Home Forums Deep Time Journey Forum Countering Intolerance With Cosmic Education

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    • #17902
      Jennifer Morgan

      How is intolerance expressing itself in your classroom? And how are you using deep time learning (cosmic education) to counter intolerance?

      Montessori teachers and many others have used the story of the universe to show how we all share the same origin, and how differentiation (difference) is a governing theme of the universe that expresses itself at all levels from microbes to galaxies, and how differences in humans are a natural part of this larger governing process.

      Montessori Cosmic Education is the basis at the elementary level for teaching Peace Education, grounding all of education inside a framework that shows how everything is connected. Over all these many years of presenting to teachers, I’ve heard countless stories of how teachers create a space in their classroom for students to share the tradition in their household and to embrace it inside the larger story of an evolving universe.

      What are YOU seeing in YOUR classroom right now with the rise of intolerance that’s happening in so many places. Is Cosmic Education providing a way to help answer questions? How are you doing it? Artwork, music, storytelling? What books? Are there ways in which you can understand the rise of intolerance, where causes it, and explain it to your students? How do you do that?

      Let’s start a conversation here to share what teachers are doing in their classrooms.

    • #17912
      Gwen Shangle

      Cosmic Education can serve as an antidote to intolerance. The overarching themes of interconnectedness and unity are powerful in helping us not only accept differences, but to even celebrate them, and realize we need them to keep us all moving forward. It is our differences that make us unique and special, both individually and as groups within our society.

      Two things stand out to me in reading this post; first the idea of teaching whole to specific, and the idea of commonalities of all living things.

      In traditional education, we often start from the detail and move outward. For instance, we study our country or state. Montessori sought to give children the big picture first; present the Universe, or the map of the planisphere (whole world map) first. This does several things; it allows the child to have context in the detail to be presented, and the framework. It is like reviewing the table of contents in a book, it gives the detail a place to rest that gives it more meaning. This technique also allows for a more unified and complete perspective over time. Humans can be quite egocentric, and studying things in a larger context gives our students a global, or even universal, perspective.

      The fundamental needs of Humans is a series of presentations and works that allow students to discover the commonalities of all humans. Students identify and name those things humans need, which includes not just concrete things such as food and shelter, but moving beyond that and discussing things such as art and religion. Once we see that all humans tend to have a way they celebrate beauty, God, or birth of new life, and we then compare these to our own with a sense of respect and reverence, we develop tolerance. The differences are investigated and honored, but even more so a deep respect for the differences emerges. In many schools, the study of other religions does not begin until middle school history, when ideas of tolerance are typically already formed (although never too late!). We want to allow these exposures at early ages as well.

      Lastly, I cannot state strongly enough the power of connecting with nature. We cannot expect children who don’t play with the earth or spend time in nature, or know where their food comes from, to truly then care for the future of the Earth. Allowing children to merely play and be with nature with their time unstructured, allows them to connect and therefore care. Even adults find it to be healing, rejuvenating and often necessary. More to come on this another day….

      These things can be done in homes with some forethought as well.

      Some books I enjoy on this subject:

      Last Child in the Woods, Louv

      Peaceful Children, Peaceful World, Aline Wolf

      On The Day You Were Born, Frasier

      Miss Rumphius, Cooney

    • #17917
      Lisa Stolzer

      I work with Lower Elementary children (ages 6-8). I agree with Gwen Shangle’s point about the structure of Cosmic Education experiences that move from the “big picture” perspective to the personal and local. Lower Elementary children are moving out of the egocentric stage of their lives, and it is truly meaningful for them when their first impressions are of what it is that we all share as members of the human race–that we all began from that same instant in time, that we all live under the same stars, that we all have particular needs as living creatures. Maria Montessori spoke of the absorbent mind, and I think it is true that children of this age have absorbent hearts as well. They are so ready for the lessons of humanity, and to discover their roles in it. Their sense of social justice is so strong at this time. The Lower Elementary classroom seems a perfect place and time to guide children in becoming global citizens as their social selves emerge.

    • #17918
      Di Shearer

      In my work with adults in intercultural communication contexts, I have seldom been content with ‘tolerance’ as a disposition. It’s has a negative odour rather than the positive ones which words like ’empathy’, ‘patience’, ‘approval’ bring into focus. I guess too that ‘intolerance’ is a milder form of saying one is ‘prejudiced’ or ‘narrow-minded’. Yes, I love the Cosmic Education – Deep Time Journey Orientation because it reverses these. ‘Open-minded’, ‘compassionate’, ‘fair’, ‘kind’, ‘soft-hearted’, ‘tender’ – these are words which ring with deep resonance. Whereas for me ‘tolerance’ has an element of ‘well I’d really rather you be different from the way you are but I’ll put up with you for now’, which is just another form of ‘intolerance’. Thanks Jennifer for your post. These two words are shorthand for all the positive dispositions that are out there and available to us. But let’s expand the words to their full relational and life-giving meaning.

    • #17919
      Jennifer Morgan

      Do any of you have particular stories of children or adults who were moved by deep time (cosmic education) to go beyond boundaries to embrace others in the full relational sense of communion that Thomas Berry talks about when he says “We’re a communion of subjects, not a collection of objects”?

    • #17925
      Kyle Herman

      Regarding your post, Di, I feel the same way. The word tolerance, for me, doesn’t sit well. It feels, as you say, like putting up with something rather than feeling love and appreciation for other people with different experiences and cultures. Acceptance is better, but it still feels a little “off” because I can accept something with resignation rather than welcome it with love and gratitude. Not sure we have a word in our language that really captures the meaning I think all of us are striving to articulate.

