The first and fundamental principle whenever one thinks about society, morality, law, or human life in general is the principle of human dignity. This is the fundamental principle of all morality and law. It means that there is something inviolable about being human, something that sets us apart from all other things and creatures that we are aware of, something that was traditionally recognized as a spark of divinity or being “made in the image of God.” The fact that all normal people everywhere are horrified by homicide, for example, shows that we all immediately know this fundamental principle (Martin 2018, Chap. 2).
St. Paul, in Romans 2:14, declares that the moral law is “written on every human heart” in such a way that the revealed biblical law is not necessary for people to act morally. This is because people everywhere, even those who never heard of Christianity, “do by nature what the law requires.” The Bible declares that there is a universal moral principle known to all persons, written on their hearts by God.
Immanuel Kant in the 18th century is widely credited for putting his finger on the “fundamental principle of all morality” that he called the Categorical Imperative (1964). He states that this imperative is known immediately to all normal persons. It commands: “Always treat every person as an end in themselves, never merely as a means.” Kant explicitly identifies this principle with our infinite dignity which is “beyond all price,” beyond all utilitarian calculations of cost versus benefit. We should not use people. If we harm them or kill them for our own advantage, we are using them as a means and violating their intrinsic human dignity. If we claim “self-defense” as an excuse for doing them violence, we must justify this claim in front of an impartial governmental forum (cf. Martin 2009, Chap. 11).
Russian philosopher Vladimir Solovyov in the 19th century agreed with Kant and St. Paul’s declaration in the Christian New Testament. He affirms that: “The moral principle, recognized in its essence by all normal people, though on different grounds and with different degrees of clearness, asserts that human dignity must be respected in every person, and that thereby no one may be made merely a means or an instrument for the advantage of others” (1950, 211).
World-renowned philosopher Jürgen Habermas in the 20th century, famous as a founder of “Discourse Ethics,” similarly links our ability to engage in “dialogue directed toward mutual understanding” with our immeasurable dignity as persons:
Human dignity,” as I would like to show, is in a strict moral and legal sense connected with this relational symmetry. It is not a property like intelligence or blue eyes, that one might “possess” by nature; it rather indicates the kind of “inviolability” which comes to have a significance only in interpersonal relations of mutual respect, in the egalitarian dealings among persons. (2003, 33)
It is the role of government, for Habermas, to promote a framework in which “dealings among persons” can and must be egalitarian. This provides the framework for “mutual respect,” in which we respect the dignity of others and do not interfere with their legitimate freedom, or their property, or their lives. Government, therefore, makes possible dealing with others through dialogue and lawful interpersonal relationships rather than through force or violence.
Human Freedom and the Common Good
All three of these philosophers recognize that our common human dignity is directly linked to the concept of freedom and that at the same time all persons are integrally linked to society and are part of some larger community. Freedom is inseparable from human dignity, and this inviolability of persons is always framed within an embracing social order. Our dignity itself is integral to our being able to obey the moral law by treating every person as an end in themselves and never using them merely as a means. The first article of the U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights rightly declares that “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.”
Since our fundamental quality is freedom and dignity, this means that a primary function of government is to empower and protect our personal freedom (which is also our immeasurable dignity). But government has a second primary function since it has authority over all persons: it must protect the common good of all. Fundamental to protecting the common good of all is the difficult task of maximizing personal freedom and dignity in such ways that these are equally available to all citizens. Personal freedom must be restricted and regulated in such ways that allow equal freedom to all others within society (cf. Gewirth 1996).
For all three of these thinkers, legitimate government is that which performs this task reasonably well—maximizing personal freedom for persons within a common good framework of enforceable rules and regulations that allow this same personal freedom to all. So-called “positivists” are simply wrong. Government must be morally legitimated with respect to its ability to protect human dignity. And its functional purpose is also this moral one: to balance personal freedom with the common good. Philosopher of law Lon Fuller (1969) distinguishes the “morality of duty” from the “morality of aspiration.” He says that government must enforce a regime of duty required of all persons (the mandatory common good) in order that all persons also may freely pursue the “morality of aspiration” (their freely chosen goals). As Solovyov expresses this:
The demand for personal freedom presupposes, for the sake of its own realization, restraint upon freedom insofar as, at the present stage of human development, it is incompatible with the existence of society or with the common good. The interests of individual freedom and general welfare, opposed to each other in abstract thought but equally binding morally, coincide in fact. Legal justice is born of their union. (1950, 202)
The Moral Failure of All Governments Today
In his famous essay on “Perpetual Peace” (1957, orig. pub. 1795), Kant argues that the above reasons are why all human beings are morally required to live under “republican” government. You cannot have the freedom to be moral without an enforceable common good manifested in a set of rules that empower and protect this freedom by prohibiting others from interfering with it. With a prescience characteristic of genius, Kant saw that the system of militarized sovereign nation-states violated this requirement.
Each “sovereign” government claimed autonomy over its internal affairs and recognized no enforceable laws above itself with regard to its “external” affairs. Therefore, each sovereign government, with its vaunted military prowess, was illegitimate, in a condition of perpetual war-making that Kant called “barbarity, rudeness, and a brutish degradation of humanity” (ibid., 16). Each government was “free” in relation to the rest of humanity irrespective of the fact that there was no government for humanity as a whole to regulate or restrict that freedom with respect to the common good of all.
Without such a global framework, human civilization remained in a condition of what Thomas Hobbes (1651) called “a war of all against all.” The first and foremost moral imperative according to Kant, was to leave this condition and establish a lawful framework for all nations. They must “enter into a constitution similar to a civil constitution” (1957., 16).
The absolute national sovereignty that has characterized nation-states for the more than three centuries claims “freedom” for each individual nation-state and ignores the common good of humanity as a whole, a common good that necessarily requires a governing authority with the enforceable capacity to end all militarism and restrict the freedom of each to conform to the equal freedom of the rest. The very existence of a military in any of these sovereign nations constitutes a denial of the notion that there is a common good of humanity, linked to human dignity, that must be protected. Any of these militarized entities is free to decide for itself (without external lawful penalty or constraint) where and when to deploy its military forces.
It is free to decide for itself whether to kill others with a drone strike or an assassination team, or through economic sanctions to starve the citizens of some other nation to death. The task of their military forces is precisely to violate the dignity of designated “enemies” by taking from them their livelihoods and lives without any lawful protection. Their job is to treat the “enemy” as a mere means and never has an inviolable end in themselves. The so-called “self-defense” argument is a complete sham. There is no such thing as “self-defense” when you are the only judge of when and where such “defense” is necessary or legitimate.
The Earth Constitution as Moral Imperative
We have seen that the fundamental moral principle requires both the moral demand to treat every person as an end in themselves (possessing immeasurable dignity) and the mandatory context for a government that provides a set of enforceable minimal requirements to protect the equal security and freedom of all. Any military organization is necessarily directed to the arbitrary killing of some designated “enemy” in denial of their dignity. The standing assumption behind any military is that they have the “right” to arbitrarily destroy any chosen “enemy” irrespective of that enemy’s human dignity and irrespective of the common good of the whole of humanity. As Kant expresses this: “states do not plead their cause before a tribunal; war alone is their way of bringing suit” (1957, 18).
That is why our fundamental moral imperative today is ratification of the Constitution for the Federation of Earth. And that is why the Constitution is necessarily non-military. All militarization is immoral. The only moral form of enforcement demands a civilian police force who are required to obey the laws within a constitutional framework protecting the equal freedom and dignity of all, just the opposite of what is required of a military.
The Earth Constitution is brilliantly designed for these purposes. It respects all the nations of the world under Article 14 and empowers them to participate in governing within the House of Nations under Article 5. It respects the universal human rights and dignity of all human beings under Articles 12 and 13 and empowers all persons to participate in governing within the House of Peoples. It wisely adds a House of Counsellors to represent the common good of the whole. It creates a world civilian police force under Article 10 whose job it is to progressively reduce any use of force in the administration of world laws and create an environment based on genuine “conflict resolution” that includes “a fair hearing under non-violent circumstances.”
Our world system as it now exists is deeply immoral and illegitimate. We are morally and rationally required to create democratic world government as rapidly as possible. The Earth Constitution is the best proposal for doing this and sets out achievable mechanisms for accomplishing this step by step. The only legitimate society is one that respects human freedom and dignity within a framework of enforceable laws premised on the common good of the whole. No sovereign nation-state within today’s world is therefore legitimate. Every nation today prefers “barbarity, rudeness, and a brutish degradation of humanity.”
The time is now, not only because we are in danger of making ourselves extinct through nuclear holocaust and/or climate collapse. The Earth Constitution is founded squarely on human dignity within the framework of an enforceable common good. It not only frees us from our present homicidal trajectory. It also embodies the most fundamental moral imperative of human existence. The time is now because we experience this moral imperative as a timeless and absolute demand governing every “now.” Let us act now to ratify the Constitution for the Federation of Earth.
Constitution for the Federation of Earth. Found on-line at www.earthconstitution.world and www.wcpa.global. Also published in a number of editions by the Institute for Economic Democracy Press and available from vendors like Amazon.com.
Fuller, Lon (1969). The Morality of Law: Revised Edition. New Haven: Yale University Press.
Gewirth, Alan (1996). The Community of Rights. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Habermas, Jürgen (2003). The Future of Human Nature. Cambridge: Polity Press.
Hobbes, Thomas (1963, orig. pub. 1651). Leviathan. Ed. John Plamenatz. New York: Merridian Books.
Kant, Immanuel (1957, orig. pub. 1795). Perpetual Peace. Ed. Lewis White Beck. New York: Macmillian.
Kant, Immanuel (1964). Groundwork to the Metaphysics of Morals. Trans. H.J. Paton. New York: Harper & Row.
Martin, Glen T. (2009). Emerging World Law: Volume One. Appomattox, VA: Institute for Economic Democracy Press.
Martin, Glen T. (2018). Global Democracy and Human Self-Transcendence. London: Cambridge Scholars.
Solovyov Anthology, Ed. S. L. Frank, Trans. Natalie Duddington. Paris: Student Christian Movement Press, 1950, pp. 198-223.
If a man is walking alone in nature, is he truly alone?
In the late 1970s through the early 1980s I was a graduate student in Philosophy in New York City. I did not have plans to become a professor of philosophy or any such thing. Rather, I was simply interested in the “big questions,” and philosophy seemed to me to be the discipline most suited to addressing these big questions. “What is a human being?” “What is the ultimate nature of the universe?” “Is the ultimate nature of the universe connected with what it means to be a human being?” In other words, “What is the meaning and purpose of human life?”
These are the questions that I was concerned with on a very personal, existential level. I hoped the study of philosophy could help me address them because I believed these questions bore directly on my personal search for meaning and truth. I had also pursued these questions during my undergraduate years (in the tumultuous 1960s) but in a more idiosyncratic, haphazard fashion—reading books that promised to address these big questions, mostly on my own, apart from my formal class assignments. I read books on Buddhism, psychology, economic theory, liberation philosophy, and spiritual enlightenment. My understanding of the complexity, difficulty, and nuances of the questions deepened, but the questions remained—“What is the meaning and purpose of our existence on this Earth?”
I discovered that the quest for wisdom, insight, clarity, and understanding was not an easy task but rather a lifelong quest. Early on, I embraced Friedrich Nietzsche’s formulation of the problems I felt: “the threat of nihilism,” that is, of meaninglessness, of nothingness, of life without direction or purpose. My quest in graduate school in New York City was to overcome this nihilism and discover answers and a deeper meaning to existence. Fortunately, I had some professors in graduate school who addressed these questions and contributed to my search for answers.
But also, unfortunately, at that time, much philosophy within the United States had been affected by movements known as “Positivism” and “Analytical Philosophy.” These movements declared that the big questions were unanswerable and even meaningless. The business of philosophy was to stick to scientifically demonstrated facts and to analyze arguments. Philosophers did an analysis of texts to show their logical structure and cogency of arguments. It also attempted to show that arguments regarding these “big questions” were both futile and meaningless. Philosophy no longer had any business trying to address these big questions.
This is illustrated by an encounter I had with one of the examiners who read my Ph.D. dissertation. This dissertation was a huge piece of writing in which I attempted to deal with Nietzsche’s problem of nihilism by using the insights provided through the philosophy of language developed by Ludwig Wittgenstein. The dissertation gave a complete interpretation of Nietzsche’s philosophy and a complete interpretation of Wittgenstein’s thought and showed why the latter addresses the problem of nihilism in the former. This examiner was from the Analytical tradition.
He thought it was OK to write interpretative accounts of historical thinkers (like Nietzsche or Wittgenstein), but actually attempting to address the big questions with possible solutions or wisdom was not acceptable. He argued that my dissertation was really two dissertations—a study of Nietzsche and a study of Wittgenstein, but there was no sense in putting them together in this way. I replied that putting them together was exactly the point because my juxtaposition illuminated the big philosophical question of how to address nihilism. He thought that my answer was incomprehensible and had nothing to do with the discipline of philosophy.
Despite his criticisms, I graduated and continued to pursue the big questions and integral solutions to our most fundamental human problems. Since that time humanity has been facing ever more severe crises, and even ever greater challenges to its survival (see Martin 2021). The threat of a planetary life-ending nuclear war did not abate after the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the threat of climate collapse has continued to accelerate since that time.
Do these apparently suicidal tendencies on the part of human beings have to do with the big questions? I think that they do. Would human beings continue to act in ways that destroy our beautiful Earth, civilization as a whole, and the life prospects of future generations unless they were lost in nihilism—in the belief that there is no meaning or purpose, no infinity, no sacredness to life, no deep meaning to existence? Today, the big questions are more important than ever. If we are to have a future on this planet, we need to discover a way out of nihilism.
Ancient civilizations, for example, in China, India, and Europe, always believed in a higher meaning and purpose to human life. In one way or another, each civilization believed that human beings were a microcosm of the macrocosm, that is, human beings contained within themselves all the constitutive elements of being and therefore were bearers of the sacred foundations of existence itself. In each of these civilizations, there was the understanding that the inner life must be cultivated to become ever more resonant with the foundations of existence, capable of experiencing union with the divine ground of Being, the sacred source of all existence.
But the rise of early-modern science in Europe during the 16th and 17th centuries rapidly changed all of this. In the year of his death (1543) Nicholas Copernicus published On the Revolution of Heavenly Bodies and began the process of reframing the meaning of human life that has continued to the present. His shift from a geocentric to a heliocentric cosmology soon blossomed into a paradigm shift of immense proportions. Humanity’s claim to being the center of the universe evaporated almost overnight. We soon appeared merely as tiny, insignificant creatures orbiting a remote star within a vast universe of incomprehensible size and emptiness, a universe mute to our demands for meaning and apparently in contradiction to our religious sense that this universe was a divine drama of which we were the center and main player. At the same time the human mind was no longer considered a microcosm of the divine mind. It was reduced simply to the egoistic impulses of tiny, individualistic creatures inhabiting the third planet from the sun. In the 18th century, the philosophy of David Hume epitomized this reduction.
In the 19th century, Nietzsche summed up the implications of this collapse of those ancient cosmological worldviews. He wrote: “Since Copernicus, man seems to have got himself on an inclined plane—now he is slipping faster and faster away from the center into—what? Into nothingness? Into a “penetrating sense of his nothingness”?” (1969, 155). Man had entered the era of nihilism—the old meanings have evaporated, and no new meaning appears, only the cold, endless regions of a universe apparently unaware of our existence. If there is no transcendent meaning to our existence, what is left? Only egoism, the personal life of self-indulgence, power, and greed. “I care only about relations in which I and my kind dominate others in order to keep the means of life under our control. We take as much as possible for ourselves in the short lifespan we possess simply to use it all and use it up.” The world at that time also gave birth to the modern system of nation-states in which power, war, and exploitative market relations become supreme and to modern capitalism in which my profit and ascendency supersede all respect of the quality of life and well-being of others. “My power and profit” emerge as the supreme goals of the capitalist, and national power and military prowess as the supreme goals of the nation-state (as Kant pointed out in his 1795 essay on Perpetual Peace).
No longer are we microcosms of the sacred macrocosm but rather agents of what Nietzsche called a “will to power” operating “beyond good and evil” in societies of isolated human egos characterized by the “general inclination of all mankind of a restless desire of power after power that ceaseth only in death” (as Thomas Hobbes declared in his Leviathan of 1651). The world is now composed of collective egos eager for power (nation-states) and individual egos pursuing power and wealth (capitalists), and not much else. The old sacredness is finished, and the stage is set for World War One and World War Two—the industrialized destruction of all peoples, one against another, a world militarized to the teeth with gigantic forces dedicated to one another’s ultimate destruction (see Glover 1999).
Is this how we answer the big questions today? Collective and individual egos in a war of all against all? Is there no meaning to existence beyond the mad will to power of nations and capitalists? No wonder we are facing an omnicidal process of self-extinction. What does it matter if we destroy all life in thermonuclear war or total climate collapse? Just a tiny, insignificant power-crazed creature struggling meaninglessly within the infinite reaches of space. Is this the paradigm assumption behind the collective egoism of nation-states and the individualist egoism of capitalist greed?
However, our civilizational paradigm has shifted again, beginning some 122 years ago. The new paradigm is often called the “counter-Copernican revolution.” Copernicus moved us out of the center; the new paradigm places us back in the center, a center now very different, because it is no longer a physical center but rather a spiritual, cognitive, and moral center. The new paradigm shift began with Quantum Physics and Einstein’s Relativity Theory in the early 20th century and has continued to deepen and expand since that time.
The new paradigm can be termed “cosmic holism.” The entire range of sciences, beginning with physics, has discovered the oneness of the universe, the oneness of our planetary ecosystem, and the oneness of human beings on planet Earth. And quantum physics has discovered that our universe is a “conscious universe” (Kafatos and Nadeau 1990). Mind is not just the little egoistic self-awareness of human individuals; it informs the entire universe and human minds are awakened and animated insofar as they participate in the cosmic mind. Human beings can ascend to “cosmic consciousness” (Bucke 1974). Quantum experts conclude that the universe evolves with a cosmic memory, and is imbued with “entanglement, coherence, correlation and resonance.” Their article expressing this holism concludes and sums up the new paradigm with this ancient Sanskrit proverb:
God sleeps in the minerals, awakens in plants, walks in animals and, thinks in man
(Mitchell & Staretz 2011, 219-20).
Not that the dominant institutions on our planet have been influenced. They have not, and power-hungry nation-states and greedy capitalists remain dominant. But around the world, millions of individuals and non-governmental societies have evolved who are dedicated to promoting and actualizing this new paradigm. The old, early-modern paradigm is embodied in the UN Charter, based upon militarized sovereign nation-states. The new paradigm is embodied in the Constitution for the Federation of Earth, based on the unity and dignity of all persons in one planetary civilization.
The Earth Constitution, of course, does not directly address the big questions of the meaning and purpose of existence. It provides a brilliant set of rules for governing ourselves on the Earth—for ending war, protecting universal human rights, diminishing social differences, and protecting the planetary ecosystem. But once we comprehend the holism of the emergent paradigm of the 20th and 21st centuries, we also understand that this holism needs to be embodied in our institutions. We need a system of democratic government that works for everyone on Earth and an economic system that promotes the common good while protecting the planetary environment.
Militarized nation-states and unrestrained capitalism can do neither. They are key causes of the suicidal trajectory that human beings find everywhere in the world. The Earth Constitution is premised on holism from beginning to end. If we adopt the new paradigm of holism, we also need to actively support the ratification of the Earth Constitution. Life once again has meaning, significance, and sacredness.
These answers to the big questions inspire us with the immense meaning and significance of our own lives and human project. But this meaningfulness must be turned into transformative action before it is too late. The Earth Constitution brings the coherence and harmony of the cosmos directly into human economics and governance. Today, the truly big questions are addressed through definitive action. We embody holism within our planetary institutions and thereby create a truly redeemed future for humanity.
Bucke, Maurice (1974, orig.pub. 1900). Cosmic Consciousness: A Study in the Evolution of the Human Mind. New York. Causeway Books. Constitution for the Federation of Earth. WCPA. In print with Institute for Economic Democracy Press, Appomattox, VA, 2010 and 2014. Glover, Jonathan (1999). Humanity: A Moral History of the 20th Century. New Haven. Yale University Press. Hobbes, Thomas (1963, first pub. 1651). Leviathan. New York. Meridian Books. Kafatos, Means and Robert Nadeau (1990). The Conscious Universe: Part and Whole in Modern Physical Theory. New York. Springer-Verlag. Kant, Immanuel (1983, first pub. 1795). Perpetual Peace and Other Essays. Trans. Ted Humphreys. Indianapolis. Hackett Publishing Company. Martin, Glen T. (2021). The Earth Constitution Solution: Design for a Living Planet. Independence, VA. Peace Pentagon Press. Mitchell, Edgar and Robert Staretz (2011). The Quantum Hologram And the Nature of Consciousness in Quantum Physics of Consciousness. Cambridge. Cosmology Science Publishers. Nietzsche, Friedrich (1969, first pub. 1887). On the Genealogy of Morals and Ecce Homo. Trans. Walter Kaufmann. New York. Vintage Books.
Glen T. Martin, Ph.D., is an author of twelve books and hundreds of articles concerning global issues, human spirituality, and democratic world government. A recipient of many peace awards, he is the longtime President of the World Constitution and Parliament Association (WCPA).
The human phenomenon has emerged out of the cosmic process some 13.7 billion years in the making. The most fundamental scientific paradigm-shift of the 20th and 21st centuries has been to shift to an evolutionary model of cosmic development. In the 19th century Hegel provided an abstract philosophical vision of a progressive development of the divine principle through human history, and in 1859 Charles Darwin published On the Origin of Species showing the biological evolution of all species and hence the interconnectedness of all species in the “immense journey” of life. But it was not until Einstein’s Theory of Relativity and Edwin Hubble’s providing empirical evidence for an expanding universe during the 1920s that it began to dawn on scientists everywhere that everything evolves, even the universe as a whole.
Our universe has evolved through distinct stages, as Brian Swimme and many others have pointed out, and each stage involves a transformation of the whole and could not happen except for the groundwork laid by previous stages—the primal flaring forth, the birth of the first stars, the formation of galaxies, then supernova explosions within galaxies creating and distributing all the heavy elements of the atomic spectrum necessary to life, then these heavy elements being captured in the formation of third generation stars (such as our Sun), and the following evolutionary incorporation of these atomic elements into the process of the evolution of life on planets orbiting these third generation stars, and then, finally, life ascending to ever-greater levels of complexity and corresponding higher levels of consciousness.
Under this evolutionary paradigm, many discoveries have been made such as the “Anthropic Principle” that attempts to show that the very early conditions in the universe already contained the evolution of self-conscious creatures that now observe them.[i] The growing consensus today is that human beings are in some fundamental sense “intended” by the cosmos, that we are born from the series of sequential cosmic processes going back 13.7 billion years. What is this meaning of human life? What is the purpose of this cosmic emergence?
This evolutionary paradigm has also been widely applied to human development across several dimensions. Ken Wilber, for example, provides a model of development he names “AQAL” (all quadrants, all levels), which outlines evolutionary development in human life across the subjective quadrant (or zone), the cultural zone, the institutional zone, and the scientific zone. In Integral Spirituality he also compares the developmental models from a number of major thinkers to illustrate the impressive consensus of their findings.[ii]
One developmental line, for example, presents the growth of human “self-identity” through the following stages: Symbiotic, Impulsive, Self-protective, Conformist, Conscientious, Individualistic, Autonomous Construct-Aware, Ego-aware, Transpersonal. We all begin at a “symbiotic” level and human growth normally does not progress far along within these developmental stages, with the majority largely at conformist and/or conscientious levels. The higher levels in this list of stages of human development have been attained by perhaps a few persons and/or cultures in history, but these levels can be mapped because of the immense congruent records of philosophical and religious traditions going back several thousand years. Another model presents a simpler developmental sequence from an egoistic stage, through an ethnocentric stage, to a worldcentric stage, to an integral or cosmic stage.
