GVS FRAMEWORK OF REFERENCE
We are in the presence of a great historical and cultural shift, as the secular period, which arose with humanism and the intellectual enlightenment, now draws to a close. Most of our knowledge, represented by our institutions, are products of this enlightenment, and as such they do not reach beyond the present, nor do they show us a way into the future.
Don’t you believe it is high time to pose some of the most urgent and elusive questions to this secular world: for example, do our lives still have meaning? If not, how do we find that meaning and then how do we choose to express it?
Life, our life, is changing at a pace unparalleled before and beyond our grasp. For sure, all certainties are gone, leaving us with many unanswered questions, but also with a new freedom.
Institutions, organizations, multinationals, foundations…have all become frustratingly inadequate, with little to tell us about ourselves and the way to come to terms with all types of crises (financial, institutional, societal, political, psychological, identity, etc.), which, in reality, are only the reflection of the sheer crisis of the spirit!
“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.”
Pierre Teilhard DE CHARDIN
The world is dominated by instability, uncertainty, disruption, anxiety and fear.
Did these ideologies of ‘liberation’ (politics, economics, natural sciences, logic and reason …) actually set us free?
Did they live up to their expectations and did they meet their goals? Politics was supposed to bring liberation to people, economics would bring about a better world, science and reason would triumph over unreason…
What did they really deliver? What have we been witnessing for centuries now?
Totalitarian fascism as a by-product of socialism, repression, subjugation, mass murder and tyranny…
Western liberalism gave birth to gigantic industries, globalism, mad and mindless consumerism, social inequality and exploitation, violations of human rights, child labour, cultural materialism, pollution, the desecration of the environment and the de-sacralisation of nature….
And we continue to delude ourselves and others by maintaining that all these abuses are the inevitable consequences of ‘evolution’.
Are we indeed saying that inhumane-ness is a prerequisite for human-ness?
Seen from another viewpoint, don’t we need to turn beyond the human for us to discover a more humane world?
Paradoxically, it may well be the trans-human, the transcendental and the spiritual that could deliver the liberation, justice and wellbeing we all desperately seek.
Doesn’t wellbeing mean to satisfy all the needs of people? Not just their commercial and consumer needs, but their desires, endeavours and aspirations that have no monetary estimate: dignity, peace, security, freedom, education, health, leisure time, the quality of the environment, the wellbeing of future generations, etc?
Mainstream politics desperately clings to old-fashioned, completely obsolete power structures and trodden concepts failing to provide a shared vision capable of inspiring the people and enabling them to create a better society, a living together.
It becomes increasingly obvious that political thinking has run into the sand.
It is a frightening paradox that, at the peak of human material and technological achievements, we find ourselves adrift, disrupted, consumed by fear, prone to depression, worried about our self-image, the image others project on us, more and more isolated, insecure and unsure of our friendships, intoxicated by useless consumption, and virtually no community life any more.
In the midst of all the apps of the social media, where is the genuine relaxed, warm and open social contact and where the emotional satisfaction we all are craving for?
How is it possible that we managed to create so much mental and emotional suffering despite levels of wealth and comfort unprecedented in human history?
Isn’t there something wrong with our value system, our consumptive lifestyle, our unlimited desire of growth – for so long seen as the main engine for progress.
Isn’t it about time to put the other mantra of our times change into action?
The good news is that among (young) people the world over there is a widespread hunger for genuine change as well as a desire to find positive solutions to the myriad of problems we are facing.
What is needed, though, is not a cheap, shallow and superficial change commonly taken under the guise of sustainability.
Already in 1987, Gro Harlem Brundtland called for “a global agenda for change” which the World Commission on Environment and Development was asked to formulate. The concept of sustainable development was coined.
Ever since, sustainability has been dominating the global agenda of decision-makers.
True sustainability, however, requires a change, a shift in our fundamental values. It requires us to be fundamentally countercultural and revolutionary.
This necessitates a fundamental change from deep within us.
Perhaps one of our most challenging issues, is to make people aware that, by changing their behaviour, by freeing themselves from conditioning, from their self-image, they are given the possibility to explore a whole new territory: the realm of their heart and soul, the realm of the spirit.
