Earth Charter

We stand at a critical moment in Earth's history, a time when humanity must choose its future. As the world becomes increasingly interdependent and fragile, the future at once holds great peril and great promise. To move forward we must recognize that in the midst of a magnificent diversity of cultures and life forms we are one human family and one Earth community with a common destiny. We must join together to bring forth a sustainable global society founded on respect for nature, universal human rights, economic justice, and a culture of peace. Towards this end, it is imperative that we, the peoples of Earth, declare our responsibility to one another, to the greater community of life, and to future generations.

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Earth Charter

Why We Need to Believe in a Living Universe

A common assumption of the modern world is that we live in a universe comprised almost entirely of inert matter and empty space. Regarding the universe as dead at its foundations is basic to the industrial revolution: It makes sense to exploit what appears dead for the benefit of what seems most alive—ourselves. This assumption is now being questioned as a more ancient view is reconsidered. Plato put it this way: "The universe is a single living creature that encompasses all living creatures within it."

Is the universe alive or dead? We can explore this fundamental question by turning to both science and the world's wisdom traditions. Science now regards our universe as: 1) almost entirely invisible (96 percent of the known universe is comprised of invisible energy and matter), 2) completely unified and able to communicate with itself instantaneously in non-local ways that transcend the limits of the speed of light, 3) sustained by the flow-through of an unimaginably vast amount of energy, and 4) free at its deepest, quantum levels. While not proving the universe is alive, these and other attributes from science do point strongly in that direction.

When we turn to the world's wisdom traditions and ask how they regard the universe, we find a stunning consensus that the universe is a continuously regenerated, living presence:

"God is creating the entire universe, fully and totally, in this present now. Everything God created ...God creates now all at once."
-- Meister Eckhart, Christian mystic

"My solemn proclamation is that a new universe is created every moment."
-- D.T. Suzuki, Zen teacher

"The Tao is the sustaining Life-force and the mother of all things; from it, all things rise and fall without cease."
-- Tao Te Ching, Taoism

"God keeps a firm hold on heavens and earth, preventing them from vanishing away."
-- Islam, Koran

"Evolution presupposes creation ...creation is an everlasting process—a creation continua."
-- Pope John Paul II

These quotes just begin to describe the profound aliveness of the universe as seen through the lens of the world's wisdom traditions.

What difference does it make if the universe is dead or alive at its foundations? When children are starving, climate is destabilizing, oil is dwindling, and population is growing, why put our attention here? Here are a few reasons why aliveness makes a profound difference:

Consumerism or Simplicity? Materialism is a rational response to living in a dead universe. In a material universe, consumerism offers a source of identity and a measure of significance and accomplishment. Where do I find pleasure in a non-living universe? In material things. How do I know that I amount to anything? By how many things I have accumulated. How should I relate to the world? By taking advantage of that which is dead on behalf of the living. Consumerism and exploitation are natural outcomes of a dead universe perspective. However, if we view the foundations of the universe as being intensely alive, then it makes sense to minimize material clutter and needless busyness and develop the areas where we feel most alive—in nurturing relationships, caring communities, creative expressions, time in nature, and service to others.

Indifferent or Welcoming? If we regard the universe as dead at its foundations, then feelings of existential alienation, anxiety, dread, and fear are understandable. Why seek communion with the cold indifference of lifeless matter and empty space? If we relax, we will simply sink into existential despair. However in a living universe feelings of subtle connection, curiosity, and gratitude are understandable. We see ourselves as participants in a cosmic garden of life that has been patiently developing over billions of years. A living universe perspective invites us to shift from indifference, fear, and cynicism to curiosity, love, and awe.

Biological or Bio-Cosmic? Are we no more than a bundle of chemical and neurological interactions? If so, the boundaries of our being are defined by the extent of our physical body. However, in a living universe, our physical existence is permeated and sustained by an aliveness that is inseparable from the larger universe. Seeing ourselves as part of the unbroken fabric of creation awakens our sense of connection with, and compassion for, the totality of life. We recognize our bodies as precious, biodegradable vehicles for acquiring ever-deepening experiences of aliveness.

