The World is at a cross road. Never before in the history of humankind have we been at such a decisive turning point. As the title of this book suggests, the time has come for us all to join hearts and hands to co-create One Wholesome World. This is a world we can all celebrate in our lifetime, and be proud to hand over to our children. It is a world of Joy, Peace and Abundance for all.
Our basic tenet is that the challenges of ‘development’ that humankind is facing are not purely physical, but also social and spiritual. It is difficult to imagine a positive future that does not integrate and balance values and ethics. Adopting a whole systems view of human development includes all these factors and examines how they relate to each other to form a whole.
Sharing the story
Life is a dynamic tapestry of images, characters, stories and events, all adding up to a forward movement. It is about the progressive unfolding of higher levels of integration and joy in individual and collective lives. This is what the evolutionary philosophers tell us. We want to share with you the story of how this book was born. The seed of the idea initially planted for a monograph, with time, grew into becoming a book. The story of this book is a story of the evolution of the authors, in the context of what has been happening in the world from early 1991 to 2013.
Let’s go back in time. Omkar spent most of his childhood in the state of Jammu and Kashmir in Northern India, at a time when it was a picture of harmony between different religious groups, and foraying forward in the field of Science and Technology. Arun’s childhood too was spent growing up in their home in Buchwara, under the Shankracharya Hill in Srinagar, close to the famous and incredibly beautiful Dal Lake. He distinctly remembers the stints of work in the backyard garden, watering the vegetable patches using a Denkli (a traditional irrigation system in Kashmir).The fragrance of ripe plums and the taste of organically grown tomatoes and carrots plucked straight out of the garden is vivid in the mind. The images and memories are ones of great beauty, harmony and peace.
As a family, they spent three years in Birmingham, UK (1960 to 1963), and then a year in Karlsruhe, West Germany (1969). The travel brought with it fresh insights and observations. Exposure to these cultures set them thinking. The intermingling of faiths, cultures, nature, science and technology, art and music, mysticism , urban living and semi-rural lifestyles in the lives of the authors has shaped a perspective that is not stuck with this or that. They seem to have been bombarded by all kinds of influences and experiences in a way that this sharing was almost like a natural outcome. Arun has always believed that people who are destined to be ‘bridge builders’, have to experience both sides of a river. If one is stuck on one side or the other, one cannot be a bridge builder. Both the authors have been blessed to have experienced the east and the west, spirituality and science and technology, rational thinking and art, work in government organizations, business firms and NGOs, as employees and entrepreneurs, as leaders and educators. This wide canvas of roles and experiences has equipped them to share what is in this book. But, there is also a sense of a ‘larger hand’ in the creation of this book. As you will see later, the authors claim that they could not have written it alone without the hand of Providence. The book is, in fact, something that ‘came through us’.
The Research Adventure
The approach to researching for this book has been both deliberate and aided by serendipity. The authors scanned literature and websites systematically for data and insights. But many times they were lucky to stumble upon ideas which helped the work. They often met people who helped. For example, Arun, while reading a letter from his friend Sushil Bajpai to a Community of Practice on Climate Change, came across the Solution Exchange, an initiative of the United Nations Agencies in India. The site is meant to facilitate Connection, Sharing and Collaboration. Many different communities on issues like AIDS, Climate Change, Disaster Management, Education, Food and Nutrition, Security, Gender, Maternal and Child Health, Microfinance, Water, Employment and others exist on this site. The site is an excellent enabler of integration across fields and also learning and sharing. In a sense this also illustrates what our book is about. While each area of work is important, ‘development’ is not something that can be boxed into neat compartments. For example, water is connected to health, education, food and nutrition, gender, employment and climate change. Different aspects of development are all interlinked and interdependent.
A cake is baked with egg, flour, sugar, butter, milk and yeast. All are important ingredients, but none is good enough alone! The temperature of the oven and the duration of baking have to be perfect to get the cake.
