We are unable to seriously envision a new economic paradigm for managing the earth’s shared resources, unless we first contemplate the need for a psychosocial transformation across the world, whereby the awareness of the average person is expanded to embrace the common good of humanity as a whole. For humanity is also an integral part of the commons in planetary and spiritual terms—meaning that people dying from hunger in a world of plenty is one of the grossest exemplifications that our commons is being tragically forsaken. By Mohammed Sofiane Mesbahi.
Introduction: A wider lens of perception
I. Obstacles to awareness
II. Rising up for Article 25
III. Releasing the spiritual attributes of joy
Diagram: The inner and outer dimensions
of world transformation
IV. The danger of ‘isms’ and intellectuality
V. A commons-oriented education
VI. Investigating the inner commons
The present work is a unique investigation into the holistic meaning of the commons, authored by Mohammed Sofiane Mesbahi as part of his continuing ‘Studies on the principle of sharing’. Some brief words on the composition of this short treatise may be helpful, considering the unusualness of its approach in comparison to other writings on the subject. What it offers is not an academic interpretation of the commons as a social practice of governing shared resources, for which the interested reader can refer to a growing library of inspiring literature that is available elsewhere. In fact, little attention is given in the following pages to the commons as a new social movement, or as a new intellectual framework or political philosophy.
As shall become clear, what the book endeavours to explicate is an expanded understanding of what the commons ultimately signifies for the advancement of our human race, which requires a spirit of joint investigation into the subject between the author and serious enquirer. However, it should be stressed—as Mesbahi himself states in the text—that his intention is by no means to contradict the contemporary notion of the commons, despite acknowledging its limitations. Rather, he is attempting to investigate the missing part in most of these analyses and proposals, concerning what he describes as the ‘inner’ or ‘holistic perception’ of the commons that requires ‘a certain spiritual awareness that is latent within each individual’. To this end, special consideration should be given to the repetition of certain themes which are purposely intended to provoke the reader’s own subjective understanding and intuition.
Like all of Mesbahi’s previous publications, the major theme concerns the ending of poverty and hunger in all its forms via an international emergency programme of resource redistribution under the auspices of the United Nations. This, he logically explains, is the preliminary basis for bringing about an awareness of the commons that can be sustained by the entire world population. But the investigation goes further by exploring the faculty of inner perception that is required to understand the highest spiritual meaning of the commons, while further proposing the need for a new form of education along these lines that draws upon the Ageless Wisdom teachings.
What you are about to read is therefore difficult to categorise as either a political or philosophical discourse or even a spiritual teaching per se, although it fuses all of these elements in setting out to describe the profoundest significance of the commons as “an eternal divine reality”. And in so doing, the book introduces a mode of enquiry that may benefit all of us in these uncertain and crisis-stricken times, when the world is crying out for a more spiritual way of being that can fundamentally transform our present modes of social organisation and human relationships.
“The commons has a very, very ancient past in the consciousness of man, and it was born of an incipient awareness of the One Life, a spiritual vision of evolution, and above all compassion for all that is… Therefore the real question is not how to bring about the new economic and social arrangements that can sustain the outer commons; rather, the question is how we can bring about the inner perception of the commons that perennially exists, which has always depended upon the ancient injunction: know thyself.”
The traditional idea of the commons is undergoing a major revival in the 21st century, with a newfound meaning that goes far beyond the old notion of communally shared pasture lands. In our time, the commons is generally promoted as a new theory and praxis of sharing resources that encompasses every aspect of modern life, from the environmental to the social, cultural, intellectual and digital spheres. There is now much discussion among progressive thinkers of the commons as a ‘third sector’ in society that transcends both the market and state; as an alternative political philosophy that challenges the dominant ideology of laissez-faire economics; even as an approach to wholesale system change based on self-organised forms of governance. All these discourses and proposals are vitally relevant as a response to the world’s problems, and deserve the utmost consideration from those who seek answers for how to co-create a sustainable future.
But there is another way of trying to understand the meaning and significance of the commons that requires an inward investigation, which cannot be helped by any conventional analyses of this subject through studying academic literature. Let us begin by positing that the commons has a divine origin which is inextricably connected to the ageless principle of sharing, although the comprehension of this essential truth demands a wider lens of perception than the usual modes of thinking and action. We cannot embrace the greater import of the commons through a belief-in-a-belief, but must rather perceive it for ourselves through inner awareness and self-reflection. For as we shall discover, the existence of the commons is not only material but also spiritual in its nature. And a universal appreciation of its profoundest nature has the propensity to unite humanity on the basis of maturity, vision and common sense towards a just and non-divisive society, wherein the individual is motivated to serve with an inclusive attitude of reverence for both their social and natural environment.
In accordance with this broadened interpretation, one may also perceive the eternal reality of the commons as being intrinsically linked to self-knowledge, and its highest meaning can be described as God-given or spiritual education that encompasses the good of the whole. Whether we understand the commons in these more holistic terms is therefore a question of our level of consciousness, as it relates to the expression of goodwill and loving awareness that stems from the particular to the whole, and from the whole to the particular. By this definition, the challenge of upholding the commons should really be considered as a problem of our individual and collective awareness, since humanity appears to be far from accepting that nothing belongs to anyone, and that all the produce of the earth must be cooperatively shared and protected by all. Indeed the commons is often described as all that we share, but perhaps it is more accurate to define it in the present day as all that humanity does not share. For in truth, the significance of the commons concerns much more than sharing our common wealth, protecting our common heritage or promoting the common good; it is ultimately the gateway for humanity to progress and evolve within the sovereignty of every nation, and in line with the destiny of all the kingdoms of nature. To truly uphold and glorify the commons on this earth will mean that humanity is all together in existence for one goal, and that goal is spiritual evolution.
Henceforth the purpose of our investigation is to discover what is holding back this imperative spiritual awareness of the commons, and to try and perceive for ourselves what could bring about such an awareness on a planetary scale. We also need to examine from many angles the relationship that exists between the holistic meaning of the commons and the principle of sharing, for both are so versatile and interconnected that they can easily be mistaken as one and the same. Much of the problem lies in our education, as from the earliest age we are not taught to look at life from the perspective of the particular to the whole, and vice versa. If a child in Europe learns about the countries of Asia and Africa, for example, they do not study the psychological relationship that exists between the people of those continents and humanity as a whole. Instead, the humanities and social sciences are typically studied only from the viewpoint of the particular, in relation to one’s own nation, race or specific culture. Throughout our schooling and the subsequent course of our adult lives, our social environment does not encourage us to adopt a psychological relationship between our own reality and the lives of other people across the world, especially those who are less privileged than ourselves. This is starkly reflected in public debate and political discourse that seldom if ever responds to world events from the perspective of an interdependent, inherently equal and spiritually non-divided human race.
As a result of our social conditioning and inadequate modes of education, we are not inclined to experience a compassionate response when we hear that people are living in desperate poverty in distant countries. Yet humanity is the commons too, as much as the land, oceans, forests and atmosphere. Thus to allow a person to die from hunger is also to allow a part of our commons to be desecrated and tragically forsaken. Through the most expansive spiritual lens, we could even say that humanity is God’s commons, in which case a crime against humanity is equally a crime against the commons as it eternally exists. To be sure, the very existence of poverty in a world of plenty represents the tragic negligence of our common wealth. There is a common sense to such an understanding that again requires us to examine this subject not only outwardly or from a purely intellectual understanding, but also psychologically and introspectively from within ourselves. If our awareness is limited to the psychological relationship that we have with our own family, community, culture, creed or nation, then how can we uphold with goodwill and empathetic concern the common good of One Humanity?
When considered from the perspective of our infinite spiritual evolution, the commons is only a meaningful idea if it means that you and I are together, no matter our colour or position or country of birth, and we are looking after everything that exists with reverence and love, which naturally includes one another as well as the environment around us. Hence the commons relates to much more than intellectual conceptualisations of sharing and cooperation, for it is also a dynamic and transcendent expression of love. And that love has to be extended across national borders to encompass every person, every region and every living thing of nature until human awareness has expanded to identify with ‘everything that is’ in the phenomenal universe. Can we hereby foresee from our intuition how long it may take before humanity spiritually unfolds and, in so doing, enables the commons to manifest in all its glory?
Thus in basic psychological terms the commons can be defined as harmlessness, loving attention and awareness of the whole. And in the highest spiritual terms, the awareness of the commons means identification with all that lives and evolves, or with the whole of nature’s existence. It means that to look at a tree is to become that tree, which would make it a sacrilege to destroy it for mere convenience or purely material gain. It also means that to observe a tree’s leaf, with such awareness and identification, is to perceive how that single leaf represents the sacredness of all life within creation. Obviously it doesn’t mean that the commons can be protected by merely recycling our food waste and product packaging, which is often the extent to which many people believe they can respond to environmental concerns. Only the relatively few think in terms of the common good of One Humanity and its spiritual evolution, or the commons that belongs to the world as a whole—as palely reflected in the many campaigns surrounding climate change and global ecological issues. Still by far the majority of people limit their awareness of commons-related issues to the level of their household, if they think of these issues at all. Even in this respect, we are again compelled to realise that the commons can never be upheld on a worldwide basis until human awareness has dramatically expanded to relate one’s own small affairs to the greater whole—for the challenge of upholding the commons is fundamentally a problem that pertains to the level of our individual and collective consciousness.
We may therefore conclude that the commons can only flourish if born of right education that gives everyone a broadened sense of our spiritual identity and planetary interdependence. And for this reason, an entirely new type of education is required that is no longer confined to the use of memory and intellect, or otherwise constrained by a nation-centric view of culture and history that examines social progress through the lens of power, class and privilege. We also need a far more holistic form of learning than generally exists today, one that inculcates an awareness of the inner self within a child, and eschews the prevailing values of contemporary society that are defined by competition, conformity, and the individualistic pursuit of wealth and success. In this way, any vision of the commons as the underpinnings of our future civilisation must include an education that is aware of the spiritual evolution of humanity, which entails knowledge that is currently far in advance of what mainstream science has discovered. As we shall go on to explore in further detail, the urgent need for a new education along these lines is of momentous importance in bringing about a just and sustainable society, as it is the only way that humanity can realise the benefit of living together in harmlessness, simplicity and right relationship, and with the aforementioned reverence towards nature that is based on identification with ‘everything that is’.
By the end of our enquiry, hopefully the reader will be persuaded that the commons should not only be approached as a specialist or academic subject, but foremost as a divine conception that can bring an individual close to wisdom. To begin thinking of the commons in planetary and spiritual terms is at once the reflection of wisdom, since we cannot conceive of the good of the whole without beginning to forego our conditioned prejudices concerning any particular race, culture or nation. To truly understand the highest meaning of the commons it is also necessary to appreciate humanity’s relationship to all the kingdoms of nature, which includes the spiritual as well as the mineral, vegetable, animal and human kingdoms. It is solely from this holistic and inclusive vantage that the commons can be described as God-given education, because to comprehend its meaning is to become aware of our oneness with nature and evolution, which in itself is the true definition of self-knowledge and wisdom.
No matter how passionate we may be about the prospect of recovering and upholding the commons, we are soon faced with a maze of obstacles that stand in the way of spreading such an awareness to other people. Our problem is rooted in the deeply entrenched and divisive thinking of society based on property rights and self-interest, which can be understood as the greatest impediment to realising a spiritual or sacred conception of the commons—indeed, the very word ‘profit’ is anathema to the commons as holistically understood. Observe how cleverly the profit-based system of economy has achieved its ends, and how it was born and propagated over many centuries. Not so long ago, wealthy aristocrats used the pretext of taxes and legal rulings to divide the commons that was still naturally in existence, thereafter declaring certain lands as private property regardless of the fact that it was effectively stolen from its erstwhile inhabitants. Elsewhere in the world, many indigenous peoples lived in harmony with nature and the spirit of all things, until the so-called pioneers came along and dispossessed these native populations for the sake of controlling and later partitioning a formerly borderless land. Throughout human history in almost every culture and world region, the commons has been brought to its knees through individual or group selfishness, violent seizure or legitimated theft, and above all through the pursuit of material gain and commercial profit.
