By Jim Selman | Bio
Last Friday night I had the pleasure and the privilege of attending an “Awakening the Dreamer, Changing the Dream” Symposium, an event offered by the Pachamama Alliance. This short program has each of us examine ourselves and our relationship to a world “in crisis”. The purpose of the Symposium and the Alliance is to change our collective vision (dream) and to “bring forth an environmentally sustainable, socially just and spiritually fulfilling human presence on this planet” as the guiding principle of our times. Lynne Twist, the author of The Soul of Money, an old friend and constant source of inspiration, led the evening.
Although I was familiar with the organization and the information presented about the ‘state of the world’, the evening allowed me to refocus on the question of who I am being at this particular time in history. Am I a spectator? A player? A leader? This inquiry is relevant to all of us.
If we dive deeply into the unexamined assumptions that frame our conscious understanding of the world (and, therefore, our actions), we cannot deny we are all connected in this enterprise called “earth”. Whether we are moved by warnings of impending environmental disaster, troubled by the incredible imbalance between ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’, or simply focused on the struggle to find deeper meaning in our everyday lives, we are making choices that determine not only our personal future, but also the future of our communities and the world for decades.
The premise underlying the Awakening the Dreamer Symposium is that we’re trapped in a kind of cultural ‘trance’ and addicted to unsustainable patterns and practices that, in turn, drive isolation, fear and obsessive consumption. This sort of ‘blindness’ is what I’ve been calling the phenomenon of ‘self-referentiality’. By this, I mean we’re always ‘in the box’ of our own worldview—a perspective that defines what is and is not possible. This self-referential condition exists at every level of social organization—from the individual, couple and family to organizations, societies and humanity. The paradox: we cannot escape the prison of our own point of view except by creating a context (or having a relationship with something) beyond or larger than our point of view. The Symposium shows us that the paradox itself contains potential for a breakthrough: the ‘larger’ context is the fact that we are all in this together.
The only way to avoid the predictable and looming disasters that confront us is to create a world that works for everyone.
The Pachamama Alliance is not prescribing what to do. They are heralding the cry “do something” and “do it today”. So far, thousands of people have participated in the Symposium. Three thousand volunteers are leading evenings like the one I experienced in many languages in dozens of countries around the world. Whether you have participated in a Symposium or not, they offer a number of next steps for anyone committed to creating this ‘new dream’.
At one point, Lynne mentioned that she hoped we would find ourselves in a state of ‘blessed unrest’—somewhat analogous to the state an artist or performer is in when they are at their most creative. A state where one can be uneasy or uncomfortable with reality, while being simultaneously serene and at peace with the way it is and engaged in creating something marvelous. This state is what I have called ‘serene ambition’. I believe the paradox of reconciling these two traditionally incompatible ‘states’ (serenity and ambition) is the work of our generation.
In January, the Pachamama Alliance launched a global campaign called Four Years.Go—a campaign for all of humanity to focus on our common aims and to take strategic actions that will change our direction in the next four years.
What we do—or don’t do—in the next four years will determine the quality of life on this planet for generations to come. And you have a role to play.
I encourage everyone to watch the trailer on the Four Years Go website, find a Symposium near you, and spend a powerful and experientially rewarding evening.
After that, the future will be your choice.
© 2010 Jim Selman. All rights reserved.