On May 18th, the World Peace Prayer Society will host the “World Shift Day” where organizations, groups, and people around the world will synchronize their watches and meditate together for the purpose of bringing peace to the earth and helping to create a “critical mass.”
This year’s event carries a theme of “The 3rd Timely Transformation Event of The Global Peace Meditation and Prayer Day Leading up to 2012.” Many believe that the year 2012 will mark a significance shift in world consciousness. The objective is to “Collectively generate a worldwide
energy field of Pure Conscious Thought To Urge the World to Shift.”1 Participants are encouraged to “to amplify the energies and visualize reaching Critical Mass!”
Critical Mass. What does this mean? While this is a scientific term when speaking of populations of people, here it is referring to “an explosion in global consciousness capable of ‘touching’ or transforming all of humankind.” 2 The idea is that when a certain critical number of people all share the same awareness, then change can come to all people’s thinking because of the critical mass. A critical mass does not have to be a majority if it is a powerful enough mass, but unity is essential – and so is meditation.
New Ager Marianne Williamson (Oprah’s A Course in Miracles teacher) says this about critical mass:
So it is that a new politics centers around the arousal of that power, using prayer and meditation to create a forcefield of transformation.
It is a mystical revolution that will usher in a mystical age.
As a loving critical mass coalesces, as hearts around the world continue to yearn and work for peace, then new forms will emerge to actualize our new planetary vision. 3
Two years ago, Lighthouse Trails reported that Rick Warren declared the need for a critical mass in order to transform our society. According to news reports about Rick Warren’s participation at the Ecumenical and Interfaith Pre-Conferences (for the International AIDS Conference in 2006), Warren stated: “We are here at these conferences to say to fellow Christians that we believe the Church needs to take the lead in the greatest health concern on the planet.” He said that Christians need to come together on this. However, time and again Warren has laid the ground work to show that this coming together does not just mean for Christians. He is talking about crossing all barriers, religious, political and other, so that the world’s people will be unified to fight the giants of poverty, corruption, ignorance and sickness. At one conference he said that every village has a man or woman of peace, who might not necessarily be Christian and could possibly be Muslim, and that person would help to implement the global P.E.A.C.E. plan in their part of the world. He believes the global peace plan will help to usher in a new reformation, one of many faiths and beliefs. (Much different than the Christian reformation that was a defense of the faith.) At the AIDS conference in Canada, Warren said he is “pressing for a ‘coalition of civility,’ where diverse groups can disagree without being disagreeable or denouncing one another, and seek unity without requiring uniformity in order to reach critical mass.” 4
Rick Warren believes that this “critical mass” can only happen when there is a crossing of all barriers–unity is a must!
A three-legged stool will have stability. So I’m going from country to country teaching business its role, teaching church its role, and teaching government leaders their role–you’ve got to work together! We cannot solve the problem in your country or in the world if we won’t work together. (Rick Warren, July 2006)
We have established in previous articles and reports that contemplative spirituality is a New Age belief system (see Merton, Nouwen, Keating, et. al) with which meditation is implemented, and altered states of consciousness are reached. We have also shown how New Agers believe that the one common factor that unites all religious traditions is the metaphysical (i.e., mystical meditation). Ray Yungen explains:
One well-known New Ager revealed what his familiar spirit candidly disclosed: “We work with all who are vibrationally [meditationally] sympathetic; simple and sincere people who feel our spirit moving, but for the most part, only within the context of their current belief system.”
