~ The Art Of Change ~ with Carol Omer ~

Art and Creativity as Mediums for Empowerment , Connection and Change…

Archive for the ‘Mind Power’ Category

Robert Masters, husband of Jean Houston, has passed away.

Posted by carolom on July 30, 2008

Sal and I have benefited greatly from Jean Houston’s work and are committed to the principles of Social Artistry. We first met at Jeans Mystery School event in 2001 and enjoyed many ‘Bob’ stories that were always peppered with humour and wit, that also revelaed Bobs many talents and his great mind.

We didn’t get to meet Bob but our thoughts are with him and Jean as they venture through the next stage of life’s ever unfolding Mysteries.

Bob passed away on July 27th 2008 leaving many great literary works and Foundation for Mind research studies in his wake.

Here is a copy of Bobs obituary published in the Oregon Mailtribune.

Obituary from the Mailtribune, Oregon

Robert Masters was the beloved husband of Jean Houston, Ph.D., with whom he co-founded and directed The Foundation for Mind Research.
The couple’s shared passion for charting, understanding, developing and teaching of Human and Extended Human Capacities fueled their lifelong adventure toward improving the quality of life for peoples of all ages, cultures and geographic locations.
Together, they were among the principal founders of the human potential movement.

Masters served in the Navy in WWII, mainly in the Pacific arena. He then joined his father, Colonel Masters, in duties regarding ordinance in the occupation of France and Germany. There he continued his student activities studying informally with Jean Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir. In Germany, he attended the University of Marburg and was one of the first to translate Heidegger’s Sein und Zeit into English.
Completing his degree at the University of Missouri, he taught philosophy for several years before becoming a newspaper editor, writing editorials for the Houston Post and then the Shreveport Times. In Louisiana he became a good friend of Elvis Presley.
He came to New York in 1962, where he became the editor of the Library of Sex Research for Julian Press and published eight books in the field of sexology and natural history which became classics in their field. It was in New York that he met Jean Houston and they were married in 1965.

Masters authored or co-authored more than 30 books and 100 papers and articles describing his researches into the varieties of human behavior and potentials. John Lennon wrote a song about one of the books he wrote with Jean Houston, Mind Games.

His works have been translated into many languages and he has taught and done research in Europe, Africa and Asia as well as the Americas.

Masters is recognized as a leading pioneer in consciousness research and the human potentials field. He has also published poetry, fiction, essays, literary and art criticism, book reviews, anthology contributions, and forewords and introductions to books by authors in many different fields.

Robert Masters conducted on-site investigations of states of consciousness in many different cultures and countries. He pioneered applications of altered states in education and psychotherapy, as well as in neural, sensory, and kinesthetic reeducation aimed at overcoming many different problems but especially at making possible a larger and more productive access to human potentials.

Robert Masters was the founder and was President Emeritus of the Association for the Masters Psychophysical Method, a group of hundreds of teachers trained and certified by him for the work he created in the field of psychophysical reeducation.

Along with Association members, Dr. Masters endeavored to establish centers for this work in cities across the U.S., where the intended focus addressed “older people.”

Prior to his passing, he was involved in related research and other work to delay the onset of “symptoms of aging” and improve the quality of life of older people.

In addition to ongoing work in psychophysical reeducation, altered states of consciousness and other areas long worked with in the context of human potentials (research, educational and other applications), Masters initiated experimental approaches to esoteric psychologies and spiritual disciplines and was particularly knowledgeable about ancient Egyptian psychospiritual practices.

Robert Masters is survived by his wife, Jean Houston. He will be missed not only by those close to him, but by his peers and the many students who benefited from his mentoring and who called him Papa Bob.

Dr. Marti Glenn and her husband, Ken Bruer, are establishing as a tribute the Robert Masters Scholarship Fund for students in somatic psychology at their Santa Barbara Graduate Institute, and

Posted in Jean Houston, Mind Power, Mystical, Relationships, Shamanic, Social Artistry | 2 Comments »

Time…Spoken by Sir Lawrence Olivier…

Posted by carolom on June 24, 2008

TIME…..
Some of the most instructional words regarding the power of our Thoughts and their impact on every day life that have ever been written…spoken so eloquently by Sir Lawrence Olivier in the musical “Time”...

