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Natural Awakenings

Birthing a New World: Jean Houston Explores the Power of the Feminine

Apr 22, 2011 11:30PM ● By Linda Sechrist

Scholar, author, philosopher and researcher Jean Houston is one of the principal founders of the human potential movement. Her seminar, titled Woman, an Idea Whose Time Has Come: Why Unleashing the Power of the Feminine is Key to Personal Fulfillment & Planetary Transformation, was recently offered via teleconference to thousands of women by Women on the Edge of Evolution, founded by Katherine Woodward Thomas and Claire Zammit.

Why is building momentum in women’s empowerment so vital, and why is it essential that women speak up now?

The possible society will become a reality if we each become The Possible Human we are capable of being. To do this in our present planetary culture, where everything is in transition, we need to make the most of the full complement of human resources, wherever and in whomever they are found. We also need to bring forth and orchestrate all the rhythms of human awakening that have ever been realized, in humanity’s search for what can be.

As pilgrims and parents in a newly emerging world, we cannot afford old stopgap solutions. We can thrive in these complex times, which require the wisest use of our capacities and a new set of holistic values, if women focus their newfound empowerment in the re-genesis of society. Women’s voices are indispensable if we seek a future that will be different from the past.

How has your work with the United Nations forwarded progress for women and the world?

My work with the United Nations Development Programme and nongovernmental organizations has been guided by the intention of achieving measurable and sustainable change in the domains of peace and development. I’ve trained thousands of people in the Philippines, Kenya, Albania, Nepal and other countries in the new field of Social Artistry, the art of enhancing human capacities in the midst and light of social complexity. One initiative to strengthen leadership in women and youth, as well as their active participation in decision-making, is in the third year of a five-year program.

During behind-the-scenes work to train and empower women in Middle East countries, I’ve observed that within the collapsing economies and infrastructures of the Arabic world, women are especially open to creating strategic change and social action.

How can we determine where to give our energy and attention in order to influence the future and make our greatest contribution?

I believe that the rise of women and the re-patterning of human nature in the 21st century may be one of the most important events in human history. For a new world to be born, we must bring a new mind to bear.

Women comprise half of the world’s total population and are critical to this change. Their “mother mind” weaves the linear and circular, subjective and objective, and is empathic and narrative-oriented. Solutions arise from such a mind in a form of unfolding levels of understanding, where the inner world is valued as much as the outer.

This mind sees things as systemic, rather than systematic, and in unifying constellations, rather than in disparity. This way of perceiving one wholeness and the networks within is vital to the creation of a whole new planetary society, where women and men are in full partnership in the handling of all affairs. In emphasizing relatedness and ongoing connection, the best solution for all becomes one in which everyone benefits and is provided with a pathway to achieving his or her fullest potential.

How might we work together and support each other in this process?

Create teaching and learning communities where women can come together to discuss things that matter and develop themselves. It is critical for women to have such a place of deep meeting, deep meaning and deep becoming, where they can grow in body, mind and spirit. As a result of these rich meetings, women move forward to take on projects—whatever seems most important, whether it’s a streetlight needed at a dark corner or creating a social action group.

In your experience, what have you identified as the first action that individual women can take to catalyze progress?

Wherever you are, take action now. Start a teaching and learning community. One of my students, a Samoan-American woman, started several such communities in her hometown. She went on to become the mayor of Burnsville, Minnesota. She didn’t stop there; today she serves as the president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

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Linda Sechrist is a senior writer and editor for Natural Awakenings.

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