The woman Deepak Chopra has called "the voice for conscious evolution of our time" is bringing her infectious enthusiasm to Australia this month for UPLIFT 2012. Margaret Evans speaks with Barbara Marx Hubbard.
Just days before I speak by phone with evolutionary consciousness pioneer Barbara Marx Hubbard, Superstorm Sandy has wreaked havoc on much of New York, subjecting hundreds of thousands of people to cold misery and numbing uncertainty. Commentators speak of a new 'dark age' descending on America's most vibrantly 'alive' city. Yet where others can see only misery and loss, Hubbard sees a transformative ray of light, of uplifting hope. Now in her eighties, it is this capacity to see beyond the constricting walls of daily life that has set her on her life's trajectory to inspire us all to lift our game.
"Conscious evolution is evolution of choice not chance," says Hubbard, the subject of Neale Donald Walsch's new book The Mother of Invention. "Consciousness has been evolving for billions of years but we are the first species to be aware of evolution and to be conscious that we are affecting our own evolution by everything that we do - the babies we have, the cars we drive, the wars we fight ...." There is also a growing awareness that if we continue on the same path, we can destroy ourselves. "This wake up call is that we could also evolve ourselves. So conscious evolution is the greatest wakeup call that humanity has ever had."
The increasing momentum of global crises - Sandy seems but the latest in a rolling wave of civil unrest, financial collapse, frightening evidence of climate change, a widening gulf between rich and poor, the list goes on - seems to be building to a crescendo at a time predicted by ancient civilisations, the Maya among them, as the end of our current earthly cycle. We are living at a truly pivotal time.
It is in this context that Barbara Marx Hubbard is making her first trip to Australia later this month to headline the Uplift 2012 Festival at Byron Bay over December 20 to 23, straddling the end date of the Mayan calendar on December 21. But rather than fear a catastrophic end, we should embrace the new birth awaiting us as we collectively step over the threshold, says Hubbard, who will be stepping over her own personal threshold of her 83rd birthday. Byron Bay, in its beautiful setting in northern New South Wales, has been chosen as the easternmost portal of a global event, Birth 2012, that will unite more than 60 countries and be streamed live at www.birth2012.com.
In her lively optimistic way, Hubbard urges us to dispel all the fear that has been generated - to which we contribute ourselves every time we sink into negativity and doubt - and embrace the opportunity to welcome "December 22 as Day One of what is good, of what is being born". Others attending this visionary event include Dr Bruce Lipton, author of The Biology of Belief recognised for his work in bridging science and spirit, Dr Patch Adams, clown and social activist, sound healer Jonathan Goldman, peace troubador James Twyman, Agnes Baker Pilgrim, Native American elder and chairwoman of the 13 Indigenous Grandmother Council, integrative health leader Professor Marc Cohen, deep ecologist John Seed, and much loved musicians Deva and Miten, Kirtana, Sacred Earth and Shye Ben Tzur.
Barbara Marx Hubbard became aware as a 15 year old that she asked questions others much older never framed for themselves and, since that time back in the 1940s, she has charted a course of enquiry for the benefit of all. When I suggest that her current role as co founder of the Foundation for Conscious Evolution gives her a unique overview of all the potential building at this time of The Shift as it is widely called, she gently chides me: "My only uniqueness is that I looked for it. I didn't get it like it just fell on my head. I had to be interested.
"I believe it started for me when the US dropped the atomic bombs on Japan. I was 15 and I had always been innately hopeful, innately thinking all this new power was good. When I saw power could be used to destroy not only Japan but the world, because of my innate hopefulness I asked, 'What is the meaning of this new power that is good?'"
Her journey had begun. Seven years later her thirst for truth took her to the Oval Office and a meeting with then President Eisenhower. "I said Mr President I have a question for you. 'What do you think is the meaning all these new technological and military and industrial powers that is good?' And he shook his head and said, 'I have no idea.'
"I looked at philosophy and religion but found no answers; the powers are so new. And then I began to research it and I believe I discovered a response. I believe that the meaning of the power is the conscious evolution of humanity. If we use our powers of technology with love and creativity, we can solve every problem and evolve our species. I have no doubt about that."
Where others see a problem, Hubbard's great gift seems to be to see a field of potential. "It's because there is so much breakdown and so much awareness of crises that from an evolutionary perspective it also means to look for what is emerging. What is the crisis driving us toward?
"Evolutionary crises are perceived transformation and problems are an evolution driver. So from this perspective we are being driven toward either devolution and destruction, or evolution and higher levels of co creation."
