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Friday, January 30, 2015 @ 08:01 AM
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A preview of the unpublished book A CIVILIZATION WITHOUT A VISION WILL PERISH: AN INDEPENDENT SEARCH FOR THE TRUTH by David Willis. CHAPTER 1: INDIFFERENCE (Part 34). This blog is an abridgment of a speech by James D. Wolfensohn, President, The World Bank Group
A PARTNERSHIP FOR DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE
The following is an abridgment of the keynote address given by James D. Wolfensohn at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, in Washington, D.C. on March 6, 2002.

Unless justice be done to others it will not be done to us
Ladies and Gentlemen, I am delighted to be here at the Woodrow Wilson International Center addressing this event cohosted by the Bretton Woods Committee. Eighty-four years ago in this city, Woodrow Wilson spoke of war and peace to a joint session of Congress. “What we demand” he said, “is that the world be made safe for every peace-loving nation which, like our own, wishes to live its own life, determine its own institutions, be assured of justice, and fair dealing by the other peoples of the world. All peoples are partners in this interest, and for our own part we see very clearly that unless justice be done to others it will not be done to us.’”

Rarely has there been an issue so vital to long-term peace and security
In two weeks in Monterrey, Mexico, leaders from across the world will meet to discuss financing for Development, when we must all hope that the words of President Wilson will resonate. Rarely has there been an issue so vital to long-term peace and security, and yet so marginalized in domestic politics in most of the rich world. Our challenge, as we go forward to the Monterrey Conference and beyond, is to persuade political leaders why that marginalization must end; why justice must be done to others if it is to be done to us; why “all peoples are partners in this interest.”

We will not win the peace until we redefine the war
Never perhaps has the chance for concerted action been greater, or the prize more worth winning. The horrifying events of September 11th have made this a time of reflection on how to make the world a better and safer place. The international community has already acted strongly, by confronting terrorism directly and increasing security. But those actions by themselves are not enough. We will not create that better and safer world with bombs or brigades alone. We will not win the peace until we have the foresight, the courage, and the political will to redefine the war. We must recognize that – while there is social injustice on a global scale, both between states and within them; while the fight against poverty is barely begun in too many parts of the world; while the link between progress in development and progress toward peace is not recognized – we may win a battle against terror but we will not conclude a war that will yield enduring peace.

Poverty is our greatest long-term challenge
Poverty is our greatest long-term challenge. Grueling, mind-numbing poverty – which snatches hope and opportunity away from young hearts and dreams just when they should take flight and soar.
Poverty – which takes the promise of a whole life ahead and stunts it into a struggle for day-to-day survival. Poverty – which together with its handmaiden, hopelessness, can lead to exclusion, anger, and even conflict. Poverty – which does not itself necessarily lead to violence, but which can provide a breeding ground for the ideas of those who promote conflict and terror.

The imaginary wall fell on September 11
On September 11, the crisis of Afghanistan came to Wall Street, to the Pentagon, and to a field in Pennsylvania. And the imaginary wall that divided the rich world from the poor world came crashing down. Belief in that wall, and in those separate and separated worlds, has for too long allowed us to view as normal a world where less than 20% of the population – the rich countries in which we are today – dominates the world’s wealth and resources and takes 80% of its dollar income. Belief in that wall has too long allowed us to view as normal a world where every minute a woman dies in childbirth. Belief in that wall has allowed us for too long to view the violence, disenfranchisement, and inequality in the world as the problem of poor, weak countries and not our own. There is no wall. There are not two worlds. There is only one.

Globalization
The process of globalization and growing interdependence has been at work for millennia. As my friend Amartya Sen has pointed out, a millennium ago it was ideas – not from the West – but from China, India, and the Moslem world that gave the intellectual basis for much of science, for printing, and for the arts. There is no wall. We are linked by trade, investment, finance, by travel and communications, by disease, by crime, by migration, by environmental degradation, by drugs, by financial crises, and by terror. Only our mindsets continue to shore up that wall; we are too set in our ways, too complacent, or too frightened to face reality without it.

It is time to tear down that wall
It is time to tear down that wall, to recognize that in this unified world poverty is our collective enemy. Poverty is the war we must fight. We must fight it because it is morally and ethically repugnant. We must fight it because it is in the self-interest of the rich to join the struggle. We must fight it because its existence is like a cancer – weakening the whole of the body, not just the parts that are directly affected. And we need not fight blindly. For we already have a vision of what the road to victory could look like.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012 @ 04:02 AM
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THE SEARCH FOR A JUST SOCIETY

JOHN HUDDLESTON

GEORGE RONALD                       1989

PART VIII

Chapter 8: Pax Romana

The thousand-and-more-year history of Rome has had an impact on western civilization equal only to that of Greece and Christianity. In the evolution of the idea of the just society several aspects of this history are of significance: the experience of participatory government (especially during the early and middle years of the Republic), the great revolts against slavery, and the practical example of a near-universal state: the Pax Romana offering widespread citizenship, tolerance of different cultures and eventually a consolidated body of law. There is also a repetition of the lessons of what happens to society when it forgets morality and yields to greed and luxury, and when it fails to establish an orderly system of succession in government.

  • Tradition has it that the monarchy was overthrown in 509 BC and replaced by a republic headed by two magistrates (later to be called consuls).
  • Rome prospered under the consuls; over the centuries it gradually expanded and became an empire, a development which resulted in a growing gap between rich and poor and a consequent undermining of the basic institutions.
  • Peasants became even more impoverished by long military service and the devastation caused by the invasion of Hannibal (218-201 BC).
  • The nearest the reform movement came to success was in the years before 100 BC when the Graccus brothers became tribunes.
  • They proposed land reforms to reduce extremes of wealth and poverty, greater limits on the power of the Senate (which represented the interests of the powerful), and an extension of citizenship to all other Italians and Latin peoples of the Republic.
  • The brothers were driven from office. Roman society became even more corrupt, riddled with gangsterism and ruled by a series of harsh military dictators – Marius, Sulla, Pompey and Caesar.
  • Slavery grew to such an extent that by the end of the Republic it is estimated that half the population were slaves.
  • The practice of having slave gladiators fight each other to the death in the circus led to the third and most significant slave revolt (73-71 BC).
  • Its leader was Spartacus who was able to defeat two Roman armies sent against them.
  • As an example to all other slaves, the road from Rome to Appia was lined with 6000 crosses on which were nailed the survivors of the last battle.

The oppressors had won, but in the long run it was clear that as a result of this gallant rising the consciousness of mankind would never be the same again: sooner or later it would have to be recognized that no stable or just society could exist with such an institution. The cry of freedom has echoed down the centuries and in our own time the importance of that event was symbolized when the left wing of the German Social Democratic party at the end of World War I adopted the name ‘Spartacist’.

  • The Roman Empire paid lip service at first to many of the representative institutions of the Republic, but as time went on their power became less and less.
  • The Empire contributed to the story of the development of the just society through many of its most well-known features: An army of 28 legions (about 300,000 men); A competent bureaucracy; A navy; and a good system of roads were the basis of the Pax Romana.
  • It was an era of peace and law in the Mediterranean basin and its surrounding areas during a period of some 600 years, including 400 years under the Empire.
  • So long as the peoples of the Empire wee law-abiding and paid their taxes, the government was tolerant of differing cultures.
  • The rights pertaining to citizenship which implied a degree of equality were gradually extended until in AD 212 they were given to all free subjects of the Empire.
  • The rule of law was taken seriously despite the turmoil at times of succession to the rank of Emperor, strengthening the concept of law in Western civilization and a step forward in the direction of a just society.

There were, of course, deep flaws in the system. The initial tradition of public service, the strong social ethic, and the sense of equality had long since died; society became more and more hollow, and willing to let barbarians do all the more unpleasant work. Rome itself became like a cancer on the Empire sucking in vast supplies, imposing heavy taxes for its support and giving very little in return. Agriculture, the economic base of society, declined; so did the army because of increasing neglect of the employment conditions of soldiers. Though the Empire was to linger on in name into the Middle Ages, the real end was symbolized by the sacking of Rome by Alaric the Goth in AD 410 (the first time this had happened since the attacks of the Gauls in 387 BC) and again by the Vandals in AD 455 when destruction was undertaken for its own sake.

