The Edge - Summer 2013

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Calling All Evolutionary Leaders


June Gathering Brings Evolutionary Leaders Together with UN Officials and Public

Twenty-nine members of the Evolutionary Leaders circle came together in New York City this June to address the topic of "Humanity at the Tipping Point: Evolutionary Responses to Global Challenges."ELs in Front of United Nations

Their deliberations were held in the context of understanding that the human race is in a time that can be called "The Great Transition."

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon noted recently that, "Throughout the ages, people have said that the world is in the midst of big change. But the level and degree of global change that we face today is far more profound than at any other period in my adult lifetime. I call this period the Great Transition.” The Secretary-General noted, “I believe we face a unique opportunity. Because the changes we face are so profound – the decisions we make will have a deeper and more lasting impact than perhaps any other set of decisions in recent decades,” he said. “We have no time to lose.”

At this Great Transition moment, humanity is being called to step into new ways of living that take into account the interconnected nature of our world, across all apparent divisions. The Evolutionary Leaders were drawn to the United Nations as hub of global consciousness that has been pushing the envelope of human process towards a just, sustainable and peaceful world for more than 70 years.

ELs in UN Dialogue

The Evolutionary Leaders met in deep dialogue with UN officials in such important fields as conflict resolution, communications, human development, protection of the environment and women's empowerment. Their sharing revealed both the frustrations of day-to-day operations within a large institution and also the great opportunities to make a difference across the widely diverse cultures of 193 member states.

The meeting was facilitated by Mark Gerzon and Deborah Moldow. After Deborah welcomed everyone and set the theme of the Great Transition, Diane Williams gave a brief overview of the purpose of the Evolutionary Leaders circle. She explained that we are united by a shared commitment to strategically engage our collective potential and address Humanity the Tipping Point through evolutionary responses that lead to a transformational paradigm shift in thinking, in processes, in systems, and/or in cultures.

Mark Gerzon explained that we came to the UN to listen deeply to our colleagues there, to serve as creative thinking partners, to form relationships and to offer support. Everyone had the opportunity to introduce him/herself around the table, bringing to light the Evolutionary Leaders’ extensive professional experience in social and human development, conflict mediation, scientific inquiry and citizen action.

Deborah then led two minutes of silence for everyone to contemplate the question, “Where do you see the Great Transition in your work and what might be the greatest opportunities for significant or evolutionary change?” Margo King led the group into silence with a gentle bell. The UN guests were invited to speak first, to give the Evolutionary Leaders some insight into their world and the issues they confront daily.

Mark Gerzon, Gay Rosenblum-Kumar, Chetan Kumar

Gay Rosenblum-Kumar, who heads the UN Inter-Agency Framework Team on Preventive Action, spoke about the need for new models of communication to get people in conflict talking to one another across cultural and political divides that make people think and behave differently. She discussed such pressing UN issues as the Millennium Development Goals and reform of the Security Council, as well as leadership and organizational development within the UN structure. She welcomes input from outside the UN, to help the UN to be more effective in its urgent work to end hunger and war.

Chetan Kumar, who works for the UN Development Programme (UNDP) in the areas of resilience and developing national peace infrastructures, also warmly welcomed the support and insights of the Evolutionary Leaders. He pondered how we can build the collaborative capacity for people to deal with crisis, identifying the change-makers and empowering them within their communities. Mr. Kumar expressed the need for sustainable human development – including greater empowerment of women and youth.

Azza Karam, Senior Advisor on Culture for the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), echoed this theme as she addressed the three areas of her greatest concern: culture, gender and human rights. She said the UN, whose own culture is government-oriented must respect its donor countries, which tend to stress certain issues over others. For instance, religion is a key aspect of the culture of many people, even many countries, and can no longer be excluded from the conversation.

Ramu Damodaran, who serves as Deputy Director for Partnerships and Public Engagement in the Outreach Division of the UN Department of Public Information (DPI), spoke eloquently about the growing need for the people to lead. He told a touching story about Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stopping a motorcade because he forgot to turn the bedroom light off. This example of humble leadership and individual action is key to the future. He noted that the UN addresses crises every day, and is seen as slow in some areas and agile in others. As democracy becomes more and more common across the world, how do we translate evolution into change?

