Learning to See in Wholly Holy Way: Awakened World Conference, Italy Oct 2012
Awakened World 2012: Learning to See in a “Wholly holy Way.”
Awakened World 2012 http://www.agnt.org/awakened2012.html,was recently convened and hosted in Italy by three American organizations. I learned about the conference through the Association of Global New Thought, one of the sponsoring organizations. http://www.agnt.org/charter/conveners.html. 240 participants came from more than 15 countries – from almost every continent. There were social activists from Sri Lanka and Mexico, Buddhist teachers from Korea, Tibet and China; University Professors from Iran, Iowa, Arizona and Georgia; Rabbis from Israel and Belgium, Muslims from Malaysia, and Pakistan; Hindus; New Thought Practitioners; authors, therapists, ministers, film makers, peacemakers, youth workers, leadership experts, educators, ecologists, entrepreneurs from the UK, Europe, USA, South Africa, Ghana and India. The theme was “Engaged Spirituality for the 21st Century” and the intention was to enroll delegates from all over the world in dialogues to define and refine what it means to foreground spirituality as a catalytic force for global transformation.
The conference was unique in design, bold in vision and amplified by the consciousness, soulfulness and diversity of people who came. I have seldom experienced the degree of “mutual irradiation” in such authentic, gentle and generative encounters between people of so many different faiths. In a short pamphlet, Douglas Steere, a Quaker described the meaning of “mutual irradiation” in the context of interfaith dialogue. http://www.pendlehill.org/images/pamphlets/php175.pdf This mutuality happens when “each (religion) is willing to expose itself with great openness to the inward message of the other, as well as to share its own experience and to trust that whatever is the truth in each experience will irradiate and deepen the experience of the other.”
Rarely have I been in gatherings where the mutual irradiation happened so effortlessly. Delegates were invited to focus on how we saw signs of change, how we noticed systemic shifts, how applied evolutionary change in practical engagement and how we were embodying the spiritual and cultural evolutionary shifts our lived experience. Intellectual, spiritual and emotional integration and transformation took place within my own being, through song, story and connection and conversation.
In the background materials prepared for the conference, AGNT Executive Director, Dr Barbara Fields and Jim Kenney, program coordinator of the Peace Council, outlined the important relationship between spiritual evolution and cultural evolution. They spoke of this moment in time, when prevailing cultural values, global awareness and spiritual understanding are emerging in new and distinct ways. The careful preparation for Awakened World 2012, showed how spiritual evolution unfolds as a key dimension of the process of a broader cultural evolution. This involves the slow, steady (and occasionally dramatically accelerated) shift of prevailing cultural values, assumptions, memes, and behavior patterns toward “a closer fit with our best understanding of reality”. The circle below was the innovative design template used to frame our dialogues across four themes: Reconciling with the Other; Rediscovering the Sacred; Transforming Society and Embracing the Earth Family. http://www.agnt.org/charter/themes.html (This link will illustrate the design graphically)
A Personal Note
Unexpected was the palpable personal shift that emerged in the evolution of my way of seeing, my way of being. There was a profound yet comfortable healing of the internal divides and rearrangement of my lived reality. The formal dialogues and informal interactions with delegates sparked with inspiration so that it became easy to embody the spiritually motivated shifts we sought to name.
Like many, my own journey covers a search for integration of the analytic and the artistic, the masculine and the feminine, the rational and mystical; the harmonizing of inner experience and outer expression.
Like many, I have noticed the spread of a shifting paradigm and the deepening cracks of all that is not working in our world. Since 2003, I have written about the systemic shifts which are clearing the ground for the rooting of the philosophy of Ubuntu globally. Ubuntu, in its simplest definition is about communally expressed humanity, about finding the I in the “WE”.
Living with the faith and sometimes the loneliness of a visionary, I count among many blessings, the affirmation and validation from people such as Rinaldo Brutoco, Founder and President of the World Business Academy who had invited me to the conference. http://www.worldbusiness.org/about/directors-and-officers/rinaldo-brutoco/
Years before the global financial crisis of 2008, Rinaldo recognized that the ethical appeal and shared responsibility called forth by Ubuntu was also a useful way to name the desired direction of our interconnectedness and the changes we need to embrace as a planet. The Awakened World conference in Italy, further demonstrated how Ubuntu, alongside other religions, could help to rediscover the sacredness of the other and translate these into practical, spiritually motivated initiatives for transforming business and society. Ubuntu was lived out, every day in Rome and in Florence – this evolutionary force melded and melted before my eyes into the oneness of other philosophies from other cultures and religions.