Chapter 9: Christianity: The Concept of Brotherhood

Monday, February 6, 2012 @ 05:02 AM
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QUANTUM SHIFT IN THE GLOBAL BRAIN

HOW THE NEW SCIENTIFIC REALITY CAN CHANGE US AND OUR WORLD

ERVIN LASZLO

INNER TRADITIONS                    2008

www.InnerTraditions.com

PART XVI

 

 Chapter 16: Principal Activities of the Club of Budapest

The Club of Budapest:

  1. Collaborates in the development and operation of a global degree-granting institution of higher learning with the vital mission of educating and training a new generation of positive change agents able to work in existing and newly created public and private institutions toward the solution of the world’s most vexing and urgent problems (the GlobalShift University).
  2. Participates in an alliance it has cofounded to elucidate the concept of a new civilization and the practical paths leading to it, together with like-minded institutes and organizations (the Creating a New Civilization Alliance).
  3. Participates in a further alliance it has likewise founded to help advanced-thinking individuals and organizations exchange information, adopt shared goals and objectives, and join together in the implementation of their activities and projects (the World Wisdom Alliance).
  4. Brings together leading thinkers and visionaries to discuss the problems facing the world community and produce a realistic vision of a civilization that is peaceful and sustainable, in balance with itself and with nature (the World Wisdom Council.
  5. Conducts periodic surveys of the new cultures of solidarity and responsibility in various countries and regions of the world to establish their size, composition, and values and to communicate the results to the new cultures as well as to the public at large (the International Survey of Emergent Cultures).
  6. Organizes a series of events to support and celebrate the emerging culture of peace and solidarity on Earth (the Global Peace Meditation/Prayer Days).
  7. Offers annual prizes to individuals whose thinking and activity exemplify the new culture and the new consciousness (the Planetary Consciousness Prizes) and confers awards on organizations and communities whose activities and projects translate the new consciousness into action (the Best Practice Awards).
  8. Produces a series of books and reports and related visual materials that describe the critical conditions of the human community, trace the roots of the present unsustainability, and apply the latest insights of the sciences to offer practical guidelines for evolving a planetary civilization (the You Can Change the World book series).

 

Chapter 17: Objectives of the GlobalShift University

The initiative to create the GlobalShift University (GSU) is grounded in the belief that a fundamental shift is required in order to create a culture of sustainability. Current global challenges demand concerted action by all conscious individuals – informed and effective action that is optimised for maximum constructive impact. A growing number of concerned persons and institutions on every continent are currently involved in addressing these challenges, but there are numerous barriers that impair their ability to act on their vision and motivation. The required marshalling and channeling of common interest-based, planet-wide activism cannot be expected to occur spontaneously or evolve organically as long as social cohesion is driven by national ethnocentrism, individual egocentricity, and the special interests of public and private institutions. Four Fundaments Elements are needed to overcome this social fragmentation.

v  The First Fundamental Element is an overarching vision of a positive future, the proverbial “big ideas” that capture and galvanize the imagination of people. While there is no shortage of visionaries and big thinkers, there is no widely recognized and embraced framework or architecture for effective cultural, social, political, and economic reorganization. The lack of a systemic, commonly held, values-driven strategy for making positive change, grounded in science, spirituality, and fairness, diminishes and undermines the possibility of effective collective action.

v  The Second Fundamental Element is a set of effective communication processes and protocols that pierce the barrier of fragmentation, letting in the light of a new vision and conveying big ideas and interconnecting those who are ready to receive them. This would create synergisms and forward momentum toward planetary sustainability and peace among individuals, public institutions, and civil society as well as business organizations.

v  The Third Fundamental Element regards the key skills of interdependent action, today all too rarely present, such as the ability to develop covenantal relationships, engage in meaningful dialogue, engage in critical thinking, develop collective wisdom, and translate vision and ideas into meaningful action and robust processes of change.

v  The Fourth Fundamental Element is a new perception of the role of that timely and effective engagement by both business and government can play in collective action and the collaborative promotion of global sustainability.

INSTITUTIONAL MISSION AND GOALS

 

Chapter 18: Objectives of the World Wisdom Council

Chapter 19: Objectives of the International Survey of Emergent Cultures

Chapter 20: Objectives of the Global Peace Meditation/Prayer Days

Annex: Communication Beyond the Grave: Exploring an Explanation

Bibliography

Monday, January 30, 2012 @ 07:01 AM
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QUANTUM SHIFT IN THE GLOBAL BRAIN

HOW THE NEW SCIENTIFIC REALITY CAN CHANGE US AND OUR WORLD

ERVIN LASZLO

INNER TRADITIONS                    2008

www.InnerTraditions.com

PART XV

 

Chapter 15: Manifesto on Planetary Consciousness drafted by Ervin Laszlo in collaboration with the Dalai Lama and adopted by the Club of Budapest on October 26, 1996

THE NEW REQUIREMENTS OF THOUGHT AND ACTION

 

  1. In the closing years of the 20th century, we have reached a crucial juncture in our history. We are on the threshold of a new stage of social, spiritual, and cultural evolution, a stage that is as different from the stage of the earlier decades of this century as the grasslands were from the caves, and settled villages from life in nomadic tribes. We are evolving out of the nationally based industrial societies that were created at the dawn of the first industrial revolution and heading toward an interconnected, information-based social, economic, and cultural system that straddles the globe. The path of this evolution is not smooth: it is filled with shocks and surprises. This century has witnessed several major shock waves, and others may come our way before long. The way we shall cope with present and future shocks will decide our future and the future of our children.
  2. The challenge we now face is the challenge of choosing our destiny. Our generation, of all the thousands before us, is called upon to decide the fate of life on this planet. The processes we have intimated within our lifetimes and the lifetimes of our parents and grandparents cannot continue in the lifetime of our children and grandchildren. Whatever we do will either create the framework for reaching a peaceful and cooperative global society and thus continuing the grand adventure of life, spirit, and consciousness on Earth or set the stage for the termination of humanity’s tenure on this planet.
  3. The patterns of action in today’s world are not encouraging. Millions of people are without work; millions are exploited by poor wages; millions are forced into helplessness and poverty. The gap between rich and poor nations, and between rich and poor people within nations, is great and still growing. Though the world community is relieved of the spectre of superpower confrontation and is threatened by ecological collapse, the world’s governments still spend a thousand billion dollars a year on arms and the military and only a tiny fraction of this sum on maintaining a livable environment.
  4. The militarization problem, the developmental problem, the ecological problem, the population problem, and the many problems of energy and raw materials will not be overcome merely by reducing the number of already useless nuclear warheads nor by signing politically softened treaties on world trade, global warming, biological diversity, and sustainable development. More is required today than piecemeal action and short-term problem solving. We need to perceive the problems in their complex totality and grasp them, not only with our reason and intellect, but also with all the faculties of our insight and empathy. Beyond the powers of the rational mind, the remarkable faculties of the human spirit embrace the power of love, of compassion, and of solidarity. We must not fail to call upon their remarkable powers when confronting the task of initiating the embracing, multifaceted approaches that alone could enable us to reach the next stage in the evolution of our sophisticated but unstable and vulnerable sociotechnological communities.
  5. If we maintain obsolete values and beliefs, a fragmented consciousness, and a self-centered spirit, we also maintain outdated goals and behaviors. And such behaviors by a large number of people will block the entire transition to an interdependent yet peaceful and cooperative global society. There is now both a moral and a practical obligation for each of us to look beyond the surface of events, beyond the plots and polemics of practical policies, the sensationalistic headlines of the mass media, and the fads and fashions of changing lifestyles and styles of work, an obligation to feel the groundswell underneath the events and perceive the direction they are taking: to evolve the spirit and the consciousness that could enable us to perceive the problems and the opportunities – and to act on them.

