ways in which the Shakti Centre would help effect change in the world:

n      Serving as a social model for another way of living – including new economic and ecological approaches -- based on whole-systems perspectives springing from a direct realization of interconnection and unity. In this way we would act as a microcosm, or nucleus, for changes that could then radiate out to the larger society.
n      Facilitating a program for creative expression, not only for inner development, but also as an outreach to the wider public; publicizing and broadcasting new visions through writing, music, film-making, and other media arts. Scientific and social research, as well as our own inner search, would also give impetus to the new visions emanating from the Shakti Centre.
n      Sacred activist outreach: generating a global network of associated centres, communities and sacred activist projects, both virtual and on the ground, with which we would work in active collaboration and synergy

In this way, our major areas of activity, from inwards out, include: meditation; healing; creative expression; research, dialogue and sharing circles; and sacred activism, in connection with local and global collaborative networks. A central meditation hall, healing centre, library for research and writing, and rooms for dialogue, circles, workshops and gatherings would reflect the range of our activities. Residential dormitories and a central dining room would also be on the premises. We would use sustainable architecture and grow our own permaculture gardens, with opportunities available to work in them as part of a WWOOF or work-exchange program. For some the Shakti Centre would be home; for others a place to visit, heal, meditate, share and co-create with others.

As our highest priority, we believe that spirituality is the essential basis for healing today, but not a spirituality of set forms, authoritarianism or dogma. It is not a new world religion or imposed social order that we see as needed, but a society that facilitates the deepest connection of each individual to their own creative source – the Source of all creation itself – and from that their conscious, co-creative participation in the ongoing revelation of our highest potentials and that of our universe. The deepest recognition of our unity with our Source and all of creation expands, rather than represses, our identity, our freedom, creative power, the scope of our consciousness and the field of our action. The recognition of our unity with all being opens up the limits of our perception, into the realm of our true infinite possibilities, as individuals and as part of the greater cosmic unfolding.

Combining personal and global healing, through inner communion and outer community, the Centre would attract those who seek to forge the connection, for their own sake and that of the world, between deep, inner universal non-dual spiritual realization and social transformation. Our aim is to realize true unity-in-diversity, in understanding as well as manifestation: bringing together spiritual practice and social action, diverse traditions and fields of knowledge, and feminine with masculine perspectives, in an integrated approach for evolutionary transformation at this pivotal time in history.

If you are interested in supporting or participating in this vision in any way, please contact Kavita Byrd at


Shakti Centre: Structure and Activities in Detail


     1) Simplicity and Sustainability
     2) Community
     3) Healing
     4) Self- Realization: Creating a New Integrative, Interspiritual            
     5) Peace-Building and Social Transformation
     6) Bringing More Feminine Values and Women’s Leadership into
            Spirituality and Society


The centre would be in nature, and built simply and sustainably so that all who want to can afford to come. A core staff would live in and look after the centre, with a “floating community”, some coming to volunteer in the organic gardens or work in the healing center, others doing spiritual retreat, writing or research, or attending workshops and courses. There would thus be a variety of ways one could be involved in the centre; for some it would be an-ongoing community, and a new social model, for others a venue for teaching, learning, healing or spiritual practice. Whether long-term or visitors, all would be welcome to explore new directions, make new connections, and deepen their spiritual journey in a supportive environment.

A core council, or advisory board, would guide and weave the activities of the centre into a coherent paradigm of heart-centered spiritual practice and engaged social action. One or more spiritual teachers would always be in residence, guiding the over-all activities of the centre, as well as a Sanctuary for in-depth retreat and spiritual practice, which would serve as the heart of the community. The community would also include a Healing/Counselling Centre, a Workshop Centre, a Conference Hall, and a Library, Research and Writing Centre.

Core council members, as well as friends and affiliates of the centre, would be invited to give workshops, courses, talks and retreats relevant to the centre’s themes.

Six areas of activity would emphasize different aspects of the centre’s overall vision. The work of each area would complement and feed back to the others, allowing depth in each area, and at the same time weaving together a new and evolving synthesis of approaches to consciousness transformation.