      Jennifer, regarding your original question, thanks to the inspirational work of Traci and others at Ridge and Valley Charter School, we are teaching our humanities course this year using various cosmic lenses to better understand and perceive human society’s relationship to the patterns and features of the macrocosm. One of those lenses is differentiation, and we introduced this lens during the Indian Removal Act, Civil War, Reconstruction Era period. We began by marveling at the importance of differentiation at the inception of our universe, as captured by the images of cosmic microwave background radiation, which show tiny fluctuations in the density/temperature of space. Those differences were critical to the formation and emergence of stars, galaxies, planets, and ultimately life because they allowed gravity to go to work.

      In this sense, we set the context of the value of differentiation in Creation. We then invoke the Eastern perspective of “mutual arising,” which just means that at every scale, we see the feature of on/off systems, of birth/death, light/dark, self/other, and so on. This differentiation, although illusory in the sense that it always constitutes One Whole, nevertheless generates energy and creativity through dynamic tension. Therefore, as it relates to human and particularly American history, we make a grave mistake when we try to assimilate or even eradicate such all-important differences. First of all, such attempts are futile because, as we can see at every scale, differentiation exists, so human society will always be governed by the same principle, and secondly because even if we were successful, such an undifferentiated status would stagnate creativity and the dynamic exchanges of collective learning.

      Differentiation, then, as it applies to race, ethnicity, sexuality, political ideology, and so on, is something we should celebrate. I mean, sure, I can’t help but wish that Donald Trump hadn’t been “elected” president. Nevertheless, look at the passion and creativity his embarrassing and inexcusable behavior is stirring up. We would never know what we stood for if there weren’t people standing for something else. This ideological tug-of-war will always exist, and no matter how frustrating, it does in fact produce the very political/ethical tension necessary to create the values and principles that each one of us must then either protect and promote or reject and guard against. Nevertheless, we would do well to keep in mind that we will never eradicate “the other” belief system. Such a goal would be foolhardy because it ignores the immutable law of differentiation and mutual arising that holds at every scale of the universe.

    • #17952
      Sam Guarnaccia

      Intolerance: I share with Kyle the deep regret that there isn’t the ‘perfect’ word in perhaps any language, but ‘we sort of know what we are talking about’, and most agree that the narrow condition pointed to by the word ‘intolerance’, is largely the result of a stunted world-view. To his suggestions I would add the sense of ‘welcome’ and ‘invitation’, openness, expectation, wonder, excitement. We (Paula and I) don’t ‘work in the classroom’, unless you think of all the many contexts in which we mutually impact each other as a giant ‘classroom’ of sorts. And it is, in some ways.

      I work primarily with music, first as an expression of the sublime beauty of the ‘Natural World’ (itself a term with huge dimensions of ‘interpretation’ and understanding) and of our ‘interiority’, our integral perception of being alive. But because of the elaborate poetic narrative of the Emergent Universe Oratorio (http://samguarnaccia.com/about-emergent-universe-oratorio/), the underlying ‘story’ enveloped in the music, both poetry and story intertwine with the music to ‘amplify’ and expand the experience of language (text). But so far beyond and deeper than the metaphorical symbolic use of words, is direct experience; and beyond that is an experience of experience itself, the enveloping oceanic becoming we feel when, as a child or adult we leave the book on the desk and wander into the sunlit garden and wonder at a butterfly alighting on a flower. Our first kiss, falling in love at age 15, looking up at the Milky Way in the desert, –fill in the blank–and listening to great music have the ability to completely bypass the analytical mind and release us to our deepest self. Only the ‘malignant narcissist’ is as nearly immune to this ‘flow consciousness’ as any living being can be.

      The great axial shifts in collective cultural consciousness (world view) have always happened in the ecstatic embrace of either scientific ‘discovery’….or philosophical ‘breakthrough’….or some combination of forces that engage the profound emotional element of ‘understanding’, of self concept. Never have facts alone, not even alternative ones!, generated the great transformations of consciousness necessary for our survival, much less for the thriving of humanity in the whole Earth community. At its best, music presents our huge brains, that strive continually to make sense of a messy world, with the opportunity to go beyond surface detail and experience the enchantment of deep relations. And intentional, experienced listening (unfortunately a rarity), is an experience of cosmic participation in the indescribable diversity and beauty of the bewilderingly complex tapestry of life. And it is free!….as well as liberating.

      Children of course, at least those who are not born into an immediate struggle for existence, have few if any barriers to complete ‘tolerance’ of diversity, and more than tolerance, are capable of CELEBRATION of those ‘distinctions’ that are barely noticed, but rather are elements of enrichment of experience, wonder, and the future capacity for disciplining the analytical, judgmental, limiting and controlling adult obsessions…..and the capacity for and openness to the Great Story of our Deep Time unity within the Universe.

    • #17953
      Di Shearer

      Thanks, everyone for your posts. I wonder whether some would use the word ‘compassion’ – experiencing and feeling together with – to ‘trump’ ‘tolerance’. It’s true that children are usually better at accepting difference than adults who have somehow formed a concreteness that doesn’t allow entry of the other who is different. So for the original question, I have to say I’m still very much a beginner in the ways in which we use cosmic education / deep time learning to counter ‘intolerance’. I’ve noticed that adults I work with are somewhat stunned into silence on viewing the Journey of the Universe for the first time. Perhaps the Oratorio does more to engage the emotions and draw us into a compassionate understanding/appreciation of the whole. Even so, something quite analytical and technical, such as the Capra book/systems approach still leads me to ‘wonder’ – the wonder that will guide us (Swimme). How might these adults become children again, how might we loosen up that which has become hard set within us? How might our sense of wonder be nurtured as we learn our way forward. Travelling with you … and very much looking forward to further replies.

