Edited by HENRY REED, Ph.D.
January 23,   2009
How Can We Embrace Changing Times

 

How Can We Embrace Changing Times?

Henry Reed, Ph.D.

Professor of Transpersonal Studies

Atlantic University

 

            "The times, they are a changin'." sang Bob Dylan. Yet the truth of the matter is, change has been a constant, for life itself requires it. Yet, we humans, who are a part of life, have difficulty coping with change. Some paradox! What Bob really means is, these times are changing a lot! My grandmother (now in spirit) told me how she went from riding in a horse and buggy to watching a man walk on the moon. These past decades have seen change unprecedented in recorded history.

            Change occurs over time, and the length of the time intervals affects what kinds of changes occur. From day to night takes a few hours, from leaves falling to flowers blooming takes a few months. Recently we have been introduced to time intervals much larger, measured in tens of thousands of years. For example, we've been aware for some time that we are moving from what is called the Age of Pisces to the Age of Aquarius. Most notably for our current work, we hear a lot about the Galactic Alignment, which some claim also mark the change of "Ages." We can contemplate what kind of changes take 26,000 years! Evidence abounds that that the earth has endured many calamitous changes (The Cycle of Cosmic Catastrophes, The End of Eden: The Comet that Changed Civilization). The changes represented by the movements of the stars and other celestial events (Apocalypse 2012: An Investigation into Civilization's End) are beyond our own control and personal responsibility. We didn't cause them. They are just happening, although we will have to adapt (Cosmos and Psyche).

            There are, however, other kinds of changes for which we can look to ourselves as somehow involved in the challenging changes that confront us. A comprehensive perspective on consciousness and its growth (such as Integral Consciousness and Spiral Dynamics) proposes that every stage of consciousness inherently has its own shadow side, its blind spot. This shadow consciousness creates problems. It's a matter of unintended consequences. These problems confound consciousness, because these problems cannot be solved within the same stage of consciousness that created them. Thus, the problems serve as a stimulant to a growth in consciousness, becoming a source for the evolution of consciousness, to the next stage, and then the cycle will repeat. It is kind of like when the devil is referred to as Lucifer, the light bringer. The devil creates problems that shed light upon the limitations of our current consciousness.

            At another level we might see the analogy of the statement, "when life gives you a lemon, make lemonade," meaning that our consciousness has the opportunity to grow from learning from misfortune. Today we hear a lot about a world in crisis that is essentially the birth pangs of a new beginning.

            The changes for which we are implicated are these:

            1)         Globalization (The World is Flat), which is making our planet smaller, more interconnected. Technological advances in transportation and communication are the main sources of this change. Job losses, displacements in cultures, invasions of competing species and worldviews threatening traditional native life and values, etc. are some of the results.

            2)         Related to globalization is the progressive loss of boundaries (pollution, AIDS, computer viruses, terrorism, food supply, financial markets, intellectual properties, remote viewing, etc.) which threatens the extinction of our understanding of sovereignty--both national, institutional, and personal (Entangled Minds).

            3)         Global warming (An Inconvenient Truth), in which the technology applied has had the unintended consequence of carbon dioxide in the air, etc. There may also be normal planet earth cycles involved.

            4)         The resource pressures, nearing the end of oil, water shortages, food shortages, the dying off of bees, things which threaten our physical existence .

            These changes are not speculative, but are real, and are compounding one another. It would seem that a "perfect storm" of influential factors are converging to create tremendous change. I'm reminded of the advice of PMH Atwater, that we should not be lazy in our thinking but realize the immensity of the forces at work and the challenge falling upon us. The challenges will stimulate solutions: telecommuting, going green, etc., but many scientists wonder if these efforts will be enough soon enough (A Vision for 2012: Planning for Extraordinary Change).

            Thus we have several sources of pressure creating profound changes, or the potential for profound changes, and we have to adapt. The adaptation is along the lines of a change in consciousness.

            One such change, somewhat archetypal in nature and thus quick to occur to our human imagination, is often called a "shift" (The Shift: The Revolution in Human Consciousness),perhaps in response to the earlier notion of a "pole shift"(Pole Shift: Predictions and Prophecies of the Ultimate Disaster), speaking of an event on planet earth, or, in Jungian terms, an antidromia, or a change of heart (2012: The Transformation From the Love of Power to the Power of Love), a shift in consciousness (Pinchbek's 2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl, is the largest survey of such ongoing shifts in consciousness). Falling in with the idea of The Hundreth Monkey, or a Tipping Point, there is the idea that as enough people begin to make these changes in consciousness, there will come a tipping point where even more people will make the change and things, the outer world, reality, will correspondingly shift (A History of the End of the World).

