A Global Wake-Up Call
Collective Consciousness Nears Spiritual Tipping PointCall it enlightenment, awakening, transcendence, self-realization or any of the myriad terms used to describe the ultimate higher state of consciousness. People have been seeking it for millennia, but beyond peak experiences of heightened awareness, only a few spiritual figures, Jesus Christ and Gautama Buddha among them, are known to have lived in this exalted state. Yet, an unprecedented awakening has been underway since the 19th century.
Modern-Day AdvancesHumanity’s collective consciousness took an unexpected turn in 1968 after The Beatles captured the world stage. The iconic British group became agents of change in more ways than music when their search for answers to life’s big questions led them to Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s spiritual center in Rishikesh, India. Their interest in Transcendental Meditation (TM) sparked a surge of interest in enlightenment and meditation, providing the West with a popular means of cultivating higher states of awareness.
A movement to bring about global awakening has been growing ever since. Fresh impetus, in the form of quantum physics, the science of yoga and spiritual practices rooted in ancient cultures, disseminated by books, teachings by spiritual luminaries and websites such as Conscious. TV, has exposed millions to the concept of consciously participating in the evolution of humanity to bring about a world that works for all.
Attaining Critical MassIn 2000, Malcolm Gladwell, author of The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference, provided a ray of hope for the estimated 50 million individuals involved in the world enlightenment movement by introducing the concept of critical mass. This occurs when an unshakable belief is held by 10 percent of the population. Scientists that tested the phenomenon at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, in upstate New York, discovered, “Once that number grows above 10 percent, the idea spreads like flame.”
Mahesh predicted that only 1 percent of humanity is needed to create enough good vibrations to usher in world peace. While the figures required to reach this critical mass can be debated, it’s certain that the old ways no longer work, and we are quickly running out of time to adopt viable solutions to mounting global crises.
Despite this sense of urgency, we have no clear idea of where we are on the scale of transformation. Yet leading voices point to promising signs of progress in a developing collective awareness that acknowledges life’s interconnectedness and embodies life-affirming beliefs and values.
Global Consciousness AccountantsDeepak Chopra, a physician, pioneering author and co-founder of Jiyo.com living in California and New York, believes that we may be in a phase of the necessary transformational shift, experiencing disruption along with the emergence of a new paradigm. “The ultimate goal with our Jiyo.com community, a collective well-being project, is to build a critical mass of people that will create a more peaceful, just and harmonious inner and outer world,” says Chopra.
It begins with personal transformation through yoga, meditation, pranayama breathing exercises, nutrition, sleep, personal growth and relationships that enhance awareness. “Evolution should be gradual and comfortable,” he says.
Rev. Michael Bernard Beckwith, founder of the Agape International Spiritual Center, in Beverly Hills, believes humanity is in the midst of an emerging renaissance of kindness, love and compassion, with millions embracing the planet as a living being. “This isn’t making news because mainstream journalists are still reporting from an old worldview,” he says.
Beckwith, a renowned minister and teacher for 40 years, leads a 9,000-strong trans-denominational spiritual community. He remarks, “Those of us focused on adding our energy to the global enlightenment movement see aspects of it emerging in changes such as health care rather than sick care, businesses adopting multiple bottom lines of people, planet and purpose—rather than only profit—and the shift from a me to we consciousness.”
Dianne Collins, author of Do You QuantumThink?: New Thinking that Will Rock Your World, in Miami, suggests it’s time to wake up to the fact that we are living in a quantum age and still using thought and language shaped by the Industrial Age. She discovered a burgeoning underground culture that she calls the“consciousness crowd” while researching her book tour audience.
“These individuals are using new thinking and recognizing the worldview of interconnectedness based on modern science. The media doesn’t recognize that thinkers such as these represent the new mainstream, and no one realizes the tipping point is already here,” she says.
Cate Montana, author of The E-Word: Ego, Enlightenment and Other Essentials, in Hawaii, likewise is convinced the movement has reached critical mass and is hopeful the perceived tipping point is closer than we think. “Every moment we’re awake, we’re being conditioned to believe in our limited physical nature and separation from everyone and everything around us. This is why we must re-educate ourselves regarding our full nature,” she says.
News headlines of global conflicts and ecological decimation make it appear that we are regressing, Montana says, but we are not going backwards. “The nature of life is growth, expansion and evolution. As one example, some among the medical community now accept the validity of energy practices such as acupuncture, tai chi, qigong and reiki. None of these words were even being bandied about in the U.S. 50 years ago.”
Coming TogetherToday, an estimated 5 million people practice TM, which has been incorporated into some schools, universities, corporations and prison programs in the U.S., Latin America, Europe and India. “Those learning this meditation practice number as many as 30,000 to 40,000 a year, which significantly contributes a positive effect to the collective consciousness,” says John Hagelin, a leader of the TM movement in the U.S.
Hagelin, president and professor of physics at the Maharishi University of Management, in Fairfield, Iowa, has been leading a scientific investigation into the foundations of human consciousness for 25 years. He’s one of the world’s preeminent researchers on the effects of meditation on brain development. “I think that we are much closer to a global spiritual tipping point than ever before,” he says.
Ron Dalrymple, Ph.D., a quantum field psychologist practicing in Fort Myers, Florida, believes the threshold is close and that his quantum unified field theory explained in his film, The Endless Question, can win over skeptics. “I use mathematics, science and storytellers that have studied consciousness to explain in lay language my theory, which proposes that the mind is an energy field that extends beyond the brain, and its nucleus is the superconscious. Viewers are led to the undeniable reality of what we all are and to the need for creating a culture of enlightenment where we encourage and inspire one another to greatness,” says Dalrymple, author of Quantum Field Psychology: The Thoton Particle Theory.
Zaya and Maurizio Benazzo, founders of the Science and Nonduality Conference (SAND), agree that individual awakening and the collective movement toward the understanding of our fundamental oneness is crucial to social transformation. Their nonprofit organization is designed to foster a new relationship with spirituality that is both based on timeless wisdom traditions and informed by cutting-edge science.
For 10 years, biannual SAND conferences have energized the global enlightenment movement (ScienceAndNonduality.com). Early audiences of 300 individuals now number from 800 to 1,000, and often include business people and trainers developing programs for workplaces.
“Understanding the new science that points to consciousness as all-pervasive and the fundamental building block of reality can change what it means to be human, as well as possibly make violence and economic, social and political crises things of the past,” says Zaya.
Thus, the spread of awareness and the harmonic convergence of science, psychology and spiritual thought seem to be bringing humanity closer to the enlightenment that has been elusive for millennia.
“Tremendous progress is being made, and I am confident that within a year or two, we’ll see a victory for the enlightened evolutionary forces already present on the planet,” says Hagelin.
Linda Sechrist is a senior staff writer for Natural Awakenings. Connect at LindaSechrist.com.