We are poised at the edge of a new world, vaster than we could have ever imagined. My parents were taught that the universe we inhabited was the size of a single galaxy. It was thought we might one day discover ‘an other’ galaxy. A few decades later we aimed our Hubble telescope on a part of the night sky that appeared to be empty space and gazed with wonderment at thousands of galaxies dancing in one tiny aperture.
In quantum physics, we have moved from building blocks and billiard balls to field and foam. Looking for ‘hard matter’ we found empty space. Inside the vacuous atom, electrons simultaneously occupy a multitude of possible locations in an amorphous cloud. Virtual particles emerge from and disappear into a mysterious sea of potential energy. Our material underpinning is a tremulous dance of whizzing particles that are never actually anywhere in a sea of waveforms that are everywhere at once. Finally, the raw material of the universe may not be material at all but filaments of frequency; ‘strings’ of vibration. Theoretical physics now discloses Eastern mysticism! We are leaving an era of matter and form, entering an age of energy.
“The world we live in has expanded by exponential proportions.
So too must our worldview.”
From cosmology to quantum physics, the world we live in has expanded by exponential proportions. So too must our worldview. For at this same historical moment of unprecedented discovery, we stand also at the brink of a world unraveling. The Industrial era has wrecked havoc on the eco-system of the planet. In our unrelenting pursuit of opulence, the simple staples of life- clean air, drinking water and wholesome food are now luxuries.
There is no doubt we live in a time of exponential change. Life emerged on this earth 4 billion years ago, Homo sapiens some 200,000 years ago. Yet in the past 50 years, in one generation—a single lifetime, the earth has been more radically changed than by all previous generations of humanity.1 The pollution and pesticide poisoning of earth, air and water have reached critical levels. Hundreds of species plunge to extinction; burning rainforests sear the lungs of Gaia; and whole eco-systems lurch out of balance careening toward whole system collapse in a rapidly changing climate. As exponentially as our vision has expanded, so has the collateral damage of our ignorance and hubris. The fabric of life is tearing.
“A global shift in worldview, values, and actions is inevitable. Whether it precedes and redirects humanity away from chaos or follows an epic global breakdown remains an open question. Either way, the shift is destined to come about.” A world in Transition by historian Edmund J. Bourne
We are in the gyre of old worlds dying and new worlds struggling to be born. We need to draw our solutions, ideas and inspirations not from the past, but from the future. We must lean into a world that is still taking shape ahead of us and feel its contours. Creativity and Intuition are the core survival skills of the reality unfurling around us. In the topography of the new civilization, expanded human capacities will be required. Agility of thought, suppleness of body and being, fluidity of perspective, sense of play and exploration, these are among the modalities of the emerging intelligence. A new way of being in the world calls for continual expansion, for wearing roles loosely, holding opinions lightly; becoming not so much a fixed end-product—a melded bundle of self definitions, as a vessel through which life flows freely. As outer forms change with increasing frequency, the art of our times is the movement across and beyond forms—the art of trans(across)-formation.
Pioneers of the new world are engaged in perennial transformation. Imagination, creativity and intuition are its lifeblood and pulse. We cannot solve the problems of our time with the same mode of consciousness that generated the problems in the first place. We can’t continue to respond to an increasingly complex and exponentially changing world with habitual ways of thinking. We need to go deeper. The root problem of our unraveling world is an unsustainable mode of consciousness. We need to go higher. Above the confusion of myriad problems in a complex and compounding crisis, there is a level of clarity and insight. We are called to access the ‘vertical’ dimensions, where deeper and higher states of consciousness have the power to activate –and actuate—extraordinary human potentials. In the ‘rEVOLUTION’ of our times, it is not the outer shifts in ideologies or technologies that will deliver us- it will be our capacity to rouse the sleeping dragon of transformative power.
A new world demands a new kind of perception. The industrial era saw the world in blocks, parts and particles. Clumps of matter could exist separate from each other, individuals could exist apart from each other and from the web of life. Now, through cracks in the foundations of every field the ‘crabgrass’ of an organic, holistic vision is proliferating. The machine is gone and the ghost is everywhere. Everything is immensely alive- the whirling cosmos and the radiant human form, are made anew in each moment. The universe is a flowing field of energy and information in perpetual transformation. From particles to people, we are connected beyond the limitations of time and space. Although each person seems separate and independent, all of us are connected to patterns of intelligence that govern the whole cosmos.
The linear, analytic modality of thought is necessary but not sufficient in times of exponential change. Intuition does not contradict reason, it transcends it. As the mechanical model was hand and glove with the industrial revolution, the quantum world-view breathes effortlessly into the age of Intuition. If we continue to follow only form, then our increasing knowledge becomes overwhelming complexity. To navigate in an era of information overload we have to make the shift within ourselves; from matter to energy, from form to flow.
