9th HWCS International Symposium – 28-29-30 April 2023 – CRISIS AND OVERCOMING Crossing the borders of thought.
The situation of crisis that humanity is going through at the present time is evident. The crisis manifests itself at different levels and in all spheres of human action, thought and experience. History has recorded numerous crises that endangered the survival of human groups in different times and places, but in this case – as it was the case a few decades ago with the “cold war” – it is a global crisis. This crisis seems to “surpass” the previous one by adding to the possibility of a nuclear war the no less serious threat of climate change, which could seriously disrupt living conditions on the planet.
How to find creative ways forward? That is the challenge posed by this 9th Symposium, and that is the meaning of the call and the invitation.
Presentation by David Andersson on Friday, April 28
The world will change when your daily life changes.
The opening statement to this Symposium was a key factor for my work on this presentation. I’m in total agreement with the analysis and reflections proposed here. So, thank you to the people who worked on it. It is not just a question of organizing the event, but how to give it a strong framework.
We need to be clear when we talk about a world in crisis. Technically, humans today have everything they need to flourish: scientific advances, energy resources, art, knowledge, communications, food, and so on. Until now, humans have seen their problems as mostly outside and have therefore tried to resolve them technologically, socially, politically, and economically. As the world becomes totally interconnected, however, there is no longer space to move “outside” anymore.
We are working with AI and are discovering new ways of overcoming disease and extending life, but what do we know about our internal world – our violence, our suffering, our contradictions, and the direction of our lives? Does my life have a meaning? We have a low level of understanding of our own human selves.
The truth is our way of life is an external representation of our internal world. As such, the only way out of this crisis is to transform ourselves, to change our way of life, to change our lifestyle. Our lifestyles haven’t changed all that much in a century, and yet we expect to be living in a different society.
This simple Einstein quote synthesizes our current crisis: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”
For a time during the 60’s the younger generation tried to establish a different model, living in the countryside or in shared communities, and directing their energy to creativity. They tried to produce a rupture from the previous generation but were lacking elements to develop something long-term in a coherent direction.
A few years ago, I was diagnosed with aggressive bladder cancer and had to have my bladder removed. The doctors were very clear that this cancer was due to my smoking for 35 years. Here is a clear example of lifestyle consequences. Your life is what you do or don’t do every day.
As we saw during the 60’s, the social transformation was easier than personal transformation. For many, it was difficult to build and maintain a coherent personal direction. People gave up in front of challenges, lacking the tools to surpass them.
Look, for example, at the diet phenomenon. The US has over a 32% obesity rate, creating a very complicated situation with enormous social and health challenges. There are hundreds of dieting schemes, with books and videos elaborating on each one, and yet it is very clear that dieting alone doesn’t work. Because it’s not a separate issue that can just be addressed alone. It’s part of a lifestyle that is producing this situation. It’s not just a food issue but has to do with everything else, from housing to meaning in life.
When we talk about a lifestyle, we are not talking about people having to go live in the mountains and eat vegetables. That is not what is being proposed here. We are talking about how the way we structure our life supports our deepest aspirations or not.
The world you live in will change when your daily life changes. What type of relationship do you have with your neighbors, your sister or brother, your co-workers? Our human landscape is shrinking every day, families are getting smaller, and the number of people living alone is constantly increasing. We have less and less space and energy for friendship and social relations. Maybe we are trying to compensate for this human void in our life by adopting pets? There are 85 million households in the US keeping pets, which means 67% of American homes included a pet in 2020.
We have multiple untapped worlds inside ourselves to discover. It is through the development of our internal capacities that we will open new possibilities in the external ones. We should make time to study these internal worlds, like going to the gym but for our own mental and spiritual development.
The world of attention and distension:
I’m in what I’m. These few words transformed my life just 40 years ago during a retreat on attention. It was magic, to experience attending to what I am doing without divagations or daydreaming. Being in a situation without being taken by it. You can amplify your daily life by paying attention to what you are into. When you see yourself losing focus, just redirect your attention and keep doing what you were doing.
