March 1, 2020
Perceiving the Design of Life
Bill Isaacs: It was once said that "the whole world is deceived." There are stories through the ages of human beings thrashing around, looking for a foothold of stability in the midst of difficulty, all the while unable to find a true and stable orientation point. Now in this era, we are faced with viral patterns of fear, and dramatic stock market volatility, currently stemming from the arrival of a global pandemic, the outbreak of the coronavirus COVID-19. It is not just the virus that spreads through the ecosystem of humanity, but emotional contagion. People feel fear, and quickly empty supermarket shelves, hoarding supplies, a phenomenon seen now all around the world. There seems to be very little in the way of conscious stability, a stance that would provide not only a sense of perspective but also a capacity for holding a point of stability in the midst of turmoil. The role of the conscious mind is to provide this exact still point, a guardian against irrational outbreaks of all kinds. But that has largely been missing from human experience.
In the 1770's Franz Mesmer developed the idea that there was a natural occurrence of energy among all animate and inanimate objects. He called this "animal magnetism" and envisioned it as a healing modality which the emerging scientific establishment at the time quickly sought to disprove. Mesmer had the notion that health was a function of the free flow of life processes through all channels in the human body, and that illness arose when there were obstacles in the way of this flow. If these obstacles could be removed, he suggested, health would be restored.
There are elements of Mesmer's ideas that are having a resurgence today. But what is most memorable about Mesmer these days is the association of his name with the idea of being mesmerized, or hypnotized. Human beings are hypnotized by eruptions from their own subconscious minds, by influences and pressures from all around, and by mass patterns in the collective unconscious. The control stems largely from these directions, producing a very unstable and fearful experience in human minds and hearts. The whole world is indeed deceived, convinced that things are a certain way, when in fact much of what is believed to be known is merely a projection from subconscious elements, or illusions generated by external sources of manipulation.
One initiative in human experience tries to free people from being controlled by these subconscious eruptions. There are all kinds of therapeutic approaches these days that seek to clear out impurities and distortions in the subconscious mind. However, none of these have any real hope of working if there is no conscious orientation in something larger. One can rearrange the deck chairs on the doomed ship, but one cannot change direction to avoid calamity without awakening a capacity to perceive and experience truth.
Now for many of course, that idea is a terribly controversial notion and will remain so as long as truth is thought of as an intellectual concept. But the truth is not a concept. It is an experience, a spirit, a quality of being, known only when expressed. The truth refers to the undimensional design of Being present throughout the cosmos of which each one is an intimate part. Knowing the truth in this sense is completely freeing, because as this is done, the taken for granted limitations and ceilings in human experience and of human identity fall away. We are in reality part of a vast, cosmic whole, and fully free in that.
One of the sources of stability for human beings in the present state of things has been the patterns of beliefs and norms which have served as at least partial orientation points. What is interesting is that many of these are being dismantled and challenged. For example, the idea that the United States should be a global point of focus, a shining "city on the hill," is very much in doubt around the rest of the world. The once unwavering idea that liberal democratic patterns of government, underwritten by global capitalism would dominate human activity is being replaced by authoritarian and nationalist approaches everywhere. Today it's hard to know what or whom to believe. Large technology companies accept and propagate all kinds of information, much of which is known to be patently false. There is a lot of so called "fake news" circulating in human communication platforms and in human consciousness.
Of course, this is not a particularly new phenomenon. But we are in a time when there appears to be a great deal of unlocking and loosening of patterns of belief, when we are entering into what could be thought of as a "liminal space"— liminal meaning threshold—where there is the potential of great change, but also great vulnerability. People are easily mesmerized. In this condition one can see people being seized by one or another set of ideas, captured by an intense emotional passion for a particular direction. The inherent uncertainty of liminal space, and the loosening of energy, leads people to catapult themselves even more fully in one direction or another. They become deeply identified with their favorite belief system, and then everything becomes interpreted through this filter of passionate belief. We enter a world where facts are no longer relevant or are only translated through people's committed lenses.