Fresh eyes and full heart
Though always informed by heartfelt passion, I have found it easier to write about Ubuntu than to consistently embody the spiritual call it demands on a daily basis. I became conscious of a slight internal disconnect between my fiery but reasoned writing, and residues of unconsciousness sometimes lacing patterns of engagement and embodiment.
In March this year, I began to heal this disconnect, starting to incorporate resonance building process using music in my team building facilitation. I translated Ubuntu principles to reframe a way for people to listen to the music of the other. This involved a request for several shift in awareness: suspending judgment, finding reverence and respect; and dignifying others by listening to their chosen tracks of music with an open heart and a loving soul.
The energy and alchemy of the conference poured a new brew of glue to fill gaps in the global jigsaw of my belonging and fire up synapses necessary for my own evolution.
Dancing like Candles
At Awakened World 2012 my soul danced like a candle with other candles, moving gracefully and smoothly in an easy choreography on a changing sea. The shore ahead felt closer, more visible because of the collective light.
Instead of a pressure to hold tightly onto “my” candle, a vision of Ubuntu, I have relaxed into the deep knowing that many of us at Awakened World, share a vision of oneness and are living it daily, feeling “it”.
What the “it” is became clearer.
Andrew Cohen’s interview with Rickie Byars Beckwith provides a helpful vocabulary. http://www.enlightennext.org/magazine/j32/soulful.asp
Rickie says: “I mean “One Love” in the way Bob Marley meant it. It’s that love. It’s beyond self-preservation. It’s something that cares. In that love, there’s no other. We are it. It’s us, and so we share it. I believe that a soulful person is someone who is swimming in this, who’s dedicated to it, who’s here for this.”
The universal quality of oneness was expressed in countless forms by many people. Rickie Byars Beckwith, Faith Riveira http://www.faithrivera.com/ and others in the conference music group A.W.E (Awakened World Ensemble), sang the oneness of Ubuntu in Rome and in Florence. Every day we were treated to prayers and meditations and songs from many religious traditions. And in our dialogues, so many of the delegates from Japan to Ghana embodied the oneness of Ubuntu in their very being. Rinaldo Brutoco and James Quilligan spoke it in their vision of http://p2pfoundation.net/James_Quilligan
ethical business a new economy and a just society. Barbara Fields role modeled beautifully what collaboration looks like in its most generous form.
I can relax in the knowing that the system shift is so deeply shared by an increasing number of soul- ful people, that spiritual evolution feels tangible and cultural evolution genuinely with us.
We become instruments of collective transcendence
In the same interview with Andrew Cohen, Rev Michael Beckwith had this so say: “There’s a rhythm; there’s a harmony, a vibration…. soulful people have the ability, consciously or unconsciously, to allow that vibration to move through them. Sometimes they don’t even know they’re doing it. Have you ever listened to Sam Cooke or Ray Charles? In the music of certain people, you hear them touching that ineffable place. They become instruments to translate and transmit it to the audience. And when it hits the audience, you can feel it.”
At our most transformative moments in South Africa, people asked one another other, can you “feel it?” “It” was described as “gees”, an Afrikaans world for spiritual aliveness that has marked some of our transformative moments in South Africa. Our miracle moments in that country are those of collective transcendence, where people connected into a greater oneness. In those moments, what is ineffable becomes palpable. What is intangible becomes lived and profoundly felt by many. These moments of shared transcendence happened often in Italy at Awakened World 2012.
Michael Beckwith described “it” this way. When singers make a big hit, it is because the song is carried so deeply in their being, and they are resonating so deeply with the lyrics, that in the singing, the lyrics are magnified. The singers increase the power of the words and carry them forward.
I felt sung to so gorgeously, by so many delegates and I sang with them. We all amplified our shared awakening, carrying the song of our evolution forward.
