The Spiritual Work of the United Nations and the
Spiritual Welfare of the Planet
The Promise of the New Millennium: Revelation of the Soul in Humanity
Thursday, April 1, 1999
Summary Overview, Reflections and Suggested Next Steps
The participants of the meeting submitted the following summary notes and contributions. Where there is no name connected to the ideas, the authors asked to remain anonymous.
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Welcome, followed by Overview remarks and meditation. (This opening section set a friendly but distinctly impersonal and almost anonymous tone. Workshop was presented as an idea that occurred to a group of meditators concerned about and supportive of the UN and this approach helped put the accent on impersonal, spirit-based communication.)
A key point from the overview remarks was that each person would have their own views on spirituality, how to define it, how it manifests in their lives, etc. The Great Invocation was briefly explained in energy terms and it was explained that people could substitute terms with which they may be more comfortable, with respect to the use of words such as "men" and "Christ" in sounding the Great Invocation during the opening meditation.
The three keynote talks:
1) What is the spiritual purpose of the UN?
See the transcript of the talk addressing this question.
2) What opportunities can the UN offer humanity?
Second speaker, Deborah Moldow of World Peace Prayer Society and also an interfaith minister, reminded us that this was the first day of Passover which calls to mind the traditional reading at the Seder table from the book of Abraham. Abraham recounts how the Jews first developed the idea of "the one God". Deborah identified this as "the first global thought". She then spoke of the UN as the birth of the new era of global awareness: 25 years before the photo of earth hanging in space was taken - the icon of global awareness-the UN had already precipitated the idea. So this speaker identified the first purpose of the UN as, "To express the consciousness of the one world." She spoke of the success of the UN in the fields of human rights, development, children, and in the prevention of conflicts. Once conflicts break out, the UN is not so successful and this has to do with what the UN was set up to do: transfer the scene of conflict resolution from the battlefield to the conference table. She identified another purpose of the UN as caring for one another: "When global consciousness is expressed we take care of one another, we don't hurt one another." The UN has become the repository of our highest human values, she said. She then described the history of humanity's warfare as a perverted means of getting to know one another. That is, after conflicts die down and integration occurs between victor and vanquished, the newly combined group then turns to another groups of "others," wages war, gets to know them, etc. etc. Now we're at the point where people recognize the absurdity of going on in this fashion, hence the UN. She then referred back to Dorothy's opening talk and the image of the wheel and said that "spirit is the spoke at the center of the hub". The recognition of the importance of getting to know one another via peaceful, rational, intelligent means is exemplified also by the United Religions Initiative, she said. "The subject of religion and spirituality is being brought up in relation to the UN and it's about time."
3) How can we better fulfill the spiritual purpose of the UN?
Speaker Prof. Ewert Cousins of the World Commission on Spirituality organized by Robert Muller, also teaches religion/philosophy at Fordham University. He began by explaining that in 1975 the Temple of Understanding invited him to oversee part of a five-day conference it was hosting at the United Nations in celebration of the 30th anniversary of the United Nations. "Since then I think my spirituality has been shaped by the UN." He spoke of a 4-5 year period working with Native Americans and how one summer he felt his consciousness go out of his head and into the consciousness of the Sioux (Lakota)-a mind expanding experience whereby he could then understand the Lakota "from the inside". Another major influence for him was Teilhard de Chardin. He also spoke of Teilhard's influence on the work of Mr. de Breuverie, an early leader of the UN's economic development program. Prof. Cousins recounted how Teilhard de Chardin and Mr. De Breuverie roomed together and how Teilhard's influence helped him develop a global perspective and helped him see the larger purpose of the UN. Prof. Cousins seemed to be saying that we can better fulfill the purpose of the UN by exposing its leaders to points of view they may not otherwise come across in their everyday lives. He also spoke about his friendship with Robert Muller and what he has learned from Dr. Muller about the work of the UN.
The plenary group then broke into several small groups, giving the participants the opportunity to individually respond and discuss the above three questions.
