The Golden Room, A Golden Civilization: Saving the World Step Four

photograph by Lesley Wellman

It takes a complex set of tools and practices to make a simple basket, moving from log to woven splints to its bent and polished handle.  Every tool in this workshop has been carefully chosen by the master craftsman.  He requires that it be powered by the human body, be beautiful as well as effective, and be proven by traditional use to do the job required.  The integrity of every detail of the process and the practiced skill working with these tools are reasons why you can find this basketmaker’s work in the Smithsonian. The timeless beauty and ethic of care are why you can find people walking through his workshop with a look of joyous wonder on their faces.  Watching him work inspires creativity and hope.  A magical inner transformation takes place. George Kinder writes, “If you want a golden civilization, you must start with what is golden inside of you. If you want a civilization that will thrive for a thousand years, you must start with what is timeless inside of you.”  The workshop of Golden Room and Golden Civilization needs to be like this workshop of golden baskets.  We need to have the same kind of integrity and beauty in our process in order to work the same kind of magical transformation.

The Golden Room, A Golden Civilization: Four Steps toward Saving the World

Here is the outline of this series of related posts:

Step Four:

The premise of this series is laid out in Step One, expressed through the words of many leaders confronting a range of issues that threaten our civilization and life on earth.  Here is another voice that sums up their consensus: Vaclav Havel said, “Without a revolution in the sphere of human consciousness, nothing is going to change for the better.”

If all these voices are saying that we cannot make the progress we need to save the world and transform human civilization until we have a new consciousness, then doesn’t it make sense that we all focus in a serious, smart and expeditious way on attaining that consciousness?  No one is at too high a level today—we all could help the world by maturing further.

Steps Two and Three have talked about what would be needed to move the necessary percentage of the population to this new consciousness, and how we could get there.  Step Four completes the series by suggesting tools that can “facilitate the process of inner transformation,” in Thomas Keating’s words.

The tools and practices listed below vary in how much they require of us in order to be effective.  Some take an investment of time, energy or money initially and then become incorporated into our daily lives with minimal additional exertion.

They all require a degree of commitment and discipline.  This is a movement.  Movements for social change require only small groups of citizens to change the world, but they need to be committed citizens.  There is no getting around that.  We see that this work is needed.  We could be one of the ones to do it.  The choice is forced upon us.  We each need to decide to be part of the solution or not.

Below are some of the tools and practices that can help raise us to the new consciousness, higher developmental stage and deeper spiritual state the world needs.  