Spiritual, psychoenergetic, and socially-engaged approaches are all too often pursued in separate compartments, yet have much of enormous value to communicate to each other. We believe this type of deep but comprehensive integration of levels, generating a unified, inclusive approach to personal and global healing, is essential to meet the complex needs of these times. Both depth and breadth of vision are needed to meet today’s call for a jump to a more inclusive, wholistic, multi-intelligent consciousness.

The six areas of activity include:

1. Spirituality: Creating an interspiritual, integrative paradigm bringing in the wisdom of the feminine, and leading to the realization of interconnection and Oneness. The heart of the community would be the spiritual Sanctuary, where such a paradigm would be explored and practiced. This would involve identifying, promoting and networking innovative spiritual teachers, especially those developing integrative, healing, engaged and evolutionary approaches. Research would be done to identify such teachers; they would be invited to give retreats; and conferences would be organized to bring them together to share their insights and experience, creating a collaborative paradigm. We already have a Core Group of twenty-three such teachers, all highly esteemed in their respective traditions.

Group mediation retreats, as well as individual retreats, would be held at the Sanctuary, guided by an experienced teacher in residence.

The emphasis would be on techniques that lead to a direct inner experience of interconnection and Oneness, opening the subtle energy channels, and opening the heart, including heart-centered techniques drawn from various traditions. Retreats would also address the theme of interdependence, both in its deepest spiritual sense (dependent origination) and in its ecological and social ramifications; as well as the question of how to bring meditative and contemplative practices into effective social action. We would include practices and perspectives from the growing field of evolutionary spirituality, which draws together the levels of spirituality, science and social evolution.

2. Social Transformation: Supporting and networking with peace-making and social change organizations consciously bringing the values of interconnection and Oneness into our social, political and ecological structures. This would include sacred activist and engaged spiritual approaches from a range of traditions (Buddhist, Sufi, Christian, etc.), as well as other environmental/global activist approaches based on the principles of non-violence, interdependence, sustainability and the equitable distribution of resources within the world community. Workshops and courses would be offered on these themes. The centre itself would also serve as an experimental model for social organization based on co-creative and cooperative spiritual principles.

3. Integrating Spirituality, Psychology and Healing: In order to help clear the obstacles to both higher spiritual realization and social transformation, tools are often needed at the psychological and energetic levels, embraced within an integral vision of how consciousness evolves. Many new integral visions of worth are emerging today, but most are still lacking the full integration of feminine perspectives. To this end, we would research spiritually-based systems of psycho-energetic healing, personal transformation and consciousness evolution, both at the theoretical level and in their practical applications. This would include reviewing integral psychology, evolutionary psychology and evolutionary spirituality, and revisioning them in the light of new perspectives on the role of the feminine.

Putting this research into practice and service to the public, we would eventually establish a Healing and Counseling Centre on the premises. Here we would offer natural healing modalities plus counseling through spiritually-based and subtle energy psychologies identified or developed through our research. Classical energy-healing modalities based on the mind-body-spirit connection would be offered as well. Modalities offered could include, for example: Acupuncture, Homeopathy, Herbs, Shiatsu, Bach Flowers, Craniosacral Therapy, The Journey Work, Focusing, EMDR, EFT, Heartmath Technique, Psychosynthesis and Transpersonal Psychology

Yoga, Chi Gong, sound-healing and Yoga Nidra classes, as well as Compassionate Communication circles, would be offered as part of the regular schedule for all staying in the community.

Workshops and retreats based on modalities and techniques such as those named above would also be offered periodically to the public.

The activities of the Healing Centre would include trainings in Spiritual Counseling, as well as specialized trainings in trauma work, gender reconciliation work, and the facilitation of on-going sharing and support circles.

4. Scientific Research on Consciousness Transformation: A guiding aim of the Shakti Centre is to both research and realize the unified field of consciousness. As part of this, an on-going research unit would explore scientific studies related to subtle energy fields and the interconnected nature of consciousness: multi-level intelligence, the brain-heart connection and unity consciousness; gender and the brain; brain waves, frequency fields and non-local connections. We would also continue to identify and research new subtle-energy approaches to consciousness transformation and healing, which could then be incorporated into modalities offered at the Healing Centre, and our workshop program.