“I regard consciousness as fundamental. I regard matter as a derivative of consciousness.” Max Plank one of the founders of Quantum Physics
“There is a reality immensely beyond what we call matter. Matter itself is merely a ripple in this background.” David Bohm one of the founders of Quantum Physics
“Matter is not only ‘frozen’ energy but also the ‘frozen’ consciousness of God.” Paramahansa Yogananda
The solidity of body and form are crystallizations of a deeper layer of reality. Beneath the surface and forms of matter lies a vibrating field of energy sparkling with intelligence. We are not separate. We can attune our consciousness to receive a flow of Divine inspiration that guides each step. We can synchronize with the intrinsic Intelligence of life. And when each of us does this individually, we interconnect with others in an orchestration impossible to plan with the rational mind.
To conspire means ‘to BREATHE together with’ (from the Latin spirare – we find this same root in the word inspiration). When we conspire, we move in wave forms across broad expanses; possibilities emerge that were impossible to the particle aspect of our nature. When we conspire multiple levels of reality come into ‘sync’. Synchronicities abound because the patterning flow of intelligence ripples through the continuum of mind and matter. When we follow the flow, seeming miracles are constellated from within the matrix of a new reality.
“Everything is interdependent. There are signs that show the meaning of the whole- everywhere, including the heavens themselves, everything breathes together.” Plotinus 250 AD
“…a miracle is not the intercession of an external divinity in worldly affairs that violates the laws of physics, but something that is impossible from within an old story of the world and possible from a new one.” Charles Eisenstein
A New Storyfield
“Never before has the power of human storytelling been so important to the fate of all life on this planet…the story attracts the molecules of its manifestation…the cultivation of imagination coupled with the capacity for complex story-telling is a key strategy for personal and collective change.” Carolyn Casey
New Worlds demand new stories. Nationalism re-surges in the 21st century because it’s a familiar story with strong archetypes at its core, the good citizens of a mother country or fatherland are threatened by frightening ‘outsiders’. It doesn’t matter that people are statistically far more likely to be killed by a toddler, the lawnmower, or even one’s own clothes melting.2 It is easier to have a shadow to scapegoat. Fearful, regressive ideologies arise in the vacuum of a greater vision that encompasses the hardships and suffering inherent in rapid change. Without a compelling narrative that makes sense of the immense changes sweeping the world, we will continue to propose third century solutions to 21st century problems.
“The rise and fall of images of the future precedes or accompanies the rise and fall of cultures. As long as a society’s image is positive and flourishing, the flower of culture is in full bloom. Once the image begins to decay and lose its vitality, however, the culture does not long survive.” Historian Fred Polak
A culture’s image of the future not only acts as a barometer—it becomes self-fulfilling. Our current images of the future are often dark cyber futures, post apocalyptic nightmares, despairing scenarios of degeneration. Even hope is a tricky word these days. As Greta Thunburg justly says ”I don’t want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. I want you to act. I want you to act as you would in a crisis. I want you to act as if the house is on fire, because it is.” Joanna Macy encourages to not wait for hope in order to act. At the same time, in a convergence of insight across disciplines3 that include athletics, medicine, psychology and sociology, the power of imagination is revealed to significantly affect the health and vitality of body, mind and spirit. Despair kills the spirit (and dampens the immune system), optimism enlivens it.
Despair is trendy now and seems revolutionary. Yet despair serves entrenched interests. Oppressive and authoritarian systems depend on cynicism to resist change.4 “Where no one believes in a better future, despair is a logical choice, and people in despair almost never change anything. Where no one believes a better solution is possible, those benefiting from the continuation of a problem are safe.”5
But for what do we hope? Hope that we can avoid the catastrophic changes already in motion is simply denial. We are already in the radical breakdown. Climate change is world change and it is happening now. The diaspora is already underway. “The future is already here – it’s just not evenly distributed.”6 What gives hope is seeing what is possible in the midst of intense transformation; how can the breakdown serve the breakthrough? Hope is seeing ways of living and being in the midst of crisis that give meaning to life. Hope is an imaginal cell that envisions a butterfly while the reality around it is the dissolution of the caterpillar.7 Hope is the perspective of a story that begins with a world that is ending and goes forward.
