FOUR QUESTIONS: An Interview with Stephan Dinan, April 18, 2006
1) SD: How do you see our current global situation?
AJ: I look at the current state of global human affairs with a long view. I see the progression of the human story as corresponding to developmental stages of childhood, from our primal infancy, to the cradle of civilization, and up through 5000 years of sibling rivalry, to emerge in the present time in the tumultuous throes of adolescent transformation. This means we are going through an initiatory process that will take us into out adulthood. And when I ask what that means in terms of the global perspective, I see us moving from an adolescent age whose ruling principle is the love of power to a more mature and sustainable civilization organized by the power of love.
This is a wrenching shift that will take place at every level of civilization, and will follow the common themes of initiation: surprise, separation and loss, confusion, surrender, spiritual guidance, transformation, and rebirth on the other side. Some people are already going through their initiation, others haven’t even started, but over the next 50 years, humanity will go through it collectively.
Who is initiating us?
The initiating factors are the by-products of modern civilization — all of which are forcing us to change in order to survive: global warming, ecological destruction, social injustice, warfare, terrorism, peak oil, natural disasters, epidemic disease – the entire litany of modern challenges are actually part of our initiation rite, whose central message is: transform or die.
2) SD: What are the most essential shifts required for us to evolve to the next level?
AJ: As adolescents, we are being asked, quite simply, to grow up. But what does that really mean?
For one thing, it means that we need to practice the very things that every parent tries to teach their teenagers: clean up after yourself, don’t use up the last of something, conserve energy, stop acting like you’re the center of the world, think of others beside yourself, and have a mind toward your future.
It also means that there are no parental figures out there who are capable of saving us from our current predicament. The Mother Goddess was sent to the Underworld several thousand years ago, and Bid Daddy at the helm is dangerously flawed. Rites of passage teach us to become our own authority. But we are not authorities alone, but in collective problem solving communities, a radical networking of intelligence and creativity.
At adolescence, physical growth comes to a halt and that’s when the spiritual growth begins. As a species, it’s time for our physical growth to halt in terms of population, housing, and product expansion – and instead turn more attention towards our spiritual well-being – our collective health, and our values about how we live.
In terms of organizing principles, the most essential shift is from the love of power to the power of love. We are currently organized by a 5000 year old imperial system, a holdover from an earlier time — a pre-technological culture that didn’t even realize that the world was round. This is a parental paradigm of power and authority that might be appropriate for a younger stage of development, but stifling and dangerous in our adolescence, and bound to be outgrown. Yet the old organizational structures cannot let go until a new organizing principle matures enough to handle the complexity of our current civilization. I believe this new principle will come from a web of connection rather than a chain of command, from networks rather than markets, cooperation rather than competition, integrated systems rather than dominating parts. I believe it will be based on relationships rather than domination, sustainability rather than exploitation, and co-creation rather than procreation, self-organizing systems rather than imperial control.
3) SD: How do your work and current passions fit with the larger shifts?
My newest book WAKING THE GLOBAL HEART: HUMANITY’S RITE OF PASSAGE FROM THE LOVE OF POWER TO THE POWER OF LOVE deals directly with all these questions, and this is my driving passion at this time. This book articulates the fundamental components of a guiding paradigm of the heart, based on a mythic framework that shifts from seeing the world as an inanimate “it” to a living, intelligent “thou.” It comes from finding a newer more mature way to enter into relationships with each other – not from assigned roles but from authenticity and clear communication, not as parents to children or masters to slaves, but as equals co-creating a world together. This is recognizing a new identity as co-hearts in a kin-dom.
My particular passion is to heal the archetypal splits in the collective consciousness: spirit and matter, mind and body, masculine and feminine, heaven and earth, past and future. In the chakra system, the heart is the very center of everything, and its purpose is integration. But most integral models, while they have much wisdom, have fallen short of having heart – when this is the center whose very essence is integration; the spirit of love that holds things in relationship.
4) What are the most important things that we can each do personally to create positive change?
Open our hearts, speak the truth, think outside the box, and network, network, network.
We are just learning to really love, just learning to be authentic, and to have tools for real and effective communication. We are just now maturing from children to adults capable of egalitarian relationships with each other. We need to transcend our egos and look to what we can give rather than what we can get. We need to always ask the question, “What would love do now?”
We need to use our imagination and think outside the box. We will not, as Einstein said, solve our problems with the same level of mind that created them. We must understand that the world in the next era will be radically different than what we have now. I don’t believe it is useful to spend our energy propping up old systems. They are corrupt and decaying and I believe it is better to focus attention on creating new systems and let the old ones fall. We need to be pulled forth by an inspiring vision of the future, not held back by the decaying patterns of the past. To be repossessed by the sacred rather than dispossessed by its lack.
And finally, to network with others. The new body politic is organizing itself as we speak. There are many people out there wandering around with similar hopes and ideals, not knowing how to get connected with others in an effective way. We have a mass of individual voices, but where the power now lies is in forming connections between bodies of like minds, so that they can work together, forming the essential components of the new body politic. The Internet makes this possible, and so do conferences and organizations that help people connect with those of like mind.
The imaginal cells of the butterfly are forming the new body politic. When this new body is ready to fly, the old caterpillar will die. But until then, we are still children, dependent upon our own parental paradigm.
5) What’s your vision of how the world could be in the future, say 100 years?
It’s not an initiation unless it’s a trial that develops strength and character, peels away false attachments, and opens the soul to something larger. So I think we are going to go through a collective dark night of the soul before we come to our rebirth. And this process will simplify life and get us back to the basics, as any crisis tends to do.
But I believe that the possibilities on the other side are beyond our imagination, a whole quantum leap better than what we have now. A veritable banquet of the gods awaits us when we can stop fighting over the appetizers.
One the principles in my book says: Evolution is the gods’ way of making more gods. We are becoming gods by virtue of our power and abilities – for better or worse. If that godlike power can be harnessed in service of compassion and creation, there are no limits to what we can achieve. If the money we now spend on defense were used instead on education, rehabilitation, health care, scientific and technological research, and creative exploration rather than conquest and destruction, we could move forward exponentially in every dimension to an enlightened world. With higher values places on Nature and caring for the Earth, we can experience the power of Nature in a way that we haven’t been able to for hundreds of years. With a gas crisis looming, we will drive less and have more time at home with our loved ones, to say nothing of cleaner air and quieter surroundings. With a higher value placed on the body, and more insight into the process of healing, we can have radiant health. With joy as a focus, we can have a culture based on celebration and creativity, rather than guilt and suffering. When we no longer exploit or dominate others, we can benefit from their creative contributions through cooperation and collaboration. I see oil as an adolescent growth hormone for the culture. When it runs down, we may return to some kind of sanity.
With a race of machines to do our work, we have the benefits of kings without the oppression of slavery. In 100 years our technological advances could shorten our work load to leave more time to create beauty and enjoy it. As information is loaded into the global brain, our collective intelligence soars. But first we have to simplify, otherwise technology just gives us more to do and moves everything faster, as we are experiencing now.
To withstand the changes and mature into the future, we need spiritual practices and time to do them. This will awaken us to the heart of mystery: the dynamic relationship between the divine consciousness within and the divine creation without. With this realization, anything can be created.