All books are written over a long period of time. This book has been 20 years in the baking! During this time, the book has been incubating like a baby in the mother’s womb. As life waited to give birth to the book, the world seemed to be getting worse. the Asian monetary crisis of 1997-98, the rise of the Dot-coms, a series of high profile corporate scandals, the Asian Tsunami of 2004 followed by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the scary spread of SARS and AIDS, the events of 11th September 2001 in New York and 26th November 2008 in Mumbai, the wars in Afghanistan and then Iraq, global warming, the growing divide between the rich and the poor and also between the rural and urban areas on the planet. Meanwhile, Al Gore received the Nobel Prize for his work on alerting people about Global Warming, while Pakistan sunk rapidly into a state of Chaos after the assassination of its former Prime Minister Ms. Benazir Bhutto. Dr. Mohammed Yunus saw his work through the Grameen Bank being recognized with the Nobel Prize. The world went into a predicted Food Grains crisis in early 2008. The Global Financial Crisis of 2007’2009 came around the same time. It was considered by many economists the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s. The crisis played a significant role in the failure of key businesses, declines in consumer wealth estimated in trillions of U.S. dollars, and a downturn in economic activity leading to the 2008’2012 global recession and contributing to the European sovereign-debt crisis.
Barrack Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize in October 09, barely 9 months into his presidency.
This book, through all this, was still waiting to be completed.
During this period, the state of Jammu and Kashmir saw two wars with Pakistan, and the beginnings of a fundamentalist incursion eating into the very fabric of life in the state. ‘Development’ had also begun to make its impact felt. Over the years, the peaceful and ‘whole’ fabric of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) was falling apart. In the late 1980s, terrorism had begun to take its toll in J&K. During the mass migration of the Kashmiri Pandit community in 1990 and the horrible destruction and degradation that came in the wake of Militancy, the authors witnessed firsthand what religious fundamentalism does to society. Omkar, and his wife Mrs. Khem Lata Wakhlu (Arun’s mother) were abducted by militants of the Hezbullah in September 1991. They were rescued by the Indian Army after 45 days in captivity. This experience left a deep impression on them. Their faith in the larger creative intelligence that runs and supports life grew. The oneness of human experience that they felt during this time touched them deeply.
After their rescue on Dushera (an Indian Festival celebrating the victory of the good over evil) in 1991, they came to Pune (in Western India). The first germs of the idea of Wholesome Development were born in conversations in Pragati Foundation and at home in the period of 1991-92. These resulted in a paper being presented at an International Conference on Sustainable Village Based Development, organised by the Colorado State University at Fort Collins, USA. The paper was on the theme ‘A New Paradigm of Wholesome Development’ (Wakhlu and Wakhlu, 1993). The first draft of this book was partially written in 1995. Some chapters that Arun was to complete lay unfinished for several years, as he was caught up (by unconscious choice) in corporate consulting and training. The completion of the book kept going onto the back burner. Despite several attempts by Omkar to push the whole completion through, the book languished and gathered dust. They say ‘It is now clear to us, in hindsight, why this was to be.’
One of the points that the authors have been constantly aware of is the right timing of things. Looking back, had this book been published a few years ago, they would still have been writing from a ‘theoretical’ and unproven perspective. The ideas presented here would still have been untested. One of the points cleared up only recently is the way around the ubiquitous ‘knowing-doing gap’. When I know something is good, how come I still do not do it? Closer to home, if I know that this book had to be completed, what was holding me back from completing it? While it is easy to ‘talk’ about Wholesome Development and One Wholesome World, are our lives really walking this talk? Cognitively understanding these things and wholeheartedly living them out are two different things.
The past few years have been deeply transformational for the authors and their families. ‘We have both moved closer to ‘Omkar’, the wholeness of existence.’ For Arun and his partner Anu, the profoundly moving journey through North Queensland, the Great Barrier Reef and Northern New Zealand in 2008, was like a capstone for the experience of writing this book. ‘What we saw, heard, felt and experienced on this journey reinforced our understanding that what we share here is indeed valuable and relevant.’ The global wakeup call on Climate Change in 2009 was the proverbial ‘last straw’ that got this process to completion. Involvement in sharing the ‘Awakening the Dreamer’ (ATD) Symposium of the Pachamama Alliance in India, developing I- Catalysts for catalyzing change and directing courses in ‘Ethics in Public Governance’ for senior Indian Civil Servants has further strengthened their understanding, surrender and experience.
