What does the democratization of enlightenment mean?
Democratization as in democracy on the one hand, and enlightenment on the other hand.
In this post we continue with Part 2 of the Democratization of Enlightenment Video Series. Following the video is Part 1 of my recent Center for World Spirituality white paper, called “Three Steps to the Democratization of Enlightenment,” which was originally published in the October 2012 issue of Integral Leadership Review. This is the first time it has ever been seen online.
The Democratization of Enlightenment – Part 2:
Structure of this Teaching
Three Steps to the Democratization of Enlightenment
(Part 1 of 3)
By Marc Gafni
Stepping Beyond “Local Means Global”
Originally published in print, in the October 2012 issue of Integral Leadership Review.
“This white paper from the Center for World Spirituality suggests that the Democratization of Enlightenment is the evolution of an enlightened society, with Enlightenment defined as knowledge of one’s own True Identity. Accordingly, three conclusions are drawn: First, that enlightenment is sanity and hence a necessary ingredient for all individuals, not merely for elites. Second, attaining Enlightenment does not involve denying individuality, but grasping a key distinction between separateness and uniqueness. Third, the goal of enlightenment is said to be not the evolution beyond ego, but beyond exclusive identification with ego. After these three findings, the paper suggests that the Democratization of Enlightenment is essential both for individual mental health as well as planetary survival.” ~ Marc Gafni
I was looking with my son at Google Earth the other morning. I wanted to show him my old neighborhood in Jerusalem, which I loved. We were able to find the exact location and see it – pretty clearly in front of us. Although I knew this was possible, I had never actually done it before and it kind of blew me away. For my son it was no big deal – it was just the way it is.
We are standing at the edge of a new reality. The local world as we once knew it barely exists any longer. Local has gone global. Global is local. There is no place to hide and no place to run. No place or person is effectively ever really off the grid.
There is no local place on the planet to live, which will not be directly affected by the events in the global. In that sense global is local. On the tragic side of things that means that Osama Bin Laden can have his people fly planes directly into the World Trade Center. Several thousand people in the New York area who got up in the morning for a normal day’s work on Sept 11th die painful deaths by the end of the day. Local was invaded by global. Of course, the people in the building were also not really local. There were working at the World Trade Center, a local Manhattan address whose purpose and activity was fully global.
The financial markets are a primary case study for the evaporation of the purely local. A man in Kansas takes out a mortgage on a house. The financial instruments he uses to create that mortgage draw on and affect the entire global economy. “Global is local” also means that the results of environmental negligence in one part of the world which contribute to global warming affect everyone on the planet. These are only a few examples of the shadow side of the local and global conflation.
“Local means global” in the best scenario suggests that if we really understand that we are profoundly intermeshed and interconnected, we can consciously form a collective creative planetary intelligence. A conscious society! We can bring together into an evolutionary We-space all of the gifts, wisdom and insight of the all the different sectors of the globe. The collective intelligence that honors the autonomy of all the parts even as it transcends them into a higher love is the great possibility and promise of Spirit’s Next Move.
What we need to really get now more then we ever did before is that there is no place that is separate and no person who is separate. It is only when that realization becomes awake, alive and aware in every human being that we will be able to harness this new realization of love and interdependence to create what will truly be a better world. This is the way forward to a conscious society, what it means to harness the energy of love into a new constellation of Eros that allures our reality to take its next evolutionary leap. Only such a conscious society would be able to powerfully address vitally pressing needs of the planet in a way that no local consciousness is able to do. Curing disease, ending poverty sex, trafficking, insuring quality education, catalyzing entrepreneurial creativity and insuring the basic dignities for all beings – all of these things requires a new consciousness. More specifically, what philosopher entrepreneur John Mackey has called conscious society.
This new consciousness that I am describing is not a new idea. The most advanced segments of all great societies actually achieved some measure of that precise consciousness which I am describing. And they had a name for it: Enlightenment!