…take a few moments to really listen to what he is telling us and celebrate the serious wonder of such influence we have on our personal Reality, simply by what we think about…

Lyrics are included below…

 

~ The Theme from TIME ~

Stand before me on the Sign of Infinity all you of the Earth.
With the granting of the “Law of Probenation”
comes the application of change.
I will give you the key.
And with this knowledge, please realize,
comes the responsibility of sharing it.
I will show you the way (it’s very simple).

Throughout the Universe there is order.
In the movement of the planets…in nature…
and in the functioning of the human mind.
A mind that is in its natural state of order
is in harmony with the Universe,
and such a mind is timeless.
Your life is an expression of your mind.
You are a creator of your own Universe,
for as a human being you are “free to will”
whatever state of being you desire through the use of your thoughts and words.

There is great Power there.

It can be a blessing or a curse.

It’s entirely up to you, for the quality of your life
is brought about by the quality of your thinking.
Think about that.

Thoughts produce actions.
See the pettiness and the envy and the greed and the fear
and all the other attitudes that cause you pain and discomfort.
Realize that the one thing you have absolute control over is your attitude.
See the effect that it has on those around you,
for each life is linked to all Life and your words carry with them chain reactions like a stone that has been thrown into a pond.
If your thinking is in order, your words will flow directly from the heart,
creating ripples of love.

If you truly want to change your world, my friends,
you must change your thinking.
Reason is your greatest tool.
It creates an atmosphere of understanding which leads to caring which is Love. Choose your words with care.
Go forth….with Love.

Posted in Mind Power, Power of Focus, Wisdom | 31 Comments »

Drama Detox Unit open for Business…

Posted by carolom on May 31, 2008

DRAMA DE-TOX UNIT

A Cautionary Tale Dedicated to the recovering Dramaholic in all of us….well many of us. This is a fictionally true transcript from Dramaholics Anonymous, held at a venue ~ and a venyou ~ nearby.

*******

Trouble ~ “Hi my name is Trouble and I am a Dramaholic.

Person A ~ Hi Trouble”
Person B ~  “Welcome Trouble”
Person C ~ Just nods head slightly…doesn’t like to welcome Trouble anymore

Group Leader: “Welcome Trouble. It is so good you have decided to come along and we’d appreciate it if you would tell us a bit about yourself”

Trouble: “Well I was born into Trouble. My mama was a Drama Queen and my daddy was nowhere to be found.
Mama modelled Drama to us kids very well.

She taught us to always pick the wrong kind of guy, make sure there was lots of chaos in our life before getting rid of him and then go out and find another one and get on with the whole dang thing again!. Now I look for trouble and draaama everywhere and in everything people say and do. And I sure am good at finding it!

Person A~ Praise the Lord I think we had the same mama
Person B~ Heavens above…I think I might be your mama
Person C~ silence….no longer even looks Trouble in the eye…

Group Leader:  “So what has made you decide to come to Dramaholics Anon and apply to stay in the Draaaama Detox Unit Trouble?”

Trouble:    “Well there I was in the midst of wagging my finger at yet another person who seemed to just want to make my life more complicated..my latest boyfriend who proved to be just like the last three …and all of a suddenI looked up and saw my mama standing there in front of me”

Group Leader:   “Why was this a problem”?

Trouble:   “Well she has been dead for ten years but I tell you when I looked up in that bathroom mirror and saw my mamas familiar weary face and angry brow and recognised that disappointed look in her eye, barely concealing those unshed tears…….I KNEW I was in big Trouble!
I stood there looking in the mirror and remembered all the times I had fleshed out arguments in my life.
How many times I found myself bickering with people cause they were so wrong and I was so right and I KNEW I needed to make them see my point of view. How many times  I tore peoples words apart so I could find the perfect one to be offended by…too many times to count over the years!

After all the Trouble in me had a very strong calling to point out to others their failings and how to correct their words and behaviors so they would be just like me.
Then I remembered how many times I would get to a peaceful place and it felt REALLLL uncomfortable so I would start looking around and find someone to make a bit of Trouble with or criticise someone near to me for letting me down or not acting how I thought they should be acting!

Group Leader:  “Well Trouble..you have come to the right place and the first thing we would like to do, after the big group hug , is give you a new name. So from now on we will all know you as:

“GrownUp”!