All these models lead beyond personal egocentric consciousness to “transpersonal” levels. At these levels, it is no longer ego, personal self-interest, or cultural identifications that are operating but rather holism, the whole of humanity, the whole of the planetary biosphere, the whole of the cosmos, or the whole of God, world, and cosmos together. The higher levels involve “cosmic consciousness” in which it appears that the Cosmos, or perhaps the “heart” of the Cosmos (God) is thinking and acting, rather than the isolated ego.
As Wilber’s AQAL model points out, growth at the individual subjective level is, and needs to be, paralleled by cultural, institutional, and scientific growth. Our own development is connected with that of humanity because each of us is, in fundamental ways, humanity. As Indian-born spiritual thinker Jiddu Krishnamurti expressed this: “If you don’t know how your mind reacts, if your mind is not aware of its own activities, you will never find out what society is…. Your mind is humanity, and when you perceive this, you will have immense compassion. Out of this understanding comes great love.”[iii]
We will see Zen Buddhist scholar Abe Masao and many others emphasize these same connections. If the cosmos and humanity are whole, why are human institutions inevitably fragmented and atomistic? What are the institutional and cultural levels that parallel awakening to the “great Self” in Zen Buddhism? Could it be recognition of the “sovereignty of mankind”?
Human beings from all cultures, races, religions, and parts of the globe go through such stages of development, and perhaps nearly all have the potential to move to the highest stages. One may argue about how to delineate the stages, but the general principle appears solid. Our bodies, we now know, are made possible only by incorporating stardust (the heavier elements created and scattered by Supernova star explosions). Our minds, we now know from Quantum physics, act as receivers of the consciousness inherent in all aspects of the cosmos.[iv] Our entire lives are only made possible through a profound participation in these and many other dimensions of the cosmos.
Chapter 5 of my 2005 book, Millennium Dawn: The Philosophy of Planetary Crisis and Human Liberation, examines the literature of and about “mysticism” at some depth. The classic studies of mysticism such as The Teachings of the Mystics by Walter Stace or Mysticism East and West by Rudolf Otto, argue that the core of mysticism is exhibited by those in meditation who entirely lose consciousness of the world and its diversity and, in non-dual ecstasy, experience absolute oneness. In that chapter I argue that this is not correct, since it leaves out the immediacy of the world. Non-duality and diversity are not incompatible. The world is an integrated whole present to us at every moment.
The highest form of mysticism, therefore, is “integrative mysticism” in which we encounter the fullness-emptiness of the world directly, with this unity experienced within the depths of its diversity. As Chapter 5 declares: “Our situation at the dawn of the twenty-first century is that we must take the next step into fundamental transformation, or we will destroy ourselves and our planet. We must move beyond dependence on science, knowledge, and language to a living-in-oneness with the overwhelming immediacy prior to language and reason that encompasses our lives from the beginning…. This is planetary maturity, as well as the realization of freedom and fulfillment on our precious planet.”[v]
In his book entitled Cosmic Humanism and World Unity (1975),Professor Oliver L. Reiser writes: “The darkening clouds of social disaster curving over the great mass fields of the human drama cannot be dispelled until we synthesize a world outlook in which religion, science, art, and philosophy are coordinated with economic-political mechanisms to give common life meaning and purpose.”[vi] Why are we here? What is our purpose? I believe the quotations below (from a broad spectrum of major thinkers) give important indications of this.
The Processes of Emergence, Recognition, and Responsibility
Henri Bergson was a very influential French philosopher active during the first half of the 20th century. In one of his major books called Creative Evolution, Bergson characterized the being of the universe in just this way: as truly “creative” evolution.
Henri Bergson— Thanks to philosophy, all things acquire depth—more than depth, something like a fourth dimension which permits anterior perceptions to remain bound up with present perceptions, and the immediate future itself to become partly outlined in the present. Reality no longer appears then in the static state, in its manner of being; it affirms itself dynamically…. Everything comes to life around us, everything is revivified in us. A great impulse carries being and things along. We feel uplifted, carried away, borne along by it. We are more fully alive.
Intuition, bound up to a duration which is growth, perceives in it an uninterrupted continuity of unforeseeable novelty; it sees, it knows that the mind draws from itself more than it has, that spirituality consists in just that, and that reality, impregnated with spirit, is creation.[vii]
In the 18th century, Immanuel Kant had conceived of the mind as processing the world through immutable “categories of understanding or conception” that made apprehending “noumenal” ultimate reality impossible. Bergson uncovers an awareness in us more immediate than “categories of understanding” or any conceptions whatsoever. He calls this “pure duration” that experiences the flow of existence, a flow in which the past does not determine the future causally (one of Kant’s “categories of understanding”) but allows for genuine novelty to emerge from the process.
The cosmos is a process, not a static reality, and we emerge from its flow and are constituted by that flow. The flow is an immediacy prior to thought, cognition, and language. This may well be what Buddhism has long understood and is at the heart of its anatta (no self) and anicca (no things or impermanence) doctrines. The flow is simultaneously the whole, emerging ceaselessly in the ever-present now at the heart of all things and the totality of the cosmos.
20th century physicist David Bohm explains this “implicate order” from which emerges the “explicate order” studied by the sciences and experienced by the majority of human beings. Bohm made major contributions to quantum physics and became a well-known writer and speaker concerning the revolutionary implications of these scientific breakthroughs. The following quotes are from his major book, Wholeness and the Implicate Order (1980).
David Bohm— The widespread and pervasive distinctions between people (race, nation, family profession, etc., etc.), which are now preventing mankind from working together for the common good, and indeed, even for survival, have one of their key factors of their origin in a kind of thought that treats things as inherently divided, disconnected, and ‘broken up’ into yet smaller constituent parts. Each part is considered to be essentially independent and self-existent. When man thinks of himself in this way, he will inevitably tend to defend the needs of his own ‘Ego’ against those of the others, or, if he identifies with a group of people of the same kind, he will defend his group in a similar way.
He cannot seriously think of mankind as the basic reality, whose claims come first…. If he thinks of the totality as constituted of independent fragments, then that is how his mind will tend to operate, but if he can include everything coherently and harmoniously in an overall whole that is undivided, unbroken, and without a border (for every border is a division or break) then his mind will tend to move in a similar way, and from this will flow an orderly action within the whole.[viii]
This can be seen especially clearly in terms of groupings of people in society (political, economic, religious, etc.). The very act of forming such a group tends to create a sense of division and separation of the members from the rest of the world but, because the members are really connected with the whole, this cannot work.
One might then suggest that in intelligent perception, the brain and nervous system respond directly to an order in the universal and unknown flux that cannot be reduced to anything that could be defined in terms of knowable structures. Intelligence and material process have thus a single origin, which is ultimately the unknown totality of the universal flux. In a certain sense, this implies that what have been commonly called mind and matter are abstractions from the universal flux and that both are to be regarded as different and relatively autonomous orders within the one whole movement… It is thought responding to intelligent perception which is capable of bringing about an overall harmony or fitting between mind and matter….
The reason why these forms are related could only be in the ground from which they arise, but there can be no way of discussing relative correspondence in this ground, because relative correspondence implies knowledge, while the ground is beyond what can be assimilated in the content of knowledge.
Such a projection can be described as creative rather than mechanical, for by creativity one means just the inception of new content, which unfolds into a sequence of moments that is not completely derivable from what came earlier in this sequence or set of sequences. What we are saying is, then, that the movement is basically such a creative inception of new content as projected from the multidimensional ground. In contrast, what is mechanical is a relatively autonomous sub-totality that can be abstracted from that which as basically a creative movement of unfoldment.
Bohm raises a number of crucial points. Like Bergson, he distinguishes the creative rather than “mechanical” nature of the cosmos. Genuinely new things are energies, perpetually emerging, that are not determined by past events nor any pervasive, deterministic causality. Ordinary thinking is fragmented thinking because it identifies borders and distinguishes among groupings assumed to be “real” apart from its descriptions.
Philosopher of Language Ludwig Wittgenstein wrote his early book Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (1921) exploring the possibility of the linguistic description of things corresponding to, or pictorially representing, features of the world. He discovered that this was impossible and, in his later philosophy, converted his entire way of thinking to the view that all language is purely “conventional,” that it does not “correspond” to any extra-linguistic ontological realities.
The last sentence of the Tractatus declares: “What we cannot speak about we must pass over in silence.” David Bohm confirms this principle from the point of view of a physicist; matter and mind themselves are aspects of a single holistic process: “the ground that is beyond what can be assimilated in the content of knowledge.” We cannot “know” it scientifically. We encounter reality through silence.
Bohm points out that our fragmented human condition is the source of war, violence, and possible coming human self-destruction. When people make borders and boundaries, and take them as realities, they in principle are denying the primacy of the whole and its integral flux beyond distinctions and boundaries. Because of this they do not see that the common good of humanity takes priority over the plethora of parts. Indeed, they fail to fully encounter the reality of “one humanity” at all, and remain bound in fragmentation, chaos, and wars.
Another scientist, evolutionary biologist, and cosmological thinker, Brian Swimme, emphasizes wonder, and astonishment at the awesome truths of “the universe story” uncovered by science. Swimme is professor of evolutionary cosmology at the California Institute of Integral Studies. One of his major publications was coauthored by poet Thomas Berry called The Universe Story: From the Primal Flaring Forth to the Ecozoic Era. A Celebration of the Unfolding of the Cosmos (1992). The quotes below are from two of his subsequent books.
Swimme emphasizes that this awesome process of emergence over 13.7 billion years of ever-greater complexity and coherence must sink in, become part of our being and our living. Doing this will mean the “transformation of humanity” and our rebirth to become creatures of the cosmos, becoming self-conscious living embodiments at the cusp of the universal process.
Brian Swimme— It is easy for someone to become momentarily fascinated or titillated by the wild data of the new story of the universe, but it is another thing altogether to absorb its meaning into the center of one’s being. What is needed is embodiment. What is needed is the transformation of humanity from the form it takes today into forms congruent with the ways of the universe. Such a transformation will take place in those individuals who have the courage, imagination, and energy necessary to make the journey.
An omnicentric universe is filled with voices calling us into deep activation. When we find our way into alignment, the energy that constructed the galaxies flows in our veins. We were a part, now we are whole. Our fulfillment is to become the heart of the universe in the form of a human being.[ix]
We are enveloped in something like a dream. And today we are beginning to imagine that we might have a particular role to play in this dream. With each passing decade, the life-process is increasingly affected by the influence of human consciousness. Perhaps human consciousness has a much larger significance within evolution than earlier philosophers could imagine. Could it be that our deeper destiny is to bring forth a new coherence within the planet as a whole, as the human community learns to align itself with the underlying dynamics of the Earth’s life.[x]
There is little validity to the idea that humans are isolated individuals, for each of us arises out of an ocean of experience and understanding acquired by our species as a whole. As we learn to draw upon aspects of this accumulation of knowledge we begin to participate in a collective process that has developed for some two hundred thousand years…. Because of our symbol-making skills, we became, overnight, a planetary species.
Rather than viewing time as the movement of the hands of a medieval clock or the digital display from a vibrating crystal, we can begin to reflect on the way in which time in a cosmological sense is the creativity of the universe itself. There was a time for bringing forth hydrogen atoms. There was a time for bringing forth galaxies. There was a time when Earth became ignited with life. These are indicated not by anything mechanical, but by the deepest processes of the universe itself. There was likewise a time for the universe to bring forth the human species. We live not in any mechanical time, but in this enveloping cosmological time. We live in that time when Earth itself begins its adventure of conscious self-awareness.
We arise from the “ocean of experience and understanding” that comprises the whole of human history and our species evolution for the past 200,000 years. Early humans were as just awestruck by the stars and the cosmos as we are, perhaps more so, because we have descended into a false Newtonian cosmology, thinking of things atomistically, mechanically, and deterministically, rather than recognizing the amazing, creative eruptions of the cosmos and the unity of all these processes within the cosmic whole.
There is no way that we can be conceived as “isolated individuals” today, divided from our species as a whole. When we awaken to “cosmological time” we become the eyes and ears of the cosmos experiencing the whole process and its emergence in a single, self-aware species, destined to live in harmony and coherence with one another and our planet as a whole.
Like Brian Swimme, philosopher Karl Jaspers emphasizes encounter with the mystery. Swimme emphasizes awe at the astonishing cosmic processes that gave rise to the human phenomenon. Jaspers, coming more from the point of view of philosophy rather than science, underlines that “the world and everything that occurs in it is a mystery.” This is what might be called “ontological astonishment.” Everything and at all times is utterly astonishing. Philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein understood this deeply. It affected his whole life as his 1929 “Lecture on Ethics” attests. He describes his primary experience, his “experience par excellence” as “wonder at the existence of the world.” Wittenstein is astonished that anything at all exists.
This experience illuminates “ethics” for him. From this astonishment derives all of ethics, Wittgenstein declares, and “ethics is the enquiry into the meaning of life, or into what makes life worth living, or into the right way of living.” An immense realization occurs here. For Wittgenstein, the utter and absolute disjunction between everyday “facts” and everyday uses of the word “good” (e.g., “he is a good tennis player) points to the deep meaning of human life. Wittgenstein continues: “I can only describe my feeling by the metaphor, that, if a man could write a book on Ethics which was really a book on Ethics, this book would, with an explosion, destroy all the other books in the world.”[xi] We cannot really say it; we can only point to it with metaphors and gestures. Yet the meaning of life arises directly from the depths of the cosmos. It arises through astonishment, through direct experience prior to language and cognition.
Jaspers was a world-renowned philosopher and psychiatrist who left clinical practice in medicine to become a philosopher, teaching first in Germany and later in Switzerland. He is famous, among other things, for defining (in his 1949 book The Origin and Goal of History) the “Axis Period in human history” that took place during the first millennium BCE. Jaspers’ writings exhibit something of this same ontological astonishment as that of Brian Swimme. For Jaspers, this astonishment is not a contingent human experience predicated on our subjective idiosyncrasies. It is—should be—fundamental to our response to living.
Karl Jaspers— The world and everything that occurs in it is a mystery. The crudeness of finding everything to be self-evident through force of habit and the mania for mystery to the point of the sensational and the superstitious must disappear where genuine astonishment begins. Philosophy illuminates the mystery and brings it completely into consciousness. It begins with astonishment and increases the astonishment…. Then the world as a whole and in every individual feature shows infinite depth. This mystery is quiet; in flaring up it becomes revealed in an unfoldment. And this mystery is essential; in it Being itself speaks.[xii]
As philosophy “illuminates” the mystery, our astonishment only increases. Once the mystery is experienced, it never decreases. For in the mystery “Being itself speaks.” In our knowledge-systems, we lay out vast networks of concepts, but these never touch the “mystery of existence.”[xiii] It requires what we have seen Bergson call “direct intuition” prior to our conceptual lives.
Errol E. Harris was also a major philosopher and cosmologist who taught at several prominent universities and published more than 30 books during his long career. He held significant positions at these universities and at different times was President of the Metaphysical Society of America and the Hegel Society of America. Harris took his stand on reason and affirmed (in my own conversations with him) that he was not very interested in “mysticism.”
As such he approached our human situation through epistemological, logical, and metaphysical paths that both encompass as well as transcend the Western philosophical tradition going back to the Pre-Socratic philosophers. He does not emphasize “astonishment.” Quite the contrary, he maximized human reason and the power of understanding. Human self-conscious reason, he concluded, contains within itself the power of unending transcendence, leading it from the finite to the Infinite (God), a God that constitutes the totality of the cosmos, both immanent within, but also, as the whole, transcending the sum of its parts.[xiv]
Contemporary science, Harris concludes, has shown that our universe manifests a “nisus” toward coherence, harmony, and intricate complexity. These paragraphs describe its operation and its result.
Errol E. Harris— By an activity of self-organization, this sentience is articulated and brings itself to consciousness, and in our minds becomes self-reflective—so that the whole process becomes aware of itself. Thus, our consciousness of ourselves is at the same time the consciousness of the world and the world’s consciousness of itself; for it has brought itself to consciousness in and through our minds by its own process of self-specification. Because diversity is essential to the unity of the whole, the consciousness of itself achieved in its self-specification is not simply unitary, but, in keeping with the proliferation of its individualized products, is distributed in a multiplicity of centers….
It is within the dialectic of our own experience that we come to recognize ourselves as the developed product of the world-process, and our knowledge as the way the world becomes aware of itself in us…. It is the universal principle integrating the whole, which is immanent in the living organism and has now become aware of itself, as “I.”…. But because the universal principle is immanent in us, and because we represent that stage in its self-development at which its activity becomes self-conscious, we become aware of all this, and our ourselves as participants in the process. We reflect upon it and so transcend it. Our consciousness is self-transcendent, because it is the manifestation of the immanent principle of the whole becoming aware of itself.[xv]
The “sentience” of living things follows this nisus that emerges in human self-awareness. For the first time “the process becomes aware of itself.” In doing so it has reached a level where the vast, slow stretches of cosmic time over the past 13.7 billion years now emerge in a form capable of “self-transcendence.” With human beings, the universal principle at the heart of the cosmos is becoming aware of itself. We are now participants if the process of cosmogenesis.
The guiding principles of this process, for Harris, are coherence, harmony, and convergence. Our awareness transcends toward what many writers have called “cosmic consciousness.” The cosmos is one and humanity is one. In the light of the oneness of humanity, Harris wrote an entire book advocating ratification of the Constitution for the Federation of Earth. The nisus points toward the need for this coherence and cooperation in governing the Earth. We must also ratify the Earth Constitution, he argues, on the grounds that this is the only way to avoid making ourselves extinct through nuclear war and/or climate destruction.[xvi] This Constitution is predicated upon the deep unity and diversity of all humankind.
Charles Hartshorne was professor at Harvard University, the University of Chicago (where he was part of the Federated Theological Faculty), and taught at other major American universities. Following Alfred North Whithead and others, he applied process philosophy to reflections about the nature of God (the world and God are not static realities but processes). As a theologian, he translates what all the thinkers assembled here are talking about into theological terms.
Charles Hartshorne— As Berdyaev, with his usual courage and penetration, insisted, not only must the creatures derive concrete details from other creatures, but God himself must be qualified by creaturely choices. To know what the creatures decide to do is to be Himself in his cognitive state decided by their decisions. God can know what we freely decide only because we do so decide. Thus, our contingency becomes also his. Our freedom is in a measure, in Buber’s words, of ‘divine destiny’. There is chance and tragedy even for God. This is part of what creaturely freedom means.[xvii]
Like Nicholas Berdyaev (the Russian-born Christian thinker strongly influenced by the Eastern Orthodox Church, and like Alfred North Whitehead in his 1929 book Process and Reality)Hartshorne answers the question posed above: Who are we and what is our purpose of being here?—with the immense answer that we are participants in the “divine destiny.” The future of the evolutionary upsurge is at least in part contingent on what we decide to do. We can discern the trajectory—the movement toward ever greater coherence, harmony, and wholeness (along with the not dissimilar great ethical visions of the world’s religions) and move in the direction of these values, or we can remain in fragmentation, violence, and self-destruction—thereby blocking and impeding the divine-cosmic-human emergence.
Human Temporality and the Cosmic Imagination
In my 2021 article entitled “Utopian Horizon Value Theory: A Transformative Power at the Heart of Human Futurity,” I describe human temporality in some depth and show the immense power of our “utopian horizon” for transforming our human condition and providing a framework of hope for the human situation.[xviii] This transformative power is given to us through what we have seen Errol E. Harris call the self-transcending power of the human mind. Our minds not only transcend to the whole through direct experience of the atemporal present, but they transcend toward values, coherence, and wholeness through our temporal structure in which we spontaneously appropriate the past within a dynamic present and project into a future conceived as better than the past.
Within our present age of spiritual and cognitive darkness, this capacity of the human mind is often denigrated as “utopian” in the negative sense of this word or “eschatological” in a pejorative, anti-religious sense. However, some thinkers have understood the immense “eschatological” potential of our human situation. For example, this understanding is found in the writings of the non-theistic socialist thinker Ernst Bloch and in the theological thought of major Christian thinkers such as Nicholas Berdyaev and Jūrgen Moltmann.[xix]
Friederik Polak was a Dutch visionary, social leader, former professor of sociology, and a President of “Mankind 2000 International.” His thought reflects this same understanding of the dynamics of human temporality. The human imagination can envision a future that is the culmination of what we have seen Harris call its “nisus” for self-realization and self-actualization of the immense, untapped, open-ended potential within us. We long to become fully who we are. This longing cannot be reduced to subjective fantasies of isolated egos still struggling under the reductionist Cartesian-Newtonian paradigm. This longing is cosmic—we long to become fully human, to actualize our deeper realities, which ultimately involve our congruence with the cosmos itself and the groundless-ground of Being.
Friederik Polak—Influence-optimism holds that man cannot become fully man, and attain the summit of human dignity—known in Platonic antiquity and rediscovered in the Renaissance—cannot evolve toward his final maturity in the Kantian sense, if he cannot simultaneously elaborate and refine his mental image of a different and future world. Eschatological or utopian, this image of the future, infusing man with the foreknowledge of the happiness and harmony to come, haunts him and challenges him to work for its realization…. Any positive image of the future which takes hold of the imagination of a society is already interacting with the concrete reality of the past-present.
Historically, these images of the future not only reflected the shape of things to come; they also gave shape to these things and promoted their very coming. Magnetizing images of the future and their inspiring prophets were writing the history of the future. They made history by creating this future, by fulfilling their own prophesies. They were like powerful time-bombs, exploding in the future, releasing a mighty stream of energy, then flowing back toward the present, which, in its turn, is pushed and pulled to that future.[xx]
The utopian and eschatological visionaries of the past were not merely idle cranks. Their visions were part and parcel of evolving human history and helped create that history despite many wrong turns and setbacks. So too today, Polak tells us, our insights and visions have the same creative force. We envision how it could be truly different—we envision a deep human coherence with other humans, with nature, and with the groundless-ground of Being. We are truly participants in the evolutionary upsurge of the cosmos. Time and eternity coalesce in this upsurge. Transformations can happen rapidly, like “powerful time-bombs” bringing our human condition forward toward fulfillment by leaps and bounds.
The assumption that most of the modern world has assimilated from the Newtonian mechanical cosmology (which effectively excluded consciousness and the human mind from its worldview) is that our imaginations are “merely subjective.” We may dream of the true, the good, or the beautiful, we may dream of peace or justice or sustainability. But the assumption is that this is merely the fantasies of a personal subjectivity, worth little or nothing.
Rather, human beings participate in what Oliver L. Reiser calls the Cosmic Imagination. Reiser was Professor of Philosophy and Chair of that department at the University of Pittsburgh for 40 years. He was a polymath scholar with mastery in many fields. As a leading figure in Cosmic Humanism, his work was praised by Albert Einstein among others.
With our assent to transpersonal levels of cosmic awareness, this entire picture changes. We recognize the utopian horizons of our conscious as dimensions of the Cosmic Imagination. What we thought were mere fantasies, in truth are the voice of the Cosmic Imagination in us. Those who call themselves “realists,” the practical people who believe that we must only make incremental changes toward a possible progress within the framework of the “hard facts” that they call “the truth” of our situation, are the ones truly deluded. The utopian horizon of consciousness is the deeper reality that each of us embodies. Our very lives arise because of the Cosmic Imagination and its trace, its indelible mark, is stamped upon the consciousness of each of us as our utopian horizon. Reiser expresses this as follows:
Oliver L. Reiser— Life, mind, and consciousness are manifestations of the force-fields that are posited as the basis for sentience. This means that life and consciousness are neither accidents nor miracles in the world; they are built into the basic structure of the cosmos, just as much as gravity and inertia are natural and pervasive realities in nature. In a real sense, therefore, the living cell is an affirmation of a silent covenant with the Cosmic Imagination…. Human consciousness in its awareness and its time-spanning purposes is man’s most immediate experience of the cosmic guiding field as it functions on the level of organisms. The invisible Cosmic Imagination which guides the course of biological evolution…is a nonmoral force, it is neither “good” nor “bad,” until it reaches up into human consciousness to appear as integrated personality at which point the Cosmic Imagination manifests moral attributes.[xxi]
Teilhard de Chardin famously calls humanity “the axis and leading shoot of evolution.” As a Paleontologist and a Christian, he understood the process of incarnation as both particular to Jesus Christ and symbolically pointing toward the cosmic evolutionary process itself. Somewhat like Hegel before him, he saw God as emergent within the process bringing it to fulfillment and redemption. Our role as the axis and leading shoot is to activate love and orient our lives toward the “Omega Point” of complete fulfillment and unification. For we human beings are the leading shoot, the universe become conscious of itself and calling us to consciously participate in the evolutionary process directed toward coherence, wholeness, and harmony with ourselves, the natural world, and the Divine groundless-ground.