    • #17976
      Peter Piche

      “Otherness” is a real phenomenon and I’d hazard a guess that it might even be a necessary phase in the development of the person prior to its transcendence. The trouble is that for human beings, it seems, is that they remain stuck in “otherness” and being at the effect of the world. That is to say that when they experience threat or pain they externalize it in blame: “She made me so angry!” We all do this. “Otherness” rather than “oneness” is the kernel of thought that allows for such things as all the “–isms” to arise: racism, sexism, nationalism, ageism…etc. etc. Though the stories of Cosmic Education definitely plant seeds for expanded consciousness on the part of the child (and the adult) who hears them, they don’t necessarily help the child (or adult) when the amygdala has been activated. We’re at our base reactions then, and a story told once or twice in our classrooms won’t necessarily kick in to bring a child (or an adult) back to their rational thinking brain which allows for expanded consciousness around oneness in the first place. To shift these tendencies in my work with children, I use the stories of Cosmic Education to be sure–but, I also think teaching mindfulness as well as using songs specifically about oneness, singing them often and practicing a sitting meditation for a few times a day, actually creates more embodied oneness as a counter to “otherness” than the Universe story at a strategy. These simple strategies paired with an emphasis on storytelling of what we hold in common via the story of the universe, as well as direct anti-bias, anti-racist curriculum (we have generational reparations to make ) could truly create a more beautiful world in the hands of children with such tools.

    • #17979
      Jennifer Morgan

      Fascinating posts! Based on what a number of you are saying, Cosmic Education provides a context that can best cultivate compassion and understanding in an embodied way when combined with immersion in nature (Gwen), music (Sam), and experiences of mindfullness (Peter). Lisa, thanks for what you say about lower elementary and they’re readiness to be global citizens.

      Kyle, are you combining Big History with immersion in nature, music and/or mindfullness at the secondary level. Peter, do you explicitly link cosmic ed with mindfullness? Di, I know you’ve have a lot of experience with intercultural communication, do you link cosmic ed (deep time perspective) with embodied ways of knowing?

      I saw an African drumming program with elementary age children just a few days ago and it struck me so powerfully that hearing the story of the universe and having the children drum as part of the story is another fantastic way to embody the story, as dance would be as well. When I do storytelling, I like to have the students act out some part of the story. Thanks Peter for bringing up the importance of embodiment. It’s one thing to understand something intellectually, quite another for it to resonate powerfully through you body and to link those sensations to your thoughts. At Cosmic/Earth Literacy program at Genesis Farm (with Miriam MacGillis) where I first got my start in this work, the program combined intellectual exploration of the universe story with drama, artwork, meditation, music, walk in woods and gardening. I think that’s why people were so profoundly moved by the experience. Learning this work at a conference removed from sunlight and the outdoors is not the same thing. Jane Riddiford and Rod Sugden are doing amazing work with teaching the story inside gardens in the heart of inner city London. If you’re not familiar with their work do go to Rod Sugden’s profile page and look at the “resources” he’s added. Here are the page showing the resources he’s added. The two minute trailer of the Big Bang Summer School gives you a glimmer about how they do it. He and Jane gave a great PD program in the PD series.

    • #17992
      Joyce J Rouse

      My differentiation from you all is that you write to express yourselves so beautifully! My words on paper seldom match my efforts to express them. Like Sam G, (beautiful work you are doing!) I express much of my process with music. But here goes on my responses to above.

      I, too, have struggled with the word tolerance, but words are almost always inadequate to express profound, deep concepts. And each word seems to have “baggage” for somebody…I think perhaps tolerance is the first step to acceptance, compassion and more. So think of it as part of a continum.

      Last week within 24 hours I worked doing musical Cosmic Ed with Pre-K-8th grades AND a nursing home with 80 residents ages 50-105. I find that there are many similarities in the music I choose for these groups to reflect the principles of Earth Literacy and Cosmic Ed. My underlying goal is often to make and keep our world and worldviews BIG. The language of music, both folk and familiar songs from the canon of American and World music to the catalog of songs I’ve written over the years to address specific gaps in the canon, is brain food. Singing lights up more portions of the brain than any other activity according to the latest neuro research.
      When I could not find songs about biodiversity I wrote and recorded them. Like all of you, we are continuing to create and co-create what the Universe is asking for in each evolving moment.
      The bigger we keep our world, mind and information, the more we can tolerate the different/other.
      You can hear all of my music at http://www.earthmama.org
      I also recommend SongsforTeaching.com for a well cataloged selection of music resources by topic, age, and season.
      Thank you to each of you for your profound creativity and sharing your insights.

    • #18013
      Di Shearer

      Thank you, Joyce. Your work is amazing! I can see ways to share this with my Everyday Philosophy group and hope I can meet the permission requirements.

    • #18018
      Jennifer Morgan

      Thanks so much for this Joyce. The power of music is such a powerful opener as Sam’s and Joyce’s work so clearly show. Thanks again Peter for bringing up the importance of mindfullness and other modes of knowing when combined with the cosmic narrative become far more transformative. People may also be interested in knowing that Joyce and Maureen Wild are leading a retreat at Prairiewoods Franciscan Spirituality Center in June. Here’s a link to the listing in the member events calendar.


    • #18022
      Joyce J Rouse

      If anyone on this list is a Pandora user: How about creating a Pandora channel of Deep Time Music?
      We could land on the radar of folks who find the music of the Cosmic Story.

