A Movement Towards Planetary Consciousness: The case of the San Francisco Bay area
"All is One,
everything is interconnected,
everything longs to overcome the illusion of separation"
In this section I present my thesis towards my PhD degree in Sociology, at the University of California, at Berkeley, started in the mid 1980’s and completed in 1995. In this work I have described and presented an early map of such a movement, which embraced and formulated the emerging new wholistic paradigm, the ‘global mind change” (in Willis Harman’s terms), which was being manifested in the reported experiences of unitive consciousness among growing numbers of people at the grassroots level, in the sociological gestalt that emerged from the “consciousness movements” of the 1960’s and 1970’s, in the “new sciences”, in conjunction with ancient and indigenous cosmologies.
The San Francisco Bay area has been -- and still is -- one of the main centers of such a paradigm shift and provided a wealth of indicators and such phenomena, in conferences, workshops, lectures, emerging life styles, life choices, biocentric values. A very extensive and intensive research has thus taken place --the first comprehensive research at the PhD level, to the best of my knowlledge.
Being such a relatively new phenomenon -- definitely at the academic level -- I have proceeded to present a small selected number of “models of planetary activism”, with most of whom I have repeatedly met during the course of the work.; for each one of them I have chosen to focus on their “entry way” to the unitive consciousness inherent to this new paradigm, their philosophy and their social contributions to the best of all life (“service” in the movement’s view) which spontaneously emerged from such an experience and philosophy.
During the 12 years of research, and the observation of, and participation in, hundreds of related events, much more data and information has been gathered than the one presented in the final form. Extremely accurate futurist assessments/ predictions, and grave concerns for life on Earth as we know it, have not been included, as well detailed information as to step-by-step strategies. Of course, the work focuses on issues of sustainability, even though such term was not of widespread use as today and therefore it is not mentioned here.
Each chapter in Sections I and II describes such a planetary activist and, where it exists, the organization with which they are associated. Interestingly, most of these organizations have been initiated by a very small number of highly motivated people (sometimes just one) and are of considerable impact till the present. Section III presents a detailed account of Randy Hays and the Rainforest Action Network as a model organization towards sustainability in our challenging world.
Each chapter (sections I and II) can be read separately. For each one of them links and follow ups have been included in their now added brief introduction.
Chapter 1: An Experiential Cosmic perspective
This chapter reviews the emergence of planetary consciousness as manifested in 20th century space exploration
by those space explorers who experienced the unitive insight of One planet, our home, with no boundaries and
the subsequent formation of the Association of Space Explorers (ASE), united together for world peace and
sustainability, no less thav a consciousness revolution of love. For veteran air force pilots from diverse countries
such an enterprise was not an easy task and indeed a very meaningful one. It is in those days of the 20th century
that the concept of “the world”, coined after WWII, gave way to the contemporary concept, and consciousness,
of “the planet” as our spaceship, our mother, Earth.
Section II Intro - A Movement Towards Planetary Consciousness
This section presents, in each chapter, the background, life process, philosophy and contributions to the best of all of life of powerful, relatively early, exemplary planetary visionaries and activists. They have been selected as models of planetary consciousness from among a very vast number of interviews, conferences, and follow up of relevant organizations, as well as diverse backgrounds and experiences. By no means does this selection portray the wide scope, ‘entry points’ and styles of of this emerging movement’ but it definitely conveys the Spirit of planetary consciousness.
Each chapter portrays a different planetary activist whom I have met and interviewed several times during a 12 years period, ranging from a few hours, to 30-40 hours to much more, uncountable, encounters in some particular cases. Due to space constrains each chapter mainly addresses the person’s unique process towards unitive consciousness, her/his philosophy and ways of relating and service towards the best of all life; unfortunately, a plentiful body of specific visionary/futuristic information about coming/contemporary planetary challenges, possible futures and specific strategies towards sustainability (term not so popular at the time of the research) were not included here. That information is core to my academic and community courses, conferences and workshops for the last 20 years. Read more about the intro
Each chapter can be read individually.
Chapter 2: Willis Harman and the Institute of Noetic Sciences
I’ve met Prof’ Willis Harman (August 16, 1918 – January 30, 1997) in a conference on the New Paradigm, in Berkeley, California, in 1984. His truly visionary, futuristic and pioneering breadth of perspective on the emerging Global Mind Change -- conveyed with such eloquence, clarity and tenderness -- impelled me to start a process of
meetings and interviews with him over a span of about 10 years. Each and every time, he was
consistently accessible, generous with his time and knowledge, truly modeling the fundamental
transformation of consciousness, daily attitudes and of relatedness that such a perspective
embraces. See links.
Chapter 3: Doug Boyd and the Cross Cultural Studies Program
Doug Boyd (April 15, 1935- October 27, 2006) was a Planetary Visionary, Teacher, traveler, networker, story-teller, most and foremost -- a model of compassion, listening, humility, caring and selfless service. Doug is considered a main pioneer in the introduction of Native American cosmologies into new paradigm discourse and experiences. Founder of the CrossCultural Studies Program (CCSP) to foster crosscultural understanding by way of empathic communication). Application of the principles of individual Self regulation (biofeedback) into collective Self regulation to create the world we want. Transpersonal strategies for social change (contemporary shamanism).
The Council of the Eagle and the Condor - In September 2000, North Carolina, US, Doug Boyd succeeded, after many challenging years in the making, to convene this Council, (as part of CCSP’s ongoing Panalogue Project). This was a closed council of 6 chosen medicine people (Eagle delegates) from North America-US and other 6 (Condor delegates) from South America- Peruvian Jungles, in order to perform together their shamanic ceremony in total seclusion for world peace and planetary healing, as suggested by an ancient Hopi prophecy. It was affirmed that such ceremony shall be held in seclusion and cannot happen in public or even publicized in order “not to dilute the medicine”, as the medicine people put it ( I’ve had the privilege and great honor to participate as a helper in daily maintenance and chores). Since such first event, growing numbers of people and organizations all over the world are dedicated, in diverse ceremonial ways, to the fulfillment of such sacred prophecy.