”We reckon you have had enough Trouble for one life time and with your new insight, because you have finally seen that you have been creating this Drama in your life for too long now, you earn your Brand New name…

Grown Up~ formerly known as Trouble (blinking modest tears of appreciation and realistion how lonely she had been for so long whilst she was Trouble):    “Well thankyou SO much for that. I am amazed that I only had to come here to Dramaholics once to finally really get the message that when I let go of looking for and creating Trouble then I really truly am all Grown Up!…

Group Leader:   Well the realisation is just the first step Grown up, that old draaaama addiction will still have a hold at times but at least you now have an understanding of your role in these things…

The End.

…and The BEginning of Trouble beginning to finally realise that we usually find what we are looking for and the wisdom of making sure we are looking to make a positive difference in the world rather than add to the tsunami of drama, gossip, irrelevant ‘news’ and media-machinations currently consuming the planet and the consciousness of its inhabitants with its currents of draaaama….

“Men occasionally stumble across the Truth but most pick themself up and hurry off as if nothing has happened”.

“The Magical Child in Exile – Why Does the Creative Well Being Run Dry? ” is related to the “Drama Detox unit” and can be read by clicking on the dots here…………

Posted in Chaos, Creativity, Drama, Energy, Humor, Imagination, Laughter, law of attraction, Lifes Stories, Mind Power, Women | Tagged: | 4 Comments »

Mandala

Posted by carolom on May 9, 2008

I made this Empowerment Mandala for our discussion on “Boundaries” in the women’s group…..

Each participant has a black and white copy as a way of ‘kick starting creativity and the use of symbols as an alternative to talk, talk, talk therapy……

Posted in Art, Change, Creativity, Family, Imagination, Journeys, Lifes Stories, Mandalas, Men and Women, Mind Power, Oneness, Power of Focus, Prosperity, Shamanic, Sisterhood, Social Artistry, Spirituality, The Art of Change, Warrior Women, Women | Leave a Comment »

A Warriors Mind is like a Spear….

Posted by carolom on June 5, 2007

We ran a group for young men at risk today. The art activity was based on the theme:

“A Warriors mind is like a Spear.
Strong
Straight
Sharp and
Focussed”

I created a Mandala with the Spear as the central theme for the boys to colour in during the program and one of the Youthworkers said that when the Men in his family travelled to the city, people did not want to employ them because they were Aboriginal.They met with racism and opression in 1960’s Australia and once their sense of purpose and worth began to be affected, drinking and the pub replaced work and respsonsibiity.
He said:
“Their spear became short and blunt and it wasn’t a strong weapon anymore”

What a powerful metaphor for what happens to a mind that becomes infected by the attitudes and stereotypings of others.
I will attach an image of the Mandala when one is coloured in – (the image below is from a separate source).

Next week we are going to look at “Mental Poise and Mental Poisons”…if these young Warriors walking-wrong-track embrace the concept about the power of the Mind at the age they are at, then they can reclaim who they were always meant to be…….after all “Reclaim” is just the word Miracle in anagrom disguise…


And the Boomerang reminds us that we get back what we put out…what goes round comes round….
Click here to see the source of above Image

Posted in Aboriginal, Change, Imagination, Mind Power, Spirituality, Transformation | Leave a Comment »

The Artists Way…

Posted by carolom on April 29, 2007

I am a graduate and advocate of Julia Camerons process called “The Artists Way”.

It is a twelve week creative recovery process and for the 84 days and beyond – takes you into a very personal place of Creative healing, recognition, recovery and empowerment. A self inventory and reclaiming of some ofthe inner gifts and talents we may  have lost touch with.

The Artists Way takes you  on a 12 week, deeply intimate journey with the Self….this process changes lives and I have been the Artists way buddy for several people over the years, all who have had life changing results as a result of recovering their Creative Self, especially if they complete the process as many people begin but aren’t yet ready to commit to completing the full journey.

For graduates, the journey of the Artists Way releases many of the myths and monsters, limiting habits and old patterns around Creativity in order to craft  the kind of  life they seek, rather than the one they have been living.