The Evolutionary Leaders gained a deep understanding from their UN guests about what it is like to attempt to effect positive change on a day-to-day basis within a large institution. Their responses were rich and varied as the ELs themselves. Jean Houston stressed the importance of culture, both in the positive influences of song, food, and religion, as well as the darker mythic structures that can be found. Chetan Kumar agreed, noticing where cultures in conflict were “recycling old behavior patterns.” Don Beck talked about Spiral Dynamics as a tool for measuring culture to test the openness of the system. This was successful in South Africa, where a program was developed to move beyond divisions of race, ethnicity, and class. Elza Maalouf touched on the issue of resistance within cultures. Stephen Dinan suggested a regular inter-cultural program at the UN, offering a weaving of practices, mythic exchanges, dance, etc. to affect consciousness on a subtle level. Deborah mentioned the “culture of peace” as a UN contribution to languaging the present transformation of human consciousness.

Bruce Lipton talked about the importance of what is taught to children in the first seven years when you can educate their conscious minds. Nina Meyerhof discussed triggering the memory of young people that they were born with a purpose and mission. Shilpa Jain suggested that the youth voice was not being heard, and that an innovative format like the YES “jams” would bring a fresh energy as well as perspective. Azza Karam mentioned the United Nations Inter-Agency Network on Youth Development that coordinated the activities of the UN system for the International Year of Youth, as an example of the promising efforts to unite the work of various agencies and departments. Rod McGrew spoke of the Young Global Leaders Network at the World Economic Forum to teach 250,000 kids the principles of dignity. Gordon Dveirin stressed the need for education that balances the social, emotional, and spiritual learning that is vital to full human development and a future that reflects our best human selves.

Katherine Woodward Thomas appreciated the sense that life is wanting something to emerge from the complexities, and pointed out that, “Art is the language of the soul.” She told how the network of women she and Claire Zammit developed learned to come into their power through a process of co-creation – with as many as 100,000 women joining empowerment calls.

The Evolutionary Leaders had provocative questions as well. Ocean Robbins asked what would happen if we shifted our focus from influencing the elite to the real people in the emergent world. What possibilities would this have on the planet? Daniel Stone asked how to set up the conditions to have the right kind of conversations in a culture that tends toward set speeches. John Steiner asked about the role of philanthropy. David Gershon offered the view that the mega-trend of the next 30 years is empowerment. How do you empower people to create vision? How do we change behavior? What kind of methodology of empowerment and behavioral change would help the UN where it is underperforming? Who are the potential champions?

The UN guests offered their gratitude to the Evolutionary Leaders for an engaging conversation that opened many intriguing possibilities for future collaboration and support. Moving on to share a lovely luncheon together in the UN Delegates Dining Room, they were joined by Khalid Malik of UNDP, who heads the publication of the annual Human Development Report, which he made available to the Evolutionary Leaders. He was delighted to meet the group and declared his commitment working together in whatever ways would help to balance the economy, society and environment – regionally and globally – to improve the lives of people living in the developing world.

The Evolutionary Leaders had an in-depth experience of the inner workings of the United Nations. Follow-up will include a regular UN Corner in The Edge, the newsletter of the Evolutionary Leaders circle, and plans for future Evolutionary Round Tables where Evolutionary Leaders can meet with UN staff members to exchange ideas and visions through dialogue. The goal will be to help anchor a new consciousness within the UN system that can ripple out across the globe as the UN continues to lead the edge of human development and unify human consciousness in this time of Great Transition.

dividerNautilus Silver Award

Four Evolutionary Leaders Win Nautilus Silver Awards
The 2013 Nautilus Awards Silver winners included four authors from among the Evolutionary Leaders circle and five books! Recipients of this recognition were Michael Bernard Beckwith, Deepak Chopra, Jean Houston, and James O’Dea.
Transcendance Expanding     Life Visioning

The Nautilus Awards showcases "Better Books for a Better World." Now in its 13th year, this unique book award program seeks, honors, awards and promotes print books that inspire and connect our lives as individuals, communities and global citizens.
Super Brain    The Wizard of Us   Cultivating Peace

The Nautilus Awards honor well-written and well-produced books with messages about caring for, understanding, and improving every aspect of our lives and relationships.

Congratulations to our inspiring, prize-winning authors!



