THE PRACTICAL VISIONARY:
A New World Guide to Spiritual Growth and Social Change
Discover 8 Keys to the New World within You and Growing All Around You
By Corinne McLaughlin with Gordon Davidson
Did you know there’s a New World growing through the cracks and crevices of the old one--if you know where—and how to look? To see this New World of practical visionaries, you need to shift your attention from what’s dying—to what’s being born. Shift from what’s dysfunctional and running out of energy to the positive, creative solutions pioneered by practical visionaries in every country. Shift from fearing “The End Times”--to embracing “The Beginning Times”—the New World growing all around you.
In our research and travels, we’ve discovered many non-profits, businesses, and demonstration centers expressing New World ideas, as well as conferences, magazines and websites. We’ve found thousands of practical visionaries--social innovators who are pioneering solutions to our toughest problems:
• Micro-enterprise loans to reduce poverty and develop self-sufficiency;
• Bio-remediation using mushrooms to consume toxic pollution such as oil spills;
• Multi-stakeholder dialogues among adversaries to reduce conflict and violence;
• Victim-offender reconciliation to reduce crime and heal painful experiences;
• Permaculture methods to create healthier food and protect the environment;
• Social investing to support good businesses and transform corporate culture.
A practical visionary is someone with an intuitive, positive vision of the future who develops effective skills and sensible strategies to implement their vision and meet urgent human needs. The New World is the collaborative expression of visionaries in every country who are creating a new rhythm of practical spirituality. Visionary doesn’t have to mean unrealistic or illusionary. Starry-eyed dreamers and romantic idealists who can’t relate to the real needs of the present aren’t enough today. We need practical visionaries to help us through the current crises.
While vision essentially comes from the spiritual dimension within you, being practical is focusing on what’s needed, appropriate and timely when applying your vision. It is knowing realistically what you’re up against in the old, dying world that’s resistant to change. It is being strategic in your approach, knowing the steps needed to manifest your vision, and doing the detailed follow-through with administration and finances.
We both developed practical skills through building a spiritual/ecological community called Sirius in rural Massachusetts 30 years ago, which is still going strong today. Not only did we create organic gardens, solar buildings, windmills, and composting toilets, but we also learned how to negotiate with local bureaucracies, banks, and businesses, and resolve conflicts with challenging people. Then we developed a whole new set of practical skills while co-directing a public educational institution in Washington and offering trainings for the public and for the federal government. Our daily meditation practice has been key in helping us become more peaceful inwardly and effective outwardly.
From our experience, we’ve discovered eight important keys to spiritual growth and social change in the New World:
1. Shift from what’s dying to what’s being born: discover the new world of practical visionaries all around you;
2. Understand the big picture and the higher evolutionary plan behind everything unfolding today: find your part and get engaged;
3. Make your livelihood a social change strategy and bring spiritual values into your work: be a spiritual warrior to confront the darkness;
an innovator to create a new institution; a reformer to transform the system from within; and/or an exemplar who lives the values of the
new world wherever you are;
4. Invoke the magic of your soul: explore the new world within you and make friends with your subconscious;
5. Turn within to find a source of spiritual strength: develop a regular meditative practice to receive clear guidance;
6. Clarify your higher purpose and vision: create a mission and practical strategy with right timing;
7. See money as a spiritual asset: trust in the abundance of the universe—and be practical and wise;
8. Transform duality and conflict into a higher synthesis: find common ground personally and politically to change the world.
We’ve found that practical visionaries work with all their chakras, the energy centers in their body. They bring down vision and inspiration from their soul through their crown center; shape it mentally into clear ideas and goals through their brow center; communicate creatively through their throat center; develop good relationships through their heart center; energize their work with enthusiasm through their solar plexus center; attract resources through their sexual center; and ground their work with practical, sustainable survival strategies through their root chakra. Many spiritual people have money problems because they focus too much energy in their higher chakras and not enough in their lower chakras.
You can navigate successfully through the crises and confusion of the present if you become more visionary and invoke the magic of your soul or higher self. The light of your soul reveals the New World growing everywhere. Like the rising sun revealing a previously dark landscape, a whole New World suddenly lights up all around you. It’s been there all along, but it becomes more visible and vibrant when you live more fully in the reality of your soul. You’ll wonder how you could have missed it before.
Your soul is the link between Spirit and matter. It reveals a grand design—a magnificent evolutionary plan unfolding behind the scenes today, despite escalating crises. As your frequency rises with your soul’s unfolding, you can see your part in this evolutionary plan. You can discover more skillful means of expressing your higher purpose and making a contribution. You can learn how to thrive despite outer crises by developing the spiritual strength and practical resiliency to deal creatively with challenges that arise.
As you connect the dots and discover the higher evolutionary plan that is now unfolding, it will inspire you with hope for our future. It’s like seeing all of the pieces of a puzzle fit together in perfect harmony. It brings a deep sense of joy and well-being, an assurance that there is a greater purpose to life.
The good news is that inner and outer change are mutually interdependent and reinforcing. You can change yourself--and change the world at the same time. What you learn in one area can help you in the other. As Gandhi said, “I must be the change I want to see in the world.” Spiritual growth makes your service to the world more effective, and your outer service, in turn, can give you an arena to apply your spirituality and enhance your growth.
This is the Age of Synthesis, where everything is blending, fusing, transcending old polarities—races, religions, cultures, styles, ideas. Hybrids and creative “mash-ups”—such as world music, holistic medicine, open source software, interfaith dialogues, integral psychology, transpartisan politics--are the leading edge in every field. People are transcending dualities such as inner and outer, reflection and action, personal and political. They are finding higher common ground amidst conflict and differences. Most significantly, they are overcoming the duality between their spiritual ideals and how they live their daily lives, so they embody their values.
The evolutionary tide is turning, as more and more of us are waking up. Let us start thinking like a world community and creating a new soundtrack for Earth, with the rhythm of a universal heartbeat and a chorus of a million voices worldwide. Let us join the thousands of practical visionaries around the world who have their eyes on the horizon, their feet on the ground, and their hearts on fire!
Corinne McLaughlin and Gordon Davidson are co-authors of Spiritual Politics (Foreword by the Dalai Lama), Builders of the Dawn, and The Practical Visionary, from which this article is excerpted. They are co-founders of The Center for Visionary Leadership in CA, and co-founders of Sirius, a spiritual and ecological community in MA. Corinne coordinated a national task force for President Clinton’s Council on Sustainable Development. Gordon was the Founding Director of the Social Investment Forum and of CERES, The Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Economies. They both are Fellows of The World Business Academy and The Findhorn Foundation. To contact the authors: firstname.lastname@example.org; www.thepracticalvisionary.org; www.visionarylead.org.