Integral education is capable of transforming human society in order to cope with the conditions of the global, interconnected world. But beyond material success this education also needs to reconnect and balance humanity with the fundamental law of nature. What is the relationship of the Jewish people with such an educational approach?
The Paradox of Interconnection and Disconnection in the 21st Century
Dave Sherman, a leading business strategist and sustainability expert, eloquently described the current global predicament in the film, Crossroads: Labor Pains of a New Worldview:
“The latest Global Risks Report, published by the World Economic Forum, presents an astonishing risks interconnection-map. It clearly reveals how all global risks are interrelated and interwoven, so that economic, ecological, geopolitical, social, and technological risks are hugely interdependent. A crisis in one area will quickly lead to a crisis in other areas. The interconnection and complexity in this map compared to our surprise at the impact and speed of the recent financial crises illustrate the discord that exists between all the systems we have built, and shows just how disconnected we’ve become. Our attempts at managing these systems are fragmented and simplistic, and not up to the challenges that we face today.”
To address precisely that contrast between our own disconnect and the interconnectedness of the systems we have built, we need to develop interconnected thinking, an inclusive perception of our world. Integral Education (IE), the previously mentioned “unity-oriented education,” addresses precisely those points.
The Need to Go Beyond Materialism
No form of integrated education will succeed if it aims only to improve our material lives. While this is a desirable goal, it will not be achieved without a profound understanding that humanity is moving toward an era of interconnectedness and interdependence because this is the law of Nature.
There is no need for anyone to aspire to attain a higher, deeper, broader level of perception unless it is their will. However, people will have to know that equivalence of form, being like the law of Nature, meaning interconnected, behooves us to adapt our way of life accordingly.
Jews as Global Educators
The ones who set the curriculum and design the study programs will have to be those living through the above mentioned equivalence of form with Nature. Jews, by inheriting Abraham’s method, have a natural preparation to assume this role.
Granted, such a social transformation is a hefty task. And yet, we Jews have been transformed before, and whether dormant or awake, the reminiscence of that transformation exists within us all. No other nation has been given the task of redeeming humanity, as have the Jews, and no other nation has been given the inherent tools to do so. It is our calling; it is our privilege; it is our duty; and it is our time.
It is out of that sense of commitment that the above suggested education method has been devised. It may sound like a rather unorthodox method, but its foundations are rooted deep within our history and deep within our souls, and its “tenets” have been tested successfully by other doctrines. It will succeed if we unite, and it will fail if we do not.
Baal HaSulam notes at the end of his “Introduction to the Book of Zohar.” He concludes his introduction with a statement that if Israel should carry out their mission and bring happiness to the world through unity and acquisition of the quality of bestowal, the words of Prophet Isaiah will come true, and the nations shall join us and help us in our mission. As Baal HaSulam quotes (Isaiah 49:22),
“Thus says the Lord God: ‘Behold, I will lift up my hand to the nations, and set up my standard to the peoples: and they shall bring thy sons in their arms, and thy daughters shall be carried on their shoulders’”