Urban Spirituality – The Ageless Wisdom in a Crowding World
I have just returned from the national conference of the Theosophical Society in Perth WA. The international president, Tim Boyd, gave several addresses, one of which was a public address entitled ‘Urban Spirituality – Ageless Wisdom in a Crowding World’. The word ‘crowding’ is a sociology term that describes the condition of urban density. He began his talk declaring that there was a world first for humanity that occurred in 2008 – the global population in that year became predominately urban. He went on to cite that in the USA in 1800, 5% of the population lived in cities. In 1920, 50% lived in cities, and today over 75% of the USA population live in cities. He observed that crowding has spiritual implications.
The Lost Letter Study
He referred to several sociology studies that explored the impact of crowding. One called The Lost Letter Study, saw addressed letters being intentionally ‘left’ in public places of various population densities (cities, country towns etc), to identify how people would respond on finding the letter. Many of the country letters were retrieved, almost none of the city letters reached their intended destination. In the cities, people perceived that the lost letter was ‘not their problem’. Another study called, Why Cities Hurt Your Brain, had participants encounter a day of mental testing. During the lunch break half of the group were asked to spend an hour walking through the city, while the other half of the group were directed to spend the hour in a park, in nature. The results of testing carried out after lunch saw marked differences between the two control groups. The ‘park’ group scored much better than the ‘city’ group.
Tim went onto explain that the more crowded we are, the more isolated we are, which has resulted in the ‘disease of isolation’ – depression. His suggested that heightened awareness was the remedy, and as he explained, a fish did not discover water! He was referring to the ocean of thought, the social and familial programming in which we all swim. He said that we had to take control of our ‘thought environment’, the nature of the media we entertain and the people with who we spend time. Many people are like the fish, who are unaware of the water in which they swim. They find themselves getting caught up in group thinking, regurgitating the thoughts of others. He went onto say that it is incumbent to well adjusted, yet (quoting Krishnamurti) ‘It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society’.
Heighten Your Awareness
The Enhances Awareness Program is a beautifully constructed tool that guides people to heighten their awareness. This heightened awareness is the remedy referred to by Tim. The more aware you are, the easier it is to be mindful of how you engage life. This mindfulness allows you to focus your thoughts, cultivate your inner-environment, and be selective about your external environment. When experienced as stillness, awareness brings clarity of purpose, which will be expressed as compassion in one form or another. It is this awareness that breaks down the walls of separation, ‘the heresy of separateness’ as Tim calls it. As he explains, the more profoundly attuned we become through heightened awareness, the greater the difference we can make.
The enormity of the challenge reflected in how endemic ‘crowding’ has become, could justify one giving up even before you start. But as Gandhi said, ‘Be the change you want to see in the world’. And as Tim reminded us in his talk, there has been no significant change to humanity that wasn’t initiated by a few. Participating in EAP is one of the ways that you can be part of this profound opportunity for stemming the outgoing tide of spirituality in this crowded world. Tim indicated that If you are serious about being a part of the solution you have to heighten your awareness. At EAP we say that be part of the solution you have to enhance your awareness. It’s all about expanding awareness.
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