an excerpt from a message I sent to peacemaker Sharif
Abdullah. He was recently in Asheville, speaking to a group of people interested
in Sacred Activism.
life work is promoting inclusivity. He works to build understanding and connection
among diverse groups of people and trains the leaders of the 21st century.
of the Commonway Institute
and the Common Society
Movement, Sharif is a holistic thinker, change agent, and paradigm shifter.
He's a frequent speaker at Institute of Noetic Sciences and New Dimensions events,
among many other prominent venues, often sharing the stage with Deepak Chopra
and the likes.Dear
loved the moment during your presentation in which you displayed the photograph
of the earth from space. You said something like "Look at this picture with more
than your eyes. You have to look at it with something deeper." At the same time,
you brought your palms down from the level of your chest to the level of your
times during the afternoon you asserted that transforming the dead-end "mess"
we've created into a sustainable future depends on our changing our consciousness.
Given our brief time together, we didn't have a chance to explore just how to
generate the inclusive consciousness that peace, justice, and sustainability require.
my own work, I name the divisive patterns of perception sustaining the "mess"
as "conquest mentality." I name the holistic patterns of perception as "connection
consciousness." And I suggest that the evolution from one to the other follows
from a change in the locus of our awareness. "Conquest mentality" reflects the
dualistic thinking that's the intrinsic function of the cerebral brain.
we're "using our heads," we automatically perceive distinctions and engender separation.
What starts as the discernment of differences sets the stage for a hierarchy of
ranking and leads to domination, appropriation, and exploitation. According to
this conquest mentality, headquarters is home to the top dog, the head
honcho, the head of state the person who has been most successful
in getting ahead.
consciousness" arises from focusing awareness not in the head but in the body's
center what the Japanese call hara. Spiritual practices and healing
arts native to every continent systematically develop this consciousness. They
do so by activating the body's core energy with invigorating patterns of movement
contemporary Western science reveals the significance of the body's center as
it investigates the "gut brain," the enteric nervous system that the belly contains.
Research affirms the belly's participation in the deep wisdom we call "gut feelings"
and "gut instincts."
indigenous cultures celebrate the body's center and cultivate its power, contemporary
Western culture denigrates the belly. Contemporary culture regards the belly as
shameful, not sacred. The culture makes the belly, especially the pro-creative
power centered in women's bodies, a target of assault through rape, incest, and
other forms of sexual and institutional violence.
totally agree with you. The "mess" we're in is not the product of many problems:
it's the manifestation of one problem. The same pattern of perception, the same
"conquest mentality," executes the exploitation of native peoples, racism, economic
injustice, the degradation of nature. The same mentality marginalizes emotional
sensibilities among men, demeans women, and shames our bellies. It denies the
immanence of the sacred and reduces value to the price that can be attached to
regular practice of hara-energizing movement and breathing exercises kindles
the soul power concentrated in the body's center. Women and men who engage in
such a practice develop and manifest soul qualities such as confidence, compassion,
creativity, intuition, and sense of purpose in the details of their daily lives.
Self-absorption yields to self-fulfillment, unfolding into a sense of kinship
one woman describes her experience following a hara-energizing practice
I shared during an afternoon workshop:
found myself looking out through the picture window and saw the fir tree out there.
My fingers were the tree's fingers. The tree's light green needles at the tips
of its branches were like fingers, like my fingers."Her
words offer an eloquent example of connection consciousness.
truly believe that such a hara-energizing practice is key to moving our
awareness into the body's center. It's key to shifting our perception from conquest
mentality to connection consciousness. It's key to generating the inclusive consciousness
we know is necessary for human survival on a sustainable planet.
one level, this hara-energizing practice is body-mind training for spiritual
activists. On yet another level, it's consciousness training: the practice engenders
the intrinsic awareness that we're kin to all creation. It awakens our capacity
to see with the "something deeper" you indicated when you brought your down-turned
palms to the level of your waist.
the earth from space with that "something deeper," informed by the consciousness
focused in our body's center, we see the sacred home that we share with all of