The Shakti Centre
For Integrated Spiritual and Social Transformation
Looking for a way forward to create a new world? Come join us and help co-create the Shakti Centre!
"The Shakti Centre is a vision for a living community bringing together spirituality, social transformation and the wisdom of the feminine. Our major areas of activity would include: meditation; healing; creative expression; research, dialogue and sharing circles; and sacred activism, in connection with local and global collaborative networks. For some the Shakti Centre would be home; for others a place to visit, heal, meditate, and share inspiration. Combining personal and global healing, through inner communion and outer community, it would gather those who seek to forge the connection between deep, inner universal non-dual spiritual realization and outer transformation, to a world based on interconnection and caring, for each other and the whole web of life on Earth."
In ancient Indian mythology, it is Shakti, the power of the feminine, that transforms and saves the world at a time of great danger and crisis. The Shakti Centre is a vision for a living and learning community restoring the values of the feminine -- the highest spiritual wisdom of our interconnection with each other, nature and our own Source -- to transform our present ecological, economic and cultural crises into opportunities for awakening, a collective shift in consciousness and how we live on this Earth.
The Shakti Centre would serve as spiritual sanctuary and international center for research, healing, creative expression and social change, helping to bring the wisdom of the feminine into spirituality and society. Our vision is to create an interspiritual, sacred activist paradigm that at the same time embraces the values of the feminine so needed to bring balance into the collective consciousness, as a vital basis for world peace, social justice, economic transformation and ecological restoration.
This is an exciting vision, one whose time many feel has come. We see ourselves as part of a larger, urgent movement in consciousness today to go beyond religious and political divisions, and foster in their place the spirit of interconnection and Oneness, as both inner experience and in its outer social expression. Many today are seeking the essence of unity, in the human heart and our global society, so vitally needed to heal ourselves and our fragmented world. They seek a true spiritual centre, both within and without, encouraging interconnection, co-creativity, integration and Wholeness. Yet there are few places today where people can actually go to help create this new paradigm, free from dogma, division and patriarchal structures of power.
Our aim is to create such a place. The vision, in its fullest scope, would embrace a whole-systems transformation, of spirituality, psyche and society. This entails transformation at: 1) the consciousness-level; 2) the level of psychological well-being and life-purpose; and 3) the social systems level, including our ecological and economic approaches at individual, community, national and global scales.
The Shakti Centre would offer a generative space for an integrated paradigm of spiritual and social transformation highlighting the following aspects:
1. Interspirituality: 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. We would also identify those values that are most relevant to transforming today’s crises, and encourage different spiritual groups to come together around those values.
Whatever differences there may be in spiritual ideology, there is also a certain common ground amongst the different religions and spiritual approaches: an affirmation of the sacredness of all life; mercy and compassion; equity and fairness; a sense of interconnectedness, and being part of something bigger than oneself alone. Each of these naturally translate into ecological approaches that are sustainable and respect all life, and economic systems based on interdependence, cooperation, sharing and service to others. These values serve as a strong common ground on which we can come together, and from which we can act in movements of solidarity.
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 would be left aside 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. Forms of meditation leading to non-dual realization, often 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.
3. Integration: A Holistic, Systemic Approach to Inner and Outer Healing -- A holistic, whole-systems vision combining inner and outer transformation. Integrating personal, holistic transformation at the inner spiritual, energetic and psychological levels with outer, systemic transformation at the social, political and ecological levels.
At the Shakti Centre, we take a holistic, systemic approach to healing and transformation that integrates inner and outer, the personal and the global. We believe that consciousness-change and systems-change need to go hand-in-hand, that each supports and enhances the other. To this end, we bring together spiritual realization, personal healing and global change by addressing all the levels of our being in a holistic, systemic way: the inner levels of consciousness, energy and psyche and the outer social, ecological, economic and governance levels.
