Visions and Strategies for
in the 21st Century
© Deborah Taj Anapol 2007
approach a major turning point for life on Earth, many conscious
people have become aware of the need for a new way of living.
Some of us have been researching and refining our visions for
a way of life that is balanced, sustainable, peaceful, healthy,
loving, creative, joyful, nurturing, spiritual, ecological and
pleasurable for several decades. Throughout history a few extraordinary
individuals have managed against all odds to awaken to their
potential for total aliveness. Meanwhile, for thousands of years
this planet has struggled under a set of beliefs and practices
whose end result has been environmental degradation, violence,
self-hatred, conflict between men and women, and disrespect for
life itself. The time has come for a major shift!
Many ancient peoples have prophesied
such a transformation. For example, the Mayan calendar is said
to "end" in 2012, just six years from now! Modern prophets
such as Edgar Cayce, Rudolf Steiner, Buckminster Fuller and many
others predict that humans are like caterpillars about to become
butterflies and that Earth herself is about to awaken. Some traditions
emphasize that awakening from the cultural trance is all that
is necessary to realize our true nature. Others liken our current
state to that of single celled organisms before they began coming
together to create more complex life forms. Now our very survival
as a species seems to depend upon making the leap to recognizing
that we are all individual cells in the body of humanity whose
evolutionary imperative is to learn to cooperate harmoniously.
As we move into this crucial period
of change, powerful esoteric teachings from many spiritual traditions
are being made public and available to all who will listen. Many
of these traditions were forced to go underground during the
centuries of darkness, persecution, and authoritarian rule. Now
the lineage holders are emerging from secrecy while others are
spontaneously receiving the wisdom and tools needed to navigate
through this global crisis. Never before in the recorded history
of this planet have so many people had access to so many different
paths for psychological and spiritual evolution.
Each of them offers a piece of the
Truth and many of them agree on certain basic understandings:
- All is One. We are inextricably
linked to each other and to all of life. Our happiness and
well-being depends upon experiencing this connection. The
perception of separateness is an illusion. We are all part
of the whole. The Islamic mystics, the Sufi's, say, La ila
ha, il Allah hu - There is nothing but God.
- The purpose of life is to learn
to love well, to enjoy all that is and to be present to whatever
arises. To sustain love means being aware of and courageously
making choices which create more love in our lives.
- Love, rather than fear, abuse,
or force, is the greatest power in the universe and the most
effective motivator. Jesus said, "Love one another."
- Your body is the temple of your
soul. The body has its own innate wisdom and knows what's
good for you. Pleasure is healthy and productive. Honor and
respect the physical being for it is our earthly home.
- You reap what you sow. The Hawaiian's
express this, Kanawai Mo 'aka 'aka. The Christians say, Do
unto others as you would have others do unto you. The Hindus
and Buddhists call it Karma. In plain English, you get what
- Self-responsibility. There are
no victims. Through our thoughts and actions we create our
own reality. The unexpectedly popular documentary film, What
the Bleep Do We Know? beautifully illustrates this.
- The harmony between yin and yang,
Shiva and Shakti, sun and moon, body and mind, masculine
and feminine - however you want to express the sacred union
of opposites - is the creative power underlying all of life.
The central symbol of Judaism, the Star of David, celebrates
the union of male (upward facing triangle) and female (downward
facing triangle). All ancient cultures agree that this sacred
union is the key to harmony and heaven on earth.
- Every one of us is a spark of the
Divine. We are all Gods and Goddesses. The Kabbalists said, "As
above, so below." Metaphysician Aleister Crowley said, "Every
man and every woman is a star." The ancient Hawaiians
recognized that each of us is our own highest authority.
No being is any higher or any lower than any other. On the
soul level, we are all equal.
There are now hundreds of thousands of
adults all over the world who are striving to live by these realizations,
not because some external authority has indoctrinated them, but
because they have realized the truth of these universal laws
through their own experience. At the same time, the dominant
culture still operates out of belief systems and institutions
which attempt to undermine these values. Ultimately the old empire
will fall, but in the mean time many individuals feel isolated,
alienated, and confused as they struggle to awaken from the cultural
people want to gather with others who share their world view
and who can support and rejoice in their process. They want to
live with others who contribute to their enjoyment of aesthetic,
healthy pleasures and artistic endeavors. They want to engage
with kindred spirits who can challenge them to wake up when they
fall asleep and who can lovingly point out their blind spots.