The intention of the Dialogues at Awakened World was to “model the harmony of the world’s great religious and spiritual communities – their common ground and the differences that give them unique identities – demonstrating that a shared vision can transcend differences and reveal wisdom. This value of this undertaking will lie in the contribution it can make to global evolutionary awareness and transformative action.”
There were many moments of modeling harmony. Many pearls of wisdom shared. They emerged in music, in conversation, in story in thought, in envisioning new projects and extending existing projects within the Awakened World Community. The rooted collective wisdom gave voice to the nascent buds of a new tree of life.
On the final day in Rome, we sang “we are the world, we are the children”. I found a fresh voice resonant with others. We found our voices in harmony in that song for a moment in Italy. We’re singing evolution forward. We’re learning to love and to serve in a “wholly holy way”. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X3Rr0BuFeCo
Barbara Nussbaum is an author, coach, and a creative consultant living in South Africa.
 With thanks to Rickie Byars Beckwith for the Inspiration of these lyrics. The last U tube link gives you a chance to see Rickie singing her song!
Thoughts of judgment
became meditations of appreciation
Ways for the heart to become lovingly curious
about how human beings are held together
in unique patterns of beauty?
Barbara Nussbaum November 11, 2012
Ceiling of Pallazo Vecchio, Florence Italy
South Africa’s high drama over Speargate has touched people deeply. Opinions have been thrown in every direction, from every corner. As we engage further in public debate in the media, we need individually and collectively to identify the many layers make the complexity of the moment so profound.
We need to ask new questions that help us transform the raw pain and confusion of this moment into opportunities for healing, mutual recognition and nuanced debate. In facing the challenge of this moment, we need to nourish our nation’s soul by sourcing the wisdom of those who have incisive minds and compassionate hearts.
Personally, I sought refuge in the writings of former Constitutional Judge, Albie Sachs, whose keynote address, Free Spirits and Ravaged Souls at the Time of the Writer Festival, in March 2011 poses a powerful question for our country. “How do you reconcile expression of a free spirit, on the one hand, with sensitivity to the ravaged soul of people subjected to historical hurt, on the other?” Other questions might include: what are the multiple meanings and impacts of art? How do these vary according to race, class, culture? How do we speak to each other with a more informed understanding of the range of interpretations influenced by wounding, poverty, power, privilege and political manipulation?
Healing is happening because we’re communicating but there have been many lost opportunities for healing this national high drama. In fact, more possibilities emerge for radical transformation when fires of collective outrage boil close to the surface. For now, shallow, cynical and defensive reactions co-exist with deep and complex emotions. But we can make corrective choices at every moment in history. Now is one of those moments when thousands and thousands of corrective choices can be made by each of us, by all of us.
Let us begin a communal healing journey – a transformative path to discover how “light might triumph heat” and how compassion might unfreeze what is frozen. Let us use this moment to all grow into more tolerant, more human versions of ourselves, where we transcend our initial reactions and feel the power, the humanity of the liquid gold that hides beneath our respective unconsciousnesses. We have experienced these healing moments in South Africa. We know how to do this.
During the recent ANC court case, as I watched Judge Claassens’ uncaring response to Advocate Malindi, I remembered the business submissions to the Truth Commission held in Johannesburg during 1997. On that morning, it was only the Ruperts, founders of the powerful Rembrandt group, who acknowledged that they benefitted from apartheid. And the Ruperts apologized, sincerely, with no prompting.
That was a corrective healing moment. It grew out of the good will and generosity in the soil tilled by President Mandela, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu and our other founding mothers and fathers. However, there were lost moments for change then and now. That morning, the majority of business leaders denied that they were beneficiaries of apartheid. Sam Shilowa, the then head of COSATU lightened a tense atmosphere with a powerful joke! “How great it is to know that we had so many business comrades in the apartheid years!” That day, mostly denial and defensiveness played out. When Dr. Alec Boraine of the TRC suggested the benefit of an apology to one business leader, he said sarcastically “Sure, how many apologies do you need for it to do the trick – three, four or five?” It is that kind of denial and defensiveness which takes away our shared humanity – it wounds those who have already been hurt and freezes the wounded souls of those who could have been more genuinely remorseful. A frozen and skeptical heart is as wounded as an angry one.