5. Creative Expression: There would be an on-going program to support each other in telling our stories, and in expressing and sharing new social visions through creative media. This would include workshops in writing, journalism, film-making, song-writing, etc. for our own personal self-exploration and creative expression as well as to bring new perspectives to the public consciousness. Such a program would serve not only for personal transformation but as a further vehicle for social outreach.

6. Bringing in the Feminine: Through retreats, workshops and research, we would integrate and express the feminine aspects of consciousness in all of the areas described above: spirituality, psychology, healing, creative expression, consciousness research, and social transformation. Spiritually, we would explore concepts of the Divine Feminine, as the All-Embracing Matrix of Consciousness, from which all is born and into which all returns. Socially, as part of a larger international network, we would work together with other organizations empowering women and social change through the feminine, including global and regional peace initiatives of women.

In addition to workshops specifically addressing women’s issues, joint workshops would be held for both men and women on gender reconciliation.Together we would investigate the ways women and men can work together to free themselves from limiting socially- and biologically-conditioned patterns, into the more expansive, unitive states of consciousness appropriate to higher human evolution. A central theme in our gender reconciliation workshops would be the re-balancing of masculine and feminine as an entryway to nondual spirituality.

The themes of all six areas will be highlighted in regularly scheduled workshops and courses with residential and guest teachers, as well as an on-going program of research, spiritual practice and sharing groups.


If you are interested in the work of the Centre, we would be grateful for your suggestions and creative input. Ideas for an international venue, funding source, or a hosting organization or community would be most welcome (venues being considered right now include India, Bali, Costa Rica, Brazil, Portugal, Italy, Greece, Spain, Australia or New Zealand, but other locations may be possible.) If you feel inspired to get involved, please contact Kavita Byrd at:

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Sacred Activists Network for a Cooperative, Sustainable Economy


Dear Friends,

I am embarking on a new project -- related to the Shakti Centre but more pointed to meet today's urgent crises -- especially climate change, widening social inequality and the need to change the global economic system behind it. It's called the Sacred Activists for a Cooperative, Sustainable Economy. Here is the plan -- let me know if you'd like to be part of this!

Global Citizens Movement Towards A World Participatory Democracy and Cooperative, Sustainable Economy

Our world is beset by crisis – climate change, other forms of massive environmental destruction and massive, growing social inequality. The time for denial and distraction is over: the time has come to act.

A global crisis demands a global call to action. “Global” means we, the people of the world – not the present globalized corporate economic system that is causing the crises – but we, the people, transforming it, to a cooperative, sustainable one, through the structures of a new participatory world democracy.

This is a call to galvanize a global citizens movement towards a world participatory democracy and cooperative, sustainable economy, based on the consciousness of interconnectedness, unity-in-diversity, equitable sharing of resources and non-violence. I will speak more specifically about possible strategies to do that, but first I would like to give a brief background of what I see as the deeper causes of the crises, and a model for how to apply the remedy – the consciousness of interconnectedness – at all levels, from our personal psyche to our social and economic systems.

1 -- The Three C’s: Connecting the Dots between Consciousness, Capitalism and Climate Change

Naomi Klein (and now the Pope!) has already clearly identified the causal link between capitalism and climate change (and in general, environmental destruction and the growing inequality that goes with it.) Here I add a third dimension to this causal chain, for it is the consciousness behind capitalism and climate change that is the deeper cause of both of these. This consciousness is a distorted one, the delusion that we are separate, and therefore must live in competition with each other, and in conflict with nature. This divisive consciousness finds its expression, par excellence, in the capitalist credo – the enshrinement of individualistic self-seeking and private self-profit, disregarding the consequences for others and nature -- the result being our twin crisis of climate change and extreme social inequity.