Many of these people have discovered that through their own healing
journey they have developed the capacity to help others. Many
find their creative powers awakening and are involved in artistic,
scientific, and technological innovation.
In the past, nearly all spiritual communities
were oriented around a single guru or teacher. The guru's vision
was at the core of the community and it was typically his personal
charisma that drew his followers into the community. Often, these
teachers reflected the hierarchical, authoritarian, masculinized
paradigm of the larger society. They discouraged or forbade questioning
of the teachings and ex-communicated those who challenged them.
While these teachers brought countless gifts to their students,
many failed to "walk their talk." Secret sexual liaisons
with married or celibate gurus were common. Many had mastery
in some areas, but arrested development in others. They too were
perfectly human, but preferred the super-human illusion.
Some intentional communities have been formed on a more egalitarian
model but often these became mired in chaos, conflict, and poverty
consciousness as egos struggled to implement impractical ideals
such as consensus decision making. Cohousing communities seek
to provide a modern, secular alternative to spiritual and intentional
communities on the one hand, and soulless subdivisions on the
other, but people are often disappointed in the relatively superficial
relationships they find with their neighbors.
The dream of returning to a gentler
and simpler village life is not so easy to recreate from scratch.
Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of
people flock to weekend seminars and conferences, learning vacation
destinations, spas, and eco-resorts of all kinds seeking the
support, stimulation, and camaraderie of temporary community
along with amenities not consistently available at home.
My observation is that a large minority
of people currently living in "random" communities
known as neighborhoods, subdivisions, retirement communities,
condominium developments, planned communities, cohousing, and
suburbs would much prefer to live with like-minded compatriots.
My observation is that many people tolerate the noise, dirt,
traffic, stress, and crowding of urban environments in order
to have access to the spiritual artistic, medical, and cultural
resources of the city when they would much prefer to live in
a healthier environment.
The challenge has been: How can we get from here to there without
relying on the charisma of the guru with all its attendant pitfalls?
How can we get from here to there in the absence of the intact
village, bloodlines, traditions, and lineage of elder wisdom?
These days, many people barely know their
neighbors, and are far from family and close friends. Their daily
human encounters tend to be superficial at best. Many travel
long distances, consuming increasingly scarce fossil fuels, braving
unpredictable traffic and missed airline connections to gather
with others with whom they share soulful connections. Often our
human interactions are filled with conflict, fear, veiled hostility,
and mistrust. Clearly, we want and need better alternatives.
One alternative is the development
of new communities which are designed to meet the following
- To address the unmet need for living
environments which support the social and spiritual fulfillment
of individuals and families at this unique moment in history.
- To provide a living and replicable
example of a large and diverse group of unrelated people
who are living close to each other and functioning as a harmonious
whole over a period of time.
One way to reach these goals is to consciously
create a thriving residential community built around an active
conference center. Our aim is to attract people of varied ages,
occupations, socio-economic status, lifestyle and ethnicity who
share the common core values articulated above. We will provide
residents with tools, leadership, and venues which contribute
to building trusting, meaningful, and empowering relationships
with the people who live in their neighborhood! Our programming
will provide opportunities for shared recreation as well as education
and conflict resolution. In other words, we will be an incubator
for experiencing and living from a sense of Oneness with other
humans and with all life forms.
residence in this community will be open to all, residents will
self-screen themselves by their desire and willingness to invest
their time and money. We intend this community to be so exceptional
in every way that there is no need to go any where else. Essentially,
we are talking about creating the village of the future, complete
with inviting cafes, live performance theatres, bookstores, yoga
and dance studios, personal services, and markets. We anticipate
that most of the families and singles we attract will be self-employed
professionals, entrepreneurs, artists, or consultants whose work
is location independent or involves travel. The community will
also be a source of employment for some individuals providing
needed services onsite and will attract small businesses in fields
such as health care, education, elder and childcare, renewable
energy, software engineering, publishing, and recording.