Now they could not see the global interconnectivity as the obvious reality that we see it to be. The most evolved spiritual elites in every society accessed a lived knowing of interconnectivity of all being. They knew in a first-person perspective what we might call the wholeness of reality, the knowing that every part is part of larger whole and that reality is interconnected part/wholes all the way up and all the way down. Classical Enlightenment is generally understood to be precisely this knowledge that separation – between you, and me between you and everyone else, between human beings and nature and ultimately between human beings and God, is not real. This much is correct.
Separation is not real. If you know your true essence, then you know that you are not merely a skin-encapsulated ego, but rather you are part of the seamless coat of the universe. This knowing is not a dogma but a dharma. It is the true nature of reality revealed by the eye of the spirit. The eye of the spirit, when properly deployed, opens a window into the interior face of the cosmos.
This lived realization of the true nature of reality is what is called Enlightenment. All of the most subtle and speculative minds that ever live in virtually every society have access to this enlightened consciousness. Collectively they served as a kind of strange attractor, which seduced all the great religions and ultimately all of reality, towards a higher and nobler consciousness.
The enlightened ones were subversive evolutionary forces, which undermined the dominance of the ego with its pettiness and grasping. They were the affirmation of “faith history” over “power history.” Faith understood in this context means faithful to the memory of our true nature, which is the hope of the future. Collectively the enlightened beings in all the great lineages incarnate a vision of the possibility of possibility. They are a beacon of light in what is all too often nasty and brutish darkness.
Today the enlightened consciousness held by the spiritual elites is no longer enough. We need to move towards a world in which greatness and Enlightenment is not limited to the elites. We need to free up the enlightened creativity of entrepreneurial spirit. We need to create the shift in perspective necessary to hold the new global reality. We must democratize the core capacity which has always been charged with holding global consciousness – namely, Enlightenment.
Enlightenment does not mean spiritual perfection. It does not mean a constant of meditative bliss, which is indifferent to the world. What Enlightenment does mean in a post-postmodern context is the realization that you are – at your core – inseparable from Source and that you are holding world-centric and even Kosmocentric consciousness from which you experience both compassion for and identity with the larger world evolutionary context of all that is. This kind of consciousness needs to go viral.
Enlightenment must mainstream. We can only accomplish this through what I began to call a few years back, “The Democratization of Enlightenment.” Perhaps for the first time in history this is a genuine possibility. One of the factors that opens this up as an authentic world potential at this moment in history is the fact that the interconnectivity and interdependence of all reality which used to be only accessible through mystical consciousness is not a self-evident characteristic of reality. However, as we shall see at a later point in this conversation, if the democratization of Enlightenment is to become a genuine option for the mainstream other important hurdles will have to be overcome in the very understanding of Enlightenment itself.
Every generation is responsible for its own evolution of consciousness. The evolution of consciousness is nothing less then the evolution of love. Love deepens into ever more profound contact and intimacies even as it expands to include ever widening circles of caring and concern. The evolution of consciousness, which is imperative in this generation, is no less than the democratization of greatness. From the perspective of consciousness, this means no less then the democratization of Enlightenment.
The democratization of Enlightenment is the core evolutionary adaptation required in this generation. This is the adaptation required for the evolution of consciousness, which is the evolution of love for our time. Such an evolutionary leap is for the first time in history both absolutely possible and absolutely necessary in our generation. The confluence of necessity and possibility is not mere coincidence. It is rather the very nature of cosmic love.
The democratization of Enlightenment is not dissimilar from the democratization of governance, which was the demarcating characteristic of what was termed the Western Enlightenment. In the old world, the belief was that only a very narrow elite has the power, authority, or ability to think beyond survival needs and hold the bigger picture wisdom necessary for benevolent governance. The emergence of the Western Enlightenment birthed a watershed shift in his understanding. For the first time in history there was a realization that the common man and woman has both the right and the required ability to engage in governance. This leap forward into democracy was essential in supporting the advances the world was to make in the next three hundred years. Democracy released a new entrepreneurial creativity, which powered the age of reason and beyond. To power the next stage of human history where the local and the global have collapsed into one, what is necessary is democratization – not only of government structures but also of Enlightenment itself.
Part 2 to be continued…
For the full article by Marc Gafni (posted as a PDF)…