Nedavno je u okviru američkog časopisa za promicanje prosvjetljenog načina života i djelovanja objavljen transkript razgovora za okruglim stolom trojice pametnih vizionara koje je vodio Andrew Cohen.
Ukratko, raspravljalo se o pitanju "Koji je uistinu bitan duhovni put našeg vremena?" u kontekstu stanja okoliša i osobne transformacije svijesti.
Razgovor kopiram u cjelosti na engleskom sa stranice:
The Challenge of Our Moment
A Discussion with Don Beck, Brian Swimme, & Peter Senge
Moderated by Andrew Cohen & introduced by Craig Hamilton
Craig Hamilton: If there is one thing that all of the futurists and visionaries we spoke with for this issue seem to agree on, it is that whatever course our collective destiny takes, navigating the years ahead is going to be a challenge. As the unpredictable forces of change transform every sector of planetary life and culture—societal, technological, environmental, geopolitical—the terrain of our global village is morphing beneath our feet, bringing with it an increasingly complex, interwoven web of problems requiring our attention, demanding a response. But what sort of response will truly meet the challenges ahead? To whom can we look for a vision all-encompassing enough to embrace the complexity of the conditions that confront us at the dawn of the twenty-first century? If Einstein was correct in his assertion that "problems cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created them," then what sort of new thinking and what sorts of new thinkers are going to take us beyond the existential conundrums of tomorrow?
Those who read our last issue will remember Don Beck as the psychologist and geopolitical wizard behind Spiral Dynamics, a revolutionary model of human values development that is finding its way into the offices and toolkits of an ever-increasing number of global and organizational leaders. Beck’s theory presents a comprehensive picture of the progressive stages through which individuals, organizations, and cultures evolve, and in so doing provides a key to understanding and untangling large-scale conflicts. By showing that most major conflicts boil down to a clash between different core value systems or memes, Beck has played a key role in such major undertakings as the ending of South African apartheid and the societal restructuring of Singapore.
Large-scale transformation is also at the core of Brian Swimme's work, and in his case, large is the operative word. A mathematical cosmologist with the heart of a nature mystic, Swimme has spent the past two decades bringing to life the awe-inspiring tale of cosmic evolution that has been unfolding as our universe since it exploded into existence some fourteen billion years ago. Swimme has dedicated his life to awakening others to the wonder of our cosmic heritage and the unique role and responsibility of the human in carrying evolution forward.
Changing the world means changing institutions, and there are few who have explored the territory of institutional transformation like "management giant" Peter Senge. Widely regarded as "the world's most extraordinary thinker on creating learning organizations," Senge shook the foundations of business thinking with the publication of his 1990 book The Fifth Discipline, in which he transformed the abstract ideas of systems theory into practical tools for grappling with the complexities of large-scale organizational change. A senior lecturer at MIT, Senge speaks extensively throughout the world, calling leaders in business, education, health care, and government to bring vision, purpose, reflectiveness, and systems thinking into their organizational culture
ANDREW COHEN: Gentlemen, the question that we are looking into is very simple: What is a truly relevant spiritual path for our times? But the issues it raises are multifaceted. For example, will the religious traditions, in their current forms, be able to meet the needs of the awakening human in the twenty-first century? Will they be able to serve as catalysts for the much-needed response to the emerging multidimensional crisis we find ourselves in the midst of? Or do we need a new (or improved) approach to this whole topic? So this is the direction of our discussion. But before we go into these questions, I think it's important to speak a little bit about what our current crisis actually is. Many feel that we may be on the verge of a civilizational war, that the growing stress on our natural environment is creating a worldwide emergency where the very survival of life as we have known it is at stake, and simultaneously, many of our institutions seem to be failing dramatically to meet the demands of these changing life conditions. So to begin, could you each please describe simply and clearly from your own vantage point what this crisis is?
DON BECK: I think we're in what could be called the "Age of Fragmentation"— fragmentation as a result of the end of the Cold War and the breakdown of the simpler bipolar world it represented. The suppressed value systems and cultural forces that have been bubbling and boiling for generations are suddenly revealed. And now we're seeing tribes, empires, holy "ism" orders, crusades, jihads—we are subjected to unbelievable change because there are billions of people who are passing through different levels of development simultaneously.
Many people are now moving into zones of societal development that we, in the Western world, vacated three hundred years ago. So, instead of our species moving in a singular advance along a horizontal line, there are multiple changes happening up and down the developmental spiral. Which means that all the ancient wars, conflicts, revenges, and grudges that have characterized human history from the very beginning, are now reappearing—all at the same time.