PROCESS is a very key word in the Artists Way Journey as the wonderful giftings of the quantum leap often leave some areas once blocked and stuck now open and full of possibilities but without the HOW factor…

The Artists Way is in book form, you study and creatively evolve at home…if you do the course with a friend it is a great way to meet weekly and share the processes from week 1 -12

Each week has a Creative Recovery theme…the word “Reclaim” would work as well in the context of how the course unfolds…

Weeks 1 – 12 are:
Recovering a sense of Safety
Recovering a sense of Identity
Recovering a sense of Power
Recovering a sense of Integrity
Recovering a sense of Possibility
Recovering a sense of Abundance
Recovering a sense of Connection
Recivering a sense of Strength
Recovering a sense of Compassion
Recovering a sense of Self protection
Recovering a sense of Autonomy
Recovering a sense of Faith

Here are some Amazon reviews for The Artists Way…it is not for everyone but many attest to it being the process that changed their life!
Click Here…

Posted in Art, Change, Creativity, Imagination, Journeys, Lifes Stories, Mind Power, Prosperity, Spirituality, The Art of Change, The Artists Way, The Law of Attraction, Transformation, Wisdom, Writing | 7 Comments »

The Greener Grass we are seeking….

Posted by carolom on April 29, 2007

“Sometimes the greener grass we are looking for is right there under our feet….we just haven’t been watering it very much lately!..

“Sometimes the greener grass we are looking for is right there under our feet….we just haven’t been watering it very much lately!……

I remember years ago I went to live in London from Oz and after the hype and hoo-haa of the journey and the preparation and the settling in, I was sitting in Hyde Park one day and to my great surprise and ‘oh-no’, I noticed that even though I had travelled across the world to much greener pastures and wider horizons….once I got there…..many of those same old feelings and the inner restless discontent I had left back in the dry old paddocks was STILL there…

Back then it had never occurred to me to water the dry grass back home and begin to weed and seed within…the greener pastures just seemed to have the answers I was looking for…..

Here is what I ended up doing eventually when I was finally, inescapebly faced with a patch of dry, hard grass-less ground under my feet….

1998….

2004

Carol

Posted in Change, Creativity, Garden, Journeys, law of attraction, Lifes Stories, Mind Power, Peace, Prosperity, Spirituality, Stories, The Art of Change, Transformation, Wisdom | Leave a Comment »

A New Batch of Warrior Women…Strong Mind and Peaceful Heart

Posted by carolom on April 7, 2007

Each week in my ART of Change ~ Law of AttrACTION program we make a piece of Art /Craft the embodies that weeks discussion…

As an artist and life coach I place a great deal of importance on the visual /auditory AND kinestic process of learning – Seeing, Hearing and Doing- CREATING …the way we learnt as young children in a visually rich, imaginative and engaging environment works for adults in ways that sitting passively with a white board and speaker does not engage with all of the preferred learning styles….

e.g. When looking at the “Poverty to Prosperity Consciousness” week we make a ProsperiTree:
Click here to view…

When embarking on the journey to call on the “Warrior Woman Within” we create her as we discuss who She is…
They are made from a basic black and white template…

These are some of the new flock of Warrior Women that were birthed in a domestic violence outreach group that I had the privilege of facilitating over 5 weeks….

The headress symbolises the importance of developing Strong Thoughts forms and controlled Thinking
The Heart is the importance of connecting with Feelings but not solely driven by emotional responses to the world
And the wings demonstrate that when we are centred and balanced and understand the Power we have to create our Reality….we can fly like \never before…..

My wonderfully-creative Mother even made a couple of Warrior Women of her own…they now travel to workshops with me and inspire others with their creative gorgeousness….
You can see her with them here…….

Posted in Art, Creativity, Dreaming, Imagination, Lifes Stories, Magic, Mind Power, Mystical, Oneness, Prosperity, Sisterhood, Social Artistry, Spirituality, Stories, The Art of Change, The Law of Attraction, Transformation, Warrior Women, Wealth, Wisdom | 4 Comments »

Jean Houston talks about her work

Posted by carolom on March 24, 2007

Jean Houston is one of the highly skilled Elders of the human capacities training movement.
Author of over 20 books, student of Margaret Mead, friend of Joseph Campbell and former trainer of Hillary Clinton, Jeans Mystery School and Social Artistry intensives are a powerful, high energy experience of art, creativity, Mind capacities development, dance, quantum physics, song and Energy empowerment….