We know that the key to all healing is the consciousness at our core. All healing aims to bring us from a divisive consciousness to a unitive, interconnective one. If we are coming from a divisive, dualistic consciousness, we will be fragmented and unhealthy at all levels, personal and social; if we are coming from a unitive, interconnective one, all levels of our being will heal, flourish and transform.
a) Inner: Holistic Psycho-Spiritual and Energetic Healing
The Shakti Centre would offer holistic psychological and energetic healing processes to help us bring the deepest spiritual realization of interconnection and unity into reflection and congruence at all levels of our being. Opening up the channels of flow between the levels of our being in turn opens channels of flow with the greater unified field, both of energy and consciousness, empowering us to receive inspiration and guidance for our own unique role in today’s great evolutionary transition. A vital part of this process is moving from “me-consciousness “to “We-Consciousness”, the basis for new, co-creative forms of communion, communication and collaboration with each other, nature and our own deepest source of wisdom.
b) Outer: Sacred Activism or Engaged Spirituality
Building on the inner work, we would explore and articulate visions for new directions in society, and generate collaborative actions to put those visions in practice. We call this “Sacred Activism”, because it bridges the gap between spirituality and social change, and reflects the recognition that the transformation of consciousness and the transformation of our social systems mutually call forth each other. There would be direct outreach and collaboration with social and environmental activist groups working in the areas of climate change action and other forms of ecological restoration; solidarity economy; social justice; and network-building for a “movement of movements” towards a sustainable, equitable and cooperative global society.
At the Shakti Centre, we recognize that we are multi-dimensional beings, existing on a spectrum from the innermost, unseen to the outer manifest levels. We seek to bring these dimensions into congruence, communication and flow, to lift the veil between spirit and matter and heal ourselves and our world.
4. A New Evolutionary Story: Going beyond the split between the old spiritual paradigms of renunciation and transcendence, on the one hand, and untrammeled materialistic consumerism on the other, a new emerging vision of evolutionary spirituality is healing the rift between spirit and matter that has brought us to the brink of self-destruction today. A new holistic cosmo-vision recognizing the oneness of consciousness, energy and matter re-sacralizes our connection with each other, the natural systems that sustain us, and the cosmic intelligence that informs all life, uniting us with the whole of creation. We come to see ourselves as part of an evolving universe story, sacred participants in a co-creative universe. The Shakti Centre sees itself as a crucible for this new paradigm – aligned with indigenous and mystic traditions as well as modern quantum physics.
As we have seen, the Shakti Centre would serve as a point of convergence for several powerful trends emerging today in the collective consciousness: interspirituality (world spirituality), integral spirituality (holistic psychospiritual integration) and engaged spirituality (sacred activism). All have similar aims – bringing a unified, integral spiritual vision to bear on social transformation. Evolutionary spirituality builds upon these and takes them even further. The Shakti Centre aligns itself with these movements, and recognizes their synergistic connections.
Interspirituality means 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. Engaged Spirituality means that this core spiritual truth needs to be applied in sacred action for social transformation, especially in the face of today’s global crises. Evolutionary Spirituality means that both this integration of spirituality and social transformation, done consciously, are 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.
The Shakti Centre is based upon a vision of evolutionary spirituality, or conscious co-creation. Building upon interspiritual, integral and engaged approaches yet taking them a step further, an evolutionary approach involves the conscious, co-creative movement into the unknown. The perspective of conscious co-creation recognizes that none of the spiritual traditions has the final word; that there is no ultimate authority outside us, but rather in our own ever-unfolding, dynamic connection with the eternal Essence of all creation, our sacred, Unified Source.
At the core of these realizations is the pivotal recognition that spirituality entails both eternal and evolving aspects. Can we be at home in the mystery, open conduits to its unfolding? We believe it is through this surrender, this deepest attunement to the eternal and its impulse of evolution within us, that the deepest transformation can take place.
5. Bringing in the values of the feminine: Helping to instill the feminine qualities of interconnection, empathy, communion and community into spirituality and society today. Promoting women spiritual teachers and social leaders bringing in integrative and innovative approaches, and working together with men who recognize and support the importance of bringing greater balance into the collective consciousness.
Many are recognizing the importance of women’s empowerment and leadership today, and seeking to support it. Women indeed have a special role in the global transformation to a new cooperative, sustainable society taking place at this time. This role has not been fully understood, however, as some women are returning to traditional women’s roles, and others see their “liberation” as entering into the ranks of the present hyper-materialist, male-dominated power structures. True women’s empowerment is not about breaking through old ceilings in the old patriarchal paradigm, but breaking through into leadership for a whole new social paradigm, based on spiritual values, with leadership styles and structures incorporating the interconnected, cooperative ethic of the feminine.
