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Women Changing the World

An Interview with Dr. Jean Houston
By Randy Peyser

 

Dr. Jean Houston is one of the foremost visionaries of our time. One of the principal founders of the Human Potential Movement, Dr. Houston is the author of 26 books, including The Possible Human, A Mythic Life: Learning to Live Our Greater Story, The Passion of Isis and Osiris, and Jump Time. She is the founder of The Foundation for Mind Research, and principal teacher for the Mystery School, a program of cross-cultural, mythic and spiritual studies. In recent years, she has been teaching a program globally on Social Artistry in which those who desire to make a profound difference in the world engage her genius in exploring their personal potential as pioneers in the re-genesis of human society. As Senior Advisor to the United Nations, she has received a mandate from Dr.. Monica Sharma, Director of Leadership and Capacity Development for the United Nations to train 10,000 trainers, who will be training 100 million people worldwide by 2017. She will be leading a conference January 22-24 in the San Francisco Bay Area called, “The Required Human for an Emerging World: Breakthrough Techniques for Developing Strength, Skills and Spirit for Succeeding in Times of Radical Change.” During this event, she’ll reveal the five essential new patterns of thinking and behavior required for more conscious and empowered humans, offer strategies to turn resistance into energy and potential, and share the creative secrets of 50 of the world’s top leaders. She will also be speaking at the Conscious Life Expo in Los Angeles, February 12-15 on “The Future of People.” For information visit: www.requiredhuman.com. Randy Peyser: Where are you putting your focus right now? Jean Houston: I work as a consultant to the United Nations all over the world. I help cultures and leaders explore and deepen their own human capacities in the light of social change and social complexity. Now I am putting a special emphasis on the idea of the “Required Human.” Years ago, I wrote a book called, The Possible Human, but now, we have run out of time for possibilities; it is deeply required that we begin to rise to the immense challenges of our time. Otherwise, we may not make it. In my conference, I will be training people in many psychological and spiritual capacities so they can deal with the complexity and the strangeness of our time..


