‘The twentieth century will be chiefly remembered in future centuries not as an age of political conflict or technical inventions, but as an age in which human society dared to think of the welfare of the whole human race as a practical objective.’
– Arnold Toynbee
Project Heaven on Earth –
The New Story of What It Means to Be a Human and What It Means to Be Humanity
There is a desire, a longing, in each of us for a world that works.
There is a yearning for the recurring problems of the planet like war, hunger, disease, hatred, senseless suffering, poverty and environmental degradation, not to merely get better, but to once and for all…end.
We feel we want to do something, deep in our hearts, deep in our souls, which will actually take our planet to its next evolutionary level.
We know we have it within ourselves to tackle problems like these. We’ve ended smallpox. We’ve ended leprosy.
We know the human spirit is capable of knocking down the Berlin Wall, inventing nanotechnology and, bringing a peaceful transition to full democracy in South Africa. We’ve created 3-D printing, we do full heart transplants, we’ve seen what Pluto looks like up close.
At the heart of it, I believe what we want is a new context, a new story for the third millennium – one that inspires us all, one that enlivens humanity.
The story we’ve been living so far is based on being separate and having others be different than us. It has to do with suffering, with fear and judgment, with thinking that we are not able to make a true, profound, deep and lasting difference so that we begin having the kind of world we want.
But at this point in our collective evolution, this deeper desire for a new context for our planet is emerging. Why now? Because we have for the first time in our history a sense of the whole of humanity. This started with the famous photo of the “earthrise” from space, of the earth rising over the moon. This was the first time we saw our entire home planet as one. We were both physically out there in space looking back, and at the same time, we had the technology that allowed that picture to be beamed back to the entire world. The collective global, planetary consciousness had truly arrived.
Several years ago Oscar Motomura, the President of Amana-Key, a management training and development company in Sao Paulo, Brazil said, “With global air travel, the internet and instantaneous global communications, the concept of Humanity is now tangible.” Shortly after that, Rob Lehman, then president of The Fetzer Institute, began asking the question, “What is the common work of Humanity?”
I’d like to offer an answer.
Our common work is the co-creation of Heaven on Earth. I believe that as we enter this third millennium our job is the conscious creation of Humanity’s New Story, namely, Heaven on Earth.
I believe it’s time for us to create a new model of existence, a new collective purpose for ourselves. Ultimately, as my friend Richard Porter says, “It’s because Heaven on Earth is our destiny.”
Imagine for a moment what it would be like, what it would feel like, what it would look like, to really have Humanity, for the first time in its existence, act as one, expressing a common purpose and a common vision. I believe that common purpose is creating Heaven on Earth.
Let me give you an analogy. Imagine that you’ve just purchased a new piece of software. After you install and open it you are immediately presented with a new set of possibilities and opportunities. And into these you put your own unique content.
In the same way, Project Heaven on Earth opens up new possibilities for each of us into which we can put our selves, our own unique contribution, our own special creativity. And this piece of metaphorical software is available to everyone.
Imagine knowing that people all over the world were involved in doing their part to create Heaven on Earth. Imagine knowing a woman in Brazil, a man in Yemen, a little girl in Canada, an aboriginal in Australia, a grandfather in Russia, a priest in Namibia….all, were doing something with the express purpose of experiencing and co-creating Heaven on Earth.
I believe that you, that I, that the majority of people would want to join in and contribute their part to a project such as this. It’s as though each person is an instrument, playing in this Grand Planetary Symphony – Project Heaven on Earth.
Naturally, there will be those who say Heaven on Earth is a ludicrous notion. It’s childish, a fantasy, beyond impossible, grandiose. It’s something we’ve never had in our entire history so what makes you think we can create it now? It might be considered blasphemous, arrogant or naïve.
These are certainly valid concerns and considerations, and their presence needs to be honored. In fact, it’s almost a golden rule of creation, that the bigger the vision, the bigger the resistance and objections.
The context of Heaven on Earth can and does include doubts, considerations and fears, and it can and does still move forward.
The energy of a planetary commitment to this common goal can and will, in the gentlest of ways, overcome the strongest of obstacles.
Many of us are aware that we have a life’s mission, a life’s purpose. But what we, as Humanity, haven’t consciously known and are now beginning to remember, is that all of us have a collective vision and a collective purpose. We’ve just never before had the collective consciousness, technology or aware interconnection to begin operating from it.
That’s what Project Heaven on Earth is about.
Thomas Merton said, “We are already one. But we imagine that we are not. And what we have to recover is our original unity. What we have to be is what we are.”
Let’s suppose, for a moment, that we all accepted the notion of Heaven on Earth as something desirable and possible, and something we wanted to engage in. First of all, what is Heaven? We traditionally think of Heaven as a noun – the place where God and the Angels live. But The Oxford English Dictionary says that Heaven was also used as a transitive verb, that is: “To Heaven.” The dictionary defines the verb as:
“To make heavenly in character, to transport or transform in to heaven; also, to bless with heaven, beatify, render supremely happy.”