Great March for Climate Action

1,000 "climate patriots" will march across the United States for eight months — leaving Santa Monica, California on March 1st and arriving in Washington DC on November 1st, just prior to the mid-term elections. It will be the largest coast-to-coast march in American history.

Its main purpose is to raise media attention and collective awareness of the urgent need for systemic action on climate change — both to support the President's climate agenda (outlined on June 25) and to prophetically call for bolder action still, such as putting a fair price on carbon pollution.

Michael Dowd
Evolutionary Leader Rev. Michael Dowd and his wife, Connie, were so moved by
this vision that they decided within hours of learning about it to reschedule all of 2014 so they can join the effort by preaching church-to-church, city-to-city, along the entire route, from CA to DC, beginning in southern California in February and finishing up in Maryland in November.

To learn more about it, you can start with these two links:

The first – and easiest! – thing you can do to support the March is to let your respective friends know about it and encourage folks to "Like" the Facebook page:
Second Conference of World Cultural Forum in China Hosts Four Evolutionary Leaders

THEME: Strengthen International Cooperation to Build an Ecological Civilization

Ervin Laszlo in China 2013Prof. Ervin Laszlo delivered a keynote speech at the 2nd Conference of the World Cultural Forum on May 18 in Hangzhou, China. According to Forbes Magazine, Dr. Laszlo warned that humanity could become the “first self-endangered species. [But] humanity can evolve and mutate culturally. The nature of crisis is also an opportunity.…”

Fellow Evolutionary Leaders Barbara Marx Hubbard, Stephen Dinan and Jean Houston also presented papers at the conference. Duane Elgin was invited to attend but was refused a visa.

Read Stephen Dinan's speech HERE.
Download Duane Elgin's speech

According to Forbes, “this was a conference focused upon getting the job done; human survival; spiritual freedom; core values of sustainability that transcend greed and economic disparities; that overcome weapons of ecological mass destruction and extinction, redeem biological integrity for all sentient beings, redress what has gone wrong, re-wild our hearts, re-attune our compasses, achieve the achievable, live and let live before it is too late.”

Inspiration Corner: "Let Your Dream Awaken You," by Rev. Dr. Michael Bernard Beckwith at TEDxMaui 2013

Michael Bernard Beckwith, Evolutionary Leader, founder and spiritual director of the Agape University of Transformational Studies and Leadership, and founder of the Agape University of Transformational Studies and Leaders in Los Angeles, took part in TEDxMaui 2013, held on January 13, 2013 at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center.  Rev. Michael was invited to be the final speaker on the theme for the day, The Dream is Real. 
Michael Beckwith TEDxMaui 2013

Watch his exciting, uplifting talk, entitled “Let Your Dream Awaken You,” accompanied by the inspiring music of his wife, Rickie Byars Beckwith.


At the United Nations

Education First / Education for Peace

The Evolutionary Leaders circle invites you to support the United Nations in reaching toward its highest ideals – not only to fulfill its Charter's mandate "to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war," but also to achieve through dialogue a worldwide culture of respect, sustainability and peace.

Malala Day at UN

Last September, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced his Global Education First Initiative "to put every child in school, improve the quality of learning, and foster global citizenship." He invited Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani schoolgirl who was shot by the Taliban last October for attending classes, to address hundreds of young people at the United Nations on July 12th, her 16th birthday.  She inspired everyone with her speech urging them to use education as a weapon against extremism.  WATCH HERE!

You can add your voice to this campaign by observing the 2013 UN International Day of Peace on September 21st. This year's theme is "Education for Peace."  Find out how you can get involved at
UN International Day of Peace

Elisabet Sahtouris on Voice America Live Internet Talk Radio August 12
Communion: Nature’s Wisdom Speaks

Our Sacred Journey

Audrey E. Kitagawa will interview Evolutionary Leader Elisabet Sahtouris on her popular Internet talk radio show, Our Sacred Journey, on Wednesday, August 12th at 3:00 pm Pacific/6:00 pm Eastern time.

Elisabet SahtourisDr. Elisabet Sahtouris sees our current crises as propelling us into evolutionary maturation from competition to cooperation. Countless species before us have made this leap. Our own bodies are evidence of amazing cooperation; now our global society must follow suit if we are to survive, even thrive into a very different future. We survived a dozen Ice Ages and can manage a Hot Age despite rising sea levels and other disasters for which we are currently not well prepared. Dr. Sahtouris shares what we can learn from nature, including the difference between communication by languages, which has made us see each other as separate, and communion, which is the direct transmission of information including thoughts, feelings, and perceptions. If we reclaim our ability to be in communion, deeply tuned into our planet and each other, our crises can help us to evolve Global Family in peace and amazing creativity.