 

A CALL FOR CREATIVITY AND DIVERSITY

 

  1. Anew way of thinking has become the necessary condition for responsible living and acting. Evolving it means fostering creativity in all people, in all parts of the world. Creativity is not a genetic but a cultural endowment of human beings. Culture and society change fast, while genes change slowly: no more than one half of one percent of the human genetic endowment is likely to alter in an entire century. Hence most of our genes date from the Stone Age or before; they could help us to live in the jungles of nature but not in the jungles of civilization. Today’s economic, social, and technological environment is our own creation, and only the creativity of our mind – our culture, spirit, and consciousness – could enable us to cope with it. Genuine creativity does not remain paralysed when faced with unusual and unexpected problems; it confronts them openly, without prejudice. Cultivating it is a precondition of finding our way toward a globally interconnected society in which individuals, enterprises, states, and the whole family of peoples and nations could live together peacefully, cooperatively, and with mutual benefit.
  2. Sustained diversity is another requirement of our age. Diversity is basic to all things in nature and in art: a symphony cannot be made of one tone or even played by one instrument; a painting must have many shapes and perhaps many colors; a garden is more beautiful if it contains flowers and plants of many different kinds. A multicellular organism cannot survive if it is reduced to one kind of cell; even sponges evolve cells with specialized functions. And more complex organisms have cells and organs of a great variety of mutually complementary and exquisitely coordinated functions. Cultural and spiritual diversity in the human world is just as essential as diversity in nature and in art. A human community must have members that are different from one another not only in age and sex but also in personality, color, and creed. Only then could its members perform the tasks that each does best and complement each other so that the whole formed by them could grow and evolve. The evolving global society would have great diversity, were it not for the unwanted and undesirable uniformity introduced through the domination of a handful of cultures and societies. Just as the diversity of nature is threatened by cultivating only one or a few varieties of crops and husbanding only a handful of species of animals, so the diversity of today’s world is endangered by the domination of one, or at the most a few, varieties of cultures and civilizations.
  3. The world of the 21st century will be viable only if it maintains essential elements of diversity that has always hallmarked cultures, creeds, and economic, social, and political orders as well as ways of life. Sustaining diversity does not mean isolating peoples and cultures from one another: it calls for international and intercultural contact and communication with due respect for each other’s differences, beliefs, lifestyles, and ambitions. Sustaining diversity also does not mean preserving inequality, for equality does not reside in uniformity but in the recognition of the equal value and dignity of all peoples and cultures. Creating a diverse yet equitable and intercommunicating world calls for more than just paying lip service to equality and just tolerating each other’s differences. Letting others be what they want as long as they stay in their corner of the world and letting them do what they want “as long as they don’t do it in my backyard” are well meaning but inadequate attitudes. As the diverse organs in a body, diverse peoples and cultures need to work together to maintain the whole system in which they are a part, a system that is the human community in its planetary abode. It the last decade of the 20th century, different nations and cultures must develop the compassion and the solidarity that could enable all of us to go beyond the stance of passive tolerance, to actively work with and complement each other.

 

A CALL FOR RESPONSIBILITY

 

  1. In the course of the 20th century, people in many parts of the world have become conscious of their rights as well as of many persistent violations of them. This development is important, but in itself it is not enough. In the remaining years of this century we must also become conscious of the factor without which neither rights nor values can be effectively safeguarded: our individual and collective responsibilities. We are not likely to grow into a peaceful and cooperative human family unless we become responsible social, economic, political, and cultural actors.
  2. We human beings need more than food, water, and shelter; more even than remunerated work, self-esteem, and social acceptance. We also need something to live for: an ideal to achieve, a responsibility to accept. Since we are aware of the consequences of our actions, we can and must accept responsibility for them. Such responsibility goes deeper than many of us may think. In today’s world all people, no matter where they live and what they do, have become responsible for their actions as:

Private individuals

Citizens of a country

Collaborators in business and the economy

Members of the human community

Persons endowed with mind and consciousness.

As individuals, we are responsible for seeking our interests in harmony with,

and not at the expense of, the interests and well-being of others; Responsible

for condemning and averting any form of killing and brutality; Responsible for

not bringing more children into the world than we truly need and can support;

and Responsible for respecting the right to life, development, and equal status

and dignity of all the children, women, and men who inhabit the Earth.

As citizens of our country, we are responsible for demanding that our leaders

beat swords into plowshares and relate to other nations peacefully and in a

spirit of cooperation, that they recognize the legitimate aspirations of all

communities in the human family, and that they do not abuse sovereign

powers to manipulate people and the environment for shortsighted and selfish

ends.

As collaborators in business and actors in the economy, we are responsible for

ensuring that corporate objectives do not center uniquely on profit and growth

but include a concern that products and services respond to human needs and

demands without harming people and impairing nature, do not serve

destructive ends and unscrupulous designs, and respect the rights of all

entrepreneurs and enterprises who compete fairly in the global market place.

As members of the human community, it is our responsibility to adopt a

culture of non-violence, solidarity, and economic, political, and social

equality, to promote mutual understanding and respect among people and

nations whether they are like us or different, and to demand that all people

everywhere should be empowered to respond to the challenges that they face

with the material as well as spiritual resources that are required for this

unprecedented task.

And as persons endowed with mind and consciousness, our responsibility is to

encourage comprehension and appreciation for the excellence of the human

spirit in all its manifestations and for inspiring awe and wonder for a cosmos

that brought forth life and consciousness and holds out the possibility of its

continued evolution toward ever higher levels of insight, understanding, love,

and compassion.

 

A CALL FOR PLANETARY CONSCIOUSNESS

 

  1. In most parts of the world, the real potential of human beings is sadly underdeveloped. The way children are raised depresses their faculties for learning and creativity; the way young people experience the struggle for material survival results in frustration and resentment. In adults this leads to a variety of compensatory, addictive, and compulsive behaviors.

The result is the persistence of social and political oppression, economic

warfare, cultural intolerance, crime, and disregard for the environment.

Eliminating social and economic ills and frustrations calls for considerable

socioeconomic development, and that is not possible without better education,

information, and communication. These, however, are blocked by the absence

of socio-economic development, so that a vicious cycle is produced:

underdevelopment creates frustration, and frustration, giving rise to defective

behaviors, blocks development. This cycle must be broken at its point of

greatest flexibility, and that is the development of the spirit and consciousness

of human beings. Achieving this objective does not preempt the need for

socio-economic development with all its financial and technical resources but

calls for a parallel mission in the spiritual field. Unless people’s spirits and

consciousness evolve to the planetary dimension, the processes that stress the

globalized society/nature system will intensify and create a shock wave that

could jeopardize the entire transition toward a peaceful and cooperative global

society. This would be a setback for humanity and a danger for everyone.

Evolving human spirit and consciousness is the first vital cause shared by the

whole of the human family.

  1. In our world static stability is an illusion; the only permanence is in sustainable change and transformation. There is a constant need to guide the evolution of our societies so as to avoid breakdowns and progress toward a world where all people can live in peace, freedom, and dignity. Such guidance does not come from teachers and schools, not even from political and business leaders, though their commitment and roles are important. Essentially and crucially, it comes from each person himself and herself. An individual endowed with planetary consciousness recognizes his or her role in the evolutionary process and acts responsibly in light of this perception. Each of us must start with ourselves to evolve our consciousness to this planetary dimension; only then can we become responsible and effective agents of our society’s change and transformation. Planetary consciousness is the knowing as well as the feeling of the vital interdependence and essential oneness of humankind and the conscious adoption of the ethics and the ethos that this entails. Its evolution is the basic imperative of human survival on this planet.

 

Chapter 16: Principal Activities of the Club of Budapest

Wednesday, January 25, 2012 @ 07:01 AM
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QUANTUM SHIFT IN THE GLOBAL BRAIN

HOW THE NEW SCIENTIFIC REALITY CAN CHANGE US AND OUR WORLD

ERVIN LASZLO

INNER TRADITIONS                    2008

www.InnerTraditions.com

PART XIV

 

PART THREE

GLOBALSHIFT IN ACTION: THE CLUB OF BUDAPEST AND ITS INITIATIVES

The Club of Budapest is an association of ethical and responsible leading personalities in various parts of the world dedicated to the proposition that we need urgently to change the world and for that we must also change ourselves. This part gives a brief account of the history of the Club, its fields of activity, and the objectives of its major projects.

Chapter 14: A Brief History of the Club of Budapest contributed by Iván Vitányi and Mária Sági

The origins of the Club of Budapest can be traced to two events that took place in the second half of the last century. The first was the establishment, in 1968, of the Club of Rome, a progressive think tank with a worldwide base, particularly active in Europe. In Hungary its prominent representative was Ervin Laszlo. The second factor was the particular role played by Hungary during the fall of Communism at the end of the 1980s. Of all the former Soviet bloc countries, it was in Hungary that the transformation to democracy was the most ordered and peaceful, and totally without bloodshed.

