Cover image for Jump time : shaping your future in a world of radical change
Jump time : shaping your future in a world of radical change
Houston, Jean.
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Publication Information:
New York : J.P. Tarcher/Putnam, [2000]

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291 pages ; 24 cm
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BF311 .H653 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Argues that radical changes in society and the human race, including the growth of a global society, awareness of ethnicity and shared cultures, and spiritual awakenings, are creating a jump time in consciousness.

Author Notes

Jean Houston, Ph.D., is a scholar, philosopher, and teacher, and a co-director of the Foundation for Mind Research in Pomona, New York

Reviews 1

Library Journal Review

Houston, a leader in the human potential movement and author of the best sellers A Mythic Life and A Passion for the Possible, believes that humans are entering a critical stage of rapid change. (The human potential movement says that people only use a small percentage of their positive potential, which can be unlocked by different means, e.g., role playing.) The world, she asserts, is shifting from an ethnocentric view to a global one thanks to the Internet, which is decentralizing information and reforming new cultural neighborhoods. Houston points to the Renaissance, another period of rapid change, and poignantly points to Shakespeare and da Vinci as two people who were "myriad-minded"Da quality that children need to develop today. Also attractive are the whimsical chapter titles ("Wok and Roll in the Rainbow World" and "Psychenauts in Cyberspace"). The best of Houston's work so far, this will become another best seller and is recommended for academic and public libraries.DLisa Wise, Broome Cty. P.L., Binghamton, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Chapter One ARCHIMEDES AND THE EVOLUTIONARY LEVER                            My parents came from vastly different backgrounds--my father a Texas-bred comedy writer and chiropractor, my mother a Sicilian economist and method actress. Though my folks tried valiantly to bring their divided and distinguished worlds together, they never quite made it. They divorced when I was fourteen.     I see myself back then, a child of nine or ten, trying gallantly to interpret my parents to each other.     "Dad, the smell of frying garlic isn't so bad. Your Uncle Johnny's hog trough in Beauford, Texas, stinks much worse."     "Mother, I know you'd rather listen to the Metropolitan Opera on Saturday afternoon, but just once couldn't you try the Grand Ole Opry? Dad loves it, and the singers are just as loud."     Perhaps I've tried to make up for my failure with my parents, for when I grew up, my work centered around bringing cultures together, sometimes the mindsets of our many states of consciousness and frequently the traditions of far-flung regions of the Earth. I've discovered that in the meeting and melding of dissimilar ways of being, strange and wonderful things happen.     As was not the case with my parents, whose tribal boundaries never permanently relaxed, exchanges between the world's peoples--Bangladeshi, Maori, Balinese, Burmese--are frequently dynamic and fruitful. Over the past twenty years, I have spent part of each year working in countries around the world, often at the invitation of international development agencies, helping people find ways to maintain and deepen their unique traditions while they discover their part in the emerging world story.     This work has given me a finger on the pulse of what is happening. Increasingly I sense a new cultural music coming into time. A welter of multiple meters and offbeat phrasing, it is a coding of creativity and imagination, a counterpoint of styles of knowing and being. As cultures come together and exchange their essence, they join in a cadence of awakening, a new idiom of consciousness that is exhilarating and revolutionary. This rhythm carries us from the ballads of local concerns to the concerto of a larger ecology of being. Within it we feel the evolutionary pulse arising from Earth and Universe and come to understand that our individual life is part of the unfinished symphony of the cosmos. A strange, sweet music is coursing through us. Each of its notes carries with it a task, a responsibility: play your part, it hums to us, for what you do profoundly makes a difference.     Whence does this evolutionary pulse arise? From God? From hyperdimensional realities? From the Big Bang? Could it be that something in our flesh remembers the dawn of the universe, in fact, partakes in it, for aren't all particles one particle? On some sonic register beyond the threshold of hearing, perhaps, our ears still vibrate from this sound that contains all sounds, carrying the message that everything is energy, vibration, frequency, resonance. Even the most solid object is ultimately a dance of changing energy patterns. Ultimately all is rhythm, all music. The world is sound. Aum, the beginning, heard now and forever. This primal sound pulses us as it gives rise to the complex webbing of interdependent relationships through which our own lives are embedded within Larger Life.     In the century now past, when cultures with conflicting priorities and values came into contact, their meetings all too often exploded in traumatically passionate ways--world wars, iron curtains, nuclear weapons, clashes in which each side saw the other as alien. Better by far, now that we know better, is this new mitotic exchange of cultural DNA, the strands of many times and traditions carrying genomes of familiarity and fascination instead of insularities and phobias. With the breakdown of walls between people and nations that technology has wrought, we are witness in our lifetime to a massive ontological shift in personal and social consciousness.     