I was recently invited by Barbara Marx Hubbard, the founder of the Wheel of Co-Creation (http://barbaramarxhubbard.com/global-communication-hub/), to participate as a spokesperson for human relations sector of the “Wheel” at the 7th Worldwide Meeting on Human Values in Monterey, Mexico October 23-25, 2016.
It was an honor, and inspirational to be included in this global network of ‘solutionaries’ as they were called by the organizers of this amazing conference. They are those who are bridging industries and shifting consciousness: activists, educators, healers and innovators in their professions. I am moved to share some of my impressions.
Monterey is the most industrial center of Mexico and third largest city, and the most violent area due to the expansion of drug cartels and kidnappings in the region. Due to a generation of forward thinkers, it is becoming a model of synergistic co-operation among the societal body of the region. Instead of focusing on the violence, the newer generation seems to be building its own positive future using Barbara’s “Wheel of Co-Creation.” Barbara tells us, “We all know what isn’t working in our societies, but how many know what one’s country and the world look like when it works”.
The stated aim of the conference is to “connect ourselves in a multigenerational global initiative composed of what is creative and loving in the world. ….This is an initiative to connect systems that are working for the common good of all.”
I felt like royalty among the foreign presenters, who were each assigned a staff member fluent in their language to escort them to and from the 6,000-seat auditorium. The first day, I arrive at he massive hall and my eyes feasted on the decorative marching band dressed in timeless, fashionable long black suite coats with matching pants and tall black hats reminiscent of times past. The numerous silver buttons on each uniform were so highly polished they shone brightly even without the light of the sun.
Even though I would have liked to be out front as the Governor arrived, we were ushered into a small room for presenters. My gaze scanned the room looking for what I thought would be the image of Bruce Lipton, who I envisioned as a stalwart intellectual with large, nerdy glasses and stand-offish attitude. It is always so wonderful to have our stereotypes dashed into a thousand pieces! I sat down and began to exchange greetings with a man across the room. He was warm, friendly and exuded so much heart that I was pleasantly shocked when he introduced himself as Bruce Lipton. He came over to me and we talked uninterruptedly for a short while as he shared his transformation from scientific purist to someone who found spirituality through science.
Then I was introduced to three leaders of the Mayan community who joined us to pray and hold the space for this important event. They were the gentle ones, the wisdom keepers, and guardians who are in service to the spiritual authority of the original peoples. In their quiet presence, they represented pre-ancient wisdom and the heart and voice of Mother Earth. They didn’t have to speak…for they were the embodiment of the conference theme of “compassion.” In their presence, I felt unconditionally loved. I felt they could see through the surface layers of the personality into the Divine wisdom that dwells in all of our souls. I felt ‘seen’
“We all want to be seen,” I thought but, “Am I seeing?” Am I seeing in others the core of their Being rather than outer layers of self? Can I give to others what I would want for myself?
Our group was ushered into the auditorium for the opening ceremony. The Governor was the first to speak, talking about how there should be a new national anthem for Mexico and other countries throughout the world, “Most national anthems are about war. We need to change ours to one of Peace.” For years I had thought the same about the U.S. national anthem about ‘bombs bursting in air.’ What a brave thing for the new Governor to bring this up in one of his first official actions. Change of any kind usually brings up fear and in turn criticism and resistance.
The marching band was rather militaristic in their stance, their salutes and their upright rigid posture. We stood for the salute to the Mexican flag as the audience sang the national anthem. My 7th grade Spanish could not follow the words so I hummed along with the melody.
Next to speak was the Rev. Brown Campbell, The first ordained woman to be General Secretary of the National Council of the Churches, and now the Director of Religion at the Chautauqua Institution. She was eloquent, powerful and inspirational as she brought the theme of compassion into her words.
Another powerful woman then took the stage, Mary Robinson who served as the seventh, and first female President of Ireland, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. She was dynamic and definite as she lit the fire in the audience of 3,000. She pointed out the dire emergency of climate change, as I thought of the media pundits who scoff and laugh at the “concept” of climate change which scientists continue to point out is a fact.
Mary gave little hope for the outcome in the Paris environmental conference. “We are at an important crossroad with our environmental relationship with Mother Earth. Climate justice requires human solidarity.” She emphatically awakened even the most desensitized conscience, “We need to change and change rapidly.”
Mary, like Barbara Marx Hubbard is ageless in consciousness as she continues to travel the world in the fulfillment of her destiny. Barbara, a protégé of Buckminster Fuller, is futuristic in her Universal vision of the Wheel of Co-creation that brings together governance, environment, education, health, human relations, spirituality, economics, media and technology. The wheel represents the social body of humanity and a society that “works.”