There was a vast movement of opinion in Hungary at the time – popular opinion and intellectual opinion, also shared by the progressive echelons of high-ranking politicians – that pointed toward the need for a peaceful transformation from a Soviet satellite to an independent democratic state. Agreement between the parties was negotiated with the result that free elections were held in May 1990. József Antall, a liberal democrat, was elected Prime Minister. Soviet troop withdrawal commenced immediately thereafter and was completed within a year.

It was the opening of dialogue within the Hungarian political elite that led to the opening of the border with Austria, the historic event that precipitated the dismantling of the Iron Curtain.

Iván Vitányi, the senior author of this short history, was a member of the political-intellectual leadership of the country. As Member of Parliament he took part in negotiating the transfer of power to Hungary’s first democratically elected government.

In the course of the 1970s and 1980s, Ervin Laszlo often visited Hungary. The renewal of his long-standing friendship with Vitányi was instrumental in giving birth to the Club of Budapest. There was a surge of interest in the work of the Club of Rome in Hungary following publication of its first report, The Limits to Growth (1972). This in turn raised interest in Laszlo’s work, especially in the report he headed for the Club of Rome, Goals for Mankind (1977). Vitányi in turn became Director of the Institute for Culture in 1970, where Mária Sági was a researcher and later principal collaborator. They worked together on numerous research projects in cultural sociology and social psychology.

Sági and Laszlo started collaborating in 1983. The Institute for Culture held an international conference in December 1983, at which Laszlo gave a lecture on general systems and evolution theory. He was impressed by the institute’s work and fascinated by the research of Vitányi and Sági on generative ability in music. He particularly appreciated the application of thorough deep-interview techniques in sociopsychological research, which was not usual among sociologists at that time.

Laszlo became affiliated with the Tokyo-based United Nations University (UNU), and in 1984, when Suzuki Sakura Mushakoji, Vice-Rector of the UNU, was looking for research affiliates in Central Europe, Laszlo recommended the Institute for Culture. An agreement was reached, finances were secured, and the Institute for Culture began its research on “European Identity.” Work was completed in eight countries under the direction of Mária Sági, who at the time was the Institute’s principal researcher. Sági also headed the research on Hungary, collected the international results, and compiled the final report. The report was published in Hungarian in the periodical Valóság and subsequently in English in a special edition of the journal World Futures.

In 1984, backed by the Institute for Culture, Vitányi and Laszlo founded the European Culture Impact Research Consortium (EUROCIRCON). In the years that followed the international research projects of the Institute were carried out under the auspices of EUROCIRCON.

The years between 1988 and 1992 were years of high drama in East-Central Europe. The transition that took place was so fundamental that it would be more correct to call it a transformation. During these critical times Laszlo raised the idea of founding an international “artists’ and writers’ club” to partner with the Club of Rome. It was to focus in particular on the “soft factors” of the limits to growth: values, expectations, worldviews, and states of mind and consciousness. These, he said, may be even more decisive in our time than money and technology. He suggested that Budapest would provide an ideal intellectual and cultural climate for this enterprise. The idea was taken up by Sándor Csoóri, then President of the World Federation of Hungarians, and the Club of Budapest was called into being. Laszlo was named President and was supported by a Board made up of Sándor Csoóri (poet), Sándor Sára (film director), Gedeon Dienes (dance historian), and Mária Sági and Iván Vitányi (cultural sociologists). The Club was given office space in the House of Hungarian Culture, where it remains to this day.

The Club got off to a slow start as its first General Secretary worked in tourism and did not devote sufficient time to Club activities. It was only in 1995 that real work began. By the following year preparations for the first conferences were well in hand, some two dozen world-famous personalities had joined the Club as Honorary Members, and the Club published the Manifesto on Planetary Consciousness. This document states the fundamental objectives and enduring mission of the Club of Budapest and deserves to be reproduced in full, as it is in the following chapter.

Chapter 15: Manifesto on Planetary Consciousness drafted by Ervin Laszlo in collaboration with the Dalai Lama and adopted by the Club of Budapest on October 26, 1996

The New Requirements of Thought and Action

1. In the closing years of the 20th century, we have reached a crucial juncture in our history. We are on the threshold of a new stage of social, spiritual, and cultural evolution, a stage that is as different from the stage of the earlier decades of this century as the grasslands were from the caves, and settled villages from life in nomadic tribes. We are evolving

Saturday, January 21, 2012 @ 03:01 AM
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THE SEARCH FOR A JUST SOCIETY

JOHN HUDDLESTON

GEORGE RONALD                       1989

PART V

 

Chapter 5: Buddhism and the Mauryan Empire

Siddhattha Gautama (563-483 BC), born the son of a king in the area that is now Nepal, knew all the material pleasures of life from an early age. Coming to manhood, He became dissatisfied with this way of life and left his home to investigate the philosophies of the time, including asceticism, but found none that brought Him peace. Then, at the age of thirty-five, the spiritual experience which he called ‘enlightenment’ came to him; out of it He developed the theme of the ‘middle way’ between extreme asceticism and extreme sensuality.

His teachings revolved around the ‘Four Noble Truths’:

  1. That all life is suffering, like a disease of the body (duhkha)
  2. That suffering comes from desire, greed, hatred and illusion about the true nature of life; and that such attitudes create suffering both for the self-and for others;
  3. The way to stop suffering is to eliminate desire and to cultivate the opposite virtues: generosity, love and clear insight. These will bring one to a state of spiritual health (Nirvana), a state that can be achieved by every man – whether rich, or poor and oppressed;
  4. The way to achieve Nirvana is to follow the three-fold path of wisdom, meditation and morality. The three-fold path is then subdivided into a more specific eight-fold path, in which the first two elaborate on wisdom, the next three on meditation, and the last three on morality:

Right view – an understanding of the Four Noble Truths;

Right thought – the freeing of the soul from thoughts of lust, ill will, cruelty and untruthfulness;

Right effort – the struggle to replace such evil thoughts with good thoughts;

Right mindfulness – vigilant attention to every state of the body, emotion and mind;

Right concentration – deep meditation on the purpose of life;

Right speech – no lying, tale-bearing, harsh language and vain talk;

Right action – support of the family and no killing, stealing, sexual misconduct or use of alcohol;

Right livelihood – earning one’s living without causing harm to others.

Buddha denied the authority of the Vedic scriptures; in particular he did not accept the elaborate ritual, the caste system, and the hereditary priesthood which had become characteristics of Hindu practice in his time. The records of His teachings rarely make direct reference to a God, but close perusal shows that (contrary to the opinion of many) there is an underlying assumption of belief in God, and it has been suggested that reticence on this subject may have been designed to make a clear distinction between this religion of ethics and the corrupt superstitions of the prevailing religion, so as to prevent the former being eventually subsumed by the latter.

During his lifetime there gathered around Buddha a group of disciples who after His death began to carry the new Faith to all parts of the Indian subcontinent. The religion reached a peak of glory under King Asoka the Great (274-237 BC). Arguably the noblest monarch in all history, Asoka was the third of the Mauryan dynasty and his dominions, with their capital at Patna in the Indus Valley, embraced Afghanistan and the whole of the Indian subcontinent, including the extreme southern tip. He became a Buddhist early in his reign after the shock of a bloody battle, and thereafter he declined to participate in further military conquest. He promulgated a universal law for the government of his kingdom which stressed the dignity of man, religious toleration and non-violence – and he even abolished the royal hunt. He provided a whole range of services for his people, including large-scale irrigation schemes and trunk roads (shaded by specially planted banyan trees and equipped with rest houses every few miles). He called a council of the leading Buddhist authorities to bring together and codify the teachings of Buddha. There was an active programme for promulgating the faith, which included the conversion of most of the people of Ceylon. Buddhism later advanced into South-East Asia, China and Japan, and for a period of several hundred years in the first millennium AD it was the most widespread religion in the world.