To reverse this vicious causal chain and replace it with a virtuous one – one that restores healthy life systems and our creative, symbiotic relationship to them – we need, then, to start with a fundamental change in consciousness. In fact, this change would restore our natural relationship with consciousness itself, which is itself the deepest source of our unity, our interconnected being. Consciousness is by its nature connective. Once we have we embraced this essential truth of our interconnectedness, with our own source, each other and nature, it is natural to base our social and economic systems on cooperation and sustainability – the outer embodiment, in our material systems, of our interconnection and unity.

Thus a new chain emerges, from a consciousness of interconnection, to cooperative and sustainable systems, to a course-correction on climate change and our crises of social inequity.

2 -- Interconnectedness: A Holarchic Model of Interconnectedness at All The Nested Levels of our Being

Einstein famously said that you can’t solve a problem from the same level of consciousness that caused it. It is obvious today that in order to solve our crises we need to come from a far more enlightened consciousness.

Enlightened consciousness – both in its most exalted and most practical sense -- is the realization of interconnectedness: that nothing exists as a separate self, but in interdependence with everything else. In fact, if you stop and think about it, you’ll realize that everything that appears to us is at its root dependent on consciousness itself; it is the “glue” – the unified field -- that connects “subject” and “object.” This means that “subject and object” are one: we as the perceiver, and everything we perceive – ourselves, others, nature, the cosmos – are not only intimately and intricately interconnected, we are actually boundlessly “One” with each other and with all that exists. (Some people call this God; but even secular science attests to this.)

Not only has this been the perception of great mystics and seers, but whole societies have been based on it. The collective insanity of extreme individualism and destructive greed we see today is neither inevitable nor natural; it has been deliberately promoted by commercial vested interests, and an economic philosophy that is wrong-headed, short-sighted and destructive. Actually, the understanding of basic interconnectedness and the need for cooperation (with each other and nature) is natural, and has been part of indigenous cultures, as well as a basic tenet of many forms of Eastern spirituality, for centuries.

The challenge today, of course, is that that needs to be applied on a global scale, and in a situation of much greater complexity. To this end we need a model, a framework, for how to translate this ancient wisdom – the knowledge of interconnectedness – to all levels of our being, transforming not only our inner psyche but our contemporary social, ecological and economic systems.

I would like to offer a simple model that could possibly serve as a nucleus for a global citizens movement towards this end. It would facilitate the expression, at all levels, of this principle of interconnectedness, which I see as fundamental to this great transition.

It starts with the recognition that we are not separate entities, but all of us are embedded in a nested series of systems. The mature, or integral, consciousness we need for our next evolutionary phase is to expand our identity from our personal sphere alone to an identification with all the wider systems of which we are a part. We are each citizens of multiple dimensions. As we mature, both personally and collectively, we come to identify ourselves not as a separate self but a seamless part of an integral, ever-evolving Whole.

We can imagine a model of the concentric spheres or systems in which each of us is embedded, and then begin to identify how a consciousness of interconnectedness would express itself in each sphere. These spheres, from inside out, would include the spiritual, energetic, psychological, ecological, economic, socio-political and planetary/cosmic.

At the deepest, spiritual level, for example, “interconnectedness” would mean the experience of unity with our spiritual Source (secular types can just skip this one, but for those who have a sense of it, this unity is also the source of our interconnectedness at all other levels, with each other, nature and cosmos… Or, in more scientific terms, it means that everything is interconnected within a greater field of consciousness – without this, nothing would appear at all!) This level, in my opinion, is in fact the most potent for both individual and social transformation, but, for the purposes of gathering a widespread global citizen’s movement in time to meet the most urgent crises, it’s not necessary that everyone relates to this innermost level.

At the energetic level, interconnectedness refers to the fact that we are all interconnected within a unified energy field, and thus every action we take (as well as any thought or emotion) invisibly affects all others. When we learn to respect and honor this, we gain enormous power to influence others and events for the good, rather than unconsciously from negative or self-serving motives. Quantum science is verifying how powerfully we affect each other, even at long distances. Deep healing can take place at this level, personally and collectively.