Still today the same divisions are continually perpetuated on a societal basis through lawful thievery or illicit occupation, in which an acquisitive individual, group or nation declares that a certain land or resource belongs to them, and then attempts to drive out any existing occupants that stand in their way. Even if the Bible states that a piece of land belongs to one particular race, how will those people claim it for themselves without conflict and bloody violence? We all know the truth in our hearts, however deeply this truth has been suppressed through centuries of social conditioning and an inadequate education: that nothing belongs to anyone, including the oil and other natural resources that are given freely by Providence for all humanity to cooperatively share and protect. So how can a domineering party emerge and declare ‘this is our private property and our legal right to possess’? Could any family or organisation prove that the immense wealth in their possession was entrusted to them exclusively by God, and wasn’t once seized by force or statute from Mother Nature or earlier inhabitants?
Furthermore, could any of the most industrialised nations prove that their level of material affluence was predestined or vouchsafed by divine decree, and not achieved without the violent seizure or exploitation of resources in distant lands? The very notion of colonial acquisition is an affront to the existence of the commons, as is the concept of territorial sovereignty—at least when observed from the spiritual and holistic perspective that we are here attempting to investigate. When perceived in the most inclusive sense possible, it is ridiculous that the United Nations must even conceptualise the meaning of international waters, for example, when by implication a country can exploit the waters in its boundaries without due consideration of humanity as a whole. Nothing truly belongs to anyone, which makes it impossible to understand the profoundest meaning of the commons without first acknowledging the wrong turn that humanity has taken in trying to possess, control and exploit nature (and of course each other) in the pursuit of profit and selfish material interests. Any history book will attest to this long and sad story of humanity’s self-inflicted division and destruction, which fatefully continues in the guise of aggressive foreign policies that should be considered the modern-day antithesis of the global commons. As long as these power games of empire building and resource grabbing continue to determine the trajectory of world affairs, there is evidently no prospect whatsoever of the commons manifesting in line with our planetary spiritual evolution.
Over the course of recent decades, commercialisation is the malefic element and dark force that will resist with all its might the flourishing of the commons on this planet till its last breath. The all-pervading forces of commercialisation fit in very well with an antiquated economic system that was built upon theft and injustice, whereby the many laws and regulations are intricately administered for the benefit of a privileged elite. Yet we are all the sons and daughters of commercialisation in many respects, as we all must conform to the rules of a divisive society that has millions of defences to prevent the commons from proliferating itself. Nowadays empowered by countless archaic laws and ever-multiplying property rights, commercialisation is like a pilotless tank that moves from place to place and obliterates the commons wherever it exists. To illustrate this observable fact, we need only imagine a beautiful plot of land that was freely enjoyed and maintained by a community for hundreds of years, until a property developer is granted the rights to demolish it and instead build high-rise apartments for an exorbitant rent.
How then can we reclaim the commons in the context of a society that idolises the profitmaking mindset, and when relatively few people are aware of the danger that rampant commercialisation represents? Surely we can never succeed while the values of profit and materialism are infiltrating every aspect of society, pushing us to consume endless products and services through a globalised marketplace. Not only is the commons being suppressed by a lack of education and awareness among the wider populace, it is also being slowly eliminated altogether by the activities of multinational corporations which will stop at nothing to extract profit from the last vestiges of our planet’s natural wealth. In consequence, the fight to protect the environment remains a mess of contradictions, so long as the majority of humanity are willing participants in the systemic processes that are escalating our crusade to self-destruction.
After several decades of following this hazardous path, we have led ourselves into a blind alley through the combination of these two factors—namely, our collective complacency and the forces of commercialisation—which are the sum total of all that prevents humanity from spiritually evolving with loving attention towards nature and all that lives. The traditional commons may have originally perished due to the self-interest of domineering nations and the acquisitiveness of a privileged elite, but the prospect of newly establishing a commons-based mode of social organisation is more difficult than ever now that commercialisation has been facilitated by the unwitting complicity of the general populace. Let’s not forget that we are all implicated in the destruction that is perpetrated on the various kingdoms of nature, and it is our general unconcern that has led to a situation in which millions of people are needlessly dying in extreme poverty each year, regardless of the tremendous wealth and luxury that is everywhere flaunted by affluent society.
When we observe the inner or psychological causes for the world’s problems, it is the underlying motivation to become a ‘somebody’ and achieve social recognition that is as much to blame for desolating the commons as the outward pursuit of profit, power and wealth. Through our inadequate modes of education and our susceptibility to commercialisation in its myriad forms, we are easily conditioned to think only of ourselves as individuals and our materialistic desires, often without any awareness of the broader spiritual crisis suffered by humanity at this decisive point in time. Hence the complacency or sheer indifference towards establishing right relationship among all peoples and nations, let alone the prospect of reviving the commons as a new way of living and organising society. However motivated and inspired we may be with this high-minded ideal, we cannot put our case to an unresponsive society—even if we are talking about their world too, as well as the lives of their grandchildren to come.
Many liberal critics may contest that our modern society is much better off financially than ever before, but this is an ignorant and dangerous statement when we observe the harm that commercialisation has already wreaked throughout the world. In reality, it is not the goodwill of governments that has increased the wealth and material comfort of millions of people, but rather their unleashing of market forces which has also led to the dominance of profit and competition in every area of our lives. And it is the money-oriented values of commerce that have caused the abrupt degradation of the environment since the 1970s onwards, as anyone can confirm by observing the wasteful patterns of global consumption that are patently destructive and unsustainable, and yet still continue to be encouraged for the sake of growing each nation’s economy. We may have access to more material goods than at any other time in human history, but what lasting benefits will these countless products bring us if we finally overreach the natural resource limits of the earth? In an overpopulated and excessively commercialised society, you may be better off today but you will certainly be worse off tomorrow. For the more people there are in the world who are busy making lots of money and pursuing a luxurious lifestyle, the more disinterest there will be about the impending fate of both society and the environment. And as long as these same trends accelerate due to the part we all play in sustaining the present socio-economic system, it will remain impossible to uphold a vision of the global commons within all its might and beauty. Until in the end, the coming together of nations in a cooperative bid to save the planet will become an implausible fantasy, and human evolution will tragically suffer the inevitable result.
So even if we ourselves understand that the commons must again flourish to ensure the future survival of humanity, the question remains as to how we can communicate our far-reaching vision to the public at large. How can we begin to fight the maze of ancient laws, the destructive forces of commercialisation, and the apathy of millions of people who have no interest in what we have to say? We will only make our task more complicated by trying to fight against the multinational corporations and influence their attendant politicians, when it is the masses of ordinary citizens who represent our greatest obstacle and challenge. It may be theoretically possible for all the commons advocates to surround their governments and pressure them to reform certain market-based laws or pro-corporate policies, but who is going to surround the complacency and indifference of the wider populace? Environmental groups have already done an admirable job in creating a planetary awareness of our worsening climate and ecological crises, but the concept of the commons is of a higher calibre that requires a completely new way of thinking about our relationship to each other and the natural world—a relationship that apparently cannot be understood by the lower calibre of our existing governments.
Thus we are unable to seriously envision a new paradigm for managing the earth’s shared resources, unless we first of all contemplate the need for a psychological and social transformation across the world, whereby the awareness of the average person is expanded to embrace the common good of humanity as a whole. Otherwise, our efforts to promote the commons will continue to crash against an impenetrable wall of commercialising laws and policies, as reinforced by the politicians with their profit-making mindset and the implicit consent of a submissive public. We may continue to write articles and further intellectualise our laudable proposals, but we will be talking to a small audience of converted supporters until the commons eventually sounds like an obsolete language studied only by eccentric academics.
Our foremost question therefore concerns how to bring about this psychosocial transformation, so that an awareness of the commons can be sustained by the entire world population. As we have now argued, the commons is never going to be understood let alone promoted by political or business leaders at the present time; and besides, even if they were inspired to embrace such a vision it would never work if forced upon an unsuspecting citizenry, like the ill-fated attempts to establish communism in the twentieth century. Let’s again bear in mind that the commons in its broadest of definitions concerns much more than shared natural resources or world heritage sites, for humanity is also an integral part of the commons in planetary and spiritual terms—meaning that people dying from hunger in a world of plenty is one of the grossest exemplifications that our commons is being tragically desecrated. Hence a complete transformation in our conscious awareness must originate from within the human heart, and it must stem from a collective awakening to the emergency of life-threatening deprivation wherever it occurs in the world. We cannot permanently uphold the commons of humanity through a revolution of ideologies, especially if that infers a violent uprising of a certain segment of society against the government and its distorted priorities. The only sort of revolution that can expand the consciousness of the human race is a revolution of awareness infused with love and compassion, as signified by many millions of people mobilising through huge spontaneous protests for an immediate end to poverty-induced hunger.
We already see this emergent expression of humanity as the commons through demonstrations for freedom and justice in our streets, that is if we understand such protest actions as motivated by the will-to-good for the whole. At the same time, the big demonstrations for saving the environment in recent years are also clearly related to the idea of protecting the planetary commons, as expressed through the awareness of a relatively small percentage of the world population. But the majority of humanity is not going to unite around an intellectual conception of the commons per se, which should be obvious when countless people are lacking a decent education and struggle to survive without an adequate standard of living. What remains missing from popular protest activities is a unification around the idea of forever ending the injustice of absolute poverty, as if divinity has spoken to our quiescent hearts and reawakened us all to our common destiny. Nothing but a worldwide unity of hearts towards these ends can portend the true revival of the commons of humanity. For in the midst of such an extraordinary phenomenon, governments would soon have to commit to a massive global relief effort that is coordinated by the United Nations and its relevant agencies, which can be understood as a prerequisite for saving the commons no matter how it is interpreted in its meaning.
All this depends upon an explosion of goodwill and awareness from the general public, galvanised by the knowledge that we have enough food, enough money, and enough material resources available to satisfy everyone’s basic needs, as long enshrined in Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. That awareness cannot be limited to a demand for more overseas aid, however, as it must arise from the understanding that humanity cannot survive into the future unless we urgently realise Article 25 in every country, and on the basis of a civilisational emergency. It may be said that the global public must unite through an awareness that humanity as a whole is the most precious commons that exists, however intuitively or unconsciously this awareness is felt and acted upon. In time, the eventual fulfilment of Article 25 will be fait accompli, as far as the commons is concerned, because the commons can never be recognised and upheld by the entire world population until every person is granted sufficient means to live with dignity and in freedom.
One day we may come to view an emergency programme to alleviate hunger and starvation as the first reflection of the global commons taking shape on this earth, and the first sign that an awareness of our true spiritual commons is finally being recognised by all. Thus it is a grave mistake to think that the Independent Commission chaired by Willy Brandt in 1980 was merely about aid between North and South, when Brandt in fact pioneered a great spiritual vision of the commons of humanity, as embodied in his proposals for a more equitable world order through a major restructuring of the international economy. Yet to this day, the spiritual essence of the Brandt Report is still misunderstood by even the most sophisticated economist. Alas, all that was missing from Brandt’s vision was the heart awareness of millions of ordinary people—for only a spectacular release of the Christ Principle can bring about an emergency programme to share the world’s resources, and not the vision of any one person. A single Willy Brandt was not enough: we will need millions upon millions of Willy Brandts engaged in this climactic struggle of our lifetimes.