      Most of my music is playing there, but I have not gotten the hang of creating channels yet. My Earth Mama Christmas Music station got lots of play during the holidays, but it was more by accident than planning.
      Sam and others, is your music there
      Yes, please join Maureen and I in Iowa in June!

    • #18055
      Noha Tarek

      This is a wonderful post & comments…

      There are a lot to comment on, so I’ll only suffice with a few…

      I agree that the word “tolerance – Tasamohh in Arabic -” is not sufficient here. I remember a teacher of mine (can’t remember exactly when or where) explained to us in class that it’s not good to say that (as the majority of Muslims in Egypt) we’re tolerant toward the minority of Coptic Christians, because that means we just “accept” them to live with us or to adopt their different religion!!! I think “tolerance” is more applicable toward one being “tolerant” or “accepting” criticism being directed toward her/him by another person.

      In our context of discussion, like others suggested, “empathy – used in political discourse as understanding and being able to feel what another subject feels”, & even more powerful words as “compassion”, & I add “xenophilia – which I loved as soon as I encountered in the English dictionary, meaning the prefer different persons over similar persons, & have a tendency to enjoy engaging with people of different ethnicity/religions/cultures -“; would be much better in our context of discussion.

      So you all added mindfulness, meditation, spending a lot of time in nature doing things we usually do indoors, & music (that is something that has to be dealt with in the sect of Slalfi Islam – the background I come from -, as music & singing is considered forbidden, so sadly, many people where I live are denied to experience this exhilarating transformation of feelings)… I want to add, nurturing children with a revolutionary spirit & what Prof. Philip mentioned in his PD video “psychological – & I’d add socio-political – unconditioning of children & adults’ minds (it’d be more difficult with adults, of course)…

      To elaborate further with a story, & here I want to differ with a point mentioned before, that children not struggling for survival have a lower chance to be educated into compassion than children not struggling, besides differing with what’s mentioned here that “religion” – as opposed to “spirituality” in my opinion – is a factor that enhances compassion (while I think it is the biggest factor that enhances rejection of the other throughout human history, at least maybe since the onset of Abrahamic religions)…

      I think (though this is something I aim to further study & research – for PhD & later as well -) that children’s innate orientations are already originally directed toward adopting such positive attitudes as compassion & oneness, & it is actually the socialization process of being brought up by family/society/media/education that distorts or crooks this original tendency toward intolerance/ego-centrism (although “ego” is supposed to be the whole “Universe” & this differentiation into space/time/subjects may be only a temporary illusion in this life), to identify oneself as belonging to a specific group of ethnicity/nation/religion, & to build “loyalty” to the members of this group, “against” members of other groups!!!

      Of course this is a hypothesis that I still need to research & test… One of the stories that inspired me for my life’s purpose research happened to me “again” during the revolutionary events here in Egypt (which I will elaborate later on how revolutions & nurturing a revolutionary spirit is necessary for transformation).

      The revolution was perhaps the first events in decades in which Muslims & Christians took part together in a struggle side by side, even dying together, for one cause, that created deep emotional relationships between them (including myself, as my life was saved once by a Christian guy, whom without I’d be in my grave now & not posting this!!!). A guy I knew, used to be a fundamentalist Salafi, but engaging in the revolution, & making friends with Christians there, transformed him (except for patriarchal attitudes against women, which is the hardest to deal with among Arabs!). He made very close relations with a Chraistian guy called Mina Daniel, who was later murdered by the military (they crushed the tank over him & others!), & became a revolution martyr. This guy I knew suffered from severe depression & kept to his bed for about half a year after this.

      When I talked to him later, I asked him why does he feel great sorrow & depression because of Mina, although many of other friends of his were murdered too. He said “Because my other friends are Muslims, so I rest assured that they’re in Heaven now, & I will meet them again after I die. But Mina is Christian, so he’ll suffer in Hell, & I won’t get to be with him again!”… At that time, my own consciousness transformation was not complete & I didn’t yet encounter Big History, so I told him “Don’t worry, maybe he was actually a Muslim in his belief but didn’t show it, or he decided to convert to Islam right before he was killed!”…

      Later, I kept reflecting over this (when you are in a revolution, your consciousness keeps thinking, reflecting, & transforming). So, another day, there were raging protests of people, one group were protesting in support of the Muslim Brotherhood president (before the coup d’etat) Mohammad Morsi, & one against him. I decided to make a test for myself. I went to the first group of protesters & talked with a girl (around 10:12 yo) who was with her parents. I asked her “Where do you think a protester from the other group would go to if s/he gets killed?”, she answered “To Hell, because they’re against Islam & the Islamist president”. I further asked her “Where do you think a Christian who’s protesting with you would go to”, she also answered “To Hell, because he’s not Muslim”.

      Then I went to the other group of protesters, & talked with a girl about the same age, who was with her mother. I asked her “Where do you think a Christian protesting here with you would go to if s/he gets killed?”, she answered the same “To Hell, because he’s not Muslim”.

      Later this night, when I was waiting for the metro heading a home, a street child (this is an expression here we give to very poor children who spend all their time roaming the streets trivial things & begging to collect money) sat next to me offering to sell me something. It got into my head to ask him the same question, & he answered “Well, why would God send a Christian to Hell if s/he’s good?! Good people go to Heaven & bad people go to Hell!!!”, & that’s coming from a child who doesn’t go to school & doesn’t have a stable family/home (unlike both of the previous girls!)…

      Sadly, however you educate children with the Universe story & all the other things, those children still go to their “parents” at home, follow “TV & the internet”, watch “movies”, play violent “PS games”, live in a larger “society” that holds ethnic/religious prejudices, & live in yet a larger “global system” in which national/civilizational idetifications is the rule of the game!