A genuine change in our value system is, indeed, called for. This change means that we do not simply alter the way we do things or view our daily life situations, but rather change the value presupposition of why we do the things we do, and why we live these situations the way we do.
To really change, we have to change twice – argues Luc de Brabandere –: not only do we have to change things, but we have to change the way we see things.
A change in perception is key here!
In doing so, innovation becomes the capacity of people to change reality, and creativity the capacity of these people to change the perception of reality.
Have we really run out of answers?
Isn’t it highly time to leave this overall depleted state we live in – and which we call society, with less and less to believe in – behind, to go beyond it, and enter a new ERA, era literally meaning Ethically Responsible Action?
Isn’t it highly time to go beyond today’s postmodern culture of high rationality hallmarked by nihilistic fragmentation, doubt, deconstruction, and egocentricity?
Our current cultural situation is calling for individuals all over the globe to transcend the fractured vision of postmodernism and – eventually – awaken to a transpersonal and collective spiritual ground, a higher ground of truth and conscience, a new integral, holistic vision.
It calls for reconnecting with spirituality, the inner, spiritual part of our being that has been neglected and thrown out of the equation for so long.
A Spiritual and Cultural Renaissance is called for! The recovering of the spiritual dimension of our being!
This is emergence: change that occurs from the bottom up. When enough individuals interact and organize themselves, the result is collective intelligence – even though no one is in charge. It is a phenomenon that exists at every level of experience and will revolutionize the way we see the world, according to Steven Johnson.
The question, however, is: can enough individuals personally awaken again to a reverence for life, to the re-enchantment of nature, to living in connection and to working together by seeing diversity fundamentally as opportunity?
How can we mobilise and inspire them to take responsibility again for their own actions, thoughts and emotions, and through their untapped creativity and pro-action to reverse the tendency of society again away from self-destruction?
By enhancing their (cultural) creativity!
The creative process is the emergence in action of novel relational product, growing out of the uniqueness of the individual on the one hand, and the materials, events, people, or circumstances of this life on the other. The mainspring of creativity appears to be man’s tendency to actualize himself and to become his potentialities (Carl Rogers).
And the good news is that everybody has an infinite greater potential for self-fulfillment than he/she is aware of. One only has to re-activate it by making a shift in attunement, a change in perspective and by turning within!
Art – as the communion of one soul to another, offered through the symbolic language of form and content – has a crucial role to play towards transforming and transfiguring our whole being and accessing untapped visionary realms of meaning and being.
Spiritually based culture and education is also of paramount importance to inspire people so that they realize their fragile global interdependence and get access to transpersonal truth.
The good news is that spirituality is not reserved anymore to an exclusive circle of a happy few enlightened beings, gurus or institutionalized religions.
A spiritual awakening and revolution is taking place both in Western and Eastern societies as a kind of counterculture but one that increasingly will become a daily norm breaking willingly beyond mainstream cultural taboos that have been silencing or erasing the passion for spiritual practice and action in daily live for too long.
As politics has failed to be that vessel of hope and meaning for so many the world over, incapable of solving any crisis (and global crisis seems almost to have become our common standard in our lives, weird isn’t it?), more and more people realize that it is the personal responsibility of each of us – coming from within us, and not triggered by external things, circumstances or power anymore – to stand up and own that responsibility in order to achieve happiness in life. We cannot allow ourselves anymore to lean back and continue to put our fate in the hands of governments, institutions, or even businesses for that matter and hoping for the best, can we…? Ultimately, life, well-being and happiness is what we make of it, together with our fellow citizens.
The Chinese pictogram for crisis perfectly and genuinely represents this idea of spiritual emergency.
It is composed of two basic signs, or radicals: one of them means “danger” and the other “opportunity.” (Stanislav and Christina Grof).
Let’s seize this window of opportunity fully and go beyond fear, hatred and danger!
The good news is that everyone has intrinsically the possibility to experience his/her true identity which is beyond the separate self, genuinely non-dualistic, and integrates several layers of our being: the physical, emotional, rational, and subtle psychic worlds.
