Awakened World 2012
Awakened World 2012 ,was recently convened and hosted in Italy by three American organizations. I learned about the conference through the Association of Global New Thought, one of the sponsoring organizations. . 240 participants came from more than 15 countries – from almost every continent. There were social activists from Sri Lanka and Mexico, Buddhist teachers from Korea, Tibet and China; University Professors from Iran and Iowa, Arizona and Georgia; Rabbis from Israel and Belgium, Muslims from Malaysia, and Pakistan; Hindus; New Thought Practitioners; authors, therapists, ministers, film makers, peacemakers, youth workers, leadership experts, educators, ecologists, entrepreneurs from the UK, Europe, USA, South Africa, Ghana and India. The theme was “Engaged Spirituality for the 21st Century” and the intention was to enroll delegates from all over the world in dialogues to define and refine what it means to foreground spirituality as a catalytic force for global transformation.
The conference was unique in design, bold in vision and amplified by the consciousness, soulfulness and diversity of people who came. I have seldom experienced the degree of “mutual irradiation” in such authentic, gentle and generative encounters between people of so many different faiths. In a short pamphlet, Douglas Steere, a Quaker described the meaning of “mutual irradiation” in the context of interfaith dialogue. This mutuality happens when “each (religion) is willing to expose itself with great openness to the inward message of the other, as well as to share its own experience and to trust that whatever is the truth in each experience will irradiate and deepen the experience of the other.”
Rarely have I been in gatherings where the mutual irradiation happened so effortlessly. Delegates were invited to focus on how we saw signs of change, how we noticed systemic shifts, how we applied evolutionary change in practical engagement and how we were embodying the spiritual and cultural evolutionary shifts of our lived experience. Intellectual, spiritual and emotional integration and transformation took place within my own being, through song, story, personal connection and conversation.
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Barbara Nussbaum is an author, coach, and a creative consultant living in South Africa.