The deception in human consciousness is not simply a function of being controlled by subconscious reactions, or collectively generated mindsets. The focus of human consciousness is largely locked onto form. Human beings live in quite a constrained world, where the only answers appear to require the movement and manipulation of material substance. There is very little perception of the levels of substance and being beyond the material. But in fact, we live in a vibrational universe, a multidimensional universe. The notion that there is any larger pattern of order tends to be rejected out of hand because there is very little experience of it. Yet we are all wired to participate in this wider pattern of truth—a multidimensional experience.
There are leaders now everywhere in the world—and a leader is anyone, anywhere who is developing a finer pattern of perception—who are increasingly aware that there is more going on than meets the eye. They are no longer quite as mesmerized by the destructive patterns in consciousness that they can see, by the polarization and tribal warfare apparent on every hand. They sense something else, and more importantly they are increasingly capable of moving with that something else, even if they cannot exactly say what that is. Explanations are overrated anyway. Experience is what matters.
One of the dimensions of this emergent awareness is the perception of design, the realization that there is a right next creative opportunity in every moment, at every level of being. Another facet of the spirit of truth is design. This is a vast subject. We can become aware of the fact of design simply by looking at our hands. There is an elegance and order there, and indeed throughout the whole of the physical body, that is breathtaking in complexity and beauty. But the reality of design extends far beyond the human body. For example, there is now a group of earth scientists who have taken the notion that the earth itself is a living system, the so called Gaia hypothesis, to a new level of exactness. Led by a scientist named Johan Rockström, of the Stockholm Resilience Centre at Stockholm University, they have shown that there is a very precise range within which the planet functions, a system of "planetary boundaries," and that there is a "safe operating space" for humanity which we are currently pushing well beyond, with likely devastating consequences. The natural design that has operated in the earth is being altered by human function, and this can be seen with much greater accuracy than ever before.
When it comes to human function, design ultimately has to do with the willingness and ability to allow oneself to be moved by a set of larger forces than what one's own immediate mind and heart could cook up, to be available to participate in the wider operational whole. This turns out to take changes in oneself, ultimately the acceptance of a new level of freedom and authority.
There is a story from my experience that relates to this. Late last year a colleague of mine heard about an idea that the CEO of Salesforce, Marc Benioff, was starting to propose. My colleague was in touch with people at the White House, who were somewhat uncharacteristically interested in it. It turns out that once there were six trillion trees on planet Earth. Now there are only three trillion trees. We have deforested the planet, and greatly reduced the ability of the earth to absorb the carbon we are releasing into the atmosphere. The Fertile Crescent is no longer fertile. Forests have been cut down in Africa and in the Amazon producing widespread ecological destruction. The bold idea circulating was, what would happen if humanity came together to plant one trillion trees? The notion was that this might buy humanity some time by reducing at least some of the carbon in the atmosphere, while the world transitioned to a decarbonized or more "circular" economy. Now there are many reasons why yet another humanly invented solution to humanly created problems is not likely to be of much help. And there is an ongoing debate about the value of planting trees—a thread of that conversation is underway in a well-regarded journal called Nature. Some argue this effort is a distraction from cutting emissions or could be used as a political distraction from taking harder choices, or is just yet another foolish human attempt at controlling the environment.
But as my colleague and I discussed it, this whole idea seemed to us to be arising to provide a simple way for people to focus on working together to do something positive, instead of arguing and debating and negotiating about what to do about the climate problem, which was very evidently a completely dead end. As the pressure in this liminal state comes on, it seemed to us that a door was opening for a different level of conversation, and more expanded awareness, through the innocent avenue of planting trees. We are not going to think or argue our way into a new way of functioning. Coming together through the trees project, we thought, might allow finer levels of awareness to emerge, strengthening the ability to address harder challenges, ultimately of humanity's very orientation towards nature.