Some residents may be retired or financially
independent. More and more baby boomers are reaching retirement
age, and most do not want to live in age segregated enclaves.
While many people have geographic ties in one or more regions,
place is increasingly less of a priority than people.
The establishment of this community
will directly serve the people who live there. It will also serve
as a prototype for the creation of similar communities in many
locations around the world. When people experience the vastly
increased sense of connection, synergy, harmony, and personal
satisfaction available in a subdivision which places as much
importance on consciously supporting meaningful human interactions
as on designing buildings and roads, millions of people will
want to live in these communities. Once the first such community
is operational, financing for future land acquisition and construction
will be more readily available and available real estate will
sell itself. The initial community may choose to franchise their
name, development model, and/or personal growth technologies,
or to serve as consultants for others who wish to replicate the
concept. Once "sister" communities are established,
residents will easily be able to do exchanges with people in
If we examine the creation of conscious
community from a business point of view, we see that we are talking
about coordinating two primary enterprises: real estate development
and personal/spiritual development. Professionals in real estate
development are well acquainted with the necessary steps in creating
sub-divisions. Professionals in preventive health care, education,
psychology, personal and spiritual growth, community development,
and recreation know how to structure seminars and retreats which
facilitate intrapersonal, interpersonal, and transpersonal harmony
and which stimulate transformational experiences and group bonding.
But rarely do these two groups speak to each other, let alone
co-create a single project.
A possible first step in this process
is to bring together a group of teachers who have been developing
their psychological and spiritual maturity and technology for
decades. Many of these teachers will already be at the center
of networks of students who look to them for guidance and support.
Some may be willing to undertake the experiment of establishing
community with peers, with fellow teachers. This inner circle
of teachers who chose to cooperate at the deepest levels will
form the core of a new larger community of students who will
have the opportunity, if they desire it, to eventually become
community of teachers will become the teaching staff for a quality
conference center and health spa at the center of a new kind
of subdivision. Many subdivisions are now being built around
golf courses. Condominiums which have onsite spas, shops, and
other amenities are becoming popular. A subdivision built around
a golf course attracts people who like to play golf and who want
to be around others who are passionate about golf. A community
with a spa and health oriented activities attracts people who
are health conscious, but this is a very general grouping and
does not necessarily foster satisfying social interactions. A
conference center which hosts an aligned group of spiritual teachers
and healers will attract people who are passionate about their
own transformation and give them a common language and opportunities
to bond with each other. People will not be required to attend
these programs, but because Home Owners Association dues will
support the facility and its programs, people will not choose
to live in this community unless they value and intend to utilize
The buildings themselves will be simple
and natural and utilize energy efficient technologies. In addition
to providing infrastructure, the developer can build as many
units as they wish to, including some rental units, or lots can
be sold for custom homes. Guest quarters will encourage visitors
who become prime candidates for purchasing their own permanent
homes in the future.
Conventional developments have in the
past endeavored to ensure that the cost and quality of homes
is kept as uniform as possible. However, the success of projects
which have instead encouraged a wide range of home sizes and
costs, suggests that uniformity is not attractive to all buyers.
A wider range of options offers a more diverse and interesting
community and provides housing for the full range of service
providers and age groups natural to a vital community. The security
of an exclusive, gated community is replaced by the security
that comes from knowing your neighbors and enjoying shared activities.
villages have evolved slowly over many years and generally consist
of people with similar backgrounds, shared histories, and common
blood relatives. People today deeply miss the sense of belonging
and caring that comes from an intact social ecosystem. At the
same time, they are often relieved to escape the burdens of dysfunctional
families and small towns - the narrow mindedness, lack of privacy
and autonomy, judgment, and obligation which sometimes accompany
village life. Contemporary individuals are longing for meaningful
connections with others and soul satisfying intimacy, but lack
a context where such encounters are easy and natural. Conscious
singles, couples, and families all want to live in close proximity
to others who are fun, loving, responsible, and emotionally honest
and who do not guilt trip or manipulate. What is required is
both the physical living environment which supports comfort and
sufficient opportunities for both privacy and connection, and
the psycho-spiritual technologies which bring people together
in a synergistic way.
