The Spiritual Work of the United Nations:
Building a Planetary Consciousness

Thursday, October 21, 1999, 3-5:30 p.m.

SUMMARY REPORT OF THE
SMALL GROUP DISCUSSIONS AND PLENARY

Notes of one small group meeting

Recorded and Submitted by: Barbara J. Hunter, Ph.D.

Topic A: How Do I Understand Spiritual and Planetary Consciousness? How can this consciousness be more fully cultivated and expressed within me and within the United Nations?

1. The desire for peace comes down to woundings. For example: The belief that "there's not enough" leads to a desire for healing, i.e., for providing "enough" this begins with the personal and goes on to the "speci-al", that is, to the species. Healing is promoted if we live from the conscious instead of from the unconscious. That is, if woundings are not addressed - then there are parts of ourselves unrecognized, [and so] often driving us. So healing can lead to consciousness rather than unconsciousness.

2. Wounding leads to a lack of self-love, self love which is the basis of love for others.

Spiritual and Planetary Consciousness begin with self-love.

3. The spiritual revolution will begin with individuals. Peace Pilgrim made a great difference - one person.

4. Consciousness as acceptance was mentioned... if we accept all parts of ourselves, not denying even parts we don't like, we achieve a level of acceptance which approaches full consciousness, an acceptance of ourselves which is key to acceptance of others, a consciousness which is inclusive not exclusionary.

5. Energy follows thought [we can direct our thoughts to where we want our energy to manifest].

Topic B: Is a Permanent Spiritual Forum at the United Nations Needed? What Might It Look Like? How Can We Participate? What Immediate Steps Can Be Taken to Create Such a Forum?

1. At the UN, we need a revisioning of the UN as an adult institution - away from the UN as a forum of negotiation of power, laws into an institution animated by other thoughts... by issues of social justice, of covenants rather than contracts. It [the UN] cannot do this [be so revisioned] without the intellectual/spiritual contributions of [civilian] society - by meetings, forums, the sharing of thought. We need a new vocabulary, new literacy, new scaffolding not based on contracts but on human contacts. It is a [global] responsibility to join the hands of people not at the UN. Civil society contributions are needed. The UN needs to be open to groups who are outside the UN.

Mr. Ndoao wants to host a dinner where people like the small groups of today can pursue these ideas.

2. We need to recognize that "each of us is every other" and "every other is me".

3. A Buddhist parable of how to use 3-foot chopsticks was presented. In summary, in hell, each person was very thin, unable to feed him/herself with 3-foot chopsticks. In heaven, all were robust, as each one fed another, totally feasible with 3-foot chopsticks. If we have tools that we cannot use to feed ourselves, we will surely starve unless we feed, and are fed by, one another.

4.It was observed [with some surprise] that the acronym for United Religions Initiative is URI!!

5. There was a cousinhood of all humans on earth that existed 1200 years ago; all the earth's peoples, therefore, are blood relatives!!

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Notes submitted by a participant:

Some highlights from the speakers and the small group discussions:
We should see ourselves as a mirror imaging the UN.
Development is related to happiness, not materiality.
Higher levels of consciousness -- unity.
We cannot drop money into low levels of consciousness and expect results. We must raise our level of consciousness. The UN is fundamental. Which consciousness is empowering the UN?
There is no spirituality without a connection to nature.
"Unity in diversity to overcome adversity." Paiva Netto
We are to be stewards of the earth and we all have that 'chip'.
Values for a Spiritual Forum: 1st and most essential = Universal Love
Consciousness is fine but you must also have commitment.
Our leaders are public servants. The leaders should not tell the people what to do and make all the decisions. The leaders need to implement what the people want and make decisions in the public's best interest. If you consider a triangle usually the leaders are at the top point and the people at the bottom broad base. It should be the reverse, the broad base of the people at the top and the small point of the leaders at the bottom.
We need a shift of power to civil society.
We should be the FORUM, not create another organization at the UN.
It all comes down to: LOVE + compassion + respect.
A spiritual forum already exists.--It was what the founders of the UN intended.--But, it has not been easy to express this spirituality in the UN.

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Notes submitted by Patrick McNamara and Nickolai Parker:

After a welcome, introduction, and opening meditation, there were three keynote presentations:

1."Planetary Consciousness and Spirituality Throughout the Work of the United Nations" by Alfredo Sfeir-Younis, World Bank <www.worldbank.org> Representative to the United Nations.
2."The Development and Expression of Planetary Consciousness" by Deborah Moldow, World Peace Prayer Society <www.worldpeace.org> Executive Director.
3. "Creating a United Nations Spiritual Forum" by Luciano Meira, Legion of Good Will <www.lbv.org/english> Executive Director.

