The Secret of Divine Civilization

The Secret of Divine Civilization

Syrian RefugeesThis blog is dedicated to the millions of dead and suffering souls in places like Syria and the countries struggling with the assimilation of millions of global refugees. In the case of refugees from Islamic nations this is a mixed bag comprised of the gentle and Jihadists, terrorists and terrified, further complicating matters.

Syria has a rich history. Its capital, Damascus, is among the oldest continuously-inhabited cities in the world. In that sense Syria is symbolic of the state of the world. It now lies in ruins, and with Russia moving in through a door left open by the current US administration, which protests their entrance, Syria may well become the Next Sarejevo. And if Syria does not turn out to be the tinder-keg that sets off WWIII there are plenty of other candidates of equal volatility.

I’ve blogged about Syria, Sweden, Russia, Israel, human rights, religious freedom, the Iran deal, and more. Such key data points form a fact pattern to help us understand why the world is in this state of disarray, but this question remains.

One small step How on earth, more than 50 years after Armstrong took one small step to prove that man can, in fact, ascend to heaven, did we arrive here? Why do we today experience horror we thought we, as a species, had grown out of? As an American citizen, I’ll focus on how I believe the US has contributed to the current situation.

After having done much to lead humanity forward, in the last decade we have abdicated the role of global policeman that was (for better or worse, rightly or wrongly) forced upon us after a long and protracted cold war. Let’s quickly review the recent history that brought us, as a species, to this moment.

The nation that won a space race with the Soviet Union, the United States, did so because of its ability to assimilate refugees and visionaries from around the planet. We represent all people and tongues, and the race to the moon represented our parent’s positive aspirations, their altruistic vision, and their willingness to let personal history, culture and language become a secondary identity in favor of being a citizen of States that had voluntarily united. Saluting the FlagWe were a “company of nations” working together in peace and harmony for the betterment of mankind. My forthcoming book, The Rod of Iron, will explain how this fulfills aspirations dating back to the City of Bab-El (Gate of God). The voluntary assembly of these States is in stark contrast to “Unions” built by military force and intimidation. But in the last decade, after having won both the space race and the cold war the United States is in retreat. We lead from behind while bullies exploit openings presented by explosive rivalries emerging in a super-heated state after centuries of forced repression by global dictatorships.

What is the path to Peace and how can we walk it? To provide a focal point in answering the question of how to achieve a real and lasting peace, I’d like to introduce you to Abdu’l Baha, a relatively unknown religious leader, who published an astonishing little book in 1875, at the close of the Age of Enlightenment. It is boldly but in my opinion appropriately titled The Secret of Divine Civilization. One passage that has recently illuminated my understanding is this amazingly prescient quote, which seems to foretell the sequential geopolitical challenges the modern world has since faced. It provides a clear and unmistakable answer to the question that opened this paragraph.

“True civilization will unfurl its banner in the midmost heart of the world whenever a certain number of its distinguished and high-minded sovereigns—the shining exemplars of devotion and determination—shall, for the good and happiness of all mankind, arise, with firm resolve and clear vision, to establish the Cause of Universal Peace. They must make the Cause of Peace the object of general consultation, and seek by every means in their power to establish a Union of the nations of the world. They must conclude a binding treaty and establish a covenant, the provisions of which shall be sound, inviolable and definite. They must proclaim it to all the world and obtain for it the sanction of all the human race. This supreme and noble undertaking—the real source of the peace and well-being of all the world—should be regarded as sacred by all that dwell on earth. All the forces of humanity must be mobilized to ensure the stability and permanence of this Most Great Covenant. In this all-embracing Pact the limits and frontiers of each and every nation should be clearly fixed, the principles underlying the relations of governments towards one another definitely laid down, and all international agreements and obligations ascertained. In like manner, the size of the armaments of every government should be strictly limited, for if the preparations for war and the military forces of any nation should be allowed to increase, they will arouse the suspicion of others. The fundamental principle underlying this solemn Pact should be so fixed that if any government later violate any one of its provisions, all the governments on earth should arise to reduce it to utter submission, nay the human race as a whole should resolve, with every power at its disposal, to destroy that government. Should this greatest of all remedies be applied to the sick body of the world, it will assuredly recover from its ills and will remain eternally safe and secure.”