We previously affirmed that there is an indivisible relationship between the principle of sharing and the existence of the commons, although it is a relationship that cannot be universally realised without a significant portion of humanity rising up in accordance with the vision of mass civic engagement as briefly summarised above. We can write about the commons, we can fight for the commons, we can even die for the sake of the commons, but it will never be embraced by mainstream society unless Article 25 is first heralded through a worldwide psychosocial transformation, as we shall now go on to discuss from many angles. To begin with, we have already emphasised how any attempt to sustainably manage the commons on a wide scale will inevitably crash against the laws that protect private property and commercial activity—laws that are invariably defended and promulgated by our existing governments. But once you implement the principle of sharing on an international level through an emergency programme to alleviate hunger and mass destitution, then many of those laws will have to be reversed in order to meet the established human rights for nutritious food, clean water, comprehensive healthcare, adequate shelter, social security and all other essential needs.
As explored in our case put forth in Heralding Article 25, securing the necessities of life for every man, woman and child is dependent on reforming innumerable laws in order to curtail the overarching power of multinational corporations, particularly in relation to many free trade agreements and intellectual property rights. So long as those huge corporate entities hold sway over the power of governments and even the United Nations, then it is both naïve and impracticable to talk about reversing the ‘laws of commercialisation’ while billions of dollars worth of business contracts are perpetually hanging in the balance. The rise of the heart-engaged masses for sharing resources to forever end poverty is therefore the greatest harbinger of the global commons, primarily because it will have a profound effect on those corporations that prevent the universal realisation of Article 25 due to their resource-grabbing and exploitative activities. It will be like a giant earthquake that uproots the laws of self-interest and legitimated theft, rendering them impotent wherever they impinge upon the actions of governments who redistribute public resources (whether nationally or globally) in order to guarantee every individual’s basic economic and social rights.
Try to envision the occurrence of millions of people coming together across the world, constantly amassing in enormous demonstrations for one simple and benevolent cause. If continued for many weeks, months and even years at a time, it is sure to bring about lasting changes to the divisive laws that defend powerful commercial interests, including the ability of big business to lobby governments. The agents of commercialisation and their politico-accountants will stand no chance against the coordinated power of an engaged citizenry, while governments will be left with no choice but to stand by the side of the people’s voice. At the same time, the progressive movements that stand for freedom and justice will be given a significant boost in their diverse causes, along with the many campaigners and activists that fight to defend the natural environment. Right now, all of these movements are effectively fighting against the laws of commercialisation, as visibly witnessed in frontline protests against ecologically destructive activities by multinational corporations. The environmental commons is, in a figurative sense, slowly suffocating in tremendous pain due to the pressures of unbridled market forces, and it will continue to suffer to the point of its extinction so long as protest actions are limited to a few thousand people at a time.
But if we can envisage numberless citizens who surround their governments and return continually to the streets, there is no limit to the economic transformations that will ensue—even if such enduring demonstrations are mostly predicated on ending the moral outrage of mass starvation. For within that process of governments committing to an international emergency relief programme to prevent further needless deaths from poverty-related causes, the truth about the forces that stand in the way of creating a better world will soon become apparent to the average person. Many will ask: ‘Why didn’t the rich nations of the world share their resources long ago, in light of all the remarkable changes it brings?’ And the answer will become more obvious than ever, once governments are compelled to reorder their priorities and, in due course, restrict the coercive influence of profit-seeking interests in every sector of the economy.
When the laws of commercialisation are gradually reformed to enable the fulfilment of Article 25 in every country, it will become much easier to create new laws that prevent major business actors from polluting and destroying the natural environment. Before long, we may also begin to see the emergence of an entirely new kind of national governance, one that is necessarily characterised by ordinary people who enter politics to serve the common welfare of all citizens, instead of defending corporate or partisan concerns as per the implicit rules of establishment politics. Our minds are left to wonder at the boundless possibilities that will result from integrating a process of economic sharing between the world’s governments, considering that the laws which facilitate commercialisation eclipse the principle of sharing in every sphere of human activity. As we have observed in previous enquiries, the former laws serve to facilitate greed, division and destruction, whereas the contrasting attitudes and behaviours associated with the principle of sharing serve to propagate unity, harmlessness and balance in all respects—whether it’s in interpersonal, societal or environmental terms.
Hence if the principle of sharing cannot be expressed alongside the forces of commercialisation by any authentic measure, it surely follows that the unfair laws of society must be transformed before the new laws of the commons can arise. Many of those laws must not only be changed but completely eliminated, in the same way that the World Bank and International Monetary Fund must either be transformed or decommissioned before a fairer global economic system can eventuate. If we continue to follow this line of reasoning to its furthest conclusions, we can even perceive how a psychosocial transformation in consciousness across society will eventually lead to the fundamental repurposing of the major corporations that sustain the United States of America. It will also represent the first sign of the approaching dissolution of the American empire, which must be transformed into an ‘Empire of Love and Service to Humanity’ before we can foresee the global commons being managed through a new multilateral system that serves the inclusive interests of all concerned. However far-fetched such a notion may appear in the midst of America’s current foreign policies and reactionary government administrations, that great nation is coming of age and holds an unforeseen potential for showing other nations the way by pioneering new laws for the global commons based on right human relationship.
We may consider Article 25 to be the predecessor of these new laws, and one of the first laws of the global commons itself that will bring about the awareness of humanity’s interdependency and oneness. In symbolic terms, the implementation of Article 25 augurs the beginning of the end for the old laws that are based on the limited awareness of ‘me’ and ‘mine’, upholding self-interest and division. But the new laws of the commons must be based on ‘ours’ or what belongs to us all, as informed by a loving awareness that relates the particular to the whole, and the whole to the particular as aforesaid. All the old laws that sustain our present economic system are effectively saying ‘no’ to the existence of the commons. And both the old laws and the new cannot co-exist, which will inevitably lead to friction between the two until the presence of the commons begins to flourish in our awareness—even if that takes many years to accomplish following the full realisation of Article 25 worldwide.
There is some difficulty in trying to define the new laws of the commons, however, because we are not only talking about the kind of laws that are enforced by the police or judges in court rooms. Always remember that we are trying to envision the movement of our societies in tandem with the laws of spiritual evolution, which requires a new understanding of the ‘law’ altogether that is better described as guidelines for the expansion of conscious awareness, or as ‘Laws of the Heart’. No doubt the old laws based on punishment and redress will remain necessary for generations to come, but millions of those laws will naturally dissolve as the principle of sharing becomes a pivotal factor in human affairs. There are many stages to the expression of sharing in society, whether it’s freely enacted among individuals or as a systematised process through the agency of the public and private sectors. And after a certain period of time, the furtherance of those different modes of expression of sharing will be impeded until the new laws of the commons come into being.
The principle of sharing is a wholly integrated and intelligent principle, hence its expression in society depends on the integrated and intelligent response of the public who themselves must implement the laws of the commons—which clearly cannot be enacted by governments solely on society’s behalf. Especially not the governments we have in power today, so conditioned are they by the old laws that reflect the mentality of ‘my rights’ and ‘this is mine’. Therefore imagine the growth in our collective consciousness that is needed through mass engagement with the principle of sharing, before nations begin to follow the laws of the commons that are universally applied, and that gradually evolve not as punitive measures imposed from above, but as intrinsic laws based on human awareness of spiritual evolution. No longer, then, will humanity destroy the natural environment in pursuit of profit and material gain, for reasons that would be self-evident for any citizen who inhabits such a peaceful and harmonious civilisation.
What should be clear is that the new laws of the commons cannot arise through implicit consent until the planet’s resources are more equitably distributed, leading to the prior and permanent fulfilment of Article 25. This means we have to try and visualise a new world order in which no-one is ever left to go hungry, where human free will is considered sacrosanct, where diversity and equality are the hallmarks of every society, and where international conflict is almost at an end. Indeed, it is a world in which even the concepts of human rights and national security are being replaced in our collective consciousness by the growing awareness of right human relationship. We also have to envision a global economic system that is no longer based on competitive trade and commercial self-interest, with the palliative measures of charity and overseas aid. Over time, these presently inadequate arrangements will naturally be superseded by an intergovernmental process of sharing essential resources, eventually under the aegis of the United Nations. That may be considered the first true manifestation of the global commons on this earth, when nations finally awaken to the necessity of sharing and cooperation to ensure our future planetary survival.
In other words, only by implementing the principle of sharing can we realise a consummate vision of humanity as one interdependent body, where all governments consent to pool and redistribute their surplus resources through a more simplified, balanced and sustainable economic system. We may consider these new economic arrangements to be the supreme law of the commons, as represented by some form of global federation of nation states that transfer a portion of their sovereign powers to a new agency within the United Nations system, one that retains ultimate responsibility for the management of commonly-owned resources on the supranational level. Rest assured, however, that we are not envisaging the creation of an authoritative world government, for it is imperative that a new paradigm of geopolitical affairs intrinsically respects each nation’s unique culture, traditions and rights for self-determination. Moreoever, we also need to visualise a mode of global politics in which there are no competing parties of the left or right, and no polarised differences of ideologies when it comes to sharing the planet as joint custodians of its natural wealth. The doctrines of communism and socialism may have emerged out of the longstanding crisis of human greed and separation, but what need will we have of any such political ism—however principled in its origins—if all nations are cooperating to meet the common needs of all within the earth's environmental limits?
Thus it may transpire that the principle of sharing is effectively the saviour of the commons from every angle, especially when considering the inner spiritual dimensions of the world problem. To summarise our reasoning, it is the initial process of sharing resources between and within nations that will gradually lead to the global awareness that is needed to sustain a new system of economic exchange based on trusteeship and cooperation. Let us say that the more nations cooperate for the good of all through the sharing of global resources, the more an awareness of the commons will naturally grow among the ordinary citizens of the world. And it is that expanding awareness that will eventually uphold the new laws of the commons—again, not through authoritative dictates that are thoughtlessly obeyed and followed, but through the natural expression of love and wisdom in the consciousness of mankind.
Henceforth the laws of the commons can indeed be understood symbolically as Laws of the Heart, for it is only through love, wisdom and awareness of the One Humanity that we can sustain the new rules and institutions that will underpin a redistributive economy of the future. In this light, it is spiritually inaccurate to believe that the global commons will ultimately be sustained by a federation of nation states working cooperatively through the United Nations, for the real potential of ‘unity among nations’ resides in the heart of each and every human being. Only our intuitional mind and not our concrete thinking can help us here, since we are all so conditioned and misled by ideologies and isms that it is extremely difficult to comprehend a new way of living in society that is sustained by goodwill, trust, unity, compassion and other attributes of the heart. The basis of a new economic order will not even be sustained by what we currently understand as ‘reason’ or ‘intelligence’; let us simply repeat that it must be sustained by the loving awareness of the heart, for the awakened heart has its own infallible reasoning and intelligence. And that boundless intelligence of the heart is deeply embedded in the Law of Compassion, which is the Law of all the Laws that most people have yet to apprehend in its immensity due to the materiality and divisions that characterise these spiritually benighted times.
This line of enquiry should be of keen interest for those thinkers who dedicate their lives to promoting the revitalised concept of the commons, although it is not necessary to be unduly concerned at this stage with the different kinds of laws and modes of global governance that may define the coming age. If we accord with the logical reasoning pursued so far, it will be clear where our immediate priorities should lie, and how we should therefore occupy our time and energies in the time ahead. For as we have argued, all the laws of society will inevitably evolve to support new forms of economic exchange and commons collaboration, once millions of people rise up in endless peaceful demonstrations, calling for the universal rights enshrined in Article 25.
There is another important issue we have yet to consider, which further points to the inner dimensions of the commons that appear to be seldom questioned by its modern-day intellectual proponents. This concerns the problem of how to educate the mass population about the crucial issue of sustaining our environmental commons, when more than half of the world’s inhabitants are struggling to live without a sufficient income and access to essential resources. For isn’t it obvious that we cannot deprive people of their dignity, their hope and even their feeling of self-respect, and still expect them to respect the natural environment? An illiterate man who is desperate to feed his children is not going to be concerned about saving the planet, especially not if his meagre livelihood depends on despoiling the environmental commons in his own locality. Even the bulk of comparatively affluent citizens who remain indifferent to the great commons-related issues of our time, such as natural resource depletion and ecological overshoot, are not going to awaken to the urgency of world transformation while they remain imprisoned in their own minds by the materialistic conditioning of our societies. And as we’ve established, our prevalent conditioning is now being controlled by the forces of commercialisation, leading to a silent war against the very idea and existence of the commons—although it is a war that we all play a part in through our collective conformity with the status quo.