They say ‘today, we can state with integrity, that we are closer to living life in surrender to the Whole than we were five years ago.’ The ‘Truth’ of this book is therefore higher than it would have been if it had been written five years ago. This doesn’t mean that our work is over! It simply means that this moment feels ‘right’ for the release of this work into the world. Our own expertise in unblocking human potential, in developing ‘Wholesome Leaders’ who can be instrumental in unfolding Wholesome Development, and in catalyzing large scale co-creation and transformational processes is far better today than it was five years ago. That is why we write with the conviction that comes from personal experience.
A book that has guided us during the writing and completion of this book is ‘Opening Doors Within’ by Eileen Caddy. When we opened this book to receive a message from the Whole as an ending for this chapter, we received the following:
‘Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind’. How important these words are! You have heard them many times, but what have you done about them? What do they mean to you? Take time to ponder on them till they become living, vibrating words in your life and you feel yourself being transformed by the renewing of your mind. You talk of peace and harmony, of the new heaven and the new earth, of doing My will, of love and light being radiated out into the world and of moving into the new, but what are you actually doing about it? Are you living in such a way that you are helping to bring it all about? Don’t allow yourself to become like a parrot, saying things that mean nothing to you. Pray without ceasing for deeper and clearer understanding, and give thanks and move forward and upward. Above all, live a life and; let things happen to transform your life.'(Eileen Caddy, 1986)
The above is a lovely reminder to us all, that reading this book is not enough. Ultimately, it will be loving action now that will lead to the creation of a world which we can all be proud of in handing over to our children and grandchildren.
With humility and gratitude,
Omkar Nath Wakhlu
Diwali 4th November 2013
A Quick Look At The Contents
This book proposes a new paradigm of development. A paradigm is a ‘way of looking at things’. Here is the paradigm we propose in this book: One wholesome world will arise from millions of people reclaiming their wholeness and acting together in the service of the whole. This is like returning home to a space of power, integrity, integration, inspiration, creative intelligence and collaboration. As more people reclaim this, a catalytic transformation of collective human consciousness will occur tipping us all towards one wholesome world.
This is inevitable. This book is part of that global process. This space of wholeness, which is the same as ones essence was never really lost. It has and will always been there. However, we have forgotten all about it.
To make sure that you dear reader, get the essential message of this book we will spell it out in advance: The whole of life is one huge interconnected dance of ideas, information, energy, material, and awareness. Which is all one. This whole dance is orchestrated spontaneously by awareness which permeates and is everything in life. This common consciousness is at the root of everything. Our identification with limited notions of who we are and forgetting our oneness is at the roots of the global crisis that humanity is facing today. When people awaken to this intrinsic wholeness and live and work from this space of love, creative intelligence, freedom, and peace; they become instrumental in manifesting joy, peace, and abundance in their individual and collective lives. This astonishingly simple and universally accessible discovery has the power to transform lives both individually and collectively to an extent that can only be called miraculous. This book is a call for all of us to reclaim this glory and participate in the next evolutionary leap that we are all poised for.
The whole book is divided into three broad parts:
‘ Seeing Anew
‘ Awakening Capacity
‘ Love in Action
The first three chapters of the book (under Seeing Anew) look at the assumptions and beliefs that guide our current view of development. We start off by looking at the process of seeing itself: why it is so important to see the whole picture, and how what we pay attention to, determines our emotional state and consequent actions. This chapter looks at examples of what is working well in the world and how these can be the seeds of co-creating a new world that works for all. Chapter 2 looks at the roots of our current worldview. At how we ‘construct’ our world through (often unexamined) assumptions. It ends up by showing how our current dominant view of development suffers from three disc-connections. In Chapter 3, we offer a radically new perspective; one which is free of, and inclusive of all viewpoints and perspectives. This is the space of Wholesomeness, based on oneness with the Universal Intelligence that runs all of life. In this, we see how Love can be a foundation for a very different approach to life and development.
Having got a sense of the larger context and foundation, the next two chapters (under Awakening Capacity) explore the process of awakening to Wholesomeness (Chapter 4), and how this personal awakening can take on more collective forms through Wholesome Leadership (Chapter 5). As we heal our connections with our Self, with others and with the environment, individual and collective capacities expand. These will enable us to reboot our capacities through inner transformation, coherent action and new modes of self-organizing. All these will be founded on and guided by Love. We will then begin to allow and catalyze the natural changes that are waiting to happen on our planet at this time in our evolution.