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin— We are not only concerned with thought as participating in evolution as an anomaly or as an epiphenomenon; but evolution as so reducible to and identifiable with a progress towards thought that the movement of our souls expresses and measures the very stages of progress of evolution itself. Man discovers that he is nothing else then evolution become conscious of itself, to borrow Julian Huxley’s concise expression. It seems to me that our modern minds (because and inasmuch as they are modern) will never find rest until they settle down in this view. On this summit and on this summit alone are repose and illumination waiting for us.[xxii]
Within a universe which is structurally convergent the only possible way for one element to draw closer to other, neighboring elements is by condensing the cone: that is, by driving toward the point of convergence the whole area of the world in which it is involved. In such a system it is impossible to love one’s neighbor without drawing closer to God—and vice versa for that matter. This we know well enough. But it is also impossible –and this is less familiar to us—to love God or our neighbor without being obliged to help in the progress of the earthly synthesis of spirit in its physical totality, for it is precisely the advances made in this movement of synthesis that permit us to draw close to one another and at the same time raise us up toward God. Thus, because we love, and in order to love more, we find ourselves happily reduced to sharing—we more and better than anyone—in all the struggles, in all the anxieties, all the aspirations, and also all the affections, of the earth insofar as all these contain within them a principle of ascension and synthesis.[xxiii]
In the first quote, what we have seen Polak call the “utopian imagination” envisions a “repose and illumination waiting for us.” In the second quote we see some of what we can do, our cosmically-inspired need to love our neighbors through the variety of struggles, anxieties, afflictions and aspirations that all contain a principle of transcendence, convergence, and synthesis. Love creates unities at the same time that it respects differences and diversities, but the unities unite the participants without obliterating their identities.[xxiv] Our love, therefore, has cosmic significance. It both descends from the cosmic whole into our being and energizes our being to love more fully, broadly, and completely.
S.L. Frank was a Russian philosopher and expatriate, having been expelled by the Bolsheviks in 1922, after which he lived in Germany, then France, and finally in England until his death in 1950. One of his last works that he also considered his profoundest was The Unknowable: A Philosophical Introduction to the Ontology of Religion, which appeared in 1938. As the title emphasizes, human beings must become open to the groundless-ground of Being though ways that do not include positive assertions of knowledge or rationality.
Like Nicholas of Cusa before him in 15th century Italy who wrote De Docta Ignorantia (On Learned Ignorance) with this same profound understanding of our human situation, in this book Frank systematically approaches unknowable being through a negative path recognizing the apophatic character of “being.” In this book, using philosophical refection to direct our attention to the limits of philosophical reflection and cognitive understanding, Frank leads the reader to the dimension of direct, unmediated awareness. He conclusions concerning “Being” characterize our human situation in ways strikingly similar to much of what we have seen above:
S.L. Frank— Being as a whole is not frozen and static; it is not only what it already is. On the contrary, it is plastic: it not only is, it is becoming; it is in the process of self-creation. It is growing, changing, being formed. And this is because potentiality, the potency to become what it is not, lies in the deepest core of being. This is what we call “freedom.” Since all concretely existing things are rooted in the total unity of being and are permeated by the “juices” of the total unity, the element of primordial freedom is present, to varying degrees, in all concretely existing things.[xxv]
The deepest freedom is not ego-freedom, which is dualistically bound in endless compulsions and the generation of endless divisions between itself and others, ultimately resulting in self-defeating quests and projects, such as wars between egocentric nation-states. Freedom comes to us as “primordial.” In the words of Zen Buddhist scholar, Keiji Nishitani, the primordial freedom of “emptiness” is simultaneously the locus of “the Great Affirmation.” It is the overcoming of the civilizational nihilism and its negations as foreseen by Friedrich Nietzsche in the 19th century.[xxvi] As Buddhist scholar Ueda Shizuteru affirms, the emptiness of all things (Śūnyatā) is simultaneously an overwhelming “fullness.”[xxvii]
And this primordial freedom is that of “Being” itself, the groundless-ground, the absolutely “unknowable.” Being, Frank insists, is directional; it is in the process of self-creation, and our role, through the awakening process and its resultant love, is to participate in this collective self-creation.
Just as “Being” is a process and not a static substance for all the above thinkers, so it is for Raimon Panikkar. Panikkar was the child of a highly educated Catholic mother and Hindu father and was deeply exposed to the spiritualities of both traditions. He acquired three Ph.Ds. in the course of his education, became a Catholic Priest, a professor of philosophy at the University of Madrid, and a world-renowned publisher of powerful books on Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, hermeneutics, the unity of Being, etc., thereby facilitating the global dialogue of religions as well as our understanding of the spiritual life.
Raimon Panikkar— The experience of contemporary Man finding himself, and moreover believing himself, not master of the universe, but in a certain sense its builder, its responsible partner, is a fundamental religious experience. Man has suddenly felt himself bound to the earth, joined with it in a communal destiny, playing his part in a cosmic whole of which he is the awareness. Human religiousness cannot henceforward dissociate itself from the earth, this earth of Men, and every effort toward salvation now calls for a genuine integration with all [the] universe.
In a word, faith is rooted in the Absolute; consequently it is the foundation of freedom, an important theme that, for the moment, we can only mention. Without faith man would not, could not be free; he would have neither the constitutive ambiguity that permits decision, nor the spontaneity necessary for the human act to go beyond—not against—the dialectical possibilities given in the data. True freedom does not consist in manipulating the possibilities but in creating them. God creates and his creation is the real; human freedom also participates in this power and Man’s creation is the possible. Freedom is not simply the power of option, but the power of creating possibilities. [xxviii]
Panikkar sees the connections of the “emptiness” of Buddhism or the “Nirguna Brahman” of Hinduism with the dynamics of the Christian Trinity. In my necessarily over-simplified summary: for Panikkar, God the Father is the divine abyss, the vast emptiness from which the universe is perpetually emerging. Christ the Son is the creative Logos, identical with the Father, giving form and evolving energy to the whole process.
The Spirit is the unifying factor of love and eternal energy inseparable from not only Father and Son and the world and the human project. Our human destiny is direct experience of this ever-present whole, to participate in it, and to take responsibility for our role in the evolving cosmic journey: “It is the totally integrated vision of the seamless fabric of the entire reality: the cosmotheandric vision.”[xxix]
“True freedom does not consist in manipulating possibilities but in creating them.” With this insight we are again in possession of the capacity to overcome the horrific war-system of the world and move humanity towards a practical-utopian self-realization. For Panikkar, as with all the above thinkers, it has to be humanity as a whole. We most drop the ego-constructed boundaries that separate us from the reality of our condition and our divine-human-cosmic oneness and begin to live from the true wholeness of our human condition: “The thirst for unity is not only ontological and epistemological (unity of being, unity of intellection), it is also sociological and political (unity of humankind, unity of civilizations).”[xxx] Panikkar experiences the infinite depths that permeate our lives once we have abandoned ego-consciousness and enter cosmotheandric consciousness.
World renowned Indian sage Sri Aurobindo as a young man moved from Kolkata, and a life of struggle for liberation against British imperial rule, to Pondicherry, where he led a life dedicated to spiritual liberation and the development of a philosophy of divinely-inspired world-historical evolution toward ever higher levels of human and superhuman consciousness. Upon his passing in 1950, his spiritual companion known as “The Mother” continued his vision of a progressive “World Union” of peoples and nations in which human beings united in ever more profound levels of coherence, characterized by political and spiritual convergence. She led in the formation of an organization dedicated to uniting the world under a single Earth Constitution.
The World Union organization was founded in Pondicherry in 1958, the same year the World Constitution and Parliament Association (WCPA) was founded in Lakewood, Colorado. Both organizations were soon collaborating. Two well-known leaders from India, A. B. Patel and Samar Basu, held leadership positions within both WCPA and World Union.[xxxi] According to Sri Aurobindo, the universe “creates a self-conscious concentration of the All through which it can aspire.” The founding of World Union was therefore an aspiration of the universe, of the All. The divine ground and the world are “necessary to each other” in their ascent. Ever-greater unity of consciousness and integration of humankind are taking place around the planet.
Sri Aurobindo— The universe and the individual are necessary to each other in their ascent. Always indeed they exist for each other and profit by each other. Universe is a diffusion of the divine All in infinite Space and Time, the individual its concentration within the limits of Space and Time. Universe seeks in infinite extension the divine totality it feels itself to be but cannot entirely realize; for in extension existence drives at a pluralistic sum of itself which can neither be the primal nor the final unit, but only a recurring decimal without end or beginning. Therefore, it creates in itself a self-conscious concentration of the All through which it can aspire…. God having entirely become Nature, Nature seeks to become progressively God.[xxxii]
On August 15, 1947, free India was born, and Sri Aurobindo was asked for a message as part of the celebrations. In response, he listed his ideals that he had held since childhood:
A revolution which would achieve India’s freedom.
The resurgence and liberation of Asia and her return to the great role which she had played in the progress of human civilization.
The rise of a new, a greater and nobler life for mankind through a World Union which would form the outer basis and act for the unification of the human world.
The gift by India of her spiritual knowledge and her means for the spiritualization of life to the whole race (and)
A new step in evolution which, by uplifting the consciousness to a higher level, would begin the solution of many of the world’s problems of existence.[xxxiii]
Awakening to our unity with the evolving cosmos does not lead to a passive wallowing in some static, timeless eternity. It requires action, as a collaborator with the All, to realize the unity in diversity of existence on planet Earth. The early leaders of World Union and the World Constitution and Parliament Association worked together in this quest. They saw that the Constitution for the Federation of Earth envisions an “act for the unification of the world,” “a great step in evolution,” and the “uplifting of human consciousness to a higher level.”
After the passing of D.T. Suzuki, Masao Abe has been called “the leading exponent of Zen in the West.” He was Professor of Japanese Philosophy at the University of Hawaii since 1983. He also taught at a number of major American universities, including the Department of Religion at the Claremont Graduate School in California. As a member of the Kyoto school of Zen Buddhism, he specialized in the comparative study of Buddhism and Western thought.
The passages below are from his essay “Sovereignty Rests with Mankind” that is part of his collection of essays entitled Zen and Western Thought (1985). They illustrate the way that Zen awakening might be applied to the practical problem of “sovereign nation-states” that historically make up a war-system, an exploitation system, and a domination system for the Earth.[xxxiv] When we drop our ego-driven nationalism, something entirely new appears—something free, peaceful, and redeeming.
Masao Abe— What is of paramount importance today is to internalize and grasp ‘mankind’ as a qualitative concept. We must grasp it as a single, living, self-aware entity. For without doing so, we can never overcome the conflicts between nations which we are facing, and we cannot bring true peace to the world. Nor can we build a profound and rich human society which is permeated by individual freedom and the special characteristics of races and cultures wherein all live in harmony with each other.
From what position is it possible to grasp mankind as a single, living, self-aware entity? I believe that the foundation of this position is for each of us to awaken to his or her true Self, that is, each individual must break through his or her ego structure, thereby realizing original Self. At the same time that this is a thoroughly individual ‘Subjective’ matter, it is also a thoroughly universal objective one. Why is this so? It is because to overcome the ego is to overcome the very standpoint wherein one distinguishes between self and other….
The ego is indeed nothing other than the basic source of all such distinctions and oppositions. If we turn our backs on the world, there can be no investigation of the self; if we avoid our conflicts with history, which often progress beyond human control, there can be no awakening to the true Self. The true investigation of the self is always the investigation of the world and of history.
Sovereign states do not know self-negation. They take as their basic principle a position of self-affirmation and self-assertion in which, during a crisis, the position of ‘mankind’ is overlooked and destroyed. Consequently, even though international cooperative organizations, which are the products of compromises and agreements between sovereign states, become to a certain degree the means of resolving international conflicts, as long as they presuppose sovereign states, they basically can neither check national egoism nor totally eliminate war.
However, today’s problem lies in the fact that the very rationale of the state which is supposed to be the unification of power and justice has begun to assume the character of an evil which must be negated…. It appears as if a balance of terror based on nuclear weapons has made total war impossible while rendering meaningless, hypocritical, and corrupt the rationale of the state. How many people today can believe that the moral restraints of the state can check the dynamism of huge national power linked to gigantic technical systems and structures of production?
Moved by a blatant national egoism, the power of the state is now developing a demonic character as it destroys the balance of moral restraint and controlling power, which should be visible in the rational of the state. As it moves on its reckless course, this imbalance must finally lead to a destructive, full-scale war or into the whirlpools of various latent and blatant power struggles intermingled with periods of false peace. Destruction? One world empire? Confused anarchy? The future of the world is not a bright one.
Mankind is enveloped by the universe and is enlivened by it. At the same time, unlike other creatures in our world man alone self-consciously comprehends the universe and is able to awaken to the generation, extinction, and change of the universe. He alone enlivens the universe in the true sense. That which constitutes the moment of Self-awakening of this mankind—which is comprehended by and yet comprehends the universe—is precisely each one of us. It is the ‘Subjective’ Self-awakening of each individual.
Mankind today must overcome in principle anthropocentrism and must stand in the boundless “expanse of Self-awakening’ wherein God, man, and the myriad phenomena of the universe become vibrantly alive. This is a completely new cosmological standpoint. It is the standpoint of a “Self-awakened cosmology which includes primitive cosmology, theism, and the ‘theory of the human’ as well. Only in this standpoint of a Self-awakened cosmology can mankind be Self-aware of itself as a single, self-aware entity.
The age of the nation-state must end. The age of mankind must begin. But to achieve this, we must awaken to the collective responsibility for the karma rooted deeply in the basic character of mankind. And we must overcome anthropocentrism. We must enter the third historical age of mankind, namely, the age of Self awakened cosmology….
We must take the cosmological ‘expanse of Self-awakening’ which opens up therein as the new foundation of mankind and, transcending peoples and national boundaries, we must proceed to build a solidarity of Self-awakening which includes mankind in the broadest sense. We must build a cooperative society of mankind with the universe. Herein lies the practical task of all mankind today.[xxxv]
The new “cosmological standpoint” that includes primitive cosmology, theism, and humanism is possible because the holism of the great Self-awakening abandons ego identifications and realizes the whole in the immediacy of consciousness. All is embraced in the “great affirmation” which is simultaneously the great abandonment of the ego-identifications of nations, races, classes, or particular religions. Sovereignty belongs to humankind who can actualize themselves has one collective reality exhibiting wonderful diversity within their oneness everywhere on Earth.
As David Bohm pointed out above, human beings make borders, distinctions, divisions among themselves. These may often be necessary from the point of view of utility (e.g., voters in this district use precinct one, in that district, precinct two), but humans at the egocentric and ethnocentric levels of development invest ego identifications into many of their borders: “my country,” “my race,” “my religion,” etc. Here lies discrimination, violence, corruption, and ultimately war. By contrast, Oliver L. Reiser cites Alfred Lord Tennyson’s famous poem in which the poet envisions an embracing Parliament of Man. The antidote to fragmentation is a synthetic view of the whole of history and humankind’s cosmic purpose that can be summed up and symbolized as “the Federation of the World”:
Tennyson’s preview of the kindly earth resting under the reign of universal law will demand immense constructive work for its consummation. But surely one important step in the direction of the attainment of the “parliament of man” is a psychological revolution to sublimate and transmute the technological revolution. This is the task of the new alchemy. If history has any meaning at all, we humans must project creatively the curve of biocosmic evolution and weave the fabric of a higher consciousness. Man’s greatest mission is to salvage the pageant of history from the dark domain of frustration and insanity and give history a time-spanning purpose—and this can be done only by cross-webbing the cultures of the peoples of earth into the Federation of the World.[xxxvi]
This is precisely the role of the Constitution for the Federation of Earth explicitly affirmed by Sri Aurobindo’s World Union and Professor Errol E. Harris, cited above. Article 2 of the Earth Constitution states that humanity is sovereign. And its World Parliament and all government agencies include all the diversity of humankind (including representatives of all existing nation-states).
What has sovereign authority is the democratically elected World Parliament as a whole, expressing the sovereignty of the people of Earth directly and not through the fragmentation of incommensurable “sovereign” nation-states. Here lies a path to human liberation, for the Earth Constitution removes the primary source of conflict among nations: doctrine of sovereignty, the recognition of no law above themselves, the refusal to negate national egoism and recognize the the sovereignty of mankind.
Here lies Sri Aurobindo’s emergent level of “higher mind.” Here lies Errol E. Harris’ solution to the crisis of pending human extinction. Here lies Polak’s insight that the very pursuit of our ideals is transformative of the world and its order. Abe understands that cosmic consciousness, the awakening to the great “Self” within each of us, is crucial to humanity and its future, a future now effectively blocked by national sovereign states inculcating an inevitable ego identification in their populations and manifested by their leaders in wars, competition, regimes of secrecy, weapons of mass destruction, and other forms of corruption.
For Abe, as for the above thinkers, “mankind alone enlivens the universe.” In us, the universe has reached a higher stage in its emergent life-process. The awakening of each individual is part of this process of general awakening that is “comprehended by and comprehends the universe.” The universe is comprehending itself in us and asking us to pioneer the way forward. As Teilhard de Chardin declares, we are the “axis and leading shoot of evolution.” As Sri Aurobindo declares, we are a self-concentration of the whole through which it can aspire. As Errol E. Harris concludes, we are “that stage in its self-development at which its activity becomes self-conscious.” Therefore, we become “participants in the process.”
Our concrete next step that human beings must take immediately to avoid endless war and the very real possibility of human extinction is ratification of the Constitution for the Federation of Earth. It must be our concrete immediate objective. There is no time to lose. The war mentality breeding ever more weapons of mass destruction cannot be stopped in any other way except to awaken to the sovereignty of humankind through transcending the ego-structure that animates the sovereign nation-state system.
It this possible? Will this require a long effort through meditation or some slow-moving “Pathwork” program? To address these questions, I want to conclude with a quote from Ken Wilber.
Epilogue: The Power and Possibility of Human Awakening
Ken Wilber has been called “the Einstein of human consciousness studies.” He is founder of the Integral Institute based in Colorado and author of literally dozens of books on integral theory, spirituality, and transpersonal psychology. This quotation is from his 2007 book Integral Spirituality: A Startling New Role for Religion in the Modern and Postmodern World. The “new role for religion” goes beyond religion as doctrines and beliefs to religion as integral self-realization. Since this quote makes a fitting conclusion to our essay, and addresses the question how this transformation is possible, I will end here without further comment. May God bless us all.
Ken Wilber— Why were you looking everywhere, when God is the Looker? Why were you constantly seeking something, when God is the Seeker? When exactly were you planning on finding Spirit, when Spirit is always the finder? How exactly were you going to force God to show his or her Face, when God’s Face is your Original Face—the Witness of this very page—already and right Now?…. Where were you planning on seeing God, when God is the ever-present Seer? How much knowledge did you think you had to cram into your head in order to know God, when God is the ever-present Knower? How much of this book—or any book or books—did you think you had to read in order to find Spirit, when the very reader of this sentence is Spirit? When the very reader of this sentence is God fully revealed? Feel the Reader of this sentence, feel the simple feeling of Being, feel the Feeler in you right now, and you are feeling the fully revealed God in his or her radiant glory, a One Taste of the divine Suchness of the entire Kosmos, a not-two-ness of self and Self that leaves you breathlessly enlightened and fully realized in this and every moment.[xxxvii]
[i] Philosopher Errol E. Harris investigates this principle at length in two volumes: Cosmos and Anthropos: A Philosophical Interpretation of the Anthropic Cosmological Principle, Humanities Press International, 1991, and Cosmos and Theos: Ethical and Theological Implications of the Anthropic Cosmological Principle, Humanities Press, 1992.
[ii] Ken Wilber, Integral Spirituality: A Startling New Role for Religion in the Modern and Postmodern World. Boston: Integral Books, 2007, Figures 2.4 and 2.5.
[iii] Jiddu Krishnamurti, Think on These Things. New York: Harper & Row, 1989, pp. 83 & 86.
[iv] Cf. Means Kafatos and Robert Nadeau, The Conscious Universe: Part and Whole in Modern Physical Theory. Berlin: Springer-Verlag, 1990.
[v] Glen T. Martin, Millennium Dawn: The Philosophy of Planetary Crisis and Human Liberation. Appomattox, VA: Institute for Economic Democracy Press, 2005, pp. 134 & 136.
[vi] Oliver L. Reiser, Cosmic Humanism and Human Unity. New York: Interface Books of World Creative Institute Finding, 1975, p. 2.
[vii] Henri Bergson, The Creative Mind: An Introduction to Metaphysics. Totawa, NJ: Littlefield Adams & Co., 1965, pp. 157 and 35.
[viii] David Bohm, Wholeness and the Implicate Order. London and New York: Routledge Publisher, 1980, pp. xii-xiii, 20, 67-70, and 269.
[ix] Brian Swimme, The Heart of the Cosmos: Humanity and the New Story. Revised Edition. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2019, pp. 40 & 97.
[x] Brian Thomas Swimme and Mary Evelyn Tucker, Journey of the Universe. Yale Univ. Press, 2011, pp. 66, 90-91, and 108-109.
[xi] Ludwig Wittgenstein, “Lecture on Ethics,” reprinted in Philosophical Review, January 1965, pp. 1-11.
[xii] Karl Jaspers, Truth and Symbol. Trans. Jean Wilde, William Kluback and William Kimmel. New York: Twayne Publishers, 1959, p. 37.
[xiii] This is the name of a book by one of my professors in graduate school, Milton K. Munitz, The Mystery of Existence: An Essay in Philosophical Cosmology. New York: Appleton-Century Crofts. He attempted to use his analytical skills to isolate something “unsayable” within the heart of our human condition.
[xiv] Cf. Errol E. Harris, Atheism and Theism. New Jersey: Humanities Press, 1977.
[xv] Errol E. Harris, The Reality of Time. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1988, pp 104-105.
[xvi] Errol E. Harris, Earth Federation Now! Tomorrow is Too Late. With an Introduction by Glen T. Martin. Appomattox, VA: Institute for Economic Democracy Press, 2014.
[xvii] Charles Hartshorne, A Natural Theology for Our Time. La Salle, IL: Open Court, 1967, p. 123.
[xix] See, e.g., Ernst Bloch, The Principle of Hope. Trans. Neville Plaice, Stephen Plaice, and Paul Knight. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 1986. See, e.g., Nicholas Berdyaev, The Destiny of Man. Trans. Natalie Duddington. Harper Torchbooks, 1960. See, e.g., Jūrgen Moltmann, Theology of Hope. Trans. James W. Leitch. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1993.
[xx] Friederik Polak, “Utopia and Cultural Renewal,” in Utopians and Utopian Thought. Ed. Frank E. Manuel. Boston: Beacon Press, 1967, pp. 281-295.
[xxi] Reiser, op. cit., pp. 44-45 (emphasis in the original).
[xxii] Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, The Phenomenon of Man. New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1961, p. 220.
[xxiii] Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Hymn of the Universe. New York: Harper Colophon Books, 1969, pp. 96-97
[xxiv] Cf. Chapter Five of my Global Democracy and Human Self-Transcendence. London: Cambridge Scholars, 2021.
[xxv] S.L. Frank, The Unknownable: An Ontological Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion. Trans. Boris Jakim. Brooklyn, NY: Angelico Press, 2020, p.47.
[xxvi] Keiji Nishitani, Religion and Nothingness. Trans. Jan Van Bragt. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1982.