So we must return to the same line of enquiry as pursued above, and acknowledge the means by which humanity can uphold the commons through awareness, vision and love. And here again we can foresee the significance of a dramatic reorientation of public awareness towards the poorest members of the human family, for by this means alone can we initiate the inner transformations necessary to unify the world as a whole. Let us restate that millions of people in every country will never unify around an abstract or theoretical conception of the commons at this moment in time, considering the pervasive stress and indifference that results from a society driven by profit and greed. But there is every chance that even the impoverished multitudes will come together and get involved, if a united people's voice begins to herald Article 25. And it is the very sound and energy of those constant global demonstrations that will bring about the recognition of humanity as the greatest commons of all, which is a realisation that can be understood intellectually but also experienced inwardly through the spiritual attributes associated with joy. Hence the vital importance of group work in this coming time, wherein the personality can gradually learn to perceive itself and others as a commons, as initially realised through a new form of protest activity that is selflessly motivated via the heart through ceaseless gatherings worldwide. For in the midst of that recognition of preventable human suffering throughout the world, the presence of love, creativity and vision will be felt by every member of this subjectively unified group, stemming from joy of a kind that we have yet to witness on this earth among the vast majority of ordinary citizens.
It is the joy of living that will eventually bring the whole of humanity to have awareness of the commons, without which there is no hope of averting the planet’s ecological and climate crises. We are not referring to the passing joy of the egoistic personality that seeks an ever-elusive happiness, but the non-dualistic experience of joy that results from contact with an individual’s soul, and finds its expression in loving service and spiritual union with others. Yet the spiritual attributes of joy cannot be felt and expressed by the countless numbers of families who lack the basic necessities for a dignified life, which again reaffirms the primary importance of implementing Article 25 before everyone can begin to realise the highest meaning of the commons as a divine actuality. Feeding the hungry and destitute poor through an emergency programme of international resource redistribution is, in itself, the very first movement of protecting the global commons by its most fundamental spiritual definition. It is also the very first step towards enlarging our collective consciousness towards an awareness of the One Humanity, in which sense an unprecedented relief effort to end hunger via the United Nations would symbolically represent the commencement of a new education for all mankind. This is a fact that can be predicted with certitude, for when we share the world’s resources and finally end the prevalence of absolute poverty, we will automatically create trust among the nations, and spread an extraordinary intensity of joy across the world in manifold ways, most of all through the lessening of stress and the healing of social divisions. And it is the proliferation of that trust and joy throughout every society that holds the key to unlocking a global awareness of the commons, primarily by means of right identification with others.
To understand this in simple terms, reflect on the joyfulness that people experience when going on a short vacation, and the effect it often produces within the individual of goodwill and attentiveness towards one’s environment. The person who is not happy and joyful is unlikely to tell others to stop throwing litter in the street, for example; but the person who is experiencing joyfulness within is predisposed to see the whole street as their commons, and thus care for it accordingly. Although this may sound like a trivial illustration, it suffices to indicate the intrinsic link that exists between the joy of living and reason per se, which in turn leads to awareness and loving attention towards the commons around us. If we use our intuition to expand upon this everyday example, it may even indicate the inseparable connection that exists between the inner and outer commons, and hence the reason why the experience of joy is its own form of educator through the growth of awareness. Observe how the person who is joyful is better able to understand and assimilate ideas, thus making them more likely to heed any reasoned case for sharing and protecting the outer commons. But the person who is feeling hopeless and depressed within is unable to understand much at all, which in an atomised and materialistic society such as ours means they are predisposed to become increasingly stubborn, complacent or apathetic towards the critical world situation. Herein lies the deeper cause of the environmental crisis, which is rooted in our widespread indifference to the fact that the commons even exists—an ancient psychological problem that, from the inner perspective, can be attributed to nothing else but a lack of love.
All our lines of enquiry therefore return to this same position, which is to realise the necessity of creating a new economic order that is no longer profit-based, shall we say, but rather ‘love-based’ or ‘common-sense based’ in its global structures and modes of resource distribution. In other words, the inner transformations must support the new forms of outer expression, which is why we must begin with the understanding that worsening extremes of inequality are the underlying cause of the destruction being witnessed in the outer commons of our environment. Indeed if we re-examine the holistic process of world renewal as explained up till now, then we may perceive more clearly how sharing (as a divine principle) holds the answer for how to transform humanity from the inner to the outer, and not the other way around. Above all, it is the principle of sharing that can reveal the formula for how to generate joie de vivre among the world’s citizenry, eventually leading to increased detachment within individuals to a certain extent and, consequently, growing awareness of the commons as spiritually and holistically understood.
Reflect on this carefully, for there is immeasurable significance to the quality of inner or spiritual detachment that is apparently overlooked by most proponents of the commons today. To give another example, as a company executive or shareholder I may be complicit in destroying the environment through profitable commercial activity, due to my inner attachment to money or other self-seeking motives for achieving a high social status and privileged lifestyle. But when people’s hearts are engaged with a massive psychosocial transformation throughout society towards alleviating the needless suffering caused by hunger and poverty, then even the billionaire is likely to become involved in redistributing resources to the starving and destitute millions, leading to a preliminary degree of detachment from that individual’s pursuit of wealth and other materialistic interests. Ultimately, once an individual becomes emotionally and spiritually detached from the pursuit of material gain and power in all its guises, then everything that surrounds them will be unconsciously recognised as the commons, and treated in due measure.
The implications are endless over time, for if we could personify the existence of the commons then it would beg humanity to live more simply, and become aware of the destruction that human beings are inflicting upon the earth through mass patterns of unsustainable consumption. The more complex life becomes in a divided, demoralised and commercialised modern society, the less people are likely to care about the state of the environment, or the commons in general. To live simply with less wants and material needs therefore requires a worldwide awakening of the heart, because the engaged heart always calls for simplicity through joy, detachment, harmlessness and right human relations. In these small observations we can merely begin to perceive how detachment is a great ally to the commons in all its forms, and how the principle of sharing will bring about that inner detachment en masse through a newfound joie de vivre that will affect everyone, from the very richest to the least privileged individual.
In contemplating the inner and outer dimensions of world transformation as encapsulated in the diagram above, it should be clear that a very different kind of education will result from sharing the world’s resources, one that stems from the freeing of millions of people to experience the joyfulness of simply being alive. Moreover, it is an education that will benefit everyone regardless of nationality, background or social position, because its origins lie within the awareness of the human heart—and there is only one Heart, one Humanity in the final analysis. And it is through that joy, through that inclusive awareness and love, that the individual is led to be harmless in their personal relationships and everyday activities. A harmlessness that is expressed through selfless service to others and reverence for all that lives and evolves within this manifested world and beyond. A harmlessness that can also be defined by its compatibility with the commons in its broadest of expressions, however long it may take to realise this state of awareness over succeeding generations, and from lifetime to lifetime as far as each individual is concerned. And it is through the combined expression of harmlessness by all peoples in all areas of life, that consciousness can expand until the laws of the commons begin to govern our social and economic affairs. Perhaps that is when the occurrence of wars between nations will naturally come to an end—even the concept of war itself, if we dare to anticipate such an eventuality in the time ahead.
From the highest spiritual interpretation of sharing in a universal sense, it may be said that this eternal divine principle has a vibration that is inseparably associated with joy. And at this precarious stage of human evolution, such are the repercussions of sharing resources from the international level downwards that the joy of living will enable the soul to carry out its purpose much more easily through the personalities of millions of people who subsequently become engaged in active world service. The Christ Principle, as expressed through the hearts of individuals in right relationship, cannot function in its fullest measure without the divine principle of sharing becoming the economic basis of life on earth. Until then, the consciousness of humanity as a whole is effectively held back through ignorance and a lack of vision, and it can only expand in slow increments through pain, confusion and ever-recurring conflict. Consequently, the commons has no hope of being recognised and accepted amidst the greed, selfishness and divisions that define the present time. But when the resources of the world are equitably shared among all nations, then we will see how the commons begins to grow in the awareness of mankind, giving structure and stability to the expansion of human consciousness. That is when the highest meaning of the commons will slowly dawn in our minds, enabling us to rediscover its greater spiritual significance that is linked to beauty—a beauty that can only be known and truly appreciated when the joy of living is being expressed within every individual on a planetary scale. Thus we find ourselves re-emphasising our thesis on the centrality of global economic sharing, for the truth always returns to itself in the end.
The sum of these reflections may enable us to perceive how we cannot spread an awareness of the commons towards the entire world population, unless sharing and joyfulness is already the keynote of human affairs. Without such an eventuality, the promotion of a transformative vision of the planetary commons can only remain an academic exercise, leading to further challenges and even dangers for the modern proponent of this ancient conception which is as old as humanity itself. There are some academic thinkers today who are effectively trying to intellectualise freedom through their writings on the commons, but let us not forget the adage about the devil who led man to organise Truth. In this respect, there can be no such thing as an expert on the commons in either its material or spiritual aspects, when the human heart is the only such authority or 'expert' that lives silently within us all. Indeed to intellectualise without engaging the heart is invariably to misperceive that which is timeless, ineffable and spiritual in its existence. And the commons is the paramount expression of the spiritual reality of life, which is why it cannot be reduced to an intellectual concept or a mere idea.
Thus to conceptualise the commons in solely academic terms is misguided and misleading to others, considering that the awareness we are trying to express is related to the inner unity and beauty of mankind. After all, the man who sweeps litter in the street goes home at the end of each day to his own form of commons, which is his family. And that very man is the one to teach about the holistic meaning of the commons, because he too is an essential part of the whole, of the greater commons of humanity that may soon comprise more than 10 billion people. If what has been discussed concerning the prior need for a psychosocial transformation is also true, then the universal understanding of what the commons entails will eventually be expressed in such a way that we cannot presently foretell. Its expression will not come through the front door, as it were, in accordance with the intellectual ideas and theories of its contemporary exponents. Rather it will emerge through the back door, with a different kind of energy and perception that is expressed by a united people’s voice in favour of sharing the world’s resources.
So many commons advocates today unfortunately overlook this essential premise that humanity is the greatest commons of all, with untold implications for how the outer commons of society and the environment must be safeguarded and sustained. Some even intellectualise the commons to such an extent that they have coined the phrase ‘commoner’ to describe those who participate in collective forms of producing and managing shared resources, as if a new herd of followers is born who identify themselves as members of a fashionable club. A similiarly exclusive mindset often applies to the modern conception of a 'sharing economy', which is spiritually meaningless as a vision unless our thinking is predicated on the good of all that lives, and not the good of an entrepreneurial idea. While the ideas and theories concerning the commons are of a superior mental calibre in their academic interpretations, they are still subject to the same problems of mind conditioning, a predominantly emotional attitude to life, and a deficiency of spiritual vision and awareness. As a result, all that is true and beautiful about the commons is liable to be given a new label, and reduced to another ‘ism’.
We have previously remarked on how humanity has become like a factory of isms at this present stage of evolution, and people who like to render ideas into isms are good at seeing humanity itself as an idea. Clearly the man who is dying from hunger is not an idea; although, if we call ourselves commoners, then we might as well intellectualise that the impoverished multitudes are classifiable as the ‘hungerists’. Even the so-called primitive human cultures known to historians had an evident understanding of the greater commons of humanity, like the Australian aboriginals and many indigenous peoples of the Americas, and yet they didn’t need to intellectualise their shared awareness of ‘everything that is’. Their comprehension of the relationship between the inner and outer realities was far removed from the commoners of today, who appear to be so used to ‘ism-ing’ people and nature that they put an ism on themselves, too. Can we perceive how this is spiritually meaningless and misguided, and how we are thereby limiting ourselves through our intellectual conceptualisations without being aware of what we are labelling?