With our capacities awakened and expanded, through three fold reconnections, we are ready to become instruments of Love in Action. This is the next broad section of the book. Each one of us has a unique role to play in the larger evolutionary play of Life. In Chapters 6 to 10 we have focused on a few key areas for Wholesomeness to do its work. Chapter 6 focuses on Peace and Ethics. We see the common root of these apparently different aspects of a wholesome life. Chapter 7 is about Education for a Wholesome World. How does Education need to change to bring forth the world we are proud to hand over to our children and grandchildren? Chapter 8 is about Healing – both People and the Environment. These two are so inextricably linked that we have combined them into one chapter. Business has the power to transform the world. Can Business become a force of good on Earth? What are the examples of this? How does this work? Chapter 9 examines how Businesses can work from Abundance and generate even more abundance for all. Each chapter ends with some actionable points that will help you, part by part, to become one with your Source’All of Life.
What’s in it for you?
This book addresses the alarmingly pressing needs of today. We attempt to expand the reader’s vision and uncover connections that they may not have been seen or may have been seen incompletely. This book is primarily an offering to see things in a simple, clear and complete way. We feel that seeing this wholeness and experiencing new thought forms and patterns will be profoundly liberating and inspiring for the readers.
Finally, we would like to leave the reader with practical tool to make a difference and create an impact in their own spheres of work and life. There will be tools to work at the individual level and also at the organizational and social levels.
The authors are people of action. They therefore believe in making things happen and would like readers to do the same. We only pray that this action is guided and inspired from the purest, most whole and most liberating space of awareness.
Who should read this book?
A book on wholesome development to move towards one wholesome world is really a book for everyone. People who are on the journey to wholeness and who feel an inner calling to work for ‘something beyond myself’ or for ‘a larger cause’, will find this book useful. It will also resonate with people who have begun to realize that the mind is severely limited as the source of the creative ideas and fresh thinking required to respond to today’s challenges. It will attract people who have begun to feel that Awareness or the space called ‘No Mind’ is a better source for action than a conditioned and patterned mind. No Mind is the same as Wholeness.
The common thread and core of the book is relevant to every single person on the planet. However, the capacity to understand its message may be different at different places and amongst different individuals. Perhaps there is a need to translate the core message of this book into the language of different segments.
One can see however that the book would benefit the following people:
Leaders in Business who want to understand the larger context within which businesses operate. The book will help them to understand the whole problem/opportunity that business has in front of it. A paradigm shift where we see business as true wealth for all can have huge positive impacts on the planet. The book points towards a new consciousness for business leaders.
Students and Teachers in the field of education – A picture of where we have headed as a planet and the larger canvas with its linkages to inner thoughts, forms and patterns is a must for all teachers and students to understand. It is pointless learn the art of painting and decoration to decorate one cabin of a ship ,while the whole ship is sinking! It is time for teachers and students to understand the larger context and purpose for which education exists, viz. the well-being and liberation of all human kind.
The book will inspire all those people in Public Governance. It will show us how we need to move to create more integrity and integration in public service. It will point the way for wholesome leadership in this very important sphere of life.
NGOs and practitioners of development in the field will benefit from seeing the inner roots of development and the vital need for collaboration and synergy. It will also show us how to infuse the work of development activists and practitioner with the energy and enthusiasm which can come only from the deepest inner resources.
Finally this book is for women and men dedicated to loving action and service . It is for those who want to make a difference and need guidance and a road map on how to do it. We have found over our years of experience that the larger creative intelligence of life, orchestrates connections in an amazingly appropriate way. To quote mother Teresa, ‘things happen accordingly’. We understand this to mean that life moves according to a larger pattern orchestrated by a loving and kind intelligence.(This morning, on my morning walk the acronym LIFE for ‘ Loving Intelligence for Everyone’, popped into my mind). The fact that you are holding this book in your hands and are reading these words, means that your consciousness has attracted this book into your life.
Wherever you are and whoever you are, know that this is not a coincidence. There is a clear reason why this book is in your hands. If you are still and you listen to the whispers of your Heart, you will know why this book has come to you.