We sense that we have crossed the threshold into another reality, almost another planet. Once distant seas of consciousness crash together and churn the evolution of the world mind--a new Jump Time mind now coming into being.     The energetics of cultural evolution were brought home to me in a most literal and powerful way in September 1992, when I was accompanied by several Maori elders to the northernmost point of New Zealand, or Aotearoa, as the Maoris call their beautiful land of the long white cloud.     We stood on a ridge at the end of the island looking down to a place where three seas, the China Sea, the Tasmanian Sea, and the Pacific Ocean, crash together in roiling waves. Each of the seas brings its own winds, so one is buffeted by gusts from all sides. Let me invite you to stand there with me.     Something is uncanny here. There is Presence here. Could it be that the waves also bring with them the spirits of other lands? In one way or another, these seas have touched upon all seas and every shore. Are they bringing global news of nature's plans and human folly?     The wind is growing stronger. The waves collide in some giant argument, or is it a mating, an exchange of essences? Is this the place where the planetary DNA is coded anew?     "It could be," my hostess shouts over the roaring of the winds. "But it is also the place where Maoris go when they die to lift off to the Other World." She points to a small spit of land where the sea currents come together in a boiling vortex that seems a plausible place to leave the planet.     My hostess is a wise woman of the Maori clan. Her son, with whom I had spent the previous day, is himself a receiver of the waves of human speculation from many lands. A holder and practitioner of traditional Maori wisdom, he has a physicist's knowledge of the new science and is a speculative thinker of the first order. He is also a storekeeper.     I have found that the Maoris, perhaps more than any other indigenous culture I have worked with, have made considerable strides towards restoring their culture, even after a hundred and seventy years of colonial rule. In spite of the problems that afflict all indigenous peoples, they are relearning their language, winning back their land and fishing rights, rebuilding their communities, developing their ancient arts and sciences, and generally moving as a culture toward the fulfillment of their innate potential.     Many among them, like my hostess and her son, have acquired, appreciated, and even improved upon the knowledge of other cultures. The previous evening, the son astounded me by explaining how the ancient principles of Maori metaphysics anticipate those of quantum physics. I ask my hostess at the top of my voice to tell me how it is that the Maoris have recovered so much of their genius.     "It is because of places like this," she bellows, "where the spirits of many peoples and many lands can meet and refresh themselves. Here, as well as in our great meeting houses, our Maraes, we remember who we are ..."     Her voice takes on new power, equal to the winds. "And call our spirits home!"     Here and now, in a new millennium, we too stand on the shore of time, at the edge of history, receiving the winds of change. We welcome the homecoming of the spiritual force that can quicken our passion for life in the Jump Time.     Fears abound. Few, if any, have been trained for such a time. We feel cluttered and burdened with the learnings of a world now passing away, shackled by beliefs birthed out of a narrower view of the cosmos. No matter how "postmodern" we pretend to be, each of us has been marinated in the medieval soup of the mind. To face the radical needs of the future, we need a new natural philosophy, one that encompasses an appreciation of what is emerging in science and psychology as our evolutionary possibilities.     I often attend conferences of high-minded folk from many disciplines who address the problems of an old world passing into a new. The millennium has brought many to the table. Some are radical visionaries proposing utopian global house cleanings. Others are reformers devoted to redressing old wrongs. Each attempts to push the membrane that wraps us in unknowing. With all their practical skill and accomplishments, they are humble before the mystery of a world in transition.     "It is as if we are in a giant womb, trying to figure out what happens next," a United Nations official said to me recently at the State of the World Forum.     I was startled by her remark, for earlier that day, I had been chatting about international politics with a Bulgarian cab driver as he drove me around San Francisco at dawn looking for an open Kinko's so I could print out from disk the speech I was to give.     "I have just been present at the birth of my daughter," he told me. "I was very afraid, for I had never seen such a thing. It was very messy and very beautiful. And after all the hours of my wife's labor and the painful contractions, a new life! Maybe that is what is trying to happen in our world."     I often describe my work as a kind of midwifery. Organizations and cultures, as well as individuals, sometimes need a steadying hand as they birth themselves into a world as strange and unexpected as the one babies face when they emerge from the womb. If we are to grow up to be stewards of the Jump Time that is upon us, I tell them, we must make the best use of our capacities.     Our bodies and minds are coded with an extraordinary array of possibilities and potentials. Some no doubt were cooked in ancient caves. Others were laid down even earlier. On the genetic scale, we humans encompass all that has gone before. We are inheritors of the star stuff from which life came and relatives of every organism on the planet. The remembrance of things past is coded into our bodies. We crawl with single-cell organisms and are home to a universe of bacteria. Briny oceans pool in our blood. Our brain is a nested creature, its oldest reptilian and amphibian core covered over by mammal and human brains--and the promise of something burgeoning, something more.     