      I agree also with what’s mentioned before, that chaotic or seemingly-bad & disturbing situations taking place is actually much beneficial, because it forces people to re-evaluate & reflect upon basic cultural/identity principles & values & creates a clear demarcation of what is truly “good” vs. “bad” as that street kid would identity innocently, which I have come to believe – as that child – to be the only identity difference that exists between humans, & I had to experience a revolution to “uncondition” my former Salafi socialization background “before” reading the Universe Story to completely transform my consciousness.

      So I would add that nurturing a revolutionary spirit in children against the status-quo of arrangements, cultural identifications, & policies with which their immediate society (& that includes Western societies as well as other societies too, because it is clear that racism, fundamentalism, & materialist realism.consumerism are spreading in the West too, besides the Middle East, Africa, & Asia – despite their non-Abrahamic religions -! (don’t know if this is in Latin America too), & the whole world is being governed with. Perhaps even taking them to participate in protests & strikes may embody this. As well as asking them to “imagine” in drawing/writing/orally narrating what a different “Universally spirited” society/world may be like, & brainstorming activities they may do together to help create this other world…

      This is only concerning compassion between humans, as for compassion between humans & other beings, that needs another story/post… 🙂

    • #18058
      Di Shearer

      Thanks, Noha. The words l love most in your post are these:
      “that children’s innate orientations are already originally directed toward adopting such positive attitudes as compassion & oneness”
      and I’m sure a Ph D on this topic is well overdue. Hopefully the door will open to you. I’ve witnessed European children growing up in an indigenous context in Malaysia and I sense the truth of this. They are often far more accepting of difference than their parents. Certainly they learn a different language more readily than we do as adults.

      I suppose the other side of the coin is that siblings in a family often squabble more easily than they share (e.g. their toys). There’s some kind of innate selfishness/self-centredness as well. We all have to learn a different way of seeing things.

      I have to confess I haven’t fully grasped the Deep Time approach, when it comes to how his affects our ‘tolerance’, our ’empathy’, our ‘compassion’. But I love what I have learned so far and hope we’ll all learn to learn in more accepting ways.

      Thanks too for the real life examples you give. It helps people like me who don’t see such division on so close, or so daily a basis as you do. Please keep contributing.

    • #18061
      Jennifer Morgan


      Though I can’t respond in a deep way right now, I wanted to say how moved I am by your posts and this conversation. Thanks Noha for your on the ground observations and I wholeheartedly second what Di said, “Please keep contributing.” Joyce, let’s talk about the Pandora channel though it may need to wait a bit since there are other project coming into manifestation right now.


    • #19290
      Orla Hazra

      Greetings all from Mumbai
      This is great information for classroom teachers fostering tolerance inside the classroom and so so hopeful. I am also interested in our teaching forms aside from schools…eg family, work and recreation. I live in India and , as the world over, the politics of separation….othering , difference etc etc are gaining momentum and becoming increasingly violent…violent against humans and violent against the larger Earth community. Are any of you familiar with how integral vision, grounded in an evolutionary universe, is being used explicitly to foster tolerance outside the classroom. Eg a programme advocating peace and justice and grounded in our integral understanding.as the backdrop in calls for action. …how is it being done and what are the outcomes……….thanks…..in peace and hope. Orla

    • #19293
      Noha Tarek

      Hi Orla,,,

      I absolutely agree with you that our cosmic integrative vision should not be limited to the boundaries of education & learning (in school/college/academia), but should also overflow to all other spheres of our lives – on all levels, individual every-day life, group activities, social & global organization…

      Taking the Journey of the Universe MOOC, & the activists’ interviews, I got the idea that so far, this Universal Vision is only available in three spheres (& even so, with yet limited affect): education/academia – economic & civil engineering enterprises – spiritual & religious organizations…

      So far, we have yet to see the universal vision overflow to two very important (& mass critical) spheres: political organization & governance – entertainment & mass media industry. Of course, there are attempts to get into these two spheres (ex., green peace parties, & cosmic evolution TV series & films), but their impacts & presence are severely limited, as short-term interests, nationalistic realist perspectives, & wealth revenues are still heading the game! 🙁

    • #19294
      Orla Hazra

      Perhaps I will just have to take the leap! For example, this weekend….our college is going to show a film “the world before her’..taking the lives of two young Indian women…one entering a Miss India pageant (supposedly to be free of the constraints of patriarchal society????) and one entering a fundamental militant Hindu ‘boot camp”. (to learn what it means to be good Hindu women)….One could say that the two characters represent extremes…which we have all over the planet at this point.

      I know that the woman who is going to be doing the reflection with the student body following the film is coming from the feminist framework…perhaps beginning to think about a ‘stewardship’ response to environmental issue……in other words, not from an integral framework. I have heard these kind of analysis before and they go nowhere…perhaps a bit of ‘tolerance’, but no compassion, and no clear understanding of the issues at hand. I plan to be in the audience to offer another framework to look at the two young women, and perhaps encourage a conversation from an integral standpoint. Its been a while since I have seen it, but when I saw it I thought it was a great film for showing two extreme styles of humanity emerging in this generation and the implications for peace and sustainability. Following the film showing, there is a gathering of a network of NGO’s who are all working on peace/justice initiatives. The department has not encouraged them to engage with the big history/cosmic story to enhance their work, deepen their vision etc etc. Perhaps now it is time. Wish there were more of us!!!
      There is a term people often use here to encourage communal harmony (again limited to the human) Vasudev Katumbakham…The world is one family. Perfect …and so it is…but only from the integral lens….interreligious panel discussions are all talking about finding common ground etc etc. We are already standing on ground…and it is common…we have forgotten that…we now have a story which show s that……etc etc.
      What I was looking for were examples of programmes, out in the community where there were these kind of discussions and projects but with a shared communal understanding of deep time.