This will allow you to take some distance from tense situations. When you see yourself falling into a complicated situation and getting tense, being able to breathe and gain some internal space at that moment could be a game changer and avoid accidents.
Definition: DIS‑TENSION: Dis‑Tension practices help reduce external muscular, internal, and mental tensions. Consequently, they lessen fatigue, increase one’s concentration, and make one’s everyday activities more efficient.
The world of images:
We move by images – of what we want, what we don’t want, what we think is possible, what we don’t think is possible. Your world can change by transforming your old images and putting yourself in new situations and new experiences, which will in turn generate new images. Start by not going home directly after work. Do something that you like, something important, volunteer, or help in some way. Everything that you see is unique to you. No two people are seeing the same thing. The reality is yours and yours only. Of course, we share and agree on common symbols and languages, and each of us is shaped by a landscape of formation, comprised of the values, objects, perspectives, and relationships of my personal environment and cultural world that continue to act over me. But with time, attention, and practice, we can begin to form new images – ones aligned with where we want to go rather than our past — that have stronger references than our formative landscape.
The world of light and Energy:
Here we are talking about your own electrical grid, that lights up (or darkens) everything. This is the world of internal unity, free from contradictions, revenge, and fear. Pay attention to what type of actions you are doing that give you energy, bring you joy, that you want to repeat. Avoid actions that drain your energy, that make you feel conflicted. It’s also recommended to do some daily guided mediation specifically focusing on working with the force. The more you gain control of your energy more you can direct it to your advantage and keep control of your destiny.
The world of meaning in life and transcendence.
If you can see that many things are meaningless, it’s because other things have meaning for you. You are the one who gives meaning to things — meaning to your work, to your family, to your religion. But what happens to these meanings when you retire, get divorced, or lose faith? You still must answer the question: why am I here and what will be my contribution to this world?
We have humanized almost everything (pets, food, energy, transportation, and societies) but now need to humanize ourselves in a deeper way. We need to understand who we are as human beings. We can no longer define people simply by their gender, language, country, work, partner, passion, social position, or religion. We are all the above, but much more.
Our lives are not these fragmented boxes, with work separated from our personal life, our home, and family, separated from our social activities, from our aspirations, and wellbeing. Our lifestyle should be working like an eco-system with everything connected in dynamic and balance.
What produced climate change is our lifestyle, as we are treating our environment the same way as we are treating ourselves and others. We will not see any real environmental transformation until we modify profoundly our life choices and priorities.
I could recommend a simple way to start this lifestyle transformation process by looking at the modules developed by the Humanist Health News Network REHUNO that Pressenza has published: https://www.pressenza.com/author/rehuno/. Each article takes a theme and develops it to be able to use it in daily life. For example, “A series of principles for those who seek a coherent life”, “Memory, a double-edged blade” and “Our energetic circuit and response centers.” These short modules could be very useful to get into the mood and the frequency of taking some time to look within. Everyone has different needs at different moments of one’s life. It’s impossible to give a perfect road map for everyone to follow because everyone has different sensibilities, moments of the process, and situational needs.
My own experience was inspired by the philosophy developed by Silo (Mario Rodriguez Cobos). There are many documents, books, and talks from Silo expressing this moment of crisis and helping us to put it in perspective. One of the biggest decisions I made in my own life was to volunteer with the Humanist Movement. I learned everything there — organizing, languages, technology, philosophy, and cultures by traveling the world. After 40 years of daily activities, I keep learning about myself and am becoming a more “spiritual” person. Most important is not to do what we must do but to do what we want, what we chose voluntarily, free of any calculation. There is nothing like being engaged with others on a common project. This life’s purpose is to humanize the world.
To overcome this crisis, we need an unshakable faith in human beings and to develop a new human experience base on a new lifestyle where thinking, feeling, and acting in an evolutive direction are of the utmost importance. This will cascade at the social level by using the full potential of nonviolence and developing our common intelligence. We are not at the end of history but at the beginning of a new civilization that is being born: the first planetary civilization in human history.
Thank you very much and special thanks to Glenda De La Fuente for her simultaneous translation to Spanish.