And simultaneously, we are witnessing new versions of a historic shift as our economic, political, technological, and social worlds are, indeed, being pulled closer together. So we are presented with a world of complexity like we've never had before. Unhappily, none of our institutional forms or coping systems can match this complexity. We are searching frantically for organizing systems that can handle these new conditions; we are searching for cohesion in this Age of Fragmentation.
BRIAN SWIMME: Yes, exactly. To describe the nature of the crisis, I would put it this way: We have given birth to these powerful forms of institutions—by which I mean corporations and large organizations, as well as nation-states, and even, to a certain degree, whole civilizations—and we have shaped these with our various different worldviews or mentalities. So we've given birth to all of these institutions, and we happen to be in a moment when the limitation of the mind that gave birth to these has become apparent. That limitation is a very specific one: the form of mind that shaped these institutions was what I would call microphase—which means it was only dealing with the dynamics of a part in relationship to a whole. This form of mind has its roots very deep in our evolutionary past. It has come to us from a long history of learning how to survive.
Now, that mentality was fine as long as the human species was just one species among many. But over the last several decades, we have actually become something far more. In terms of our impact on the planet, we've become something comparable to the atmosphere or the hydrosphere. We have become planetary. We've become a planetary partner to the atmosphere and the biosphere. But we don't live in institutions that were designed to carry out that larger role. These institutions were designed to deal with problems that are smaller than the entire planet. So our challenge is to give birth to institutions that are shaped by a mind that is planetary, a wisdom that is responsible to the entire planet.
BECK: That's true, Brian. We might ask: Why don't we just sit back and let the process continue? After all, so far, we humans have survived and landed on our feet. But what makes it extremely dangerous today is that we have billions of people who are poised to experience a quality of life in the so-called first world—materialism—at a time when many of us are realizing how limited that is and that we need to live more lightly on the land.
COHEN: Yes, this is all so true. And from what I've observed, most people just don't seem to be awake to this crisis. I mean, it's not that we haven't heard about it, but maybe we're choosing to avoid facing the truth about all this because the implications are just so overwhelming!
PETER SENGE: Yes. I think that the degree to which people perceive that there's a crisis varies a great deal depending on where they stand in the world today. I think the sense that "there really is no big crisis" is probably strongest in the United States—even after 9/11. You know, it's a pretty understandable human reaction to put our heads back in the sand and just assume that the war on terrorism will get taken care of by somebody, somewhere. There's clearly a lot of dis-ease under the surface, but on the surface there's an "eat, drink, and be merry" kind of mindset, which we work hard to maintain. I think there are two reasons for this. One reason is the traditional isolation and insulation of American culture. Relative to most of the world's "advanced" or industrialized countries, we're probably the most isolated. Perhaps Japan is the only other one that's close—and that highlights the point: we're as isolated as an island.
The second reason is that we're the world's biggest perpetrator of a lot of the problems. Clearly, the U.S. is the world's largest consumer of raw materials, and the world's largest believer in the mainstream globalization of capitalism. But it's very hard for us to look in the mirror and imagine that we might be the most dangerous country in the world, which I think, without question, we are. And therefore, it's very hard to name these crises in ways that people will agree to because the perceptions are so different around the world. Even in Europe, there are different perceptions from here. And certainly the rest of the world, by and large, has a very different take on the challenges that we face, which revolve around the ecological and social imbalances that are getting worse and worse.
COHEN: So the second question I'd like to go into is this: What are the different capacities and kinds of responses that will be required from us in order to be able to meet these life conditions?
SWIMME: I'd say that the nature of our moment is that humans have become this planetary power. Yet we're operating with an understanding that is microphase, or partial, or fragmented. So in terms of the practical capacity we need, it would be something like learning how to think like a planet. The practical challenge is to become a mode of a complex planetary community.
I like an idea of Peter's that I've heard: that these institutions we've created, these large corporations, are something like a new species. I think that's a great way to think about them. They are very new and very young. So the capacity we need right now is like a new form of natural selection. We need to develop the skills of understanding complex systems so that we can hone, reinvent, and reshape these institutions so that they build an integral Earth community.
BECK: I think what's been missing is the understanding that we have to redistribute not just resources but the coping mechanisms to handle more complex issues. External approaches designed to improve the human condition are faulted unless they also include, as parallel and simultaneous tracks, the essential steps and stages in interior social development. Economic, political, and technological efforts must correlate with the levels of complexity of thinking within individuals and entire cultures—otherwise they will make things worse, not better. If we just pour money on problems, it ends up in Swiss bank accounts. We've tried the egalitarian approach, assuming that everyone is at the same level of thinking and therefore will act in a responsible fashion, and it doesn't work. So because people are at different levels of development, we have to think in terms of constructing the habitats. If we can think in those terms, I believe there's a real possibility that we can stitch together this wounded world.