And as the collapse of "top down" structures of nation states, global corporations and organised religion is demonstrating daily, we have to look elsewhere for the solutions, says Hubbard. She believes it is aware individuals, people she calls "pioneers", who are activating others in societies globally and driving the greatest innovation and creativity.
"I call them pioneering souls. They have an innate awareness not only of what is breaking down but that mysterious sense of the future, of what's emergent, what's attractive to them. And the most wonderful pioneers on earth right now are those who are attracted to creating something better."
Hubbard is exactly the person to ask for the hopeful signs she sees all around her and, of course, she has already mapped five areas of breakthrough. The first, she tells me, is response to crisis and, as detailed in the book Blessed Unrest by Paul Hawken, there are hundreds of thousands - he suggests up to two million - organisations working in areas of health, social justice, addressing poverty and environmental causes all over the world. What joins this nebulous group together is a bottom up structure to meet people's needs as they arise within communities and it has been welcomed as a beacon of hope, an expression of "humanity's collective genius".
The second breakthrough area on Hubbard's list is the "enormous rise of spiritual, social and relationship trainings and teachings. All the mystery schools have opened their doors, the monks are out of the closet! There are new kinds of meditations, health care, diet, personal responsibility for relationships.
"When you think of that movement it is huge. Literally anyone anywhere in the world who would like to improve themselves has a way to do it now. This is another form of conscious self evolution." Here at NOVA Magazine we see it at work every month in our own backyard.
Social innovations, what Hubbard likes to call "Golden Projects", are another of those pointers to a better future for us all. Notable among them is the Grameen Bank founded by Muhammad Yunus in Bangladesh to provide small loans, microcredit, to vulnerable women recognising their ability to generate income to support their families. The empowering idea has now spawned similar microcredit programs worldwide and earned its founder the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize.
Other inspirational developments include alternative and community currencies - "thousands and thousands of them" -, spiritual innovations like the recent conference she attended in Rome organised by the Association for Global New Thought to bring together 250 people from different religions to look for "engaged spirituality" and, finally and most amazing of all, says Hubbard, evolutionary technologies. Once again, her breadth of knowledge and innate delight in venturing into unexplored territory creates an awareness of the big picture it's otherwise so easy to miss.
"If you add atomic and nuclear and biotech and nano tech and quantum biocomputing, space travel and zero point energy, you realise we are evolving the material world, including our own bodies and minds. We are becoming ultra humans. Ultra humanism or universal humanism is in progess.
"If we do not blow ourselves up before this, I think our children will be Earth base species. They will live on Earth, they will restore the Earth, free the people, explore the universe and they will find we are galactic.
"It's also happening. It's not a mystical white light experience."
The period in which we live, straddling as it does the end of the Mayan 5000 year calendar, is one for the ages. Many of us are just beginning to grasp the significance of this moment in human history and starting to share the excitement that Barbara Hubbard Marx has known since childhood. "It's the story of the birth of humanity as a co creative species. That's the big story! We don't need any other story," she laughs down the phoneline.
Recognising the added significance to Christians with both the Solstice and the Shift coming just days before Christmas, she uses the analogy of giving birth to a "cosmic child".
"The cosmic child is the planetary culture that's being born and it's very infantile. Nobody has seen it. Wise men may notice it but the powers that be have not noticed that a new culture is being born. We are the luckiest generation in the world's history to live at the exact moment of the Shift."
Steps to Living More Consciously
Barbara Hubbard Marx suggests these three simple ways:
1. Put your hand on your heart. Breathe through our heart and feel what you appreciate and your nervous system will shift. You will calm down and you will have a far better response to anything.
2.Put your attention on your own higher self, higher wisdom, higher intuition, however you receive it. Go into your meditation and just feel the tone of that higher self and it will begin to attract your ego to relax. And realise that your own higher self is who you are. When you do that you shift your identity from ego to essence.
3. Find your heart's desire to express yourself, whether in gardening, in writing, in being a mother, in teaching, as a futurist, in any kind of book you've read or any organisation you've discovered that attracts you. Be bold enough to follow that attraction and find at least one other person who shares it. And when you are two or more, it begins to resonate and you get more guidance of your part in the planetary shift.
UPLIFT 2012 Ticket Offer
Organisers of Uplift2012 are providing generous discounts to NOVA readers for this transformative event. Go to www.upliftfestival.com and navigate to the ticket page. Put in the code UPLIFT2012( case sensitive) to receive a $50 discount on the full 4 day conference pass (usually $380.00 and a saving of $8.00 on the booking fee) and $30.00 off the 4 day conference only pass (usually $280). Mention NOVA.