When my research has given me the opportunity to take depth soundings of the continents within human beings, I have marveled at the enormity we contain. Somewhere in the vast treasure trove of the body/mind, I am convinced, we remember everything we have learned over the past fifteen billion years. We are the ultimate evolutionary hybrids, and the vigor of human genetic inheritance, if we could but claim it and work with it, is more than enough for us to get on with it.     Michael Murphy in The Future of the Body argues persuasively that human capacities stand on the shoulders of earlier evolutionary developments, even as they move toward extraordinary complexity and application. We can cultivate somatic awareness and control ... because nerve cells that evolved from analogous structures in the earliest vertebrates are deployed throughout our bodies. Relaxation exercises are effective because we possess a parasympathetic system that developed during the long course of mammalian evolution. We can become creatively absorbed in work, perhaps, because we have inherited capacities for catalepsy, analgesia, and selective amnesia that facilitate escape and hunting. In short, self-regulation skills, regenerative relaxation, and performance trance, like other kinds of creative functioning, are based on capacities that developed among our animal forbears. And while transformative practices draw upon our animal inheritance, they also employ uniquely human activities. The imagination we use to enjoy books can be cultivated to induce metanormal cognitions or to facilitate extraordinary physical skills. The self-reflection we sometimes practice when confronted by difficulty can be deepened by means of sustained meditation. (Los Angeles: Tarcher, 1992, p. 543) Evolutionary Jumps Each evolutionary jump that we can name in the history of the universe is clear to us because some human jumped to see it and then created a story about it which we could understand. A primitive hand finds a stick, sees it as a tool, and uses it to find food. Guttural sounds deep in the throat give warnings, directions, and eventually express thoughts and feelings. Ice melts; caves give way to huts and houses; women collect wild seeds and poke them into the ground. A man watches grapes being crushed, and the printing press is born. Moon longings become moon landings. What we see in evolution is the push toward greater levels of complexity--increasing diversity, organization, and connectivity. Looking back at how we got here may provide us with clues to where we are headed.     The first jump was the Big Bang, an explosion of light and sound so intense that whatever was before or from some other-where imploded itself into a tiny charge of hydrogen and jumped into universal form.     Then, some five billion years ago, a supernova reached Jump Time and, with an unimaginably fierce explosion, offered itself to the Universe in billions of pieces.     Another jump came for us when elements spun out of the explosion, coalesced into a ball that condensed into our mother, our molten planet.     Many jumps of cooling, crusting, boiling, steaming, raining. Seas form, the crust roils, land masses jump and shift, break off and crawl over each other, pulverizing everything in their wake. Meteors whiz by, raising blinding dust storms, or carom into the Earth's crust, tossing pieces of it sky-high.     It's a setup for the biggest jump of all--life. Lightning spikes the Earth. Molecules break apart and recombine, jumping through change after chemical change.     At the edges of the rock in the shallow waters, the feast of life begins. Giant proteins play with RNA and DNA. Some jump to form enzymes, which hurry everything along. Nucleic acids hold the information to make the huge jump to self-replication. Molecules build on each other, combine and recombine, building ever larger structures, modeling and learning from each other.     JUMP! Cell walls that move and flex, letting food in and wastes out.     JUMP! Bacteria form, creating food for themselves. As a waste product--a deadly poison, oxygen, is released.     JUMP! Cope with oxygen.     JUMP! Grow or die! Cooperate or perish! Make agreements! Enjoy diversity. Put it to work.     JUMP! The mothers and fathers of us all are born--the nucleated cell!     JUMP! Cell mitosis.     JUMP! Sexual reproduction--organisms unite so the species can continue.     Plants, JUMP! Sea creatures, JUMP! Land creatures, BIG JUMP! Dinosaurs, insects, flowers, birds.     JUMP! Heads up, snouts rise, eyes converge, brain grows!     JUMP! Walking upright.     JUMP! Vocal communication.     JUMP! Awareness of ourselves.     JUMP! Tool making, clothes wearing, plant gathering, seed setting, wheel turning, horse taming, water channeling, plow furrowing, loom spinning, food storing, star charting, tower building, metal smelting, myth telling, hieroglyphs and cuneiform and alphabets to record all this.     JUMP! Bureaucracy and empire, religions and scriptures. The Buddha, Confucius, Pythagoras, Christ.     JUMP! Book scribing, print pressing, art making, play writing. Telescopes, microscopes, spectroscopes, stethoscopes. Renaissance, revolution, resettling, migration. Liberty, fraternity, equality, democracy.     JUMP! Vaccination, sanitation, medication, refrigeration. Computers! Air travel, space travel, life extending, gender choosing, species making. World links, world banks, global village. And here we are, because it's JUMP TIME!     