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You could say that it’s been a lifetime quest. As far back as I can remember I was asking, Who am I? What am I here for? Where did I come from? What should I be doing with my life? I am grateful to my family for not indoctrinating me with any particular religion or belief system. My Father was against it having suffered a sense of sin from his Baptist upbringing. This gave me the greatest gift of all—the freedom to start my spiritual search for the meaning and purpose of life with a clear slate. I attended different Christian religious services with friends (that was all that was available at the time), but couldn’t find anything that satisfied my deep inner quest. I knew, even then, that I had to depend on my own experience for the answers I sought.
When I was 24 years old I was totally paralyzed with polio (except for my arms) and was diagnosed as a hopeless case. As I lay for months unable to move without help I found myself reflecting again on the important questions that my condition induced. Is life worth living even if you can’t move? My resounding answer was, of course, I have the most precious part of life as I can still think about creative ideas and communicate with others.
However, becoming a single mom with three children in the 50s living on $150 a week and working two jobs stretched my capacity for survival. Now my questions turned again to “Is life worth living?” For 7 long years I fell into a ‘dark night’ with no answers to my desperate inner plight. Why should I live at all? There seemed to be no meaning and purpose. Finally a day came when a delicate, but radiant pink rose dropped into my mind’s eye. I was breathless contemplating its beauty and with every inner glance my heart began to open wide again. Love. Love. That is the answer. I don’t need to wait to receive love. I need to give love right now — at the grocery store, as I walk down the street, everywhere! Most of us are beginners at true love and I was one of them. Agape love transcends erotic love and is a choice, a decision. And I made the decision that turned my life around. My personal life was no longer important. Giving it up was not a sacrifice, because my passion for interior development and service was so much more compelling.
Shortly after this stunning revelation in the 60s I found Eastern religion and esoteric approaches to spirituality. At last I found some answers. I was so enthralled that I kept reading, reflecting, reading, and couldn’t stop. I found meditation, consciousness practices, exercises to help me manage my mind and emotions and much more. I was aflame with curiosity and love. I had an extremely difficult time stopping my overly curious mind in order to meditate, but finally I managed, with the help of heavy exercise before dropping into meditation. Here was the new spirituality for me, devoid of dogma and providing me with practices to help me master and develop my own capacities and relationship to the Kosmos. The Buddhist and esoteric paths teach us to believe only what we know in our own experience. I had found my path—life itself brought the lessons I needed to learn. It was important to develop discernment, particularly the difference between conditioned responses and those of the Higher Self. Direct inner guidance was to be my teacher with no intermediaries, along with the learning from my own life experiences. I began to define what spirituality was to me.
I learned quickly that I needed to balance solitude and action in the world. Much to the distress of my colleagues I turned the phone off for half the week and was unavailable to the outside world. Cultivating my inner life and spiritual sensitivities became my priority. I now spent three days in contact with the outer world while preserving four days for the rich inner life that speaks to me in silence and images that generate the motivation for my service in the world. I discovered that I was truly a Monk in the World, as Brother Teasdale would say. Love and beauty that had energized my passion to live in the past now were complemented by will and purpose. What was the larger Will of the Kosmos that led me so many times to know, ‘not my will but thine be done’? My husband was a mystic who had lived in Kalimpong for a year in the 50s. He was one of the first Westerners to bring Eastern teachings to the West. We founded the Mountain School for Esoteric Studies in the late 60s and held regular meditations and retreats in the mountains. This was the time when teachers from the East were coming to the West to teach. We had many in our home, inviting groups to share with us different practices and methods of meditation.