In this video Jean discusses her work and her views on importance and significance of the times we are living in…

Posted in Art, Community, Creativity, Energy, Imagination, Journeys, Magic, Metaphysics, Mind Power, Mystical, Social Artistry, Spirituality, Teachers, The Art of Change, Transformation, Wisdom | 4 Comments »

From Poverty to Prosperity in Bangladesh using Vision, Commitment and Action!

Posted by carolom on March 22, 2007

The journey from “poverty to prosperity” is both an individual and collective one, the opportunities and challenges often determined by the circumstances of our immediate surroundings / place of birth / family pattern etc

Politics, both locally and globally affect the lives of each and every individual on earth and unfortunately millions of people are living with subjugation and poverty as a direct result of the politics of a minority with a vested, greed oriented interest in land and social order.

One of the most powerful pieces of writing that I have ever read on the controversial subject of poverty in aid-reliant  countries is by Lynne Twist in her book The Soul of Money

Lynne is the former director of the The World Hunger Project and was involved in facilitating creative, new responses to poverty Bangladesh at a time when it was often referred to as the world’s ” begging bowl” for aid and relief.

The following story is about the changes and practical magic  that can happen when people are shown how to Dream and create a new vision together. It is a powerful reminder that poverty is a human-made state generated by minds often dominated by greed and thus can be eradicated by activating the power and capacities of the Mind that resides in each and every one of us, regardless of whether we are living in poverty or fortunate to be living a comfortable life, the formula for creating change is in each and every one of us.

I found an the excerpt of the Hunger Project story that I was looking for in the on line edition of Ode magazine:

*******************
“Decades of development work has made Bangladesh the world’s begging bowl; a land of desperation and dependence with no future. But even in the face of such misery one person can make a difference; without help from the outside.

A new dream and a new vision are bringing new life to the North of Bangladesh.

Bangladesh is an Asian country of more than 130 million people on a landmass the size of Iowa. It once was a land abundant with tropical rain forests, a diversity of plants and animal species, and a bounty of natural resources. In the 1900s the land was denuded of its forests by foreign interest that came and went, and the land was ravaged by war and the results of poor land tenure polices. Absent the trees and vegetation that once had thrived, seasonal floods took an even greater toll on the land and the people.
Listed by the United Nations as the second poorest country in the world in the late 1970s, Bangladesh became the recipient of another kind of flood, a flood of aid, and within a short time had become almost completely dependent on aid from outside sources. Bangladesh began to have a global reputation as needy and helpless, a giant begging bowl of a nation, and within Bangladesh itself, the people came to see themselves that way, too. Bangladeshis had become convinced they were a hopeless, helpless people dependent on others for even minimal survival.

In what had become a common cycle of disintegration of villages and communities, the people in villages near the district of Sylhet were giving up, making plans to leave the region and look for subsistence work elsewhere, or send the men off to larger towns an cities to find work and send money home to support their indigent families.
Sylhet is in the northern hill region of Bangladesh, just high enough to escape the floods that submerge the surrounding lowlands periodically each year. The dry hills had surrendered long ago to an invasive jungle of prickly scrubby brush, a plant whose only fruit is poison berries. The plants all tangled together look like a massive briar patch-inaccessible, dangerous, and thick. An overgrown area had been deemed government land and was off-limits for development by local farmers. But the scrubby, poisonous plant that grew there kept spreading and invading the small plots of land that the villagers would farm, taking over the crops and poisoning the land.
For generations the villagers had scraped a meagre existence from the small plots of land the government had given them, but even that was becoming an impossible task. Young people had turned to begging on the roads and stealing. Crime was at an all-time high. So it came to be that the villagers had given up on their difficult, unproductive land and were ready tot take drastic action. Many were prepared to abandon the village and move their families elsewhere, or abandon hope for an intact family, and instead send the men elsewhere to find jobs.
The conversation among villagers was urgent and pragmatic. Where could they move or send the men that would allow them to grow enough or earn enough to provide for their families? There was also talk of asking for US financial aid to enable them to buy food and other goods without work at all.
They had given up.
They were tired and they were resigned.
They felt the answer must be somewhere else and with someone else.
They felt they just couldn’t make it on their own.