Randy: Talk about that complexity.
Jean: Part of it has to do with the immensity of change. People are living five, to ten, to sometimes a hundred times the amount of shared experience as their ancestors did one hundred years ago. We have not been prepared for this. For example, I find too many leaders have been raised as though they were white males from the year 1926; they have not been raised to deal with the present complexities we face.The other aspect which I am addressing has to do with the unexpected, the inexplicable. For example, climate change, as well as the economic collapse and financial decline. I address factors that are unique in human history, both positively and negatively.
Randy: What are some of the positive factors you address?
Jean: One of the biggest factors that I address and nobody else is writing about comes under the generic title of “women rising to full partnership with men in the whole domain of human affairs.” Women are rising to full partnership with men around the world.No one is talking about the fact that when you look at who is doing the real work in the world, or who is initiating the projects and carrying them out - such as making sure a village has food - seventy to eighty percent of the people initiating these projects are women of a certain age. And this is true all over the world.
Randy: What age range?
Jean: Forty and up, and the older they get, the zippier they get. We refer to it as “post-menopausal zest.” These women are not afraid. They have released their sense of restriction. They don’t worry about getting into trouble, and in some cases, even killed. Women are taking these extraordinary initiatives all over the world. Paul Hawken wrote a wonderful book last year, Blessed Unrest, about the millions of voluntary associations that are rising up for restorative justice, for ecology, for child welfare. So many of these are started by women, and especially women over age 40.
Randy: Can you give examples from your own experience of some women who are rising and what they’ve done?
Jean: There is an aboriginal woman in Australia who is an elder of her clan and only 37 years old. She has worked intensely, learning all kinds of new skills to take on the government. For example, the houses that were being built for her people were horrible shanties. She took on the government to build houses with care and with real craft, and train members of her clan so they could live very different kinds of lives. Then there is Loretta Afraid Of Bear-Cook, who is an elder of the Oglala Lakota Nation on the Pine Ridge Reservation. She is fighting bureaucracy, and at the same time, creating not only better living structures, better health, and better nutrition for her people, but also taking on initiatives that most of us would just pale at. At the very highest level in this country, people like Hillary Clinton are taking on impossible odds and situations, and profoundly making a difference.. I used to know her pretty well. She is quite fearless in ways that some other political types just are not.
Randy: What are some challenges women are facing right now?
Jean: The challenges women are facing have to do with “the changing of the guard.” We are living in the most unique time in human history. What we do will profoundly make a difference as to whether we grow or die. We are finding ourselves in the midst of the most massive shift of perspective that humankind has ever known. Naturally, this is the “sunset effect” of the old order, the old forces, the old traditions, the old fears, the old ways of being. The old order is trying to keep us down, keep us back. But we can’t go back. The new values that are trying to arise are essentially women’s values - holistic, syncratic, relationship and process-oriented, organic and spiritual. These values are rising within us. Women’s values, women’s genius, women’s gifts (and a lot of very good men, too) - we are the pilgrims and the parents of this new, emerging world. The old formulas and stopgap solutions will not do. We are moving from a patriarchy not to a matriarchy, that’s not about to happen - but to a much more partnership-oriented society. This shift will probably require a lesser population because the world is not supporting all 7 billion people very well. Men in government and the private sectors have been the authorities in determining how the world works, but women are still the majority of people on this planet. An exception are places like China where females are killed at birth. Women have been excluded, and now it’s time to focus on the roles that women should play in this new world design. We are in the time of new world design and the reinvention of societies. It is a developmental process. I believe this is the biggest shift in human history. The biggest shift in the last 5000 years is women coming into partnership with men in the whole domain of human affairs. And this shift is absolutely indispensable if we seek a future that is different than the past.
Randy: What would a partnership society look like in its most ideal form?
Jean: Philosophically... a society in which the emphasis is on process rather than on product - on making things cohere, relate, and grow. It would mean having a department of consequences, as in “if you do this, then that, that, and that will follow. Relationships between people and things becomes much more important than the final outcome. There is no final outcome; things are always ongoing. The world within, the subjective world, becomes as important as the world without.. These are some of the psychological factors that certainly would shift. Another aspect of this would also be the movement toward a different kind of mind where the Mother Mind would be honored as much as the Father Mind. It is the joining together of the geographies of mind and body that have never touched before. We are living in a very great diversity of culture. So many cultures are coming together in ways they never have before. It’s the weaving of this new cultural fusion to create people who are part of this World Mind taking a walk with itself with its empowering capacities. In many ways, the internet is an objective form of what is happening internally in the intranet, calling up new functions, new personalities - it is the World Mind. But it is not just high tech; it is high touch. It is activating a spiritual level that is very powerful.
Randy: What do you mean by Mother Mind or Father Mind?
Jean: The feminine mind is concerned with the networking of the individuals within a larger social organism and with our beautiful planet itself. The approach is systemic, rather than systematic. Women tend to see things in constellations, rather than in discreet and disconnected facts. The Father Mind, traditionally has to do with the individual being almost more important than the social organism. Men look for systems, being systematic, and also the linearity of facts. That’s a broad statement. There are many variations. I will tell you a story to illustrate this: Shortly before she died, Margaret Mead said to me, “Jean, let’s do anthropology in the corporations. One of the stupid things happening is that women are modeling them-selves along male lines in order to get ahead. They are becoming second-rate men and they are going to stay in second-rate jobs this way.”
I said, “What will we do?” And she said, “I know a woman who is the head of a very large corporation. Let’s look at this woman executive.” She does things differently. We followed this very highly-paid executive around and observed her style of work. Margaret would say, “Look how she breathes her work. She is attending to how the process of things is done, as well as getting the task done.” This woman, who was overseeing her company’s quarterly reports, was very sensitive to the environment of feelings among her employees. She noticed who felt left out or who was not voicing an idea. Later over lunch, the executive spoke about how the women all over the world are challenging the most sexist of institutions. For example, in the medical establishment in many countries, 70% of the medical students are women. That is true even in Arabic countries. Women are replacing the old order in education, career, marriage, recreation, business invention, investment, government and organized religion. They’re changing the results. Margaret said, “You’ll see. Soon women will be both the priests and the president. Why? Because women’s resourcefulness and resolve increases as circumstances become more difficult.” This executive woman said, “I see this with women business owners. They’re more likely to succeed because women are more likely to admit that they need allies and partner. So they surround themselves with good people. Women don’t want to work in pyramids of power. They want to pull people out of the pyramids and work in clusters.” We call this circular investedness, instead of linear investedness.
Randy: You’re talking about partnership and balance. How do we balance these?
Jean: Women are rising to the occasion. We have to do it. The pre-eminent scientific organization in the world is the Association for the Advancement of Science. At a conference, they all came to the conclusion that the only thing that is going to save us is women rising, women taking on the larger roles. This involves women running for office, women not imitating men, but really exploring the innate genius in women, which is what I do in my workshops. I’ve worked in over 100 countries and intensely with over 40 cultures. I do see this rising happening all over the world. For example, at my seminars twenty years ago, the women sat back while men did all the questioning. But that is not true any more. I am stunned at how women are taking the initiative. This is a new phenomenon.
Randy: There is still a very large financial discrepancy.
Jean: Yes, but women still own most of the businesses. They may be small businesses, but they own the businesses.
Randy: Many women whom I know want to save the world, but don’t have the experience or know exactly what to do. What advice would you give to a young woman who wants to step out in a bigger way?
Jean: We have to create networks and teams, and cooperative societies for them. They need to go into women’s circles. For example, Marilyn Nyborg is doing the “Gather the Women” conferences, and Jean Shinoda Bolen, the author and psychiatrist, helped create these million-women circles.. Women must find their allies, their circles in which they can share and explore and begin to help each other in critical and deep ways.
Randy: What are some things of which you feel most proud?
Jean: In terms of women, I was helping Hillary Clinton write a book called, It Takes a Village to Raise a Child. She was about to go to India. I’d spent a lot of time in India, so I was vetting her on their customs, philosophies and ways of knowing and being. I had a hunch and said, “Hillary, take Chelsea with you. Show her with you in public all the time. Let them see the wonderful relationship you have with each other.” Hillary and Chelsea have a very powerful mother-daughter relationship, as Chelsea also has with her dad. Hillary did it. Every scene in the media showed Hillary with Chelsea. That was around 1996. As a result of that, 50,000 girl babies were born who normally would have been aborted. That is one of the things I’m proudest about. As a professional woman, I am glad to be of use. I once asked Margaret Mead, “What would you like on your tombstone?” And she said, “She lived long enough to be of some use.” That’s my motto, too. I hope in my remaining years to contribute in whatever ways, large or very small, to be of use.

For information on “The Required Human for an Emerging World” conference, go to www.requiredhuman.com.
Randy Peyser is the author of “The Power of Miracle Thinking.” www.MiracleThinking.com. She also edits books and helps people find publishers or self-publish. www.AuthorOne Stop.com.

 

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