The key, however, is to remember it, to embrace it, to get attuned to it – from inside and to proactively live again spiritual values such as patience, honesty, integrity, authenticity, humility as a service to others, forgiveness, generosity, gratitude, silence, compassion, inner faith, joy, awe, beauty, mystery, wonder, tolerance, love…
Spirituality is not a concept, an abstract theoretical framework that can be grasped rationally nor can it be reduced to yet another standard definition. Spirituality is not religion.
It is an experience-based, values-driven, most exciting journey within, a never ending search for meaningfulness, purposefulness, intercultural and multilayered inter-connectedness, and transcendence.
In essence: spirituality is nothing more but also nothing less than knowing how to live in peace, love, harmony and beauty and in tune with oneself (not the ego, though), the others, nature and the transcendent. This is the beauty of true love and real happiness.
Spirituality and fundamentalism are at opposite ends of the cultural spectrum.
Spirituality seeks a sensitive, contemplative and transformative relationship with the sacred that is emerging again as a leading force in contemporary societies.
This is genuine responsibility – response –ability –: sustain levels of uncertainty in its quest because respect and dignity for mystery is paramount.
Fundamentalism seeks certainty, fixed answers and absolutism, as a fearful response to the complexity of our world and to our vulnerability as creatures in a mysterious universe.
Spirituality arises from love of and intimacy with the sacred, and fundamentalism arises from fear of and possession by the sacred.
The choice between spirituality and fundamentalism is a choice between conscious intimacy and unconscious possession (David Tacey).
The good news is that interdependence, partnership and positive use of conflicts and not ruthless exploitation, manipulation and disunity anymore have become stepping stones towards self-fulfillment in the global interconnectedness of our planet.
This calls, therefore, for a change of heart, a thorough system-wide transformation, transmutation both in our identity and in our actions!
Not only religion (deriving from the Latin word religio, meaning connectedness, bindedness, to origins, to roots, to that from which we have come) is about relationship, all our human activities are about building strong, lasting and genuine relationships.
So, it’s not only about the economy anymore (stupid), it’s about relationships, human and humane relationships!
Here is where spirituality has an enormous added value: to restore meaningfulness and purposefulness in a world that has become – in the perception of too many – a spiritually impoverished, de-mystified and meaningless existence.
The good news, once again, is that spiritual terminology is slowly integrating the agendas of the decision-makers of the highest level. Spiritual development, spiritual vision, spiritual needs, spiritual values, spiritual environment, etc. are all markings of an emergent trend: we desperately and urgently need new ways of relating to each other, new ways of developing professional relationships, new ways of working together to further our common and greater good. We also desperately and urgently need a new language, a new vocabulary, new tools to describe our transformation and share our understanding of it with others (Andy Tamas).
The good news is also that global business is slowly starting to pick up and integrate the Spirituality in Business perspective.
The unique added value here is that spirituality – as an inner experience of deep interconnectedness with all living beings – opens a space of distance from the pressures of the market and the routines of business-as-usual.
In the transition to a post-capitalist, values-driven, wisdom economy spirituality in business plays a pivotal role in embedding the transformation of means in a transformation of values and preferences (Luk Bouckaert and Laszlo Zsolnay).
Isn’t is highly time for Sustainability, Spirituality, and Ecology to join forces as well, and start telling a new story and share workable models of living together in love, harmony and beauty!
To achieve ecological and genuinely sustainable living is ultimately through spirituality!
Sustainability that refuses to pay attention to mystery, spirit, and spirituality is mere a dead end street, for it fundamentally ignores who we are…
So the challenging question is: can sustainability work without underlying spiritual values? Or is the success of ecological sustainability inevitably connected to the development, practice, discipline, and nurturance of spiritual values? (John E. Carroll).
This is – ultimately – a call for new, genuine, visionary and spiritual leadership as well!
The essence of it has so overwhelmingly been expressed by the Hungarian Uomo Universalis Sándor Weöres: “To become a genuine human being, the essence of who you are, turn within, explore your depths and transilluminate yourself, and, then, radiate your inner light on those around you and your environment.”
Let’s shine and act together by BEING the difference, and BEING ourselves!
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