[xxvii] Ueda Shizuteru, “Emptiness and Fullness: Śūnyatā in Mahayana Buddhism,” in The Eastern Buddhist 15, no. 1 (1987), pp. 9-37.
[xxviii] Raimon Panikkar, Myth, Faith, and Hermeneutics: Cross-Cultural Studies. New York: Paulist Press, 1979, pp. 452 & 209.
[xxix] Raimon Panikkar, The Cosmotheandric Experience: Emerging Religious Consciousness. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, p. 1.
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, World Philosophy Day, 2022
Here we are in Kuala Lumpur, in the year 2022, 13.7 billion years from the beginning, products of a 13.7-billion-year evolutionary upsurge become conscious of itself in us. World philosophy day celebrates the immense collective wisdom of humankind. Our bodies are made of energy from the sun, our sun was born at the heart of our Milky Way Galaxy, and our galaxy emerged from the cosmic ground of being that exploded into existence 13.7 billion years ago. Our lives, our planet, our sun, our galaxy, and the cosmos are all gifts of God. In World Philosophy Day we celebrate these gifts of God.
Yet our present moment in history teeters on possible apocalypse. China, Russia, and the USA struggle as lawless nuclear weapons-wielding nation-states over economic, political, and territorial power in a world system that brokenly believes it can accommodate endless economic growth in concert with endless sovereign-state military expansion. The result is the nightmare we are living within at this minute—at any second the entire human project and all human civilization could go down the drain, never to arise again.
An anthropomorphically conceived God remains silent at this immense sin of high-tech war and militarism, and at the corresponding global sin of the community of nation-states together remaining silent in the face of this apocalyptic absurdity. Smaller nations do not want to cross the great imperial powers. These powers have the capacity to do real damage to smaller states, both economically and militarily. Some states, like Iran and North Korea, aspire to become nuclear powers themselves, understanding that this may be the only way to preserve their autonomy against the gigantic forces of superpower imperialism.
Nations may call themselves “non-aligned,” that is, they want to keep their heads down, deal with their internal issues, and hope that the big powers leave them alone. But in a globalized world economy there are no more strictly “internal issues.” We are all in this mess together and keeping one’s head down will not prevent nuclear apocalypse or other weapons of mass destruction from being used. Nor will it prevent the on-going destruction of our planetary climate, which, according to many environmental experts, is rapidly heading toward an uninhabitable planet and possible human species extinction (cf. Martin 2021).
Many claim that the United Nations is meant to address this situation, and that a strengthened United Nations may be able to steer humanity beyond this apocalyptic crisis. But the UN is a very complex reality, itself not a unity but a multiplex of conflicting forces, some pointing forward to a new civilization, others pointing backward and leading to the demise of our common human project. Some scholars have distinguished three UNs, not just one (Weiss, et al. 2017).
The First UN includes the system of so-called sovereign nation-states involving the General Assembly with the Security Council and operating under the UN Charter. The Second UN includes the Secretariat and the many agencies working worldwide for ending poverty, promoting transition to sustainability, or protecting human rights. The Third UN includes thousands of NGOs worldwide that work with the UN or are registered has having “consultant status” with the UN. The Second and Third UNs often look forward to a global civilization of peace, justice, and sustainability, which is also the vision behind the Constitution for the Federation of Earth.
Of course, politics and conflicting interests play a part in the paralysis of all three UNs in attempting to deal with the descent of our world into ever-greater chaos, misery, and possible human extinction. Nevertheless, the lion’s share of the problems of superpower conflict, possible apocalyptic war, and environmental destruction lies with the First UN that slavishly adheres to the outdated UN Charter. This Charter takes its stand on “nation-state sovereignty.”
The First UN is premised on a Charter whose roots go back to the Peace of Westphalia in 1648 when the concept of “sovereign” nation was outlined at the end of the 30-years war in Europe. A nation was defined as having absolute territorial boundaries and autonomy over both its internal affairs and in its foreign affairs. This structural model for “nation-states” is nearly four centuries old and comes from a paradigm long ago transcended by all contemporary sciences. In the face of the current threat of apocalyptic death, to slavishly cling to these absolute boundaries appears as madness.
The metaphysical assumptions behind 17th century thinking are often called “Newtonian” as these were synthesized in the Principia Mathematica of Sir Isaac Newton, published in 1687. The universe at that time was believed to be atomistic, mechanistic, and deterministic, so it only made sense that human beings should organize themselves into atomistic “sovereign” social entities called independent nations. Today, this paradigm has been entirely supplanted by the Einsteinian-Quantum Physics Paradigm (see Harris, 2000). Yet the thinking of most of us in the 21st century remains solidly Newtonian, unable to move forward into the new integral holism at the foundation of the cosmos and human existence.
The new paradigm emerging out of 20th century physics is 100% holistic. There are no independent atomic parts to anything. Neither is the new paradigm mechanistic or deterministic. The new paradigm provides a holistic vision in which everything is interrelated and interdependent with everything else. All parts are necessarily part of greater wholes. There are no wholes without parts and no parts without wholes (cf. Laszlo 2007). Human beings have evolved within this astonishing cosmic evolutionary process, 13.7 billion years in the making, as a single species, a single human community, as a vast, sacred holism of unity in diversity. As evolutionary scientist Brian Swimme declares: “Our human destiny is to become the heart of the universe that embraces the whole of the Earth community” (2011, 115).
The concept of “sovereign nation-states” is not only anachronistic. It is a monstrous assumption destroying our planet and its future, whether through climate collapse or nuclear holocaust. What is real under the new paradigm includes persons within communities. A person is always part of community. Persons are not an atomistic reality, and neither are communities. The Islamic religion is strong on this point. And as Islamic scholars like Rashid Shaz (2021) have pointed out. For the Blessed Prophet Mohammed, the ultimate community is the entire human community before God.
Under the holistic paradigm, my local community within which I am embedded is in turn embedded in a regional and national community which is in turn embedded within the human community, just as the human community itself is not autonomous on planet Earth but is embedded in a planetary biosphere that sustains human and all life on this planet. Ultimately, we are embedded within the 13.7 billion years of cosmic evolutionary upsurge. It is the attitude that we are autonomous and separate, both from one another in sovereign nation-states, and from our environment in our greed for economic expansion and exploitation of nature, that is leading us rapidly toward human extinction.
Many well-meaning people within the Second UN and the Third UN believe that the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will save us if only we can motivate the nations to adhere to their promised goals. However, the conceptual framework of the SDG Document is seriously flawed and cannot lead to success. The SDG document frames these goals without challenging the capitalist assumption of the “right” to unlimited accumulation of private wealth, nor does it challenge the assumption of nation-state atomism. Item 18 of the SDG Introduction declares: “We affirm that every State has, and shall freely exercise, full permanent sovereignty over all its wealth, natural resources and economic activity” (cf. Martin 2021, Chap.6).
With this foundational assumption we have assured the failure of the SDGs and the accelerating destruction of our planetary ecosystem. Take, for example, the “Lungs of the Earth.” Everyone knows that the lungs of the Earth exist in the vast Amazon rain-forest basin that produces much of the oxygen needed by living creatures, adsorbs vast amounts of carbon dioxide, and, in a multiplicity of ways, moderates the moisture in the atmosphere and the climate of our planet. Under this SDG principle, Brazil, Columbia, Venezuela, or other nations hosting the lungs of the Earth have the legal right to cut down and destroy the lungs of the Earth, which the present government of Brazil is busy doing as we speak.
Similarly, everyone knows that the lion’s share of the billions of tons of carbon dioxide poured into the Earth’s atmosphere every year come about almost equally from the United States and China. Everyone knows that the atmosphere over the US and China is the same atmosphere that circulates around the globe that we all need to get under control in order to mitigate global warming. Yet under the UN system, China and the US have the legal right to pour as much CO2 as they want into our planetary atmosphere because they are “sovereign nations” and somehow “own” the atmosphere over their territories. And the so-called First UN, the one slavishly following the UN Charter, is going to cling to this notion even as it leads us to the brink of human extinction.
The Constitution for the Federation of Earth is premised on the holistic paradigm of unity in diversity arising from the scientific revolutions of the 20th century (cf. Martin 2016). It recognizes the people of Earth as sovereign, and the nations are communities within the holism of human civilization, not autonomous parts capable of egotistically bringing down the whole as a consequence of their ethnocentric greed and power struggles. The UN needs to replace the outdated UN Charter with the Earth Constitution, which brings the Second and Third UNs into its embrace, along with all the nations of the world as members of a legally encompassing human community.
Under the Earth Constitution, our global commons—that is, the atmosphere, the oceans, and the great rainforests of Earth—belong to the people of Earth (Article 4). They are not the “private property” of corporations, nation-states, nor individual persons. As the 2015 Encyclical Letter from Pope Francis declared, “The climate is a common good, belonging to all and meant for all” (Laudato Si’, 23). Hence, according to Pope Frances and the Earth Constitution, the climate belongs to the people of Earth, a truth that we can only actualize through ratification of the Constitution. According to the UN SDG document, our planetary climate is divided into some 193 parts, each belonging to some “sovereign” nation.
Secondly, under the Constitution, the nations will be fairly and systematically disarmed in a cooperatively planned program over a reasonable period of time (cf. PWP’s World Legislative Act 53). Civilian police, armed only with weapons necessary to apprehend individuals, are all that is necessary under a system of democratically legislated world laws, enforceable not over nations but over all individual persons. The SDG document is glaringly silent on militarism. It never mentions the 1.5 trillion US dollars poured by the “sovereign” nations of Earth annually down the toilet of militarism. No militaries are necessary if we really aspire to be civilized human beings with democratic input into the planetary laws that govern us.
Third, global public banking is instituted by the Constitution in order to assure a universal sustainable development that ends extreme poverty without growth beyond the carrying capacity of our planet. No longer would the supply of money created as debt (whether debt for nations, businesses, or individual persons) demand unending growth in order to service that debt and retain solvency (Article 8.7, cf. Heinberg 2011). So-called “free enterprise” becomes truly free when it is no longer enslaved by the debt-system predicated on the unlimited accumulation of private wealth by the 1% of humanity who today own 50% of the wealth on this planet. Finally, through global public banking and debt-free money creation, the synergistically united people of Earth will be able to address climate crisis in effective ways impossible under today’s UN system.
How do we ascend to this holistic paradigm? Allow me at this point to quote from Sufi poet Jallāl al-Dīn Rūmī in his collected work, The Divan of Shams-i-Tabriz (in Williams, 1962, p.164). Rumi sings:
What is to be done O Moslems? For I do not recognize myself.
I am neither Christian nor Jew nor Gabr nor Moslem.
I am not of the East, nor of the West, nor of the land, nor of the sea….
My place is Placeless, my trace is Traceless;
‘Tis neither body nor soul, for I belong to the soul of the Beloved.
I have put duality away, I have seen that the two worlds are one….
Rumi sees that the borders are unreal. The distinctions are human creations—the identifications “I am American,” “I am Russian,” “I am Chinese,” “I am Malaysian” are unreal, mere conventions, distinctions useful for certain purposes but not ontological realities. The realities are human beings and the groundless ground of Being—Allah, God, the First Principle, the source of our 13.7-billion-year evolutionary journey. Our goal and our eschatological destiny may be to recognize that “the two worlds are one” as Rumi declares. All borders are contingent human creations.
Islamic scholar Prof. (Dr.) Rashid Shaz, in his recent book Islam—Another Chance? shows that the central message of the blessed Prophet was “the meeting of God as such and Man as such” (as another scholar, Frithjof Schuon, expresses this in his book Understanding Islam). I want to suggest that some aspect of this meeting—with its ultimate recognition that “the two worlds are one” is the ultimate message of all the great world religions. The Hindu Upanishads, for example,declare Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, the world is one family, a truth that World Constitution and Parliament Association (WCPA) former Vice-President, Swami Agnivesh, saw embodied within the Earth Constitution. The borders, the ethnocentric false realities, the egoistic identifications that set us against one another, must recede into their proper role as mere social conventions, utilities for convenience that have no ontological reality beyond human conventions.
How do we devote ourselves to the well-being of the larger human community? The Constitution for the Federation of Earth does not abolish the nations or their borders. But it takes its stand on the unity in diversity of the entire human community, for the first time making it truly possible to dialogue with one another as human beings, as children of the divine ground of Being, and not as mere mouthpieces of this or that nation, race, or religious dogma. The UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 assumes and embodies this very principle.
Its Preamble states correctly the basis for all government: “recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.” All legitimate government derives from this foundation of human dignity. Article 2 of the Declaration states that “everyone is entitled to the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth, or other status.” “Nations” are excluded as a source of our rights and freedoms. Our common human dignity is the source. Individual dignity and our common humanity are inseparable (cf. Martin 2018, Chap. 2).
If the dignity of human beings in community is truly the source of all legitimate governing, then we know why the world since the Second World War suffered more than 150 wars, with many millions dead or displaced, and with on-going human rights violations for hundreds of millions of the Earth’s citizens (cf. Glover 1999). The answer is implicit in the UN Universal Declaration’s recognition that respect for human dignity (and not sovereign-nation statehood) is the foundation for freedom, justice, and peace in the world. Clearly, this inference is recognized in Article 28, which states: “Everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be fully realized.”
The world lacks this order. The world defeats the rights and freedoms listed in the UN Declaration. What could be more obvious? Democracy is a universal. Human rights are universal. The human community needs to be universal. Yet the world is divided into apparently incommensurable fragments that constitute a war-system, an immorality and corruption system, and ultimately an omnicidal system. Nation-states as such have no rights. The idea of nation-state sovereignty is an abomination; it religious terms, it is idolatry.
The Earth Constitution integrates and enhances the United Nations system by drawing together the three UNs into a truly universal federation of planetary unity in diversity. The entire universe as we know it is an evolving dynamic integration of individuals within wholes on multiple levels having (necessarily) internal relations to all other such wholes (see, e.g., Currivan 2017). The actions I take always affect others in the system and beyond. There are no purely external relations.
A system of independent national units with the right to militarize (autonomy over internal affairs) in external relations to other such units (including the so-called right to go to war) is a conceptual and moral absurdity (cf. Reves 1946). No wonder the world has been in chaos since this system was invented in 1648. A true federation must be based on a principle of unity in diversity such that the unity bears on all the doings of the groups and individuals within that diversity.
Human beings can never solve our most fundamental problems unless we base our planetary organizations on realities, not fantasies. Human persons are a primary reality, and our common humanity (embracing universal dignity and human rights) is the other dimension of that primary reality. These two poles or dimensions are inseparable—individual human beings and the entire human community. Human beings create groupings and all kinds of “boundaries” between themselves, including all so-called “sovereign nation-states.” These are all strictly secondary realities, none of which are or can be legitimately sovereign (cf. Harris 2008, Chap. 7). In the Earth Constitution, sovereignty belongs to the whole, to the people of Earth (Article 2).
The Federation of Earth, therefore, does not make nations primary in government. It recognizes their historical existence (there is no whole without parts) without falling into the fallacy that we have to build the future on that radically flawed and incoherent past. There will be about 1500 votes in the World Parliament (and only about 300 for the nation-states) for the Earth Federation is primarily a federation of people directly from 1000 World Electoral Districts, that is, it is primarily a democracy, not a compromise with the undemocratic notion of false territorial sovereignty.
Under the Earth Constitution, “federation” means that the parts recognize that they only have their reality as parts of a whole and therefore unite as a whole that protects the limited autonomy of each of the parts, creating an indivisible coherence for humanity as constituted through an enforceable democratic legal authority. This recognition constitutes the paradigm-shift away from the illusory Newtonian atomism to the holism of a truly new age, precisely because it is based on the reality of our human, planetary, and cosmic situation as revealed by all post-Einsteinian sciences. The concept of a “sovereign nation-state” is a false-god, an idol that is holding humankind back from right relationship among ourselves and with the blessed groundless-ground of Being.
Our human-cosmic adventure takes its next step through the emergent unity of humankind via ratification of the Earth Constitution. True democracy, true self-government for humanity, can only happen at the global level, when all are embraced and all invited to participate. The Earth Constitution allows us to realize our “ontological vocation” to become ever more fully human and ever more fully expressive of the creative source of all Existence. As 11th century Chinese Neo-Confucian sage Zhang Zai expressed this: “That which extends throughout the universe I regard and my body and that which directs the universe I consider as my nature. All people are brothers and sisters, and all things are my companions” (in Swimme 2011, 89).
Once we have united as one humanity under the principle of unity in diversity, we will at last be in a position to follow the commandment at the heart of all the great world religions. As Sufi poet Muhyi al-Din ibn al-‘Arabī sings:
My heart has become capable of every form:
it is a pasture of gazelles and a convent for Christian monks,
And a temple for idols and the pilgrim’s Ka’ba
and the tables of the Torah and the book of the Koran.
I follow the religion of Love: whatever way Love’s camels take,
that is my religion and my faith. (In Williams, 155)
We need to integrate all the wonderful agencies of the United Nations into the Earth Constitution, thereby laying the groundwork for one world civilization of peace, justice and sustainability for all nations and peoples. If we retain the dogma of sovereignty, all three UNs become a fetter holding back the liberation of humanity. Free of this dogma, they become the vital foundation for a new human reality as envisioned by Constitution for the Federation of Earth.
Constitution for the Federation of Earth. Online at www.earthconstitution.world. In print from the Institute for Economic Democracy Press, Appomattox, VA, 2010 and 2014.
Currivan, Jude (2017). The Cosmic Hologram: In-formation at the Center of Creation. Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions.
Glover, Jonathan (1999). Humanity: A Moral History of the 20th Century. New Haven: Yale University Press.
Harris, Errol E. (2000). Apocalypse and Paradigm: Science and Everyday Thinking. Westport, CT: Prager Publishers.
Harris, Errol E. (2008). Twenty-First Century Democratic Renaissance: From Plato to Neoliberalism to Planetary Democracy. Appomattox, VA: Institute for Economic Democracy Press.
Heinberg, Richard (2011). The End of Growth: Adapting to Our New Economic Reality. Gabriola Island, BC: New Society Publishers.
Laszlo, Ervin (2007). Science and the Akashic Field: An Integral Theory of Everything. Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions.
Martin, Glen T. (2016). One World Renaissance: Holistic Planetary Transformation through a Global Social Contract. Appomattox, VA: Institute for Economic Democracy Press. See Martin’s website at www.oneworldrenaissance.com.
Martin, Glen T. (2018). Global Democracy and Human Self-Transcendence: The Power of the Future for Planetary Transformation. London: Cambridge Scholars Publishers.
Martin, Glen T. (2021). The Earth Constitution Solution: Design for a Living Planet. Independence, VA: Peace Pentagon Press.
There is an overwhelming consensus today that human beings are creatures who can develop toward ever greater levels of maturity. They can actualize their potential along multiple developmental lines such as cognitive, emotional, spiritual, interpersonal, aesthetic, or moral. Scholars have identified multiple developmental stages along each of these lines, the simplest of which may be the four-stage model from egoistic to ethnocentric to worldcentric to cosmocentric and integral (cf. Wilber 2007).
Spiritual development can be seen as one line of developmental capacity that human beings need to actualize (as it is, for example, in the work of James Fowler, 1981). The term “spiritual” can also be used to characterize the higher levels in all these developmental lines. In other words, people who are more emotionally mature, morally mature, or aesthetically mature are often said to be more “spiritual.” Those at egocentric and ethnocentric levels are often intensely religious, but in mythic, fundamentalist, and anthropomorphic ways that have been transcended at higher levels of spiritual realization.
In this paper I want to broadly associate spiritual maturity with those who have progressed to worldcentric and cosmocentric levels of awareness as well as recognize a developmental line for spirituality itself. If there is such a separate developmental line, it is clear nevertheless that the multiple lines (such as aesthetic, moral, interpersonal, etc.) mingle and “bleed” into one another. With the possible exception of the “cognitive” line of development (in which there are some very smart people who are barbarians morally and spiritually), its development would naturally affect the whole of a person’s growth.
Spiritual maturity, therefore, means those who have substantially grown away from immature egoism and ethnocentrism and begun to enter transpersonal stages of development in which their awareness begins to embrace all human beings (with compassion and understanding—karuna in Buddhism, agape in Christianity). For such people our common humanity (that Karl Marx called our species-being) becomes more important than egoistic or ethnocentric self-gratification and self-indulgence. Along with cognitive intelligence, and moral intelligence, human beings have a spiritual intelligence that needs to be embraced and developed.
Whether or not a person practices a certain religion or spiritual path (like Zen meditation), if that person is mature enough to compassionately embrace all of humanity, then I call that person spiritually advanced, having grown into a deeper awareness of what is truly more real and more universal than the egoism and bourgeois self-indulgence that characterizes most people today. In my recent book The Earth Constitution Solution: Design for a Living Planet, I characterize these four levels of development in the following way:
Egocentric—I live to satisfy myself with pleasure, money, security, or power (love of self). Ethnocentric—I live as a member of my country, my church, or my community (love of community). Worldcentric—I live as a self-aware expression of humanity (love of humanity). Cosmocentric—I live as a self-aware expression of the cosmic intelligence (transpersonal and unconditional love) (2021, 16). At the higher levels we become aware of the whole, the ground of Being that embraces us, and through which we encounter intimations signaling who and what we are as human beings.
Beginning primarily at the worldcentric level, we become concerned about human liberation. How do we create a world of justice, freedom, dignity, and prosperity for everyone on Earth, not just for “my own” family, or nation, or social class? The imperative that many people feel to pursue their own growth toward ever-greater maturity is also an imperative to create optimum conditions for human liberation for all humanity.
The concept of “human liberation” itself is highly contested and embodies an overlapping family of meanings. Many religious and spiritual traditions connect human liberation with a demand for metanoia, for a transformation of our human being-in-the-world through awakening to and identification with the sacred ground of Being. From this awakening, they say, comes the compassion and love necessary to establish world-systems that fully support human freedom and dignity.
I believe there is substantial truth in this. However, one meets (or reads) many people who appear awakened to the sacred ground who, at the same time, espouse economic and political ideas that are plainly regressive or oppressive. To follow a spiritual path through meditation and mindfulness may lead to a certain transpersonal life-wisdom. But it will not necessarily lead to political, economic, and social wisdom about the systems by which life on Earth is organized.
Indeed, one of the great discoveries of the 20th century comes through the work of Sigmund Freud and modern psychology, as well as the work of such “masters of suspicion” as Karl Marx and Friedrich Nietzsche. Both healthy human development and social-civilizational development are much more complicated and difficult than earlier thinkers or spiritual teachers had imagined. There is a “dark side” or “shadow side” to ourselves in which we repress thoughts and feelings that disturb us and tend to project them externally onto the world outside us.
Our hate and fear of “the other,” the enemy, the alien, the stranger, often reflects our own inner contradictions and repressions and not some external reality. All of us have known people who claim to be following spiritual paths toward human liberation yet project their self-repressions onto what they take to be “outrageous” in the external world. Philosopher and psychologist, Erich Fromm, for example, raised these issues in Beyond the Chains of Illusion: My Encounter with Marx and Freud. Fromm states that our “alienation has reached the point where it borders on insanity in the whole industrialized world.” Marx understood, he says, that our “contemporary idolatry…can be changed only by a complete change of the economic-social constellation together with the spiritual liberation of man” (1962, 59)
Traditional spiritual paths such as Zen meditation are not equipped to deal with these psycho-dynamics. People with nuclear weapons in Washington, DC, hate and fear “Russians,” projecting their own inner repressions onto some imagined implacable enemy. Or, as the new President of Columbia, Gustavo Petro, insisted in his September 20th UN speech, the US authorities conducting the “war on drugs” in his country by killing people and poisoning the jungle are projecting their own unhappiness and internal failures of their society onto some imagined enemy. Similarly, people with nuclear weapons in New Delhi hate and fear “Pakistanis,” rather than dealing with their own immense internal problems (like millions of Indian children enslaved within bonded labor). Psycho-social repression applies to nation-states as well as persons.