Separate or Inter-Connected? If we are no more than biological entities, then it makes sense to see ourselves as disconnected from the suffering of other living beings. However, if we are all swimming in the same ocean of subtle aliveness, then it makes sense that we would each have a direct experience of communion with, and concern for, the well-being of others. If we share the same matrix of existence, then the rest of life already touches me, co-creating the field of aliveness within which I exist.

Pull Apart or Pull Together? If we see the universe as mostly barren and devoid of life, then it is natural to see our time on earth as primarily a struggle for material existence, and it makes sense that we humans would pull apart in conflict. However, if we see the universe as intensely alive and our journey here as one of discovery and learning, then it makes sense that we would pull together in cooperation in order to realize this magnificent potential.

Our view of the universe as either dead or alive creates the context within which we understand who we are and where we are going. Where a dead-universe perspective generates alienation, environmental destruction, and despair, a living-universe perspective generates feelings of communion, stewardship, and the promise of a higher pathway for humanity. Although the idea of a living universe has ancient roots in human experience, it is now radically new as the frontiers of modern science cut away superstition and reveal the authentic mystery, subtlety, and aliveness of our cosmic home.



Values in the Contemporary World

At the United Nations World Summit on Sustainable Development in Copenhagen in 1995, (UNWSSD), daily experiential workshops and seminars that framed global issues around underlying values were conducted by the Values Caucus on such topics as the new visionary leadership and humane values—to standing room only crowds.

In addition, the Values Caucus organized an extensive and intensive lobbying process to influence the documents of the UNWSSD. Daily interactions with governmental representatives and support from Ambassador Somavia (now Secretary General of the ILO) were successful in including the importance of values for the first time in the the final documents. The Values Caucus was invited to address all 184 governments in the plenary session. As representative of the Co-Chairs and the Caucus, Nancy Roof introduced the rationale for the fundamental need to address values in global affairs. In the year 2000 the New York Times headline announced that all governments declared values as fundamental to global policy.

The following is the talk given by Nancy Roof at UNWSSD in 1995.

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Values in the Contemporary World

The 20th of May, 2007: The First Global Peace/Meditation/Prayer Day

On the Initiative of The Club of Budapest, a Million People Meditated and Prayer for Peace on the Five Continents

On Sunday, the 20th of May an estimated one million people
participated in the first Global Peace Meditation-Prayer Day in 64
countries on the five continents. This was a historic first.  Never
before have so many people in so many countries and from so many faiths
and cultures come together to direct the power of their meditation and
prayer to peace on Earth: the first truly common cause of all of

Objectives and Implementation

The Global Day was created to reduce the level of conflict and
violence in the world, and to help create deeper understanding,
tolerance, and readiness to live in peace with our neighbors both near
and far, as well as with nature. 

Numerous tests and experiments have shown that deep prayer and
meditation can heal people, heal other species, and create peace and
harmony in human communities.  Now for the first time the power of
prayer and meditation has been directed at the entire community of
humans on the planet, with over a million entering a deeper state of
consciousness and giving expression to their heartfelt wish that “peace
may prevail on Earth.”

The organized meditations of May 20th followed the same procedure
wherever they took place and regardless of the culture, faith, and
religion of the participants. The events began with initial speeches,
music and dance, and were followed by meditation or prayer guided by a
spiritual master. They ended with five-minutes of silence when the
participants stood and held hands, and then silently repeated a phrase
such as “may peace prevail on Earth.”

The one-hour meditations/prayers were carefully synchronized to
reinforce each other and produce the maximum effect.  The first group of
events took place at the same time in Eastern and Western Australia and
in Japan.  The second group brought together people in India, Central
and South Africa, Israel, Greece, Hungary, Germany, Italy, and England. 
The third cluster embraced Canada, the United States, Venezuela,
Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, as well as Hawaii and Samoa.

The network of some seventy organized groups that registered for the
Global Day emerged rapidly, as the website Global Peace Meditation and Prayer Day announced the event, listed the
participating groups, and invited others to join. 