Soon after the death of Asoka the Mauryan Empire began to crack and eventually to fall apart, whilst simultaneously there was a Brahmin reaction against Buddhism. Mighty empires were to succeed each other in the subcontinent over the centuries: the Kushans (first and second centuries AD), the Gupta (fourth and fifth centuries AD), the Moghuls (sixteenth and seventeenth centuries), the British (nineteenth century) but none reached the full extent of the Mauryan Empire or the relative peace and prosperity which it brought. Buddhism itself, which eventually lost its hold on India between AD 500 and 1200 as a result of the revival of Hinduism and the rise of Islam, became divided into a number of sects, acquired its own layers of rituals and man-made practices, and lost a great deal of its original spiritual fire. It still has a hidden strength which it shares with other great religions: the expectation of the return in the spirit of its founder and the establishment of a universal peace:

I am not the first Buddha who came upon the earth, nor shall I be the last. In due time another Buddha will arise in the world, a Holy One, a supremely enlightened One, endowed with wisdom in conduct, auspicious, knowing the universe, an incomparable leader of men, a master of angels and mortals. He will reveal to you the same eternal truths which I have taught you. He will preach religion, glorious in its origin, glorious at the climax and glorious at the goal, in the spirit and in the letter. He will proclaim a religious life wholly perfect and pure such as I now proclaim.

 

 Chapter 6: Confucianism and the Middle Kingdom

 

Saturday, January 21, 2012 @ 03:01 AM
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QUANTUM SHIFT IN THE GLOBAL BRAIN

HOW THE NEW SCIENTIFIC REALITY CAN CHANGE US AND OUR WORLD

ERVIN LASZLO

INNER TRADITIONS                    2008

www.InnerTraditions.com

PART XIII

 

Chapter 13: The Next Evolution of Human Consciousness

Human consciousness is not a permanent fixture: cultural anthropology testifies that it developed gradually in the course of millennia. In the thirty- or fifty-thousand-year history of modern human beings, the human body did not change significantly, but human consciousness did. How will it change next? The answer to this question is of more than theoretical interest: it could decide the survival of our species.

A number of thinkers have attempted to define the next step in the evolution of human consciousness. The Indian sage Sri Aurobindo considered the emergence of superconsciousness in some individuals as the next step; in a similar vein the Swiss philosopher Jean Gebser spoke of the coming of four-dimensional integral consciousness, rising from the prior stages of archaic, magical, and mythical consciousness. The American mystic Richard Bucke portrayed cosmic consciousness as the next evolutionary stage of human consciousness, following the simple consciousness of animals and the self-consciousness of contemporary humans. Ken Wilbur’s six-level evolutionary process leads from physical consciousness pertaining to nonliving matter through biological consciousness associated with animals and mental consciousness characteristic of humans to subtle consciousness, which is archetypal, transindividual, and intuitive. It leads in turn to causal consciousness and, in the final step, to the ultimate consciousness called Consciousness as Such.

Chris Cowan and Don Beck’s colorful theory of spiral dynamics sees contemporary consciousness evolving from the strategic “orange” stage, which is materialistic, consumerist, and success-, image-, status-, and growth-oriented; to the consensual “green” stage of egalitarianism and orientation toward feelings, authenticity, sharing, caring, and community; heading toward the ecological “yellow” stage focused on natural systems, self-organization, multiple realities, and knowledge; and culminating in the holistic, “turquoise” stage of collective individualism, cosmic spirituality, and earth changes.

As already noted in chapter 10, the English engineer C. Maxwell Cade analyzed the states of consciousness manifested by healers in reference to the EEG waves they typically produce. He also analyzed what he considered the high and highest states of consciousness: states of samadhi, satori, or lucid awareness. He identified these states as the fifth state and found that, as with the states of healers, they manifest a moderate amount of beta and theta waves, a wide band of alpha waves, and no waves in the delta region. In yogis, practiced meditators, and psychic individuals the fifth state is remarkably stable. They can maintain this state even while functioning in the everyday context; it appears to have become their natural state of consciousness.

Interestingly and by no means merely coincidentally, a state of consciousness with wide amplitude in the alpha region is known to be the altered state conducive to receiving images and intuitions in the spontaneous, nonsensory mode. It is not surprising that it is prominent in meditators, healers, yogis, shamans, and spiritual people in general.

Cade’s fifth state corresponds to Gebser’s integral consciousness, Bucke’s cosmic consciousness, Wilber’s Consciousness as Such, and Cowan and Beck’s turquoise state of cosmic spirituality and Earth change. It is the transpersonal stage in the evolution of human consciousness. The physical processes underlying this stage can be understood in reference to the Akashic field (the A-field).

The roots of transpersonal consciousness in the A-field

It is standard knowledge that all we experience in our lifetime – all our perceptions, feelings, and thought processes – have cerebral functions associated with them. A-field theory adds that these functions have wave-form equivalents, since our brain, the same as other things in space and time, creates in the cosmic plenum. Our wave fronts propagate in the A-field of the plenum and interfere with the wave fronts created by the bodies and brains of other people. The resulting interference patterns are natural holograms. Generations upon generations of humans leave their holographic traces in the A-field. The individual holograms integrate in a superhologram, which is the encompassing hologram of a tribe, community, or culture. The collective holograms interface and integrate in turn with the super-superhologram of all people. This is the collective in-formation pool of humankind.

We can access the information carried by these holograms. On the holographic principle of “like connects with like,” we can access first of all the information carried by the hologram of our own brain and body. This is the source of long-term memory, extending back to the womb and even beyond. But our access to A-field holograms is not limited to our own hologram. We can also access the holograms of other people; we can tune our brain to enter into “adaptive resonance” with holograms created by brains and bodies other than our own. As a result we can enter into subtle yet effective contact with different people and with nature. We can even enter into communication with recently deceased people, as the prima facie mind-boggling experience recounted in the annex shows.

Practical consequences of the quantum shift to transpersonal consciousness

Tuning our brain to enter into adaptive resonance with the hologram of other things and other people means moving beyond today’s ego-bound and sense organ-limited consciousness to a wider transpersonal consciousness. This shift is likely to have momentous consequences. When people evolve transpersonal consciousness they become aware of their deep ties to each other, to the biosphere, and to the cosmos. They develop greater empathy with people and cultures near and far and greater sensitivity to animals, plants, and the entire biosphere. As a result a new civilization can see the light of day.

The connection between a shift in consciousness and a shift in civilization was envisaged by Native American cultures, including the Maya, Cherokee, Tayta, Xingue, Hopi, Inca, Seneca, Inuit, and Mapuche. They indicate that we are presently living under the Fifth Sun of consciousness and are on the verge of entering the Sixth Sun. the Sixth Sun will bring a new consciousness and with it a fundamental transformation of civilization.

The native cultures were right. Achieving transpersonal consciousness is likely to further progress toward a civilization based on empathy, trust, and solidarity, a Holos-civilization. But will such a civilization come about in time? This we do not know yet. We do know that more and more people will achieve transpersonal consciousness in the coming years, and if we do not destroy our life-supporting environment and decimate our numbers, a critical mass may do so.

The rapid spread of evolved consciousness is crucial for humanity’s future. Whether such consciousness reaches a critical mass will decide if humanity moves in time from the business as usual scenario leading to breakdown to the transformation scenario that leads toward a new civilization. Even if in some societies frustration caused by retrograde politics now catapults people into action, on the global level it is difficult to see how a sufficient number of people would come up with the motivation necessary to achieve a fundamental shift in values, perceptions, and behaviors in the absence of a more evolved consciousness. How could enough people come up with the will to pull together to confront the threats they face in common, to elect leaders who support projects of economic cooperation and intercultural solidarity, to adopt strategies in business where the pursuit of profit and growth is transformed by the search for corporate social and ecological responsibility, to bring online an E-Parliament that links parliamentarians worldwide in joint efforts to serve the common good, and to organize an effective network of nongovernmental organizations to restore peace in war-torn regions and ensure an adequate supply of food and water for endangered populations – how could they do all this and more if they do not reach a higher level of consciousness? In the absence of transpersonal consciousness the worldwide motivation needed to take effective action may have to await the actual occurrence of crises and catastrophes – and if these involve major tipping points, shifting to the positive scenario will be difficult, if not impossible.

We need the timely spread of transpersonal consciousness to bring about a shift in civilization. This was recognized already in 1991 by Václav Havel, then president of Czechoslavakia. In his address to a joint session of the U.S. Congress, Havel said, “Without a global revolution in the sphere of human consciousness, nothing will change for the better and the catastrophe towards which this world is headed – the ecological, social, demographic, or general breakdown of civilization – will be unavoidable.”