            So we are dealing with two aspects of change: the forces for change, and the resulting response to change, which is itself a change.

            Considering now the stage of consciousness that is responsible for the global pressures referred to above, what shall we refer to? We might first look at the history of consciousness as a guide. We can look at it either in terms of the history of humanity or the biography of an individual human (one parallels the other, as they say) Long ago, Eric von Neumann wrote his classic analysis, The Origins and History of Consciousness, where he described two major stages of consciousness, one when we were identified with our surroundings, living in a merged consciousness with the environment, and then a shift to the awareness of a separate, autonomous self. We learn about the move from a matriarchal consciousness to a patriarchal consciousness. Other historians and philosophers of consciousness might refer to the Enlightenment and Descartes, and the idea of a duality, an inner subjectivity and an outer objectivity. Later thinkers, such as Ken Wilber (Up from Eden: A Transpersonal View of Human Evolution), have divided up the stages in more steps. In many respects, the two systems are analogous, as the feminine has more of a merger feeling, and the masculine more of a separate, autonomous feeling. Another aspect of consciousness that is being blamed as the creator of our problems and the light bringer of our evolution has been the materialistic consciousness, that the physical is real, the mental is not. Whether dualism, materialism, patriarchy, is the consciousness culprit, they seem to have similar unintended consequences and we can look ahead to how these will be superceded in the next step of evolution. Years ago, Marilyn Ferguson, in her ground-changing book, The Aquarian Conspiracy, outlined some projected changes, which she summarized under the rubric, a "shfit if paradigm, from separation to interconnectedness." The discovery of "non-local" reality certainly fits that bill. There are many, many projected types of changes that could occur. For a complete list, with links to many sites, go see henryreed.com/futureconsciousness.

            Pierre Teillhard de Chardin (The Future of Man) may be one of the first to put forth the notion that consciousness evolves, and he had a future vision of where it was headed. Barbara Marx Hubbard (The Revelation: A Message of Hope for the New Millenium) is also someone noted for sounding the note of evolution before contemporary problems made evolution more on our minds, kind of like a Noah's ark, that we must evolve or die. One of the things that Hubbard stressed was that unlike previous aspects of evolution, that somehow happened by the mechanical process of "survival of the fittest," the contemporary change is more like "the survival of the wisest," in that evolution is in our hands, is up to us, depends upon our choices, and has stimulated a lot of education, outreach, teaching, proselytizing, as if we knew that unless we could inspire many, many folks to change their consciousness, the necessary tipping point would not be reached.

            How are we to change? Transform? That is, what is the direction of this evolution? What will the future human be like? Where would we go to find the answer to that question, what models do we have? For example, there is the Christian model of "being saved in Jesus," so that when the "rapture" comes, you'll be taken to Heaven. We can look to "evolved" individuals, who usually were great teachers, and examine their consciousness. Richard Bucke did this research years ago for his book, Cosmic Consciousness. We can look to psychological studies of human growth and actualization (The Farther Reaches of Human Nature), studying especially how gifted people achieve even greater consciousness, or how special techniques have brought out special characteristics in consciousness (The Psychology of the Future), such as the study of the long-term effects of meditation. We can look to studies of anomalous experiences, such as UFO encounters (Passport to the Cosmos; The Omega Project: Near Death Experiences, UFO Encounters and Mind at Large) and near death experiences, to see what "forces" outside our normal perception may be contributing to a direction for growth in consciousness.

            As we examine each of these lines of study, of prophecy, etc. we can also reflect upon our own lives (When Life Changes or We Wish it Would). What events in our own lives have led to growth? How have we learned to adapt to change? Each of us has a different growing tip, leading edge, and like Columbus and his detractors, we may long to cross the great waters, yet fear that we'll fall off the edge of the planet and drop into the realm of monsters. But the idea here is that although we may contemplate processes, forces, and cycles that are way beyond the scope of a lifetime, these are also mirrored in the little events of our own growth and life story. Thus as we begin to gain a holistic, comprehensive understanding of all that is in play, we can begin to find analogies in our own lives, and can begin to assume responsibility for aligning ourselves with the forces of evolution, both to learn how to transform gracefully, and also to help others do so. In such a way, we become prophets, using our intuition and foretaste to guide us into a path that is constructive and congruent with the growing reality.