      Will let you know how it goes!

      Perhaps Sam has a feel for the effects and responses from his music in the communities he works with?

    • #19295
      Orla Hazra

      So here is the conclusion of someone regarding fostering tolerance and compassion in the community. Its certainly an example of generosity, but is it enough to build a sustainable and flourishing Earth community?

      I wonder how to bring the concern people have into the integral framework. People just dont want to engage conceptually…its a roadblock. The person who sent this self describes as a theologian, has read my thesis etc etc…is in an interfaith marriage….but is not ‘integral’ and riddled with language of the ‘other’.
      Its something I wrestle with all the time…folks in the positions they are in who can really help to move things forward but they dont…….I guess it is maneuvering ourselves in ways to be powerful. …to be able to expose more people.

      “More gestures like this will pave the way for unity. ”


      • #19335
        Di Shearer

        HI Orla, thanks so much for this link to ‘worldbeforeher’. I have purchased the film and will watch with great interest. Also the document introducing the film and the helpful study guide/questions. I grew up in conservative contexts (Christian) in a relatively poor family. Through life experience in Malaysia among indigenous peoples and through research on things ‘intercultural’, I’ve grown not only more ‘tolerant’ but far more positively accepting of different ways of seeing the world and living my life in it. This journey into Deep Time and Big History is currently providing even greater perspective and is so personally nourishing. A friendship with Noha has developed and is one I treasure.

        So how do I counter ‘intolerance’ through this new perspective. Well, one way is with like minded folk in a University of the Third Age (for retired people and all quite voluntary). We combine spirituality and sustainability. Another is through a phone link up with three others North Americans every two weeks – a group arising from an Integral Evolutionary on-line course I enrolled in in 2009. But as for finding ways to open up meaningful conversation with those who still hold literalist ways of understanding our origins, I’m still at a loss. And even more to the point, I wonder with Noha how we are to ‘teach’, ‘bring up’ children (or learn from them as well). It’s key to our future as a global species.

        It looks as if the film will help me understand ‘terrorism’ more practically. I’m asking myself ‘what is beauty’ when held up against the beauty queen culture it portrays. The basic tenets of ‘the good, the true and the beautiful’ cover all aspects of life. I recall the saying of Teilhard de Chardin ‘union differentiates’! How do we then take the multitude of understandings of these three tenets and live/work together.

        Let’s keep the conversation going. It gets dense at times and I’ve tried copying it down to a word document to see where I want to say more – but then gave up. I’m really glad to make your acquaintance, Orla.

    • #19301
      Jennifer Morgan

      Thanks for these posts Orla and Noha!. Please do let us know what happens Orla. We’re in the final hours of Labor Day Holiday Weekend here in the US.

      I’m wondering Orla and Noha if it would be helpful to lay out the principles that undergird an integral approach. That way people could assess their decision making in all spheres in the light of such principles.

      We developed deep time principles for education, but there’s a huge need to extended and develop principles for
      the political sphere and governance as you say Noha. There are many on the Network interested applying such principles in all spheres. Maybe you could get something started. I can work with you!


    • #19304
      Di Shearer

      Just wondering Oria whether you are referring to the work of Ken Wilber when you use the word ‘integral’?

      HIs is an all embracing theory of everything – but it remains far too philosophical. He pits the individual against the collective, and the interior against the exterior – so making four quadrants, then you can consider the interior individual (personal, subjective), the exterior individual (body and things), the interior collective (culture) and the exterior collective (systems). But you have probably used the term more generally. I’ll wait to hear.

    • #19305
      Noha Tarek

      Hi everyone 🙂 I have three points to add here:

      1* If I understand your point correctly Orla, you mean to criticize people who talk about tolerance toward the other as we all share the same world, because they actually maintain the idea that there “is” an “other” rather than saying that we are actually “one” not “self vs. other”?

      If that’s what you mean, I’d like to refer to you a paper I just looked through (which I’ll add to resources here as well), talking about the prospect of Big History or Deep Time emerging a new global identity. The author presents philosophical criticisms (from the perspective of critical realism & post-structuralism) that talk about how such an identity – if could ever emerge – is very far away from becoming possible (though the author tries to give alternative solutions). One idea that allures me, is the idea that the “self” could never exist without there being an “other” or “anti” to it! That “being or existence” itself depends on the possibility of “non-being or non-existence”.

      The paper is: “Is a Global Identity Possible? The Relevance of Big History to Self-Other Relations”, by Heikki Patomaki, 2007 – you can find it on google.

      I’m still pondering this idea, & it amazes me that throughout the Universe evolution, you may find that indeed, everything exists with its anti (self/other) – matter & anti-matter; energy & dark energy; male & female; survival & sacrifice; love & fear… etc. I wonder if perhaps, the whole cosmic process is about “self” unconditioning or freeing itself from the “other”, & the ultimate end is when the “self” completely frees itself, & there’s no longer an “other”! That is unity/integrity becomes absolute.