To think about the optimum conditions for growth and sell-realization for all humanity means that one must delve into the psychodynamics of growth, and the multiple “hidden conditions,” the “shadow side” of societies and world systems not found in the news, conditions that remain “unthought” by most people. What is hidden from most people includes the “framework conditions,” behind the scenes, that most ignore because they are unseen, not only psychologically, but because, like the air we breathe, the most general structural frameworks remain invisible.
We need to bring into consciousness not only our psycho-social repressions, but also the structures of world-systems, global institutions, and the multitude of world-order problems being addressed today by numerous thinkers, scholars, and reformers. Do hidden assumptions behind these systems enhance or block human liberation? How can we create a world order that truly encourages human growth, fulfillment, and flourishing? There is an “enlightenment” connected with this dimension of our humanity just as there is an “enlightenment” connected with following a spiritual path.
Immanuel Kant’s famous 1784 essay “What is Enlightenment?” contributed to a tradition of critical social-economic-political thought that blossomed with the 19th century work of Karl Marx and continued through 20th century thinkers like Max Weber, Theodore Adorno, Walter Benjamin, Ernst Bloch, Erich Fromm, Mahatma Gandhi, Herbert Marcuse, Hannah Arendt, and Jürgen Habermas. Kant’s essay observed that enlightenment meant the capacity of a person to think and act autonomously. And subsequent thinkers in this tradition tend to associate human liberation with social-economic-political arrangements that help produce self-directed, thoughtful, autonomous individuals capable of universal moral judgements who are strongly capable of living from their own conceptual frameworks and principles rather than being pawns of external movements, pervasive propaganda systems, or hidden internal repressions.
These centuries have also produced an awareness that social-economic-political structures condition human life and serve a major function in repressing human growth and potential. Marx concluded that economic relations under capitalism generated a “false consciousness” in people and that the dominant classes espoused an ideology that justified and covered up the real economic relations that obtained. Sigmund Freud studied the “false consciousness” of the human ego, projecting its unconscious repressions onto the external world. What, then, is enlightenment? 20th century philosopher John Hick links these spiritual- economic-psychological insights together, proclaiming “the powerful and explosive idea of total liberation—political and economic as well as spiritual” (2004, 306).
“Total liberation” means the union of spirituality and critical social theory. We must learn to penetrate the veil generated by those who dominate the present world-system, just as we must learn to penetrate the veil of an independent physical world, composed of substantial realities, that tends to be generated by the “naïve realism” of our minds in conjunction with everyday sense experience. We must discover the social-economic-political-psychological transformations necessary to create a world of fully mature, flourishing, independently thinking, and compassionate human beings. And we must grow spiritually beyond egoism to transpersonal levels that also tend to generate independent, compassionate, and loving human beings.
Critical social theorists have been concerned not only with the framework of global capitalism and its implications for massive human poverty and systemic destruction of the environment. They have also speculated on the impact of the modern technological framework that pervades global society and the implications of these frameworks for imperialism, colonialism, and war. As Marcuse (1964) points out, these frameworks tend to demand instrumental forms of thinking and to stifle deeper theoretical forms of human reasoning and communication. Sheldon Wolin points out that the synthesis of the “war on terror” in the USA with the capitalist search for everything “exploitable” is leading toward “inverted totalitarianism” and the ultimate death of democracy (2008, xi and xix).
In Eros and Civilization (1962) Marcuse attempts to show that our civilizational dysfunction arises through “repressive de-sublimation,” in which a shallow consumer society indulges its permissive fantasies without ever getting to the root of our systemic unhappiness deriving from a deeply repressed psyche and social system. Habermas (1987) speaks of the “colonization of the lifeworld by system imperatives” resulting in persons who operate unconsciously from system imperatives rather than from mature democratic and communicative principles.
The world-system, in other words, enslaves human beings psychologically and spiritually, inhibiting growth toward the full maturity of enlightenment while simultaneously fostering war, imperialism, and environmental destruction. Human beings operate from unquestioned and unconscious technological, economic, political and psychological assumptions endemic in the repressive world system. They grow up within the system without ever clearly becoming aware of its nature and influences on their thought and well-being.
My own critical-social philosophical work since Millennium Dawn (2005) has emphasized the role of nation-state sovereignty within the repressive world system of wars, human immiseration, and environmental destruction. Many “progressive” thinkers at the planetary level mount a critique of capitalism and argue for a world system of equal, sovereign states that respect one another’s autonomy. They are deeply mistaken. As world-systems thinker Christopher Chase-Dunn expresses this: “The system of unequally powerful and competing nation-states is part of the competitive struggle of capitalism, and thus wars and geopolitics are a systematic part of capitalist dynamics, not exogenous forces” (1998, 61).
In what Chase-Dunn calls “the myth of the nation as a transcendent solidarity,” there are assumptions and consequences that block global democracy and a rationally informed world system. It is an illusion, he says, to think that nations are represented to one another by their respective peoples. Rather, it is the ruling classes that interact geopolitically with other ruling classes within a context of economic and power struggles. In addition, since citizens are citizens of just one country (rather than our planet), all are denied the collective rationality that might exist if we recognized all other persons as citizens of planet Earth equal to ourselves (1998, 36).
I argue that an adequate critical social theory must include awareness of the technological imperative as well as the social-political-economic imperatives embodied in the sovereign nation-state system interfaced with global capitalism. The “sovereign nation-state” is another “idolatry” that must be transcended through both system-change and spiritual growth. Awareness of these imperatives leads to study of the Constitution for the Federation of Earth as a master document designed to embody a new holistic paradigm that transcends both absolute national sovereignty and global capitalist commodification. The Earth Constitution recognizes the sovereignty of humanity and embodies features that construct a new global economics on the foundation of human well-being rather than competition for private profit.
It engenders a new human solidarity based on our self-identification as world citizens democratically participating with one another in governing our globe. It places the essential global resources (the global commons) under the authority of the Earth Federation, including the planetary atmosphere, the oceans, and the major rain forests of Earth. It creates a financial administration that uses a universal currency valued the same everywhere and directed to protecting the environment as well as the well-being of everyone rather than the private profit of the few.
It thereby not only represents growth of a higher, worldcentric, level of spiritual realization. It also lays the groundwork for rapid human spiritual growth beyond egoism and ethnocentrism to transpersonal levels. As John Hick points out: “The transcending of self-centeredness is severely inhibited by the need to fend off starvation, disease and oppression” (2004, 306). In our present world of social-economic-political chaos, of wars and desperation everywhere, of millions of climate refuges worldwide, spiritual and moral growth always comes last on the agenda for both the oppressors and the oppressed.
The Earth Constitution turns this around by superseding the old paradigm of global capitalism interlinked with sovereign nation-states. It is now potentially able, as it says in Article 13.12, to “assure each child the right to the full realization of his or her potential.” It unites humanity in democratic solidarity. The path to “total liberation” will clearly not be as easy as this scenario may appear to imply. Human psychodynamics reveal the horrific repressions and projections (onto an evil “other”) in the hands of those in control of nuclear weapons and automated armies the world over.
The human and world system psychodynamics of denial reveal the willing blindness of capitalists, national leaders, and citizens the world over to the facts of climate collapse and the possibility of human extinction through nuclear holocaust or climate destruction. As James Gustave Speth (2008) observes, people just don’t want to hear it. In Chapter 6 of The Earth Constitution Solution, I show the ways that the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are not achievable because they are addressed through the same set of assumptions that have caused the climate crisis in the first place.
The Earth Constitution provides an available tool for making the kind of changes that lay the groundwork for collective human action on behalf of human flourishing and future generations. It transforms the current dysfunctional and repressive world system into a democratic unity-in-diversity system that provides real hope and possibilities for human liberation. It establishes democratic world law, enforceable over all individuals, within the framework of the universal common good, to replace the present ruling chaos of multinational corporate power, global private banking cartels, and endless struggle among militarized sovereign nation-states.
Those who hide from global political struggles within some spiritual path are doing little service for the future of humanity. Where is their mahakaruna, their “great compassion” for the suffering of all humanity? Those who believe that political-economic transformation alone will solve our most fundamental problems are similarly deluded. Where is their self-transcendence to truly transpersonal modes of thought and action? Ken Wilber, in a somewhat similar fashion, has spoken of our urgent need to unite “the Enlightenment of the East” with the “Enlightenment of the West” (1998, 211).
Our cosmic imperative and cosmic destiny includes a deep resonance with the ground and source of Being, with Brahman, God, Allah, Tao, or Dharmakaya. Just as with cognitive and moral intelligence, we need to grow in our spiritual intelligence as well. A truly transpersonal love, an agape, intelligently applied through planetary democracy and a world parliament, can only come from harmony with our cosmic ground of Being. This form of intelligence is necessary for a fully redeemed and liberated humanity. It is this “rational love” that will help end poverty and oppression, just as much as it will help protect our planetary environment from further collapse.
We need a union of spirituality and critical social theory pointing toward “total liberation.” That union is potentially actualized within the Constitution for the Federation of Earth—which is predicated on the unity-in-diversity, the holism, necessary to both dimensions of the struggle for human liberation. The most important thing we can do at this juncture of human history is work for ratification of this Earth Constitution. It provides our chance for a jail-break out of chaotic history toward human liberation and integrated enlightenment.
Chase-Dunn, Christopher (1998). Global Formation: Structures of World Economy. New York: Rowman & Littlefield.
Constitution for the Federation of Earth. Found online at www.earthconstitution.world and in print with the Institute for Economic Democracy Press, 2010 and 2014.
Fowler, James (1981). Stages of Faith. San Francisco: Harper & Row.
Fromm, Erich (1962). Beyond the Chains of Illusion: My Encounter with Marx and Freud. New York: Simon and Schuster.
Habermas, Jürgen (1987). The Theory of Communicative Action. Volume Two: Lifeworld and System. Trans. Thomas McCarthy. Boston: Beacon Press.
Hick, John (2004). And Interpretation of Religion: Human Responses to the Transcendent. New Haven: Yale University Press.
Marcuse, Herbert (1962). Eros and Civilization: A Philosophical Inquiry into Freud. New York: Vintage Books.
Marcuse, Herbert (1964). One Dimensional Man. Boston: Beacon Press.
Martin, Glen T. (2005). Millennium Dawn: The Philosophy of Planetary Crisis and Human Liberation. Appomattox, Virginia: Institute for Economic Democracy Press.
Martin, Glen T. (2021). The Earth Constitution Solution: Design for a Living Planet. Independence, VA: Peace Pentagon Press.
Speth, James Gustav (2008). The Bridge at the Edge of the World. New Haven: Yale University Press.
Wilber, Ken (1998). The Marriage of Sense and Soul: Integrating Science and Religion. New York: Broadway Books.
Wilber, Ken (2006). Integral Spirituality. Boston: Shambhala Press.
Wolin, Sheldon (2008). Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Human beings have long struggled with the immense question of who and what we are in relation to the surrounding cosmos. For more than 2500 years, since the famous Axial Period in human history, we have asked the question of a divine dimension, of ultimate reality, and our relation to this dimension. The question of humanism arises within this context.
Where should society focus in its educational, spiritual, cultural, and religious endeavors? Should we orient ourselves toward the ultimate dimension—toward Brahman, Tao, Allah, Dharmakaya, Yahweh, or li—with a mode of sacrifice, a tapasya, that limits human flourishing in the service of the divine, or should we emphasize an imperative to focus on human flourishing and reasonable self-sufficiency in the light of the divine?
Perhaps something of this dialectic surfaced in the rebellion of Buddhism against classical Hinduism. If Atman is Brahman, then the point of life becomes an inner process of transcendence of the diverse panorama of this world of incidentals in pursuit of a oneness that ultimately obliterates that world, that sees it as maya, not fully real, illusion. For Lord Buddha, it was not just a matter of a needless cultural, educational, and social focus on ultimate metaphysical realities that was a distraction from the path toward human fulfillment and flourishing. Rather, it was an entire ethos that diminished human flourishing by ignoring the fact that this concrete life in the here and now is the key to human liberation and freedom in living. As 2nd century south Indian Buddhist, Nāgārjuna declared: “There is no difference whatsoever between samsara and nirvana” (see Martin, 1991).
In the West perhaps this dialectic can also be seen in the philosophical world view of Aristotle in relation to his teacher Plato. Plato’s two world model oriented human life away from the concrete world of everyday by climbing the ladder of insight and awakening to ever-higher levels of abstraction, leaving behind the particulars of the world because they were not fully real, mere shadows dancing in a cave of ignorance. His student Aristotle re-envisioned the non-physical forms, the eidos, that were the goal of the Platonic ladder of transcendence. Aristotle embedded these forms within the concrete world of particulars and saw them as integral to the dynamic of development that characterized all things. The purpose of life then became development, self-realization within this body, this society, and this world of life on Earth rather than transcendence toward some other intelligible world.
A third historical example of the embrace of humanism as opposed to an otherworldly orientation of persons and societies can be observed in the Italian Renaissance of the 15th century. Renaissance thinkers repudiated medieval conceptions of society and human destiny which claimed that the destiny of this life was fulfillment in the supernatural world, in heaven. They actively embraced this world, this life, and the development of human flourishing upon this Earth. Perhaps Pico Della Mirandola best exemplifies this Renaissance humanism with his famous 1486 “Oration on the Dignity of Man” in which he asserts that God gave human beings the dignity of freedom so that we could flourish fully in this world and this earthly life as true creators of our destiny.
In spite of Renaissance humanism, a new cosmology entered civilization in the late 17th century when Sir Isaac Newton systematized the findings of early modern scientists such as Galileo and Kepler. The world was now seen as a physical mechanism, with all things reducible to their atomistic elements, and governed by deterministic laws operating according to an efficient causality allowing no room for purpose, teleological direction, or development (see Harris 2000). The religious consequences of Newtonian cosmology were immense.
God’s relation to the world was transformed from that of an active energy immanent within the everyday world to that of a remote creator at the very beginning who played no role in the deterministic cosmos after its initial creation. Although there have been, of course, some materialists and atheists since ancient times, both East and West, the origins of a truly modern secularism and positivism occurred during this period of the 17th and 18th centuries in Europe.
Thomas Hobbes was perhaps the first prominent representative of this new ethos. In his Leviathan (1687), he declared that human beings are determined by their physical bodies and brains to strive for nothing other than “power after power.” They strive throughout their lives in egoistic, selfish, and violent ways. He declared himself a materialist and an atheist. Government and the social order for him have no role to play in any supposed education or development of citizens because human nature is fixed from birth. The function of government and the social order is power only—the use of force and authority to keep the peace, to regulate human egoism, selfishness, and violence from becoming too destructive.
About the same time as Hobbes’ assessment of human nature, capitalism began to emerge with the assumption that this system of human economic exchange constituted a discovery of the proper functioning of human economic relations. Capitalism assumed a universal egoistic self-interest within each person or corporation toward pursuing private profit in competition with other persons and businesses. Capitalism also assumed that the economic laws of investment, actualized through various forms of production of goods and services and their returns on investment with increase in private wealth, was the “natural” and only objectively confirmable form of human economic relationships.
During this same period of early-modern deterministic cosmology, the modern sovereign nation-state was born. At the Peace of Westphalia in 1648 at the conclusion of the 30-Years War in Europe, a system of territorially bound nation-states was defined in which governments possessed excusive sovereign authority over their internal affairs and sovereign independence in relation to one another externally. Like capitalism, this form of governance by dividing the world into atomistic, absolute territories with external relations revolving around economic competition and backed by political and military power, became an unquestioned assumption of the modern era that has persisted to this day.
With the development of complex machinery, technology, and the discovery of fossil fuels for running that machinery, the modern world exploded in a series of industrial revolutions that have transformed not only human living in the world but has damaged the ecological framework of the Earth portending climate destruction and possible human extinction (Rifkin 2011). Capitalism to this day generates vast accumulations of private wealth in the hands of a few and vast misery and deprivation for the majority. It was this economic structure of capitalism during the 19th century that dialectically gave rise to the movement for socialism, for economic equality and justice.
Extreme wealth and extreme poverty, along with environmental destruction, the hallmarks of capitalism, gave rise to the economic analyses of Karl Marx and others exposing the hidden dynamics of this system with its inevitable deleterious human and environmental consequences. Capitalism, as a product of the Newtonian world view, is inherently atheistic since it assumes an economic determinism predicated on mistaken psychological assumptions about the egoistic structure of human nature.
Nevertheless, the emergent socialism of the 19th century saw that capitalism played upon people’s religious aspirations as part of its ideological penumbra of self-justification. Much of early socialism proclaimed a materialist humanism that disavowed talk of a divine dimension used to justify the poverty of our human situation. The aspiration of socialism was, in general, toward a human community of kindness and economic solidarity in which economics was directed toward serving the needs of all rather than the wealth of a few.
The early-modern assumptions behind the power-system of territorial sovereign nation-states and behind the exploitation-system of capitalist “free enterprise” remained part of the ideological framework behind the socialist revolutions in China and the Soviet Union. Rather than human liberation, these assumptions resulted in the totalitarianism of controlling governments, just as capitalism with its so-called free enterprise resulted in the totalitarianism of ruling class wealth and power. In both cases humanism is lost if by “humanism” we mean an economic, social, and cultural framework directed to comprehensive human well-being and flourishing.
Marxist humanism has features in common with the “secular humanism” that continues, along with Marxism, as a major movement in today’s world. Both reject any talk of the “supernatural” as not only counterproductive but meaningless. We must concentrate on human well-being by taking responsibility for our own economic and social development directed to the common good and the welfare of all. Integral Humanism, by contrast, embraces this responsibility within a larger framework that does not exclude the rootedness of human existence within its planetary and cosmic contexts.
In the 20th century the concept of “integral humanism” has been developed by various thinkers, expanding and perhaps significantly changing the narrower ideas of secular or socialist “humanism.” For example, French Catholic philosopher Jacques Maritain published a book by this title in 1936. He argued that the focus on human well-being should be fundamental, just as “humanism” had always argued. However, Maritain presented sophisticated arguments against the communist vision of humanism and why a Christian vision provided a more complete understanding of human beings and their well-being by taking into account their larger [cosmic-spiritual] contexts.
Similarly, in the mid-1960s, Indian politician and scholar Deendayal Upadhyay argued that India needed an “integral humanism” drawn from its ancient moral, spiritual, and humanistic traditions that repudiated Western notions of progress through either capitalism or socialism and provided a comprehensive third way toward social progress. Nevertheless, neither of these thinkers considered a powerful new paradigm that emerged in the 20th century entirely superseding the early-modern Newtonian paradigm and providing us with a truly “integral” understanding of the world in stark contrast to the Newtonian understanding.
Since the work of Max Plank in 1900 and of Albert Einstein in 1905, a vast paradigm shift has taken place in scientific cosmology. Revolutions in natural science since the early 20th century (as manifested in both quantum and relativity physics) contradicted early modern cosmology and have introduced an entirely new conceptual paradigm, that is making the distinction between the natural (physical) world and a hypothetical “supernatural” realm untenable. The physical world is not made of some substance called “matter” that is opposed to another possible substance called “mind” or “spirit.” The reality of the natural world is that consciousness, with many modes and levels, is inherent in the cosmos from the very beginning. Human beings are understood to be directly connected to the holistic foundations of the cosmos.
The new scientific cosmology reveals the world as a dynamic explosion of energy with consciousness inherent in energy at all levels. There is zero evidence that the foundations of the cosmos involve some supernatural being transcending the world who created it ex nihilo. The evidence is that the Ground (which is no-thing) is integral to every dimension and aspect of the world. Integral humanism recognizes this holistic reality. In recognizing this reality, it also becomes cosmic humanism.
Today, the secular humanist distinction between what is natural and the “supernatural” has lost its force. For decades, Quantum sciences have been revealing that there is no such thing as “matter” as a separate substance, there are only energy fields within ever-larger fields, corresponding to levels of consciousness, ultimately rooted in a plenum in which relations are non-local and instantaneous and within which the concept of separate parts entirely loses its meaning. Leading contemporary physicist Henry Stapp writes: “A radical shift in the physics-based conception of man from that of an isolated mechanical automaton to that of an integral participant in a non-local holistic process that gives form and meaning to the evolving universe is a seismic event of potentially momentous proportions” (2011, 140).
The cosmos arises incessantly through a “non-local holistic process” that new paradigm thinker Ervin Laszlo calls “the Akasia field,” recalling the ancient Hindu conception of the universal Ground of Being (2014). Early modern science conceived of man as an “isolated mechanical automation.” Today we are co-creators with the cosmic ground of being. Capitalism’s reductionist view of human beings includes that of an “isolated mechanical automaton” beholden to the iron laws of economics. By contrast, contemporary economist Kate Raworth affirms that economics has to do with the way we choose to design our relationships, not with the discovery of pre-existing laws (2017). The new paradigm liberates us from capitalism.
Similarly, the nation-state with its mechanistic territorial sovereignty and its militaristic relation to all other nations assumes humans and their territories as “isolated mechanical automatons.” If Pakistan acquires nuclear weapons, India must do likewise. If China extends its southern border in the Himalayas and promotes major economic links around the Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean, then India must respond with an increase of military might in the region. The nation-state system mechanically determines its own imperatives. The World Bank and the World Trade Organization determine India’s most basic economic functions, not the moral imperatives embodied in the Constitution of India.
Neither capitalism nor territorial sovereign nation-states manifest the new-paradigm reality—that is, they are not and cannot act as “non-local participants in a holistic process.” As a result, economics fails to serve human needs, and sovereign nation-states pour endless resources down the toilet of militarism while threatening to wipe out humanity in thermo-nuclear holocaust. Swami Agnivesh, who was Vice-President of the World Constitution and Parliament Association (WCPA) during the last 5 years of his life, focused on the millions of children who suffer horribly in bonded labor conditions within India while the rich indulge their lives unmindful of this immense suffering. Global economic imperatives interfere with India’s ability to address this horrific reality.
Humanism, if it is not outdated by the distinction between the natural and supernatural worlds necessarily becomes integral humanism and fully actualizes itself in cosmic humanism. Scholar James McGrath explains that “cosmic humanism locates human beings in the whole cosmos, not simply in the miniscule slice of space-time we call ‘history.’ It’s not a contained view of human beings. It’s open to all kinds of cosmological views of what the universe is and what human beings might be as highly evolved expressions of that same universe. Cosmic humanism explodes the recent, linear, historicist views of what human beings are by locating the human condition in a vastly greater context—a literally cosmic one” (2022).
During the mid-1960s, Pundit Deendayal Upadhyay provided intellectual and moral leadership in the promotion of integral humanism. He rejected what he took to be the big government promotion of socialism under Nehru and the Congress Party, which he said was an import from the West. Rather than following the “isms” of the West (such as capitalism or Marxism) he asserted that the Indian tradition provided its own unique path to proper development that included dharma or proper education, wisdom, and developmental goals, artha, or meaningful work in relation to a community that provides for all its members, kama, the satisfaction of desires through culture, art, and reasonable moderation, and moksha, the highest goal, which is release from bondage and return to the One.
Like Swami Agnivesh, who in addition supported ratification of the Constitution for the Federation of Earth, Upadhyay stressed the origin of all things in the One, with the consequence that all human beings are brothers and sisters. Vasudhaiva kutumbakam was a favorite slogan of both thinkers.Western individualism sets the individual person against society, government, and all such corporate entities, whereas integral humanism recognizes the interdependence and common origin of all human beings within a community oriented to the common good and the welfare of each.
Upadhyay’s integral humanism was accepted at the Bharatiya Jana Sangh National Convention of 1965 and again, in 1985, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) accepted it as its basic philosophy. The power of Upadhyay’s integral humanism lies in its holism that sees economics, culture, person, and society as a nexus of interrelated developing paths that draw their strength from their synergistic interactions. These interrelated paths have a cosmic foundation in Indian thought—all diversity of religions, cultures, nations, and persons arise from the One and at bottom point back to the One.