About this time, we launched The Hunger Project in Bangladesh. There were plenty of independent relief agencies in Bangladesh already doing heroic and inspiring work, but what seemed to be making sustainable improvements were the initiatives that came from the Bangladeshis themselves.
The now-famous Grameen Bank, created by Dr. Muhammed Yunus, is a micro-credit program providing small-business loans to hardworking, cash-poor women, and BRAC, a village development initiative created by Bangladeshi leader Faisal Abed, had created significant success where outsiders unfamiliar with the people had failed.
These successes and experiences in other regions had affirmed our conviction that the Bangladeshi people were the key to their own development and that outside aid was systematically and psychologically turning them into beggars instead of the authors of their own future.
As the first step in the process of forging an effective partnership, together we looked deeply into the Bangladeshi culture, their attitudes and beliefs about themselves, their resignation and hopelessness.
It became clear that after so long subsisting on aid, the people had lost touch with any sense of their own competence or any vision of their country as capable of success.
In our meetings together, the Bangladeshi leaders determined that the thing that was missing, which, if provided, would enable these people to become self-reliant and self-sufficient, was a vision of their own strengths and capabilities.

The Hunger Project committed, as a partner, to develop a program designed to enable the Bangladeshis to reconnect with a vision for themselves and their country, with an awareness of their available assets, and strategies to put their ideas into action. Out of that commitment and partnership came the Vision, Commitment and Action Workshop.
It called upon participants to engage in a series of group-discussion and visualisation exercises enabling them to imagine and envision a self-reliant, self-sufficient Bangladesh: the healthy, thriving Bangladesh they had fought for years ago in their struggle for independence.

In Bangladesh, because there are so many people, when you call any kind of a meeting, hundreds, even a thousand people can show up. People often gather in the village parks and squares. In Dhaka, the capital, there is a public park that holds easily a thousand people or more, and that is where we launched some of the early Vision, Commitment and Action Workshops. We publicised the meeting, and at the appointed time the park was packed with people. If you can picture it, this is no beautiful pastoral retreat, but a park with barely a blade of grass, packed with hundreds of these small, brown, beautiful people seated on the ground very close together, lots of babies and small children, people of all ages sitting attentively, tentatively, listening for whatever we could offer them that might be helpful.

The program opened with music, a few introductions and inspired words by community leaders, and some initial interactive exercises to bring the crowd’s energy and focus to the task at hand. Then we began the program, asking everybody to close their eyes and envision what a self-reliant, self-sufficient Bangladesh would look like:
What would it look like if Bangladesh were a country that was exporting its finest-quality goods?
What would it be like if Bangladesh were known for its art and music and poetry?
What if Bangladesh were a contributing member of the global community, instead of the big recipient, the big begging bowl receiving aid? What it would be like if Bangladeshi leadership, including Bangladeshi women, Bangladeshi men, and Bangladeshi young people, were a contribution to society?
What would that look like?

At first, people sat there very still, eyes closed, expressionless, shoulder to shoulder in the park.
A hush settled over the crowd, and the sea of faces remained still, eyes closed, in thought.
After a few minutes I noticed tears streaming down one man’s face and then another and another. People were still sitting with their eyes closed, but they were silently weeping. And then it was not just three or four, or ten or twenty faces with tears streaming down. In this crowd of more than a thousand, it was hundreds of weeping faces.

It was as if they had never in their lifetime even thought they could be self-reliant or self-sufficient or an contributing nation, that they had never imagined they could be a nation that made a difference for other nations, that they could be a nation that stood out, that had qualities that people admired, a unique role to play in the world community. It was a brave new thought.

When we completed this visioning meditation, and people shared with one another the visions they had seen for their village, their family, their school, their home, their business, their children, and their grandchildren, the vision became rich and real, palpable and exhilarating. A new future was born.
In the next section of the workshop the participants were invited to commit to their vision. They were asked not merely to envision, but to commit to being the people who would make that vision real. You could see them drop their anxiety and fear, letting go of their sense of lack and inadequacy, and step up to their own creation and commit to it. In that exercise you could see peoples posture and countenance change. People seemed to visibly strengthen. Their sense of resolve and determination was contagious, and the impossible seemed possible.
They finally broke into small groups to collaborate and design the actions they would take to fulfil their commitment to make their vision real. The actions were practical, local, doable, but in alignment with their new commitments and in service of their vision. People seemed to re-see themselves, their family, their village, and their country as able, resourceful, and potent -self-reliant and self-sufficient.

