The Meaning of Global Spirit

Glen T. Martin

Grand Global Peace Meet, Bangalore, India, 7 January 2015

The “meaning of global spirit” is a huge topic that requires narrowing down for a brief presentation like this one.  One could speak of the global human spirit, cosmic spirit, or divine spirit at great length, and it is important to realize that all authentic religions participate in the transcendent Global Spirit that can be called “Ultimate Reality,” the “Infinite,” or the “Primordial One.”  But what I will do for this brief lecture is limit the concept to the idea of universality that can be attained through proper human development and growth, and that is reflected in the Earth Constitution.

Many psychologists have identified human development from the pre-conventional to the conventional to the post-conventional levels. There are levels of ethical and spiritual maturity that characterize human growth and that follow generally the same developmental patterns everywhere. After the magical, fantasy, and mythological levels by which young children appropriate the religious ideas of their families and immediate communities, many adults move to what James Fowler calls the “synthetic-conventional” level in which believers adopt a coherent belief system from their cultural-religious surroundings. However, Fowler asserts, they are not fully aware that their world-view is constrained within a belief system, but that the Infinite or Ultimate Reality is beyond all belief systems.

They have not directly experienced “global spirit” or the unsayable mystery of Infinite Reality that breaks open all belief systems through direct participation in the unnamable One beyond knowledge, name, and form. Most persons remain on the synthetic-conventional level because they fear the post-conventional level as relativism and loss of moral grounding. A belief system provides comfort and security. One assumes that one has the Truth and the abandonment of this Truth seems like an apostasy and betrayal of God. But this is not the case. Moral and religious development must move beyond the conventional to greater maturity.

Similarly, psychologists like Lawrence Kohlberg, Carol Gilligan, Erich Fromm, and Ken Wilber have identified a “universality” that arises in the post-conventional stages of moral and spiritual development that can lead to yet higher “integral” levels of awareness (integrated levels of morality, spiritual consciousness, and holism). Gilligan, for example, writes that beyond the conventional “ethnocentric” level of moral development one moves to a “Worldcentric” orientation in which the universality of our common human endeavor is embraced with both reason and compassion. She argues that growth can lead to a still higher level that she calls “Integral” in which masculine and feminine qualities are integrated and one lives as a universal, integrated, human being.  James Fowler speaks of a “Conjunctive” level of religious development in which all belief systems are seen as belief systems, and one realizes that the Truth or Global Spirit transcends them all. Mahatma Gandhi’s orientation, for example, was not a belief system but rather and open and ever-growing satyagraha: an active “clinging to Truth.”

In this presentation, I would like to discuss the post-conventional universalism of moral maturity in relation to the Earth Constitution by identifying four principles embodied in the Constitution. Human beings must grow to moral and spiritual maturity soon if we want to survive and flourish on this planet. The Earth Constitution represents human moral maturity in a universal legal form. These four principles reveal the systemic form of the universalism reflected in the Constitution that can and must be expressed in the form of enforceable world legislation.

The first principle is unity in diversity.  There is no true unity without diversity. Every whole in nature and the cosmos reflects a diversity of parts that interrelate to constitute that whole.  Yet human beings have at present only an abstract unity (“humanity” as an ideal of “brotherhood and sisterhood”).  These ideals are lacking the concrete legal unity that joins all together under a common Constitution and common law: recognizing each person as a world citizen entitled to the rights and duties of citizenship. 

Contrary to some views, such unity will help make possible a true respect for diversity.  Otherwise diversity becomes a threat, something alien to what is familiar. The principle of unity in diversity is stated explicitly in the Preamble to the Earth Constitution and the Constitution itself is designed to maximize the participation of diversity within its unity. Moral maturity moves us to the “worldcentric” level, the level where we become universal persons, experiencing our common humanity as equally as real as the vast diversity of persons and cultures. The Earth Constitution embodies this universal unity in diversity in the form of enforceable world law, thereby establishing a peace-system for the Earth.

The second principle embraced by the universalism in the Constitution is the principle of human flourishing.  Every human being has basic needs that are the prerequisite for flourishing: food, shelter, clean water, sanitation, education, health-care, etc.  The Constitution assures all of these things to all people by right and by law. There is no other system in the world that can do this. The system of militarized sovereign nation-states is absolutely incapable of making human flourishing possible on this planet. Assuring these things to all persons must be done by universal law. Economics in the Earth Constitution (under world law) will be in the service of the quality of life and the ability of all persons to lead flourishing lives. The entire Constitution is designed as a system to make this possible universally. The U.N., as a treaty of sovereign nations, has no capacity to establish such a system. If we are persons of universality and compassion, “worldcentric” in our orientation, then it should be clear that we require a global social contract that protects the right of all persons to flourish in dignity, peace, and freedom.

The third principle of universality is the right and duty of persons to the development of reason, intuition, and love. In my newest book called One World Renaissance, I have described reason, intuition, and love as basic to human cognition of the world.  Unlike the “early-modern” paradigm from which capitalism and the nation-state system are derived, it is not the case that humans face a world in which reason that must “objectively” ignore love and intuition in the process of living, knowing, and cognition. We are holistic beings and holistically encounter the cosmos: reason sees the universality of concepts, intuition experiences the universality of that which is beyond name and form, and love binds all these together is many kinds of positive and harmonious relationships from the human level to the level of nature to the cosmos and beyond the cosmos to God.

The present fragmented world system of sovereign nation-states and global capitalism derives from a centuries-old split between reason, intuition, and love. Reason was supposed to operate in the mode of “rational self-interest and scientific objectivity,” ignoring intuition and love as “merely subjective.” The institutions of militarized nation-states and global capitalist exploitation that now dominate the world (causing immense violence and misery everywhere on Earth) are products of this false set of assumptions. The Earth Constitution, on the other hand, is a product of the new holistic paradigm that reintegrates what is fragmented and makes possible the reuniting of reason, intuition, and love. If we desire a spiritual renaissance on the Earth, this must be made possible and complemented by an economic and political renaissance. This is the role of the Earth Constitution.

The fourth way that universality informs the Earth Constitution is that establishes the possibility of real dialogue directed toward mutual understanding for the people of Earth. Conferences and committees that now operate all over the world cannot do this on behalf of the planet as a whole: they have little authority and legitimacy to represent everyone. This is even true of United Nations groups and committees. They represent only sovereign nation-states, never humanity as a whole in mutual dialogue about our common fate and common future.

We need people who are elected as legitimate representatives of the whole of the peoples of Earth who can debate the way into the future, act to protect future generations, and establish peace, sustainability, and justice for our planet. The Earth Constitution sets up a democratic World Parliament for humankind mandated to dialogue about our future and empowered to act in order to build and protect that future. No group today has this kind of authority or responsibility.

What the Earth Constitution does, therefore, is provide our planet with a global brain.  Right now we have many brains working against one another, or working for partial projects (like human rights, protecting the environment, eliminating nuclear weapons, etc.).  But universality demands universal debate about the future of our planet as a whole by our elected, empowered representatives in a World Parliament. When we move to the moral maturity of a “worldcentric” orientation, we begin to understand that dialogue directed toward mutual understanding on behalf of the Earth and its future is missing from our planet and absolutely must be established.  The Earth Constitution establishes the framework for this dialogue, for the Earth having a global brain working to establish peace, freedom, and sustainability for everyone.

All these absolutely essential features of world peace with justice and sustainability are embodied in the Earth Constitution.  Global Spirit must be concretized and practically implemented in human affairs. Its universality is embodied in the Earth Constitution in the principles of unity in diversity, human flourishing, the holism of reason, intuition and love, and dialogue directed toward mutual understanding.