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New Thinkers Are Lifelong Students

Taking a half-step aside from the all important issues of our times like COVID-19 and Black Lives Matter, we remember that for almost a quarter century the Association for Global New Thought has been the movement's leading convener of programs, forums, and events exploring not only the once "radical" concept of spiritually guided activism, but global cultural sea change and inter-religious understanding.

Guided in our formation by co-founder of AGNT, the late Barbara Marx Hubbard and her 12-sector Wheel of Co-Creation, we dedicated ourselves to a Whole Systems worldview that held Spirit at the deep core of our circle. My own experience as Program Director for the first modern Parliament of the World's Religions centennial launch in Chicago afforded AGNT the great privilege of working directly with a resource pool of esteemed religious and spiritual leaders from all traditions, along with secular experts from diverse fields of social endeavor. Out of this abundance, and much more contributed by AGNT co-founders who opened the door to new ideas and relationships, arose a parade of programs such as the Gandhi King Seasons for Peace & Nonviolence (The Earth, Humane Service, Inter-faith-Cultural Celebration), the Awakened World Conference Series, significant representation at all Parliament (PWR) gatherings to follow, the UNESCO Seminar on Religion and Peace, the Abraham Path Initiative in the Middle East with Harvard University's Project on Negotiation headed by William Ury, the Spiritually Guided Uplift Ministries (S.U.M.) 9 Topic Curriculum on social activism, and three Synthesis Dialogues with His Holiness, the Dalai Lama of Tibet. (HHDL) (You can learn more in our video program summary HERE).

Today, what we learned through those encounters with spiritual superstars such as the Dalai Lama, rings more true than ever -- we must re-cultivate our childlike curiosity and embrace the spiritual maturity to weave new learning and serious study into our own evolving life paths.

Before resigning his post at the head of Tibetan government, His Holiness the Dalai Lama (in the tradition of his predecessors) held the dual role of Spiritual AND political leader of his people. As most of us know, he is a long-time spiritually motivated social activist by necessity of the struggle for human rights his people have endured since the 1959 Chinese occupation of Tibet, a cultural genocide resulting in the annihilation of monasteries and the deaths of millions of monks and civilians. Since the exile of HHDL and the relocation of the Tibetan Administration to safe harbor provided by India, the past 60 years have scattered 150,000 Tibetans refugees throughout the world seeking new lives. They continue to face the challenge of retaining emblems of their rich culture while chronically concerned about the safety and welfare of their families left behind under Chinese rule.

Alongside the democratically elected Tibetan Government in Exile, HHDL adeptly consults on strategies that have successfully addressed resettlement and immigration reform for his people. Innovations in education, economics, and inter-religious dialogue have been initiated by HHDL and his highly competent representatives in collaboration with the world's best minds and managers.

What many of us don't know is that His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, is a scientist at heart. For most of his adult life in exile he has regularly invited, sponsored, and attended meetings and conferences that provide him opportunity to study with and debate the world's foremost living scientists across the field. This includes everything from engineering and chemistry, medicine, quantum mechanics, biomolecular and quantum physics and string theory, to behavioral and cognitive sciences, linguistic science, psychology and psychiatry, epigenetics and more... at a very sophisticated level.

This, he will say, is in service to his passion for Cosmology, and an intractable quest to understand the nature of Life and Being that far exceeds a lifetime; it is embedded in the consciousness of his pre-incarnations and those to follow.

The eastern mysticism of Buddhist thought, of which he is a living master, begins in a presumption of Oneness. HHDL has a practice: "analytical meditation," that is taught to thousands of modern young monks in training. The destination to which all of this leads is the Buddhist foundational precept that SPIRIT AND THE MANIFEST MATERIAL WORLD are two sides of an inseparable coin, and that the best way to flip it into being is through the systematic comparison of contemplative practice and the quantifiable research protocols of scientific inquiry.

Time and time again, top scientists are perplexed and delighted to find that, presenting His Holiness with concrete data that proves a theory valid after years of research, the famous monk can already explain the same conclusion derived through his practice. And while HHDL seems not surprised by the outcomes, he is ecstatic that the tools and techniques of mathematics and replicable experimentation can yield compatible, even shared truths between the objective material world and transcendent spiritual insight.

If the synergy between spirituality and an informed understanding of the world around us can be so obvious to one of the preeminent religious leaders of our time, would it not follow that learning more about any and all aspects of the natural world and human civilization might deepen our spiritual life and its meaning in and of the world, itself?


If you've made it this far into the article, I'll venture that my tactic has worked! Those who understand the necessity of lifelong learning to empower spiritual practice might be looking for reliable ways, during this period of spacial distancing, to participate in lectures and discussions that disclose the facts of history, current events, and future social trends in a vibrant, engaging way. TO THIS END, AGNT will be partnering again with long time friend and colleague, Jim Kenney, to bring you monthly online lecture series on the broad themes of:

  • Sea Change: Cultural Evolution

  • Life in Society: Culture, Politics, History

  • Science: Physics, Evolution, Archaeology

  • Inner Life: Religion, Philosophy, Spirituality

In addition to speaking at AGNT's Awakened World Conference since our early days, Jim partnered with us on a powerful interfaith study course that remains currently active, and a dynamic monthly webinar series in 2018 entitled: "New Thought on the News." He co-created with AGNT a ground-breaking event that brought together spiritual and religious leaders from around the world to Rome and Florence. for “Awakened World: Engaged Spirituality for the 21st Century.” The Dalai Lama is a charter member of the International Interreligious Peace Council (IIPC), which, along with the Association of Global New Thought (AGNT) and the Interreligious Engagement Project (IEP), hosted the conference.

Stay tuned in the next couple of days for an invitation to register for the newest online series starting in August, 2020 under the theme of "Inner Life: Religion, Philosophy, Spirituality."


August 8–29, Saturdays (4 weeks; 1 hour)

Draw from the world's great spiritual traditions as you shape or deepen a path ideally suited to you.

If you received this article from a friend, or for any reason are not on our direct subscriber list you can request an invitation and details:

The Dalai Lama has said that one of the most hopeful things about humankind is that our global awareness – our awareness of others beyond our families, friends, neighbors and communities – is growing. He believes this increased caring is the key to improving the world for everyone.

"Engaged spirituality that inspires the individual life and empowers social upliftment is the mission of the Association for Global New Thought. We stand with a Conscious Majority of people on planet Earth who know that by connecting, supporting, and mobilizing one another toward the Common Good, we can create a world that works not only for, but through all of us."

Let's keep learning and growing together.


Jim Kenney was founding trustee and later Global Director of the Parliament of the World’s Religions from 1988-2002 and continued to play a consulting role in subsequent PWR gatherings. He is recognized around the world as a pioneer and leader of the global inter-religious and intercultural movement, having held major roles with some of the world’s key inter-religious organizations over the past 30 years. He has lectured widely, in the U.S. and around the world, on a variety of subjects relating to politics, religion, history, and culture. He was, for 45 years, the co-founder and Executive Director of Common Ground, a groundbreaking adult study center focusing on the world's great religious, philosophical, spiritual, and cultural traditions. He is the author of Thriving in the Crosscurrent: Clarity and Hope in a Time of Cultural Sea Change (Quest Books: May 2010). Thriving presents a hopeful, challenging, and inspiring vision of progressive cultural evolution in our time.

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