In my view, however, the limitation of Upadhyay’s integral humanism is that it does not carry holism far enough toward civilizational and cosmic holism. Rabindranath Tagore rightly declared that “it is the mission of civilization to bring unity among people and to establish peace and harmony” (206, 214). Sri Aurobindo rightly observed that the divine “creates in itself a self-conscious concentration of the All through which it can aspire” (1973, 49). Integral humanism cannot be limited to any one sovereign nation defined by territorial borders and hence implicitly declaring itself separate from the rest of humanity.
Even though during the 1960s India was a newly independent sovereign nation-state and was still trying to find its national direction and voice, the concept of sovereign nation-state that defined it after 1947 was yet another Western “ism” (“statism”) going back to the Peace of Westphalia in 1648. By contrast, an integral humanism that challenged the idea of the sovereign nation-state was already found in the thought of Mahatma Gandhi upon which Upadhyay draws. Gandhi’s humanism is astutely articulated by Professor Geeta Mehta in her essay “The Integral Humanism of Mahatma” (1998).
Even before the climate crisis and the advent of nuclear weapons, Gandhi advocated world government. On 5 August 1942, he introduced the following resolution into the Indian National Congress:
While the Indian National Congress must primarily be concerned with independence and defense of India in this hour of danger, the Committee is of the opinion that the future peace, security, and ordered progress of the world demand a world federation of free nations, and on no other basis can the problems of the modern world be solved. Such a world federation would ensure the freedom of its constituent nations, the prevention of aggression and exploitation by one nation over another, the protection of national ministries, the advancement of all backward areas and peoples, and the pooling of the world’s resources for the common good of all (Hudgens 1986, 14)
Gandhi’s humanism centered on the divine imperative for a life of both individual integrity and social solidarity actualized through the self-realization of truth and nonviolence. The imperative for truth and nonviolence applied not only to India but to humanity and was at the heart of all the world’s religions. He embraced a cosmic humanism that portended a radical transformation of all human life within a civilization of satyagraha and ahimsa, within a civilization that radically transformed the militarized sovereign nation-state toward nonviolent membership within a world federation of nations.
For Gandhi, such a radical transformation of human life, already envisioned in the Vedic tradition and crystalized in the Bhagavad Gita, was also the vision at the heart of Buddhism, Islam, and Christianity. It is a vision that requires overcoming the gigantic structural impediments to its realization in the form of global exploitative capitalism and militarized sovereign nation-states. The freedom of nations, as Gandhi’s resolution affirms, is inseparable from a new world system based on “the pooling of the world’s resources for the common good of all.”
The profound integral humanism of Jacques Maritain or Deendayal Upadhyay must become cosmic and it must become global in its scope and vision. This humanism is embodied in the Constitution for the Federation of Earth under which nations become free precisely because they are no longer impelled to militarize and economically compete, and within which their economic problems are solved by a system that “pools the world’s resources for the common good of all.”
Upadhyay’s thought pointed beyond, to human self-transcendence, just as did that of Maritain. Both pointed to growth, development of our higher human capacities, and transformative self-realization on the part of humanity as these arise from a uniquely Indian or Christian context. All of this ultimately requires embrace of the Earth Constitution, which had not yet been written. Our lethal problems are no longer merely national. In the past half century, they have all become global (see Martin 2021). Our humanism must supersede both the sovereign nation-state and globalized capitalism.
Our lethal planetary problems must be solved by a global vision and planetary transformative initiative. The Constitution for the Federation of Earth forms the central tool for actualizing that vision. Maritain and Upadhyay point the way toward a vision that must become transformative at the global level. Our most fundamental context is planetary and cosmic, never centered in sovereign states. Such states are themselves a fundamental part of the problem. This article has attempted to reveal the necessary unity between integral humanism, cosmic humanism, and a transformed world order under the Earth Constitution.
Aurobindo, Sri (1973). The Essential Aurobindo. Robert A. McDermott, ed. New York: Schocken Books.
Constitution for the Federation of Earth. Online at www.earthconstitution.world. In print with Institute for Economic Democracy Press, 2010 and 2014.
Harris, Errol E. (2000). Apocalypse and Paradigm: Science and Everyday Thinking. Westport, CT: Praeger Publisher.
Hudgens, Tom A. (1986). Let’s Abolish War. Denver: BILR Corporation.
Laszlo, Ervin (2014). The Self-Actualizing Cosmos: The Akashia Revolution in Science and Human Consciousness. Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions.
Maritain, Jacques (1973). Integral Humanism: Temporal and Spiritual Problems of a New Christendom. Joseph W. Evans, Trans. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press.
Martin, Glen T. (1991) “Deconstruction and Breakthrough in Nietzsche and Nāgārjuna,” article in the volume Nietzsche and Asian Thought, Graham Parkes, ed., Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Martin, Glen T. (2021). The Earth Constitution Solution: Design for a Living Planet. Independence, VA: Peace Pentagon Press.
The leading Ancients of all major cultures thought we were microcosms of the macrocosm. From Buddha to Plato, from Shankara to Confucius, they manifested a cosmic consciousness that we mostly lack. For Confucius, for example, the concept of jen or “compassionate humanness” was essential for harmony and was embraced by the reality of li identifying a sacred order that manifested both social and cosmic harmony (cf. Fingerette 1972). The leading Ancients, each in his own way, embodied a vision of transformative harmony, a harmony that derives from a deep relation to the holism of the cosmos.
Today, holism appears to us not simply as a constant, abiding feature of the cosmos, but as an emergent and evolutionary aspect of the cosmos and all life. Quantum physics has led the way in the fundamental paradigm shift from atomism and determinism to transformative holism. Contemporary physicist Henry Stapp writes that these new insights in quantum science “lead us away from the egocentric bias” of classical physics to a new “image of the self, not as a local isolated automaton but rather as a nonlocalizable integrated aspect of the creative impulse of the universe” (1988, 57, emphasis added).
Our consciousness is rooted in what leading new-paradigm thinker Ervin Laszlo calls “the Akashia dimension,” that is, in the universal conscious oneness that constitutes the deep intelligence of the universe. Even our capacity to reduce human intelligence to mere technical manipulation of our environment derives from this rootedness in the creative foundations of the cosmos. Human awareness is emerging, across the globe, into awareness of our true destiny—and the deepest source of human freedom and dignity.
Indian sage Sri Aurobindo, similarly, understood that the universe has become conscious of itself in us and has created in us “a self-conscious concentration of the All through which it can aspire” (1973, 49). Nevertheless, in the 21st century many (perhaps most) people have assimilated the fragmented, self-stultifying, egoistic consciousness of early modernity deriving from the 17th century rise of science and its profoundly ambiguous stepchild, technology (cf. Ellul 1980). The vast fragmented institutions of capitalist greed and nation-state egoism continue to colonize the minds of people across the world.
It was primarily after Descartes and Hobbes in the 17th century that people began to think of their consciousness as “merely subjective.” Philosopher Martin Heidegger analyzes this split between an illusory private consciousness and an objective world of physical objects. He says that with the development of technocratic imperative in the modern world, our subjectivity has manifested as “the autonomous will and its desires.” At the same time the physical world was reduced (away from a sense of it as God’s creation) to a mere “standing reserve” open to human domination, manipulation, and exploitation (1977).
The early moderns began to divide the world between two poles—an “objective” world of bodies in motion described mathematically by science and the “subjective” world of human thoughts, feelings, and emotions that was merely a private egoistic reaction to the objective physical environment that encompasses us. Values were no longer an objective aspect of the “natural law” of things as ordained by God or Dharmakaya or li. Values lost their objective validity and became merely personal, merely subjective, not real, and hence, ultimately not valid. The lethal, apparently suicidal, mess that we find the world in today—pandemics, endless wars and militarism, nuclear and biological weapons, economic chaos, accelerating climate destruction—derives from this degradation of human consciousness.
What does it mean to be realistic? Does it mean that we “face the fact” that the human world is a moral cesspool, a corrupt matrix of war, violence, arbitrary power, exploitation, domination, greed, hate, and fear? The human world is truly all these things, but such “realism” alone denies our status a microcosms of the cosmic mind. It denies even the critical dimension of our ordinary minds, as philosopher Jürgen Habermas points out—we would not be scandalized by the horrific goings on in the world unless we knew that things could be different (2003, 63).
Such “realism” denies the source and reality of human values. Ervin Laszlo states that “mind is an aspect of reality as primordial as the physical world … It cannot be derived from matter or anything more basic.” Body and brain, he states, “and the organism as a whole, receive and resonate with the intelligence that permeates the universe” (2016, 41 and 45). This means that fundamental human values arise from the Ground of Being, from the fundamental reality of the cosmos itself. They are not merely subjective.
I have written in several places about “utopian horizon value theory” (e.g. 2021). Human beings are creatures in the process of becoming. As such we are, in the words of Teilhard de Chardin, “the axis and the leading shoot of evolution” (1955, 36). As philosopher Raimon Panikkar expresses this: “the destiny of the universe passes in and through us” (2013, 34). Human beings exist as self-aware temporalized creatures living in a dynamic present within which we appropriate the past and creatively project ourselves toward a future yet to be realized.
Panikkar declares that “Becoming belongs to the very essence of Being.” This, of course, is also true of our human “Being-in-the-world.” “Were an entity not to become what it is at each moment that it is,” he writes, “it would cease to be. The entity exists and this existence is its becoming” (2013, 98). Our own becoming, Panikkar affirms, is “linked to the destiny of the universe…. This destiny also, to a certain extent depends upon us. This is our human dignity, and our responsibility” (ibid., 104).
This temporal structure is the structure of human freedom. It is our highest dignity. Our freedom, as Panikkar says, is “ontological.” Our responsibility for the future derives from the evolutionary upsurge of the universe. We are “the center of the consciousness that pervades everything …. We can ‘effect’ or provoke the failure of the entire adventure of being” (2013, 349). All of this comes down to our values. What values do we live by? What are the highest values we hold dear?
Human consciousness, of course, participates in values in a free, flexible, and culturally dynamic way, leading to a multiplicity within its universal unity. But its values are not “merely subjective.” Values arise from the temporal structure of the human being. As self-aware temporal creatures we discover at our “utopian horizon” the highest values, what psychologists Eric Fromm (1996) and Abraham Maslow (2014) call “being values.” The values that derive from and resonate with being itself. Historically such values have been identified as truth, beauty, goodness, freedom, justice, etc.
Our minds critically assess our environment and human life. We see that it could and should be different. Here is where true “realism” lies—to discern the horror of the world and realize that it could and should be different and that we are responsible to make it so. It is deeply realistic to see our human situation from the level of a cosmic awareness. This is the level from which we derive the concepts of human dignity, freedom, and human rights. We are not just tiny creatures on a forlorn planet lost in a vast, meaningless universe as the early Jean-Paul Satre held in his book Being and Nothingness.
In contemporary discourse, values are also likely to be characterized as the imperative for “harmony and diversity” (Hartshorne 1983, 34), or as I often express this, “unity in diversity.” To more fully appreciate these ideas that I am presenting in this article, one must strive for ever greater cosmic awareness—experiencing life, so the speak, from the transpersonal and ecstatic reality of the cosmos, which we can do because this is our true reality. We are microcosms of that macrocosm. We are bearers of the torch of the cosmos. We are the axis and leading shoot of evolution.
To truly realize this is our key to eliminating nuclear weapons and dealing effectively with climate collapse as I point out in my recent book The Earth Constitution Solution. The Constitution for the Federation of Earth is an essential means for this transformation since it is premised on the same unity in diversity that permeates the universe from the micro to the macro levels. The other proposed alternatives often take the form of what is often called “global governance” (not effective democratic government, but merely international regulations called “governance”). Nearly all of these in effect deny our universal democratic unity in diversity and try to evolve a better world by compromising with the false paradigms of capitalist egoism and the war-system of absolute nation-state sovereignty.
The most fundamental point I want to make is that we can experience the values at our utopian horizon as a “call” from the ground of Being, a call from the divine foundations of the universe. The call is not to endless compromise with ignorance and evil but to realize our true human destiny to create a human world of peace, justice, freedom, and sustainability. Genuine realism dictates that we live according to a dynamic democratic framework in which these values can be truly realized (in the short time available before humans make themselves extinct). That framework is embodied in the Earth Constitution.
Philosopher-theologian Paul Tillich expresses our human situation with regard to values in a profound and compelling way:
For the demand calls for something that does not yet exist but should exist, should come to fulfillment. A being that experiences a demand is no longer bound to the origin. Human life involves more than mere development of what already is. Through the demand, humanity is directed to what ought to be. And what ought to be does not emerge with the unfolding of what is; if it did, it would be something that is, rather than something that ought to be. This means, however, that the demand that confronts humanity is an unconditional demand. The question “Wither?” is not contained in the question “Whence?” It is something unconditionally new that transcends what is new and what is old in the sphere of mere development…. For the human person is not only individual, a self, but also has knowledge about himself or herself, and thereby the possibility of transcending what is within the self and around the self. This is human freedom.…. The breaking of the myth of the origin by the unconditional demand is the root of liberal, democratic, and socialist thought in politics. (1987, 143-44)
It is important to note that Tillich is not referencing passages from the Bible or other religious texts where a divine being makes specific demands. Rather, he is affirming that our human structure or human situation itself contains this call or demand. Each of us has a utopian horizon embedded within our futurity, within our imagination. Our habit is to dismiss this as mere fantasy.
But our cosmically gifted human situation includes this utopian horizon with its values of the true, the good, the beautiful, freedom, justice, etc. Because we can perpetually transcend what is in the self and around the self (see my book Global Democracy and Human Self-Transcendence), we are bound neither by our internal psychology nor by historical circumstances. The human situation is not entirely constrained by any Newtonian causal determinism, but is open to radical transformation. We can now begin to take our utopian horizon, our human freedom, and capacity for self-transcendence seriously. We can live from that deeper, cosmic freedom.
In One World Renaissance, I called this demand “eschatological.” It is not about slow evolutionary change but about dramatic immediate transformation—awakening suddenly to our cosmic situation—our deeper human reality. The objective values calling to us from our utopian horizon help make this possible. The values that live on the utopian horizon of human consciousness are gifted to us by the cosmic intelligence at the heart of Being.
In the 18th century the great philosopher Immanuel Kant already pointed out that freedom was a transcendental force breaking, like bolts of noumenal lightning, into human affairs and interrupting the determined world of causal relations. But Kant still saw the phenomenal world as determined by Newtonian causality. We have come a long way since then. Tillich understands the call inherent in our situation as demanding something truly new be created by us. We are not bound by the “myth of the origin.”
We do not have to compromise with an oppressive, deterministic past. These insights also hint at the liberating meanings of the words, “democracy” or “socialism.” Both words connote radical equality, dignity, and human fulfillment. We are directly rooted in the Akashia dimension. A new world is waiting to emerge from within us and between us. We must allow our cosmic consciousness to blossom for this to appear. But once it appears, it will rightly be seen as commonsense realism, one that was right there in front of our faces all the time, but that we somehow failed to notice.
Human values, and the practical utopian demand for transformation, are inherent within our situation from the very beginning. Such values represent the unconditional demand of the cosmos that we ascend to higher levels of being and awareness. The demand is absolute, and it is always with us. We can make it concrete through the ratification of the Constitution for the Federation of Earth.
Aurobindo, Sri (1973). The Essential Aurobindo. Robert A. McDermott, ed. New York: Schocken Books.
Constitution for the Federation of Earth, online at www.earthconstitution.world. In print from Institute for Economic Democracy Press, 2010 and 2014.
Ellul, Jacques (1980). The Technological System. Joachim Neugroschel, trans. New York: Continuum Publishers.
Fingerette, Herbert (1972). Confucius—The Secular as Sacred. New York: Harper & Row Publishers.
Fromm, Erich (1996). To Have or To Be? New York: Continuum Books.
Hartshorne, Charles (1983). Insights and Oversights of Great Thinkers. Albany: State University of New York Press.
Heidegger, Martin (1977). “The Question Concerning Technology,” in Martin Heidegger: Basic Writings. David Ferrell Krell, ed. New York: Harper & Row.
Habermas, Jürgen (2003). The Future of Human Nature. William Rehg, et al., eds. Cambridge, MA: Polity Press.
Laszlo, Ervin (2016). What is Reality? The New Map of Psychology and Consciousness. New York: Select Books.
Throughout history human civilizations have based their fundamental concepts on various forms of pluralism or monism. Human beings have a tendency to embrace pluralism because they love freedom and individuality and do not want any civilizational way of life that diminishes such valuable goods. On the other hand, human beings also have a tendency toward synthesis, integration, and seeing things whole. They seek oneness, synthesis, the whole prior to its parts.
Do we embrace a vision of the whole or do we embrace the reality and autonomy of the parts? This issue goes all the way back to the ancient Greek metaphysical problem of “the one and the many.” Do we live in a cosmos in which the one is real and the many basically illusion? Or do we live in a cosmos in which the many are real and the one is merely an abstraction as a collection of its parts? Today, there is reason to believe that our response to this issue may bear directly on the survival of the human species.
From ancient times to the present human beings have engaged in a process of progressive discrimination, self-reflection, and evolving self-awareness. The religions and spiritualities of the world have all pointed in one way or another to a transcendence of the dualism between the one and the many. Within the depths of the present, many wisdom leaders experienced a oneness that transcended the numerical dualism of one and many. They experienced the living reality of the principle of life and existence embracing and transcending both poles. Has our contemporary world forgotten this ancient wisdom? On the other hand, perhaps we have reached a point in which we are now ready to make it part of our everyday experience.
In some respects, this dilemma of the one or the many is mirrored in the political and economic struggles of today’s world. First, there is the pluralist camp, represented by the BRICS nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) along with Iran and some other nations that want a pluralist world based on the UN Charter (in its original, “classical” interpretation). The Charter envisions a world of independent “sovereign” nation-states, guided by international law, living together in peace while interacting economically and culturally with one another around the planet.
The UN, of course, has failed to achieve this and has presided over 75 years of war, chaos, and human rights violations. Its Charter establishes an incoherent and unworkable solution to the problem of war. It gives us an unmitigated diversity without genuine unity. Under the illusion of the “equal sovereignty of states,” the reality is that all that is left is power and power struggles. Nations have not been brought under the rule of enforceable law.
On the other hand, there is the monist camp, represented by the USA, Canada, Australia and many European nations that want a “rule-based international order” that is globalized under a single banking system, and a single set of centralized, planetary rules developed by the World Economic Forum, the G-7, the World Bank and International Mondary Fund (IMF). The US dollar, which has been the world’s fundamental reserve currency for international trade since the end of the Second World War, tends to protect and foster the monolithic, centralized world system run from these global power-centers, and the US and its followers are currently acting to try to preserve this hegemony on a planetary scale. Hence, today’s new Cold War against the pluralist camp.
The BRICS nations, and their followers are developing alternative banking systems that will allow direct trade among nations that by-pass the US dollar as the main global medium of trade, thereby promoting a pluralist world system in opposition to the global hegemony of the monist world system under US leadership. The conceptual struggle I am describing is a common topic of debate in such publications as the Journal of Globalization Studies. The pluralistic vision of the world system consists of the collection of sovereign nation-states known as the Westphalian system, first formulated in 1648 as a vision of a world divided into absolute parts according to national boundaries. The monistic vision arose in relation to the process of globalization that has been emerging on the planet for several centuries but has come to represent an overwhelming geo-political-economic reality only with the technology of the late 20th century.
The issue of the one versus the many also animates discussion within nations, such as the USA, in the tension between liberalism that fosters individual freedoms, rights, and local control and a vision of a unified national system in which “big government” fosters the unity of all and appears as a threat to individual identities and local rights. All these controversies and debates are today animated by a heightened sense of urgency arising from the growing understanding that the future of humanity is in great danger from the twin threats of nuclear holocaust (or other weapons of mass destruction) and accelerating climate change. It looks as if human beings are in the process of making ourselves extinct as a species.
I am arguing here that we must transcend this dilemma of the one versus the many by integrating the two horns of the dilemma within a higher synthesis that includes the positive features of both. Today, our very survival as a species is dependent on our capacity to actualize this transcendence. I am not arguing, therefore, about a merely abstract set of issues but advocating a real transcendence, necessary for both human survival and flourishing—a real Hegelian movement to a higher level of concrete existence that brings forward the best of both poles while integrating them in a higher synthesis enhancing both unity and solidarity as well as freedom and particularity (see Martin 2021, Chaps. 1 and 8).
This higher synthesis is embodied in a concrete way in the Constitution for the Federation of Earth. Human beings require more than a mere conceptual synthesis of unity in diversity. They require (if they are to survive and flourish) a concrete embodiment of transcendence. A simple way of putting this is that we need to grow up. It is time we got serious about living on a higher level than that of holding mere personal ideals for a transformed world system: “Oh, wouldn’t it be nice if all the nations would live together in peace and work harmoniously to attain the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).” Such empty idealism has no place if we truly want to survive the terrible threats to our existence that we are now facing.
We must truly affirm the wonderful diversity of nations, races, cultures, ethnicities, and unique persons that make up our beautiful species while simultaneously experiencing fully and directly the unity of humankind and the oneness of our common humanity. As a species we are ready for this transcendence and many people around the world already live from this transcendence. The Earth Constitution declares that “unity in diversity is the basis for a new age when war shall be outlawed and peace prevail and when the earth’s total resources shall be equitably used for human welfare.”
This is not the expression of an empty ideal. It is a declaration of transcendence, of addressing our human situation from a higher and more realistic level. We overcome the conflict of the one and the many by actualizing both true unity and true diversity through a living experience that arises of the depths of existence. This is our infinite and unique human dignity. In every individual the One is there, shining in its ecstatic and sacred purity. In every experience of oneness, diversity is there, unique existences inseparable from the source, the One. Unity in diversity is the structure of reality. In Chapter Five of my book Millennium Dawn, I called this wisdom “integrative mysticism.”
The UN Charter gives us a diversity without genuine unity. The hegemonic empire gives us a oneness without genuine respect for diversity. The Earth Constitution can promise us the ending of war and the Earth’s resources used equitably for all precisely because it is written from the level of this transcendence. Under the Earth Constitution human beings have grown up. Indeed, they will ever more fully access the wisdom of the world’s traditions through transcending the dilemma of the one and the many.
I have often written that “democratic world law is the 21st century form of love” (Martin 2016, p. 370). Out of the synergistic union of the one and the many, the Earth Constitution elaborates a framework for the Earth’s total resources to be shared by human beings in peace, freedom, harmony, and justice. It is this sharing of our planetary home in peace and justice that is precisely the work of love. This is not merely an empty ideal, but a realistic consequence of the transcendence that human beings must make if we want to survive and flourish on our beautiful planet.
We do not want a world dominated by a few, whether these be nations, corporations, or the rich and powerful. We do not want a world fragmented by many militarized sovereign nation-states always ready for war and conflict. The only way out of this dilemma is moving to a higher level of existence, transcending the conflict between the one and the many by actualizing the ancient wisdom in which both one and many are integrated in an ecstatic unity, the sacred ground of existence itself. The consequence of this transcendence is the actualization of love (Martin 2018, Chap. 5).
This is why many of the world’s wisdom traditions declared that “God is love.” In its depth dimension this declaration is not framed anthropomorphically in terms of some being called “God” who has a relationship with creation called “love.” Rather, creation itself is love incarnate. God is not separate from the world and yet at the same time is not identical with the world. The One and the many mutually imply one another in ecstatic unity in diversity. This is the cosmic love from which we must begin living if we want to survive and flourish on our beautiful earthly home.
The Constitution for the Federation of Earth provides a framework for a genuine peace system, freedom system, and sustainability system for our beleaguered planet. At the same time, it provides a pathway for growth, for people transcending to a level within which they really do think and feel differently. It provides the best and most practical option for creating a decent human and planetary future for all. The third way is the way of transcendence, the way of illumination. It embodies the transformative embrace of the principle of unity in diversity.
This Sanskrit proverb was quoted by two quantum scientists in their article entitled “The Quantum Hologram and the Nature of Consciousness.” Their article articulates the “conscious” nature of the quantum plenum revealed by science. It reveals that fact that our universe is a “conscious universe.” And this Sanskrit proverb reveals the pattern of the evolution of cosmic consciousness. The evolution of the Cosmos is not random. It is directional, going somewhere. God sleeps, awakens, walks, then thinks.