Barbara, at 85, “We are not growing older…we are getting newer. As women, we are moving from pro-creation to Co-creation.” As a mother of 5 children, she calls one’s work in later years a “vocational arousal.”
Barbara now summoned our group to go to a room in a section behind the stage. I was a little reluctant to leave because a panel consisting of participants from Brazil, Argentina, Mexico and the USA was speaking on “Protecting Our Children.”
The Mayans entered and sat in the outer periphery. Other supporters continued to enter the room and take their place as “space holders” behind us. An ochre robed Swami entered with his two assistants who were teachers and speakers in their own right. As I brought my two palms together in the ‘Namaste’ position I nodded my head in acknowledgement of the Divinity in him…and with thumbs turned toward my heart, within me also. The thumbs are symbolic of the Universal, and turned toward our heart center closes the space between the Universal and the Individual. The Swami put one hand on his heart, closed his eyes as if to acknowledge the Divinity of all whom he greeted. I truly felt his sincerity and felt blessed by his presence in the room. Later, he gave me a little book on Peace he had written and a picture album of his travels and meetings with Presidents, Royals, religious leaders such as the Pope.
Barbara, the founder of the Foundation for Conscious Evolution and the Wheel of Co-Creation introduced the process, “It’s interesting that Monterey, a place of drug cartels, kidnapping and ongoing violence has pledged to continue bringing community leaders together in working synergistically for the betterment of all within the region. The Wheel of Transformation represents not competition but harmonious cooperation of all the parts as working for the betterment of the whole. Is it possible that the growing technologies may be a gift to the earth and that the earth is giving birth to a cosmic humanity?“
As she spoke I suddenly realized that the wheel representing the social body of humanity was like our body. Both are intended to work harmoniously together in cooperation for the whole. In comparing the Wheel to Yoga, I saw it as a visual reminder of the healthy balance of body, mind and spirit.
Barbara then asked Juan Carlos to introduce the concept of The Wheel of Transformation. Juan Carlos presents a powerpoint with the brightly colored Wheel turning and taking on the design of the infinity spiral of the DNA. “You see, it turns like a Chakra showing the mutual interdependency that all areas strengthen one another if they work co-creatively together to create an evolution of consciousness of cities regions, nations and the world. We ask leaders in each of these sectors of Governance, such as Chancellors, religious leaders, educators, and those skilled in human relations to come together in collaboration and cooperation. This can and is creating synergy in our community. Technology is helping us to connect… to unite our talents. When we bring people together, they feel united…in Unity. When we encourage people it gives them hope, they don’t feel alone. We are continuing to work with the Wheel in cooperative synergy.” I heard Barbara’s vision coming through Juan Carlos into new generations of youth who have, as the Russians say, come into this world standing on the shoulders of those who have gone before.
Juan Carlos had our full attention as he continued, “Here in Monterey, we unite our talents and compassion with others. It serves to help the community to come together in collaboration and cooperation. This is creating synergy in our greater community. As we continue to meet and synergistically match needs and resources we move to the center of the Wheel of Co-Creation where all aspects of our society meet as One.”
I could not help but think of this center where all parts converge as the whole in Unity, or Union as Yoga. Juan Carlos seemed to grow taller as he ended his presentation, “This is an era for synergistic cooperation.” We all applauded, not just his talk, but for the herculean effort required in bringing the community of Monterey together to focus on the united positive efforts of community leaders.
We were meeting around four tables joined in a square. Barbara would have preferred for us all to meet in a circle. She asked each of us to speak for seven minutes on the lifetime essence of our respective work and how it relates to the sector of the Wheel. Our select group consisted of people from Ireland, Chili, China, Argentina, Australia, India, France, Italy, Hungary, the U.S. and Mexico.
Ervin Laszlo, author of “The New Map of Reality: Introduction to the Holos Paradigm In Science” and founder of the Club of Budapest, appeared to be Barbara’s white-haired, small-framed, brilliant counterpart. His life’s work was building planetary infrastructures. “These initiatives can be described as ‘subtle activism’ which is promoting the evolution of a new mindset of consciousness that is leading to the revelation that every element is part of every other part. The Cosmos is a unified whole evolving from its fiery birth to ever-higher levels of coherence and complexity. Human consciousness is a non-local projection of one-consciousness of the Cosmos. Existence is an infinite cycle unfolding in space-time and beyond.”