Havel’s point was well taken, but it is not a reason for despair: human consciousness can evolve. At the innovative frontiers of society it is already evolving. This could empower the shift to a new civilization – a civilization of Holos.

This quantum shift in the global brain is humanity’s best chance. Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt the power of a small group of people to change the world. Nothing else ever has.” Small groups of people with an evolved consciousness will change the world – if they grow into a critical mass in time. There could not be a nobler or more important task in our day than to empower this evolution. 

 

PART THREE

GLOBALSHIFT IN ACTION: THE CLUB OF BUDAPEST AND ITS INITIATIVES

The Club of Budapest is an association of ethical and responsible leading personalities in various parts of the world dedicated to the proposition that we need urgently to change the world and for that we must also change ourselves. This part gives a brief account of the history of the Club, its fields of activity, and the objectives of its major projects.

Monday, January 9, 2012 @ 08:01 AM
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QUANTUM SHIFT IN THE GLOBAL BRAIN

HOW THE NEW SCIENTIFIC REALITY CAN CHANGE US AND OUR WORLD

ERVIN LASZLO

INNER TRADITIONS                    2008

www.InnerTraditions.com

PART XI

 

Chapter 8: Evolution, Not Extinction!

A Call From Fiji

Adi Da, a New York-born world-renowned hermit living on a remote island of Fiji, has issued an urgent call for change and transformation in the human world. He has recognized the threat of extinction and is calling for evolution. He asks that people come together to create a world united in its determination to achieve peace and sustainability and discover the unity that is basic to all things in the cosmos.

Every once in a while a prophetic voice is raised in the midst of crisis and chaos. It cuts through the walls of indifference, neglect, and just plain ignorance and exposes the heart of the issue. Adi Da expresses such a voice. Not surprisingly, it comes from one who is not part of the hustle and bustle we charitably call the business of living, and less charitably the daily rat race. It comes from one who decided early in life to keep the distance needed for clear vision and enter the silence needed for true audition. We see things best when we have them in perspective: then we see the forest and not only the trees. And we hear best when we silence the cacophony of competing voices clamoring for attention. The source of deep insight is the emptiness that is also a fullness and the profound silence that allows the voice of reason to be heard.

The heart of the issue that Adi Da addresses is none other than the issue of our collective survival – the survival of the species that calls itself Homo sapiens: “Homo the knower,” “Homo the wise.” We have reached the very edge of our species’ viability on this planet. The problems are becoming more evident everyday. Adi Da states them succinctly: “… environmental pollution, global warming, climate change, the abuse of power by corporations and governments, the necessity for new technologies and new methods in every area of human life, the scarcity of fuel resources and of natural and human resources altogether, disease, famine, poverty, overpopulation, urbanization, globalization, human migration, territorial disputes, violent crime, the pervasive accumulation (and the sometimes actual use) of excessively (and even catastrophically) destructive weapons, the tendency of national States to avoid cooperation and mutual accommodation, the tendency of national States (or factions within national States) to use war (and otherwise unspeakably dark-minded violence) as a method for achieving the goals of national and otherwise culturally idealized policies …” The list could be continued; it is long and somber. As we have seen, this scenario of business as usual leads to a dead end.

Other species went toward and into extinction through little or no fault of their own: the environment around them changed or other species invaded their niche. We do not have more powerful species to contend with, but our environment is changing because we are changing it. Homo the wise, the knower, is outsmarting himself. He is creating untenable conditions in the biosphere and stressful and potentially catastrophic conditions in the sociosphere.

What makes Homo create such conditions? Not instincts: those are oriented toward individual and collective survival. Homo sapiens, like other species, most notably the higher apes, possess “hard-wired” instincts that make them into adapted social beings. Chimpanzees who cannot swim have sometimes drowned in the moats of zoos trying to save other chimpanzees who have fallen into the water. Rhesus monkeys have been known to starve themselves for days when they could get food only by giving an electric shock to a companion. When male chimps keep fighting, female chimps have been known to take the stones out of their hands, and if they fail to make up after a fight, the females often attempt to bring them together.

  • These behaviors are precursors of human morality. We humans have very likely inherited these instincts from our early ancestors.
  • The instincts of modern humans no longer govern behavior. Human reason has the freedom to ignore, and even go counter to, genetically coded patterns of behavior.
  • Today it is the egoic, shortsighted rationality of modern man that guides his steps.
  • This kind of rationality is now testing the limits of the viability of our species.

Deep insight welling from the most basic instincts of our species for collective survival is what we need, for that – combined with the basic wisdom deposited in the great spiritual traditions and rediscovered at the cutting edge of the sciences – can lead us to a condition that is truly viable: to a civilization that is holistic, peaceful, and sustainable.

  • Were it not for the emergence of such insights at crucial epochs in our history, we would not still be here. Because it is emerging again, we have a chance of being here tomorrow.
  • The threats come from our egoic separateness, and the salvation from the rediscovery of our unity.
  • It is a fact that can be, and is now being, recalled and rediscovered. It is recalled by spiritual masters, and rediscovered by front-line thinkers and scientists.
  • Anthropologists have found that so-called primitive (but in many respects highly sophisticated) tribes are nonlocally – telepathically – connected. They have not repressed their prior unity.
  • Modern humans have repressed the recognition of our prior unity and then, emboldened by misguided rationality, denied its very existence.

We are now witnessing the consequences: nature overexploited and despoiled, thousands of millions pressed into deep and seemingly hopeless poverty, and the human world fragmented into “me” and “my company” and “competitors.”

Not only are we not alone in the universe – for there is an overwhelming probability that many civilizations exist on some of the innumerable planets of this and billions of other galaxies – we are not alone because there are unseen yet now increasingly manifest forces guiding our destiny. The evidence speaks loud and clear. Voices of true reason rise, a new spirituality evolves, spiritual people tell us that a higher frequency of radiation emerges on the planet. The insight to which Adi Da gives voice is the same insight that is dawning on increasing numbers of people: a decade or two ago thousands, now millions.

The transformation of the human species has begun. A new epidemic is spreading among us: more and more people are infected by the recognition of their unity. The fragmentation of human communities and the separation of man and nature were but an interlude in human history, and that interlude is now coming to a close. We are recovering our unity, not by returning to a prior culture and consciousness, but by moving beyond the fragmented, egoic civilization that has dominated humankind for the past two centuries – moving toward a cooperative world constituted by free people who are capable of representing the interest of the human species.

It is high time to move on: the hour of decision approaches. If a critical mass among us recovers the lived experience and attains the felt realization of our prior unity we shall take action, and we can then await the hour of decision with confidence. The spread of messages coming from the deepest intuitions of which our species is capable is both the means of achieving this paramount condition and an indication that achieving it is not a question of serendipity. It is the fulfillment of our species’ deep-seated drive to safeguard and develop the consciousness that is both our blessing and our privilege – and our ineluctable responsibility to use for the benefit of all people and all things that live on Earth. 

PART TWO

PARADIGM SHIFT IN SCIENCE

Chapter 9: The Cosmic Plenum: The New Fundamental Concept of Reality

Saturday, December 31, 2011 @ 05:12 AM
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THE SEARCH FOR A JUST SOCIETY

JOHN HUDDLESTON

GEORGE RONALD                       1989

PART I

Front flyleaf

The ancient dream of a just society has inspired countless men and women down the ages. Sometimes emerging in the spontaneous rebellion of ordinary people against tyranny, sometimes led by far-sighted statesmen or philosophers, sometimes manifested in a new religion or expressed in a new law: the search recurs throughout history, undeterred by cynicism or failure. All these struggles – the achievements as well as the failures – have become part of the collective heritage of mankind.

This fascinating book, packed with information, tells the story of that common cultural heritage and describes the provisions in place today and the options facing mankind in the 1990s. What do we, in the last decade of the 20th century, mean by a just society? Where do we go from here?

These are questions which must be answered if the peoples and nations of the world are to rise to the challenges before them and seize the opportunities now being offered on an unprecedented scale to achieve that age-old dream: the coming of a just society.

About the author

John Huddleston was educated in Manchester where he read Modern History, Economics and Politics at the University. For more than a decade he has been a senior staff member at the International Monetary Fund in Washington DC, where he is Chief of the Budget and Planning Division and an Assistant Director in the Administration Department.

