The Transformational Perspective: An Emerging Worldview - Page 2
Article Index
The Transformational Perspective: An Emerging Worldview
p II - The Foundation
p III - Recurring Phases in Western History
p IV - The New Spiritual Complex
p V - A Spiritual Revolution
p VI - Values of the Transformationals
p VII - Modern Mystic Beliefs
p VIII - The Global Consequences
All Pages

The Foundation

It is no news to anyone that a widespread spiritual reawakening is currently taking place—one that has two distinct aspects. On one side, we find a resurgence of religious fundamentalism that embraces an historic view derived from the Middle Ages—a literalist belief system that proclaims this world to be the kingdom of a remote, transcendent authoritarian father-God, alternately wrathful or beneficent—a narrow perspective that has been embraced in our time by misguided religious zealots who have the capacity to ensure that this world will be their God’s kingdom… or nothing. On the other side and in opposition to this view, we have the spiritually awakened and expanded perspective of the secular humanists who perceive an omnipresent, immanent Divine Presence or Creative Force existing within all of creation, one that is benevolent, life enhancing and life sustaining (2).

It is significant that this latter view is quietly, yet definitively, being embraced by increasing numbers of well-educated, well-informed, and well-connected individuals, many of who are in professional and social positions from which they may influence the larger society's ideas and trends. Their secular yet spiritual perspective is intensely democratic, cutting across socio-economic levels of achievement and status, transcending cultural, political, and ethnic boundaries as well. In response, a broad social movement is taking form, one made up of people who hold a set of beliefs and values that differ considerably from those of the fundamentalists as well as those of the public at large. The number of people who hold the new view is not known with certainty, but fourteen years of sociological research conducted in the United States by demographer Paul H. Ray and his wife Sherry Ruth Anderson, has revealed that more than fifty million Americans fell into this group as of the year 2000, representing more than twenty-six percent of the adult population. This is not a small number, and it appears to be growing (3).

Ray's analysis suggests that we Westerners have arrived at a point in our history in which our prevailing mythologies are not working any more. The fifty-plus million among us know, without being told, that the time has come to create a new cultural mythos in which we synthesize a new set of ways of viewing ourselves and our society, our problems and our strengths, our communities and our world--a concern shared by another ninety-or-so million in Western Europe (4).

Ray and Anderson have observed that a shift of this magnitude in a dominant cultural worldview happens only once or twice in a thousand years, and this one is occurring during a period of ever-accelerating social change, enabled by a high technology and a communication system unlike any seen before. Their survey reveals these citizens who hold the new view to be socially concerned, environmentally aware, and spiritually focused, creative people who are carriers of more positive ideas and values than in any previous period in history. These awakened souls know with absolute certainty that if we continue to do business as usual and fail to produce a new story, Western Civilization may well collapse, taking the rest of the world with it.

As the awareness of this percolates into the public psyche, it is being reinforced by the specter of catastrophic environmental change, producing a sense of urgency, accompanied by a growing insistence on social, political, and economic reform that will benefit everyone, not just the powerful and the privileged. Anthropologists might call this a new kind of cultural revitalization movement, one that is oriented toward the future rather than retreating into the past, and a recent analysis of Western history reveals that this one is happening right on schedule.