If we view Heaven as a verb we can go around heavening all day.
Let’s now look at some of the possible Gateways you could use to enter Heaven on Earth.
Here are some possible avenues through which you can participate in helping experience and co-create Heaven on Earth. They’re suggestions to get your creativity flowing. They’re entryways, action-service portals.
They’re not the only ones. You may have a unique way not listed here. If so – great! What’s most important is to just begin. Click on the image that most interests you to learn more about using this gateway to co-create Heaven on Earth in your life, your work and the world.
Your Inner World
Living Your Personal Values
We all have a value or values that we consider to be essential — values that we believe are fundamental to ourselves and the world. These are values which we believe that we individually need to express more of. Your Gateway might be the blossoming of a particular value(s) in yourself.
If one of your values is listed below then begin living a more fully exemplary life in and of that value. If your value isn’t included, add it to the list.
If you’re having trouble discovering your personal values, try this little exercise.
Arjuna, head of the Living Essence Foundation, asks the following question, “You have five minutes to live…what’s the most important thing to you?”
- Being and doing good
Is this your Gateway? If so, what simple, easy, concrete step(s) will you take?
Discovering and Living Your Life’s Purpose and Vision
‘Purpose’ answers the question, ‘Why am I/we here?’
‘Vision’ answers the question, “What do I/we want?’
If you’ve never answered these questions, please take some time and do. The answers will transform your life.
Even if you’ve already answered them, it’s important to re-examine them and see if they still ‘feel’ true. It’s as though they have a life force all their own which that has to be regularly examined.
To help discover your Purpose, answer the following:
- Why were you born?
- Why are you here on Earth?
- What is your assignment, your job, your contribution?
- What is the purpose of your life?
To help discover your Vision:
- What do you want to achieve?
- What do you want for the world?
- What do you want to be, do and have?
- What is the vision of your life?
You could make your daily affirmation one of these:
“This is Heaven on Earth.”
“I am in Heaven on Earth.”
“We are proving Heaven on Earth exists.”
“We are all creating Heaven on Earth.”
Or make up your own affirmation.
Your Inner World also includes Working on Yourself, Expressing Your Essence Word, Expressing Your Artistry, Discovering and Giving Your Gift and Experiencing the Divine. You can learn more about these in Martin’s forthcoming book, What Three Questions Will Change the World?
Relationships are a Gateway into Heaven on Earth. Each day, our experience is filled with relationships: with ourselves, with others, with The Divine. Relationships link our inner and outer worlds. They are an essential part of co-creating the new story of what it means to be a human and what it means to be Humanity.
There are parts of your relationship with yourself that work and parts that don’t, parts that are hellish and parts that are heavenly. Acknowledge and resolve the parts that block your increased expression of Heaven on Earth and nourish those parts that are already heavenly.
Becoming more aware of yourself in this way opens you more deeply to your relationship…
These include your spouse, children, parents, extended family, friends, acquaintances, strangers, people at work, members of your community, your city, your nation, and our entire global family. Here, too, clean up the parts that block your increased expression of Heaven on Earth and nourish those parts that are already heavenly. Your relationships with others extend the boundaries of your capacity, your creativity, and your compassion. Your relationships support you in being present with those who hold differing values, beliefs, and desires. Your sense of self expands as you appreciate other people and groups of people in a larger context of interconnectedness…
With The Divine
A deepening relationship with The Divine moves you into a deepening appreciation of the The Divine in all, as each person is a spark of The Divine. You appreciate that all existence offers infinite value to your own life and to all of life. Through this relationship, you can experience awe, humility, compassion, gratitude, and peace.
Living Your Global Values
We all have a value or values that we consider to be essential — our personal values, which are part of our inner world, and then global values. Values that we believe are fundamental to world we want to live in. These are values which we believe the world needs to publicly express more of. Your Gateway might be the blossoming of a particular value(s) in the world.
If one of your values is listed below then begin living a more fully exemplary life in and of that value. If your value isn’t included, add it to the list.
- Safety for All
- Freedom of Religion
- Democracy Thriving
- Global Health
- Global Nourishment
- Culture of Service
- Children Protected
- Global Citizenship
- Spiritual Connection
- Welcoming Strangers
Is this your Gateway? If so, what simple, easy, concrete step(s) will you take to embody these world values and insert them into your community?