Tune in on August 12th or catch the archive later!

Join UN Video Presentations by Evolutionary Leaders

View Live "Great Transition" Talks by Jean Houston, Ocean Robbins, Duane Elgin, Lynnaea Lumbard, Jeff Vander Clute, Bruce Lipton, Mark Gerzon, Elza Maalouf, and Terry Patten!

On June 4, Evolutionary Leaders offered “TED-style” presentations to the UN diplomatic and NGO community at the Permanent Mission of Nigeria, in a program organized in honor of World Environment Day by the Source of Synergy Foundation and the NGO Committee on Spirituality, Values & Global Concerns-NY.

Ambassador Sarki and Diane Williams

The program was entitled "The Great Transition," expressing the theme of the Evolutionary Leaders retreat exploring Humanity at the Tipping Point: Evolutionary Responses to Global Challenges.

Jean Houston Trim Tab Talk

Many of these inspiring presentations were recorded by Alan Steinfeld of New Realities Television. Each talk offered a fascinating window on an aspect of our evolving consciousness in the unique style of its passionate presenter.

All of these videos are available for viewing - and more!

Jean Houston
The Trim Tab Effect and the Evolution of Communities

Ocean Robbins
The Food Revolution

Ocean Robbins

Duane Elgin, Lynnaea Lumbard and Jeff Vander Clute
New Transition Stories

Lynnaea Lumbard, Duane Elgin, Jeff Vander Clute

Bruce Lipton
Evolution Beyond Darwin

Mark Gerzon
The Evolution of Leadership

Mark Gerzon-Evolution of Leadershp

Elza S. Maalouf
The Post Revolution Middle East

Terry Patten
You Must Change Your Life

Read More and WATCH VIDEOS


Have You Seen "The Light"?
The Light: A Book of Wisdom

The Light
The Light is a Book of Wisdom bringing some of the world's leading luminaries together in an act of service to humanity. Twenty-two shining contributors – including Evolutionary Leaders and best-selling authors Neale Donald Walsch and Barbara Marx Hubbard, offered their chapters with the goal of raising one million dollars for the seven chosen charities, including the Conversations with God Foundation.
Neale Donald Walsch  Barbara Marx Hubbard

The Light takes the reader on a sacred journey to the place where the ancient mystery of the Inner Light is revealed.

Covering topics from co-creating a peaceful world, forgiveness, healing, and finding purpose and happiness, to chapters about health and well-being, The Light also has practical exercises that guide, readers to achieve their greatest potential.

The Light radiates a larger message that we are all One and that by engaging in selfless service and working in unison we can achieve greatness, not only for ourselves but also for the world.

Turn on The Light!


Featured Quote

Super Brain
“To create a golden age for your brain, you need tDeepak Choprao use the gift nature has given you in a new way. It’s not the number of neurons or some magic inside your gray matter that makes life more vital, inspiring, and successful. Genes play their part, but your genes, like the rest of the brain, are also dynamic. Every day you step into the invisible firestorm of electrical and chemical activity that is the brain’s environment. You act as leader, inventor, teacher, and use of your brain, all at once.”

Link to inspiring quotes from Evolutionary Leaders HERE.


Salon Honors Emily Squires

The Evolutionary Leaders gathered in New York came together for a special evening honoring the late Emily Squires on June 3rd. There were touching tributes from her husband, Len Belzer, and friends, as well as an opportunity for the public to meet the Evolutionary Leaders as a fundraiser for the Source of Synergy Foundation.

Emily Squires with Husband Len Belzer

Emily Squires with Husband Len Belzer

The private benefit salon, hosted by Payne Middleton, was held at the historic Cosmopolitan Club in Manhattan, where Jean Houston recalled meeting Helen Keller as a child. Other Evolutionary Leaders who spoke were Duane Elgin, Bruce Lipton, Katherine Woodward Thomas, Gerard Senehi, Rod McGrew, and Diane Williams, co-director of the Evolutionary Leaders and founder of the Source of Synergy Foundation. A fund is being established to continue the salons in Emily's name.

