Barbara Hebert – USA
When we think of diversity or the differences we see in our world, we don’t typically think of strength. Yet, diversity provides us with strength. The differences we see allow each of us to choose our own spiritual path, to grow in our own way. Through different perspectives, ideas, and thoughts, each of us can choose, or even create, our own path as we search for Truth. We may be reminded of Krishnamurti’s statement that “Truth is a pathless land.” As many of us can attest, it takes strength and courage to walk the spiritual path.
Finding the strength to walk our own path, perceiving the beauty evident in differences, recognizing the unity inherent in all life allows us to experience a sense of kinship and unity with all beings. An appreciation and valuing of the uniqueness found in the manifested world brings many of us tremendous joy and happiness.
However, for some individuals, these differences can be perceived as threatening. The focus is then on the separateness or division between people, beliefs, cultures, and so on. Divisiveness can be defined as something that causes disagreement or hostility. As we look around at what is happening today, divisiveness seems to exist in almost every aspect of physical manifestation: political, religious, ethical, moral, and so on. This has pulled apart families, friends, and colleagues.
Feeling threatened by the perceived differences may bring about a range of behaviors: behaviors that range from the unkind and rude to vicious and inhumane. As we see what is happening in our world, we may feel a sense of despair, a loss of hope. It’s likely that all of us have some level of anxiety about the future, wondering if human beings will ever learn to treat each other and our world with love, compassion, and kindness, to come together as one humanity.
In many instances, divisiveness seems to bring about a form of “group think” where specific groups honor their own beliefs and no others. Specifically, the beliefs and perspectives of “the other” have no place in the world of these groups. This separation and divisiveness has led many to feel fear, animosity, and even hatred about and for “the other,” regardless of who “the other” might be. From these intense feelings can arise behaviors that are appalling and atrocious: behaviors that can easily be termed “inhumanity to humanity.”
We don’t have to look far to find examples of these behaviors. From making denigrating comments about a particular group or posting offensive pictures or statements on social media at one end of the spectrum to intolerance over gender differences, human rights in all arenas, social justice, immigration and finally to the other end of the spectrum with war, victimization, people being brutally beaten and murdered, others being starved to death, or left to die in inhumane conditions. And on and on. I really dislike bringing these topics into our awareness, but it is essential that we are aware of the inhumanity that can become manifest when divisiveness exists. It is part of the world in which we live. In order to be a part of the solution in resolving the divisiveness, we need to understand it.
Ken Wilbur, well-known writer, speaker, and transpersonal psychologist, discusses the divisiveness in very clear language, writing:
The simple fact is that we live in a world of conflict and opposites because we live in a world of boundaries. Since every boundary line is also a battle line, here is the human predicament: the firmer one’s boundaries, the more entrenched are one’s battles. The more I hold onto pleasure, the more I necessarily fear pain. The more I pursue goodness, the more I am obsessed with evil. The more I seek success, the more I must dread failure. The harder I cling to life, the more terrifying death becomes. The more I value anything, the more obsessed I become with its loss. Most of our problems, in other words, are problems of boundaries and the opposites they create.
Notice the number of times the word “I” is used in Wilbur’s statement. The “I” is the focus in a world of conflict and opposites. When we perceive the world in this way, as a series of “I vs you” or “us vs them”, then we live in a world filled with fear. Psychologically speaking, when we feel vulnerable or fearful, as human beings, we tend to use anger to protect ourselves. We almost automatically put ourselves into a defensive position so that we can “keep what is ours.” In this place, we have no concept of unity or connection; rather, we see “the other” as potentially dangerous, and we act from this place of separation and divisiveness. It seems that almost everywhere we look, we can find pockets–small or large–of individuals who hate or fear another because they are different–because they make take “what is ours.”
We want the world to be a place of peace, acceptance, and compassion. We want to live in a world where there is no judgment based upon skin color, religious or spiritual tradition, belief system, the way of self-identifying, and so on. We want to live in a world of social justice and equity. In other words, we want to radically transform the world, don’t we?