Bharat Mitra, was representing Environment in the wheel. He quietly whispered to me, “I don’t know why I am in environment.” What a humble soul, I thought gazing down at the outline of his accomplishments. Bharat is the founder of Organic India, an India-based Company that has become a global leader in the organic wellness product market today. His work is serving as a model vehicle of consciousness in the world. Later, I asked him about the 250,000 India farmers who committed suicide due to Monsanto’s policies. “We think it is well over 250,000. Due to our project, the farmers have stopped these futile acts of suicide. They now have hope.” He had a unique transcendental approach to the environment, “It is a state of non-separation in which all life forms are recognized as being a unique expression of the same Source, or Gaia.”
Each speaker seemed to hold somewhere in their consciousness and presentation, the convergence of polarities and the essence of Oneness, which is Yoga. It seems as if all roads here lead to Yoga.
At one point in my conversation with Bharat, I shared my stereotype of Monsanto as the Darth Vader of the Universe. He gently reminded me that they too needed our compassion. His words went through me like a velvet blade. Of course, in practicing and teaching peace and conflict resolution, citizen diplomacy, and Yoga, I emphasize transcending stereotypes to see another as oneself. For years I have reminded others that there are no others. I forgot and lapsed into separation.
In this conference with the theme “Compassion,” one of the amazing speakers was reminding me, to return to Center. My thoughts surrounded the periphery of mind. There were so many elements of this one phrase, ”Monsanto needs our compassion too.” Where else had I lapsed into separation consciousness? Nuclear plants? U.S. military aggression and occupation? What we resist does persist.
I want others to leap across the line that separates a terrorist and a hero. But, I have not been able to cross the line of holding love and compassion of all those who comprise this entity called Monsanto. Instead of trying to get rid of Monsanto in India, Bharat formed an alternative.
During the Cold War years, I did just that in bridging relations between Americans and the Soviet Union to help change stereotypes. Gorbachev later said those efforts helped end the Cold War. The Soviet officials affirmed this saying, “You did not come here to tell us we were doing it wrong, you simply showed us another way. I didn’t see the Soviets as the enemy. Can I apply the same approach to Monsanto?
Speaking of polarities, Ted Chu from China was the next to speak. Representing the spoke of the Wheel on Economy, Ted was an influential executive for the World Bank. “There are still 60 million children without even access to primary education, 50 million of them living in Africa. Even in mid-income countries, the contrasts between the rich and poor are stark. We are all humans. We are equal. Why do some people in rich countries enjoy higher standards of living and more fulfillment of life? As the refugee crises in the Mideast shows, developing the economy is fundamental at helping the world in solving various political, social and cultural challenges.”
Ted then shared his hurt with the image people have of the World Bank. “We are doing very good things, especially in developing countries. Why do the NGO’s (Non-Governmental Organizations) not like us?“
My mind raced to what economist friends shared over the years, “Steer clear of the World Bank.” Whether the projected images were true or not, I was now challenged to transcend my crystallized thinking that kept them and myself in a box. Now I needed to add the World Bank to my compassion list.
Ted bravely took up the gauntlet for his employer, the World Bank. He gave an example of bringing a dam or industry to a country where some may not want it. The project would give utilities and power to three million people and in turn create jobs and change their standard of living. Perhaps 3,000 families would have to move and relocate but they don’t want to. “If we can benefit three million and create more jobs through industry, we have to sacrifice the few to benefit the many.”
Ted sounded as if it were a revelation that people did not want change and resisted it. He repeated, “Unfortunately, there are times when we must uproot the lives of the few if it will benefit the many.” He stopped, took a shallow breath expecting our agreement and understanding. Ted’s words hung over the room like a dark cloud. At the end of the conference he shared that in these three days, he came to realize that perhaps a few hundred people were as important as a million and the World Bank had to find ways to help people in serving the greater good. I marveled at this immediate transformation.
When a person has been working and inspired in their field, it seems as if there is a place where minds and hearts meet in an unspoken understanding. Those who have traveled the hills and valleys in the fulfillment of their life’s destiny recognize one another. They silently hold the space for others as they move through the trials and tribulations in the fulfillment of their own life’s destiny.
Over the years, in working with Barbara, I marveled that her work is always solution oriented. She does not dwell on the negative, nor ignore or repress, but focuses on what is working. This gives her life’s vision a beautiful balance of the socio-political and spiritual awareness. Just as Bruce Lipton found a place where science and spirit meet, Barbara and those within her network silently radiate the balance of the two.
Justin Rosenstein was the next to speak. He was representing the Wheel spoke of Technology, and the youth who will inherit the world. Justin was the creator of the “Like” button on Facebook and the co-founder of the collaborative software company, ASANA.