In the 70s I was invited to design and develop the first course in Transpersonal Psychology on the East Coast at Interface, while Esalen was thriving on the West Coast with Michael Murphy, Roger Walsh, and Frances Vaughan. I had to overcome my fears and develop these courses from the inside out. Later I learned that I would be required to do this many more times in my life, just as I had with the development of my own spirituality. We were entering a new era with an emerging new consciousness, culture and civilization. We were moving away from dominating authorities and experts toward personal experiential knowing. This meant systemic changes across the board and pioneers willing to define them. Ken Wilber lived near by and he and I shared several meals together in the late 70s. We used his developmental model in all our workshops and courses. We taught meditation, visualization, bodily felt sense, experiential knowing, hypnosis, journaling and many more contemplative practices. We helped people contact their Higher Self or Soul as the source of wisdom and guidance. We taught the stages of evolution. Traditional Western religion was unable to meet the hunger for Spirit in so many young hearts, so they turned to alternative means. I taught in classes, workshops, lectures, but mostly in one-to-one meetings as a spiritual guide, based on self-discovery of one’s own journey and path. I loved working with individuals and thought this was my life’s work.
Suddenly, and much to my surprise, in 1987 I had an inner calling to expand the work I was doing to the global level. Now my questions became even larger. How does one apply spiritual principles, developed for individuals, to global affairs and all of Humanity? And besides, I thought, I don’t know anything about global affairs. However, by this time I knew the wisdom of overcoming my fears and trusting inner guidance instead of my rational mind. I implicitly trusted that I would be guided from the inside out in this endeavor. Within a few hours I had an apartment in New York City and eventually one opposite the United Nations. The UN is the only place in the world where we find all peoples and cultures represented under one roof. We can intermingle, read each others newspapers and get an understanding of global affairs beyond our biased national corporate media. I thrived at the UN. I was consumed with learning about global affairs/global consciousness and making friends with the international community. When one is committed to service, somehow the right colleagues and companions appear to help. And indeed they did. My view of spirituality expanded considerably at this time. All the work we do on our personal lives is just the beginning. It is preparation for larger service to the whole.
From 1987-1991 I continued to learn about global affairs. I was consumed with trying to understand why we fought destructive wars with one another and elected to support corporate profits rather than the environment. Why did nations act in their own self-interest rather than for the common good? What could we do about it? I co-founded the Values Caucus in 1996 and the Spiritual Caucus in 2000 at the UN. Both Caucuses dove deeper into the causes of conflict through discovering the diversity of worldviews and cultural values. We successfully lobbied for language and new concepts in international documents and treaties—for the inclusion of life-long education and spiritual values. I learned about worldwide humanitarian efforts and developed healing techniques for secondary traumatic stress and more with a USAID grant in the former Yugoslavia. My concern was no longer limited to my own country, but to the whole of humanity. At the UN they say ‘humanity’ is the most common word spoken. This was why I was there. I identified myself not only as a Monk in the world, but also as a global or kosmic citizen.
In the process of our UN work we began to identify the NGOs, Staff and Ambassadors whose perspectives were global rather than national and whose policies reflected universal deep values. In 2000 we formed a small group of globally conscious, spiritually oriented people from different continents. This was the beginning of what eventually became KOSMOS. As we slowly develop, becoming first an integrated personality and later in touch with the soul/heart, the source of wisdom, love, and purpose, we need a vehicle through which to express our life’s work. This was mine. Like other pioneers of the emerging new civilization I was not a trained journalist and did not have any experience in the field. I overcame my fears again for something larger than my little ego and accepted the service I was given with humility. I increased my meditations to help guide me through. What should a journal about the emerging new consciousness, culture and planetary civilization be? Is there a need for such a publication and who is it for?
Kosmos Journal is for those who want to understand and even participate in the era of transition from an industrial society to an information/people’s society—the new plantary civilization. It is for all of us who have been disillusioned with the present culture of greed and materialism, disrespect and deep suffering caused by the inequities in harnessing the world’s resources and wealth. It is for those who want to be directed to the finest, most noble voices that are in touch with some aspects of the new civilization and do not have the time to filter through all the false prophets to find a kernel of truth. It is for those that long to return to a state where the heart is as central to our humanness as our mind. It is for those burning with passion to make a difference and to create a new world based on the generating power of life and spirit.
