By Barbara Fields
It's about Oneness, right? Mystics in caves, on mountains, in forests and sanctuaries pursue it experientially and, once awake, no longer remember separation. The avatars of the East and of the West carried the message from 500 BCE to 500 CE, insisting on Oneness without realizing that its institutionalization as religion would lead to violent separatism for two millennia and counting. In more recent centuries, pockets of sanity have eddied up in human society; Transcendentalists, Theosophists, Beatniks, Hippies, Indigos and Conscious Evolutionaries have taken their turns at resurrecting and reincarnating Oneness, decade by decade.
And now the notion seems to have slipped past authorities and gotten into the masses, worldwide. Oneness among spiritually motivated grassroots movements toward consciousness and activism is breaking out everywhere, using hands, legs, brains, tools of technology and just plain love to grow more of itself. Should the good citizens of the world be concerned? Only that it isn’t showing up fast enough, deep enough, loud enough to muffle the voices of ignorance, greed, and fear that whine at us through photon screens and radio waves, righteous in the dying pangs of their orthodoxies.
As Executive Director of the Association for Global New Thought (AGNT) my job for the past almost 20 years has not only been to enlist networks in a Vision of Oneness, but to “unpack” its actual moving parts so we have transportation across the bridge from vision to action. Ten, even five years ago, it was challenge enough to “build a common field of intention” across a diverse global population that longed for a higher, more humane ethic to transcend the discord destroying the quality of so many lives. Today we’re looking for strategies, training, resources, dialogue, diplomacy, technologies, shared leadership and all the puzzle pieces it takes to understand and heal the root causes of discord so that attitudes can transform, behaviors can shift, and new demonstrations of collaboration and harmony can begin to appear on the surface of our vision. Oneness — not as magical as it sounds. Yet, fully as mystical in its true meaning.
On Global Oneness Day October 24th, AGNT joins Humanity's Team in bringing together social experts, scientists, business leaders, spiritual mentors, entertainment professionals, and unsung heroes doing the work on the front lines. On a free 12 hour telesummit we will explore how awakening to Oneness — and knowing what it takes to stay awake -- deepens our connection to all of life, inspiring compassionate service to each other and the world around us. JOIN US (www.globaloneness2013.org).
Global Oneness Day is one of the many programs that AGNT has authored and offered since 1996 when it established it’s mission of spiritually motivated activism within the nine organizations then comprising the New Thought movement. It’s membership represents a network of over a thousand centers among Unity, Religious Science, and nondenominational communities.
Seasons for Peace and Nonviolence
AGNT is the official co-founder and convener of the Gandhi King Season for Nonviolence (SNV), established in 1998 to commemorate the 64 day period between the January 30th and April 4th memorial anniversaries of these legendary peace-makers. Since its inception, SNV has become active in over 900 cities in 67 countries, including an annual launch for the youth of New York City at the United Nations for the past sixteen years.
Aboard the Gandhi King Peace Train in 2007, members of the Cesar Chavez family along with pioneering activist, Delores Huerta, added Chavez’ name to the project, and in 2012 His Holiness, Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet, added his own. At the Peace Train Living Legends of Nonviolence Conference, task force leaders in attendance added three more Seasons to the program beginning in 2008: Season for the Earth, Season for Humane Service, and Season for Interfaith and Intercultural Celebration, all active today.
The Abraham Path
AGNT’s programs support concerned citizens in their emerging role as moral and ethical community leaders. In addition to Seasons for Peace and Nonviolence, AGNT helped to co-found The Abraham Path Initiatives in the Middle East and Worldwide in partnership with Harvard University’s Project on Negotiation.
In response to the query, "Mr. Campbell, the world is falling apart, what can be done?" Joseph Campbell replied, "Go out and meet a stranger. Learn their stories, their culture, their language. Understand their humanity. Make a friend. That will save the world.”
The “omni-local model,” that successfully established shared responsibility and collective leadership in the Seasons, also applied here. The "challenge" in the Middle East is not exclusively confined to the Middle East nor is it impersonally "global." Abraham's three billion descendents are scattered in every community throughout the world. Omni-local IS global.
One of the most immediate undertakings of the Abraham Path Initiative was a comprehensive education and awareness campaign centered on the understanding of, and respect for the different faiths. The Association for Global New Thought, stewarded the early development of ‘Abraham Walks’ in communities throughout the world whereby “omni-local” grassroots teams comprised of people from all faiths and cultures walked from churches to mosques to synagogues, and jointly create events and activities that exemplify new models for appreciation, celebration, and reconciliation. The local walks were undertaken in a context of deep study and dialogue focused on the complex religious, political, economic and humanitarian issues that underpin the seemingly intractable strife embedded in the region, itself, as well as the social tensions shared by 3 billion adherents of Abrahamic faith worldwide.