Notes From One Small Group Session
1) What is the spiritual purpose of the UN?
The image of the wheel Dorothy gave in her initial talk has resonance at another level in terms of energy: as we meditate we increase the vibratory frequency of our microcosmic energy systems which, in turn, radiates energy out into our environment hence the moving, rotating image of the wheel works to symbolize the radiatory power of the individual and of the UN: the increased vibratory frequency it generates to and for the planet. The movement of the wheel also symbolizes humanity's movement toward the Hierarchical, planetary center of love.
Another purpose of the UN concerns education; through changes in education such as introducing school children to the principles and values of the UN (which are inherently spiritual although not religious, per se) children can be assisted in their spiritual development. The point was made that spirit transcends human geographical boundaries.
An additional purpose of the UN is to guarantee the Four Freedoms enunciated by FDR which were supposed to be a part of the UN Charter. Thus everyone in the world would be free from want and from fear and they would be free to express themselves and worship God in one's own way.
The comment was made, "Don't be shy to say the word 'spiritual' for it is an evocative word; it radiates its own power and takes us to a higher plane of consciousness."
A few lines from the poem, "Song of the Seraph of San Francisco", was identified as being the over-arching purpose of the UN:
"...and now, approaching our planet's night, one of the Lord God's Seraphim comes, Ambassador sent from Him, to implement a cosmic Plan in behalf of the Family of Man." From afar the Light is bright dazzling white."
The poem, written during the International Conference in San Francisco that began on April 25, 1945 and led to the creation of the United Nations, was published by The Beacon magazine (Lucis Publishing Co.).
2) What spiritual opportunities can the UN offer humanity?
First thing mentioned was simply information: about each other, the environment, anything from the depths of the ocean to the heights of space. (This calls to mind Deborah Moldow's comments earlier that wars were driven, in part, by a twisted need to know one another.) The UN offers a place for group work; for learning the art of compromise; for breaking down nationalism and fostering a spirit of globalism; for fostering awareness of the richness of the diversity of our planet.
Of course the UN also offers the major opportunity of transferring the scene of conflict from the battlefield to the conference table. The point was made that the UN should have oversight over all the armaments of the world; this would eventually free up money for more constructive purposes.
The UN is becoming increasingly irrelevant due to money problems. A Major issue of the 21st century will be the issue of economics.. Until that problem is solved other problems can't be solved. Spirituality is an issue that seems to strike many people as not needing to be on the agenda. The point was made that part of the solution to the global money problem is to educate public opinion and NGO's can do a lot of work in that respect. It was also pointed out that the "either/or" approach (either we deal with "real" issues or we deal with philosophy and spirituality, can't do both at same time) has been tried and found lacking; it is now time to deal with both simultaneously because the so-called real problems are spiritual challenges at their essence.
3) How can we better fulfill the spiritual purpose of the UN.
This particular group found it difficult to come up with answers to this question. The point was made that perhaps the reason for the difficulty is that it requires individuals to take responsibility and we don't have the habit of doing so, especially with respect to such a huge, seemingly beyond-the need-of-individual-help institution like the UN. The consensus was that each of us can take the UN into our meditative and spiritual lives and help "think through thoughtforms of solution". ("Energy follows thought")
Also, as individuals, we can urge our government to pay its dues so the UN can move forward with its mission which is essentially a spiritual one: to bring humanity together as a unified center of consciousness. And point was made that we are only in the process of figuring out what our ultimate purpose will be as a unified center of consciousness; the first step of the process is to recognize we need to become one and strive to attain this level of consciousness.
One person asked, "Is 'spiritual' the right word to use in the UN system which includes so many diverse groups including communists, agnostics, atheists; these people are of goodwill, also. How can we discuss spirituality with them in a way that doesn't alienate them? Perhaps through the use of words such as "consciousness", "wholeness", "mindfulness".
Many ideas were shared; what follows is a partial recap.
