Deepak Chopra on Global Change
Last week I attended a half-day retreat of 50 global religious leaders, convened by renowned speaker and bestselling author Deepak Chopra, M.D. and his Alliance for a New Humanity. The meeting focused on ways that these leaders might advance peace and global healing through “collective consciousness.” I would be bringing you the video interview Deepak graciously granted PhilanthroMedia with his advice for high-net worth donors interested in the topic but (aargh!) one member of his film crew apparently failed to press "Record" when my tape was in it!
This meeting is one of several I have recently attended which explore the connections between philanthropy, spirituality and social change. Many of the participants in these meetings are what I would call “new age,” a label I wouldn’t apply to myself. But from them I am gleaning insights that contribute to my interest in advancing the end of philanthropy as usual. A few high-level take-aways from the retreat:
- Deepak talked about the idea that change can’t happen by focusing on one problem at a time. In his opinion, it isn’t enough to be an activist for “this or that”; we have to focus on healing the “rift in our collective soul.” Interesting to think about what this would mean from a grantmaking perspective.
- We spent time charting events in modern history which created “quantum leaps” in consciousness. These are events like the dropping of the A-Bomb, the establishment of the United Nations (which had several representatives at the meeting), Woodstock, and 9/11. While I’m not too well versed in the terms used by the group, I understood these to be events in which large numbers of us open ourselves to new possibilities. The exercise demonstrated the idea that shifts in global consciousness do occur. It also offered the opportunity to explore what these leaders might do to advance their own, or how they might prepare for them as they occur organically.
- The most important idea I heard, and the reason I am attending these meetings, was best summed up by Gandhi who said “ we must be the change we wish to see in the world.” That's because I am interested in understanding what would happen if giving, particularly by professional philanthropists, wasn’t so cerebral and distant from how we live our lives as individuals. What if foundation presidents and program officers were selected not just because of how smart they are but, rather, how committed to their own personal evolution? What if a strong sense of self was important but ego-driven action less acceptable? What if the ability to build strong relationships at home and among the inner-circle of a foundation's staff was an imperative requisite? What if, drawing closer to the Greek roots of the word, 'philanthropy', our leaders were those most uniquely suited to advance a love of mankind?