The project grew out of the “Symphony of Peace Prayers” planned for
May 20th at the spiritual retreat at the foot of Mount Fuji by the
Japanese spiritual group Byakko Shinko Kai in collaboration with the Goi
Peace Foundation.  Seeking to make such prayers and meditations into a
worldwide event, The Club of Budapest assembled a group of dedicated
spiritually motivated groups and organizations, including the Oneness
University of India, where on May 20th 50,000 meditated led by Club of
Budapest Honorary Member Sri Bhagavan. Within a surprisingly short time
many such groups joined: within a matter of months a global network of
volunteer meditation and prayer organizers had come into being.

The Experiences

Reports from participants the world over indicate that they had a
gripping, intense, and hope-filled experience.  “A diffuse light outside
and within us enveloped the meeting…some had feelings of joy others of
commotion, some of suffering that was changed into serenity…” (from
Italy) “There was a great shift when over 10,000 peopled connected at
the same time, praying for world peace…” (from Japan) “The energy we
have created was deep, graceful, peaceful, full of love and serenity… I
still feel the amazing power entering me.” (from Slovenia) The
undersigned himself experienced an unprecedented intensity and sense of
communion at the final hand-holding phase of the meditation at the “Open
Temple” in Damanhur, Italy.

The Experiments

The reality of the feeling of connectedness and communion was
confirmed by a scientific experiment carried out by Dr. Nitamo
Montecucco, head of the Club di Budapest Italia. The experiment was
timed to coincide with the meditation/prayer events in Europe and
Africa.  Two groups of meditators were equipped with electrodes on their
heads, connected to an electroencephalograph that measured the
electrical activity (EEG waves) of their brain. Eight of the meditators
were in Bagni di Lucca, headquarters of the Italian branch of the Club
of Budapest, and eight in the city of Milan, 200 km away. The
measurements were synchronized to the hundredth of a second through the
Global Position System and examined for correlation between the two
groups. Since the meditators in Bagni di Lucca and in Milan were not in
any ordinary form of contact with each other, the “normal” expectation
was that the value of the correlation would be zero.  Yet the average
level of synchronization between the two groups proved to be 0.64% with
the peak values rising to 5.4% -- findings that exclude mere chance and

Further scientifically controlled tests have been carried out,
testing among others the effect of the meditations on random-number
generators in various parts of the world. (The tests involve deviation
from randomness in the string of zeros and ones generated by the
devices: such deviations have been noted in connection with meditations,
as well as major events that affect the consciousness of many people,
including terrorist attacks, wars, and even sports events.) “The results
are interesting,” wrote Dr. Roger Nelson head of the Global
Consciousness Project in charge of this experiment in Princeton, “with
the cumulative deviation of the scores from their chance expectation
showing a strong and persistent slope over the concatenation of nine
hours of large-scale organized meditation. (Expectation for a cumulative
deviation is a level, horizontal trend). The composite result is
significant, with odds against chance greater than 20 to 1.”


The subjective experience, as well as the objective results of the
Global Peace Meditation/Prayer Day give us warrant to affirm that human
consciousness has a real effect on people and the world. The Club of
Budapest is dedicated to the proposition that when many people join
together to focus their consciousness on peace in the world, the outcome
is likely to be highly significant: the combined power of their
consciousness will help heal our war- and violence-torn world and
overcome the sense of helplessness and separateness that is the root
cause of people’s frustration and the conflict and violence that results
from it.

Building on the promise of the 2007 Global Peace Meditation/Prayer Day,
The Club of Budapest, in partnership with the Goi Peace Foundation,
plans to continue creating Global Peace Meditation/Prayer Days in the
year 2008 and beyond. Future Global Days are to bring together not just
one million but many millions of dedicated people, who will focus the
power of their consciousness on peace in the world.  Such a “critical
mass” of humans will, we believe, make a major and possibly crucial
contribution toward achieving a world that is truly peaceful, humane,
and sustainable.

Ervin Laszlo
June 2, 2007