He shared with our group, “From an evolutionary perspective, this sector of the wheel would have all technology productions devoted to helping humanity thrive. Technology can multiply human capacities.” Justin then said something that betrayed his young years, “One of the objectives of technology is a way to work less. The end state of technology is that we want work to be no work.” Could this be a concept that divided the elders from the youth? Members of our group asked, “What would people do?” Justin answered, “They can work on their spiritual life, or spend more time with their families.”
After a break, Sandra de Castro Buffington, Founding Director of the Global Media Center for Social Impact (GMI) at UCLA’s Fielding School of Public Health, brought heart and deeper spiritual understanding to her field of new media. She emphasized the need to revive the ancestral importance of storytelling and how this could relate to every spoke on the Wheel.
Bruce Lipton’s words were brilliant, “The most important emerging paradigm in the Health Sector promoting civilizations’ ideal state is represented by the new science of Epigenetics. My personal involvement with this new field of awareness is derived from my pioneering research on cloning stem cells 48 years ago. Conventional genetic science has led the public to believe that genes control our biological fate. Since as far as we now know, we did not select the genes we received at conception.” His words slowed down dramatically, “AND that we cannot change our genes. If we do not like our traits, we are left to conclude that we are “victims” of our heredity. In contrast, epigenetic science reveals that through consciousness, we can control our genetic activity. The new science emphasizes that we are masters of our fate and not victims of our genes.” In this statement, Bruce brought together what is called the “new science” with the ancient science of Yoga. In demonstrating the Wheel of Cause and Effect found in the Yoga Sutras, it actually shows exactly how we are the architects of our own destiny. It is so wonderful when modern day science and Yoga converge.
Barbara proudly introduced me as one who meets with terrorists, “Rama holds their hands, looks into their eyes and asks them what they FEEL.” To me, this was quite a normal experience but to Barbara the impact was magical. I shared a few stories of compassionate listening and the transformational impact of this simple practice. And how it was possible to bring two warring republics of the Soviet Union together in Kiev, Ukraine when three governments failed. These stories were simply to demonstrate possibilities that go beyond our rational understanding
I shared my experience with the Dali Lama in the Middle East. We hiked up a mountain for a sunrise meditation. He gazed out over the terrain where four countries of the Middle East meet. He said, “I don’t see any environmental borders here, which makes me think that the only borders are those within the human mind.” I used this story to illustrate how we can transcend our stereotypical borders, “What is perceived as a terrorist on one side of the border, is seen as a freedom fighter on the other side.”
Bharat, who was sitting next to me, was moved by this simple presentation. He turned to me and announced to those present in the room, “Rama does not practice compassion but after many long years of being steeped in deep practices, she holds compassion in every cell of her Being. No matter who she meets, they feel it.”
I thought, I have never met him before, how does he know all of the physical, mental and emotional practices of Yoga I have pursued for 50 years? How can anyone know that my practice is continual self-observation in daily life? I apply the model of the Yoga Sutras in all walks of life, every action and interaction, in all relationships, with Yoga students, friends and family that can be the most difficult of all.
My practice has always been a continual refinement of my own evolutionary process. How can I be the change I would like to see within the world? How can I perform actions that do not harm? How can I speak only the words that heal rather than wound the hearts of others? How can I refine my thoughts so they contribute to a more peaceful world rather than a world of more division, separation, anger, and lack of forgiveness.
I try to be continually aware of any thoughts of criticism or judgments that arise in the field of mind and attempt to practice Ahimsa, non-violence, every day every hour of my life. When I fail, I remember Mahatma Gandhi’s saying, “Ahimsa is the finest quality of the soul. Anything you do will seem insignificant but it is important that you do it.”
I wondered how anyone who I just met could understand these deep inner practices that are so close to my soul. I turned to Bharat and quietly thanked him for “seeing” me.
Since the theme of this year’s conference was Compassion, I could not help remember the Dalai Lamas definition of compassion: Love plus nonattachment equal compassion.
Waiting for the next speaker, I wondered, what is the essence of love and nonattachment? Could it be that if we love the Divine in everyone, we will not be attached to anyone? It seems as if the essence of compassion is not being attached to the personality of a person but to the essence of the “One” within all, just like the center of the Wheel of Transformation. Does compassion defy the laws of the downward spiral of the personal pull of gravity to look deep enough into the human heart and soul of every being? Is it compassion that lies at the center of the Wheel? Is it where all souls meet as brothers and sisters of the one Humanity?