Therefore when we theorise about the commons, our thoughts should not be divided from the deeper spiritual and existential crisis that is afflicting humanity, which includes the problem of mind conditioning and illusory beliefs. For even the most ideological and religious groups around the world are also fighting for their commons in terms of what they believe in, regardless of whether the outcome is positive or destructive. An incipient impression of the commons is unconsciously embedded in every human mind, and many people are seeking the expression of that commons in a distorted or fanatical way through ‘isms’ of all kinds, which they understand in terms of ‘my rights’, ‘my beliefs’, ‘my people’ and so on. If I love God, for example, then my love of God is part of my awareness of the commons. But if I think dogmatically and ask if you worship a Christian, Hinduist, Judaist or Islamic conception of God, then my love of God, or my inner commons, is fundamentally exclusive and distorted. Again, the concept of the commons has a very different nature to religion in its scholarly analyses, but still the commoner remains part of this age-old morass of divisive thinking, however noble and well-intentioned is the motivating idea. It is a case of ‘here we go again’, for man is always imprisoning himself in the way that he thinks, and his limited perception of spiritual reality. Just by calling oneself a commoner we are psychologically confining ourselves to a mind-created prison, and taking the highest spiritual understanding of the commons into our prison with us. Thus we are not only misleading others, but also misleading ourselves by putting such a loving conception of spiritual awareness into a trap of our own making.
None of this is to denigrate the work of notable commons scholars like the late Elinor Ostrom and many others today, whose collected research provides invaluable theoretical insights into the policy and practice of sharing cooperatively-managed resources. Yet the pioneering thinkers in this all-encompassing subject are facing a tremendously complex challenge due to the problem of mind conditioning as just mentioned, which is further complicated by the following factors:
- A lack of education based on spiritual awareness and right human relations, with the result that ordinary people are generally ignorant of the need to share the world’s resources and cooperate to protect the outer commons.
- Greed, which is the prevalent motivating attitude that has held back the expression of right human relations for thousands of years and requires no further elucidation.
- A lack of love, principally in relation to oneself, for we can only love and revere the ‘outer’ when there is love for the ‘inner’.
- Mental blindness that leads to a lack of vision, indifference and confusion. The whole problem with the precarious world situation and the degradation of the outer commons is characterised by confusion—a confusion that afflicts everyone of whatever political, religious or cultural persuasion.
These more psychological or ‘inward’ considerations may help to underline how the present conception of the commons is too limited if it remains overly fixated with ‘external’ or environmental issues, as if there is no spiritual evolution between man and nature. When I see a beautiful sky, it affects me inwardly; so there is clearly an inner commons that exists and relates to the outside world. Both are interdependent, and if humanity continues on the current path of greed and mental blindness with a lack of love, then it will evidently result in catastrophic effects for the natural environment and atmospheric climate. Thus the commons advocate is called upon to be more inclusive in their visionary ideations, at least to recognise that extreme hunger and poverty is at the centre of our deepening environmental crisis, and remains an integral factor in its resolution. In the absence of this understanding, any proposal for rehabilitating and conserving our environment is starting from the end, not the beginning. It is as if the commoner is looking everywhere for his missing family, when his family was always waiting at home for him to return; meaning, in this respect, that the inner and outer problems of humanity were never separate from each other. Just like the environmentalist often fails to mention the words ‘poverty’ or ‘hunger’ in their analysis and proposals, the commoners often fail to mention—or even conceive of—the vital importance of the inner self.
There is nothing wrong with focusing on the outer alone, of course, but it will never provide an answer for how we can bring about a better world that rightly shares everything humanity needs to live sustainably and in peace. Even supposing that we could organise a genuinely democratic way of managing the commons within the context of our starkly unequal societies, there are millions of people who will ignore our proposals and seek to undermine what we have devotedly built. Such is the nature of the fight between the left-wing and right-wing, the progressive and conservative mindset, that history keeps repeating itself over and over again. And it is this same fight among politicians of conflicting ideologies that perpetuates social divisions and confusion throughout the mass population, with ever the same results. The self-professed commoner, indeed, is equally responsible for sustaining the polarised thinking and isms that condition us all, from lifetime to lifetime. For like everyone else, the commoner is also blinded by the confusion of our times, living as we do within a society that has no truly spiritual basis to its understanding of life, and hence no unity of purpose within its outer modes of social organisation.
Almost all political thinkers and activists continue to focus on the outer and the outer alone, which leaves us fragmented and confused by our collective illusions. Yet here is an irony within the field of commons scholarship, which has direct reference to one of the greatest exponents of the commons in pre-modern history, namely the Native American Indians. Still we don’t put two and two together, and observe how their reverence for the outer commons was intrinsically related to their inner awareness of the One Life in spiritual evolution, leading to a natural expression of harmlessness, loving attention and compassion for all that is. Nonetheless, we cannot blame the commoner alone for overlooking this vital inner dimension of the world problem, when we are all somewhat conditioned to follow ideas, follow others, and look for social recognition and outward acceptance. We are all conditioned to follow the recognised parameters of intellectual debate, especially after being trained in the implicit rules of those debates through years of conventional academic training. Hence our understanding of the inner commons is cerebral and intellectual, not subjective or experiential, and through our conformity to established thought we are all somewhat to blame for sustaining the isms which have kept our societies divided for thousands of years. We then become followers, not commoners, for the true commoner who lives and moves in spiritual awareness—if they could be defined in such a way—is someone who would never identify themselves as a commoner to begin with.
To be clear, the growing research and activism on the commons issue is one of the most hopeful intellectual developments of our time, and it arguably comprises a leading political discourse on how to integrate the principle of sharing within an alternative socio-economic paradigm. The work of commons scholars is valuable and highly encouraging in this regard, but what we are attempting to investigate is the missing part in their analysis and proposals, which concerns the wisdom of understanding how to live on this earth with loving attention and spiritual perception of ‘what is’. For there is no holistic perception of ‘what is’ in spiritual terms, and no understanding of the commons as an eternal divine reality, as the essence of life itself, unless we include the whole of humanity in our conceptualisations of all that must be loved, nurtured and protected on this earth. Although this may sound like such a basic observation that we keep repeating, it in fact requires a great amount of detachment to be expressed within the individual if one is to perceive the deeper spiritual meaning and significance of the commons. It requires detachment not only from our individualistic pursuits and materialistic desires, but detachment from beliefs, ideologies and social conditioning—thereby enabling us to perceive how sharing the world's resources is a gateway to sustaining the commons in all its forms. Indeed, there is a significant and profound similarity between the commons and the principle of sharing, as affirmed since the beginning of our enquiry, and yet the perception of this truth is not to be found in any belief system or mind-created ism. Thus there is a need to look at the existence of the commons in two different ways, however seemingly paradoxical: firstly, as a contemporary idea that we must try to promote and defend in the outer world. And secondly, as an eternal spiritual reality that cannot be understood without great detachment from ideologies and isms per se.
To a certain extent, it is understandable that participants in the commons movement are often led to ‘ism’ their ideas, since our societies are full of stress and ideological divisions. But even to render the commons into an ism is to become part of that stress, part of that division, in which we create our own factions of ideological thinking amidst the endemic conflict and confusion of our times. If we live in a society that is predominantly based on the pursuit of profit, then any idea which opposes that dominant trend is asking for war, on a psychological level if nothing else. And yet the spiritual meaning of the commons was never made out of an idea; it was only ever made of love.
Let us ponder anew our original definition of the commons in this light, which we have described as loving awareness that intrinsically relates the particular to the whole, and vice versa. For we cannot conceive of a world that isn’t lost in the psychological maelstrom of isms, without a prevalent awareness of the inner self that is informed by an established understanding of the soul and its purpose. The soul of man provably exists, and it has a purpose which is essentially to serve humanity and the Divine Plan of spiritual evolution; hence it creates a reflection of itself on the physical plane that we sadly mistake as the totality of man. As a result, our personality is everywhere obstructed in its basic spiritual responsibilities, due to the tendency of humanity on this planet to consume itself and the earth instead of relinquishing one’s materialistic attachments, and selflessly serving others.
These preceding observations may be considered the ABC of the Ageless Wisdom teachings, which is essential knowledge for the wider population if the commons is to manifest in line with its highest spiritual vision—meaning, as you will recall, that humanity is all together in existence for one goal, and that goal is spiritual evolution. A holistic understanding of the commons can thus be regarded as a useful tool for the furtherance of humanity’s spiritual and psychological development, forming a vital part of a new education that may be introduced in many unpredictable forms over the years ahead. Yet that new education can only begin with the creation of trust and an abounding joie de vivre through the economic redistribution of essential resources, and the universal realisation of Article 25 in accordance with our above prognosis. In the meantime, if we could again personify the commons it would be experiencing such an affliction of abandonment and pain that it could not speak and assert its very existence. And thus shall the situation remain and steadily worsen, unless humanity realises that it cannot uphold the outer without the inner, the form without the substance, which ultimately calls for a new education that can enable the world as a whole to understand what the commons actually means in terms of spiritual perception and awareness.
To bring about a new economy and society that upholds the commons therefore requires much more than stopping multinational corporations from pillaging the earth with their profit-driven endeavours; it is also about education and awareness in the broadest sense that can further humanity’s evolutionary progress towards spirituality, creativity, harmony and right relationship. We have observed how the commons was originally born of awareness in the human mind, and it has always existed in the consciousness of man at some level of understanding within different cultures, gradually evolving into a planetary idea as the world became more unified and integrated. All along, however, self-interest and profit has remained the governing principles of modern life in the economic and political realms, and hence the course of human progress has taken an increasingly dangerous turn for the worse.
But what is the underlying reason for this state of affairs, if not the wrong turn that our modes of education have also taken in the schooling and conditioning of young adults, which would include our own education and that of our distant relatives over many generations past? We may be correctly educated in all the rudiments of the humanities, arts and sciences, but where is the missing part that determines the quality of our interior attitudes and motives—namely, the love for each other and the world around us? We previously commented on how the youth are often being driven to achieve outward recognition and success, especially in the most advanced capitalist societies that have equated success with the pursuit of wealth and social position, thus conditioning an individual to desire to become a ‘somebody’ in the eyes of others. And yet these implicit motives are foremost among the factors that hinder the recognition of the outer commons, often leading to a lack of awareness and ignorance of the fact that the commons even exists, notwithstanding our widespread indifference to its preservation.
Therefore it is imperative that the holistic meaning of the commons is introduced to the school curriculum in every country, and introduced as a matter of urgency. By this means, the problems associated with the ‘commercialisation paradigm’ can be fought from many angles, because right education that is spiritually motivated is the antidote to those individualistic values that have determined our profit-driven and competitive societies over many centuries. The commons is an essential component of such a new education, and it may be cultivated in children from the youngest age, bearing in mind that an innate awareness of the commons is a natural part of a child’s early psychological development. It may be impossible to predict what form this new education will eventually take and how it will be structured, although we can forecast in general terms the need for an additional branch of study in school programmes from the moment a child begins school, one that is based on the special relationship every young person instinctively has with the outer commons of both society and nature. As such, it will call for a more inclusive view of our relationships to other people and cultures across the world, where there is reverence based on goodwill and ‘loving awareness from the particular to the whole’, as previously defined. This may also require some basic teachings about the intrinsic propensity of the human being towards goodwill and cooperation, which is a fact that is being steadily revealed in many fields of scientific and academic investigation. Furthermore, introductory studies may be required on the fact that humanity is one interdependent body in both spiritual and objective terms, with immense implications for the management of our economic and political affairs through a re-empowered General Assembly of the United Nations.