      One such way to reach this, is when humans realize, as you say, that our unity is existential, it’s not just that we share a common place, but rather, that the whole Universe is essentially integrated into one common origin that exploded into the Big Bang, hence, we have to uncondition ourselves from “needing” to perceive that there is an “other” – whether this self-proclaimed other is another human of a different race/religion, or a plant, or a rock, anything…

      2* I just read this part from “The Future of Global Civilization: Commentary of Big Historians” for Ekaterina Sazhienko, 2014, & immediately remembered our conversation – the article is a content analysis of a number of journal articles & interviews, in order to see what Big Historians forecast for our future:

      “Modern society faces many challenges that threaten its development & human survival in general & that can reduce living standards, deepen political tension & environmental degradation, as well as increase the number of social conflicts. The content analysis indicates that sociocultural issues are more frequently discussed than many others. In our opinion this proves that they are of utmost importance, especially the ones related to religious contradictions of the global civilization. The religious factor can cause serious problems, such as terrorism, wars, ethnic, & confessional conflicts. One can argue that we are dealing with a collision not just between two world religions, but between traditional Islam & Capitalism, between the Eastern & Western civilizations that are based on different values & life goals.

      The articles under study pay little attention to environmental & socio-economic issues. Probably, the reason is that people have already gained positive experience in solving the problems associated with various restorative measures for environmental management & protection, as well as humanitarian relief to the poorest of the developing countries.”

      So, we “have” developed tremendously in environmental management, economic enterprises, & technology… what we have “yet” to develop an integrative universal through is culture, spirituality, politics! In fact, I’d boldly add, that “because of” our falling so much behind in our cultural-spiritual-political awareness, even our developments achieved in the spheres of economics, technology, humanitarian relief, health, etc. are not reaching their utmost potential because of the cultural values & conflicts that the people’s minds are stuck in!!!

      3* A recent relevant instance that’s taking place right now… is that while Muslims are formally (though not informally!) celebrating Eid AlAdha these days, pictures & news have went viral all over Muslim channels, social networks, & media about the unbelievably horrifying massacres committed by the Buddhist majority against the Muslim Rohingya minority (I’ve recently seen photos of murdered babies, tortured children, & women having their breasts & heads cut off their bodies with knives!!!).

      Needless to mention, comments expressed by Muslims designating as the Muslim self against the infidel other (that is all non-Muslims) are sparked everywhere. But whose fault is this? Indeed, education, socialization/upbrining, & the thought system or concept of “religion” itself is a factor in creating this self/other conflict. But when as a human, who doesn’t believe or is indifferent toward religion, views the international system & major international actors (who belong to a cultural background of both Christianity & Secularism/Atheisma/Realism) acting only to save prejudiced Christian/Jew minorities (ex., East Timor/Indonesia) or minorities where their place intersects with geo-political-economic power interests (ex., Kosovans, Yazidis in Iraq), but give a blind eye to Muslim minorities of places with no such interests (ex., Chechnyans, Uighurs), & more so, designate Muslims who commit relevant massacres as savage “Islamic terrorism”, but don’t designate similar massacres committed by Christians (ex., American invasion of Iraq), Jews (in Palestine), Buddhists (in Myanmar), Confucians (against Uighurs), etc. as savage Christian-Jewsish-Buddhist-Confucian terrorism, given equal attention in world media with Islamic terrorism (which is in my opinion all gibberish anyway, because a person commits crimes for different psychological-social-economic-political reasons irrespective of his religion!)… when all this happens, it is no wonder that the complex problem of self-other perception & animosity increases & spreads among Muslims all over the world, as they perceive the other/world as attacking/prejudicing their self… & the civilizational conflict perpetuates!

      I’m sorry to write all this long post, but I had to ramble a bit 🙂

      • #19311
        Orla Hazra

        Hello Noha and Di

        When I am using the term integral in my mind……..it is what the name of the experience/sense of unity is called. (you can see the search of that sense in my PhD in the resource section. Its also in other documents I have on DTJ.
        I am somewhat familiar with the work of Ken Wilbur but he has not shaped my thought process. Integral systems thinkers (in my intro section) have shaped me (those we think of as scientists now) particular poets, and mystics from various traditions through the years. Integral is kind of a buzz word now in the community I am associated with professionaly (Jesuit) eg Laudato Si …Integral Ecology….In order to try and make any inroads, make sense to people, I need to use terms they are using…..and then to deepen and broaden them if possible.

        Noha I am giving you the link for the PDF film discussion guide of the film, The World Before Her.

        I love the film as an entry point of discussing our issues,of fundamentalism, culture lite etc etc, but have not had the opportunity to do so. You can see, from the PDF that the questions are obviously anthropocentric. Its so sad……..nothing will change if a discussion following the film flows along these lines. However we could work on developing questions more ‘integral’ in quality. The women are ideologically tied to descriptions we have made culturally down through time…to such an extent that we have no tie with aspects of bodily experience (integral) Earth, Universe.fundamental Mystery. (as process)
        Our faith traditions emerged in bioregions to explain Mystery/existence…communal systems of harmony and balance with human/nonhuman…..but we are far from that now. The Mystery, told in the language of science ,offers humanity a solid place to stand…..and even watch as the faith traditions emerged, and what is necessary now …as we engage the fourfold wisdom conversation science, religion, women and indigenous peoples.

    • #19317
      Noha Tarek

      Thank you for sharing with us the film discussion, I will certainly watch the film, read the discussion, & re-discuss it with you 🙂

      I understand now better your point of criticism toward the presenters. You mean not integral between human & non-human. I absolutely agree with you about that…

      In the paper that I shared, Heikki Patomaki talks about Tzvetan Todorov’s three axes of ego(self)/other relations. One is epistemological (what we know of the other), the other axiological, & the third is praxiological (rapprochement or distancing oneself from the other in one’s actions).