Here is a small hint:
The ‘work’ of the authors is to be instrumental in receiving, expressing and spreading new learnings and insights given by the divine I Am so that humans can reclaim their wholeness. Will you awaken to your own Wholeness, and allow this clarity to guide your thoughts, words and actions? Are you a person who is called to join Hearts and Hands on this unfolding evolution towards one wholesome world? If the answer is a wholehearted ‘YES’, you now know why this book has come into your life.
What is different?
This book brings the awareness and insight to reconnect us back to our heart in a way that makes sense to the common man and gives him a path way for action.
Few books show the elephant of development. When we focus on the inner aspect of development the outer ones are missed and vice-a-versa. This books attempts to show all an all-encompassing holistic picture of development. We might say it is practically spiritual or spiritually practical. It transcends the common lenses through which development is typically seen e.g. Gender, Livelihoods, Ethics, Economics, Environment, Governance etc. It looks at development from the lens of wholeness and integration with enough attention also paid to the heart of development -which is consciousness or awareness.
The book is bereft of any ideological filters / blinds. We are neither from the left or the right, nor stuck with the right hemisphere or the left hemisphere of the brain. The book comes from an innocent heart and experienced mind attempting to weave together conflicting perceptions, polarities and viewpoints. It offers a new vision of development and also the tools to make it happen.
Join hearts and hands for action
It’s true. There are lots of organizations and individuals working hard to solve the challenges we face e.g. the climate crisis. This is great news! It means that we don’t really need to build a movement from scratch because it’s already bubbling up all over the world, in thousands of ways.
Our hope is that we can all shine the spotlight of awareness on the work of existing organizations, highlighting and appreciating everyone’s incredible work and weaving these many efforts together into a tapestry of inspired and powerful unified action’a movement that is global, scientific, and specific. Holding a shared vision of co-creating One Wholesome World , and connecting and sharing on a common platform of awareness with freely available tools, we can help to stitch together a whole that is truly greater than the sum of its parts’. a diverse movement that speaks with one collective voice and beats to one universal heart. Guidance will come from being still and listening to the voice of the one Heart of Humanity, our own Self. Manifestation of Heaven on Earth will
come from Loving Action now.
About the Authors
Dr. O. N. Wakhlu
Dr. Wakhlu’ s spiritual transcendence ,that began because of the religiously diverse land of Kashmir ,grew into a profound understanding of the human race. Dr. Omkar Nath Wakhlu is a teacher, educationist and an institution builder par excellence. With outstanding passion, he has devoted over fifty years of his life to research and education.
His own academic brilliance is manifested through the Commonwealth Research fellowship that he received, enabling him to study in Britain and be awarded a PhD from the University of Birmingham, UK. He was also awarded the Alexander Von Humboldt Research Professorship by the Federal Republic of Germany and the Khosla Award of the University of Roorkee, India.
His integration of cross functional knowledge of education, technology and environment has won him many accolades and equipped him with an all-round perspective on development. It is through this, that his concept of ‘wholesome and sustainable development’ came about. His philosophy of people development is centered on the theme of “holistic attainment of potential” which focuses on the systematic improvement of the innate abilities of students.
His contribution as a member of the Board of Directors at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi and as a member of the Technical Advisory Committee of the Tehri Dam Project, Uttarakhand, has been of great significance. Omkar has served as the Principal of the Regional Engineering College (now NIT) Srinagar, the Honorary Secretary of the Governing Board of Gandhi Memorial College (Srinagar) and has been or is serving as a Member of the Boards of Vishwa Bharati Women’s’ Education Trust, the National School, Kashyapa School and the Vasantha Girls’ School in Srinagar. As a Guest Faculty at the Pragati Leadership Institute, he has advised many Educational Institutions on improving their approach and methodologies of teaching for improved results.
Over the years, Omkar has continued to inspire and motivate IAS Officers, policy makers and teachers by sharing his vast experiences. He has shared at Asia Plateau, the conference centre of Initiatives of Change, at Panchgani, India. Being fluent in English, German, Hindi, Urdu, Kashmiri and Punjabi, he is the author of several books and many more papers, monographs and articles related to education and the development of society.
A career that began after graduating from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi in Electrical Engineering (76) and working with NELCO for two years, Arun completed a post-graduate diploma course in Business Administration from the Indian Institute of Management(IIM) Ahmedabad (PGP 80). He continued his stint with the house of Tata post 1980 as part of the Tata Administrative Service (TAS), worked for Tata Motors, Jamshedpur, & MAP Consultants, Pune, before eventually starting Pragati Leadership in 1986 along with his partner Anu.
