Serving the Whole
Featured Community Voice: Global Oneness Project
Global Oneness Project is a film project based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Their mission is to explore how the radically simple notion of oneness can be lived in our increasingly complex world.
For Ms. Curbelo, love and deep respect are the foundation of her work with Guayaquil gang members, who together are transforming their city -- once lost to poverty and violence -- into a community that supports their human potential.
Ms. Curbelo is one of many inspiring individuals featured in the Global Oneness Project, a film project based near San Francisco. These short films and interviews offer stunning testimony to the power of spiritual awareness brought to bear on the world's most pressing challenges.
The three films featured here - Barrio de Paz, Waking Up, and Oneness is Abundance - illustrate the profound power of recognizing the needs of the whole and serving from the heart.
Barrio de Paz (Peace Town) leads us down the streets of Guayaquil, Ecuador, with Ms. Curbelo and a number of the youth who, through her leadership, have given up drugs and weapons to start small businesses like print shops and recording studios.
The camera scans the half-naked men curled up in doorways, men sitting drinking coffee and beer at sidewalk cafes, and lingers on a twirling, dark-eyed girl sprinkled in light. We witness the tenderness and complete authority with which Ms. Curbelo interacts with the ex-convicts and murderers now softened by her compassion and the changes she has brought to their lives.
The wisdom offered is shockingly clear. Explaining how she has honored gang members’ need for belonging and channeled it into successful community projects, Ms. Curbelo says matter-of-factly, “The opposite of violence is not non-violence; it’s the power of humanity working together.”
Waking Up brings us to Dharamsala, India, where we meet British-born Tibetan Buddhist teacher Ani Tenzin Palmo, She traveled to India when she was twenty years old and retreated into a cave for almost 12 years of meditation. Now her work is to restore the ancient togdenma (yogic) training to young women of the Himalayan region, once available but long lost in the recent patriarchal era of Buddhism.
Tenzin Palmo’s message is straightforward: the sense of a “separate” self is an illusion, and contributes to the destruction of human and natural resources. “Greed and aggression are based on the misconception of who we truly are,” she says; “The fact that you have more and more and bigger and bigger… makes you more and more of a person of substance in the eyes of the world.”
“Human beings have this incredible potential to become really beyond the gods,” she adds with sadness and frustration, “but mostly what they do with their human potential is to destroy both themselves and others.”
“So, how can we wake up?” she asks.
Orland Bishop, Guiana-born youth mentor and community leader in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles, has a suggestion. “A large percentage of the world could decide to do something different out of collective inspiration,” he says with a hint of promise. “We can’t underestimate the human potential when it comes to this power of awakening.”
According to Mr. Bishop, our country’s economic and political structures can one day reflect the reality that we are not “separate” from the whole, and the whole is abundant with resources.
Our current economy, founded on the principle of scarcity, counters this truth. Supply and demand tells us that the resource that is most scarce has the most value. “This means that people are forced to compete…” Mr. Bishop says.
With competition comes a situation in which “…a small portion of the world is claiming the rights to what the majority of the world produces.” Those with little are unable to participate freely in the community. Thus, the real freedom and abundance of life is at odds with experience.
Alternatively, we could re-distribute resources so that we all can participate, or create non-currency methods of exchanging goods and services, which is part of Mr. Bishop’s work in Watts.
The films of the Global Oneness Project indicate that we are at a time of great change. Old systems are unsustainable, and new ways of thinking and being are coming to the surface in every aspect of our culture.
As we stand at the juncture where an old world is falling away, we have the opportunity to apply the deepest powers and principles toward the creation of the new.
And many of the principles represented in these films sing with a wisdom that has traditionally been called “feminine” – such as inclusiveness, awareness of the whole, responding from the heart.
And what could be more appropriate than applying feminine wisdom to the creation of our new society? After all, it has always been women who stand, squat, lie down, and breathe at the mysterious vortex where new life emerges.
The Global Oneness Project uses films and interviews to document how an awareness of interconnection and the responsibilities that come with it are helping create a sustainable and flourishing future. Please visit globalonenessproject.org to view more films about oneness at work in the world, or to download films at no charge.
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