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Fostering Personal & Cultural Transformation

Sep 01, 2014 04:06AM ● By James D. Trifone

Chaos scientists use the term “attractor” to describe the general tendencies a system tends to display, and even return to, when perturbed by small fluctuations. In other words, systems seem to tend toward returning to balance and stability. Similarly, the collective members of a society have consensual beliefs, memes, laws and paradigms they adhere to in maintaining the stability and functioning of that society. Thus, when a few individuals challenge the collective beliefs, their actions are minimized or diffused according to the collective’s values, thereby maintaining the status quo.

While the very construct of an attractor successfully explains how a system’s behavior tends to remain the same and even resist change over time, it also suggests a mechanism for explaining how a system may change itself. In his book, The Great Turning, David Korten further develops Riane Eisler and Joanna Macy’s notion of the growing global shift currently underway from an empire or “dominator” to an earth community or “partnership” consciousness. Ervin Laszlo chooses the term “macroshift” to describe this transformation in consciousness we are now experiencing with respect to viewing ourselves in relation to nature. This is nothing short of a paradigmatic change. In The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell suggests that shifts of this nature are dependent upon unique change agents who, in the guise of connectors, mavens and salesmen, bring about a “tipping point” for social, political, economic or spiritual change.

It is here we find a practical and ethical description of “change agent.”  Any effective action begins as an internal shift in perspective that can only occur when we release ourselves from the constraints on our thinking imposed by our egoic mind. The Dalai Lama says there are two things that can truly change the world: love and compassion. When we are willing to suspend our beliefs and assumptions, which are products of our egoic mind, and reflect on the intelligence of the heart, we can open ourselves up to a new field potential of love and compassion that is necessary to effect real change.

The Graduate Institute (TGI), located in Bethany, offers dynamic degree programs which foster personal and cultural transformation. The programs, arising from emerging fields of inquiry, portend a rapidly changing global culture. TGI programs aim to create a community of change agents by diligently supporting shifting values, transforming attitudes, changing perspectives and constructive behaviors. It is an enterprise of the spirit that creates intellectual, academic and spiritual frameworks necessary for individuals who would trek on the path of shifting cultural values.  
TGI’s series of graduate degree and certificate programs are dedicated to forming authentic learning communities. It is an enterprise of the spirit that creates intellectual, academic and spiritual frameworks necessary for those seeking the path of shifting cultural values. These programs aim to develop a community of change agents by diligently supporting the evolution of  values and consciousness, transforming attitudes, changing perspectives, as well as fostering constructive behaviors.

TGI students will spend a great deal of time reading, reflecting and dialoguing on the problematic nature of the modern Western mindset that advocates “doing” over “being,” let alone “becoming.” In The Biology of Transcendence, Joseph Chilton Pearce contends that the planetary crisis we now face is not just the result of feeling isolated from others, but rather from passively aligning with the group mindset at the expense of following the wisdom of our heart. It is Pearce’s belief that the group mind, in and of itself, is insufficient to give rise to community. Rather community can only arise when individuals are bonded in their hearts. Therefore, he concludes that we need to break from the group mind if we are to affect any kind of significant and lasting change upon it.

Participants in TGI programs are encouraged to envision themselves as change agents to foster a “turning” or “tipping” point in the community. Towards this end, they will have a chance to come to understand the deep meaning of Gandhi’s words of wisdom to “be the change you wish to see in the world”.

James Trifone, Ph.D., is program coordinator for the MA in Learning and Thinking program at The Graduate Institute in Bethany. TGI will start new Fall 2014 cohorts for many of its graduate and certificate programs. For more information, call 203-874-4252 or visit See ad, page 29.

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