SWIMME: Could you say a bit more about what you mean by "constructing the habitats"?
BECK: Well, when I talk about habitats, I mean the social, political, and economic habitats or life conditions that will facilitate new levels of psychological emergence in individuals and cultures. The system of Spiral Dynamics uses the image of a spiral to describe the underlying developmental process through which individuals and cultures progress, with each upward turn representing the worldviews or value systems within us that form in response to changing life conditions. The Spiral Dynamics model identifies eight mems or levels of development through which both individuals and whole societies pass. These fundamental core patterns, although expressed in different ways in various cultures and subcultures, are common themes across humanity, all over the planet. And only by understanding these deeper value-system currents does it become possible to develop more realistic big-picture views and craft practical and appropriate solutions to real problems.
The idea would be that we gently, if possible, and sometimes with tough love when necessary, assist humans to emerge through these layers and levels. A good example of how this can work would be Singapore, where they built a pretty rigid authoritarian system, which most of us would see as unnecessarily punitive. But that's how those folks are dealing with their life conditions, which include five volatile ethnic groups that need that structure. And now they need to move to the next level and create a more scientific, rational system—in other words, create "Singapore, Inc." and begin to compete more openly in the global economy.
So you can begin to see how, as the life conditions problems are solved at one level, the next political/social/economic package becomes necessary, which then makes possible a movement to the next level. And because different cultures are at different levels on the spiral, there are different futures for different folks. What's next for Singapore would be something that's history for us. And the future of the third world will have to be second world Singapore-type authority before either first world autonomy become an option.
COHEN: Now I'd like to go into some of the questions I mentioned earlier. In light of everything you've all just laid out, it's obvious that in order to meet this crisis, human beings will have to evolve to a higher level of consciousness and a deeper level of maturity. Do you think that the religious traditions in their current forms are equipped to help us recognize, come to terms with, and respond to the dramatic nature of the changing life conditions that we're in the midst of?
SWIMME: I think that the religious traditions were, generally speaking, set up to accomplish things that were different than what this crisis is demanding. So for the most part, they are not focused on this, and most of them don't recognize the crisis even now, in the terms in which one would want it to be recognized. But they just were not designed for that; they weren't about this crisis. This is new; it's never happened in the history of the world.
At the same time, there are resources within all of the religious traditions that are, I think, essential for our moment. It's not as if we can just throw them over. I think they do provide crucial insights and practices. But they have to be, in a certain sense, shaped and transformed to be appropriate.
BECK: I agree, and I think the question is: What level of religious system are we talking about? I think this is also what Brian was implying. Because when you say "religion," I tend to think in terms of the levels of development out of which those religions arose. For example, many of the great traditions arose out of a mythic, absolutist, authoritarian stage. And maybe, because of very conservative elements, some of them will never be able to see this big picture and therefore will not be able to change. Yet, they are very important because they help people and cultures to make a particular developmental shift, out of a lower level (egocentric) into a higher level (absolutist). They understand that transition better than anybody, but they are not going to understand anything beyond that.
So for example, some of these conservative religious systems are clearly addressing the needs of a lot of people, even Americans, especially many coming out of so-called minority communities. And if we can see the value of that, and at the same time say to those in these traditions, "Beware of becoming a closed system," then we've done ourselves a great favor. So how we understand the verticality or developmental importance of these expressions of religion, or spirituality, is the key element.
SENGE: What's the word you're using, Don, "verticality"?
BECK: Yes. When I say "understand the verticality," I mean, see the importance of different spiritual forms at different stages of development, rather than what many people do, which is to discredit earlier forms. The shift that we need to bring about is from embracing a single expression of religion and spirituality to recognizing the evolutionary flow of religious experiences. If we can do this, I think the whole spiritual community can play a major role in the kind of transformation that is needed.
SWIMME: If we can bring forth the central ideas from each tradition that are helpful, it would really be an amazing contribution to the transformation we're in. I love the way Don put it, that some of these traditions are absolute experts at various aspects of the developmental transitions that are required. If we can bring those into play in our current context, it could be very powerful.
COHEN: Yes. And it is indeed enlightening when one recognizes that human emotional, psychological, and spiritual evolution is part of a vast, complex developmental process—a process that we are all, individually and collectively, participating in.
What kind of new moral, ethical, and spiritual framework would each of you advocate that would enable more and more of us to meet the great challenges of our life conditions?