The evolutionary process does not appear to be predetermined but rather governed by what philosopher Errol E. Harris calls its “nisus,” its impulse toward ever greater coherence, harmony, convergence. The cosmos has evolved as an integrated whole (sometimes called “life” because the cosmos as a whole manifests life, is life, is consciousness). The cosmos has evolved from the minerals to the plants to the animals to human beings. In human beings, it becomes aware of itself.
It is clear in this scenario that human self-awareness is not an incidental epiphenomenon within the process of evolution. It is both a fulfillment and culmination of a process billions of years in the making and a transition to an expanding, more inclusive consciousness pointed to by many mystics and scholars from the world’s traditions. If such is the case, we need to be asking ourselves how we can be thinking ever more holistically, ever more inclusively, ever more in ways that transcend our small, egoistic perspectives and endeavors.
We need to be asking ourselves why we are clearly on the road to self-destruction, unable to unite humanity, establish peace, eliminate nuclear weapons, or discover harmony with other human beings or our planetary biosphere. How can we overcome war, violence, hate, and fear and find fulfillment for ourselves as part and parcel of harmonizing with the cosmic evolutionary process? Are we partisans and perpetuators in the chaos ourselves? Or can we transcend the chaos and seek a greater harmony through understanding the civilizational and world-system process itself, how it works, and how it can be transformed?
It is clear, in this understanding, that the cosmos has gifted us with the mystery of freedom. We are not only a consequence of the cosmic evolutionary process, but we are also free, that is, not entirely determined by that process. It appears that we are responsible for furthering and creatively enhancing the process. The cosmos is not some blind mechanism of atomistic parts as early-modern science believed. Quantum science reveals that it manifests, instead, as fundamentally holographic, with every part reflecting the whole (see Currivan 2017).
It blossoms in consciousness and freedom. This intelligible aspect of the cosmos (the evolutionary process discovered by science) arises from the absolute mystery of the divine depths of the world, as mystics from every tradition have declared: beyond words, beyond thought, beyond comprehension—infinite. Out of this infinite mystery arises our astonishingly beautiful and functional human body, bearer of a consciousness that can grow to unlimited universality.
The universe “opens” into the infinite. For spiritual philosopher Raimon Panikkar, this is fundamental. He writes: “The world is unfinished and, in this sense infinite. This infinitude accounts for freedom and the unforeseeable movement of all that is. Existence is open, ongoing, a spontaneous unfolding of possibility” (2014, 56). We can choose as well as create the possibilities for what kind of world we want to live within.
Science reveals the cosmic process as one of the continuous creation and unfolding of possibilities (rather than determination by a causal chain of actualities). It is mirrored in some ways by the temporal structure of our lives. We live in a dynamic present that appropriates the past and projects ourselves into the future. Existentially we are future oriented (as Heidegger points out in Being and Time, 1927) and our future is buzzing with possibilities among which we can choose.
But it is more than this, for we can create new possibilities through the process of self-transcendence. Alone, of all living things that we know, we are free to grow, to transcend, to reach for the stars. As Panikkar expresses this, we are a synthesis of time and eternity. “True freedom does not consist in manipulating the possibilities but in creating them. God creates and his creation is the real; human freedom also participates in this power and Man’s creation is the possible. Freedom is not simply the power of option, but the power of creating possibilities” (1979, 209)
Regarding civilization as a whole, philosopher of culture Ernst Cassirer affirms that the rich religious traditions of humankind were pointing to existential possibilities that are with us in each present moment throughout history. All of civilization, all human beings, generate an image of a transformed future. The ever-present vision of such a future provides human life with its open possibilities for transcendence. I have written elsewhere about this “utopian horizon” (2021).
Cassirer writes: “The future is not only an image; it becomes an ‘ideal’…. This is man’s symbolic future, which corresponds to and is in strict analogy with his symbolic past. We may call it ‘prophetic’ future because it is nowhere better expressed than in the lives of the great religious prophets…. The future they spoke of was not an empirical fact but an ethical and religious task. Hence prediction was transformed into prophesy. Prophesy does not simply mean foretelling; it means a promise….it contains at the same time the hope and the assurance of ‘a new heaven and a new earth’” (1944, 54-55). The cosmos has gifted us with this utopian imagination and its corresponding “ethical and religious task,” making possible true transformation—“a new heaven and a new earth.”
One thinks of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin who spoke of the cosmos process converging into ever greater unity, an Omega point in which a profound unity animates and radiates a wonderful diversity. For Teilhard, the process of convergence is love, the cosmic agape that is bringing Christ again into the world in a “second coming” in which Christ will be all in all, the alpha and omega, cosmically embracing both human life and our lost planet Earth. The evolutionary upsurge of cosmic love also gives us our task.
He writes: “The flame that for thousands of years has been rising up below the horizon is now, at a strictly localized point, about to burst forth: thought has been born. Beings endowed with self-awareness become, precisely in virtue of that bending back upon themselves, immediately capable of rising to a new level of existence: in truth another world is born” (1969, 102). In the light of all this, why do we insist on wallowing in ordinariness, in the filth of violence, war, and pettiness, instead of taking great steps forward, such as ratifying a Constitution for the Federation of Earth? (2014).
Similarly, peace as well as justice are now understood as objective values mirroring the unity in diversity of our cosmic and human background. Our human potentialities now appear as “cosmic,” and necessarily include the dimension of values. Values are no longer “merely subjective,” but arise from the intelligence that informs the universe. Objective values arise because “God thinks in Man.” Errol E. Harris explains that rational love is cosmic, it informs the entire cosmic process. He writes: “genuine rational love, therefore, must extend to the entire human race,” and that this love gives rise to the moral ideal of “the unity of the perfected human community” (1988, 162-63).
As self-awareness, our primary possibility is self-transcendence. We can transcend ego existence that believes itself an independent body-mind modality directed primarily toward self-gratification and self-satisfaction. We can transcend toward consciousness of the universal “noosphere” (mind-sphere) in ourselves and live on a cosmic plane where consciousness of the Cosmic Christ, Buddha nature, Allah, Brahman, or Tao becomes primary (see Fox 1988) and provides the vision for a “perfected human community.”
As with Harris and Teilhard, for Indian sage Sri Aurobindo the human being is integral to this process of cosmic evolution now alive in us as our capacity for self-transcendence. “The universe and the individual are necessary to each other in their ascent,” Aurobindo writes. “Therefore, it creates in itself a self-conscious concentration of the All through which it can aspire” (1973, 49). This statement can serve as a measure of how far we are from fulfilling our cosmic and divinely inspired destiny. Are we open to the aspirations of the universe in us? Or do we block the cosmic consciousness with our pettiness and ego-driven pursuits?
The universe grants us the freedom, the nisus, and the responsibility to aspire toward a harmonic and cosmic future. However, instead, we are lost in conflict, violence, war, hate, and fear. Our ego identifications with our petty little lives, or with our nation-state, or with our idolatrously small religious communities, divide us from others and from our cosmically inspired destiny. Can we live each day aware that the cosmos has come to self-awareness in us, in me? How might this change my entire way of living and being?
One of the pioneers in the articulation of cosmic consciousness was 19th century Canadian psychiatrist Richard Maurice Bucke. For him, plants and animals have “simple consciousness,” humans have “self-consciousness,” and are capable of growing to “cosmic consciousness.” In his book by this title, he writes: “Cosmic Consciousness is a third form which is as far above Self-Consciousness as that is above Simple Consciousness. With this form, of course, both self and simple consciousness persist (as simple consciousness persists when self-consciousness is acquired), but added to them is the new faculty…. The prime characteristic of cosmic consciousness is, as its name implies, consciousness of the cosmos, of the life and order of the universe” (1974, 2).
In terms of our Sanskrit poem above, the consciousness of the universe that is there in animals and plants are together called “simple consciousness” by Bucke. Out of these simple forms, self-consciousness emerges in human beings. We become aware of ourselves and believe that we are autonomous, self-promoting body-mind creatures. However, this is merely a transitional condition since what is happening is that the cosmos is becoming conscious of itself in us. We transcend from ego consciousness (self-awareness) to cosmic consciousness—the cosmos aware of itself in us. We experience our awareness as God thinking in us.
Harris generalizes concerning this process: “It is the universal principle integrating the whole, which is immanent in the living organism and has now become aware of itself, as ‘I’…. But because the universal principle is immanent in us, and because we represent that stage in its self-development at which its activity becomes self-conscious, we become aware of all this, and our ourselves as participants in the process. We reflect upon it and so transcend it. Our consciousness is self-transcendent, because it is the manifestation of the immanent principle of the whole becoming aware of itself” (1988, 104-05).
Our consciousness is self-transcendent. Transformative growth is built into its very nature. Many thinkers today have articulated a similar growth process in human beings. In his book Integral Spirituality (2007), pioneer thinker Ken Wilber brings together charts and diagrams from many thinkers depicting this process.
The basic schema is quite simple. In a proper growth process, human begins move from ego-centric consciousness (immature) to ethnocentric consciousness (identification with one culture, religion, etc.) to worldcentric consciousness (when one becomes aware of civilization and the human project as a whole) to ever more complete levels of cosmic consciousness (God thinking in us and we in God) (see Martin 2021, Chap. 1).
When these philosophers affirm that “God thinks in Man,” they are not only describing a process of thinking in the sense of “figuring things out,” but something much vaster. Some philosophers, such as Eric Gutkind, has asserted that “the world is the body of God” (1969). If this is so, then our bodies are part of the body of God and our minds are that body become conscious of itself. For God to think in us is to have become self-aware in us.
When we experience the astonishing beauty of the world, we can recognize this as the divine in us experiencing the bliss of its own unspeakable beauty. When we feel the terrible pain of the world, we can compassionately identify this as self-pain. When we feel the whole, we become the whole, we love the diversity of the parts—all the parts—precisely because they emerge as unique aspects of the dynamically integrated whole. Our ego-identification with the parts (with this religion, this nation, this race, or this culture) progressively diminishes.
For the cosmic consciousness to operate within us unhindered, we must mitigate the inner chatter that usually accompanies our consciousness. We watch, observe, with a silent mind. Sufi mystic Jalaluddin Rumi declared: “Become pure seeing.” We watch without judging, without evaluating, without reacting. Cosmic consciousness is transpersonal, and the ideals to which it aspires are transpersonal also, not merely subjective ego-driven commitments.
Cosmologist and new paradigm thinker Ervin Laszlo writes that “my consciousness—the same as the consciousness of all living beings—is the localized yet nonlocal manifestation of mind beyond space and time. As a conscious human being, I am an intrinsic and infinite part of this mind” (2016, 121). As his writings make clear, the more we identify with the cosmic consciousness that we are, the more we transcend death, for our consciousness participates in the universal consciousness. It is not a matter of mere “brain functions.”
We might describe the brain as rooted in the quantum dimension and therefore in the universal consciousness permeating the cosmos, but the death of the brain is only a tiny blip or node in the vast cosmic reaches of consciousness. Through me and my brain the holistic cosmic process has animated this little body and mind and allowed beautiful things to come to pass through my existence: love, kindness, gentleness, beauty, ecstasy, truth, and goodness. But my passing is not an extinction of cosmic consciousness but merely a remanifesting within the infinite whole.
We are bearers of this divine gift. Can we live as custodians and creative contributors to the divine-evolutionary upsurge toward ever greater coherence, harmony, love, justice, and truth? Our freedom is an “ontological freedom.” We should be using it creatively to enhance the coherence and creative harmony of the cosmic process, rather than for the acquisition of wealth, power, division, domination, violence, or war. This is our human destiny as well as our infinite dignity. These are some of the ways in which “God thinks in man.”
*Mitchell, Edgar and Robert Staretz (2011). “The Quantum Hologram and the Nature of Consciousness,” in Quantum Physics of Consciousness. Cambridge: Cosmology Science Publishers.
Currivan, Jude (2017). The Cosmic Hologram: In-formation at the Center of Creation. Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions.
Panikkar, Raimon (2014). Mysticism and Spirituality: Part One. Mysticism, Fullness of Life. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books.
Panikkar, Raimon (1979). Myth, Faith, and Hermeneutics: Cross-Cultural Studies. New York: Paulist Press.
The Constitution for the Federation of Earth was written through a process involving hundreds of world citizens and international legal minds over a period of 23 years from 1968 to 1991, a process which included four Constituent Assemblies and formal signings of the Constitution. Since 1991, the Constitution has been considered finished and ready for ratification under the criteria specified in Article 17. The Earth Federation government will begin, and enter its first operative stage as a legitimate governmental entity, when a minimum of 25 nations have ratified.
Under Article 19 of the Constitution, in addition, the people of Earth are empowered to begin “provisional world government.” They can begin the “Provisional Earth Federation” here and now. Article 19 lists the responsibilities, powers, and criteria for operation of the provisional world government, which include the activation and on-going activities of the Provisional World Parliament (PWP). The World Constitution and Parliament Association (WCPA) is the sponsor of the Earth Constitution and of sessions of the Provisional World Parliament. To date, there have been 14 sessions of the PWP, held in various countries around the world.
The parliament has passed some 67 World Legislative Acts (WLAs), which together spell out in some detail the kind of world laws that will emanate from the World Parliament once the Constitution has been officially ratified by the nations and peoples of the Earth. These can be found at:
These Legislative Actions are not binding on the final World Parliament once it has been established after ratification of the Constitution. However, they will serve as a quality list of recommendations that will help the Parliament activate any number of essential world laws. Under Article 19, other features of the Earth Federation can be initiated, and WCPA has sponsored several initiatives in this regard (such as the Collegium of World Judges and the World Environmental Ministry), but the PWP remains the central form the provisional world government has taken so far. Its mandate includes to jump-start interest in ratifying the Earth Constitution and to pass enabling legislation to help make the final Earth Federation government happen.
Legal Status and Legitimacy
The question of what makes a government legitimate is a major issue in the philosophy of law. What is the difference between a policeman or government official who may carry a gun and make a demand of you to pay taxes and an enforcer for organized crime who carries a gun and insists that you pay tribute to that organization? Both of these use the threat of force to make you do something against your will. Why is the governmental representative legitimate and the representative of organized crime not legitimate?
The predominant answer in the history of legal thought has been one of moral legitimacy. The government represents the people and their common good and the organized crime group does not. The government is legitimated not simply because it happens to be in power and has the means to enforce its laws (organized crime can also claim this as a fact). Rather, to be in power and have the means to enforce laws is secondary to the moral right to government on behalf of the common good of the people.
This is exactly why the Earth Constitution is more legitimate that the constitutions of the various nation-states. In today’s world, no national government can truly serve the common good of its people because the common good of all of us has been transferred to the global level. No nation on Earth can alone stop global climate collapse, or prevent nuclear war, or end poverty, or protect universal human rights. Governmental legitimacy has now been transferred to the global level.
The common good of the people of each nation is the same as that of everyone on the planet. Neither peace, nor justice, nor sustainability can be achieved except at the global level. Hence, prominent philosophers like John Finnis have concluded that national governments are no long legitimate representatives of the common good of their people, and others, like Errrol E. Harris, conclude that the Earth Constitution has become more legitimate than any national constitutions.
Nevertheless, today national constitutions have the power (organizational, military, and police forces) and therefore remain legitimate in his sense. This places the Earth Constitution and the Provisional World Parliament in a paradoxical legal situation. Morally, the Earth Constitution is more legitimate, but in terms of general recognition of governments and in terms of organizational power, the sovereign national governments remain legitimate.
People may say, “but how are the representatives for the PWP chosen?” However, the same question applies to the national governments. 50% of the governments in the world are not even remotely democracies and the other 50% are mostly democracies only in name. They are in fact run by an elite ruling class and corrupt politicians, with engineered and manipulated elections. Representatives to the PWP must be personal signatories to the Earth Constitution, pledging allegiance to it. In the PWP. They are world citizens, serving, without pay, the common good of humanity and future generations. Their pledge is to follow the Earth Constitution and recognize it as serving the common good of humanity.
Significance and Mission
One thing should be clear. When the Provisional World Parliament meets to debate World Legislative Acts, it is certainly not just another “conference” of well-meaning civilian peace advocates. Something truly special is going on. People from around the globe are meeting under the authority of the Earth Constitution to create a decent future for humanity by jump-starting something that is more legitimate than the sovereign national governments. They do not give papers to one another but debate proposed World Legislative Acts under the authority of the Earth Constitution.
One could say that sessions of the Parliament are “quasi-governmental,” or a manifestation of “emerging world law.” The people assembled are trying to do something that the world absolutely needs and that is morally more legitimate than most actions of national governments. They are working for emerging world government through a quasi-legal status trying to bring its full legal status into being. The full legal status requires ratification of the Earth Constitution by the people and nations of Earth under Article 17.
In terms of significance, what is going on when we organize sessions of the Provisional World Parliament?
We are engaging in a truly historic act, never before done in history, of directly initiating the beginnings of democratic world government.
We are providing a model for the world showing what the world should be doing.
We are debating and passing world legislative acts that contribute to the infrastructure and grounding necessary for the final World Parliament to do its work once the Constitution is ratified.
We are presenting to the world a powerful symbol of human solidarity and common effort to deal with our lethal global problems.
We are actively establishing the parameters for a new world system of peace, justice, and sustainability. We are doing this not just as well-meaning civilians at another peace conference but as legal and moral representatives of the Constitution for the Federation of Earth, establishing a morally and legally required transformed system for humanity.
Proposal and Support
Even though the Provisional World Parliament has issued declarations stating the right and duty of the people of Earth to create democratic world government, nation-state support remains essential if we are going to establish a truly democratic and legitimate world system of peace, justice, and sustainability. The easiest route to ratification of the Constitution is through affirmation by a minimum of 25 nations. We believe that the government of India is in a key position to take this as part of its leadership role and garner the interest of other nations.
There are several reasons for this. Indian is a large and prominent nation, the world’s largest democracy. India was a leader of the Non-aligned Movement at one time. India has both immense peace traditions and world federalist traditions. Mahatma Gandhi, Sri Aurobindo, Jawaharlal Nehru, and many others have been supporters of world government. The second session of the Provisional World Parliament in 1985 was opened in the Constitution Club in New Delhi by the then President of India, Zail Singh, and many prominent figures from the Indian government were involved in the proceedings.
We would like India to take this leadership role once again through supporting, or at least officially recognizing, the holding of the 15th session of the Provisional World Parliament in India within the near future. Through doing this, India would be contributing to the future of humanity and the hope for a transformed world of peace, justice, and sustainability, exactly what her great leaders always advocated.
WCPA, soon to be an officially recognized NGO in India, would like to form a committee of prominent Indian supporters of the Earth Constitution to lobby the Indian government to become a supporter of the 15th session of the Provisional World Parliament. Perhaps we could name this “The India Council for Provisional World Parliament.” The Committee should meet with high government officials and explain our history, mission, and proposal.
We would be honored to have high government officials at the opening ceremonies of the 15th session of the PWP held somewhere in India, and to have the media publicity for the Parliament that would come through official recognition of our historic mission. If you wish to be part of this Committee, please let us know so that we can continue organizing for the next session of the PWP to be held in India within the relatively near future. Thanks very much for your support and consideration of this project.
BRIEFHISTORY OF WCPA with sessions of the Provisional World Parliament bolded
Since 1958, the organization has worked through its worldwide membership to write and ratify the Earth Constitution in four international Constituent Assemblies. Under the authority of Article 19 of the Earth Constitution the WCPA has also sponsored 14 sessions of the Provisional World Parliament till date, building a new world order of freedom, justice, prosperity, and equality within the shell of the old, unjust world order. Below is a summary history of our work.
1958. Agreement to Call a World Constitutional Convention initiated by four persons, circulated worldwide for signatures, requesting both national governments and people of each country to send delegates.
1959-1960. World Committee for a World Constitutional Convention formed. Thousands sign the Agreement, including many prominent leaders. Organizers of this action travel around the world to enlist support.
1961-1962. Definitive Call to the World Constitutional Convention adopted. Many persons sign, including Heads of five national governments.
1963-1964. First Preparatory Congress held Denver, Colorado, USA, with delegates from five continents. Call to the World Constitutional Convention is publicly issued, then circulated for more signers and response.
1965-1966. Second Preparatory Congress held at Milan, Italy. Outline for Debate and Drafting of a World Constitution is formulated, on basis on alternative choices. Plan agreed for a Peoples’ World Parliament to meet concurrently.
1967. Decision made at Third Preparatory Congress to begin Convention in 1968, even if no government sends delegates. 300 Peoples’ Delegates pledged.
1968. First working sessions of World Constitutional Convention and Peoples’ World Convention held at Interlaken, Switzerland, and Wolfach, W. Germany with 200 Peoples Delegates from 27 countries, of five continents. Work begun on drafting the World Constitution.
1969-1971. Strategy for Reclaiming Earth for Humanity is circulated. Emergency Council of World Trustees Meet, Santa Barbara, Calif., and issues First Decree for Protection of Life, outlawing nuclear weapons. Directions given to drafting commission.
1972. World Constitution drafting commission of four persons, with a fifth communicating by telephone, works for two months, nearly completing first draft of Constitution for the Federation of Earth.
1973-1975. First draft finished, printed in 1974, then circulated worldwide for comment, together with Call to the second session in 1977, now defined as the World Constituent Assembly. Comments on first draft complied.
1976. Drafting Commission meets again. Second draft completed, circulated.
1977. Second Session of World Constituent Assembly held in June, Innsbruck, Austria. Earth Constitution debated paragraph by paragraph, amended, then adopted with 138 original signers from 25 countries of 6 continents. Call for ratification by the nations and peoples of Earth is issued. Constitution is sent to U.N. General Assembly and to all national governments.
1978-1980. Earth Constitution is circulated worldwide for debate and ratification. Third session of World Constituent Assembly held in January, 1979, Colombo, Sri Lanka; adopts Rationale For a World Constituent Assembly, defining right of people to convene Assembly, draft constitution, and obtain ratification. Appeal issued for national parliaments to ratify.
1981. World Constitution & Parliament Assn. meets at New Delhi, India. Call issued for Provisional World Parliament to convene 1982 under terms of Article 19 of the Earth Constitution. Honorary Sponsor list of 150 prominent persons enrolled.
1982. First Session of Provisional World Parliament meets at Brighton, England. Delegates from 25 countries of 6 continents. Five world Legislative Acts are adopted: for World Disarmament Agency, World Economic Development, Ownership of Oceans & Sea beds, Graduate School of World Problems, and World Courts.
1983-1984. First Provisional District World Court organized in Los Angeles; takes up case of outlawing nuclear weapons. Plans for Provisional World Parliament in Sudan and Nigeria thwarted by military coups.
1985. Second Session of Provisional World Parliament held New Delhi, India. Opened by President of India, presided by speaker of Lok Sabha. Three more World Legislative Acts adopted: for Emergency Earth Rescue Administration, World Government Funding, and Commission on Terrorism.
1986. Campaign continued for “provisional” ratification of the Constitution for the Federation of Earth, pending review at next World Constituent Assembly.
1987. Third session of Provisional World Parliament held at Hilton Fontainebleau Hotel, Miami Beach, Florida. Three more World Legislative Acts are adopted: for Global Finance System, Environment Protection, and Hydrogen Energy. Provisional World Cabinet begun.
1988-1989. Plan launched for collaboration by many organizations to prepare next session of World Constituent Assembly. 150 organizations join in Preparatory Committee. Two meetings held in New York with U. N. Ambassadors, to explain and solicit help. List of Honorary Sponsors reconfirmed and expanded.
1990. Government of Egypt agrees to host Assembly. Three preparatory meetings held. Call circulated for Governments and People to send delegates.
1991. Location of 4th session World Constituent Assembly abruptly changed due to the 1991 Gulf War. Held at Troia, Portugal, in May. Delegates adopt 59 minor amendments to the Earth Constitution. New ratification campaign begun, appealing to both people and governments. Most Honorary Sponsors personally ratify.
