Consciousness-Based Activism for the 21st Century

September 15, 2016
Claudia Welss

The first comprehensive review on the idea that focused collective intention can have a powerful, measurable impact on social conditions has arrived, and just in time.

At the turn of this century, scientists like Dean Radin and Russell Targ were already at IONS conferences sharing the results of experiments suggesting consciousness interacts with the world around us. Books such as “Permanent Peace,” which included serious metrics supporting the idea that Transcendental Meditators were able to beneficially affect regional social wellness indicators, were published and lead readers to wonder if the same could be true on a global scale. Long ago, at the Science and Consciousness conferences Swami Beyondananda implored us, “Don’t just do something; sit there!” Pioneering initiatives like the Global Consciousness Project, and later the Global Coherence Initiative, developed technologies to study the connection between inner and outer worlds, with intriguing results. Yet what was still needed was a resource that could begin to represent the greater whole of what science and swamis were revealing–and based on that, could become a powerful call to action for the rest of us.

Now, with his new book “Subtle Activism: the Inner Dimension of Social and Planetary Transformation,” author David T. Nicol provides just that, mapping the terrain and making the case that a consciousness-based activism can uniquely serve the emergence of a new culture of wisdom and peace—not by replacing physical activism, but by providing an important, integral aspect to the process of world change. “Subtle Activism” is an authoritative treatment that can not only engage the intellectually curious, but more importantly can empower those who intuitively feel the importance of our multidimensional, noetic nature in becoming agents of real change—especially when we intentionally join with others.

In his discussions on the foundations of subtle activism, Nicol explores the work of leaders in the field like IONS Fellow Rupert Sheldrake’s Hypothesis of Formative Causation and Theory of Morphic Fields, and former director of Transformative Learning at IONS Chris Bache’s Model of Collective Healing by Individuals in Non-ordinary States of Consciousness, to support his general hypothesis of Subtle Activism, summarized in the following points.

  1. Despite the appearance of radical separateness, there is a common underlying ground and creative source of all reality.
  2. Social units (families, tribes, nations) can be conceived of as collective organisms with collective minds.
  3. The collective mind of a social unit, including aspects of both “conscious” (generated by living representatives) and “unconscious” mind (persistent patterns of ancestral thoughts and behaviors), are arranged in nested hierarchies: family in regional, region in national, national in global, global in human, all the way to the ultimate creative Source.
  4. Individual humans, embedded both locally and universally, experience a reciprocal relationship between themselves and these fields, being influenced as well as contributing to their collective memory.
  5. Morphic resonance is a key principle that explains how an individual or group using consciousness-based practices can intentionally influence the larger fields of which they’re part.
  6. A certain threshold of influence must be crossed to affect the social field in any significant (observable) way.

Nicol concludes this section by admitting that these principles “include some concepts that are not at present scientifically testable,” and reminds us that just because something is untestable doesn’t make it “false.” This is where organizations like IONS—those using cutting-edge science to help us each recognize ourselves as part of an interconnected whole in ways that inspire us to take meaningful action—become critical. For while we don’t have to wait for the permission of science to act on what we may believe to be true in our hearts, scientific proof that we’re making the difference we intend to liberates and accelerates our personal commitment to the more evolved world our hearts know is possible—as, I believe, does Nicol’s book.

Claudia Welss is a member of the IONS board of directors, the Global Coherence Initiative Steering Committee, and the Gaiafield Project Council.

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