THE PROMISE OF THE NEW MILLENNIUM
by Jean Houston
PanGaia is a geo-physical term referring to that condition around 160 million years ago when all the continents on earth were united. The parting of the continents was almost fetus-like: we began from one cell and then divided and subdivided, forming organs and different kinds of systems. Similarly, millions of years ago the continents split apart, each to create its own diverse ethnobiology, with multitudes of different plants and animals and ultimately peoples. We now face a time humans have never seen before. We are about to become a planetary culture. We will see a new PanGaia, a PanGaia of Spirit.
As long as the earth was separated into small, isolated territories, the ability to understand patterns of connection and processes was not critical. Now it is. In the next period we will see, for example, the rise of women to full partnership. This cannot happen without a planetary culture. Nor can a true planetary culture develop unless women bring it into being.
The earth is developing a new system for assimilating and processing information, a metaphoric nervous system perhaps. As it does so, we begin to experience not only the noosphere that Teilhard wrote of, but also a gynosphere of feminine understanding. We will then have access to a technology that provides more with less, instantaneous communication that gives access to tremendous information systems. Previous qualities, skills, and potentials will no longer be adequate. Because women have been relatively unpatterned by the mechanisms developed in the recent industrial era, they will be freer to respond to the call for radically new possibilities inherent in the new earth professions as well as in informational services. It's happening now. Women make up something like 75 percent of all information and helping services, and the rate is accelerating. So in this, you already have at least the capacity for the gynosphere, not just the noosphere. These new planet-connective demands require the adaptation of deep feminine understanding of process, understanding of constellations of information, understanding of the patterns that connect.
Right now Gaia -- PanGaia -- is activating women with an intense yearning. Many women feel they are being called into real partnership with something of tremendous force, where the old archetypes just don't work well any more.
Today's person takes in about 65,000 more pieces of information each day than our ancestors did a hundred years ago. They may have had more of a struggle with regard to matter, keeping their metabolism going, but consider how much experience in your life -- sheer experience -- how much wounding you have had, how many holes you've had poked in you that have made you "holy" and vulnerable and available. You see, we all have acquired immune deficiency with regard to our psyche, our intelligence, and the way we live in society. I can go back to the diaries of my ancestors of 150 years ago and see the unexpected events in their lives, but they are nothing like the experiences that I've had, nothing like the vulnerable position in which I repeatedly find myself. This is redoing us; it's reweaving us. That's why Athena has to come up again.We are in a time in which colossal numbers of new habits are entering into the field of our awareness to cross-cultural and global planetization. Literally, this growing world nervous system and world awareness is giving us access to states of knowing or learning, and even of consciousness, that we never had before. Such a noospheric consciousness with its leaky margins, with its diaphanous membrane between nature and economy, with shared natural resources, with its shared migrating populations, is bringing about -- or perhaps has even been occasioned by -- the leaking of the membranes of our own inter-spiritual and psychological realities, of our own geo-psychic realms. And I totally believe that many people are coming to the experience of a significantly different order of personal reality than most have ever known in the past. The growing world psyche is an occasion for the growing of new shoots and, therefore, more developed psyches within our own individual brain-mind systems. I do not think it is the same brain-mind. I think that there are the same number of neurons that we have had for 40,000 years -- but the dendritic complexity that is the interwoven network between the neuronal cells is far greater than they were in the past. I think that our brains are very different from the brains of our ancestors of a few hundred years ago because they had well worn paths of dendritic connection. Ecologically, in the depths at least, we and the world are flowering simultaneously. As the world is fermenting, becoming resacralized, we are becoming as gods, but gods who must outgrow in patterns and in principle the archaic strata of previous ages lest we bring havoc and the twilight of the gods before a new day, a good day, a God day can dawn.
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The human brain has immense potential. When the different parts of the brain begin to work together in macrophasic functionings -- as happens in meditation, prayer, love, and rapture it becomes, almost inevitably, a highly creative experience as well.
Cross-cultural flowering will accelerate as it did in the Renaissance with world food, world music, world dance, world education, and possibly the beginnings of a new world religion and a coming world psyche. These will be met with fear, dread, and fundamentalist entrenchments. Then, probably around 1996, we will come into resonance with that period which corresponds to the age of intercontinental exploration -- the new world -- 1492, and so on. That 150 year period of exploration of new worlds will relate to the several years before the end of the millennium. Now what the New World will mean in terms of the reenactment of these great themes could be almost anything. It may be the exploration of inner space and its many dimensions taken to a much higher degree and with much higher consensual regard than ever before known. This is the startup of the new psyche which is ecologically linked to the expressions and potentials of many cultures. Perhaps there will be confirmation of the existence of civilizations on other planets. Probably there will be the confirmation of other life-supporting worlds around nearby stars. This will effect a second Copernican revolution of the mind. That is probably why myths are rising in our time to be known and reinhabited, and the metaphysical information from many cultures is becoming available and accessible as we prepare ourselves to be new travelers and settlers in domains of inner and outer space.