1992. Global Ratification & Elections Network organized, including several hundred organizations, to promote ratification of the Constitution for the Federation of Earth, then election of delegates to World Parliament. Government heads should also ratify.
1996. The Fourth Session of the Provisional World Parliament held at Barcelona, Spain in September. A number of resolutions passed as well as a “Manifesto” declaring the oceans the property of the people of Earth under the authority of the Earth Constitution.
2000. The Fifth Session of the Provisional World Parliament is held on the Island of Malta, November 22nd to 27th. One Omnibus legislative act and a number of resolutions passed, including a resolution strongly supporting the rights of the Palestinian people to their own state.
2003. The Sixth Session of the Provisional World Parliament held in Bangkok, Thailand, March 23rd to 28th. Several important legislative acts passed: a World Peace Act, a World Security Act, a Provisional Office of World Revenue Act, a Hydrocarbon Resource Act, and a Statute for the World Court on Human Rights. The Commission for Legislative Review is formed. Parliamentary law format commences with the Sixth Session. The Institute on World Problems (IOWP) is formed as a 501C3 non-profit organization in the US.
2003. The Seventh Session of the Provisional World Parliament is held at Chennai, India, December 23-29. Several important legislative acts passed: a Criminal Penalty Code, Rules for Procedure and Evidence, a World Bench for Criminal Cases Act, a World Patents Act, a Global Accounting and Auditing Standards Act, and a Preservation of World Government Records Act. The Manifesto of the Earth Federation and the “Pledge of Allegiance to the Earth Constitution” (included in this Appendix) are unanimously ratified by the Parliament.
2004. The Eighth Session of the Provisional World Parliament held at Lucknow, India in August. Several important legislative acts passed, including creation of a World Bench for Juvenile Cases, a Child Rights Act, an Elections Act, and a Water Act. The International Criminal Court in the Hague is empowered by world legislation. A global Education Act is passed as well as a World Economic Equity Act establishing the Earth Currency on an independent and fully democratic basis. A Global People’s Assembly is created to activate grass roots participation in the House of Peoples. The “Declaration on the Rights of Peoples” (included in this volume) is unanimously ratified.
2006. The Ninth Session of the Provisional World Parliament held in Tripoli, Libya in April. Eight World Legislative Acts are passed, an enabling act for the World Ombudsmus, the creation of a Department of Conflict Resolution for the Earth Federation, a ban on the production of fissile materials for weapons, a nuclear weapons elimination protocol, a nuclear contamination act prohibiting the use of depleted uranium and other weapons, a quit Guantanamo directive, an agreement on world Privileges and Immunities (revising the weaker version of the Assembly of States Parties, and a Public Utilities act. The former “Global Ratification and Elections Network (GREN)” is transformed into the Earth Federation Movement (EFM).
2007. The Tenth Session of the Provisional World Parliament held in Kara, Togo in June. Four world legislative acts are passed: an act prohibiting unauthorized destruction of illegal financial instruments, an act creating a system of divestment from illegal weapons manufacture, an act requiring posting of the world illegal stock law in stock exchanges around the world, and an act providing a guaranteed annual income for all adults within the Earth Federation.
2008. The 50th Anniversary Celebrations of the founding of WCPA hosted by Dr. Phichai Tovivich and the WCPA Chapter of Thailand.
2009. The Eleventh Session of the Provisional World Parliament held in Nainital, India, July 2-8, 2009. Several world legislative acts were passed into provisional world law, including a procedure for the dismantling of nuclear weapons, a law protecting the people of Earth from too much bureaucracy in the world government, an act criminalizing human trafficking for sexual or other purposes, an act abolishing all secret intelligence agencies like the CIA, M5 or Mossad, a bill elaborating the restrictions on the military uses of depleted uranium, and a law protecting the right of civil disobedience for the people of Earth under the Earth Federation (included in this volume). The delegation from Bangladesh presented the parliament with a new translation of the Constitution into its 23rdlanguage: Bengali or Bangla.
2010. June 1-11, IOWP officers participate in the General Review Conference of the International Criminal Court in Kampala, Uganda, with proposals to link the court with the Earth Constitution. The Twelfth Session of the Parliament held in Kolkata, India, December 27-31, 2010. World Legislative Acts passed for funding the decommissioning of nuclear weapons, abolishing legal corporate personhood, establishing a Collegium of World Judges, establishing a Ship breaking code, creating global economic prosperity, and amending some earlier acts of the Parliament. Resolutions were passed allowing states, cantons, or Pradesh to join the Earth Federation independently, enumerating citizen and governmental responsibilities under the Earth Federation, and modelling the world peace system created by the Earth Constitution.
2011. May 10-21. Supporters of the Earth Constitution in Costa Rica, headed at that time by WCPA Chapter President, Celina Garcia, organize lectures and meetings for Martin and Turk, WCPA President and Treasurer, that included lectures to law classes at 3 different universities in San Jose. 2011 June. A 5 city WCPA lecture tour in Asia: Lucknow, India, where Glen Martin is interviewed for CMS TV, then on to Colombo, Sri Lanka, for three days of lectures organized by WCPA supporters. Then to Chennai, India, for 7 days of lectures in a “Global Challenges to Peace” program organized by WCPA Vice-President R. Ananthanarayanan and the WCPA Chennai Chapter. The week-long series of events included meeting with activist social groups in the countryside and a visit to a Chennai slum. Martin is presented with a “Lighthouse of the World” award by the WCPA (Asia Wing) and Bharat Vikas Parishad at an all-day program at Jaya College outside Chennai. Martin and Anantharayanan travel to Pondicherry for meetings with leaders of the World Union organization, founded by Sri Aurobindo.
From Chennai, Martin visits Dhaka, Bangladesh, for a visit organized by Mujibur Rahman, WCPA Vice-President, Mahbubul Islam, WCPA Youth Coordinator, and the Bangladesh WCPA Chapter. (This was shortly before the untimely death of Dr. Mujibur Rahman who lived in Dhaka, whom Martin had worked closely with since 1996 when they first met at WCPA Headquarters in Colorado.) Late June 2011: Bangalore, India: all-day seminar with leading social activists, journalists, and academics concerned with global issues, arranged by WCPA Vice-President. E.P. Menon.
September 2011 Drs. Almand and Martin travel to Costa Rica to participate in World Peace Week in northern Costa Rica. WCPA Chapter President Celina Garcia and others there long worked with the many groups involved with the AVP (Alternatives to Violence Project), and it was decided that the vision of AVP activists should be enlarged to a global vision. Many events concerning the Earth Constitution were organized in the cities of San Carlos, Quesada, and Santa Rosa. December 2011. WCPA participates in the International Conference of Chief Justices of the World at the City Montessori School (CMS) of Lucknow. Dr. Gandhi, a VP of WCPA, asked WCPA to hold a meeting at the CMS World Convention and Unity Center during the time of this conference. Three such meetings were held.
2012. May and June. WCPA President Martin goes on speaking tour in Eastern Europe: Zagreb and Macedonia (organized by WCPA supporters in those countries), then to Paris, giving lectures there on the Earth Constitution and its environmental provisions, and meeting with leaders of the World Citizen’s Registry, with headquarters in Paris. July 2012. Glen Martin and Phyllis Turk host an IOWP-WCPA leadership and planning session at Raquette Lake, NY, with 22 WCPA leaders and other thinkers for 5 days. September 2012. Martin attends a conference in Costa Rica promoting the Earth Constitution. December 2012. Martin participates in a lecture tour and press conferences in New Delhi and Lucknow, India. Late December. Martin travels to Turkey to meet with a Sufi Master and give lectures to graduate students and faculty at the Istanbul Law School on the Earth Constitution.
2013. WCPA announces Dr. Kaus Schlichtmann, Peace Historian living in Japan, and Puan Sri Datin Seri N. Swaraswathy Devi, prominent Malaysia Lawyer, as Distinguished Advisors. WCPA also announces the formation of a Venezuela Chapter of WCPA under the leadership of Leopoldo Cook Antonorsi, who later becomes WCPA Vice-President for Latin America and the Caribbean in November 2017. Dr. Martin is awarded the GUSI Peace Prize International in Manila, Philippines, for his work on behalf of the Earth Constitution and WCPA
December 2013. The 13th session of the Provisional World Parliament convenes at Lucknow, India. Several important World Legislative Acts passed: WLA 53, Transition Process of National Governments Joining the Earth Federation; WLA 54, Remedies and Corrections Act; WLA 55, Surveillance Limitations Act; WLA 56, Crowd Dispersal Ban; WLA 57, Collegium of World Legislators established; WLA 58, Neonictinoid Ban; WLA 59, Truth and Reconciliation Commissions Act; WLA 60, Paid Informant Ban; WLA 61, Fracking Ban; WLA 62, Fission Power Generation Closure, and WLA 63, Cooperative Communities Empowerment Act.
December 2014. The 14th session of the Provisional World Parliament convenes in Kolkata, India. World Legislative Acts passed: WLA 64, United Nations Merger (lays out protocols for merging the UN under the Earth Constitution without any loss of jobs or income for UN employees); WLA 64, for a Global Sustainability Directorate (consolidates some 15 UN agencies concerned with environmental sustainability; coordinates and empowers them into a cohesive global authority for preserving, protecting, and restoring the environment). WLA 66 (designated as a placeholder by the Parliament Secretary); WLA 67, Guideline for Direct Popular Referendum regarding the Earth Constitution. Issuance of the Kolkata Declaration.
2015. WCPA lectures and meetings take place in various locations in India, including the first “Grand Global Peace Tour” sponsored by Sri Ramanuja Mission Trust in Chennai. Many events take place I the New Delhi area. At an event at Aligarh Moslem University, Swami Agnivesh (one of the keynote speakers) meets Glen Martin and expresses interest in the Earth Constitution. He soon becomes a Distinguished Advisor to WCPA.
2016. June: Martin and WCPA Treasurer, Phyllis Turk, travel to Venezuela, Ecuador, and Peru, promoting the Earth Constitution. In Peru, they present lectures through arrangements made by High Court Justice David Quispe Salsavilca, who soon becomes a WCPA Distinguished Advisor. In San Francisco, for the book launch of One World Renaissance, Martin is interviewed on national radio and speaks to the UN Association conference there about the Earth Constitution. December 2016. A WCPA International Conference was held at Maharashtra Institute of Technology (MIT), in Puna, India. The conference included many notable speakers, including Swami Agnivesh who secured the prestigious location for these events. In association with Institute for Economic Democracy Press, WCPA publishes the popular “Pocket Edition” of the Earth Constitution.
2017. WCPA International Conference held at O.P. Jindal Global University outside New Delhi. WCPA members both internationally and from around India participated. Swami Agnivesh gives one of the keynote addresses. The book commissioned at the 14th session of the Provisional World Parliament called Our Common Future: The UN as an Effective Peace and Sustainability System. World Parliament Breakthrough Legislation under the Earth Constitution is completed and copies sent to the heads of all UN agencies in Vienna, Geneva, and New York City. (Note: see the entry under “December 2014 above. There has been no response since that time from any of these agencies.)
2018. May and June 2018. WCPA President Glen Martin and Treasurer Phyllis Turk tour WCPA supporters and chapters in Latin America: Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina, Peru, and Columbia.November 2018: WCPA has an “Earth Constitution” booth at the World Parliament of Religions in Toronto, Canada. December 2018. Martin presents on the Earth Constitution to the World Intellectual Forum Conference in Hyderabad, India. The third annual WCPA International Conference is held at O.P. Jindal Global University with a broad range of significant papers presented. WCPA also organizes meetings in Delhi, Chennai, and Bangalore, India.
2019. Prof. Narasimha Murthy becomes Global Communications Coordinator and leads a major organizing drive within India. WCPA invited by Sri Ramanuja Mission Trust of Chennai to be part of a “Grand Global Peace Tour” with a number of world peace leaders that held events in Chennai, Bangalore, and Hyderabad. WCPA Vice-President Peter Graves-Goodman in Miami (web-master of www.worldparliament-gov.org)initiates development a WCPA media project for TV. Dr. Roger Kotila, WCPA Vice-President in San Francisco, continues development of the Earth Federation News website (www.earthfederation.info)and coordinates the work of WCPA with the Democratic World Federalist (DWF) organization (headquarters in San Francisco) and the Center for UN Constitutional Research (CUNCR) in Brussels. December 2019. The international “World Thinkers and Writers Peace Meet,” organized by WCPA Vice-President, Dr. Santi Nath Chattopadhyay, takes place in Kolkata, India. WCPA plays a leading role in many conference events.
2020. The Institute on World Problems (IOWP) non-profit organization, registered in the US) is reorganized and rebranded as the Earth Constitution Institute (ECI). WCPA joins ECI as its activist division sponsoring sessions of the Provisional World Parliament and other aspects of the emerging Provisional World Government. A new website and branding is developed: www.earthconstitution.world In India, Narasimha Murthy develops an all India WCPA website: www.wcpaindia.org. He is soon joined by Col. T. P. Tyagi and Major Sushil Goel and WCPA begins coordination with the prominent India organization RSS (Rashtriya Sainik Sanstha) and with Major Goel’s technical offices in New Delhi. Planning for the 15th session of the Provisional World Parliament scheduled for December 2021 begins in earnest. Membership of WCPA increases rapidly in India, along with several new chapters. Lucio Martins Rodriquez joins the Board of ECI and the project of developing World Electoral Districts (WEDs), led by WCPA Secretary General, Eugenia Almand, is united with a project for developing secure digital voting for people within the emerging list of defined and organized World Electoral Districts.
December 2021. A very successful 15th session of the Provisional World Parliament convenes on-line from New Delhi, India. Amendments were made to World Legislative Act 4: World University System, to WLA 5 on Regional and District Courts, to WLA 6, adding a Global Grassroots Regeneration and Family Planning section, to WLA 10 on the World Energy Department, to WLA 13, the World Peace Act, to WLA 31, the World Ombudsmus Act, and to WLA 54 the Remedies and Corrections Act. New World Legislative Acts were passed: WLA 68, Statute on Women’s Rights, WLA 70, on Civil Asset Forfeiture, WLA 71, enabling the Democratic Procedures Department, and WLA 72, on World District Standards. In addition, a special memorial was written to the government of India asking India to take leadership in an Article 109 review conference at the UN and to request substituting the Earth Constitution for the UN Charter. Finally, a powerful “New Delhi Declaration” was issued by the Parliament. Plans were also finalized to hold the 16th session of the PWP next year in Pondicherry, India.
(Bill to be introduced into the 16th session of the Provisional World Parliament)
Whereas, the Preamble of the Earth Constitution envisions a comprehensive transformation of our world system from one of fragmentation, war, and conflict to one or peace with justice; it declares the principle of unity in diversity as “the basis for a new age when war shall be outlawed and peace prevail; when the earth’s total resources shall be equitably used for human welfare”;
Whereas, the Article 1 of the Constitution details this comprehensive transformation across fundamental dimensions of life on Earth:
(1) ending war and disarming the nations,
(2) protecting universal human rights,
(3) diminishing social differences on a global scale,
(4) regulating the use of world resources,
(5) protecting the ecological fabric of life, and addressing all other global issues that are beyond the scope of nation-states.
Whereas, in past discussions of the Earth Constitution and its capacity to effect these comprehensive transformations there has been some confusion concerning the stages articulated in Articles 17, 19, and elsewhere,
Whereas, there has been the inevitable criticism of some details embedded in the Earth Constitution since it was proclaimed ‘finished’ at Troia, Portugal, 1991,
We delegates of the Provisional World Parliament at its 15th session, meeting at New Delhi,
Hereby affirm and declare this Actualization Protocol as official Parliament policy.
Article 1 The five broad phases of the actualization process shall be:
Phase 1: Provisional World Government: jump starting, laying foundations in the PWP and WEDs, working for ratification.
Phase 2: First Operative Stage: legitimizing and activating the transformational infrastructure while addressing fundamental world problems.
Phase 3: Progressive Constitutional Amendments and a World Constitutional Convention (Article 18): refining the transformational instrument named the Constitution for the Federation of Earth.
Phase 4: Second Operative Stage: demilitarization and planetary conversion to a world peace and sustainability system.
Phase 5: Final Operative Stage: actualizing the transformed world system premised on Peace, Justice, Sustainability, and universal Human Dignity.
Article 2. Phase 1: Provisional World Government
2.1 Article 19 outlines the first phase of the actualization process. It is the phase we have been in approximately since the second constituent assembly in 1977.
2.2 Article 19.1 and 19.2 mandates the setting up of at least 10 fundamental commissions to facilitate both ratification of the Constitution and the jump-stating of emerging world government under the Constitution. These 10 fundamental commissions shall form a fundamental force behind the emerging Earth Federation System. Two of these are the “World Development Commission” and “World Problems Commission,” which begin the process of addressing the many world problems that are beyond the capacity of nation-states to address. The mandate is clear: World Government in its first phase must begin addressing real solutions to global problems under the authority of the Earth Constitution.
2.3. Article 19 sets up the Ratification Commission as a global network of persons promoting the ratification of the Constitution according to the criteria set out in Article 17. This Commission is to operate until the full operative stage of the Earth Federation Government is reached as defined in Article 17.5. This Commission shall be a major component in the transition to the full operative stage of the Earth Federation as mandated by Article 19.2.1.
2.3 Article 19.3 mandates setting up, and holding sessions of, the Provisional World Parliament (PWP). This process has been going on since the first session of the Parliament in Brighton, England, in 1982, and has today reached the current 15th session in New Delhi, India. This 15th session of Parliament commends the recent initiation of a permanent offices for the PWP here in New Delhi and mandates that the PWP continue to develop an enduring Secretariat, Offices, and the infrastructure to move forward with actualizing all the commissions and processes required by Article 19.
2.3 The first phase also includes the development of World Electoral Districts (WEDs) and elections within those districts to the House of Peoples and the House of Counselors (19.2.2). This 15th session of the Provisional World Parliament mandates that the World Parliament and Constitution Association (WCPA) and Earth Constitution Institute (ECI), the organizations sponsoring and guarding the Earth Constitution in this first phase of the actualization process activate a World Elections Commission within each WED (using WCPA membership where feasible) as each of these districts is defined. The Parliament directs that these organizations work under the relevant WCPA-ECI officers to further define the districts, secure reliable voter IDs, and begin the process of elections to the House of Peoples and House of Counselors.
2.4 Defining these WEDs and securing voter registrations opens up two of the three options for entering the First Operative Stage of the Earth Federation Government as outline in Article 17.3. One option is elections conducted within at least 1000 WEDs (with no nations having ratified). The second option provides for elections within 50 WEDs (with at least 10 nations having ratified). The third option is ratification by a minimum of 25 nation-states (and no WEDs), each of which conducts a referendum of its population to secure initiating the Earth Federation.
Article 3. Phase Two: First Operative Stage as ratified under Article 17.3.
3.1 Phase two initiates virtually all the essential features of the Earth Federation as defined by the Constitution: the three houses of the World Parliament, the Presidium and Executive Cabinet, the World Supreme Court, the Enforcement System, the Ombudsmus, the Civil Service Administration (and other agencies outlined in Article 8). It calls explicitly for a World Disarmament Administration (WDA), an Earth Emergency Rescue Administration (EERA), an integrated global energy system, a World University System, a World Corporations Office, the World Service Corps, and a World Ocean and Seabeds Administration.
3.2 The Provisional World Parliament affirms the absolute need for the activation of the infrastructure of the Earth Federation government to form Phase Two of the process. The world of 2021 is the terrible crisis perceived by the framers of the Earth Constitution magnified 10-fold. The world cannot wait much longer to activate the key institutions that can effectively address our lethal circumstances or the progressive warming of our planet may become unstoppable leading to the death of all or most higher forms of life.
3.3 The Earth Constitution lays out the basic template, the design, for human beings to take some control of their destiny by protecting their planetary home and eliminated WMDs. Phase 2 may well be the crucial step that secures human survival. The Constitution must be ratified as it is (with no quibbling over words or debating changes) because of the urgency of our situation. Possible changes are reserved for Phase 3.
3.4 During Phase 2, the Commission for Legislative Review (Article 8.8) shall be activated. The Commission will perform its described function of examining world legislation and world laws and integrating existing international laws into the emerging regime of world laws.
3.5 The Commission for Legislative Review will also initiate an Office for Proposed Constitutional Amendments or Revisions. This office will record and correlate all incoming suggestions for changes in the Earth Constitution from the people and nations of the Earth.
3.6 During Phase 2 the World Disarmament Commission (WDC) will not only accept the role of dismantling nuclear weapons. It will also prepare the infrastructure, planning, and protocols for general, worldwide, disarmament. Under these protocols, nations will work together in planned de-escalation and reduction of investment, planning, production, deployment, and maintenance of military weapons and organizations. The WDC will work with the nations to so that this process in not only completely in place by the inauguration of Phase 3 but may also be either completed or well under way during the First Operative Stage. The significant progress in the demilitarization of some or all Earth Federation nations during the First Operative Stage will be a goal of the WDC.
Article 4. Phase 3: Amendments and/or a Constitutional Convention.
4.1 Article 18 specifies the procedure for amending the Earth Constitution. It also mandates a Constitutional Convention within 10 years after Phase 2 begins in order the reexamine the Constitution as a whole. Such Constitutional Conventions are required at least every 20 years after that (Article 18.4).
4.2 This Parliament affirms that with the Earth in the process of becoming organized for human and ecological peace, justice, and flourishing (under Phase Two), the citizens of Earth will be in a much better position than now to know what changes to the Constitution are necessary or optimal. In addition, the citizens of Earth will have a legal and legitimate mechanism for making such changes (namely, the World Parliament) and contention over proposed changes will be taken out of the realm of speculation, ideology, and wishful thinking (where it is now) and placed in a meaningful legal context premised on the common good of humanity and future generations.
4.3 Such changes to the Constitution as Phase 3 of the actualization process will undoubtedly make the Earth Constitution even more persuasive and compelling for the people of Earth who are not part of the initial Federation of Phase Two. Phase 3, therefore, will facilitate further ratification and likely lead to a rapid ratification of the Constitution thereby actualizing Phase Four.
Article 5. Phase Four: The Second Operative Stage of the Earth Federation.
5.1 The Second Operative Stage is required under Article 17.4 to continue to establish and activate the remaining offices and features defined by the Earth Constitution. It also calls for the U.N. to integrate into the Earth Federation.
5.2 The Second Operative Stage is also required to begin enforcement of domains of planetary authority specified in Article 4, including declaring the oceans and seabeds and polar caps under the sovereignty of the people of Earth and subject to governance by the World Parliament.
5.3 This session of the PWP, affirms, that a crucial feature of the Phase 4 is disarmament. Under the supervision of the World Disarmament Commission (the WDC established in Phase 2), the nations already belonging to the federation are required to disarm from both WMDs and conventional military armaments and the nations now joining the Earth Federation are also so required.
5.4 Since the WDC will have long since established a secure and equitable process for disarmament (or may even have achieved significant disarmament among Earth Federation Nations), the process of completing the disarmament of the Federation nations and the new nations now joining will be smooth, secure, impartial, and equitable.
5.5 All nations will receive have the amount of their last military budget for their own use and shall pay the other half to the Earth Federation to address climate crisis.
5.5 This process of disarmament shall be transparent and announced worldwide so that non-federation nations will see that this general liberation from the burden of militarism is occurring and that a peaceful and prosperous future of humanity is indeed being secured. This will likely become a major attractor for the remaining nations of the world to join the Federation, making the Earth Federation truly planetary under Phase 5.
Article 6. Phase 5: The Full Operative Stage of World Government.
6.1 The full operative stage involves completing and filling out the full set of agencies and institutions begun during the Second Operative Stage. This stage completes the actualization process of the unity in diversity of humanity within a system premised on universal human dignity announced in the Preamble to the Constitution.
6.2 This 15th session of the Provisional World Parliament affirms the entire process through its 5 phases as the official and legitimate protocol for establishing the Federation of Earth. The transition has been made from a global fragmentation with its and war-system, injustice system, and ecologically destructive system to the holism described in the Preamble.