All of these topics can be studied in a conventional sense and converted into straightforward lessons, but we must also consider the need to establish an education on the inner commons in schools, requiring a pedagogy that goes much deeper than the study of facts and phenomena to reach the inner self of a child or adult. In this regard, much can be drawn from the educational philosophy of Rudolf Steiner, Maria Montessori and even many traditional Buddhist methods of guiding children in their mental and social development. But we must go a stage further in our forethought, and also envisage studies on the Ageless Wisdom teachings being introduced as part of the syllabus for every school programme in different world regions, whether faith-based or secular in background. Over time, we are therefore anticipating the need for an entirely new approach to education that can eventually lead the individual towards an awareness of the existence of the soul. Such an awareness may necessarily be based on practical knowledge of the soul’s mechanism and purpose, but it may also be experienced inwardly or subjectively as the reality that man is Life, meaning that everything the individual sees is part of that One Life, inseparable and interconnected. Hence the practice of meditation is central to any education that seeks to reveal the experiential reality of the inner commons, alongside the practise of harmlessness and right human relationship within an understanding of the great Law of Cause and Effect.
The preceding comments may suffice to indicate how the necessary new forms and future modes of learning are completely unlike our present methods of education, in which even the most privileged student of an elite university is often (although indirectly) cultivated to harm others and the earth. We can surely observe this plain reality for ourselves, given that the competitive pursuit of wealth and individualistic achievement is the basis of all the harm that arises from a divisive, exploitative and dysfunctional social order. However, the deeper reason why the most supposedly ‘well educated’ individuals in society are responsible for perpetuating the status quo can be ascribed to this same unrecognised fact: that the study and cultivation of the inner commons has yet to be established in our mainstream educational institutions.
In perceiving the validity of this statement, we are further led to realise the imperative need to introduce the correct practice of meditation into schools, for it is the dysfunction of the outer society that has created such dysfunction within the average individual. To the extent, indeed, that many of us are unable to sit alone each day in quiet solitude, peacefully immersed in unspoken communion with the Divine Source of which we are a part. The outside has taken over the inside, so to speak, whereby we internally reproduce the chaos and conflict that distinguishes human relationships on every level, from within our own families and societies as well as between the nations of the world. This explains the difficulty most people have in detaching from the movement of uncontrolled thought processes, thus to understand the true nature of one’s identity through silent reflection on the ‘I’ that lies behind all thoughts. The constant distractions, busyness and anxieties of modern life mean that relatively few people commit to the daily discipline of meditation, while the majority often spend an entire lifetime without accessing the transformative awareness of the inner self—leaving most of us bereft of inner peace, until there is barely any ‘inner’ left at all. Therefore what could be more important than introducing meditation into schools from a very young age, so that children can be given the basic tools necessary to protect the inner from the outer, if we can put it in such a way? For then we may equip every child to understand the difference between being and becoming as they mature into adulthood, and thus further help prepare them for a future life of world service that is driven by the correct values and motives of right relationship.
Let us emphasise once more that the advancement of a new education is likely to be a very gradual process, and it will never accelerate until the principle of sharing is firmly established as the foundation of global economic activity. According to our evaluation, it will remain unfeasible to bring about a loving awareness of the commons on a universal scale, so long as the reverse of economic sharing predominates in global policymaking and geopolitics. Humanity has managed to go a long way by dividing, monopolising and profiting from the resources of any commons it can get it hands on, most especially the land and its fruits thereof. Although we have yet to invent a new technology that can map the entire atmosphere and give each cubic metre a price on the stock market, it is certain that multinational corporations would race to do so if they had the opportunity. So what is the chance of spreading a more spiritual education that imparts the highest meaning of the commons, before humanity finally changes its errant ways and accepts the need to share planetary resources under the United Nation’s auspices? The moment that nations begin to demonstrate right relationship through economic sharing, the moment that the world ends hunger and begins to realise the real meaning of peace—that is the moment when the commons will naturally manifest and proliferate, as reflected in a new mode of education that aims to cultivate the awareness that humanity is ONE.
We can only indicate the expanded consciousness that will subsequently arise, in which we will no longer think of Africa or Asia as inferior continents to Western Europe, for instance, but instead as ‘our’ Africa, ‘our’ Asia and ‘our’ Europe that everyone has the right to visit and consider their common home. It is important to try and imagine the inner transformation in human consciousness this implies, for even the necessity of having a passport denies us from perceiving, with loving understanding and awareness, what the commons really means and signifies. Add to this awareness the knowledge of the existence of the soul, and the fact that each nation has a soul and evolving spiritual purpose in line with its respective destiny, then it is natural to expect that citizens will respect the traditions and customs of different cultures, while perceiving the importance of sharing and protecting the commons of the natural environment. Not till then can we envisage the inner commons being introduced to the school curriculum in all countries, thus enabling every child to acquire a silent mind and develop an attitude of harmlessness through detachment, thenceforth maturing into adulthood with self-knowledge, spiritual intelligence and wisdom of a presently unknown kind.
In the intervening period, these hopeful foresights leave us with a seeming dilemma. For while it is correct to assert that the commons should be studied in schools as a matter of urgency, we have also reasoned at length our basic premise from several angles: that it is impossible for the commons to be understood in its highest spiritual aspects by all humanity, until the principle of sharing is firmly established in world affairs. At the present time, therefore, it may be more judicious and realistic if informed teachers focus on introducing their students to the necessity of sharing for our planetary survival. By encouraging the youth to perceive the importance of sharing and cooperation as a solution to our collective problems, it is possible to fire the imagination of a young person’s mind towards seeing everything around them as a commons (whether consciously or unconsciously recognised), bearing in mind that the holistic meaning of both the principle of sharing and the commons is harmlessness, loving attention and awareness of the whole. If every person of every age begins to participate in this great civilisational discussion in our classrooms, workplaces, homes and communities, then we will see how our modes of education begin to rapidly expand through a newfound awareness of what sharing means for humanity as we inaugurate a more spiritually enlightened era. Thus our reasoning inevitably returns to this same position yet again, since it represents our only hope for reorienting the course of human progress to a sustainable trajectory: that is, our vision of millions of people heralding Article 25 through ceaseless protest activity, and together calling upon the United Nations to share the resources of the world.
By this stage of our enquiry, perhaps the reader is convinced that the commons is an extremely vast and versatile subject that encompasses all aspects of life, and it is the inner or spiritual side of this field of study that should most engross our attention. We began our investigation by describing the commons as God-given or spiritual education that upholds the good of the whole, so let us now look more closely at how this different form of education may arise through the growth of awareness and self-knowledge. Indeed we cannot truly comprehend what is meant by the inner commons without making an effort to understand ourselves, and our essential relationship to the world. From the viewpoint of the ‘I’ or inner self that represents our true identity, we can only go so far in revealing the higher nature of the commons by studying the environment or society outside. But if we dig deeply into the interior world of our own being, we can actually begin to perceive and know the eternal commons of humanity that exists within the spiritual evolution of consciousness.
Thus it is possible to individually experience the truth of our supposition, in that the commons is a divine conception that can bring an individual close to wisdom. Even the act of reflecting on the commons in this manner is an expression of wisdom, whether we are aware of it or not. Take the astronaut who ponders the beauty of the earth from space, and then perceives the urgent need to heal our fragile planet from the destruction caused by man’s reckless arrogance and perceived separateness. That holistic perception of our beautiful world is a recognition of the outer commons, but the elevated and compassionate feeling it engenders within the individual signifies cognisance of the inner commons of humanity as a whole. Just to ponder the stars at night with silent awareness is to perceive both the inner and outer commons, providing we can embrace the mystery of life and creation while feeling the profound greatness of that mystery within us.
In this way, the highest meaning of the commons reflects itself inwardly, and its recognition depends on the awakening of a certain spiritual awareness that is latent within each individual. This further underlines the need for correctly applied meditation that heightens our awareness of the inner self, so that an individual can experientially understand the reality of his or her own nature as a soul in incarnation. We might say that one’s inner self is the most fundamental commons, and the infinite process of spiritual evolution is the basis of all the commons that exists. Dwelling in the peaceful solitude of your inner self is a commons that you are born with, and it will always remain within you. To hold a new-born baby in your arms is similarly to behold the movement of the energy of love within all creation, especially when you are aware of the existence of the soul and its purpose as informed by your knowledge of the Ageless Wisdom. After all, what you are beholding is not merely a helpless baby that is wholly dependent on its mother, but a soul instrument that contains hidden within its nascent individuality the meaning and purpose of life itself. Thus may it be said that the commons also reflects who we spiritually are—that is, as divine and immortal beings who are forever advancing towards greater perfection and at-one-ment with the ABSOLUTE CONSCIOUSNESS that underlies all life within the phenomenal universe.
So my primordial commons is not the land and other material resources that I collectively share over the course of one short lifetime; it is the commons of my soul, that which enables me to evolve on the physical plane through the growth of awareness within the One Life over countless incarnations. In reality, this pre-existent commons and the spiritual evolution of humanity are almost one and the same, and at the present stage of man’s wayward development the understanding of this truth has never been more critical and significant. We could even say that the true ‘tragedy of the commons’ is not material in its nature, but rather spiritual—for it concerns the deeper reasons why man’s intelligence has been corrupted by worshipping the golden calf, with such a lack of loving attention towards other people and the earth. What lies behind the outer dimensions of world transformation should therefore be re-emphasised and duly noted, as explored throughout this investigation and illustrated in the accompanying diagram. For what we arrive at, after accounting for all the many psychological and spiritual factors that have now been discussed, is nothing less than the Science of the Soul. Hence the inner side of the commons may also be equated with the Art of Self-realisation, as simply understood in terms of the expansion of consciousness within an individual that continues through endless stages of spiritual evolution—reaching to stages that are, as yet, inconceivable to the human mind in the 21st century.
In group terms, also, the inner commons is related to the beauty and creativity of a nation’s consciousness, from which understanding its meaning can be described as the ‘soul vibration’ that governs the quality and character of each nation. So the expression of the commons as a spiritual reality not only relates to an individual and the beauty of his existence as a soul; it is also an expression of the soul of each nation and its destiny, as revealed via the gradual working out of right relationship between all the nations of the world. Increasing spiritual awareness and harmlessness is invariably the result of this evolutionary process within the wider population, underlining the importance once again of respecting the customs and traditions of different countries. For within those diverse cultural norms and distinctive national characteristics—however obsolete or obstructive they may be due to the problem of social conditioning—lies the vibrations of the movement of spiritual evolution. The side-effect of nations following their old habitual ways of living may be to considerably slow down the speed of evolution on this planet, but those bygone traditions and that slowness must be respected nonetheless, for such is the Law of Free Will that enables the destiny of every individual and nation to unfold at its own pace, and in its own unique way.
These considerations may further emphasise how the commons has many different meanings from an esoteric perspective, based as it is on the impalpable factor of spiritual awareness. We have observed that the meaning of the inner commons is rooted in our awareness of the existence of the soul and its purpose, which informs the need for a new education that incorporates studies on the Ageless Wisdom, with an emphasis on the oneness of humanity. Also remember our assertion that the commons has a very, very ancient past in the consciousness of man, and it was born of an incipient awareness of the One Life, a spiritual vision of evolution, and above all compassion for everything that exists. The Law of Compassion is, therefore, the fundamental law that governs the spiritual commons of humanity, although, as we earlier intimated, it is a law that means far more than one might presume when saying to another person ‘be compassionate’. Indeed when perceived through the attributes of the heart and intuition, the understanding of compassion cannot arise without spiritual intelligence, by which we mean the intelligence of knowing who you are as an evolving soul, as simply expressed through loving service, harmlessness and right human relationship. The commoners are effectively telling us to have right relationship with nature, but according to our enquiry this is impossible to achieve unless we firstly have right relationship within ourselves, and with each other, which will automatically translate into right relationship with the natural world.