At the psychological level, interconnectedness would entail the capacity for empathy, to put oneself in the other’s shoes, to extend one’s consciousness beyond one’s own perspectives, feelings and belief systems, and enter into the consciousness of the other. This includes the cultivation of compassionate communication and forms of collective intelligence (Lots of work is happening in this area today!) This is also the realm of the moral and ethical call to address the crises of social inequality and injustice.

At the ecological level, interconnectedness means the interdependence and symbiosis of ecological systems, and of ourselves within them. It means that we recognize the intricate balance of the web of life, and our own participation within it. This one is probably the most obvious, the easiest to convey, and already understood by many, as climate change is driving the point irrefutably home. Ecological interconnectedness can also be easily explained in scientific terms, without any reference to spirituality or consciousness (or even morality or ethics!) It is very pragmatic, and, at this point, impossible to deny, since the consequences of violating it are staring us in the face!

At the economic level, ideally our economic system would follow the contours of our ecological system, replicating its patterns and respecting its boundaries. It would replicate the reciprocal cycles in nature with it own patterns of cooperation, sustainability and reciprocity. Models of ecological economics, steady-state economics, non-growth, solidarity and resource-sharing economies, all give us clues to the features of a new economy based on interconnectedness. This realm is essential to address, because everything in our cultures is dependent on our economic structures.

At the sociopolitical level, working in tandem with these cooperative economic structures, the principle of interconnectedness would be expressed through collaborative and participatory democratic processes, from local-scale to global. This might eventuate in something like a world-wide participatory democracy, mediated by the Internet, one of the possible outcomes of the global citizens movement which we have been discussing. At the global level, certain structures for global governance would need to be agreed on, essentially to protect the principles of cooperation and sustainability, for the benefit of all. They would not supersede or conflict with, but rather ensure local sufficiency, as well as local creativity, and fair reciprocity between regions.

The planetary-cosmic level is the one that provides an over-arching perspective of who we are and what we are doing, of our place in the universe. It places us in the greatest context of the “Universe Story”, embracing both the eternal, universal, and the evolutionary dimensions of our being. It both imbues life with greater meaning and restores our sense of wonder at the sacredness of its ever-unfolding mystery. It gives us the energy and inspiration to serve this greater unfolding.

This is just a brief synopsis, of course, of what a healthy expression of interconnectedness would look like at each of these nested levels of our being. Much more could be said. But the basic point is that, by embodying an appropriate expression of interconnectedness at each of these levels, a systemic synergy would be created, forwarding ancient wisdom into contemporary, evolving complex systems.

When this holarchy of nested systems is balanced and healthy, the spirit of interconnection and unity permeates all the subsequent, increasingly complex dimensions emanating out of its core. Where it is violated or ignored, as in the disjunction between the natural expression of interconnectedness at the ecological level, and the rapacious, self-serving violence which our present economic system inflicts on it, that power of interconnectedness surfaces, erupts – as in climate change today – to course-correct and restore balance.

This is why the restoration of the principle of interconnectedness, as the guiding ethos of our culture, is so crucial for the next stage of our evolution. In this holarchic model, everyone has their place; there is no hierarchy by which the post-industrial Northern, Western cultures are taken as the most advanced, the ones to lead the way (an assumption many from these cultures, however well-meaning, still implicitly make.) In fact, those cultures that have preserved the ancient wisdom of interconnection and unity, and how to live in harmony with each other and nature, should have a central position (as, I believe, should the interconnective values of the feminine, which have also been so long repressed.)

At the same time, because we now need to apply those values to highly complex, global systems, all sectors and strata of society have an important place in this – the scientists, ecologists, systems-thinkers, economic visionaries, permaculturalists, political activists, etc., from North as well as South, combining their skills in the context of a holistic, integral vision, guided by the core consciousness of interconnection and unity, to effect this great transition.

What is important is to gather all these different sectors around this central, holarchic vision of interconnectedness, by which everyone can see the bigger context of how their various, respective roles fit together and contribute to the Whole. Each individual or sector can then focus in on the level of work most suited to their skills, talents and interests, yet never losing sight of the Whole, and how the different sectors and roles complement and enrich (rather than contradict or exclude) each other.