In terms of the spiritual purpose of the UN, one group made a distinction along the lines of physical, emotional, mental. Physically, the UN deals with a wide range of humanitarian activities; emotionally the UN radiates the energy of caring, of love; mentally, the UN promotes mentally-polarized cooperative discussion and negotiation. Oneness can be enhanced through publicizing the spiritual underpinnings of the UN Charter and through inter-religious dialogue.
With respect to opportunities the UN can offer humanity, in terms of disasters, the UN should funnel all help and oversee it and organize it. The UN can share with all humanity what goes on at the UN to allow people to see the inner workings better, thereby acting as a mirror for humanity. This would, in part, enable humanity to share all the different vibrations of all cultures.
With respect to how we can better fulfill the spiritual purpose of the UN; it was suggested that a primary focus in the near future should be on schools and educating children; this would help create a "culture of peace'. Also, it would be good to organize meditation groups at the UN; someone mentioned a now-disbanded meditation group, "Mystics of the Round Table", which used to meet in Conference Room C, the room in which the present meeting was taking place. It was suggested that this or another meditation group be started up again. In the past, the meditators would try and visualize solutions to the problems the General Assembly was working on. This meditation group went on for several years; it was said that consideration should be given to re-instating it and fostering it throughout the many different groups and levels of decision makers [at the UN, presumably].
One man told the story of a six year old boy who declared it was never right to go to war to settle differences. Instead the boy said, people should "meet and discuss," and to continue to meet and discuss over and over again as long as it takes-even "to infinity" to solve problems. The man who told this story said it was his six year old son (who is now twelve) who came up with the idea. Several groups spoke of the need to provide some sort of platform to children; as one person said, "give a greater voice to children". This seemed to give voice to the thought that many children nowadays are highly developed and some may be able and interested in providing their own viewpoints in certain UN-related forums.
Another group came up with the idea that the UN should hold a global conference on the new paradigm and the UN should encourage the spiritual development of its staff members; perhaps consider setting aside a UN designated day to promote spiritual well-being.
Another group presented the recognition that a spiritual consciousness already exists at the UN, the inner life is strong but is somehow covered up. It was said that allvoices need to be heard, "how can a soul evolve until all voices are heard?". We need to start on an individual, interpersonal level and in turn grow to a larger scale. We need to think in terms of "the soul of the nations and the soul of the UN." The speaker suggested perhaps using Governor's Island or Newport, Rhode Island (i.e., some place where the pace is quieter and conducive to reflection) as a place to meet and discuss this further.
A big theme in one group was the Haves and Have Nots: "The haves are us in the basement [i.e. those in the meeting room for this workshop] because we have the spiritual and material means to lead the UN. The have-nots are those who work within the UN [ i.e. regular staff employees]; they need to be encouraged and helped to use their creativity."
Another group also brought up children; children are increasingly being seen as a means of carrying the UN purpose forward. Mention was made about a "UN of Children" and Hillary Clinton as an honorary chairwoman.
It was mentioned that NGO's with a spiritual base are being attracted to the UN; indicative of a "sea-change" in the UN's atmosphere. Someone said, "There should be a spiritual body in the UN." Another person mentioned that a UN staff person once told her of his appreciation for anyone who meditates and prays for the UN. He indicated that such support helped him in his work. Many UN staff are deeply touched by meditative efforts and prayers said on behalf of the UN.
The upcoming Millennium Summit was mentioned as a good venue for interjecting a spiritual note into the UN proceedings. This was said by (I believe) Robert Wheeler who is working on the Millennium Forum for NGO's).
Chung Ok Lee, of Won Buddhism International, led the closing meditation.
Afterwards, several people came up to ask, What's next, Anything else planned?
Notes on the Meeting from another Participant:
The UN is a mirror of the world. We must let it blossom and not hold it back. This is the beginning of global consciousness. Indigenous people are very important to the world's (our) future. We must learn to listen to them.
Family - We are one, and are trying to be one. Keep in mind a planetary consciousness. Integration of civil society with the UN.