A globally reputed coach, facilitator and trainer, in areas of Leadership and Organization Transformation, Arun’s wealth of experience of over 25,000 hours has taken him to India, France, USA, Australia, Singapore, Dubai, South Africa, Finland, The Netherlands and several other countries to serve leading Indian and international organizations like Hindustan Unilever, BP-Castrol, Philips, HDFC, Reliance Retail, Tata Group, Aditya Birla Group, ICICI Prudential, Sudarshan Chemicals and Ranbaxy to name a few.
His avid interest and belief in people along with working in and with cross cultural teams internationally, has enabled him to design and facilitate many innovative programs on Creative Thinking, Passion for Excellence, Wholesome Leadership, Organizational Transformation, Bonding for Greatness etc. He is the pioneer of the models and practice of Wholesome Leadership and Wholesome Development.
He is the author of the award winning and insightful book ‘Managing from the Heart’. He is also the co-author of over four books, over 30 papers and the founder-chairman of Pragati Leadership Institute. The need to reach out also led Arun (along with his partner, Anu) to start the Pragati Foundation, a Non- Government Organization based in Pune. He also leads project ‘Awaken-I’ committed to the vision of ‘Great Work for all’.
Like his father, Arun has always valued inspirational teaching. He has taught ‘Corporate Ethics’ in the PGPX course at IIM (Ahmedabad) and ‘Managerial Oral Communication’ for the PGP at the same institute. His contribution as the Course Director for ‘Ethics in Public Governance’, a program designed for the senior members of the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), as part of the Initiatives of Change Centre for Governance (ICCfG), New Delhi, has been significant. Its success and value addition has prompted a similar program design for the members of the Indian Police Service (IPS), and Training of Trainers in the Administrative Training Institutes in India.
Arun passionately believes in and is working towards creating One Wholesome World: a world which is joyful, socially just and healthy for all (including future generations) co-created by communities of people who are living and leading consciously. A man of varied interests, Arun enjoys conversations from the heart, meditation, graphic recording, dancing and creative writing.
Nitya Wakhlu is the founder and creative head at Nitya Wakhlu Innovations LLC, based out of Portland, Oregon. She specializes in using visual thinking and experiential learning to create whole-brained tools that support learning and change.
Best known for her work as a graphic facilitator, she has worked with corporate, government and non-profit groups across North America, Europe, Africa and India. Nitya brings a ninja-like listening ability to the table. She distills what she hears and creates a large-scale mural of key insights and emerging conversation patterns. She does this, using images, words, connectors and colorful cartoons. This live visual capture prevents precious insight from being lost. It stimulates higher levels of group engagement and creativity. It also helps the group truly ‘see the big picture’ and move towards action.
Nitya grew up and studied in India and has a unique cross-cultural perspective. She has a bachelor’s degree in electronics and telecommunication engineering. She also has an MBA in Human Resources from XLRI, Jameshdpur, with a strong focus on organization development and learning design.
Right out of business school, Nitya was selected to GE’s Young Leader Development Program, a fast-track program for young leaders. She then took on a leadership role of Area Sales Manager. After that, Nitya worked with Pragati Leadership Institute as a facilitator and consultant in the domain of leadership development and organizational innovation. She is now delighted to leverage her experience and insight in her current role as an entrepreneur.
As a visual practitioner, what Nitya brings to the table is a unique combination of business acumen and organizational understanding, an ability to think very creatively and a deep respect for the art of learning and facilitation.
Introduction: Seeing with New Eyes
Seeing with New Eyes
‘And now here is my secret, a very simple secret; it is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.’
– Antoine De Saint-Exupery
‘It is in the darkness of their eyes that men get lost’
– Black Elk
Our view of life powerfully affects our way of life. It also deeply affects the way we live and work; on what we spend our limited time and energies. Who we are being affects what we are seeing. What we are seeing affects what we spend our energy on. It affects what we manifest in the world. This, in turn, reinforces our notion of who we are being.
