Axial Age

Axial Age reloaded

Saturday, August 4th, 2012 | Uncategorized | 4 Comments

I just finished a Deep Dive Presencing Workshop with a group of mostly government leaders here in Zhejiang in China. It has been fascinating to work with this group, first at MIT and now here in a China. Two insights from this week:

One. Some 2,500 years ago, when Lao Tsu and Confucius lived in China and the Siddhartha Gautama Buddha resided in India, in Greece some pre-Socratic philosophers started what later evolved into Western philosophy and science. What’s so interesting is that all of these thinkers lived more or less around the same time, and the four major streams of thought that originated with them have shaped human civilization over millennia. The German philosopher Karl Jaspers called this time the Axial Age (Achsenzeit).

Today in China we see these four streams coming together in more and more intentional ways. We see the same thing happening in the West and in other civilizations. It feels as if we are at the beginning of another Axial Age with another set of endings and beginnings.

Two. On the last morning in Zhejiang each of us captured our own experience of the Presencing Retreat in a poem. We heard some very moving poems. Unfortunately, I can’t share them since I only heard them through the translator, who was whispering the English translations in my ear. But here is the one I can share, since it has been composed in English. It reflects on my experience with Earth as a living system during our solo time in nature:


You are holding me
You are breathing me
I am part of You
You are born in me
I am no longer ‘I am’
I am You.

We also went to Mt Putuo one of the four Buddhist mountains in China. We visited, among others, the 33-meter-tall statue of Nanhai Guanyin, the bodhisattva of compassion.

Guan Yin

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