Cool City Challenge Wins NASA/Sustainable Silicon Valley Award
David Gershon
Evolutionary Leader David Gershon is leading a climate change initiative called the Cool City Challenge. This outstanding program recently won the NASA/Sustainable Silicon Valley global competition as the “most outstanding solution in addressing human impact on the planet's sustainability.” Selection was based on the following criteria. "The project must be game-changing, implementable and scalable; be bold, visionary and tangible, focusing on a well-defined need of critical importance; be a part of an integrated strategy dealing with key social, economic, environmental, policy and cultural issues; exhibit clarity of solution design; be regionally specific yet globally applicable, and backed up by a solid plan and the capability to move the solution forward."

Cool City Challenge Video

Visit or watch this 9-minute video to learn how the Cool City Challenge can reduce our carbon footprint by building community.


Miserable & Magical: A Graduation Speech for Paradoxical Times

Nipun SpeaksA Graduation Speech by Nipun Mehta at the Harker School in Silicon Valley

May 27, 2013

[When the student body of an elite private school in Silicon Valley was given the chance to vote on who would give their graduation address this year, they chose a man named Nipun Mehta. An unexpected choice for these teenagers, who belong to what Time magazine called the "Me Me Me Generation." Nipun's journey is the antithesis of self-serving. More than a decade ago, he walked away from a lucrative career in high-tech, to explore the connection between inner change and external impact. ServiceSpace, the nonprofit he founded, has now drawn over 450,000 members across the globe. In this electrifying address that garnered a standing ovation, he calls out the paradoxical crisis of disconnection in our hyper-connected world -- and offers up three powerful keys that hold the antidote.]

Thank you Jennifer Gargano, Chris Nikoloff and the entire faculty at Harker. To you, the class of 2013, congratulations! I’m delighted to be with you on your special day, and it is a particular honor since I know you chose your speaker.

So, graduation day is here and this once-in-a-lifetime milestone moment has arrived. In the words of Taylor Swift, I can tell how you’re feeling: "happy, free, confused, and lonely, miserable and magical at the same time." Who would’ve thought we’d be quoting words of wisdom from Taylor Swift at your commencement. :)

Today, I’m here with some good news and bad news. I’ll give you the good first.

You might be surprised to hear this, but you are about to step out into a world that’s in good shape -- in fact the best shape that that it’s ever been in. The average person has never been better fed than today.  Infant mortality has never been lower; on average we’re leading longer, healthier lives. Child labor, illiteracy and unsafe water have ceased to be global norms.

Democracy is in, as slavery is disappearing. People don’t have to work as hard to just survive. A bicycle in 1895 used to cost 260 working hours, today we’ve gotten that number down to 7.2.

So, things are progressing. But I’m afraid that’s not the full story. You’ll want to brace yourselves, because this is the bad news part.

Time magazine coverThis week, Time Magazine’s cover story labeled you guys as the "Me, Me, Me" generation; the week before, NY Times reported that the suicide rate for Gen X went up by 30% in the last decade, and 50% for the boomer generation. We’ve just learned that atmospheric carbon levels surpassed 400 PPM for the first time in human history. Our honeybee colonies are collapsing, thereby threatening the future of our food supply. And all this is just the tip of the iceberg.

What we’re handing over to you is a world full of inspiring realities coupled with incredibly daunting ones. In other words: miserable and magical isn't just a pop-song lyric -- it's the paradox that you are inheriting from us.

So, what do you do with that? I’m going to be honest -- I don’t really know. :) I do know this, though:  

At the core of all of today's most pressing challenges is one fundamental issue: we have become profoundly disconnected.

Rather ironic, considering that we live in an era where Facebook has spawned 150 billion "connections", as we collectively shell out 4.5 billion likes on status updates, every single day. Yet, a growing body of science is showing what we already feel deep in our gut: we’re more isolated than ever before. The average American adult reports having just one real friend that they can count on. Just one. And for the first time in 30 years, mental health disabilities such as ADHD outrank physical ones among American children.  

Somehow we’ve allowed our relationship to gadgets and things to overtake our real-world ties.

We’ve forgotten how to rescue each other. 