‘These are Noah times’ says mythologist Michael Meade. Everyone becomes a refugee when life changes so rapidly. “The old flood stories don’t persist in order to inform us what happened before but to remind us of the project we came here to undertake now.” Myths arising from ‘before the beginning’ and ‘after the end’ evoke transcendent realms that can embrace and uplift what is broken inside the realms of time. ‘End times’ call us to live the larger story. ‘Dark times’ call us to remember the calling of our destiny, to awaken to the heroic dimensions of our potential. “Only those convinced by their own dreams can see the hidden designs behind the troubles of the world. To the common eye, Noah looked particularly foolish. Yet he would have been foolish in a worse way had he refused the inner project. Who can explain this to those whose eyes have not yet opened to their own inward seas?”8
The soul speaks in the language of images and archetypes, myths and metaphors. When we recover this native tongue we find we can converse with levels of reality normally outside the bounds of possibility. We feel the patterns of creation taking shape and learn to follow their currents.
Seeds of a New Civilization
“Every human transformation has rested on a new metaphysical and ideological base; or rather, upon deeper stirrings and intuitions whose rationalized expression takes the form of a new picture of the cosmos and the nature of man.…we stand on the brink of such a new age… …In carrying human self transformation to this further stage, world culture may bring about a fresh release of spiritual energy that will unveil new potentialities, no more visible in the human self today than radium was in the physical world a century ago,” Cultural Historian Lewis Mumford
What are the seed crystals of the new world? What stories, myths, images and metaphors will evoke the evolution of humanity? “new art forms of a society in which humanity lives, not innocently in nature nor confidently in cities, but apocalyptically in a civilization cracking up to the universe.”9 It is no longer sufficient to express the darkness or simply to show that we are lost. “Naivety and cynicism are opposite ends of a defense against life. They are both moves that deny the soul- naivety by refusing to see the depth dimension that is given by darkness, and cynicism by refusing to see the redeeming and transfiguring power of the light”10 Artists, writers, storytellers, filmmakers—all of us—must reclaim the heroic task of finding the light and showing the way.
‘Troubadours of Transformation’, we are called to kindle the wildfires of imagination and to shift the rudder of our collective course with the magnetism of positive potentials. Imagineers working to transform the Storyfield, we plant the SEEDS of vibrant new possibilities, perspectives and paradigms. We send our antenna out to the infinite, drawing from a quantum field what is ripe and ready to be revealed. We gather around fires of inspiration, sharing larger visions that draw an encompassing circle around the wholeness of humanity.
On the surface we see the dissolution of all familiar pattern. Underneath another reality is taking shape. In the foreground of daily life there is increasing chaos. Yet beneath the tumultuous surface there are deeper currents of increasing coherency. Inextricably entwined with overwhelming crisis is an emerging global consciousness.
Those who seed the new civilization reach into a reality that is near but not yet manifest. As the tapestry of old ways unravels, invisible threads reach toward us from the future. As we catch these threads through intuitive modalities we can weave our way to new worlds. The future is already coalescing. We can feel its pulse. We can hear its breathing.
A satellite view reveals our fragile blue pearl, her turning globe a seamless whole. We see ourselves now in entirety; the land and seas from above show no boundaries. Beneath, glowing fiber optic cables reach across the seas to connect the world in the neural network of a world wide web. Pangea is re-membered, her sundered continents now sutured in threads of light. As Gaia grows her global brain, the lives of millions weave together in pulses of light. The ‘instant message’ is of our entwined destiny—one planet, one world, one home.
- John Peters, Arlington Institute in “Models of Exponential Change
- VOX NEWS http://www.vox.com/2016/9/13/12901950/terrorism-immigrants-clothes
- “ Cynicism is often seen as a rebellious attitude in Western popular culture, but, in reality, cynicism in average people is the attitude exactly most likely to conform to the desires of the powerful – cynicism is obedience. Optimism, by contrast, especially optimism which is neither foolish nor silent, can be revolutionary. Where no one believes in a better future, despair is a logical choice, and people in despair almost never change anything. Where no one believes a better solution is possible, those benefiting from the continuation of a problem are safe.” Alex Steffen
- Alex Steffen originally published on Worldchanging.com on March 25th, 2008
- Futurist William Gibson
- When a caterpillar reaches a certain point in its own evolution, it becomes over-consumptive, a voracious eater and it eats everything in sight. At that same time, in the molecular structure of the caterpillar, the “imaginal cells” become active. While all this gorging is going on, those imaginal cells wake up, and they look for each other inside of the caterpillar’s body. When enough of them connect (they don’t need to be in the majority) they become the genetic directors of the future of the caterpillar. At that point the other cells begin to putrefy and become what’s called the nutritive soup—out of which the imaginal cells create the absolute unpredictable miracle of the butterfly. What’s possible is that we’re the imaginal cells on the planet right now. Inspired by Elisabeth Sahtouris
- Michael Meade Mythic Visions for Uncertain Times article in Shift magazine
- William Irwin Thompson
- Swami Kriyananda