Swords into PlowsharesAbdu’l Baha’s words predated and predicted the rise of the League of Nations, which the world was finally ready for in the wake of a horrific world war. President Woodrow Wilson is considered its architect, yet despite his proposal being wildly popular in the US he ended up leaving office before it could be assembled, and ultimately the US never joined.  Thus it failed to meet essential criteria outlined by Abdu’l Baha, which inevitably led to a second, even worse, global war. WWII, fueled by aberrant ideologies, featured the unbelievable atrocity known as the holocaust. So extreme was the revulsion to these events that an idea, again introduced by a US president during the war, was quickly implemented in its wake. That idea was the United Nations, of which the United States was a charter member, and it came closer to the ideal espoused by Abdu’l Baha, 70 years earlier.

And yet the United Nations became corrupted by nations that have since joined with the agenda of using it to destroy the very people whose suffering inspired its creation, the Jews. And the selfish and self-serving aspirations of key member states have enabled this evil corruption, as they use the United Nations as a political cover for violating the very principles upon which it was founded, principles outlined by Abdu’l Baha, in the above quote.

Another key signpost Abdu’l Baha’s quote appears to foreshadow was the establishment of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). Rather than the crucible of war, the backdrop for its creation was the US success referenced above, the moon landing. It doesn’t cover all armaments, and is in other ways not comprehensive, which means it also falls short of Abdu’l Baha’s standard.  Nonetheless, since nuclear weapons are so exceedingly powerful, and because the treaty achieved such near universal adoption, it can serve as an example of how the criteria set out by Abdu’l Baha might work, if followed. The Chemical Weapons Convention, for example, can be considered a direct descendant of this amazing achievement, expanding its scope. The adoption of the NPT provides clear examples of how following his advice can lead to peace and help us see why we ignore his advice at our own peril. He states emphatically that if/when a nation violates a treaty limiting armaments the rest of the world should be united in its resolve to confront the bully. Here is the specific quote, written down 100 years in advance of the treaty which it seems to foretell:
“if any government later violate any one of its provisions, all the governments on earth should arise to reduce it to utter submission, nay the human race as a whole should resolve, with every power at its disposal, to destroy that government.”

We can use this framework to answer questions like: Should the President of the United States have backed off his Chemical Weapons “Red Line” in Syria?” Is there a connection between the way in which Russia, which signed the Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances, was largely unopposed in its recent incursion into Ukraine and ended up entrenched in Syria, supporting the regime that used them? Is this not directly due to how the US, rather than enforcing the Chemical Weapons Convention, deferred to Russia to handle the Chemical Weapons violation? Students of Geopolitical history and Realpolitik will not have any difficulty tracing the chess moves that led to this.


Call it what it is!

Meanwhile, the primary violator of the NPT itself, Iran, now has, in effect, a treaty with the same nation that historically has led the world towards peace, in accordance with the principles outlined by Abdu’l Baha. And that same treaty undermines the United Nations provisions that limit its armaments.

What a tangled web we have now woven. When it comes to peace, leading from behind is bad enough. Leading in the wrong direction is another thing entirely. Sadly, it seems, we are destined, in coming years, to reap consequences that will be catastrophic. And at this point in history, unfortunately, the only path forward appears to be through the crucible of another global conflagration.

Only then, apparently, will the nations understand The Secret of Divine Civilization, unveiled by Abdu’l Baha, in 1875.

The Human Heart of Business

The Human Heart of Business

Next week I’m one of two keynote speakers in an East-Meets-West series of conferences in Chennai, India. Dr. V.A. Sriram will discuss Positive Consciousness while I will focus on, among other topics, The Human Heart of Business.

In my opening lecture I’ll quote Joni Mitchell, who in her song “Woodstock” wrote: “We are stardust,” and called out our need to “get ourselves back to the Garden.” I’ll make the leap from how our origin as stardust—energy held in a pattern called matter—leads to an aggregation of consciousness with agency. As such we can choose which patterns to adopt—and we pattern ourselves according to our beliefs. Our selves, our goals, our motivations, and our actions are based in our beliefs, and in the stars we worship.

It should come as no surprise to us that what we create, and the societies we build, are manifestations of these same patterns. Many of today’s challenges are based on the aggregation of a materialistic orientation that has lost touch with the guiding lights of our spiritual origin. The roots of the trees that we plant often tend to look toward the soil, the material, and are not always growing true, straight, and healthy, toward the light.