How do we change the world? We change ourselves. It seems paradoxical that in order to change the world, we must change ourselves; however, the Ageless Wisdom provides the foundation for this statement.
If consciousness is unitive with each of us grounded in this Absolute Consciousness, then when one of us changes, it creates a change in the whole. Consider a glass of water. If a drop of blue dye is put into the water, we see it swirl for a few seconds and then dissipate. However, the water slowly begins to change color as more drops of blue dye are added. If we think of the water as Absolute Consciousness and the drops of blue dye as the changes made by individuals, then we realize that one day, the entire glass of water will be blue. The consciousness of all will be transformed.
Radha Burnier and a dog having lunch on the terrace of St. Michael's House, at the International Theosophical Centre in Naarden the Netherlands, August 1995
Former International President of the Theosophical Society, Radha Burnier says, “The subject of human [transformation] is very important because a truly momentous change in the history of humanity will occur only when there is a revolutionary change in the human being. Probably a sufficient number of human beings must change to bring about a radical change in the course of human history.” (p. 3) So, what does she mean when she talks about a revolutionary or radical change in each of us? Maybe this quote from Krishnamurti will be helpful: “To transform the world, we must begin with ourselves; and what is important in beginning with ourselves is the intention. The intention must be to understand ourselves and not to leave it to others to transform themselves or to bring about a modified change through revolution, either of the left or of the right. It is important to understand that this is our responsibility, yours and mine...” (1948)
Our responsibility, then, according to Krishnamurti is our intention to understand ourselves and then make the necessary changes. We do this through objective self-observation. What are we thinking, feeling, saying, doing? What is the intention behind our thoughts, feelings, words, and actions?
Are we congruent? That is, do our thoughts, feelings, words, and actions match our belief systems. Do they match our desire for change in ourselves and thus in the world? This sounds very simple, yet it is perhaps one of the most difficult undertakings any of us will ever experience. It is the work of our soul in physical manifestation.
It may be helpful to briefly explore a spiritual or metaphysical perspective focusing on thoughts. From this perspective, thoughts and the accompanying feelings that we experience, or perhaps we should say create, surround us. We don’t see them, but they exist. We know from science that everything is energy; therefore, our thoughts and feelings are energy, perhaps more accurately described as energetic vibrations. And these vibrations emanate from us into the surrounding environment. These vibrations impact us, those around us, and ultimately the entire mental field of consciousness.
The Mahatma KH wrote to A.P. Sinnett Letter #18 (chronological), “Thoughts are things – have tenacity, coherence, and life, – … they are real entities.” We find further elucidation of this concept in another of the Mahatma letters.
Every thought of [an individual] upon being evolved passes into the inner world and becomes an active entity by associating itself – coalescing, we might term it – with an elemental; that is to say with one of the semi-intelligent forces of the kingdoms. It survives as an active intelligence, a creature of the mind's begetting, for a longer or shorter period proportionate with the original intensity of the cerebral action which generated it. Thus, a good thought is perpetuated as an active beneficent power; an evil one as a maleficent [power]. And so [an individual] is continually peopling his current in space with a world of his own, crowded with the offsprings of his fancies, desires, impulses, and passions…. (Appendix I, 4th chronological edition)
In other words, we are “peopling our world” with our thoughts and feelings. Strong thoughts and feelings, repeated with intensity and intentionality, create thought forms in the unseen worlds. Therefore, whether our thoughts and feelings are beneficent or maleficent, we give them form, once again impacting ourselves, those who are around us, and ultimately the consciousness of humanity.
It seems safe to assume that we all want to create thought forms that embody love, compassion, understanding, and kindness; however, it is also probably safe to assume that at times, we send out thoughts that are not very helpful–if we are cut off in traffic, someone breaks in line ahead of us, and so on. Thoughts and the feelings associated with them can happen so quickly, that we are often not aware of them. However, if we want to radically change ourselves and the world, then we must become aware of what is occurring.