Hopefully this overall introduction to the meaning of the inner commons has been sufficient to convince us of one definite conclusion, if none other: that we may never realise a sustainable future if we focus solely on ‘outer’ systemic problems and policy solutions, which is mainly intellectual activity that has no mass appeal, no consensual validity, and no lasting value in terms of spiritual awareness and right relationship. If we embrace the difficult truth of this insight for ourselves, however, then a more personal question is likely to arise in our minds: how can we, the everyday people of the world, even begin to cultivate the necessary awareness of the inner commons that eventually leads to Self-realisation? We may find it easy to understand the meaning of the outer commons intellectually, but it is a different matter to perceive the commons that exists within the eternal movement of the ‘here and now’, which requires the kind of ‘inner self education’ as above described. This observation essentially forms the nucleus of our discussion, for it is in the process of knowing yourself that the awareness of the inner commons begins to blossom within your heart and mind, whether consciously or unconsciously recognised and expressed.
Until now, relatively few people are inclined to seriously investigate this deeper spiritual knowledge of the commons, which is the same commons that the Native American Indians fought and died for, and the same commons that the great religious founders and Masters of Wisdom have promulgated in Their teachings throughout the millennia, if we can read between the lines. Arguably one of the greatest exponents of the inner commons in modern times was Jiddu Krishnamurti, even though his teachings are largely unrecognised as such by any of his adherents. For without acquiring knowledge of our inner selves through loving awareness and perception of ‘what is’, as Krishnamurti continually proclaimed in his public talks, then all of the philosophies, theories, politicking and activism of mankind are otherwise futile and meaningless; again and again we shall keep turning around, from generation to generation, without finding any lasting solution to our age-old problem of how to live together on this earth in harmony and peace.
Therefore the real question is not how to bring about the new economic and social arrangements that can sustain the outer commons; rather, the question is how we can bring about the inner perception of the commons that perennially exists, which has always depended on the ancient injunction: know thyself. To limit our understanding of the commons to the world outside of us, without connecting our understanding to the spiritual evolution of mankind, tends only to bring about a sense of responsibility; for example, our responsibility to look after nature and help create a more equal, caring society. But to embrace the inner side of the commons will call forth a vision of an entirely more simple and spiritual way of living, as realised through the collective expression of love-in-action and compassion in its literal meaning. And when enough people are able to realise both the inner and outer perception of the commons, then something very different will take place in the minds of men: a universal awakening to the need for unity, as expressed through the attributes of the heart and fused with common sense and reason.
Again recall our original postulation that upholding the commons is fundamentally a problem of conscious awareness; that being so, it is far more difficult to expand one's consciousness through the mind alone, compared to engaging with the attributes of the heart. In any circumstance, severe mistakes are liable to be made if the mind is solely relied upon to inform our thinking and actions, particularly if the individual in question is leading a country or large organisation. The mind can easily be diverted from its good intentions and navigated by hidden motives of greed, power, ambition and so on; the result is invariably harm and division as evidenced by any example we care to think of. Thus relying upon the mind alone may call forth the recognition of responsibility, but when the mind is fused with the attributes of the heart, then the awareness that results will call for common sense and, above all, harmlessness and unity.
Even to communicate to another person, ‘I don’t want to harm you, let’s resolve this conflict together through mutual understanding and compromise’, means I am engaging with the attributes of both my heart and mind. By applying this simple everyday understanding to a holistic conception of the commons, it is possible to envision for ourselves the transformative impact it may have on human relationships; for in correctly engaging with the heart there is no ideology, no harm or division, but only the fusing of love with responsibility and reason. Gradually, we are led to awareness of what is around us with a more compassionate and mature attitude of mind, thereby equipping us to demonstrate the kind of emotional and spiritual detachment we have previously described. In sum, the sheer attempt to cultivate an inner awareness of the commons will steadily lead us to realise all the above-mentioned qualities in our personalities. And thus can it be accurately stated that perceiving the commons brings an individual close to wisdom, since it reflects who we spiritually are.
The following points summarise the main insights we have now contemplated, which may further help to define what the commons means and entails from the inner side of life. We may think of these latent qualities as the spiritual meaning of the commons from the perspective of the soul, or as the intrinsic human attributes that naturally arise when the inner and outer perceptions of the commons are fused in our consciousness. The reader may derive benefit from inwardly reflecting on each point in turn, endeavouring to intuit how the commons can also be perceived as:
- Beauty per se.
- Loving attention.
- Renewed attention (respect).
- Spiritual perception of ‘what is’.
- Spiritual intelligence.
- Vision through the Art of Living.
- Unity through sharing.
- Right relationship.
The manner of perception that is required to see the commons in these more holistic terms may seem strange or unfamiliar at first, as few of us have been educated to look at ‘what is’ with an awareness of spiritual reality. One could almost say that our education is based on not seeing life as it is, which means that we must be prepared to tread a lonely path if we want to cultivate this awareness for ourselves at the present time. Man has created many laws since time immemorial, but we have to see beyond those worldly laws and recognise their spiritual impermanence, if we want to perceive with accuracy the eternal Laws of Life.
Let us take a pertinent example, and contemplate how we have been educated to hear music only in the sounds that emanate from a musical instrument, without perceiving how music can be seen and heard all around us; that is, in the shape and movement of clouds, in the way people talk and how they move, in the colours of fruits and vegetables that are displayed in markets, or simply in the light as it reflects on natural surroundings. Why haven’t we been educated to see with our ears, and listen with our eyes? What is it about the mind of man that causes him to regiment and divide whatever he puts his hands on?
We seem to have left the inner commons to the blind when it comes to music, and yet it is we who are blind not to hear the music in the wind as it blows across country fields, or in the moment of a heavy storm, or in the waxing and waning tide and, even, in the movement of the sun as it silently rises beyond the horizon. Of course, if you open your heart and mind to all the music that surrounds you, it will not be music that you hear in a conventional sense, but notes of a different kind. It is up to you to gather all those notes into a composition that you hear inwardly, which soon becomes a natural process with facility and practise. We could liken the man-made musical instrument to the outer commons, while the inner commons is to be perceived and heard in the way how physical objects are formed, such as the shape of trees or the many buildings that surround us. Have you ever heard an architect say how a great cathedral or palatial building is like music to their eyes, due to the beauty of its aesthetic design and construction? The word ‘beautiful’ is immediately significant whenever the music of the everyday world is perceived through a person’s eyes. Just observe how a person, when listening to inwardly inspiring music, tends to look out of the window at the expansive blue sky, at the vibrant beauty of nature and the alive objects outside.
And yet our understanding of music has become so regimented and conditioned, that even the student in a musical academy is likely to walk along the street without perceiving the ever-present symphony of their environment. The human mind has an unfortunate tendency to create an image about whatever it sees, yet the act of naming and imagining prevents us from listening to ‘what is’ while remaining fully present and mentally silent in the moment of now. Hence we look through images and divide ourselves from whatever we see, without perceiving how notes and colours emanate from the mere existence of all the material forms within our vicinity. When a key is pressed on a piano, for instance, a certain colour is also produced if you have the ears to see. And when a stroke of colour is painted on a canvass, a certain note is also produced if you have the eyes to hear. Because everything is alive, and everything produces a sound and colour that forms an integral part of the beauty within our spiritual evolution. Indeed there is also a note to be heard within the innermost silence of a meditative mind, if you care to listen, which is the sound of the OM as it reverberates throughout the earth. We are all surrounded by that note, which is overshadowing every one of us since the moment of our birth and beyond—it is above us, below us, around us, and within us in every moment. Can you hear it?
Many sounds can also heal through their vibrations, although the sounds produced by humanity today are in a tremendously confused state, as reflected in the tremendous noise that emanates from the frenetic activity of modern societies. Observe for yourself how confusion is rife in our consciousness due to the many crises that humanity is moving through at this time, whether they are social, economic, spiritual or otherwise in their nature. As a result, the universal ‘note’ that represents humanity and nature as a whole—which corresponds to the note F on a musical scale, or Fa in fixed-do solfège—is vibrating in a profoundly discordant way, thus reflecting the confusion and suffering that is epidemic on our planet. The very existence of global poverty emits a certain note of this kind, and that note is G minor, for such is the sound that a human heart produces when it feels the pain and drama of our sorrowful lives. Even the tragic occurrence of thousands of people dying from hunger each day is audible in a certain note, one that corresponds to D minor. All of these dissonant sounds reflect the culminating crises of our time, as well as the fact that humanity’s old ways are coming to an end. Our economy is in crisis; our politics is in crisis; our mode of living is in crisis; even the ‘isms’ that we live and move within are in a state of existential crisis, hence the confusion as we are finally led to accept the necessity of liberating ourselves from the past. The time has come for a great expansion of consciousness, so that humanity can change its vibratory note—until a more harmonious note eventuates from all of our ancient pain and confusion, and a shining new civilisation is born.
Now let us consider a further and supreme example of how the commons is much vaster in its meaning than most people realise, as reflected in the reality of space that contains within itself all that has been created. Space is the infinite and eternal sustainer of the planetary commons, for without it there would obviously be no content to what we see around us—no traffic and skyscrapers in city landscapes, no clouds in the atmosphere, no solar systems and galaxies to contain the numberless worlds that circumnavigate therein. And yet we have not been educated to look at space, or contemplate the significance of this great entity that we move within and depend upon for our bodily existence. Verily indeed is space a Being, alive with its own directive intelligence. And within that unquantifiable Being we call space lives many other worlds that are evolving toward an endless perfection, yet remain unseen to the naked eye like gas or CO2 that also needs space to move and exist. Between our eyes and stomach, there is space; it is space that gives us composition. We move within space, and space moves within us. If you are mentally clairvoyant, then perhaps you can see the citizens of ancient civilisations as they used to live—but the eternal record of that past event is forever imprinted within space, and continues to resonate throughout time within its ever-changing macrocosmic expression. Therefore one has to enquire: what is the relationship that exists between the evolution of consciousness, the commons and space?
To be sure, there are myriad hidden aspects of space that our modern civilisation has yet to discover, or even imagine due to its stubbornly materialistic focus in the present day. Our scientists say that without water, no life can exist. But it is even truer to say that without space, the spiritual evolution of humanity cannot exist—or evermore proceed on the physical plane. Due to the prior existence of space, we have creation. Due to the prior existence of space, we have consciousness and evolution. Hence it is of momentous importance to recognise that without space, the very idea of the commons would not have arisen within our consciousness (either in its inner or outer manifestations). We may compare space per se to the commons per se, and conclude that both of these two realities are ultimately identical. We may not see the significance of this observation right now, but a time will surely come when space is understood to hold the utmost profundity for the individual who seeks spiritual awareness of ‘what is’. One may presume that space has no beginning and no end, but there is much more mystery behind the existence of space than any cosmologist or metaphysician has ever tried to fathom. What an entity is space! An entity that can even be communed with, if one were sufficiently evolved. All we can intelligibly say is that space exists within and of itself, where consciousness ‘is not’ and yet ever ‘is’. And when humanity begins to open its mind to the higher spiritual verities, it may eventually become common wisdom that space is a blessing of all the blessings within the Laws of Life.
No measurement has a beginning, no measurement has an end
Such is the nature of space in its eternal breath, within and without
But here comes the differentiating intellect, that says:
‘One plus one equals two’, followed by the illusion that
everything has a beginning, and everything has an end
A conditioned mind that is absorbed in its daily measurements
produces endless attachments and pain
Hence the wrong turn that human intelligence has taken
through a mind that keeps denying to itself the Eternal Silence
A silence whose nature is nothingness, born out of the presence
and vibration of the sacred Word
Chaos within chaos, the invisible within the invisible
Life after life within the One Life
Such is the movement of humanity’s spiritual evolution
which is a divine and scientifically well-measured Plan
within the living entity that we call space
An entity that holds within its womb the vibration and sounds
of all the worlds both born and unborn, seen and unseen
a space that exists within itself, and of itself, and by itself
as cognised by a self that never was, and never will be
For it is the Law of Compassion that nurtures
the omnipresent tremor of its existence
as space unites one in all, and all in One
Before we end this enquiry, let us summarise our conclusions about the relationship that exists between the meaning of the commons and the principle of sharing—a relationship, as we have attempted to demonstrate, that is inextricably connected in spiritual and psychological terms. The commons is like a revolving spiritual possibility that has always lain dormant in human consciousness, expressing itself in different ways through the cultures of past civilisations, until it has arisen once again in the midst of these overly intellectual and materialistic times. You may recall our varied observations that the commons is a higher aspect of the principle of sharing, although it is an elusive interconnection to try and define when the commons is not a ‘principle’ per se, nor is it definable as an ‘idea’ or ‘concept’, for it can only be perceived and known as an eternal divine reality through the inner faculty of spiritual awareness.