            To use an analogy to better express what I mean by the value of collating this information into as compact a vision as possible, to better guide us in our efforts, suppose the factors at work pressing us for evolution are like a force trying to push a square peg through a round hole. Clearly the square peg won't fit. It must transform itself into a roundness in order to go through. If we were to use this simple image to organize our information, we'd want to understand the nature of the force pushing on the square peg, what makes a square peg a square, why a square can't go through a round hole, what is the nature of roundness, and how can a square become round. In other words, then, taking it personally, what are your corners? What keeps them intact? How can you become more round? If I could take all the lines of thought, speculation, channeling, tradition, research and such, regarding these evolutionary factors, and express all of that with the simplicity of the square peg round hole analogy, I think it would be a lot easier for us to connect with what's happening and initiate the needed adjustments. Of course, we'd still be faced with the question of how can we motivate the square peg and facilitate its transformation into something round. Our response to the call to change remains critical.

            We've looked at some of the forces at work, such as globalization, climate change, and galactic cycles. We've glanced at some of the corners of the square, such as dualism and materialism. And we've listed the many sources of information about the nature of the round thing that will emerge on the other side of the hole. There are so many expressions and aspects to the roundness that it is difficult to find a way in to them so as to organize them in as succinct an image as possible. I've maintained that it is necessary to consider many, many sources of information and guidance about the eventual roundness, and now let me share a little about why I think it is so.

            We might begin with looking at historical, almost archetypal, traditional propositions about the nature of the idealized (future) consciousness. Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish, Christian (The Archetype of the Apocalypse), Moslem, etc. each have their teachings on what is the "goal" or "higher consciousness," or enlightenment, that might characterize the nature of the roundness on the other side of the hole. For convenience, however, we might turn to Aldous Huxley and his research on what he called "The Perennial Philosophy." That refers to what all the spiritual traditions have in common, what is there essential sameness. He concluded that this common essence can be expressed in three words, "Thou art That." There are many ways of "unpacking" the meaning condensed in those three words. Here are a couple of equivalent expressions: The "you" that you experience as being "inside" and the "world" you experience as being "outside" are the same thing. Oneness is also a common tag word. Perhaps you can think of others. Each alternative perhaps emphasizes a different aspect of this statement. From this essential principle comes the "prime directive," which we are familiar with as "The Golden Rule." Treat others as yourself.

            Let's look at this prescription for a moment. Suppose everyone in the world were to suddenly follow the Golden Rule. Would that solve the problem? Would earthly resources become more evenly distributed? Would global warming cease? Would the galactic alignment cease to be relevant? I don't think that an immediate answer, either yes or no, is justified, but is worth thinking about more deeply, for I suspect that if everyone were to follow the Golden Rule tomorrow, it certainly would help things, crime rates would go down, and wars would cease, but we'd still have the challenge of the distribution of resources and how to deal with climate change. Perhaps, if we had enough time, following the Golden Rule could eventually make for a sustainable life on the planet. If we all loved one another as ourselves, certainly we would be enacting the behavioral pattern that would be similar to what we might expect from a "Messiah" coming and creating peace upon the earth.

            One of the issues involved in this imaginary scenario has to do with the question of whether or not, or to what extent, you can change your consciousness by acting as if your consciousness were changed. In other words, if you were to deliberately treat everyone as yourself, would you over time become psychic for everyone, have the mystical experience of oneness with all life? "Fake it until you make it" is a phrase I've associated with my experience in Alcoholics Anonymous, but I also find this same principle in the Edgar Cayce readings. He suggests that certain attitudes and emotions are more healthy and more spiritually harmonious, and that if you can't feel that way now, behave as if you do feel that way, and soon those behaviors will pull in the feelings and the raw, direct experience, i.e., the desired attitudes and emotions. The recent trend in "Positive Psychology" has stimulated a lot of research in support of such ideas.