Your Outer World
Ending the world’s major sufferings
For thousands of years the world has been confronted with unnecessary suffering. While many of those sufferings have been eradicated, smallpox and tuberculosis for example, many, many more remain. In Humanity’s new story of Heaven on Earth, they must be once and for all eradicated. Some of the major sufferings:
- Hunger and malnutrition
- Lack of adequate shelter
- War, weapons proliferation, genocide, and refugees
- Poverty, no access to opportunity, no self reliance
- Lack of clean water and sanitation
- Environmental pollution & degradation
- Lack of freedom: tyranny, repression
- Lack of meaning and purpose
- Crime, violence, and terrorism
- Prejudice, hatred and discrimination
- Torture, slavery, human rights abuse, child labor, violence against women
- Sexual abuse
- Bad governance, corruption
- Animal abuse and species extinction
- Spiritual malnourishment
Our Institutions Taking Their Rightful Place in Co-Creating Heaven on Earth
We’ve forgotten the true role of institutions. They’re here to serve. For too long we’ve been making them the target of our anger and the butt of our jokes. We continue to rail that they’re not living up to our expectations. Government is wasteful, slow and bureaucratic. Education is turning out graduates who can’t read. Law enforcement is powerless against drugs and crime. The media focuses on the lowest common denominator, on violence and sensationalism. And these same type of complaints apply to the other institutions.
But what if the purpose of our institutions is to help create Heaven on Earth? What would they do? How would they treat their employees and the people they serve? How would they interact with the other institutions of society? Imagine the power for good that would be unleashed.
Here are some of our institutions:
- Work: industry and business
- Agriculture, fisheries, forestry and mining
- Culture: Arts, Media, Sports
- Health Care and Medicine
- Science and Technology
- International Intergovernmental Organizations
- Organizations of Civil Society
- The Military
Co-Creating Heaven on Earth Nation(s)
What if today, a nation “chose” to enter Heaven on Earth? What if a growing number of people in a country said, “It’s time for us to be a Heaven on Earth nation” and what if they proclaim (publicly commit) to do that?
A nation — composed of its people, geography, history, culture and national identity — could choose to co-create Heaven on Earth by proclaiming and establishing it, and then by sustaining and nourishing it. You could choose Heaven on Earth for your nation. You could choose Heaven on Earth for the nations in your region and for the nations of our world.
Ways that you might do this are Uniting a Nation to Resolve an Issue, Uniting a Nation to Co-Create Heaven on Earth for that Nation, Uniting Nations to Resolve an Issue and/or Uniting All Nations to Co-Create Heaven on Earth.
As I asked people around the world to share their feelings and thoughts about what Heaven on Earth is for their nation, several common themes emerged:
• People want a basic standard of well being. They want their physical, social, and service requirements met: health, food, water, safety, shelter, education, and work that provides financial self-sufficiency.
• People want freedom and human rights, the rule of law, and honest and transparent institutions that are of service.
• People want to support other nations that are in need — by expressing kindness, generosity, and support.
• People want to be in relationship with other nations and with the community of nations.
Are you willing for your nation to be a Heaven on Earth nation? Are you willing for your nation to become a catalyst for positive growth for the nations in your region? Are you willing for your nation to become a catalyst for the betterment of the entire community of nations?
It is possible to have an entire nation be a Heaven on Earth nation. How? You, a person, or a group of people simply declare that your nation is a Heaven on Earth nation and then get into action by taking the first step(s) to make that real. And then, day by day, keep on keeping on.
Is this your gateway? What first step can you take towards creating a Heaven on Earth Nation?
This-Here-Now: Experiencing Heaven on Earth Right Here, Right Now
We can experience Heaven on Earth as being here and now, in this moment and in successive moments of Now. Yesterday, I was out walking in the morning and I suddenly stopped and became present and aware to everything. I was fully in the here and now.
Each of us has the ability to simply stop and be here and now in each and every moment. Why don’t you just do that right now? Stop reading this. Look up and out into the world. Be present.
Notice the sounds, the smells, observe what’s around you, your thoughts, your emotions. Be aware of being aware. You can do this at anytime under any circumstances.
I invite you to relax into the now of Heaven on Earth.
The opportunities for contribution are endless
The Gateways into Heaven on Earth are as endless and varied as the citizens of our planet. Your contribution to Heaven on Earth and what you’ll do to make it come more alive is up to you. By each of us doing our part, knowing that others all around the world are also doing their part, a feeling of momentum and energy begins building and building. It gives us hope. It gives us energy, strength and courage to keep going.
Huston Smith, the great theologian and thinker, has a wonderful image for our Humanity. He thinks of the physical universe as a horizontal line that represents the 14 billion light years that is our known universe. Since light travels at 186,000 miles a second, this is a pretty long line. He then sees a vertical line intersecting the horizontal line. This new line represents our common Humanity, where we’ve been, our triumphs, our failures, our awakenings, our continual stretch and evolvement toward wholeness and enlightenment. He considers this line to be even longer that the line that measures the known universe – longer than 14 billion light years.
When I heard this for the first time I was catapulted out of worrying about the minutiae of my daily life and into an intense realization of the magnificence of this incredible human journey we are on together.
Project Heaven on Earth is our opportunity to create, together, a new and wonderful story of what it means to be human and what it means to be Humanity. We are finally allowing that deep, resonant, heart-felt, part of ourselves to be expressed into reality. Heaven on Earth……The Work of Humanity.
The future we create
is the only future we share.
– Suresh Pandit