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.
3. Integration, 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Shakti Centre: Structure and Activities in Detail
1) Simplicity and Sustainability
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: email@example.com.