On a chilly November evening outside of Shanghai, I sat captivated by a sound healing mega-concert that continued for over two hours accompanied by a mesmerizing Hollywood-scale light show. The exquisite crystal bowls, ancient wind instruments, chanting, and drums transported me into a deep, peaceful state of mind that enabled me to forget that I was the only person who had forgotten to wear a jacket that evening! It was an unforgettable experience that created a palpable field of interconnection among the thousands of us gathered for the opening ceremonies of the AT ONE International Festival.
The very first gathering of its kind in China, AT ONE was years in the making—the inspiration of Fred Tsao, a successful businessman whose personal journey led him to the study of consciousness after his own epiphany—similar to that of IONS founder Edgar Mitchell—that the 21 st Century requires a new paradigm based on the unity of humankind and informed by the integration of ancient wisdom and science. The AT ONE Festival gathered renown Eastern philosophers and Western scholars and practitioners including Deepak Chopra, Ervin Laszlo, and Bruce Lipton. I had the honor of representing IONS throughout the Festival and—importantly—in a series of intimate “deep dive” sessions exploring new approaches to education and business leadership, resulting in exciting new collaborative opportunities for IONS to expand our impact in China and beyond.
Perhaps one of the most profound moments was an evening I spent with a group of young Chinese change-makers who were familiar with IONS. They shared how inspired they are by IONS’ pioneering work in the world, with several reporting that they are using our publications in their grassroots work—from remote villages and to some of the world’s most densely populated cities including Beijing and Shanghai. One passionate youth leader said, “Tell the IONS team how much we appreciate what they do. Please keep sharing your latest research with us and translate it if you can!” What a powerful moment that was for me to hear their heartfelt—and somewhat urgent—request for more information from IONS. I now consider the geographic distance between China and our California campus to be irrelevant—we are more interconnected that we realized!