Yet, deep inside we all still have that capacity. We know we have it because we saw it at Sandy Hook, in the brave teachers who gave up their lives to save their students. We saw it during the Boston Marathon when runners completed the race and kept running to the nearest blood bank. We saw it just this week in Oklahoma when a waiter at a fast food chain decided to donate all his tips to the tornado relief efforts and triggered a chain of generosity.

So we know that we can tap into our inner goodness when crisis strikes. But can we do it on a run-of-the-mill Monday?

That’s the question in front of you. Will you, class of 2013 step up to rebuild a culture of trust, empathy and compassion? Our crisis of disconnection needs a renaissance of authentic friendship. We need you to upgrade us from Me-Me-Me to We-We-We.

Reflecting on my own journey, there have been three keys that helped me return to a place of connection. I’d like to share those with you today, in the hope that perhaps it might support your journey.

The First Key Is To Give 

In the movie Wall Street -- which originally came out well before you guys were born -- there’s a character named Gordon Gekko whose credo in life reads: Greed is good.  When I was about your age, Silicon Valley was in the seductive grip of the dot-com boom. It was a time when it was easy to believe that Greed was Good. But a small group of us had a different hypothesis:

*Maybe* greed is good, but Generosity is better.

We tested that hypothesis. When I started ServiceSpace, our first project was to build websites for nonprofits at no charge. We ended up building and gifting away thousands of sites, but that wasn’t our main goal. Our real purpose was to practice generosity.

In the early days, the media was pretty sure we had a hidden agenda. "We're doing this just to practice giving with no strings attached," we said. The few who actually believed us didn’t think we could sustain it. The thing is -- we did. A decade later, when our work started attracting millions of viewers, entrepreneurs told us that we'd be crazy to not slap on ads or try to monetize our services. The thing is -- we didn't. We probably *were* a bit crazy. And when we started Karma Kitchen, people really thought "No way!"  It was a restaurant where your check always read zero, with this note: "Your meal is paid for by someone before you, and now it’s your chance to pay it forward."  The thing is -- 25 thousand meals later, the chain continues in several cities around the globe.  

People consistently underestimate generosity, but human beings are simply wired to give.

In one study at Harvard, scientists surprised a couple hundred volunteers with an unexpected monetary reward and gave them the choice of keeping it or giving it away. The only catch was that they had to make the decision spontaneously. Lo and behold, the majority chose --- to give away the money! Greed, it turns out, is a calculated after thought. Our natural instinct is, and always has been -- to give.

When you take Econ 101 in college, you will learn that all of economics is rooted in the assumption that people aim to maximize self-interest. I hope you don’t just take that for granted.  I hope you challenge it. Consider the likes of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. and Mother Teresa who have rocked the history of our planet with the exact opposite assumption, with the belief in the goodness of our human nature.

Or consider Ruby Bridges.

Six-year-old Ruby was the first African American girl to go to an all-white school on Nov 14, 1960. All the teachers refused to teach her, except for one Mrs. Henry. Ruby received constant death threats and on the way to class every day, people would line up to shout and throw things. Mrs. Henry instructed Ruby to not speak to anyone, as she crossed the jeering crowds every day. But one day, she saw Ruby saying something, so she said, "Ruby, I told you not to speak to anyone." "No, Mrs. Henry, I didn’t say anything to them."  "Ruby, I saw you talking. I saw your lips moving." "Oh, I was just praying. I was praying for them," Ruby responded. Then she recited her prayer, and I quote "Please, God, try to forgive these people. Because even if they say those bad things, they don’t know what they’re doing."

A six year old! Wishing well for those who were wishing her harm. How generous is that? And what does it say about the power of the human heart?

Our capacity to love is a currency that never runs out.  

May each of you tap into that generous ocean and discover every day, what it means to give.

The Second Key Is To Receive

When we give, we think we are helping others. That's true, but we are also helping ourselves. With any act of unconditional service, no matter how small, our bio-chemistry changes, our mind quiets, and we feel a sense of gratefulness. This inner transformation fundamentally shifts the direction of our lives.

A couple summers ago, we had two 14-year-olds, Neil and Dillan, interning at ServiceSpace. One of their projects was a 30 day kindness challenge -- they had to come up with and do a different act of kindness every day for a month. In the beginning they had to plan "kindness activities", but slowly they learned how to spontaneously turn their daily life into a canvas for giving. Doing the dishes for mom without her asking, stopping to help a stranger with a flat tire, standing up for a bullied kid, gifting all their winnings at the arcade to a child.