We transform ourselves by first identifying and then working to make changes: changes to our thoughts, our feelings, our behaviors. We change those aspects of the personality that are not congruent with our belief systems into something that is congruent.
As we all know, change does not happen overnight. That’s why our self-transformation is a process. We have to practice. We will fail at times, and we will need to pick ourselves up and start over. Eventually, the new way of thinking, acting, talking, and doing will become a part of who we are.
For how long do we do this? Krishnamurti says, “The more you know yourself, the more clarity there is. Self-knowledge has no end - you don't come to an achievement, you don't come to a conclusion. It is an endless river.”(1949) Transformation is a process that will take us, as Radha Burnier says, “...from selfishness to unity….This change to realization of unity is revolutionary, fundamental….Fundamental change is ...many things. It is change from selfishness to altruism; from strife, inside and outside, to peace; from ugliness--there is a lot of ugliness inside us--to beauty and harmony. It is a change from a state of ignorance to wisdom.” (p. 13) Therefore, if we want to change the world, then we must begin by changing ourselves.
If we believe that everything is rooted in what may be called the Absolute (or the Infinite, Universe, God, Allah, Jehovah, Parabraham, etc.), then we realize that everything and everyone connects at the Source. The seeds of the experiences gained by each of us become a part of the Absolute. This means, if we really think about it, that what I experience (and hopefully learn from) will become a part of the consciousness of all beings. It also means that being angry with another is the same as being angry with ourselves. The reverse is also true: being angry with ourselves is the same as being angry with all of life.
As we each learn through our experiences to be compassionate and loving toward others, then the consciousness of all beings is impacted. This may make us think about Radha Burnier’s statement quoted above, the glass of clear water and blue dye or the 100th monkey effect. As we read on the 100th monkey effect website:
Hundredth Monkey is a beautiful metaphor for a phenomena that is being increasingly proven scientifically. It is like the tipping point when just one more person having an awareness could close the loop or complete the blueprint for this knowledge. After that, everyone can tab into the collective conscious to download the data. It may not be the 100th monkey or person that takes to shift the balance into a new reality and paradigm. It may be 300 million or 3 billion. The point is that we need more people at the leading edge of thought and the frontier of change, especially at this time.
As we each seek to incorporate compassion and love, we are moving humanity towards that tipping point as these thoughts and feelings become a part of the Absolute Consciousness in which we are all rooted.
Through the process of self-transformation, we are drawing closer to an awareness of the unity of all beings. As we begin to grasp tiny insights into the reality of unitive consciousness, we are flooded with love for all. This is the love of agape, love that exudes understanding and empathy for all, the highest form of love that moves us beyond self-centeredness into altruism.
Richard Rohr, founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation, equates unitive or Absolute consciousness with love, and not just any type of love but the deepest love that allows one to move away from a separative perspective into a unitive one. He tells us that “self-consciousness (in the negative sense) slowly falls away and is replaced by what the mystics call pure consciousness or unitive consciousness—which is love.”
Burnier, Radha. (1990) Human Regeneration. Amsterdam: Uitgeverij der Theosofische Vereniging in Nederland.
Chin, Vic Hao. (1972). The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett: In Chronological Sequence. Wheaton, IL: Quest Publishing House.
Hundredth Monkey, https://www.hundredthmonkey.org/100th-monkey-effect/
Krishnamurti, Jiddu. (1948). Bangalore 2nd Public Talk. Click HERE
Krishnamurti, Jiddu. (1949) “Does Self-Knowledge Come Through Searching?” Public Talks, Ojai, CA, Click HERE
Rohr, Richard. (2016). “Unitive Consciousness”, retrieved from https://cac.org/daily-meditations/unitive-consciousness-2016-03-08/
Wilbur, Ken. (2001). No Boundary: Eastern and Western Approaches to Personal Growth. Shambhala Press.