My lecture on the Human Heart of Business will explore these ideas, and will propose alternatives, solutions, and a slightly different focus—a focus that will lead to long-lasting and sustainable success. This is the kind of success that can permeate all areas of our lives, not only the material pursuit of profits. Below is a summary of my lecture.


einstein's approach

I included this famous quote with something very specific in mind. Our corporations are part of the problem. Whereas our creator instilled a consciousness in us that strives for the light, for truth, for beauty, for the highest ideals, we have not typically followed this pattern in establishing our corporations. Thus capitalism, as we have created it, is fatally flawed in a number of ways.

To explore the roots of these flaws, I’d like to invoke two very different historical figures. Both came from overseas to explore America, and went on to make very similar, astute observations about the nature and character of that great nation.

This is East Meets West: America as viewed by two visionaries who traveled West.

a shining city upon a hill

Alexis de Tocqueville also prophesied the rise of one other great power: Russia. And he recognized that America’s greatness lay in her approach to equality based on economic opportunity—the ability to harness man’s desire for material benefits. This approach is quite eerily opposite to that taken by the Soviet Union, which denied that this basic human drive exists—and fostered a belief that the abolishment of all personal property was a good thing. The model known as communism has been completely discredited, but the model known as capitalism is also fatally flawed in its current form.

‘Abdu’l Baha, a Spiritual Leader from Iran, spent 40 years in exile from his native Persia, in Israel. When he was finally freed after 40 years of incarceration, he traveled to the United States and crisscrossed the country. He praised the people of United States, and challenged them to not only achieve the greatness that was their destiny in terms of material growth and success, but also to impact the world positively in spiritual terms.

Those competing impulses—material wealth and spiritual progress—can only be reconciled by the kind of work being done right here, at this conference, and by those inspired and empowered by the message it conveys: to overcome the schizophrenia of conflicting ideologies and unify these through an integrated approach to personal and public welfare. America was built on spiritual values and a unique, pragmatic approach to the material opportunities inherent in the great natural wealth of a virgin continent. And there a new form of capitalism was born, one that has seen unbelievable global growth due to the invention and creation of corporations.

Corporations are a peculiar species. Their prime directive is to maximize shareholder value—i.e. to create wealth for the owners. This DNA can generate a kind of cancer, which can result in the growth of a Frankenstein Monster. As these corporations exceed the wealth and power of all but the largest nations, their ability to destroy their creator is being tested. There are models being proposed in America in which there will be corporate takeovers of government institutions.

corporate frankensteins

The balance of power created by the founding fathers of America—the three branches of government, executive, legislative, and judicial— are being overwhelmed by a flood of corporate money, just as Alexis de Tocqueville warned, but to a degree even he had not foreseen. The recent Citizens United Supreme Court ruling allows corporations to fund political campaigns, a right previously reserved only for “real people” as opposed to “incorporated” ones.

To change the course of the world, we need to infuse these entities with a human heart. Stick with me; we’re about to discuss where you come in. Don’t worry—I’m not going to ask you to join the Giving Pledge. But let’s take a moment to think about the patterns that these men are creating, and that these patterns are already spreading, being adopted.

the giving pledge

Frankly, being #1 & #2 on the list of the world’s richest people, year after year, became embarrassing. Some profound and meaningful self-awareness, a new positive consciousness emerged. And they did something about it.

The challenge is clear. Find a path to moral, material, and spiritual unity within ourselves, and then extend this to our tribe, our society, our nation, our civilization, and our planet. And in case there is any doubt, I am not preaching the merits of communism, or even socialism. Quite the contrary.  My message is that this comes from taking ownership, in every sense of the word.

the secret of divine civilization

You are the master of your own destiny. If you can align yourself with the spiritual direction of the universe, with the patterns set out by our creator, and stretch out your reach toward the light instead of bending down to the dust, there is nothing that will be withheld from you.

I use the metaphor of the tree to instill the lessons needed to implement this ideology: the roots, the trunk, the branches, the leaves, and the fruit. Your understanding of this metaphor will enable you to grow tall and true, straight and proud of who and what you are, able to channel the divine energy of positive consciousness—and to create a legacy that will grow by these principles as well.

of mustard trees and mountains

The main point of the presentation is to educate business leaders about the need to actively resist being fooled by the lure of one-dimensional materialism, a single-minded focus on maximizing shareholder value. We must bring our human heart to our business endeavors. Our customers will respond. Our coworkers will respond. Those below us and above us will respond. Creating businesses with a human heart brings them into alignment with the positive spiritual consciousness that is emerging—we can ride that wave, and arrive where we want to be.