Very quickly, kindness shifted from being an activity -- to a way of life.  

It wasn't just about who they were helping, it was about who they themselves were becoming through the process. Last weekend, I happened to see Neil after a while, the day after Senior Prom and he had a story to share, "Last night I noticed that the dance floor was too small and a few of the special needs students just couldn't get on. So I grabbed a bunch of my friends, and we started dancing in a little circle around them. Everyone had a great time." Then, he paused for a reflective moment, and asked me, "But I felt so good about doing that. Do you think I was being selfish?"

What a profound question. What Neil experienced was the fact that when we give, we receive many times over.

Or as the Dalai Lama once put it, "Be Selfish, Be Generous."  It is in giving that we receive.

When we think of generosity, we typically think of it as a zero sum game. If I give you a dollar, that’s one less dollar for me. The inner world, though, operates with an entirely different set of rules. The boundaries aren’t so easy to decipher. Your state of being inherently affects my state of being. This isn’t feel-good talk. It’s actual science. Research shows that, in close proximity, when people feel connected, their individual heart-beats actually start to synchronize -- even with zero physical contact. In neuroscience, the discovery of mirror neurons has shown us that we literally do feel each other’s pain -- and joy.  

And joy is *definitely* not a zero-sum game.  The law of abundance says that if I give you a smile, that's not one less smile for me.  

The more I smile, the more I *do* smile. The more I love, the more love I have to give. So, when you give externally, you receive internally. How do the two compare? That's a question only you can answer for yourself, and that answer will keep changing as your awareness deepens.

Yet this much is clear: if you only focus on the externals, you’ll live your life in the deadening pursuit of power and products. But if you stay in touch with your inner truth, you will come alive with joy, purpose, and gratitude. You will tap into the law of abundance.

May you discover that to be truly selfish, you must be generous.  In giving, may you fully experience what it means to receive.

The Third Key Is To Dance

Our biggest problem with giving and receiving is that we try and track it. And when we do that, we lose the beat. 

The best dancers are never singularly focused on the mechanics of their movements. They know how to let go, tune into the rhythm and synchronize with their partners.

It’s like that with giving too. It's a futile exercise to track who is getting what. We just have to dance.

Take one of my friends for example, a very successful entrepreneur. 

Along his journey, he realized that it’s not just enough, as the cliché goes, to find your gifts.  Gifts are actually meant to be *given*.

In his daily life, he started cultivating some beautiful practices of generosity. For instance, every time he walked into a fancy restaurant, he told the waiter to find a couple that is most madly in love. "Put their tab on my bill, and tell them a stranger paid for their meal, with the hope that they pay it forward somewhere somehow," he would say.  Being a fan of Batman, he took his anonymity seriously: "If anyone finds out it was me, the deal is off."

Many restaurants, and waiters, knew him for this.  And as a food connoisseur, some of his favorite places were also quite pricey -- upwards of a couple hundred bucks per person.

On one such day, he walks into a nice restaurant and does his usual drill. The person serving him obliges. However, this time, the waiter comes back with a counter request. "Sir, I know you like to be anonymous, but when I told that couple about the tab being covered, the woman just started sobbing. In fact, it’s been ten minutes and she's still tearing up. I think it would make her feel better if you were to just introduce yourself, just this once."

Seeing this, he agreed to break his own cardinal rule and walks over to introduce himself. "M'aam, I was only trying to make your day. If it has brought up something, I'm so sorry." The woman excitedly says, "Oh no, not at all. You’ve just made my year, maybe my life. My husband and I, well, we work at a small nonprofit with physically challenged kids, and we have been saving up all year to have this meal here. It is our one year marriage anniversary today." After a pause, she continues, "We always serve others in small ways, but to receive a kind act like this on our special day, well, it’s just an overwhelming testimonial that what goes around comes around. It renews our faith in humanity. Thank you. Thank you *SO* much."

All of them were in tears. They kept in touch, he joined their board and they are friends to this day.

Now, in that scenario, who was the giver? Who was the receiver? And more importantly, does it even matter? Dancing, tells us to stop keeping track.  