We continue to evolve with the times and find the emerging new civilization gradually taking form and shape with increasing clarity. Through the years the following streams of wisdom have become essential to KOSMOS and are still evolving. Because of lack of space I present these streams in broad strokes and encourage you to read the full articles on our website: www.kosmosjournal.org.
The first issue of KOSMOS was published for $2500 (don’t ever tell anyone you need a lot of money to accomplish a spiritual mission), a gift of Lifebridge Foundation. It was 2001 and we were beginning to see signs of the breakdown and breakthrough of consciousness, cultures, institutions and civilizations. Science had now proven what Contemplatives have known for centuries. We live in an interdependent world and thus this Great Transformation would be global and include all life—body, feelings, mind and spirit. While the modern world emphasizes the individual, the post-modern and integral worlds are bringing forth the collective ‘We,’ and with it new collaborative efforts and global networks to manage the complexity of today’s challenges.
The modern rational, analytic perspective, honors the ego as a separate entity itself rather than understanding the essence of life is its relationships. It rejects subjective experience and different ways of knowing and thus eliminates what is most human about us all. It breaks the world into fragmented pieces rather than bringing us together in synthesis as the new consciousness does. People from all countries in the world are feeling the momentous change in consciousness as the Internet and transnational corporations connect humanity for the first time in history. It is only as individual and collective habits break down that we have the extraordinary opportunity to heal personal and societal wounds and create a new civilization that works for the common good. Our vision is bold—tracking the emerging new civilization that not only works for everyone, but that operates at a higher frequency as our knowledge and wisdom expand our consciousness and worldviews. This is the passion of KOSMOS.
KOSMOS invites contributors who have both experiential knowledge about the leading edge of evolution, but who also listen and speak from the Heart (chakra), the source of wisdom and compassion. As fears are overcome the heart center opens to soften and heal. It loses its self-protective function and expands our vision with compassion and kindness. The heart understands social, political, economic, and human issues in the widest possible context. Heart wisdom is inclusive understanding at all levels of being and becoming— and of creation itself. By combining head and heart, our contributors inspire and stir our loyal readers to purposeful sacred activism.
Beauty has always been an essential complement to our inspiring, informative and engaging articles. It is not possible for me to work effectively without engaging both sides of the brain with what Brother Wayne Teasdale calls ‘infinite sensitivity.’ Award winning photographers publish their work in KOSMOS, knowing their artistic creation will radiate through the latest modern technology and color processes available to create a moving experience of profound beauty. Many tell us that just by holding the journal in their hands they feel the presence of heart and the dynamism of change, breaking down boundaries, and bringing us closer to the divine. Beauty is everywhere in the environment in which we work and in the subtle levels and substance of KOSMOS.
Our concerns scale from ego-centric to ethnic-centric to world-centric, to kosmic-centric. Our intergenerational perspective encourages care and concern for and interaction with all generations. We honor and respect past generations that laid the foundation for the new civilization, our present partners and colleagues in discovering and acting upon the new, as well as respecting the needs of future generations who will inherit the world we leave to them. Our widening vision includes the relationship and stewardship of other kingdoms of nature—animals, plants and minerals. We are eager to publish about new capacities for expanded ways of knowing—‘infinite sensitivity’ to other frequencies available beyond intuition, often developed in contemplative practices or spontaneously revealed. Our articles attend to new competencies and skills, such as resilience and adaptation, necessary for living and flourishing in the new civilization. Our concerns continue to widen and deepen as we discover more signs of emergence.