Since my first meeting with Doug in his 10-week intensive, “The Course on Natural Powers” (1984) we became very close and through the years we have collaborated on CCSP projects and, as well, he was a main mentor, model, guide, very close friend and final PhD editor. In fact, the main terms "planetary consciousness" and "transpersonal strategies for social change" were suggested to me by him, after days on end of my tentative brainstorming with the broad encompassing dimensions of such a topic.
Chapter 4: Anne Armstrong
Psychic/intuitive counselor, whom I met at as a highly recognized guest at the intensive training program with Stan Grof, in 1984, and interviewed her after that. Hers is an example of another central dimension of the transformation involved in planetary consciousness, namely: the development of intuition and expanded modes of awareness, its challenges, mis-diagnosis and mistreatments within conventional paradigms, and the resulting disorientation that may accompany this process at its beginnings. Having experienced her “intuitive openings” since the early 1930’s, when no widely accessible interpretations were available, Ann went through a series of surgical interventions, psychiatric interventions and a great deal of personal difficulties -- to become stable in her capacities, health, personality and dealings with the world when her process was duly recognized and grounded as a profound psychic and Kundalini awakening . Her experiences resemble that of many who are increasingly reporting such developed capacities from the 1960’s to the day. Anne -- in close collaboration with her husband of 70 years, Jim -- has been actively involved in transpersonal counseling and training of professionals to develop their intuitive capacities.
While anne and Jim have been associated with personal and social healing, it is very important to note that the development of such intuitive/psychic capacities in people at large does by no means suggest spiritual-transpersonal evolution.
Chapter 5: Ram Dass and the Seva Organization
Spiritual Teacher and guide for three generations, former Harvard psychologist, practice of karma yoga or spiritual service, upholding the boddhisatva ideal for others through his compassionate sharing of true knowledge and vision.
Ram Dass is the only one among the selected planetary activists whom I did not interview in person as in the numerous conferences, lectures, workshops where I met him, as well as in the wealth of autobiographical material available, I could obtain all the information required for this particular work. Highly charismatic, with deep honest unpretentious self-disclosure, consistently loving and humorous presence, in every encounter with him I have always experienced a noticeable expansion of consciousness, a profound sense of communion and Oneness channeled into the commitment to service and to develop compassion in action.
Ram Dass now resides on Maui, where he shares his teachings through the internet and through retreats on Maui.
Chapter 6: Luisah Teish
Luisah Teish is a spiritual teacher and guide, writer, performance artist and ritual events consultant.
I originally met Teish in the 1980’s in a powerful, life transforming, process of personal counseling. Her strong womanly presence and her deep cosmological understanding, combined with her committed activism through the civil rights, feminist movement and planetary- sustainability movements compelled me to interview her in a series of encounters. Her true gift in story telling was impressive thorughout the interviews, as she talks poetry in her words and in her rhythm.
Chapter 7: Ann Howard
Ann's story is both unique and typical of the emerging of planetary/unitive consciousness and the resulting spontaneous actviism inherent to it. Triggered by a profound personal/marital/ perceptual shock she experienced a profound transformation through the practice of martial arts and subsequent connection with caring for life of of our home, planet Earth.
Section III - A Model of Planetary Activism
Randy Hayes and the Founding of the Rainforest Action Network (RAN)
Radical planetary activist, moved by a deep sense of caring and respect for our planet, drawn to a large extent from the ten years he’d spent with Hopi elders, his particular childhood and 1960’s background.
With great clarity of vision, determination of purpose and commitment to action Randy founded The Rainforest Action Network(RAN), in 1985, speedily meeting the original short-term strategy of “... making ‘rainforests’ a widely known household term”. Indeed, his pioneer work contributed greatly to the fact that today the plight of our global forests (and the people living in them) is well known throughout the world.
RAN has been devoted a whole section in this work as a cutting edge model of planetary activism (each chapter addressing Randy’s personal story, RAN’s philosophy, strategies and projects).
I met Randy Hays several times over more than a ten-year period, as each time he was refining his work, strategies, who the true allies in the work for sustainability were, according to contemporary circumstances.
I was deeply impressed by his vision, commitment, activism and his deep spiritual roots. Even though to assimilate the information as to the environmental and human plight was extremely challenging, each encounter encouraged in me an unexpected sense of optimism, grounded in concrete strategies and spiritual guidelines.
Now Randy Hays works through his Foundation Earth - a think tank to implement cutting edge ideas about an earth- centered economy into action.
Finally, more than a conclusion here is a reflection on the deep personal motivation that drew me to this work as well as the challenging and mixed sense of both concern and optimism throughout the process. Most of all, perhaps, it conveys my own painful split between knowing and learning from so inspiring planetary activists vis a vis my then still fragmented self perception and mode of being.
This segment reflects the context of almost 30 years ago as well as the fact of it having been – quite cautiously -- presented within an academic setting. The teachings are, undoubtedly valuable beyond space and time; my own discussion would focus today on urgent planetary challenges, "now, in real time", on futurist forecasts becoming manifested almost to the letter, and on principles and strategies towards manifesting that which is best for all of life. For our children, and theirs, for all of life as we know it; as in Native American prayer and belief of interconnectedness with all creation, of oneness with all forms of life (other people, animals, vegetables, minerals, spirit world) - Mitakuye Oyasin, all my relations.