Preface

This book is about the search for a dream. It is an ancient dream, aspired to by countless men and women down the ages. Sometimes manifested in a new religion, sometimes led by far-sighted and noble-minded statesmen or philosophers, sometimes emerging in the spontaneous rebellion of ordinary people against tyranny: the search for a just society recurs throughout history, undeterred by cynicism or past failure. For the long search was episodic and scattered, and concerned itself with limited aspects of a just society as we would conceive it today. Often an aspiration, beginning magnificently, would deteriorate and sink into the sands of history. Yet all these struggles – the failures as well as the successes – have become part of the collective heritage of mankind and have inspired and given strength to those who came afterwards and carried forward the dream, and the search:

“In the passage of time a state of collective human consciousness has been progressively evolved which is inherited by each succeeding generation of conscious individuals, and to which each generation adds something.”

Teilhard de Chardin, The Future of Man, p33

Slowly but surely the drum beat of history has quickened. Attempts to achieve a better society have become more frequent and the range of concerns has become more comprehensive. A crescendo was reached in the 19th century and has continued ever since.

What do we, in the last years of the 20th century, mean by a ‘just society’? Generally, when the term is employed in this book, it means a society which gives freedom to all its citizens and encourages them to achieve their full potential – physical, mental and spiritual. Such a state of affairs has various implications now gaining acceptance by the community of nations as the century draws to its close.

The first and most important of such implications would seem to be an ethical system that inspires a sense of the oneness of mankind, intellectual integrity, and responsibility both for the development of the self and for promoting the welfare of others; that creates a balance between rights and duties. From this basic requirement all others follow.

The provision of physical security, both for the person and necessary personal property, is the second requirement of a just society. This implies the rule of law in relations between communities (including international relations), between the community and the individual, and between individuals. The law should be in accord with the ethical system mentioned above, and must be seen to be just. It cannot be arbitrary or capricious. It should serve the interest of all, it should apply equally to all and should be known in advance to all. It should be administered by an objective and informed judiciary, fair-minded, and concerned for the general well-being. Against those who have been found guilty of breaking the law, it should apply sanctions which are both proportional to the offence and an encouragement to the human spirit rather than a burden on it. The judiciary should be supported by a police force which is itself subject to the law and which views itself as the servant and protector of the community – not an oppressor.

The third broad requirement of a just society is that all citizens have a say in the management of the affairs of their community. This may be achieved directly (as in a referendum) or indirectly (as in the election of representatives to act on behalf of citizens in the supervision and management of government). All adult members of the community should have the right to take part in elections and to vote secretly so that they are protected from intimidation. Equal weighting should be given to the votes of all electors and elections should take place at reasonable intervals. The government should be open in its administration and accountable for its actions to the community it serves. Citizens should be free to think as they wish and to express themselves freely. However, in exercising these rights the citizen should recognize that abuse of privilege, and failure to live by the spirit and rules of the game, will undermine the open society to the cost of all.

The fourth and final requirement now generally agreed as essential to the just society is equal opportunity for all citizens. There should be absolutely no negative discrimination on account of sex, race, culture, economic status or religion. To make this a realistic goal there are at least two subsidiary needs. The first concerns material resources. There should be no extremes of wealth and poverty, and for the benefit of present and future generations there should be protection and conservation of the natural resources of the planet. Secondly, all members of the community should have access to education for the development of the body, the mind, and the spirit.

The first part of this book touches on some of the highlights of the search for a just society from the beginnings of civilization to the end of the 18th century. The second part attempts a general description of the main concerns of progressive movements in the 19th and 20th centuries, and their successes and failures in taking the human race towards a more just society. This part has three sections which deal in turn with progress: (a) towards greater political and social equality; (b) towards elimination of poverty; and (c) towards world cooperation and the abolition of war. The third part of the book starts with a summary of the position today and the alternative paths forward which are available. In conclusion, it suggests that the logical successor of the progressive movements of history is the Bahá’í Faith. With its broad vision, practical approach, and accumulated experience, this movement does indeed give a unique promise of fulfilment of that age-old dream: the coming of a just society.

 

PART I: THE PAST

Introduction

Part I of this book discusses some highlights in the search for the just society from the beginning of civilization until the end of the 18th century. It is divided into eleven chapters, six of which focus on some of the great religions of the world.

  • Scepticism is understandable as a result of the experience of religious institutions in moral and intellectual decline. It is with good reason that religion has been associated with superstition, division, fanaticism, authoritarianism and oppression.
  • Nevertheless, such scepticism – no doubt intellectually and spiritually healthy in moderation – should not be a barrier to a fair-minded reading of history or assessment of human society today: the vast majority of the world population still has deep feelings about religion.
  • The fact is that religion has been an extremely powerful force in human history since at least the beginnings of civilization; it has played a very significant part in the evolution of the idea of the just society.
  • There can be little question that justice was central to the personality and teachings of Jesus, Muhammad, Moses, Buddha and Zoroaster.

The contribution of religion to the evolution of the concept of the just society has been its role in the development of ethics: the basic motivations of the individual and the community, and a sense of distinction between right and wrong. Ethics drawn from the great religions of the past have moderated human greed, selfishness, violence and destruction – all characteristics of the unjust society.

  • Religion has: reduced the importance of material considerations; shown concern for the physical and mental well-being of the individual; emphasised the concept of the brotherhood of man, the spiritual equality of all and the sense of family; highlighted the importance of honesty; truthfulness; reliability; responsibility; hard work; caring about others; being kind, charitable, and sympathetic to the poor and oppressed; stable in sexual and parental relationships; tolerance of others; the rule of law; the maintenance of peace; community assistance of the poor; cultural freedom; self-determination; and public participation in the choice of government and its activities.

 

Chapter 1: Peace through Empire: Egypt and Mesopotamia

 

Monday, December 26, 2011 @ 07:12 AM
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THE EARTH IS BUT ONE COUNTRY

JOHN HUDDLESTON

The National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United Kingdom

1976/1988

PART X

 

Chapter 7: A World Civilization

A – The Most Great Peace

The Bahá’í community is distinguished from all other groups, social, political, and religious, in that it is totally dedicated to the building of a new world civilization in which there will be opportunity for and encouragement of spiritual growth and fulfilment for all men, free from the oppression of hatred, prejudice, violence and injustice.

Bahá’ís believe that a new world civilization will be reached in two stages. The first, or transitional, stage will be a state which is called the ‘Lesser Peace’ in which there will be a general agreement to settle disputes without resort to war. In this stage many of the basic illnesses of society will be still present and the establishment of a civilization permanently at peace with itself, both materially and spiritually, will only come with the second stage, which is called the ‘Most Great Peace’. The ‘Most Great Peace’ will be achieved when there is a world-wide acceptance of the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh. Even the ‘Lesser Peace’ will, to a significant degree, depend on many Bahá’í principles being accepted by the majority of the peoples and governments of the world, whether consciously or unconsciously.

This is one reason why Bahá’ís feel the urgency of spreading knowledge of Bahá’u’lláh and His teachings as widely and as quickly as possible.

Bahá’u’lláh warned that if men did not change their way of conducting affairs there is the gravest danger of terrible disasters before the “Lesser Peace” is established.

Though doing everything in their power to change attitudes and so avert such catastrophes, Bahá’ís have to be prepared for the possibility that the political and social system will not respond quickly enough. This gives added reason for Bahá’ís to learn as quickly as possible the principles of the World Order of Bahá’u’lláh and for them to spread evenly throughout the world so that in the event of major catastrophes they will be ready to help build a new civilization out of the ruins of the old.

  • Earlier chapters dealt with the principles and teachings not only for today’s community, but for the world civilization into which it will grow.
  • In addition, the Bahá’í Writings include other teachings which relate more specifically to the time when the major part of society is Bahá’í and there is a Bahá’í system of government in that society.
  • These additional teachings might be put into two groups: those which deal directly with the strengthening of world unity, and secondly those which have more to do with justice and harmony at the local community level.
  • The first group are discussed in the next section, and the second group in the third and last section of this chapter.

 

B – The world community

The first principle which will have bearing on the nature of the new civilization is the necessity for a world system of government. This would be similar in many ways to the Administrative Order crowned by the Universal House of Justice which is the backbone of the present Bahá’í community, developed to take account of vastly expanded responsibilities.