Scaling up our concerns is an inherent part of spirituality in the new civilization. As a global citizen I have been affiliated with the UN since 1987. In 2012 the UN conferred Consultative Status to KOSMOS in recognition of its global work. We have had visitors from 195 countries to our website since we began recording this statistic in June 2011. Citizens from around the world, working together to demand that world leaders take stronger steps to address such urgent global issues as human rights, climate change, sustainable development, poverty alleviation, the prevention and elimination of conflicts between countries, and more. Beyond global our inquiry extends into our place in the universe, as the direction of evolution becomes more and more inclusive. The name of our journal KOSMOS continues to remind us of our purpose to align with this historical evolutionary moment and the spirit (will) of the Kosmos itself.
Integral and MetaIntegral offer the most holistic map on which to wrap our conceptual framework. KOSMOS works with Ken Wilber’s four evolving views of reality: individual interior consciousness; collective interiors including worldviews and culture developed through collective intelligence and dialogic methods; individual spiritual activism and service; and collective institutions such as governance, economics, education, media and science. Integral spirituality is evolutionary and develops in stages. It involves healing the interior of the individual and collective and expanding our capacities and sensitivity. Spirituality in the New Civilization or Second Axial period also recognizes the external conditions that have created untold injustices and poverty for billions. It understands that it is our responsibility to transform these conditions, not merely to develop our own relationship to a higher power as in the First Axial period of the emergence of the world’s traditional religions, but to truly be our brother’s keeper. For that we need to take responsibility for systemic changes in all of our institutions.
Don Beck, founder of Integral Spiral Dynamics is one of our contriutors on the evolution of cultural values, applied in conflict situations worldwide. We are now learning how to communicate with the different cultural value systems—tribal, traditional, modern, post modern and integral perspectives and to find the value of each perspective. Barrett Brown writes about this in KOSMOS with great clarity. These value differences account for many of the world conflicts—from personal to global. John Stewart (The Evolutionary Manifesto) and Carter Phipps (Evolutionaries) also add to our understanding of evolution as a primary driver of transformation. Further, we present a Kosmic perspective of a living universe (Brian Swimme, Mary Evelyn Tucker, Teilhard Chardin, Thomas Berry, Duane Elgin). Life itself is the defining value. The new spirituality enhances and expands life and works with the fundamental powers of the universe at our disposal. The recognition of Mother Nature as sacred Teacher, nourisher and provider runs through KOSMOS—permaculture, biomimicry, and the importance of place as developed by Lifebridge Sanctuary.
A major feature of the new civilization is the transition from dominant hierarchical power to distributive power of the people. We asked many questions on our journey—especially about power and who has the power to make the changes required for a new planetary, compassionate, and sustainable world. From grassroots activists to Mikhail Gorbachev the answer is the same—civil society. Civil Society is now recognized as a driver of power potentially equal to governments and corporations. In addition to finding one’s own gift and purpose in life the new civilization is about networks, collaboration, civil society, international protests for democracy, power, and equality. It is working for the good of the group as an autonomous individual. Collective intelligence/wisdom is needed to deal with the complexity and scale of today’s problems and challenges. Groups are experimenting with such approaches as Collective Presencing that taps the wisdom of a group through contemplative techniques. Occupy is developing amazing horizontal approaches that can include the voice of global multitudes (KOSMOS, Spring 2013), potentially connecting the voices of all Humanity for the first time.
The collusion between markets and states in privatizing and regulating common resources that should be the sovereign right of all citizens from birth, has resulted in extreme inequality in wealth. The Commons movement is rising to preserve for future generations the natural, cultural, digital, resources that we have inherited, created and need for survival. Leaders of this movement publish in KOSMOS, such as James B. Quilligan, David Bollier, Silke Helfrich, Leo Burke and more. P2P, founded by Michel Bauwens, is another strong commons movement stressing distributive power. Subsidiarity, solutions to problems at the level where most are affected is another important principle emerging in the planetary civilization.