  1. Serve the Suffering, Work for Change Put yourself in a position to get to know and work beside someone who is suffering from one of the threats that we must solve in order to save our society and world, whether oppression or environmental devastation or violence or inequity or any other injustice or assault.  Or pour yourself passionately into making systemic changes in one of those areas.  A wise Buddhist teacher once said that a soldier on a mission behind enemy lines gains more depth of awareness and mindfulness than a monk on a three-month silent retreat.  The fastest way to a new level of consciousness is to put your life on the line in solidarity with those who are suffering.  For those of you who are already doing this, the following tools can help you move to yet higher and deeper levels that can make your work more intuitive, creative and far reaching in its effect.
  2. Contemplative Tools and Practices  Meditation, mindfulness, Centering Prayer, heartfulness… Training in some form of silent contemplation is essential to speed our inner growth and open ourselves to insights that could lead to the breakthroughs the world needs.  The best way to learn the tools and develop this practice is to find a teacher or a group and become a regular participant.  Ideally it would be in a tradition that you are familiar with or grew up in so you know the context and symbolic meanings, whether secular or religious.  Religious contemplative traditions have wisdom and innovations evolved over hundreds if not thousands of years, and they address the spiritual dimension, a powerful inner resource.  The Buddhist, Hindu, Taoist, Sufi and secular paths are better known than the Christian contemplative tradition which was a secret that started to be whispered again in the 1960s and 70s for the first time in centuries.  Since then it has taken off and is flourishing as never before.  See Thomas Keating’s Open Mind, Open Heart and Cynthia Bourgeault’s Centering Prayer and Inner Awakening.  For a secular approach from a Buddhist teacher, see George Kinder’s Transforming Suffering into Wisdom: Mindfulness and the Art of Inner Listening.  Perhaps the best known teacher of mindfulness today is Jon Kabat-Zinn.  See his book Mindfulness for Beginners.
  3. Life Planning You can read about Life Planning’s transforming set of tools and practices in Step Three, Part C-2.  They help us not only grow to greater consciousness, but also find the deepest calling in our heart’s core which almost always involves contributing our unique gifts to the benefit of the world around us, whether with our family and friends or through a wider creative or entrepreneurial project.  The most effective way to incorporate Life Planning into your life is to work with a Registered Life Planner.  You can also do it yourself with the help of the Life Planning for You book and free, comprehensive website.
  4. Learn about Developmental Stages and Spiritual States  You can begin learning about Developmental Stages by reading Step 3, Part C-1 in this series.   Step 3, Part C-2 talks more about the contribution Ken Wilber has made to understanding the path of developmental growth and spiritual deepening and the urgent necessity that we develop a new consciousness today.  Wilber calls it “psychoactive” just to learn about these proven possibilities of attaining a new consciousness.
  5. Shadow Work  The wisdom of the ages warns us that setting out to grow has its dangers.  Elitism and pride are common pitfalls along the path up the developmental mountain, even though we cannot make ourselves grow, all we can do is facilitate the process.  Also, making growth the ultimate goal can actually block us—love and service to others and reducing the ego to “zero,” as Gandhi put it, need to be our goals.  Ken Wilber’s book The Religion of Tomorrow devotes over two hundred pages to the ways we can go wrong as we move from one developmental stage or spiritual state to the next.  He points out that the more we progress, the greater negative impact our dysfunctions can have.  For these reasons it is essential that we do some form of shadow work, actively exploring and reintegrating in a healthy way the old wounds, aversions or attachments that could be either holding us back from growth or bringing forward a flaw that could undermine the good we aspire to do.  Step 3, Part C-2 talks about George Kinder’s 7 Stages that help us bring old beliefs and world views from childhood out of our shadows and free ourselves from them.  Ken Wilber and the Integral Institute developed the 3-2-1 Shadow Process that is designed to be a daily practice for uncovering and healing the shadow issues that are hurting us.  Jungian therapy also can help, and Thomas Keating discovered that one of the most powerful results of a consistent Centering Prayer practice is “the unloading of the unconscious,” the natural release of shadow material and consequent healing and transformation. The experience of working with our own shadow increases our humility and compassion, and helps us serve as models and guides for others. It is essential we do shadow work, whatever process we use, if we want to be part of the new consciousness that the world needs.
  6. Anguish for Our World, Scientific Breakthroughs, and Ancestral Teachings  That phrase represents three more ways in which we can nurture a new consciousness.  It comes from Joanna Macy and Molly Young Brown’s book, Coming Back to Life: The Updated Guide to the Work that ReconnectsHere is what they say about it as quoted by Richard Rohr in his daily meditation on March 14, 2018: “While the agricultural revolution took centuries, and the industrial revolution took generations, this ecological revolution has to happen within a matter of a few years.”  The book sees it happening now in three ways: “1) Actions to slow the damage to Earth and its beings [holding actions]; 2) Analysis and transformation of the foundations of our common life; and 3) A fundamental shift in worldview and values….  It is hard to undertake the holding actions or initiatives . . . unless we are nurtured by deeply held values and ways of seeing ourselves and the world. The actions we take—and structures we build—mirror how we relate to Earth and each other. They require a shift in our perception of reality—and that shift is happening now, both as cognitive revolution and spiritual awakening. . . . The insights and experiences that enable us to make this shift may arise from grief for our world that contradicts illusions of the separate and isolated self. Or they may arise from breakthroughs in science, such as quantum physics and systems theory. Or we may find ourselves inspired by the wisdom traditions of native peoples and mystical voices in the major religions . . . that remind us again that our world is a sacred whole in which we have a sacred mission.  Now, in our time, these three rivers—anguish for our world, scientific breakthroughs, and ancestral teachings—flow together.”

These are some of the tools and practices that can help speed our progress to new levels of consciousness.  This website will talk about these more and will offer others over time.  The Golden Room is the place deep within us where this transformative work happens.  A Golden Civilization waits beyond that can save the world and make human life sustainable, a society based on freedom, integrity, health, justice and peace.

Thank you for all you are doing to make this dream a reality in our time.

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