Sometimes you're giving and sometimes you're receiving, but it doesn't really matter because the real reward of that give and take doesn’t lie in the value of what’s being exchanged. The real reward lies in what flows between us – our connection.


So, my dear friends, there you have it. The bad news is that we're in the middle of a crisis of disconnection, and the good news is that each and every one of you has the capacity to repair the web -- to give, to receive and to dance.

Sometime last year, I spontaneously treated a homeless woman to something she really wanted -- ice-cream. We walked into a nearby 7-11, she got her ice-cream and I paid for it. Along the way, though, we had a great 3-minute chat about generosity and as we’re leaving the store, she said something remarkable: "I'd like to buy you something. Can I buy you something" She empties her pockets and holds up a nickel. The cashier looks on, as we all share a beautiful, awkward, empathy-filled moment of silence. Then, I heard my voice responding, "That’s so kind of you. I would be delighted to receive your offering. What if we pay-it-forward by tipping this kind cashier who has just helped us?" Her face breaks into a huge smile. "Good idea,” she says while dropping the nickel into the tip-jar.

No matter what you have, or don’t have, we can all give.  The good news is that generosity is not a luxury sport.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said it best, when he said, "Everyone can be great, because everyone can serve." He didn't say, "You have to be smart to serve." Or "You have to be famous to serve." Or "You have to be rich to serve." No, he said, "*Everybody* can be great, because *everybody* can serve. You don't have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You don't need to know the second law of thermodynamics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love."

Harker Class of 2013, may you ALL find greatness in service to life. May you all give, receive -- and never, *ever* stop dancing. 



A Single Drop of Prayerful Energy

By Yuka SaionjiYuka Saionji

One of the peace minded people who attended the interfaith event United for a Culture of Peace through Interfaith Harmony at the United Nations in February was Dr. Nina Meyerhof, a visionary educator from the United States who was a guest at the 2007 Symphony of Peace Prayers at Fuji Sanctuary.
Just before the event began, Dr. Meyerhof told me: "Earlier today, I offered a prayer in the prayer room here at the UN. As I prayed, I had a vision. It was the image of a single seed being set down at the UN, and from here it rippled outward. People may think that this is just a one-day event, but it is much more than that. I sensed that beginning today, we are taking a great and important step toward a transformation in humanity’s consciousness. The work that you and your family are doing is really wonderful, and a new era is now coming into being."

With these encouraging words, Dr. Meyerhof and I embraced each other, and then took our seats.
After the event, her words remained in my mind. It seemed to me that what had been set down there was like a single drop of water. This drop would create many, many ripples and spread outward. And, I felt, it was the world peace prayers of all our peace colleagues that had created this drop over many years. To create a single drop from nothing at all takes a long time and the right kind of environment. Energy brings together molecules of water vapor in the air, and when the conditions are just right, the vapor materializes as a single drop of water. Until that moment, the individual molecules are moving around and clinging together, waiting for the right time. I don’t fully understand the scientific process behind it, but suffice it to say that creating this single drop of water is a tremendous undertaking.

This drop of water that was set down on February 14 is perfectly pure, untainted by anything. It consists of nothing but love, light, and truth. It is the crystallization of the vibration, spirit, and teaching of prayer for world peace. It was born in this world when all of the prayerful vibrations that our peace colleagues have generated thus far condensed and crystallized into a single drop at that very special time and place. We and many people before us have offered our heartfelt prayers tirelessly, day after day, for the sake of ourselves and of all humanity, and it was our thoughts, words, and actions that formed this drop. I believe that the ripples of this drop will quickly spread outward. Because this drop is perfectly pure, the vibrations and spirit that it carries are the pure vibrations, the prayerful heart, and the love created by everyone who has dedicated themselves to this world peace prayer movement. These waves of love and prayer are now rippling throughout the world.

From here on, I believe, the world will move more and more toward peace and harmony. The day is approaching when the entire world will live with a feeling of oneness. Should there be any setbacks during this process, we need not feel despondent, keeping in mind the marvelous principle of effect and cause—the firm assurance that everything will absolutely be all right.

It was Dr. Meyerhof’s words that gave me this sense of confidence and assurance. To all of our prayer colleagues, I owe my deepest gratitude, respect, and love for your invaluable, irreplaceable work.

Infinite happiness, infinite gratitude

UN Event with Masami Saionji


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