Such principles of the Administrative Order as the methods of election and consultation would be clearly essential features. The exact details of a world system of government will be unfolded in response to the circumstances of the time.

The role of government will be set to a large extent by the spiritualization of world society – that is, the practice in daily life by all of true religious principles. On the other hand, the spiritual nature of government methods will contribute to the spiritual growth and development of society. This is obviously so different from most of our experience that it is difficult to draw parallels with present or past institutions. However, the writer would like to venture the following remarks.

From studying the Bahá’í methods and administration it seems that there will be the minimum of bureaucracy and the prevailing spirit will be to rely on voluntary compliance with the rulings of the world government, and in consequence a great deal of responsibility will be delegated to national and local bodies.

  • As in all open societies, there would be room for great diversity of view and discussion. This is only possible when there is acceptance by all of the basic premises of society.
  • An international peacekeeping police force would be the only significant armed group permitted, sufficient to defend the world community against attack by any selfish interest which might arise.
  • Local communities would have their police forces sufficient to maintain law and order and additionally there may be some need for a small central group under each national government.

An important function of world government would be to strengthen the sense in all men of belonging to one world family. The chief instrument for the development of such an awareness would be the study of the Bahá’í Writings whose main message is the three unities: God is one, Religion is one, Mankind is one. There would be a universal system of compulsory education which would place equal emphasis on spiritual growth along the lines indicated in Bahá’í Writings, and on objective scientific investigation. Spiritual studies would act as a unifying force which would give meaning to the whole educational process and provide the universal principles which apply in science and other branches of learning. The whole concept is quite different from present-day systems of education which are lacking in unity of purpose and which are morally confusing. The system of education would also restore the balance between intellectual learning and manual skills, giving recognition to the importance of each in the fully rounded man. The object would be to raise up a new Race of Man, spiritually mature, and with an ever-inquiring view of the universe in its every aspect.

  • In the United States Bahá’ís are making valuable contributions to the development of the theory and practice of education, and it is a Bahá’í who is the founder and driving force behind the well known Harlem Preparatory School which has successfully motivated drop-outs to continue their education and go on to college, and so help break further the vicious circle of poverty which has held back the black people of America for so long.
  • An important part of the curricula of the world system of education would be the teaching of a universal auxiliary language and script.
  • Language plays an important part in the growth of a sense of oneness in a people.
  • In addition to a universal auxiliary language use of ethnic language would be encouraged in the Bahá’í system of education so as to ensure the continuing vitality of local culture, which is so important an aspect of the Bahá’í concept of world civilization.
  • Another important function of the world government will be to ensure that the world’s resources are used efficiently for the benefit of all mankind, not just for privileged classes and nations as at present.
  • A fair distribution of the world’s resources would be partly achieved by the creation of a unified world economy.
  • There will be a uniform system of weights and measures and, more important, a world currency. The world currency would be carefully regulated so that it would have a more or less constant value.

Today the economies of many capitalist countries depend to a large extent on the continued creation of increasingly frivolous consumer goods and on built-in obsolescence. In other countries all is sacrificed for the economic and military power of the state. In a spiritual world society such factors, which are utterly irrelevant to the well being of mankind, will not be present. Instead there will be, hand in hand with the concern for a fair distribution of wealth, a careful husbanding of available resources: a recognition of man’s role as steward of the world, charged to protect nature both for its own sake and for the benefit of future generations. At long last men today are coming to realize that the protection of the world’s environment and resources is ultimately the function of one world authority. Thus at the 1972 United Nations Conference on the Human Environment it was recognized that one of the most useful roles which the United Nations would have in the future would be the coordination and supervision of the development of those resources which lie beneath the oceans and the establishment and monitoring of basic controls for the preservation of a healthy environment.

C – The local community

Present-day society is dominated by the megalopolises, huge, ugly, dirty blotches on the landscape which have grown far beyond the “human scale”, and which crush the human spirit. There are many signs that these growths are reaching a completely unmanageable size and that they will die of their own weight and rigidity. Bahá’í Writings seem to indicate that a future world society will be more balanced and that the city will have less dominating a role. Certainly there may be economic and sociological reasons for thinking this may be the development of the future. The megalopolis has grown partly as a result of the need for large numbers of workers to man vast mass-production factories, and partly – ironically now – to facilitate rapid communication in government, commerce and the arts. There are indications that the age of mass-production may be passing its peak and that in future industrial plants will be small and will be designed to use highly specialized skills, and quality craftsmanship. If so, dispersal will become practical as well as attractive. What mass-production will still be required will undoubtedly be automated for the most part and so require relatively few workers, as is already the case with oil refining and is becoming so in the steel industry. The tendency toward dispersal might be strengthened by developments in communications. It is now possible to conceive that in the not too distant future we will be able to converse instantly, cheaply and extensively with others in any part of the globe, and that people will be able to travel to the other end of the earth without thinking more about it than they now do to go down to the next town. When this happens the pull of the giant city will be even less.

  • Agriculture with its associated activities will reassert itself as the first industry of society and that man’s occupations and way of life in general will become more harmonized with nature.
  • The typical local community of the future will be either a relatively small and ‘human-sized’ city or an agricultural village.
  • The local community will have a major role to play with regard to anti-social behavior. Crime today is predominantly associated with the uneducated and those who are rootless, particularly in the big city.
  • Today the treatment of criminals in many countries is a disgrace to civilization. Poorly paid and poorly educated police are often corrupt and brutal, the courts slow, legal professions self-serving and detached from reality, and prisons hell on earth.
  • In a Bahá’í society the lawbreaker, like the member of any other sick or deprived group, would be the responsibility, and in the care of, his family community.

It is generally agreed that much of the crime in present day society stems from extreme injustice with regard to inequalities of wealth. Though Bahá’ís believe complete equality is neither desirable, practical, nor capable of attainment, one of the more important of their objectives is to abolish extremes of wealth and poverty, to see that the basic needs of all peoples are met and that additional riches are given for service and not according to the accident of birthplace or race or family.

Many of the laws and principles of the Faith which have been already discussed have a bearing on economic justice, for instance, compulsory universal education, the equality of men and women, the emergence of the true family spirit, the idea that work in the spirit of service is worship, the fact that begging is forbidden, the awareness of being members of one world family, the concept of a fair distribution of the world’s resources amongst all nations. There are many others of which perhaps the more important are those dealing with industrial organization, inheritance and taxation.

  • The idea of consultation would not be confined to government but would be a normal feature of all organizations, including commercial enterprises.
  • Those enterprises which are not co-operatives will have a far-reaching profit-sharing programme which would be supervised by local or national governments to make sure that the sharing was equitable.
  • Another powerful; device for ensuring economic justice will be the application of both a progressive income tax and a negative income tax.
  • Each person will have his income free of tax up to the point where it exceeds his basic needs, thereafter a genuine progressively heavier tax will be levied.

Bahá’ís believe that only religion has the power to inspire society to support enthusiastically and equitable distribution of wealth and that such enthusiasm is required to ensure success. Past attempts to achieve an equitable distribution of wealth have failed because they have been made by governments in face of important groups in society which have been at best indifferent and at worst extremely hostile to the idea.

  • The objective would be to make each community self-supporting. It will take a considerable time for all local communities to reach a sufficient degree of prosperity to be able to support community services to the required level and therefore, during this period, the poorer communities will need assistance from either national or international finances resources.

One last thing should be said about the new civilization. It is envisaged that it will inspire the greatest renaissance in the arts. This will find expression in local culture freed from prejudice and glorying in positive patriotism. More important, it will be shown in a new world culture. In the arts today there is an overwhelming emphasis on the ugly which reflects the reality of our society, and this perhaps more healthy that presenting a fake veneer of beauty. It might be argued, however, that the tendency has become excessive and that the movement has lost its original genuineness and is now preoccupied with the bleak side of life for its own sake, that it is merely a hollow fashion. Be that as it may, Bahá’í artists having a vision of the “Promised Day” have a different view, and it is this view which is believed will blossom in the new age. Then the subjects and styles of the arts will shine in reflection of a just and progressive civilization at one with itself and nature, and wholeheartedly committed to the worship of God in all His Glory.

Chapter 8: The Beginning

Chapter 9: On Being A Bahá’í

Appendices

Index