Soon these workshops were being repeated in gatherings all over, some in cities, others in villages, some just within families, and every Sunday for thousands in the square at Dhaka.
Now it happened that on a trip to Dhaka, one of the leaders of a village in Sylhet attended a Vision, Commitment and Action Workshop nearly by mistake. His name was Zilu. He was visiting his cousin in the city, and this cousin invited him to come along to the park to see what this workshop was all about. Zilu didn’t want to go. He wanted to talk to his cousin about moving his family from Sylhet in with his cousin, to share their home, so the family could leave their desolate village, hoping that Zilu could get work in the city and give them a chance for a new life. His cousin prevailed, however, and they attended the workshop together.

Zilu was completely captivated by the workshop experience, and his awakening to his own commitment to his village and the surrounding community. He stayed in Dhaka another three days and participated in a training to be a workshop leader himself. He then took the training and the vision back to Sylhet.
Back home, he called his six closest male friends together and delivered the workshop to them. With a shared vision now and unlimited commitment to develop the human and natural resources of their own region, the seven men came up with an idea and created an plan for a new agribusiness venture designed to bring the whole region out of poverty into self-reliance an ultimately into prosperity. They called it the Chowtee Project: A Bold Step for Self-Reliance.

I arrived in Sylhet just four months later, in April of 1994, with 17 travellers who were major donors to The Hunger Project. Zilu had invited us there to show us the progress he and his friends had made in the area to thank us for the contribution we were making to his country and his people.
He and his friends, whom we came to call the Magnificent Seven, told us the story of their region’s transformation and showed us the results. Zilu shared how he had returned from the workshop at Dhaka that December day inspired to look with new eyes at the resources he and his people had before them, and determined to develop a vision, a commitment and a plan of action. Once his six friends joined him in this commitment, their next step was to look at the resources they already had but had previously overlooked.
There, at the edge of town, was the fallow, hardscrabble government land covered with poison berry brambles.
The seven men met with government officials and got permission to clear seventeen acres of the tangled vegetation that had taken over their land. Then they went to the community for the money needed to buy equipment and supplies.
People drew from their meagre savings to support the initiative, and the men were able to collect the needed thousands of taka – then about US$750. Finally, they delivered their own version of the Vision, Commitment and Action Workshop to 600 people in the village of 18,000. Those 600 people got to work, building a road along the edge of the land and starting the clearing effort.

Impressed with their vision, clarity, and commitment, the government gave them a hundred acres more to develop. They trained the young people who had turned to begging and crime to cultivate and farm instead. They trained destitute women, many of them widows, to farm. In clearing the land, they were surprised to discover a previously unknown lake and small stream abundant with fish. The entire area was now under cultivation, providing food, fish, training, and employment for hundreds of people. All 18,000 people in the immediate area had benefited from this activity, and an area that had been wracked with poverty was now becoming self-sufficient and beginning to flourish. The crime rate had dropped by an astounding 70%.

We walked the fields with Zilu and the rest of the Magnificient Seven, and visited the fisheries and the training fields. We were overwhelmed by the people’s vitality, joy, and success.
I realised as I walked with them that they had accomplished this feat with almost no help from the outside. They had had what they needed all along-the land, the water, the intelligence, the muscle, and the capacity to put it all together-but had lost touch with those resources and capabilities in the climate of ‘Third World’ aid and the hopelessness and presumed incompetence that had come with it. Once they were inspired to see themselves differently, to see themselves as strong, creative, and capable, their commitment knew no limits. Success was inevitable.

Looking at the fields, once impenetrable jungle and brush, I thought about our own lives, and that which covers over the soil of our dreams, that which temporarily blocks our inner vision or capacity to see. In their world, it was the jungle and the confusing message of aid telling them that they were incomplete and needy and not able to make it on their own. They had bought into that, and as long as they did, they couldn’t see the resources in front of them. Once they had focused their attention on their own unlimited inner resources, the outer resources materialised, suddenly accessible. They could begin to see that what they needed had been there all along.

I never forgot the Magnificent Seven. When you are crushed by the victim mentality, as they were, your ability to dream and envision is crushed, too. It goes dead. When I find myself groping for what’s beyond my grasp, I hear their words in my head and know that if I can re-look from the inside out and access and appreciate what’s already there, what’s already available, then its power, utility, and grace will grow and prosper in the nourishment of my attention.

Lynne Twist author of The Soul of Money

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