            There's yet another issue that makes a universal acceptance of the Golden Rule perhaps an insufficient remedy for what lies ahead. One of the consequences of globalization is that the people of the world are becoming more inter-dependent. What happens to the people in one country has impact upon people in other countries. The current worldwide financial crisis is a case in point. Little known in our culture of denial concerning the reality of parapsychological phenomenon is the fact that when a group of people become inter-dependent, the frequency of psychic (i.e., telepathic) interaction and influence, recognized or not, increases. The implication is that the amount of psychic interaction, influence or contagion among the peoples of the planet is increasing. The Maharishi Effect and The Global Consciousness Project have provided evidence that the mental state of a group of people has "non-local" consequences for other people's mental state and upon physical processes. In my earlier essay on a plausible scenario of the occurrence of an actual apocalypse, "Lifting the Veil: Rapture or Rupture?," I presented evidence from my research on people who have had intrusive psychic experiences that suggested that the content of such experiences reflects a "return of the repressed." In other words, if there are disturbing issues within a person's unconscious, one way these issues can come to awareness safely is through a psychic perception of some other person's analogous suffering. In the parlance of metaphysics, we would say, "like attracts like." The implication of this fact is that as the world's problems intensify, those folks who respond primarily with fear will psychically interact and intensify one another's emotions. Those folks who are working hard to leave fear behind and live a life of love will also psychically support one another. Mass psychic contagion is a real possibility.

            Complicating this proposed effect of the "shrinking planet," is the loss of boundaries at many levels of global society. Since boundaries are one of the primary cognitive tools in the construction of the perceived "separate self," there are global pressures to dismantle this perception. Synergistic with this historical deconstruction of "ego," are the various spiritual philosophies teaching their version of the non-dualistic "Perennial Philosophy." When I was a graduate student, you read about such events only in the context of Zen training in Japan, leading to what they called "Satori." Today, with the help of such pioneers as Douglas Harding, whose visual metaphor of "having no head" has helped Westerners gain an easier foothold on what is actually an easy shift in perception of reality, more and more people are experiencing what is now called "non-dual awareness." I have experienced it briefly on several occasions. The first time, when I was young, I experienced it as "depersonalization," because the world "out there" became as flat  as a movie screen and the world images mere projections on that screen. I have talked to others who have had this experience and it was scary for them, too. In later years, this same experience showed me that consciousness is the primary reality, which is the essence of Enlightenment, and is the trend in new thought on consciousness. Given the pressures on the continued existence of personal boundaries, this non-dual awareness becomes a probably candidate for mass psychic contagion. For some, it would spell the end of the world, for others, that Heaven had arrived.

            In my experiment to combine comparative study with intuitive investigation into the future, which I call "The School for Prophets," folks have worked with me to develop new ideas about how to best respond to the changing times. At last year's gathering, we concluded that one possible strategy for responding to changing times, from job loss to apocalypse, is to rely on an ancient spiritual principle, or axiom. An axiom is something that cannot be proven, yet if used as a starting point leads to interesting experiences. The axiom being, "everything is perfect and happening just as is meant to happen," an awareness that Richard Bucke found common among people who had experienced what he called "Cosmic Consciousness." The implication of this axiom is a feeling of gratitude for all that one experiences.

            An Edgar Cayce practitioner, Everett Irion, used to counsel people to write out forty times a day, "Thank you, Father." I used to think the idea was somewhat authoritarian, like a slave who was allowed only obedience and obsequiousness. However, over the years, I have found that the practice of engendering gratitude for all my experiences has proven to be a wonderful elixir, a gateway to greater depth of understanding, and a practical strategy for making lemonade. I am now much enamored of William Blake's statement, "Gratitude is Heaven itself." I could go on about this equation, and I think I've expounded on it in my book, The Intuitive Heart. Suffice it to say that although I do not go around with a smile on my face and an open heart, but I have found that the direct application of the formula does have at least a temporary effect upon my consciousness that reinforces my use of it. So, I do know that it is, in some instances, possible to fake it until you make it. But how long does it take? Those of us attending The School for Prophets discussed this issue at some length.

            Some pointed out that the difference between primary spirituality and religion, is that the former is based upon direct experience while the latter is an attempt to create patterns of behavior that are explainable and teachable to the average person who has not had the direct experience, but which would guide that average person toward a lifestyle that was congruent or harmonious with the direct experience, with the expectation that the person would become more available to the experience, or at least not engage in behaviors that would block having the direct experience. Those with the direct experience need no rules, or religion, because acting spontaneously from the direct experience their behaviors are consistent with that experience-it is only natural.