Imagine that twelve different teachers
each offer a month long series of programs one after the other.
For example, one month we have Byron Katie. The next we have
Adyashanti, followed by Eckhart Tolle, Matthew Fox, Ken Wilber,
and then Don Miguel Ruiz. The specific teachers can initially
be chosen by the developers or their consultant (ie myself),
or through market research, and later on by the Home Owners Association.
They could include people who come out of various spiritual traditions,
who are teachers of hatha yoga, tantra yoga, chi gung, dance,
voice, music, visual arts, improvisational theatre, or massage
as well as specialists in communication, leading edge nutrition,
life extension, Chinese medicine, Ayurveda, shamanism, or drumming.
These programs, and the facility in
which they are held, are supported partly by home-owners dues
and partly by the developers. Ten percent of the profits from
the initial subdivision and additional investment capital as
needed will be used to design and build the center. Home owner
fees will provide a stable and secure financial base for ongoing
programming. This together with the opportunity to work with
motivated people in an innovative community, and to have the
option to form their own sister community consisting of complementary
teachers, will attract the highest quality teachers leading to
cross fertilization and innovation. Meanwhile, the spa and healing
center can be operated as an independent business and provide
employment opportunities for residents who desire them.
Here we have a situation in which people
will self-select to live in this community based on their interest
and willingness to make a financial commitment in the form of
membership dues to ensure that quality programming continues.
The ongoing growth seminars, lively community, and spa facilities
also make this a desirable vacation destination, allowing owners
who so desire to generate income through vacation rentals. Think
Esalen Institute meets Quality Subdivision.
It is up to each person to decide when
and how often they participate in the programs. They are available
evenings, weekends, and for longer intensives free or at reduced
cost. The same programs can be made available to non-residents
on a space available basis at the going rate. The energy of the
rotating teachers and teachings will permeate the whole community,
enhancing the quality of life and increasing the well being of
The developers may also want to recruit
desired service providers and businesses to locate within the
subdivision. Features such as a Spa and Wellness Center featuring
Chinese medicine and/or Ayurvedic treatments, assisted living
for elders, yoga and dance studios, cafes and juice bars, bookstores,
and performance spaces make the community village more attractive
to prospective residents as well as providing jobs and gathering
places. Other features such as an area for community gardens,
ecological/permaculture designs, passive solar considerations,
Feng Shui, pedestrian friendly walkways, children's programs,
and innovative "green" construction materials can also
magnetize like-minded buyers to this conscious sub-division.
heart of this project and the thing that sets it apart from anything
that presently exists is the emphasis on designing systems to
help a group of strangers become best friends and to support
each person to reach their highest potential.
Integrating wisdom and skills from a
variety of teachers into a neighborhood setting will not only
have the effect of attracting a certain type of person (cultural
creatives), but will also create a situation in which people
are interacting on an ongoing basis with the same people they
are in seminars with, building a very intimate and vibrant community.
It also provides shared language and tools for resolving whatever
conflicts may arise. Instead of bingeing on workshops and then
escaping home to continue old habits, living with ongoing reminders
of the highest spiritual truths gently allows a new way of life
to emerge where practical spirituality is the backdrop.
There is also a wonderful opportunity
here for research which compares the happiness, psychological
and spiritual growth, and general health of people living in
ordinary sub-divisions, sub-divisions consisting of hand-picked
people who have already developed skills relevant to living harmoniously
with others (the teachers), and those who are living in a subdivision
designed to foster supportive relationships.
Want to co-create
it? Want to live it? Want me to consult on your project?
For the past thirty years I have been actively involved in learning
and teaching about spiritual and psychological development, wellness,
conscious relationships, group process, and community development.
I have a large network of my own and am in contact with many
other "nodes" of networks. Investors, developers, real
estate brokers, contact me at (415) 507-1739 or email me.
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© Deborah Taj
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