3 -- Global Citizens Movement Towards a Cooperative, Sustainable Economy and World Participatory Democracy

Our aim, as stated earlier, is to galvanize a global citizens movement towards a world participatory democracy and cooperative, sustainable economy, based on the consciousness of interconnectedness, unity-in-diversity, equitable sharing of resources and non-violence. Global structures would be developed in line with these universal principles; at the same time they would ensure the protection of local resiliency and creativity, assuring that no harm, violence or exploitation occurs between any one region or sector and another; nor any activities incurring environmental destruction.

At all scales, local to global, decisions would be made by the people, for the people, the Earth and future generations. It would be based on the understanding that what is best for the Earth, her interdependent life-forms and future generations, is also what’s best for us now.

There would be a short, pointed manifesto stating these aims, and made to go viral on the Internet. Signatures would be gathered on-line of people demanding this transformation, declaring themselves citizens of the Earth and global citizens of this emerging world vision, backed by powerful leaders. There could be a world-wide one-day strike and other forms of ongoing mass demonstration to bring the movement visibly to the public attention, as well as to that of the powers-that-be, and continue to gather momentum and traction, in the real world of action as well as the virtual one.

Meanwhile, behind the short manifesto would be a holarchic model (as outlined above) based on the expression and embodiment of the key principle of interconnectedness at all the nested levels of our being – spiritual, energetic, psychological, ecological, economic, socio-political, and planetary/cosmic. People could see where they fit into this larger picture, and direct their energies, talents and skills to the sphere that attracts them most, working in co-creative synergy. An interactive website would map and track the activities in the different areas, facilitating coordination and collaboration between them. This would also serve as a developing prototype of a digital platform for world participatory democracy.

4 -- The Two Biggest Obstacles to Action; And How We Can Break Through Them

Two barriers we have to overcome are first, the inertia, apathy and hopelessness that anything can be changed, the epidemic of “impotence” in the face of entrenched powers; and, conversely, the fear of any alternative, cooperative economic system being authoritarian, stripping away our freedoms (which is in fact exactly what the present system is doing!) People have to understand that a cooperative economy is an expression of people’s power, unlike the present travesty of democracy, where decisions are made by ruling corporate elites, who would indeed have us powerless.

Because our crises are global, we do need a form a global governance to remedy their causes and ensure that they do not recur. But this governance need not be dictatorial or authoritarian – rather, the very point is that it would cooperative and democratic, under the people’s control, for the benefit of the people and the natural world we are part of. Systems do not have to be based on top-down power and control; they can be based on collaborative, co-creative synergy, “power-with” rather than “power-over”; with basic cooperative values in place, as well as checks and balances, to ensure that no one dominant group takes over.

One might ask, but when has such a system ever existed? And that’s the whole point -- the emergence of such a system is the next stage of humanity’s evolution. And this is by necessity – for there’s no other direction to go but down. Crisis demands evolution, a jump to a whole new order. There are plenty of precedents in the past, of how necessity has compelled people to take courage in hand and jump into a whole new future. At such revolutionary turning points, people take power back into their hands. They set new norms for society, instead of passively submitting to the ones that have been forced upon them.

Another obstacle that, ironically, paralyzes many from action is the desire to control, and the unwillingness to step forward without having the “whole plan” in advance. No one of course has the whole answer in advance, but by coming together and sparking in each other new hope and new possibilities, a new evolving future emerges, greater than the sum of its parts, unleashing potentials we couldn’t have even imagined. We cannot afford to be afraid of the unknown, but trust that by stepping forward, step by step, its hidden, implicate order will unfold. The unknown can actually work to our advantage, if we are open and let it deliver its gifts.

This means, while we need a framework in which to work together, we need to always leave space for creativity and emergence. The model I have offered here is not meant to be air-tight – it is meant to breathe, at all scales. We warmly invite the participation of all who resonate with this vision to join us, to contribute their creative gifts, and help transform our world from one of competition and conflict to cooperation, connectedness, and the flourishing of the Whole. We are all in this together.

                                Kavita Byrd
                                Sacred Activists for a Cooperative, Sustainable Economy