Worldwide protests are now at a national level and are just becoming international as the Occupy, April Spring, Indignado, Zapatistas, 15M, Idle No More, Take the Square, Via22, GlobalNoise and more form alliances and innovative communications systems. Michael Badger writes about the coming turn of Occupy from protests to humanitarian efforts, such as Occupy Sandy, that find solutions rather than merely saying ‘No’ to corporations and the establishment. The agendas are the same worldwide—a cry for the end of corporatization and the emergence of direct democracy, justice, and equality. Without these basic operating values it is impossible for the full spiritual potential of individuals to be realized and for the new civilization to arise.
From Contemplation to Insight To Action: Creating the World of Form and Structures that Reflect the Emerging Consciousness
It is a time of systemic transformation in all of our institutions. They must evolve in step with the new consciousness. Kosmos tracks the most sustainable and compassionate leading edge developments in every field of endeavor by dedicated world servers—armed with a passion and a patient determination to go through whatever obstacles it takes to create a positive future for all. We see new governance proposals emerging everywhere, most focusing on direct democracy and civil society as the important drivers of change. We single out such innovators as Mikhail Gorbachev, Tom Atlee, the Commons Movement and the Constitutional Referendum by the people of Iceland that freed the country from debt in a time of worldwide financial crisis. In Economics we track and publish the work of Schumacher Center for New Economics, New Economics Foundation, New Economics Institute, Sacred Economics, and the Commons Movement. In our Journal, you will meet David Cooperrider who’s founding theoretical work in “Appreciative Inquiry” is creating a positive revolution in the leadership of change and Rinaldo Brutoco, Founder of the World Business Academy, who brings 21st century global perspectives to business.
One of the features of the New Civilization is education of the whole person—body mind, soul and spirit. Some leaders in this field are Parker Palmer, Arthur Zajonc, and Linda Lantieri. Innovative educators are offering courses by the world’s finest teachers through the Internet, reaching millions of people. In an evolving universe, lifelong learning is now accepted as a necessity worldwide. It is enhanced through Webinars as they continue to flourish. Independent media, often with a citizen’s journalism component, is still at the margins, but increasingly recognized by the awakened as the only avenue to unbiased reporting today. We are learning to discern the propaganda and spin we are fed through television and corporate media to keep us distracted from resisting the increasing ‘crimes’ our governments commit to appease their wealthy donors.
Elizabeth Sahtouris is prominent in the new sciences as well as Arthur Zajonc. And the video and educational materials of Journey Through the Universe by Brian Swimme and Mary Evelyn Tucker are gaining widespread attention from all age groups. Monica Sharma (formerly head of Leadership programs at the UN) facilitates new transformational leadership based on sourcing wisdom affecting thousands worldwide. And on it goes. These courageous pioneers are the first wave of what will be a tsunami of pioneers dedicated to the emergence of a new civilization aligned with Kosmic intention, based on compassion and our natural creativity. We are here and we are the ones. World—here we come!
The new civilization and culture we all yearn for is based on global human awakening to a giant worldwide reflection and contemplation on who we are and why we are given the gift of life on planet Earth for these few short years. What is our role in the vast universe? What is our responsibility to care for the natural world—our mineral resources, plant-life and animals—that have given us a home and nurtured and cared for us for 3.8 billion years? How can we get along as one humanity celebrating our diversity? Will we be able to organize our institutions and creatively innovate our future in time? Will we use our self-reflexive consciousness to develop our inner capacities to make the transition from an industrial age to a new civilization that benefits all?
These are the burning questions that KOSMOS addresses. We are grateful to our brilliant contributors and ‘infinitely sensitive’ artists, who have sacrificed their personal lives to make a difference. Their commitment comes from a deep place of intuiting the future and caring deeply for our children and future generations who will inherit the earth we leave behind.
Nancy Roof, Ph.D. is the founder of the award-winning Kosmos Journal: The Journal for World Citizens and Planetary Civilization, which is based on evolving interior development and cultural values as they impact globalization and world community. Kosmos Associates, Inc. is also actively involved in the founding of the Global Commons movement with James Quilligan of the Global Commons Trust.