And the jumps continue, for it seems inevitable that future developments will follow this path. Everything is accelerating, the jumps coming closer together. Human knowledge is doubling every ten years. The extent of our mapping of the genetic sequences of the DNA molecule doubles every two years. Computer power is doubling every eighteen months. The Internet is doubling every year. And of course, almost daily, we read of new advances in space exploration, computer technology, medical science, and telecommunications, each jump in complexity occurring in a fraction of the time of the previous one. Reading the science pages of The New York Times, I am reminded of the words of the prophet Daniel: "Many shall run ... to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased" (Dan. 12.4).     Churning as we are in this sea of so much change, jumps abound in our everyday lives as well. Our lives now regularly contain many times the amount of experience of our ancestors of earlier centuries; as a result, our personal jumps seem to be accelerating in frequency as well as amplitude. We are heirs to an extraordinary speeding up of the evolutionary process. We jump to new professions, partners, lifestyles, and religions seemingly at will. Nothing, it seems, is impossible for us. Nature, through us, seems to be entering a new epoch--not so much biological evolution but conscious evolution. We have become conscious of our capacity to direct the next phase not only of our personal lives but of the world's destiny as well. Lessons from Evolutionary History To understand what we are facing, we might consider the evolutionary journeys of those simpler organisms who are our precursors. University of Massachusetts microbiologist Lynn Margulis suggests that we reexamine our kinship to the teeming world of the very tiny. Bacteria, she points out, are the ur-life form, microbial architects, essential to all living things. Without bacteria, life and its processes would cease.     In the first two billion years of life on Earth, bacteria continuously transformed the planet's surface and atmosphere, inventing life's essential chemical systems--fermentation, photosynthesis, and oxygen breathing and fixing atmospheric nitrogen into proteins. They too faced crises of population expansion, starvation, and pollution. They survived these challenges because they developed remarkable "evolutionary organs"--capacities that allowed them to share and transfer genetic information.     Contrary to the view that evolution is a combative, red-in-tooth-and-claw struggle, bacteria led the way by networking. Microbial life forms multiplied and grew more complex by co-opting others, not just by killing them. They could also merge--combine their bodies, form permanent alliances. Symbiogenesis, the merging of organisms into new collectives, evolved as a major strategy for environmental survival.     The parallels between ourselves and the world of the microbes--our ancestors and progenitors--are both humbling and hopeful. The lesson of the bacteria is that only through interaction--solutions to problems drawn from the collective of which we are all part--can we grow to the next stage.     Paleobiology offers another provocative evolutionary parallel to Jump Time in the notion of punctuated equilibrium, or "punk eek," as it is called in scientific circles. Change, evolutionary theorists tell us, doesn't happen gradually. Rather, things go along as they have been going for a long while--in a state of equilibrium--until a species, living at the edge of its tolerance, experiences enough ferment and stress to punctuate the equilibrium with a sudden jump to a whole new order of being.     The theory was proposed in 1972 by Stephen Jay Gould of Harvard University and Niles Eldredge of the American Museum of Natural History. They challenged the traditional Darwinian view, known as phyletic gradualism, which held that changes in any species occur over long stretches of time.     As Charles Darwin himself pointed out, great gaps in the fossil records make it impossible to trace conclusively the emergence of new species. He hoped that those gaps would eventually be filled in by new fossil discoveries such that natural selection could account satisfactorily for the gradual transformation of one species into another.     Gould and Eldredge noted, however, that those troublesome gaps in the fossil record were not being filled in, though more than a century had elapsed since publication of Darwin's Origin of Species . In fact, as the fossil record became more complete, it seemed clear that species persisted in sameness for time out of mind before they suddenly gave rise to new ones in what amounts to the geological blink of an eye. Eons of sameness were punctuated by the abrupt emergence of new evolutionary forms within relatively few generations. Evolution, Gould and Eldredge concluded, is not always a process of steady and gradual change but sometimes involves species "jumping" from one state of being to another.     The question remains, why does a species punctuate its nice long equilibrium snooze? Does its environment change? Is it living at the edge of its tolerance? Is it bored with itself? Is there a great plan or pattern coded within it that responds to a stimulus and initiates transformation after a certain period of time?     When it comes to the fossil records, clues are widespread and suggestive. In what is known as the Judith River formation of Montana, for example, fossil evidence documents five million years of evolutionary stasis for a number of dinosaur groups. Then a rise in sea level put the Judith River area under water for some five hundred thousand years. A portion of the dinosaur population retreated from the flood to a smaller, more limited Montana habitat. They faced the stress of the new environment--Jurassic Park it wasn't--and they were isolated from the homogenizing effects of the larger dinosaur population. Within half a million years, no time at all on the evolutionary calendar, several new species evolved. When sea level fell again, these new dinosaur types moved back to the original dinosaurs' stomping grounds, spreading rapidly through the Judith River area.     