When women come together around a coherent vision for whole-systems change towards a cooperative, sustainable society, they achieve simultaneously both the highest aims of women’s empowerment and the essential social and ecological transformation we need to survive as humanity. It is time for women to lead the way in envisioning, conveying and then co-creating with men a vision for deep-seated systems-change that embodies the feminine values of interdependence, inclusiveness, cooperation and caring. This is true women’s empowerment, not simply empowering women to climb the ranks of the old, unsustainable, collapsing male power structures, but to bring in new systems that shift from power-over to power-with, for the benefit of all humanity and the whole web of life on Earth.
It is up to women to lead the change from the current paradigm of domination/submission, where those at the top dominate, aggress and exploit both others and nature, to one of co-creation, where all work together in mutual respect, reverence and communion, with each other and nature, for the good of the whole. In this way women can uplift not only their own position but the entire condition of humanity and the planet at this critical time.
Peace-making, caring, connection and 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. We need to shift from a society based on division and competition to one of cooperation and caring. The essence of the feminine is this sense of interconnectedness, the recognition that the other – be it another human being, of whatever gender or race, as well as the whole web of natural life – is not, and cannot ever be, separate from oneself. This realization gives rise to a whole other set of values, which would naturally express themselves in systems very different from the present ones: systems based on community, resource-sharing, equality, participatory governance, sustainable energies, solidarity economy. Interconnectedness and interdependence, experienced at the consciousness level, would naturally express itself as cooperative, sustainable systems at the outer levels.
Our premise is that transformation, personally and globally, depends upon the re-integration of the highest principles of the feminine in the collective consciousness and structures of society. These qualities, we strongly believe, though they have been historically relegated almost exclusively 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.
The time is ripe for an on-the-ground, living center of research and practice where these themes can be explored in depth and acted upon in a sustained way. As far as we know, no such residential community, providing an on-going forum on these issues, exists – yet the need for one is obvious, as well as inspiring and exciting.
Many fertile movements of new thought and consciousness transformation are in the air today – not only the inclusion of the wisdom of the feminine, but movements towards interspirituality, movements integrating spirituality and psychology, spirituality and science, as well as spirituality and social change. The trend is towards inclusion and integration, breaking down barriers between fields of knowledge as well as between different segments of society. But up until now there has been no physical, on-going base where these various strands have been brought together into a comprehensive vision of spiritual practice, healing and whole-systems global change.
To this end, we see the Shakti Centre as a chalice for transformation, creating a space for alchemy by drawing together these cutting-edge movements, 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, ecological and social – can cross-fertilize and flourish into a holistic, 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, and at the same time help generate a new social model in practice.
Combining the strengths of an ashram, academy, holistic retreat, and activist center, 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.
1) Simplicity and Sustainability
4) Self-Realization: Creating a New Integrative, Interspiritual
5) Social, Ecological and Economic 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 can afford to come. There would be a meditation hall, organic gardens, workshop spaces, retreat huts, a library and healing/counseling centre. A core staff would live in and look after the centre, with a “floating community”, some coming to volunteer in the kitchen, 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, for others a venue for teaching, learning, healing or spiritual practice. Whether long-term or visitors, all would be welcome to deepen their spiritual journey, make new connections, explore new directions, and find their unique contribution to this great transition of which we are all a part. Both women and men are most welcome to come.
Because we are all one – interconnected at every level of our being, seen and unseen – we suffer when we live in systems based on separation, which is its very antithesis. To go the root of our global crises is to go to the very root of that sense of separation, and reverse it. Shakti is the power of interconnection, and the Shakti Centre would be a place to come home to that power: the power to come together, to see our self in the other, and to co-create a caring, life-affirming system of unity-in-diversity that serves each of us and all life.
If you are interested in this vision and would like to help co-create it, please contact Kavita Byrd at firstname.lastname@example.org. More about the vision behind the Shakti Centre can be found in Kavita’s latest book, “Quantum Co-Creative Revolution: We Are All In This Together”, available in Kindle form on Amazon.com.