Each speaker brought a new dimension to compassion as well as positive solutions to the world’s crises. Is it a crisis of emergence? Is it the Goddess Chaos that precedes all change? Is it chaos that gives birth to a new order, a chaotic system that arises out of it’s own ashes like the Phoenix?
One of Monterey’s great musicians gave us all a musical experience of compassion. I’ve always seen the artist in any media of expression as being a divine channel of spirit streaming into the earth plane.
Even as I write this, my heart is moved to tears remembering the heartfelt musician who gave us all an experiential taste of compassion in his beautiful song “Angel of Winter.” It was a composition that came out of his first trip to Guadalajara where there is an extraordinary number of street children. “Angel In Winter” is about a two-year-old child who was found frozen one unusually cold winter trying to seek shelter in a cardboard box just big enough for his tiny body. The song was a eulogy to this angel who finally found liberation from the hunger, cold and loneliness of the streets.
The musician sang of the passersby that ignored the child’s outstretched hand for help and those who could not meet the eyes of this tiny beggar even though seeing his desperation to survive. He sang of the bitter cold that forced the toddler to seek shelter in an old cardboard box and how the child must have looked to the light of the stars to lift him out of his suffering to a heavenly place of liberation and freedom.
He sang of the feeling of loneliness, of abandonment and of the hunger of the human heart as it seeks to find its place in life. He sang of the indifference of adults to turn the other way when faced with the suffering of others.
As his music awakened our hearts, I thought of Mother Theresa who defied her own Order when she could no longer look away from a youngster who was dying of starvation on the streets of Calcutta. She sat on the ground next to a dying young man for hours until he took his last breath. She felt helpless as she was instructed by her superiors not to do anything in these situations.
When I met her in later years, I remember her saying that what mattered most was that each person feels loved, and cared for before they die. She intimated that there is nothing worse than dying feeling hungry, lonely and unloved.
As the musical sounds of “Angel of Winter” poignantly wafted through the rafters of this massive auditorium, the composer moved his listeners to tears and open hearts. He sang that in seeking refuge from hunger and cold, the two-year-old forgotten child finally succumbed to the only arms that reached out to embrace him, the arms of death. He sang of the yearning for the soul to take flight guided by the shimmering stars visible only through a tiny opening in the box. The musician’s words were transmitted from his heart into ours as he sang of how in dying to this world, the child’s spirit was lifted into the galaxy of heavenly light.
He wove us into the world of this forgotten child, expanding the heart to embrace the forgotten child of all ages and all countries. I thought of the mass migration of refugees from war torn regions who were seeking a better life for themselves and their families.
I remembered the story of a friend who wanted to go to India and work with Mother Theresa. She turned him back in on himself, “go home and look to the spiritual hunger of those in your life.” I could not help thinking how physical hunger is far more visible than spiritual hunger and Mahatma Gandhi saying that poverty is a form of violence.
The music ended but the effects lingered on. There are moments when the heart opens and moments when it lies dormant. There are times when we are insensitive to the suffering of others and times when we feel another’s pain as our own. If we keep our connection to a higher power of the Divine light in all and in all situations, we can feel the pain of another while holding the lifeline of the remembrance of a place that transcends suffering. When we can hold these two polarities, which is the essence of Yoga, our presence becomes a silent reminder if even for a brief moment, to transcend the illusion of pain and suffering.
Compassion transcends sympathy, looking beyond the personality to the Divine in each person. In the philosophy of Yoga there are many degrees of compassion. There are times we may think, “my heart is not big enough, my arms are not long enough to embrace the world.”
When we feel we have reached an end of our ability to love, we have only to breathe and fearlessly let go into an ever-expanding universal feeling of compassion. If we can, others will feel it …beyond words…beyond good deeds. It seems as if when we are with a person who doesn’t speak of compassion but embodies it, we feel unconditionally loved. This is the awakening of Iswara, the eternal cosmic vibration symbolized by Om. Iswara, the teacher of even the most ancients is omniscience, which is considered to be the ultimate in expansion of compassion. There are layers of compassion. As ours expands into the outer periphery of consciousness, it embraces all Beings, beyond borders and boundaries of polarized perceptions.
Compassion is contagious. If others feel it from us, then their hearts too will ignite and in turn ignite the flame in others. As we pay this forward, we can change our environment and in turn, we can change our world.
On my last day in Monterrey, the rain has stopped falling. The sun is shining. The cloudless sky is blue and the purple mountains are visible. As I wave my goodbyes to Monterey, Mexico, tears rise from my heart. I don’t want to leave the loving people who have opened their hearts to me, and those who have opened mine.