When it comes to the human record, we have only to look around us to see ample evidence for cultural jumps as comprehensive and as vivid as any the dinosaurs experienced. Take something as simple as accounting. A hundred and fifty short years ago, say, in the England of Charles Dickens, clerks sat on high stools, their inky hands pushing scratchy nibs across huge ledgers as they kept their spidery accounts. Jump to today and data-entry clerks are keying in numbers on spreadsheet programs that perform complicated calculations and graph years of transactions in microseconds. From the abacus to the ledger book is not a great jump--just a few way stations of records on clay tablets and papyrus. But from the ledger book to the spreadsheet is a jump so huge it boggles comprehension.     What is looming before us now is a collective jump--faster and more complex than any the world has known. We find ourselves at present in the midst of the most massive shift of perspective humankind has ever known. Clearly we are living in a time in which our very nature is in transition. The scope of change is calling forth patterns and potentials in the human brain/mind system that as far as we know were never needed before. Knowings that were relegated to the unconscious are becoming conscious. Experiences that belonged to extraordinary reality are become ordinary. With the intersection of so many ways of being from all over the planet, the maps of the psyche and of human possibilities are undergoing awesome change.     Aldous Huxley described the scope of our contemporary dilemma in his last utopian novel, Island (New York: Harper and Row, 1962, p. 134): Science is not enough, religion is not enough, art is not enough, politics and economics are not enough, nor is love, nor is duty, nor is action however disinterested, nor, however sublime, is contemplation. Nothing short of everything, will really do.     "Everything" is a tall order.     We humans have always been convinced that we can be more than we are, and many of us have suspected that everything is within reach. Scripture and folk tale abound with stories of people who have gone to their edges--and discovered that they could go further. Whether in feats of extraordinary skill or strength, bold quests into science or art, or explorations into the geography of inner or outer space, the human species is unique in its need to go "where no one has gone before." The varied expressions through history of our need to understand and accomplish everything arises from an evolutionary impulse that is biologically, psychologically, and spiritually innate.     Whatever healing fictions we tell ourselves to explain this evolutionary programming--that we were created in the image of an all-knowing God, that we contain within us the capacity for "waking up" to Buddha-like compassion and wisdom, that human development has been seeded and guided by extraplanetary beings who wish to help us assume our rightful place as galactic cocreators--we know at our core that our potential is limitless.     And yet, sometime during the century now dawning, we also have the power to abort the entire enterprise. Is our lovely blue-green planet to be a fatal mishap on a wing of the Milky Way, or a fifteen-billion-year project now finally coming to term? That question lies at the heart of Jump Time--the time to grow or die. In whimsical moments I wonder if the UFOs people keep seeing bopping around the planet may actually be full of spectators at the biggest sporting event this side of the galaxy, ETs on the edge of their seats betting on whether we will make it or not.     In a Jump Time with everything in transition, we can no longer afford to live as remedial members of the human race. A new set of values--holistic, syncretic, relationship and process oriented, organic, spiritual--is rising within us and around us. Though the forces of entropy and fear seek to contain or regress us, we know there is no going back. Our complex time requires a wiser use of our capacities, a richer music from the instrument we have been given. The world will thrive only if we can grow. The possible society will become a reality only if we learn to be the possible humans we are capable of being. A Renaissance Jump Time What must we do to become stewards of our own evolution? What must we do to move ourselves and the world to the next stage?     To answer this, we might try an experiment in going back to the future, specifically, to Renaissance Italy in the fifteenth century, a Jump Time not unlike our own. The Renaissance was literally a new birth--a breech birth of the human soul. In the midst of vast changes and upheavals, the artists, philosophers, and explorers of Florence entered the future facing backward toward the past. They dug in the earth, and they excavated in monastic libraries. They retrieved ancient genius from before the fall of Byzantium and found there the ideas and images of the Greeks, the Romans, and the Hebrews. The lost legacy of the world's past thoughts and dreams was born again into their time, and from this stimulus they grew a new body and a new mind.     Their imaginations were fired to dream again, but this time another order of reality. With the help of philosopher/mages like Marsilio Ficino and Pico della Mirandola, they discovered their inner world as an infinite landscape, as varied and companionable as the earth without. And since this inner world lay close to the Mind of the Maker, they were flooded with visions of what could be, pouring their inspiration forth as painters, sculptors, musicians, architects, engineers, scientists. Some, like Leonardo da Vinci, were all these at once.     