The keynote presentations were followed by discussions in which the participants broke up into four groups and focused around the following two areas:

1. How do I understand Spirituality and Planetary Consciousness? How can this Consciousness be more fully cultivated and expressed within me and within the United Nations?

2. Is a permanent Spiritual Forum at the United Nations needed? What might it look like? How can we participate? What immediate steps can be taken to create such a forum?

The conference participants returned for a plenary discussion summarizing the main points of the discussion groups. What follows is a brief synopsis of the ideas shared during the plenary session.

The United Nations will itself become the Spiritual Forum. To realize that goal, a petition should be signed by millions of people around the world calling for a voice for Spirituality within the United Nations. This might look something like, "We the people of the World call upon the United Nations to consider the Spiritual component in all decisions and analyses, thereby fostering a global future based on Love and a planetary culture of Peace." Such a petition would respond to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's invitation to hold a "People's Millennium Assembly" and empower the voice of the People to be heard within the UN. The realization of this petition could be furthered at the Parliament of the World's Religions <www.cpwr.org> and through the Millennium People's Assembly Network <www.ourvoices.org>.

The United Nations Spiritual Forum is an organizational evolution that must be preceded by personal evolution. Inner Peace precedes Outer Peace. In creating a culture of Peace throughout our planet for the coming millennium, it is important to introduce people to their Spirit at a young age through a Spirit Education program. The wealth of diversity of the World's religions consists of many names for the Spirit - Prana, Chi, Holy Spirit, Qi, Christos, and more - but it is this Spirit that links all religions and peoples. A Spirit Education program would teach young people about the cultural backgrounds of various religions and provide students with concrete practices (such as meditation, prayer, breathing techniques, visualization, conscious body movements, etc.) for accessing and empowering their Spirit as exemplified by the World's religions traditions.

Furthermore, we discussed the possibility of an expanded definition of a U.N. Spiritual Forum. Many felt it should encompass a wide range of participants and ways of participating as well as more invisible aspects such as the quality of our interactions. We could also support and facilitate change toward spiritual unfoldment within the U.N. system.

Participants could include:
* NGO community members
* International spiritual leaders
* NY/local interfaith community
* UN delegates, employees, affiliates
* Groups outside the UN, virtual participants

Other elements of the definition could include:
* Quality of our interactions (being present, listening, clear/transparent communication, positive intent, respecting/valuing others, etc)
* Quality of interactions of others in the UN system
* Quality of our being (this begins with the person/self, starts from within and expands to the entire human species...)

We discussed conducting workshops to enhance the quality of our interactions and the quality of our being. We discussed the advantages of starting within our own community and how positive things could spread from there (maybe offering this to others in the UN system, etc.)

We saw the (State of the) World Forum 2000 (Sept. 2000, NYC) - a gathering of religious & political leaders - as a place to ground and synthesize the Spiritual Forum.

Revisioning the U.N. was also a theme that emerged. As the UN begins to include civil society, we have an opportunity to also include spiritual aspects, positive intent, processes such as those used by United Religions Initiative (URI) <www.united-religions.org>, a call for a better world, cooperation, healing, interdependence, love, compassion, respect, collaboration. One participant noted that "revisioning itself notes a negotiating power animated by issues of social justice, commonness, and contacts."

Additional Notes from a Participant:

Several people expressed the thought that the reasons for which the United Nations was founded makes of it a very spiritual organization. One person offered the thought that because of its goals and objectives, the United Nations is a spiritual Forum! However, the UN has not been able to realize or fulfill the reasons for which it was created-as stated in the Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Recently, a major obstacle for the United Nations is that member states are not paying their dues and are not contributing financially to the various agencies as they used to. This is an indication that the "powers that be" are not endorsing the goals and aims of the United Nations. We should ask ourselves, what can we do to insure that our governments will pay their dues?

We should continue to provide opportunities and encourage people within the United Nations and those interested in its work to realize the spiritual potential of the United Nations. It was created as the Charter states, "to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom" for all people of the world.

It was also suggested that it is much easier to find fault with what others are or are not doing than to attend to one's own part in the development of planetary consciousness. That is, our tendency is to think about how others (groups, organizations, institutions, governments, etc.) should change as opposed to focusing on how we ourselves can be the solution to the problems we perceive. We should ask ourselves, how can we strengthen and improve the work of the UN?


For further information about this summary report or about the meeting, you may contact Ida Urso at idaurso@aquaac.org; 604 Jersey Avenue No. 1, Jersey City, NJ 07302; or Nina Lynn Meyerhof at coevt@aol.com; P.O. Box 217, Newfane, VT 05345.