SENGE: I think we know plenty about spirituality, morality, and ethics. But what has shifted totally is the context because, as we've been saying, the context now is global, and therefore it can't be anything less than a global spirituality. I think there is immense innate knowledge in the human, and probably in quite a few other species, that we would all consider to be spiritual knowledge, but the problem is that we don't know how to access it and cultivate it in the present global context.
The one place that I think we can look, to some degree, is science. I think the spirituality of the next millennium will be very tied to science. Because, for all its shortcomings, the development of Western science in the last four or five hundred years is undoubtedly an important development in human society, and many people have pointed to science as kind of the religion of this epoch. I think that's probably a pretty good analogy. Today we look to scientists as people traditionally looked to religious leaders, to tell us how reality really works.
COHEN: Don, what kind of new moral, ethical, and spiritual framework would you advocate to enable more and more of us to meet the great challenges of our changing life conditions?
BECK: I think part of it will be a recognition that different people at different stages have to embrace different versions of spirituality. And rather than their being the target of our scorn and ridicule, our task is to help them through these healthy, positive expressions of spirituality because these expressions are necessary at different stages of the spiral. So the framework that I'm talking about contains these elements of pilgrimage, of trial and error, of gaining new systems, of leaving ego behind, of doing whatever is necessary to increase the capacity for more complex thinking.
COHEN: Brian, what kind of new moral, ethical, and spiritual framework would you advocate?
SWIMME: Framework is a perfect word because we find ourselves in this moment, at least in the West, of having broken apart all the frameworks. There's nothing we can really agree on, in terms of value. What we're left with is lowest-common-denominator consumerism. That's our world! So what would be a new framework?
It seems to me that we're in the moment of discovering this new framework of the universe in development itself. As you've mentioned, Andrew, and Peter and Don, it is a vast new historical revelation of life, of spirit, or of the universe. I liked what Peter said—it will be a new science. And I guess I would describe it in two ways. One would be the discovery of evolution, cosmic evolution. We have this amazing vision of the universe, coming from this numinous seed and then expanding out to where we are now. So from this empirically based approach to reality, it's just so evident that we are connected and involved with everything. We're all coming from the same seed point.
So that would be the large-scale discovery. And then to deepen it, in terms of the micro nature of reality, we have the quantum discovery of the inseparability of the inner and the outer. And this goes with what Peter was talking about. Now we realize that this division between inner and outer simply is not viable; it was an illusion that worked for Newton and Descartes, but the deeper understanding is seamlessness. And so we have the discovery of a developing universe that is, from the beginning, seamless. We are everywhere involved with the whole thing.
In this framework, then, our fundamental challenge is this notion of individuality, or we could say discontinuity. We have this illusion that we're not connected, we're not part of, we're separate from, and our entire economic and political systems are based on that premise: the separation between the human and the rest of the world. So one of the great challenges is breaking out of that illusion. And that's why, Andrew, I love your work and your emphasis on the way in which we have to learn how to disappear into the evolutionary process so that we break out of that fragmented ego.
COHEN: That's a great description of it. That's the essence of what I would call "Evolutionary Enlightenment"—transcending ego so that we can literally disappear into and become one with the evolutionary process itself.
SWIMME: So I think that is the framework—we recognize then that we aren't these isolated individuals, but we really are the whole thing; we're a mode of the whole thing. And so we develop the capacity to flow into the whole thing—and I like the way Don puts it—in the service of life. We have this power that no other species has had—human self-consciousness. But it's not for humans. And when that power is put in service of the whole, we become a way in which the whole evolutionary process moves into another phase of its beauty.
COHEN: That's profound. And so, therefore, this new framework would have to illuminate the fact that it indeed is we who have created the past and who will create the future. It would have to emphasize not only the global context of human incarnation in the twenty-first century but also the evolutionary context. As you so beautifully described, we are all playing a crucial role in a developmental process that, for the most part, we remain unconscious of.
So the significant task of a new spirituality would be to oblige us to become conscious of that fact. And most importantly, in this context, the task of a new spirituality would be a perennial one—to awaken as many of us as possible to the ultimate truth that there is only One and that we are all that One. Obviously we have come to a point where the divisions in the way that we think about life and the way we live life need to be urgently questioned. Our very survival depends on it. Indeed, what it means to be a human being in the twenty-first century is one issue at this point! That's what has become loud and clear in this conversation. Thank you all very much.
Tekst je možda dug i svakako težak, ali me zanima imate li neko mišljenje o tome što ovi ljudi govore? Šta mislite, koja je glavna poruka? Koje su druge ideje iznesene unutra koje vam se (ne)sviđaju?