It is my belief that the world's present Jump Time is cousin to this earlier one, not only in the bounteous palette of ancient images available to us but in the canvas of all times and places on which to display them. Today, the colors of world culture, the soul of the planet, can be reached through the tap of a computer key.     However, in Renaissance Italy the scales were in balance. Its thinkers and doers reveled in a sufficiency of stimulus without inundation. Not for them the ocean floods of muchness that threaten to drown us today. They had time to observe and digest and, like Leonardo, to ask Nature about herself, to observe the flight of birds and the fall of water, to study faces until they became their own. They visioned the geometries of invention on the whitewashed walls of the mind, linking inner and outer worlds, and built their palazzos there before they brought them into form. They studied everything that interested them and expressed it in many forms. They sculpted and painted, wrote poetry to extol what they loved, and captured its sounds on the lute. Their passions and their expression were keen and vital. No chisels carved away their ecstatic edges.     In their recovery of the past, they dialogued with ancient men and looked to them for inspiration. One of Leonardo's favorites was Archimedes, the great geometer and mathematician of the third century B.C. So intense was Archimedes' passion for his speculative work that he would forget to bathe. When his servants could not stand the stench any longer, they would pick him up and carry him against his will to the public baths. And yet, even there, he would trace out geometrical figures in the ashes of the chimney and draw lines with his fingers on his naked body while they were anointing him with oils and sweet savors. His delight in the study of geometry took him from himself and brought him into ecstasy.     Such passion comes from a confluence of desire: the inclination of an individual joined with a universal necessity whose season of completion has come. The pulleys and levers Archimedes drew linked him to archetypal patterns, the very mind stuff of the cosmos. Because his work connected him to cosmic knowledge, Archimedes shared in the universe's enthusiasm for elegant form and practicable function. Like Archimedes, Leonardo was happiest when the solution he devised to a problem helped to reveal Nature's laws. Standing in the meeting place between personal will and universal need, Archimedes' sense of possibility was limitless: "Give me a lever long enough and a place to stand," he said, "and I will move the Earth."     This metaphor and its message is particularly relevant for us today. It seems to me that we each must do just what Archimedes said: stand in the place of our own truth and hold the lever that is the highest expression of our individual destiny. The philosopher Aristotle had a wonderful word for destiny. He called it the entelechy, the dynamic purpose that propels us toward fulfilling our reason for being alive. When we wield the lever of our highest purpose, our destiny links to the unfolding of the universe. Our perspective shifts, and the Earth moves. The flat plane of our limited understanding becomes fully rounded, fleshed out in all dimensions, and our human soul gains the perspective to view itself.     In times of renaissance, when the landscape of future history stands vast and open before us, we have a rare opportunity to put our imagination to work reinventing ourselves and our civilization. With the lever of the entelechy, we can move the Earth beyond the eclipse that has kept us too long in the dark.     But as we move into the future, a cosmic humanism must enlighten our actions; our evolutionary jumps must be informed by the knowledge that we are acting on a global stage. As in Leonardo's drawing of the universal man, we are inscribed in harmony within the square of our immediate time and place but also contained within the circle of our infinite relations. In inspiration or ecstatic trance or as a result of long hours of study and search, we surrender to our larger nature. Then content arises from the inner world and, deeper still, from the Mind of the Maker. Michelangelo imaged what happens next in a panel on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. God and Adam reach out their hands toward each other. In the tension of the separation, a contact point is bridged, energy jumps across the arc, humanity becomes inspirited. This linking is what life is about, each of us called forth and connected to the universe's transcendent purpose.     Yet for us something is missing. Though we are fast becoming creators ourselves--our engineers reversing the course of rivers, our biotechnicians designing new species of plants and animals--we seem to have lost our moral compass; we follow the seduction of invention without responsibility. Even the angel of human creativity can breed monsters and grotesques without moral purpose to guide it. Jump Time asks us to cross a bridge, to stretch out hands and minds and hearts to be met by a destiny that is the world's highest as well as our own. Finding Our Own Evolutionary Lever How do we find the evolutionary lever within ourselves to lift all that we are to the next stage, so that can see deeply, act with power, be adequate stewards of Jump Time?     Too often, transforming ourselves seems to require a miracle. But miracles are merely the conscious activation of more patterns of reality than are usually seen by ordinary consciousness. Sometimes all that is needed is a shift in perspective. Leonardo's experiments in paint and his intricate scientific sketches had far-reaching consequences for the Western mind. When two-dimensional diagrams could depict conceptual detail with accurate perspective, flying machines could be built, telescopes and microscopes could be devised, architects could construct churches with soaring unsupported domes, explorers could journey beyond the planes of the set horizon to discover continents, infinities could be captured in formula if not in form, and we could extend the empire of humankind over things.     