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Contemplative Revolutionaries?
By Martin LeFevre
Sep 25, 2018, 5:35pm

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I've been hearing a similar refrain from a variety of people in the West. I feel it's wishful thinking, but so many people believe it that one can't help doubting one's own perceptions.

The refrain goes like this: "I think there is already a global transformation in consciousness happening--if frustratingly patchy--and this can be seen through innumerable citizen movements where local areas, cities and other citizen-led groups are leap-frogging over their national governments to make transformational changes."

This idea comes almost entirely from progressives, people who espouse a global view rather than a nationalistic one. Contradictorily, the same people speak in terms of national contexts, such as the same prominent women's leader in Canberra saying, "It is my daily preoccupation to find ways to cheer along citizen-led movements in an Australian context."

Can a global transformation in consciousness already be happening," and be "frustratingly patchy?" Or has it not ignited, and human consciousness is growing darker by the week? Clearly it is the latter. Has the fat lady sung on our age?

Speaking of Australia, Maureen Dowd has written a couple of scathing columns while visiting down under for the New York Times in recent weeks, detailing how Canberra is being sucked into a Trumpian black hole. She writes, "There is someone-at the very bottom on the world in the land of Mad Max-who wants to play ball with the Mad King...Australia's new prime minister, Scott Morrison."

Another woman in Australia's capital, who formed a well-known contemplative church, echoed the sentiment: "I absolutely agree about the necessity for a global transformation of consciousness, and feel that this is in fact underway through the renewal of contemplative prayer in a whole range of contexts."

Finding out whether a global transformation of consciousness is actually underway, or that's just wishful thinking, is crucial not just for contemplatives and activists, but for anyone who cares about the present and future of the earth and humanity.

Clearly, a revolution in consciousness has not ignited, and to insist that it has, and that just "more deepening and strengthening of the practice of contemplation [or activism] is still needed," is a liberal form of denial. Seeing things as they are is not the cause of hopelessness; the refusal to see things as they are is.

So what are these and many other women and men referring to when they say, "a global transformation in consciousness is already happening?" They are speaking of their need to believe that human consciousness is gradually improving, that the gains in women's rights, civil rights and human rights are not being eroded, even though the evidence is to the contrary.

They are referring to a battle between regressive forces and progressive forces, and bolstering themselves with the hope that because the right words are spoken and ideas evinced by people they know, "a revolution in consciousness is underway."

Human consciousness is not radically changing because human nature is not changing. Progressives take human nature as a given, though they can't say what it is, and are satisfied with ideals. It simply doesn't cut it however to "cheer contemplatives and activists along in an Australian [or any other national or local] context." Contemplative revolutionaries aren't cheerleaders.

A global revolution in consciousness that puts Australian, American or any other national or local context first is no revolution in consciousness at all. Doing so, under the guise of global citizenship, is fooling oneself while operating from the same old fragmentary, gradualistic thinking that lies at the core of the human crisis.

We're in a race, and it does no good to say we're winning it when people of insight and intelligence are losing to people adhering to power, greed and tribalism.

The psychological revolution that changes the disastrous course of humankind will probably ignite in one place, but it won't be local, and will be immediately felt in all places. How it manifests will vary, though a global, a non-power-holding body that generates insight and helps guide national and international organizations through the perilous passage to a genuine global civilization has to emerge.

Such a body won't be an arena where everyone's opinion must be listened to, much less honored in some quaint, global court of public opinion. It will be a body that generates revolutionary insight by questioning together without assumption. For it is insight that will save humanity, and contemplatives (which simply means people with a true inner life of their own) have to be revolutionaries.

On the political level, it's fitting this week to ask, can and should the UN (as the General Assembly) be salvaged and reformed?


Martin LeFevre is a contemplative, and non-academic religious and political philosopher. He welcomes dialogue.

Published with permission of the author. All copyright remains with the author.

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