      In the 2nd axiological axis, that’s about value judgments one gives about the other. Tzvetan doesn’t only limit this to self judging the other as “good” or “bad”. But more importantly:

      “Even more drastically than empirical descriptions, a judgement on the ontological status, particularly if conceived in terms of the “Great Chain of Being”, has axiological consequences. Thus, morally & politically it is critical whether the other is judged to be an equal or a “lower” being. Modern progressive time – & the idea of stages of development – has often defined the status of self (advanced) & others (inferior). This is ethico-politically as consequential as a set of standards based for instance on imperial or religious civilization”

      This is what we’re doing with non-humans… I wonder when we’ll free ourselves from this perception of hierarchic superiority/inferiority of beings, just as in the past people have freed themselves (or at least most, since it seems that there are still neo-Nazis / white supremacists!) from perceiving different human races/religions in such a similar hierarchy of “progression/advancement”!

    • #19318
      Di Shearer

      One is epistemological (what we know of the other),
      the other axiological
      (study of value, ethics/aesthetics), &
      the third is praxiological (rapprochement or distancing oneself from the other in one’s actions).

      I found this sentence in your text very helpful, Noha – adding a brief sense of what axiological means.

      To translate this into daily life terms, I’d say I know your name, your location, your face, some of your views, for instance – the epistemological. I value your quest for ways we might bring children up and ways in which we might live together differently (axiological). Then there’s the praxiological – praxis (action). I hang in with our exchanges because I want my actions to be modified, transformed … through these exchanges. I’m never deliberately ‘distancing’ myself from you, but in that our exchanges can’t fully embrace the whole of us – perhaps I do.

      There is a lot in this conversation that I’ve yet to take in, but these are my morning thoughts.

    • #19319
      Orla Hazra

      thank you Di and Noha for your reflections and i deeply appreciate the three points of intersection…..it will help me to distinguish and be able to respond when and if a torrent of sentences come my way in the future.

      I always think of epistemology as two sides of the same coin….understanding and praxis..the understanding being the kind of fuel and framework embeded as the praxis flows. Now, I am visualizing the point of intersection where understanding and praxis intersect …the axis being a kind of allurement. Two days back a very prominant journalist was assasinated while she was leaving her home. she had been consistently critical of the ‘right wing fundamental ‘ streams.
      protests have emerged yesterday in various cities.
      As this news spreads, its very consoling to have our imaginative ways of figuring out how to stay grounded and hopeful! thanks!!!

    • #19367
      Noha Tarek

      Hi everyone 🙂

      I’m truly honored Di that you find our friendship valuable in both our lives ♥ And by the way, I also have the same problem of trying to write down every specific point I want to discuss & mention, but then I gave up too, because I found that this will make me write very long long long posts, so now I keep up with just short & few comments – as much as I can :-p

      I agree with both of you that countering intolerance is a need that is accelerating every day, with the horrible events that we are happening. But I think this is a health recovery sign of humanity finally finding its emancipative end-purpose. As communication links between humans across the globe have intensified & spread, our differences are exposed more & more to each – so we’re finally coming boldly to face our decision as to how we should live our imminent state of a “global village”…

      I was actually confused when reading Heikki’s account of Tzvetan’s praxiological axis, because he only talked about two options, whether the self is distancing itself (is indifferent) toward the other, or the self has rapprochement with the other – but doesn’t mention the option of the self approaching the other with conflict. But indeed, as Heikki says, this rapprochement would be co-constitutive; each identity/self would transform the other… I look at it also from the perspective of Hegel’s dialectical relationship that progresses history forward (a thesis interacting with an antithesis to co-produce/transform into a synthesis)… An identity of a being is not a constant thing (perhaps our bodies are constant for a certain period of time, but our minds/identities/consciousness are certainly not), my identity is an endless cycle of transformation with other identities I encounter with, every moment that passes, each of our identities co-transform with each other as we exchange words, ideas, experiences, even simple gestures, in endless overlapping circles of interaction –> transformation… for ex., when I touch a cat & pat her/him, both of our identities co-transform – of course, the level of identity transformation is different with the difference in our levels of consciousness (though, not to say that “I” have a “higher” consciousness & the “cat” has a “lower” consciousness, ’cause we don’t want to fall into the axiological self/other conflict of some being being “higher” than the other; but rather just to say that we have different holarchic levels)… how is that: when I pat the cat, my emotion of affection for the weaker/smaller, of “care”, is intensified & emphasized, & my awareness of another being’s possible actions & reactions increases. While on the part of the cat, as I show affection to her, her awareness of the action of “care” practiced by another being increases, & her intimacy with other beings increases as well, & hence, my own affectionate action increases with her responding reaction… & so we both c-transform with one act of patting…

      And I think perhaps this is how history progresses, in a constant overlapping transformations of beings/identities… the question is whether these synthetic transformations will bring about a harmonious unity in the end of history, or conflicting interactions will conquer & destroy?!!

    • #178937
      Britt Hawthorne

      I’m here and listening. I am enjoying this conversation and will add my thoughts soon, I am still processing the big question.

    • #178940
      Jennifer Morgan

      Terrific Britt!!

      By way of introduction to everyone else in this conversation, Britt is collaborating with a number of other Montessori teachers and they are doing fantastic anti-bias work. Very powerful. Going deeper. Britt, can you share more information about the conference that’s coming up in June? Thanks so much for what you’re doing.

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