In spite of all that was gained, what was lost in Renaissance humanism was the comfort of the medieval notion of a God-ordained hierarchy in which everything existed in relationship to everything else--the social order reflecting the natural, cosmological, and celestial hierarchies, all held together in a Great Chain of Being whose figures artfully mirrored each other. Come the Renaissance and the shifting of perspectives, and, as John Donne lamented, "'Tis all in pieces, all coherence gone."     Not only was the world without fractured, but the many parts of the self that hitherto had been seen as sacred and as participating in the invisible purpose and meaning behind things were split off and sent reeling. Stripped of our cosmic connection, we were left falling into a black hole: "The sun is lost, and no man's wit knows where to look for it." Was it any wonder that an ego-centered psychology, affirming the importance of the individual over and against the world, and an increasing emphasis on economics and material consumption came to dominate human affairs? Too often and in too many places, reality was diminished to the flattening of one's spirit and the expansion of one's purse.     Now, as this era and its excesses comes to its end, another perspective looms, one that reaches back toward the soul-centered, nested universe we thought we had lost. People everywhere are regaining the sense that what they do matters profoundly to the course of events. Individual purpose and the world's greater destiny are renewing their connections. The images we hold, the thoughts we entertain, are reweaving a worldwide web of kinship.     When individuals come into resonance with universal purpose, they know it in their hearts, they feel it in their bones. There is a great assent, a cosmic yes, an arc of energy across the void. What stands revealed in such moments is the entelechy, the creative seed of greatness each of us contains. Some people are given very young to an innate sense of their essential reason for being--the oak their acorn is destined to become. For others, even adults living full and successful lives, the issue is activating an awareness of what more is possible. Many people I know, despite manifold professional accomplishments, are still wondering what they will be when they grow up. Few realize the answer completely. But when they do, their names become scriptural, for entelechy is the matrix of forms, the resonance of the divine in the human. It is ourselves writ large, the cosmic persona tuned to human purpose and possibility.     Contact entelechy, and all circuits are "go." Tune to it, and another order of perspective is at hand, one that comprehends the spatial and the temporal, that lifts the Earth of one's seeing into another domain where love rules and the patterns of higher governance are known. Words cannot really describe it. Metaphors fritter and fry in the fires of analogy. Entelechy is known in its experience. It is being in the flow. It is cooking on more burners. It is making the highest use of skills one has acquired. It is putting old capacities to work in new ways and discovering capabilities we never knew we had. It is growing the evolutionary organs of our future, transcendent selves.     When we live in service to our entelechy, we comprehend the genius of Leonardo, the compassion of the Buddha, the social consciousness of Martin Luther King, Jr., the word craft of Emily Dickinson. We become actors on the stage of a new story, our personal play a scene in the sacred drama of all times and places. We experience profound joy, a sense of blissful felicity. We enter the domains of the mythic and come face to face with the fullness of what we are.     What is it that holds us back from being all that we can be? What is it that keeps us blinkered and blinded, cycling round and round in the same well-worn tracks of conception and action?     While considering this, I look out my window and see the rocks and boulders that abound on my acres and, indeed, in my county. My home is in Rockland County, well named because a long time ago, during a major ice age, a glacier swept through this region carrying the detritus of mountains crumbling in its path. The glacier moved on and melted, but the rocks remain, mute testimony to the fierce ravages of nature.     Our personal wounds can also feel like the ravages of an indifferent Nature moving cruelly to its own purposes, running roughshod over our lives, chilling our hopes and dreams. The icy chemistry of fear, the glacial stupor of habituated thought, the Artics of ancient grievances all too often hold us frozen in structures that preclude growth and change. Emotional boulders choke our landscape, and we are caught in the trenches of unhappy memory.     Lift our gaze to the rest of the world, and the story seems much the same--people and nations frozen in postures of pain and parody, the atavisms of archaic hatreds, and the chill that precludes the healing of nations. What we need is the lure--the large enough vision or idea that can call us individually and collectively to the next evolutionary stage. If we could but hear it, the lure is already there, heard in the thunder of change that is the undertone of Jump Time.     