We now need to soberly face the cumulative consequences of what too many of us have failed to learn. Some become numb, some are fearful and ignorant and others keep hurts hidden. The beauty in this moment is that we have an opportunity to learned from each other. Paul Mashatile, Minister for Arts and Culture spoke on Justice Malala’s show on Etv Sunday May 27. With great dignity, he informed viewers that African men were forced to take down their trousers in order to receive a pass. I feel shame in acknowledging my ignorance. I did not know.
I am an advocate of Ubuntu. (See Reflections of a South African on our Common Humanity http://www.barbaranussbaum.com/downloads/reflections.pdf ) Although Ubuntu has lost its currency in South Africa, we desperately need to recover this understanding of communally lived humanity and find pragmatic ways to apply it to protect our national fabric. Ubuntu is about respecting all the voices. It involves patient listening with flexibility and openness to multiple perspectives. It demands accountability communal reconciliation, respect and dignity for all and social and economic justice.
And it is complicated. While I feel Advocate Malindi’s pain, it is difficult at the same time to witness the ANC manufacture the “currency of racial intolerance”. This tendency is well described in the May 26 Cape Argus editorial. Instead, we need the currency of compassion and healing. How could acknowledging our woundedness, applying compassion and cultural sensitivity, help us all become nationally stronger during this dramatic moment?
Ann Lamont, a Cape Town based social entrepreneur offers useful insights. To her, “we’re seeing reactions which lack understanding of the multiple perspectives of the other. This isn’t a time for rigidity. There is clearly so much pain. It is a golden opportunity for us to really understand that pain.”
She continues, “using the constitutional tool of the court(whilst critical) only deals with a legal dimension of what is so clearly a deeper problem. The tool of the court must be used in conjunction with the underlying principles of our constitution and the creation of a space for understanding our respective wounds.”
A similar perspective is offered in a conversation held with Peter Gabel, a law professor at John F Kennedy University in northern California. “The artistic expression should be upheld as a matter of law, but with some process to reveal and heal the embedded pain. This would require a public dialogue which would work best if the artist and the ANC lawyer both participate, with perhaps Tutu officiating.”
If South Africa chooses to seize this watershed moment, civic leaders will come forward to host such dialogue. One such leader might be Dr Mamphela Ramphele and her Citizens Movement for Social Change, a new organization whose mission is to generate dialogue about the wounds of the past. Well facilitated civic dialogue is one of the only antidotes to the national division we risk.By using protests and the perceived expedience of ANC rhetoric to magnify racial intolerance to manufacture political capital, we stay divided. We need to radically remedy that division by coming together – slowly, safely, and thoroughly – one conversation at a time, owning our ambiguities, our resistances and working through the complex layers of our narrative. At this juncture, I feel an ironic kind of hope. The intense conflict we are having also brings a certain level of intimacy into our engagements. I thought Ferial Haffajee’s open letter to Zuma’s daughter was a moving example of such intimacy. http://www.citypress.co.za/Columnists/How-a-painting-divided-a-nation-20120527.
When people fight as much as we do in South Africa, it assumes there must be a certain level of trust among us that enables us to choose to continue to talk in the first place. Through our post-apartheid heritage, we have developed some capacity to take on painful issues and talk about them. This dynamic does not easily happen in other parts of the world.
While we clearly do not go far enough and we have a great deal to learn, we continually engage with each other through many informal means, mostly through the media. We now need to structure this engagement more honestly, more sensitively by hosting more dialogues, in large forums and in small groups.
The heart of our democracy will not heal, unless we heal each other. Courts will not get us there, conversations will. Boycotts and protests will not restore our collective dignity, conscious compassionate listening and dialogue will. We need to find a politics worthy of our humanity and learn to navigate more complex waters. Our only hope is to deepen our knowledge of each other, heal all of our wounds and find the heart that melts what is frozen, and the heart that lies beyond the heat .
Barbara Nussbaum co-authored Personal Growth African Style with S Palsule and V Mhkize (Penguin 2010).
YOU ARE INVITED TO A WORKSHOP TO EXPERIENCE MUSIC AND UBUNTU
Groups are limited to 8
Date: Saturday, March 17, 2012
Venue: 1919 Meiners Road, Meiners Oaks
Time: 10 a.m. till 1 p.m.
