Steve Nation: The Will Is Emerging As A Universal Force

Steve Nation, a writer and speaker on meditation and global issues, observes a high-level pattern arising in world happenings: the emergence of the will as a potent force. It is arising between the wholeness vision (or what this blog calls the “Integral” vision) and oursleves, he writes, in our lives, in our communities, and throughout the world.

The will is a quality of consciousness that is taking on a decidedly new direction. Nation writes:

In the past, the will was often understood in terms of ‘thou shalt not’ and of power over others—maintaining a stiff upper lip in the face of difficulties and repressing anything unpleasant or not understood. We know that repression doesn’t work and that trying to battle on without addressing issues as they arise or without ever questioning what we are doing simply sets up new problems for the future. More often than not, problems and issues are a sign of something needing to be addressed—something that is out of alignment. The deeper will is concerned with purpose and with understanding the role that purpose can play in crafting a fulfilling and meaningful life. It is about fostering a sense of direction and nurturing a realistic sense of future possibilities. ‘Thou shalt’ replaces ‘Thou shalt not.’

In a sense, the will is all about the way in which we as individuals and groups respond to our perception of human need and to our sense of the future. As problems arise in our communities and in the world as a whole, they provide an opportunity to heal, transform, and redeem ancient patterns of separation. As such, the problems can be embraced. In learning about a particular social problem, we can train ourselves to recognize the forces that are causing the problem (forces in the human psyche reflected in economic, social, and cultural dynamics) while at the same time looking for the individuals and groups that are responding to these forces in a meaningful way—using the problem to break through ancient thought forms of division and to nurture love and goodwill in the community, and to empower disadvantaged groups and individuals with a sense of their own dignity and possibilities as human beings.

In the process of responding to the problems of our time something wonderful is happening to human beings. The quality of will is being mobilized as never before. It is happening at the local level in every community on the planet, just as it is happening regionally, nationally, and globally. There is today a vast network of groups of citizens that are applying the will to transform the quality of human relationships. Think of the vitality and purpose of the movement, or of the mindfulness networks that are emerging in health, healing, and education around the world. Think of the One Campaign fighting extreme poverty with almost 6 million global members. Think of the activities of countless Amnesty International groups throughout the world, or of the countless actions by concerned citizens on the International Day of Peace every September 21st. These are just the tip of the iceberg — we are living at a time when people of concern are becoming willfully engaged in diverse ways to transform the quality of relationships on earth.

There have always been periods in history when forces of goodwill coalesce with an unusual degree of singleminded purpose and focus. In the US for example, there was an extraordinary period during the height of the civil rights struggle when a culture of hatred, lawlessness, and violence was confronted by countless acts of individual and group courage. The anti-apartheid movement (within South Africa and around the world) saw a similar concentration of will. What is different about the will that is emerging today is that it is emerging as a universal force. Millions of people feel themselves to be a part of the One Humanity and the One Earth and feel a measure of personal responsibility and engagement in building a culture and civilization that reflects this new awareness. The good will is arising amongst individuals across the face of the globe, just as it is arising in groups and movements in every field of activity. There is an awareness of a common purpose that links community development groups with human rights groups, those working for the empowerment of women with groups targeting the need for nutritious food, and the massive global movement calling for new economic and political structures in response to the challenges of climate change. We are witnessing a quiet and steady mobilization of the will in human affairs.

Read the whole article in Kosmos Journal.

Continue reading “Steve Nation: The Will Is Emerging As A Universal Force”

What Would Jeremiah Do?


Featured today on BeliefNet is “Jeremiah: The Fate of a Prophet”, an excerpt from a book by Rabbi Dr. Binyamin Lau. Writing about Jeremiah, Lau says:

The words of the prophets have been preserved for us, their distant descendants, so that we may learn what is right in the eyes of God and man. But in their own days, in real time, there is hardly a prophet who has redressed the social, religious, or political wrongs of Israel; the prophets barked, but the caravan kept moving. Moreover, when a prophet dared to deviate from his usual message of morality and challenged the existing order, he was declared an enemy of the people. Thus, the prophet Amos was banished by the priest of Bethel, Amaziah, in the name of King Jeroboam: “Get thee out, seer!” (Amos 7:12).

Rabbi Lau encourages public critics today to see themselves not merely as commentators but as prophetic voices, even if it means paying a personal price for the vision. Jeremiah was one prophet who did, one about whom it could not be said that he told the people what they wanted to hear.

I’m not comparing myself to Jeremiah, but it is no revelation to my readers that I have been guided by angels and have taken the name (at least in spiritual matters not yet as a day-to-day appellation) Kalen O’Tolán, One Who is Buddha, Boson, and Book. I am a self-declared and Self-declared Prophet of God. And I have suffered the indignity of a few strange eye rolls from onlookers who heard me say that in person! Because that is just the sort of thing people today don’t want to hear and don’t expect to hear, not even from an Integral world spirituality blogger. Trust me the strange eye rolls weren’t all that bad.

We live a strange world. It is scandalous for a religion blogger to proclaim He is a Prophet of God, for surely that is a sign of insanity or at least mental instability. But in the world which I inhabit (I just call it reality), it is scandalous for a religion blogger to NOT be a prophet of the Sacred speaking out loud. What sort of insanity would it be to set one’s self on a soap box called a blog, write about the word of God, and yet to believe that one is NOT one’s self the Self speaking through the divine instrument?