Life is interspersed with universal and loving intelligence. Life is happening in all her glorious wholeness in every single moment. I can either see and fully experience life in this moment, or focus on something that is a memory from the past or something imagined from the future. This choice will determine how I feel right now. My feelings determine my action and also the outcomes in this moment. Think about this: The choices of 7 billion people in this moment are making up the world as it is now. Going forward, these choices will also determine the kind of world we will experience in the future. How do we therefore change what we see and what we will focus on? By changing our questions!
Given this context, and given that the world, as we know it, is going through a metamorphosis of sorts, it is time to ask ourselves some hard questions: How do we see ourselves? How do we see others? How do we see our ‘work’ in life? How whole and expanded is our vision? Are we running our life based on a narrow and limited view of ourselves and others, seeing only a tiny part? Or do we see the glorious magnificence of life as a whole and allow our life to be governed by this vision? Do we see only the separate waves on the surface of the ocean, or do we see the whole ocean?
There is an urgent need for coherent and concerted change in many spheres. While on the one hand, we have crises and opportunities staring us in the face on many fronts, we also have all the diverse resources needed to meet these challenge creatively and completely. Everything we need to lead a spiritually fulfilling, joyful, healthy, socially harmonious, just and environmentally sustainable presence on Earth exists today. All the money, resources, knowledge and people are available. We have more knowledge, money, technology and networks of people than we would possibly need to solve all our problems.
One might then ask why these desperately needed changes are not happening at all, or are not happening fast enough. Where is the bottleneck? Here is a metaphor I find useful to explain what might be going on:
Imagine a gigantic jigsaw puzzle that has to be solved. The solution will involve putting together all the pieces in a way that forms a coherent picture. Now, if all the pieces are scattered far and wide and the end picture that has to be made is not known, it will be impossible to solve the puzzle. Add to this picture the image of people clinging to their little pieces in distant corners with great protective zeal, and you have a model of what is actually happening on the ground today. All the pieces we need exist, but we do not have peace! Peace will arise when all the pieces come together coherently and smoothly to manifest the picture we all want to see’ the picture of a world that works for all. One in which all thrive, and flourish (spiritually and materially), there is social justice and the environment is ‘happy’. One where there is joy, peace and abundance for all. This will happen only when each person ‘holding a piece’ of the puzzle sees the whole picture. Why is it imperative for all to see the whole picture? To hold in our mind’s eye, an accurate and complete view of how the world really works? To see all the inter-connections between different things that are happening?
If we do not see right, our thoughts, words and actions will be limited. We will keep co-creating a collective story that we do not want. It will be a story born out of a partial and erroneous view of life. A story of self-deception. It will not be a story of joy, peace and abundance for all.
We have been conditioned to focus on actions and outcomes: do and do more. If the first conference at Rio didn’t work, then have one in Kyoto. If that didn’t work, have one more in Copenhagen. If we are getting desperate that things are not working, let’s have a conference in Rio again (20 years after the first one) to see why nothing is working! We have been taught to believe that if you want different outcomes, simply take different actions. If you have not done enough, do more! It is not enough to keep doing more. We need to see differently…look with new eyes.
To quote Albert Einstein, ‘We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.’ John Stuart Mill reflected the same idea when he said in his autobiography: ‘I am now convinced that no great improvements in the lot of mankind are possible, until a great change takes place in the fundamental constitution of their modes of thought.’
The Apparatus of Seeing
Let us look at the apparatus of seeing. Our attention first focuses on something, after which we see it. Attention is governed by the mind. So, if our attention is stuck with something, or in some direction, we miss what lies in other directions. If our attention is caught up in the past or the future, we miss seeing what is right under our noses. If distractions and diversions are eating up our attention and time in the moment, we do not see the obvious. Even if we do, our energy is not sufficient to bring about some impact or change.
Before we go further, please read these lines below:
A newspaper is better than a magazine.
A sea shore is a better place than a street.
At first it is better to run than to walk.
You may have to try several times.
It takes some skill, but it is easy to learn.
Even young children can enjoy it.
Once successful, complications are minimal.
Birds seldom get too close.
Rain, however, soaks in very fast.
Too many people doing the same thing can also cause problems.
One needs lots of room.
If there are no complications it can be very peaceful.
A rock will serve as an anchor.
If things break loose from it, however, you will not get a second chance.