To register: Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Registration essential as there 10 minutes of preparation to complete before the session
Barbara Nussbaum was born in Zimbabwe and educated in South Africa, and holds graduate degrees, from the London School of Economics in the UK and Drexel University in USA. She is the author of 3 books, author of numerous articles and a global spokesperson for Ubuntu, an African idea, which calls forth communally expressed humanity. Her workshops use music to promote conscious learning and deepen connection between people. The purpose is to help delegates find the I in the WE and the We in the I. Barbara combines two elements – the intangible qualities of music and Ubuntu, to get to the felt experience of BEING in a group.
This is an experiential session .Prior to the group, you will be sent a one pager, to select a track of music to bring. The first step begins by discovering how to consciously name and claim the “I” in the music, and to prepare to share it, from a place of authenticity and courage.
Different channels of appreciation are opened up. It is safe, and the sensitive facilitation paves the way for deep listening and sharing to happen. The combination of the music and lived Ubuntu builds a joyful and beautiful dynamic in the group. People listen the intention: to see the other, to feel the other – to celebrate what is unique about each person, and to then sense what is unifying. We become more of who we are because each person is seen, celebrated and affirmed by the group. The music wakes up deeper levels of our listening and our humanity.
Why it works:
For Yo Yo Ma, the famous cellist: Music is one of the ways we can achieve a kind of shorthand to understand each other.” …so it helps us connect with each other in groups. We add the awareness of Ubuntu to the mix, and delegates experience connection with each other, which wakes up communal consciousness – the felt, and palpable feeling of “WE” that many yearn for.
This workshop will:
- change the way you listen to music and yourself.
- deepen the way you listen to others through music
- shift and elevate group dialogue
- quickly build resonance in a team or group
“Barbara’s workshop is beyond delightful. It is a treat for body mind and spirit. I found it relaxing and energizing on a deep and profound level. Her insights as to how to use music to enhance daily life and personal aspirations was clearly miraculous. Don’t miss the opportunity to work with this gifted teacher.” Rev. Marilyn Miller, Ojai, California
“It was a great joy to be part of your workshop today. It provided a beautiful container for being connected in the heart with others in a very brief time through the music. I felt heard, seen and discovered deeper insights about myself through the intentional listening and reflection of my chosen music. It was also very enriching to experience and reflect on the music of others.”
Lisa B. Holistic Health Practitioner, Ojai, California
“I speak from my experiences with her, that Barbara takes people and their music places they have never been before, leaving a lasting impression.” Dr. Leland Kaiser, Founder Kaiser Institute, Denver; CO; Health Futurist: Faculty Member Spiritual Leadership Institute, Houston, TX
“Barbara’s special blend of insight, empathy and ability to ‘connect’ is the perfect skill set to ensure that her innovative process works. My team were deeply moved and enthused and the ‘ music album’ we created has ensured that we have carried those feelings long past the excellent team building event.” David Storey, CEO The Resolve Group, Johannesburg, South Africa
Franschhoek, South Africa
November 1, 2o1o
I enjoy beginning my days with what Julia Cameron calls morning pages – a discipline for writers,
or anyone who wants to spend 15 minutes at the beginning of each day, tuning in to whatever wants to be written, without too much fuss or judgement.
Here is today’s humble offering.
A Blessing for Little Things
At times when days feel long
Find beauty in slow time
Let your eyes linger on the insignificant details
Of nature’s flows and rhythms
Celebrate the eclipsed glory of a strelitzia
Pert bright orange and purple flowers
Transformed into a messy shreds, dull and faded brown
Marvel at the grace of birds small and large
As they fly, as they land
Hear the gentle sounds of each moment
Of life’s little orchestra
Car sounds, bird song, random chirps of birds
Improvising effortlessly though silence
Making today’s unique musical composition
Appreciate the sensual movement of random leaves dancing
The pride of lemons turning bright yellow
The movement of the wind inspiring a different dance
In every tree
Look up at the large sky
Appreciating the naturalness of its large canvas
May you feel gratitude for all you see around you
The wispy clouds, the solitary fallen leaf
Yes! There is a joy in noticing little things
And loving the beginning of each new day.