With His Holiness, the Dalai Lama of Tibet acting as guide and moderator, AGNT served as organizers of the Synthesis Dialogues, a series of interdisciplinary symposia among a small wisdom group of globally respected religious and secular leaders representing new visions and models for social architecture, and immanently involved in questions of governance, religious violence, and sustainable human rights.
The Synthesis Dialogues were inaugurated in Dharamsala, India, in September 1999, at the Norbulingka Institute. Synthesis II was held June 27-July 2, 2001, at the Mariopolis Retreat Center of the Focolare community near Trent, in northeastern Italy. The Association for Global New Thought (AGNT) convened the third Synthesis Dialogues with His Holiness, the Dalai Lama of Tibet, at the Focolare International Center at Castelgandolfo, in the Roman Hills, situated on the property that is the Summer Residence of the Pope.
Facilitation by the Association for Global New Thought aimed at establishing spiritual ethics and radically evolved personal, national and traditional relationships of faith as the ground of our strategic collaborations in the future. The plan was to meet and work for a couple of days as a group, after which we were joined by His Holiness, the Dalai Lama. Performance arts and music deepened and enriched the conversation of this gathering. Intentional time and space was afforded for meditation and reflection.
All participants were significant leaders in their own right who sense that important breakthroughs are possible only by encountering the creative imagination of their counterparts in other fields. And it probably fair to say that everyone shared an interest in the question of consciousness, itself, in the sense that transformation within the individual precedes any hoped-for impact upon the larger community.
Learn about our other initiatives...
The Awakened World Conferences 1999-2012
1999 Bridge Across Millennia 2000 The Promise, the Practice, the Path 2001 Vibration of the Most High 2002 Pulled By A Vision 2003 Collective Wisdom & Spiritual Activism 2004 Human Kindness Overflowing 2005 Walk of Sacred Action 2007 Gandhi King Peace Train; 2008 The Evolution of Revolution; 2012 Engaged Spirituality for the 21st Century
Parliament of the World’s Religions: Capetown, South Africa, 1999; Barcelona, Spain, 2004; Melbourne, Australia, 2009
The Awakened World Synergy Seminars
New Thought Women’s Network
The Association for Global New Thought operates out of a principle that mirrors what Buckminster Fuller said: “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”
As citizens, we are committed to a vision of compassionate service, as well as to exploring the nonlinear power of consciousness to affect social conditions. This is a recipe for deep change within individuals, among communities, and throughout society. It creates a kind of meta-mind that senses the intelligence residing more within the collective than in an individual ego.
Our new strategy tells us this: Solutions are not created by attacking the existing problem, but by attracting the new norm. If we use our time, energy and resources seeking permission to engage with a system that is nearly impenetrable and clearly corrupt, we find ourselves defeated and depleted in no time at all, unable to engage in any positive, constructive action. Along with all of you, what AGNT has been learning in our 17 year old laboratory, is that spiritually-guided omni-local grassroots citizenship is an antidote to fear, exclusion, and apathy. Together, we are demonstrating the paradigm.
Or, in other words, “… Being the Change.”
Dr. Barbara Fields
Executive Director, The Association for Global New Thought; Co-founder and Project Director – The Gandhi King Seasons for Peace and Nonviolence; Program Director – Parliament of the World's Religions centennial celebration in Chicago; Co-founder and Project Director – the Synthesis Dialogues I, II, III & IV with His Holiness, the Dalai Lama; Coordinator of U.S. based omni-local initiatives for Harvard-based Project on Negotiation’s Abraham Walk Initiative in the Middle East; Program Director - International Buddhist-Christian Theological Encounter, Purdue University and the Lilly Foundation; Delegate – UNESCO Seminar on Religion and Peace. Awards include: Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters, Holmes Institute; Religious Science International’s first Peace Award; the Gandhi-King-Ikeda Award from Martin Luther King Jr. Chapel at Morehouse College, The Peace Museum's Community Peacemaker Award in the area of Diplomacy; Co-founder of The Earth Network, a non-profit alternative television organization for which she received the Visionary Award from the Center For New Television. Board member – Foundation for Conscious Evolution. Contributing author: The Community of Religions; Two Hundred Visionaries; Women, Spirituality and Transformative Leadership: Where Grace Meets Power; numerous articles and publications.
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This article appears in:
2013 Catalyst - Issue 18