                        We concluded that following behavioral guidelines, such as the Golden Rule, even though it is an expression of the state of consciousness toward which we may be headed, will be insufficient. We need remedial experiences to help us change our perception of reality itself. Well, one such methodology has been around for a long, long time: meditation. The Marharishi Effect and The Relaxation Response together suggest the importance of getting more and more people meditating. Would mass meditation be sufficient to ease the square peg into a roundness, or will the uncontrollable forces or factors at work crush that peg before it can dissolve its corners through meditation? Many people assert, however, that we should ignore the possibilities of horrible things happening, to avoid a self-fulfilling prophecy. Let's not, in the name of the "Law of Attraction" ignore the perils out of fear that paying attention to them will draw them to us.

            Not that I can't see the merits of that law. Let me share with you an actual experience that shows how I put that law into a balanced perspective. I was taking a course in "tracking," a process derived from the study of indigenous peoples. In one phase, we were told about how a person could "disappear" in the environment, not being detected by those hunting for the person, through an act of consciousness. I had an intuition as to this possibility and on one of our field excursions during this training, I managed to leave the group undetected, went around and ahead of the group's path, and then laid myself down on the ground less than six feet from the path. I then began to meditate, and did so especially with regard to simply relaxing and doing nothing to "hide" or even acknowledge the upcoming presence of the folks in the group. The best way I can explain that is to suggest that you imagine what it must be like to attempt to sit in front of a group of people who are staring at you, close your eyes, and allow yourself to fall asleep in front of them. To do so you have to become totally indifferent to their presence. And sure enough, as I lay there on the ground in that frame of mind, they all walked past me without seeing me at all. I've also had dreams where I was fearing someone coming after me, and I sensed in the dream how my fear of that someone drew that person to me. So I'm familiar with the underlying feelings that give rise to the Law of Attraction. However, I think there is a difference between dwelling upon or fearing the coming changes, on the one hand, and being mindful of the changes as a motivation for action. "All we have to fear is fear itself," has a lot of truth in this arena, but it is not saying to ignore the challenges, just not to fear them, as the fear will paralyze us and in that way keep us in the path of what we fear. Studies of those who survive or don't survive catastrophes support this type of thinking. So I believe we do better by being fully aware of the gravity of the situation, in all its details, but being aware in away that informs us to the nature of the forces so as to guide us into the kind of changes these forces are pushing us toward.

            At the conclusion of last year's School for Prophets, we concluded that the best we can do now is to support one another, psychically, in the endeavor to meditate, to become more familiar with non-dual awareness, and to practice gratitude as we encounter unexpected changes. Furthermore, we realized that there are thousands upon thousands of others who are similarly oriented, and that we should be mindful of their existence, linking our intentions with theirs. As a result of our experience meditating on crop circles, we also realized that the coming evolution in consciousness is so "outside the box" of our normal ways of thinking, that it is imperative for us to expand our ability to think in new ways, cultivating the thoughts of the heart, which can transcend dualism, separation, and fear. Exercising our ability to expand our consciousness, to entertain new visions of God within (e.g., God is Not Dead: What Quantum Physics Tells us about our Origins and how We Should Live; The God Theory), the activity of Creative Forces, the intent of an intelligent designer, and other approaches to transpersonal awareness, will enable us to become willing participants and co-creators of the future.

            Our attempts to imagine this future, to foresee it, as in prophecy, has required more than study, but the engagement of all our intuitive abilities. Some of the experiments we attempt at The School for Prophets date back more than thirty years, to when Atlantic University inaugurated the groundbreaking Sundance: The Community Dream Journal. As part of its mission to liberate dreams from the exclusive domain of psychotherapy, the journal conducted "The Sundance Experiment," to incubate and collect dreams about the implication of the population connecting at the dream level. One particular dream seems creatively prescient today, given our circumstances:

A crowd of people see something up in the sky, as if coming out of the sun. As it draws closer, we realize it is a flying saucer! As it begins to descend, we are amazed to see that the pilot of the flying saucer is a woman. As it lands, the woman emerges to offer to us a gift, it is a potted plant, intended to restore the power of photosynthesis to our planet.

All life on our planet derives from photosynthesis. Could it be imperiled? We've seen the re-emergence of feminine thought (e.g., The Return of the Goddess). The mythology surrounding UFOs (e.g., Flying Saucers: A Modern Myth of Things Seen in the Sky) and their role in our future (e.g., Passport to the Cosmos) portends of an extraordinary jump in the evolution of our consciousness. There are no boundaries to the imagination, and one day, it could be, that we will live in a virtual world of consciousness itself, participating in and taking care of the earth in an entirely new manner only rarely dreamed of today.

 

 

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