Here again we return to our initial postulation that upholding the commons is actually a problem of our individual and collective consciousness, and our subsequently reasoned case that the commons will never become en vogue for the entire world population without a social and psychological transformation in the manner we outlined. We reasoned that it is an explosion of goodwill that will bring that psychosocial transformation about, leading to a completely new atmosphere of joy and creativity as every society participates in a massive international relief effort on behalf of the needlessly dying poor. Yet such a monumental occurrence will merely comprise the preliminary stage in a process of world renewal, for when the heart is awakened the personality (not the 'individuality') will realise the significance of the most primary commons of all—that is, the commons of humanity as gradually revealed through the establishment of right relationship.
Put another way, the first stage is expressed through togetherness or unity, which must be demonstrated on a colossal and worldwide scale due to the all-encompassing extent of today’s converging crises. Then the second stage will follow naturally, in which the commons rapidly ascends in the consciousness of mankind through the introduction of new laws and a new education. So the more we share the planet’s ample but limited bounty, the more simply and cooperatively we live. And the more simply and cooperatively we live, the more we affirm the existence of the commons in our conscious awareness. The process is logical from the inner perspective, although we should be very careful how we promote the commons as an idea or concept in the meantime. Is the commons really definable as all that we share, or is it all that we have failed to share for many thousands of years? And is it sufficient to promote the commons as solely an intellectual concept or theory of social change, before millions of people have risen up for governments to guarantee the human rights enshrined in Article 25? Because if we don’t begin by educating our peers about the need for economic sharing to end poverty, if we don’t join with others to persuade our political representatives to prioritise the needs of the famished poor, then there is no hope that the commons will eventually be upheld and glorified by the world as a whole.
Therefore implementing the principle of sharing in global affairs is metaphorically an act of knocking at the door of the commons. We might say that when nations genuinely unite for the benefit of all concerned, it is time, at long last, for the commons to declare its existence ad populum. The commons is like the daughter of the principle of sharing, although it is the mother who will introduce her daughter to the world. Symbolically, the commons can also be understood as the sound of the pumping heart of the principle of sharing, hence it is imperative that our governments cooperate to redistribute the world’s resources if our commons are to be saved in perpetuity. Even if the Christ returned to the everyday affairs of men, still He would counsel us to love our neighbour and share with one another, for that is the only way we can grow in awareness of the greater commons of humanity, beginning with our poorest brothers and sisters who continue to die each day from hunger and preventable diseases.
Is this enough to help us perceive what the commons really means, and its interdependent relationship with the principle of sharing? The mother is the saviour of her daughter, is all that we can lastly say. And the relationship between the two is made of love and nothing else, as sustained by the universal revelation that we are One Humanity. For when we love one another and begin to establish right human relationship, then everything we share and protect will consequently be treated with reverence, vision and awareness.
Many thinkers are becoming increasingly complicated in their understanding of the commons, no doubt due to the interminable complexity of living in a world that is based on the corruptive laws of commercialisation. Nonetheless, it is so simple to know what the commons really means if you look at this question not intellectually, but silently in the moment of now with experiential awareness of the inner self. The question to ask oneself is: what does the commons mean for me in my relationship to others and the world? To assist us in this personal enquiry, we can also look inwardly to reflect on the following questions that further reveal the inner significance of the commons, as alluded to throughout this study. What is the relationship that exists between the existence of the commons in our consciousness and:
- The devastating effects of commercialisation through the pursuit of financial profit
- The confusion caused by political isms
- The conflict caused by religious ideologies
- The spiritual attributes associated with joy
- The demonstration of harmlessness through detachment
- The vision of the oneness of humanity
Thus the primary significance of the commons is to be found in self-knowledge and right education, for without an education along the abovementioned lines we can never foresee a time when humanity will move within a new spiritual awareness of life as it is. But the word ‘commons’ will become meaningless eventually, unless our school education incorporates a fundamental understanding of the importance of sharing as a divine principle, which is the very structure of the existence of the commons as we have comprehensively observed. It was also stressed that one of the inner meanings of sharing is ‘not to harm’, or ‘to be with’ in a psychological and spiritual sense. So for the majority of humanity to be with nature and act harmlessly towards the outer environment, to contribute to what man has created and all that he will create—in the sphere of the arts, technology, science and all else—it means we will have to finally accept the necessity of sharing the bounteous produce of this earth.
To re-employ a useful metaphor, we can imagine that love is scattered like a jigsaw puzzle across the world, and it is up to the people of each nation to put that puzzle back together again through the principles of sharing and cooperation. And when that puzzle is completed, when hunger and war is a distant memory in the minds of men, then we will discover what the resulting picture represents—which is the inner and outer commons of humanity. Today the commons is sick, both in its externalised and interior realities, and we can only cure its degenerative disease through the cooperation and goodwill of nations for the good of all. Then naturally, the commons will assume its rightful place in a new education, thus enabling an unforetold expansion of human consciousness and undreamt of possibilities for spiritual progress upon the Lighted Way.
 Each kingdom in nature grows from the one below it, and a fifth kingdom higher than the human—known as the spiritual kingdom or ‘Kingdom of Souls’—has always been with us (as taught by Christ Himself), and is now gradually precipitating on the physical plane. As explained in the writings of Alice A. Bailey, that kingdom is 'composed of all those who down the ages, have sought spiritual goals, liberated themselves from the limitations of the physical body, emotional controls and the obstructive mind. Its citizens are those who today (unknown to the majority) live in physical bodies, work for the welfare of humanity, use love instead of emotion as their general technique, and compose that great body of illumined Minds which guides the destiny of the world.' (The Externalization of the Hierarchy, Lucis Press Ltd, 1957).
 (1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control. (2) Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.
 In these writings, the Christ Principle is understood as an impersonal and divine principle that corresponds to the spiritual essence of every human being, what H.P. Blavatsky described as “the abstract ideal of the personal divinity indwelling in man” (Isis Unveiled, Vol. 2), or “the Atman of the Universe, and the Atma within every man’s soul” (The Secret Doctrine, Vol. 1). It can also be understood as the energy of evolution per se, governing the creation of the matter aspect of the planet through the cohesive energy we call love. The historical Christ is the highest physical embodiment of that energy on our planet, Who is known in the esoteric teachings by many different titles, including that of ‘World Teacher’. As related in the work of Alice A. Bailey, it is the hearts of men and women which are responding to the call of the Christ within, and which are becoming increasingly invocative today (The Reappearance of the Christ, Lucis Press Ltd, p. 136).
 Mohammed Mesbahi, Heralding Article 25: A People’s Strategy for World Transformation, Matador books, 2016.
 For more on this subject, see: ‘The intersection of politics and spirituality in addressing the climate crisis: An interview with Mohammed Mesbahi’, Share The World's Resources, June 2016.
 For a more in-depth discussion of this observation, see ‘The intersection of politics and spirituality in addressing the climate crisis’, Part II, op. cit.; Heralding Article 25, op. cit., pp 57-61.
 “You may remember the story of how the devil and a friend of his were walking down the street, when they saw ahead of them a man stoop down and pick up something from the ground, look at it, and put it away in his pocket. The friend said to the devil, ‘What did that man pick up?’ ‘He picked up a piece of Truth,’ said the devil. ‘That is a very bad business for you, then,’ said his friend. ‘Oh, not at all,’ the devil replied, ‘I am going to let him organize it.’ (Quote taken from: Jiddu Krishnamurti, ‘The dissolution of the order of the star: a statement’, Star Publishing Trust, 1929.)
 Editor’s note: The world population growth projection cited here is by no means inevitable, as Mesbahi has argued in the book Heralding Article 25, op. cit., pp. 46-51. The latest estimates forecast a population increase from the current 7.5 billion people to 9.7 billion by 2050, with a mid-range projection exceeding 11.2 billion by 2100 (almost all in poor countries, see: UNDESA, World Population Prospects: The 2015 Revision). Yet through a just redistribution of the world’s resources and the universal implementation of the human rights enshrined in Article 25, it is foreseeable that the conditions will be created for the world population to drop significantly over time (through natural and voluntary means). This is borne out by the evidence of population levels decreasing and stabilising when families enjoy an adequate standard of living, as historically demonstrated during the transitions from underdeveloped to developed countries.
 cf. Mohammed Mesbahi, ‘The true sharing economy: inaugurating an age of the heart’, Share The World's Resources November 2016.
 The Ageless Wisdom refers to an ancient body of teachings regarding the energetic structure of the universe, the evolution of consciousness in man and nature, and the spiritual reality of our lives with an emphasis on ‘right human relations’. It has been described as the golden thread that connects the esoteric or hidden teachings that underlie the major religious traditions, while providing the inspiration for the arts and sciences throughout the ages. Although thousands of years old, the teachings are referred to as ‘ageless’ rather than ‘ancient’ due to their progressively revelatory nature that is given active expression in people’s own lives and experiences. Over the past century, the exoteric form of these teachings have spread widely in the West following their release to the general public by H.P. Blavatsky, founder of the Theosophical Society, and later through the works of Alice A. Bailey, Helena Roerich and Benjamin Creme, among others.
 The term ‘commercialisation paradigm’ is adopted in many previous writings in this series, including Heralding Article 25, op. cit., pp. 9-10.
 For instance, all the old games played in school playgrounds and residential streets were freely passed down from generation to generation, and can be considered a form of commons that was unconsciously shared in the minds of children. It wasn’t until recent decades that many of those games were written down in books, and increasingly commercialised for a more affluent audience. Digital technologies have since become all-pervasive and further appropriated or displaced much of the commons of childhood play, which now only exists in its purest form within the poorest regions of developing countries. The reader can infer for themselves how this one example illustrates the immense challenge of re-introducing a commons-oriented mode of learning and development, where a teacher aims to nurture the child’s spiritual growth and creativity within the awareness of right human relationship.
 For a longer explanation of this theme, see Heralding Article 25, op. cit. pp 99-103.
 Not beauty as it ‘should be’, through the differentiation and measurement of the human mind, but beauty ‘as is’. In other words, the beauty within creation and its evolution that cannot be named, but only sensed through abstract meditation.
 Creativity where the vibration of the soul is engaged; meaning, therefore, a true form of creativity that is without attachment.
 The recognition, through maturity and intelligence, of what should be done for the good of all.
 See chapter three on releasing the spiritual attributes of joy.
 To perceive and act through the attributes of the heart with reverence for all that lives and evolves.
 Again, perception of ‘what is’ and not what ‘should be’ according to the conditioned mind, which requires the development of the intuition through studies on the Ageless Wisdom and correctly applied meditation in relationship to the soul.
 The art of being silent through detachment.
 It is helpful to meditate on the relationship that exists between detachment and harmlessnessm, as alluded to in chapter three.
 Understanding life through the attributes of the heart. This requires constant reflections on the true meaning of compassion as the mother of all Laws in creation.
 As noted above: '…when perceived through the attributes of the heart and intuition, the understanding of compassion cannot arise without spiritual intelligence, by which we mean the intelligence of knowing who you are as an evolving soul, as simply expressed through loving service, harmlessness and right human relationship.'
 It is the Art of Living that will lead to a clear vision of the unity of mankind and its spiritual purpose.
Mohammed Mesbahi is STWR's founder.
Editorial assistance: Adam Parsons.
Image credit: Liamfm, flickr creative commons