Jump Time challenges us to melt our frozen winter consciousness in the upstart spring of a bright future for ourselves and our world. Almost every spring, when the ground thaws, my husband Bob and I prepare the soil and plant the seeds for our vegetable and herb garden. And every spring, Rockland County seems to heave up a fresh outcropping of rocks to be levered out of the ground and hauled away. Some of these rocks we turn into walls to keep out the deer, rabbits, and hedgehogs, already gleeful in expectation of the bounty our garden clearly means for them. And some of its munificence is meant for us. It is that prospect of what's to come that gives us the impetus to tend the ground, weed it of what is not useful, nurture the tender plants, and bring them to their fullness. The deep knowledge of what awaits keeps us vigilant and caring of our duties, nourishing the mystery of resurrection and renewal, greater by far--as in the Easter story of the empty tomb--than any stone blocking the way. Jump Time is a season of hope in which growth is called forth by the lure of the times of greening that are upon us.     But Jump Time has its weeds as well. We live in an age where every shadow is out in the open to be seen and felt, amplified by a media bent on entertaining us with horrors. The evening news can numb us into apathy or stir our spirit into action. How can we, in the face of negativity and collective fear, take the longest stride of soul to join the potentials of our local life to the Potency of the larger life that dwells within us all? And how can we do this so that what we have deemed extraordinary becomes the wonderful ordinary and the numinous extended universe takes up residence in our hearts and homes?     We must start by tending our own gardens. Personal strides of soul require time and space to generate the energy to move us beyond the shadows and losses of heart that keep us stuck. We need to give ourselves time to dream our future. We need the mindfulness to scan our day, our week, our year, and beyond. We need to pay attention to what we are doing when we feel ourselves to be most in the flow, when we feel happiest and most truly ourselves. It is here that the entelechy self can be felt and known. The entelechy self comes to us with the sense of what we would be like if we had spent a thousand years developing our full potential. I describe this feeling in my book A Passion for the Possible : Our Essential Self has a radiance that our local self does not. It is in touch with both our life and the Life of the Universe. It is in touch with the wisdom of the earth and the wisdom of the heart. It can put us in touch with the unexplored continents that lie within our minds and bodies, for it knows the maps of the soul and the treasures that can be found there. The Essential Self knows the possible paths our life may take and wants to help us choose the best ones. It knows how to turn imagination into reality and make the life we live fulfilling and creative. Above all, it knows why we are here and what we yet can do; where we can go and why we need to go there. (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1997, pp. 92-3)     But to face the challenges of Jump Time, we must go further. As we come--and more and more of us are--to the recognition that our individual destiny and the world's unfolding are linked, we must also ask ourselves, "How best may I serve? How can I plant and nurture the seeds of a better world?" Then our strides of soul carry us beyond the landscape of our local consciousness into the fair country that opens into the entelechy of collective intelligence. There we are able to access the greater entelechy patterns that guide our world's social and cultural institutions toward their fullest expression in evolved social action, family and community life, governance, education, spirituality.     How this occurs is mysterious, but the study of creativity and inspiration furnishes many examples of people gaining access to ideas and blueprints that exceed their imaginings and study. One of my students, a talented musician, described such a moment this way: When I was in college, I simply knew that I was supposed to compose music. So I went about living a composer's life. Then, on the side almost, I started teaching movement and music to a group of young children, techniques that I had been using with actors and other professionals. That little class sparked a sequence of serendipitous and obviously planned connections--planned not by this local self but by something larger than me. Then a moment came, while I was teaching a parent/child class full of babies and three- and four-year-olds, that I just knew. My God, this is what I'm supposed to be doing! It was totally different from what I had expected my life to look like. So for a decade now, I've been teaching music to kids, and it just keeps flourishing. This work reaches me at a heart and soul level, beyond the inspiration, beyond the excitement, beyond the pleasure, beyond the raw energy of creating music and theater and all those things I used to think were important. There's a God-like thing to it, a universal thing. It's not what I sought out. It found me, and it sounded me. And once I hit that point, I've felt blessed.     And after all, why not? We are cosmic stuff, embedded in the ecology of the Whole, the universe in miniature, the unfolding of the divine seed, now in the springtime of its Self-consciousness. If anything, the muchness and interconnectedness of the modern world actually pushes us toward realization of our potential. Complexity and chaos can act as levers to lift the world that is too much upon us so we may see the patterns and information that lie within.     By harnessing our individual purpose to a vision of the possible collective future, we pull ourselves out of the mire of stasis and into tomorrow. Our spirits are called home, and we find heart for the next stage of our evolutionary journey. Copyright © 2000 Jean Houston. All rights reserved.

Table of Contents

Introduction: The Show Must Go Onp. 1
1. Archimedes and the Evolutionary Leverp. 17
2. The Selfing Game Is What Infinity Does for Funp. 44
3. With Satchel and Shining Morning Facep. 72
4. Here's Looking at You, Kidp. 99
5. Peacemaking and the Global Longhousep. 130
6. Wok and Roll in the Rainbow Worldp. 169
7. Psychenauts in Cyberspacep. 198
8. The Cosmic Gardenp. 236
Conclusion: Signposts on the Road to the Futurep. 265