Around the turn of the century, that is the turn of the millennium, the acceleration of the unfolding of these resonances may become even more intense. We will find ourselves perhaps at what has been mythically projected as the end of history. That is the end of history as the interaction of ideology. Within the lifetime of most of us, there may well be an ontological transformation of the human experience so that the whole world will have turned a corner as it were. What we have called history, which is the history of movements of peoples and the rise of contending ideas and economic adventures, of -isms and -ologies -- that which served to create a noosphere around the planet -- will perhaps no longer be necessary. I prefer the term "planetary culture" to "new age," because there has always been a new age, every two or three hundred years. A planetary culture requires a planetary mind base, a planetary use, a global use, of our innate capacities.
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So we enter into an ecological relationship with our own community, acting locally while thinking globally, and we realize that what we do for a black woman in the streets of Sacramento, for example, will affect many other variables. It's not unlike the Small World Hypotheses studied, I believe, at Stanford Research Institute in the early 1970s.You randomly select any six names out of phone books from different parts of the country, and every one of them is no more than five people away from any other one. On a larger scale, in the whole world it is thought to be ten. Similarly, if you try to track the results of any action, you're going to see that within a few months, you affect almost your entire community, if not nation, and within a few years, your entire world. A person in a service profession like teaching affects in her lifetime about two million people.
Soon we will see all history and culture contained in cybernetic space, a very fascinating place when we learn how to dip into it. Our boundaries are dissolving. For example, by using telecommunications networks on my computer and modem, I partake of this revolution between 10:00 and midnight whenever I am home. I tune in all over North America as well as many other parts of the world, conversing with people from every conceivable walk of life, taking in what's happening. Sometime I play Dungeons and Dragons with fifteen-year-old boys who think I'm another fifteen-year-old boy with a weird vocabulary. On another system, I am known as "the Queen of Comedy," making good use of my father's enormous jokefile. On another network, I am part of an ongoing sharing of ecological issues. With this new technology, I find myself ubiquitous in time and space. I have inserted myself into cybernetic culture -- a hyperdimensional place of enormous excitement and possibility.
But this way, you see, we are inserted into planetary karma. Not one of us is innocent. There is no such thing as innocence. What I do and what you do radically affects everybody else.
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Rituals actually key off parts of the brain. The old reptilian brain is a ritual brain, and it needs that level of repetition to go on to the next stage. I went to 29 schools before I was 12 years old, because my father was a writer for the Bob Hope Show, and we were always on the road. What kept me more or less sane is that regardless of whether I went to school one day in Bemidji, Minnesota, and the next in Biloxi, Mississippi, in school we always had the pledge to the flag, singing of the anthem, and collecting the milk money. That was ritual. Many rituals in America are rituals around sports. Eleven young heroes carry a holy egg through the womb of the goal post, while ersatz virgins dance and scream on the side. And then, of course, in baseball you have the great diamond to traverse, and when you hit the ball out of the field you can go home again.
People who are bereft of ritual tend to be bereft of meaning because the more ancient parts of the brain, the parts that are accessible to ritual, are not engaged. How many billions of people have gone from childhood with no period of adolescence to full adulthood?
That's one reason why you have so much suicide and so many drugs in adolescence. I think suicide and drugs are directly related to the lack of rituals of transition in our society. I have worked with many counselors in high schools to help them initiate practical but vital rituals of transition for their young clients. When these are employed, it is remarkable how the suicide rates and drug use decline.
That's my personal religious belief. This is a universe of entelechy and purposiveness, but with an enormous amount of freedom. We can choose to co-create with the mystery or not. I don't think that we will get rid of our bodies. I don't see a dichotomy between matter and spirit. To be enfleshed is a great honor.
Then you live in a state of celebration. We need teaching and learning communities that share the good news. There's a lot of work out there. We must prepare ourselves for the adventure. And I think that a community can do it. Where there are three or four or five or six together for the celebration, the growth will inevitably happen. Because you see, then you stop boring God. And the gods, or if you will, the psychospiritual potencies or evolution entering into time are very entranced by you. The ancients knew that you could entrance the gods. You could entrance the energies wherever they are. You can heighten the frequencies to come toward you, or you can draw them in. But you have to start by being entrancing.
You have to enchant. You have to call. You have to sing it. You have to dance it. You have to know that the human heart can go to the lengths of God.
Jean Houston is internationally known as a seminar leader and consultant on human development. A philosopher and cultural historian, Dr. Houston and her husband Dr. Robert Masters are co-directors of the Foundation for Mind Research in Pomona, New York. Dr. Houston has taught philosophy, psychology, and religion at Columbia University, Hunter College, the New School for Social Research, Marymount College, and the University of California. In 1985, she was elected Distinguished Educator of the Year by the National Teacher-Educator Association. She has also written or co-authored eleven books, including The Possible Human, The Search for the Beloved, Godseed, Mind Games, Life Force, and Listening to the Body. She guides two schools -- a three-year training program in human capacities, and a year-long school in spiritual studies based on the ancient mystery schools which is now in its seventh year.