As the project began to resonate in the current White House, my colleague was asked what he thought of it. He encouraged it. Out of a few conversations late last year came a striking announcement by President Trump the following month at the World Economic Forum in Davos that the United States was going to back this effort, which the President then repeated in his 2020 State of the Union address. The idea had flown swiftly from a simple notion to a full-fledged initiative in a matter of weeks.
My colleague and I are in close contact with many of the people involved. It turns out that I have longstanding personal connections with several of the officials who are leading this effort—some of whom I have known for over fifteen years and are former students. They lead the management of the National Forests for the US government, and key initiatives in the World Economic Forum and at the UN, which is also sponsoring this effort. What is most striking here is that each of these people understand very well the possibility that this effort could open a door to something that goes beyond planting trees. They understand that this is an opportunity to bring people together who might not otherwise do so They are in part of the body of leaders who are not as caught in the hypnosis of polarization and confusion.
I have been describing this effort as having two parts—one has to do with the practical challenges of designing and delivering a worldwide movement to plant one trillion trees. But the other has to do with the vibrational magic that could be unleashed as opposing political leaders, for instance, engage to do something together about the environment. People have been arguing themselves into corners for years on these subjects. That is changing. We are already finding that many countries are keen to engage. In Brazil, in Saudi Arabia, in India and Pakistan, and in the US, people are beginning to talk together about how we might do this. The real challenge here is one of holding a high vision of what is creatively possible and not getting lost in the details. What is required to support this is a non-reactive and unpolarized space, a container, to hold the possibility of a creative emergence.
This is of course but one small example of what it would mean to allow the design of life to work. Openings like this swiftly attract all kinds of other forces—people seeking positional control, or credit, or to weigh in with their own ideological objections, which also need to be navigated. Such incursions could abort what is unfolding. But the fact of it points to the endless effort on the part of Life to enable people to come together. There is in this case more than a little real readiness in people in leadership positions to move beyond a restricted pattern and work together to let something different occur here. The fact that it involves trees seems to me to be no coincidence. Trees are a beautiful symbol of truth. Fueled by light from above, converting that light into energy, upright in stature, supported by an invisible vast interconnected root system that is in continuous communication, they reveal what it means to function within a living design.
We are entering a threshold era, when previously dominant restrictive limits and beliefs are being dismantled, leading to a time of great confusion and concern. Some people are seeking to seize the moment by offering a humanly invented answer, when what is actually required is to step beyond all such efforts, and into a new land.
This threshold condition has appeared in human experience before. In the time of Moses, we know of the story of twelve spies who went to reconnoiter a new land. There are elaborate descriptions of what happened during their quest, but the gist is that most of the spies came back with grim reports, saying that the forces out there would defeat them. There were giants in the land, they said, and there was great reason for concern. Two of the spies however came back saying it was a land flowing with milk and honey, a promised land.
The threshold condition, over which each person must cross, requires overcoming the concerns, the obstacles, the fears, the resistance to experiencing something new. It also requires some measure of shared commitment and alignment among at least a few to hold steady and carry through. This has not occurred before; neither at the time of this biblical story nor at any other time.
We can see the working of the intelligence of life to loosen up the restrictions and provide opportunity for people to move across into a new land. What is our experience? Can we find a place of assurance in the inevitable and authoritative action of the truth, of the precise design of it, right down to the micro details of what is thought and said and done moment to moment? This implies accepting the situations we find ourselves in fully, so that we may be in position to coordinate with the unfolding flow of life.
Each person who becomes sensitive to this pattern of movement is at least potentially useful in accelerating a regenerative experience on earth. How useful we actually are is up to us. We can easily fool ourselves on this point. We prove it out by letting our own anchoring in truth be sufficiently clear that we are in position to express the unfolding flow. We can provide a true atmosphere wherever we are. And that will bring resolution to the difficulties. We are not going to think our way out of this, but we can let the truth prevail.
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