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Strategies for engaging religious traditionalists

Here’s an expanded version of a comment that I made from my post earlier on Rising Up:

Kai and landon: I don’t want to give anyone the impression that I don’t take religious conservatives seriously. I spent a significant amount of my time browsing traditionalist weblogs, trolling comment boxes, and even occasionally reading conservative-penned essays and books. Trust me, it’s not fun. In fact, even after a couple of years of doing so regularly, I still find it emotionally stressful. I have learned (and continue to learn) about communicating with these religious traditionalists, and one of my own lessons learned is that less is more. I think others’ mileage may vary. It’s entirely possible that some people just have a knack for that sort of dialogue that I don’t have. If I can avoid direct confrontations that are unlikely to have any sort of impact, I will do so. In real life, the same.

It’s true that religious conservatives (to oversimplify in a convenient way, blue) can do much harm in the world, but the traditions they carry have a lot of worth. When I engage them, it’s not that I speak over their heads to religious liberals (green), as some people might have thought based on my last post on this subject. What does it mean to speak to an intended audience of green or higher while actually speaking to blue? One way is to cast an appropriate message to blue like so: “Your level of belief is part of a developmental spectrum, and there are higher levels where the people who disagree with you reside. Consider moving up when you’re ready. Here’s how to begin.” Not the answer you expected, huh? It’s speaking true to the unique qualities of the integral framework. Only an integralist would bring up a developmental worldview to a fundamentalist, so it’s really the message that’s most important for them to hear. However, blue is impervious to its effects (I know, I’ve tried!) Predictably, blue gets self-righteous or mad (nobody’s ego likes being told they’re not the top of the totem pole, even if they don’t believe there is a totem pole). Even as I engage blue, I try to keep green and orange in the back of my mind, because as I speak to blue, I am simultaneously sending messages to orange and green that must be, at worst, neutral. Orange and green may say something like this: Joe rejects blue, and thinks my (orange or green) views are higher and more evolved. So far so good. Hmmm… but he probably thinks his views are higher than mine. Their response: neutral, but not necessarily put off. They may not think a developmental perspective has been rationally proven (orange) or that hierarchical thinking is inherently sexist and cultural biased (green), but at least they are able to see something to agree with in my harsh “rejection” of blue. (Actually, I haven’t “rejected” blue, only transcended and included it, but this distinction would be lost on orange and green.) See?

To go a step further, integral is not only about articulating a developmental view when engaging religious traditionalists, it’s also about seeing the need for multiple and conflicting responses, and striving to make those responses work better together. There’s blue’s response to blue: “Yes, the Bible is the infallible Word of God, but ou’re wrong about the specific passage of the Bible that is most appropriate here, or the specific interpretation of what’s orthodox dogma.” (Or, of course: “You’re wrong about your religion! It’s Muhammad, not Christ!”) And then there’s orange: “You’re wrong about God being a supernatural being external to nature. God is a process within nature, and therefore could not have handed down the texts of your sacred tradition.” (Or, of course, “There is no God. Be reasonable, don’t be soft headed.”) And green: “You need to consider the social, cultural, and historical contexts of the time in interpreting the Bible, and along with this, taking into account from the historical-critical method, feminism, and other hermeneutics of suspicion.” Blue, orange, green, and yellow, different groups working together, and giving different (and conflicting) messages that are all working together to counter bad blue. That’s how it fits together.

As an integral writer, there are some contexts when I may attempt to give a full range of perspectives from good blue to orange to green to yellow. But rarely does anyone have the time. Nor is it usually an especially useful technique. I only have the time and energy to deliver a short message, I would choose to go with a message that evangelizes a bit for a yellow worldview (and I use the word “worldview” intentionally, as that is how yellow will look to blue, orange, and green). Picture “Your views are at the relatively low mythic level of a developmental model of reality,” but either made nice or perhaps a little harsh depending on the context.) It’s not an argument that blue is wrong. It’s not questioning blue’s motivations or overall personality structure (it’s a claim about their expressed views, nothing more). It’s an invitation for blue to consider a worldview that is different than their own. It’s also frustratingly difficult for them to answer; it’s easier for them to mock it or attack the motives of those who espouse it. In short, it is unlikely to change minds. But I don’t consider it my task to try to make arguments with blue from a good blue, orange, or green perspective. What I can do if I see those arguments being made is support them. I can chime in to a comment box with a simple message, “I agree with Professor Orange on evolution.” If somebody who’s good blue is criticizing bad blue, I can support good blue by reinforcing their argument waged at that level. But it’s somebody at blue who’s really in the best place to talk to blue on terms that are likely to produce helpful and constructive change. When a fundamentalist criticizes another fundamentalist and wins on that level, change happens fast. (I see this all the time in orthodox Roman Catholic circles, when traditionalists who will automatically tune out anyone who’s gay will listen to doctrinally orthodox ex-gays (persons living with what they call “same sex attraction disorder”), even if the ex-gays are challenging their own heterosexist beliefs. See my earlier post on the subject.)

Arguments between liberal (green) and conservative (blue) religionists, in my opinion, aren’t going to be successful, if you judge success by conversion of mind. If I enter them at all as a participant, I will tend to side with the liberals half the time and the conservatives the other half. (“Jesus was more than a good moral teacher, he was also Divine.” But: “Jesus’s Divinity is not of the sort that is uniquely available only to one person in all history, it’s available to us all.”) I think that builds trust and mistrust with both sides in equal respects.