The question must be asked, Is there a correlation between the New Age planetary transformation and Rick Warren’s planetary transformation? Warren has not kept his mystical proclivities secret. He has teamed up with New Age visionary Leonard Sweet on a number of occasions, such as this month at the Saddleback Small Groups Conference.5 Sweet is no stranger to the “critical mass” concept. In his book Quantum Spirituality, he addresses it and in fact, in relation to small groups:
Reaching critical mass means arriving at the number of people required to set off a chain reaction. You don’t need very many. Armenian explorer/
philosopher/mystic Georges Gurdjieff argued that one hundred fully enlightened people would be all that was necessary to change the world. The transcendental meditation (TM) movement puts the number needed to move to critical mass at 2 percent; psychoanalyst Erich Fromm estimated 20 percent. The means by which these small numbers are gathered are as much through the energies of play and leisure as through work and enlistment. . . . The power of small groups is in their ability to develop the discipline to get people “in-phase” with the Christ consciousness and connected with one another.6
Sweet wrote these words several years ago, but he keeps Quantum Spirituality on his website as a free download, leaving no doubt that he still stands behind his words. When Sweet uses terms like “New Light movement,” “Christ-consciousness,” and “critical mass,” we can correctly draw the conclusion that he means these terms in the same frame that New Agers do because in the Acknowledgements of Quantum Spirituality he thanks several New Age mystics (such as Matthew Fox and Ken Wilber) for their contribution to his spiritual life. He also emphasizes his commitment to mystical practices:
Mysticism, once cast to the sidelines of the Christian tradition, is now situated in postmodernist culture near the center…. In the words of one of the greatest theologians of the twentieth century, Jesuit philosopher of religion/dogmatist Karl Rahner, “The Christian of tomorrow will be a mystic, one who has experienced something, or he will be nothing.” [Mysticism] is metaphysics arrived at through mindbody experiences. Mysticism begins in experience; it ends in theology (see * below).
On May 18th at the World Shift Day, various groups around the world will join together in meditation because they believe meditation will bring about this needed critical mass to heal the earth. When we stop to realize that Rick Warren and many other Christian leaders are talking about global healing and unity AND promoting contemplative spirituality, we must ask ourselves, is there any difference in what these two movements are doing? Both are promoting mantra meditation as a way to spiritual maturity. For those who are rolling their eyes over this statement, please consider the following quote by Gary Thomas from his book Sacred Pathways in which he says:
It is particularly difficult to describe this type of prayer in writing, as it is best taught in person. In general however, centering prayer works like this: Choose a word (Jesus or Father, for example) as a focus for contemplative prayer. Repeat the word silently in your mind for a set amount of time (say, twenty minutes) until your heart seems to be repeating the word by itself, just as naturally and involuntarily as breathing. (p. 185)
On Rick Warren’s website in a promotion for Sacred Pathways, Warren discloses:
Gary has spoken at Saddleback, and I think highly of his work … he tells them [readers] how they can make the most of their spiritual journeys. He places an emphasis on practical spiritual exercises.
Incidentally, on Warren’s May 14th weekly e-newsletter to pastors he is recommending Gary Thomas again. Kay Warren resonates with her husband on this issue. She highly recommends Henri Nouwen’s book, In the Name of Jesus (saying she highlighted almost every word in the book) in which Nouwen says:
Through the discipline of contemplative prayer, Christian leaders have to learn to listen to the voice of love … For Christian leadership to be truly fruitful in the future, a movement from the moral to the mystical is required. (pp. 6, 31-32).
On Rick Warren’s website, there is the following statement:
This is a time, which calls for a critical mass of transformational leaders who will commit to creating a synergy of energy within their circle of influence…. We have not, however, developed the leaders we need for this noble task. To reach such heights, we will need to un-tap the leadership potential of skillful leaders…. 7 (pastors.com)Erik Rees, Saddleback Church.
When Rees says we need “skillful leaders” for this “noble task” of finding the “critical mass of transformational leaders,” will these leaders be those with mystical affinities who Rick Warren has pointed to frequently in the past: Gary Thomas, Ken Blanchard, Leonard Sweet, Henri Nouwen, Jan Johnson, Dan Kimball, Brother Lawrence, Richard Foster, and Dallas Willard?
In conclusion, ponder these comments by former New Age follower Warren Smith where he has articulated the objectives of an end-time critical mass:
- Through prayer and meditation each person begins to envision and create the peaceful world they would like to see. They affirm and hold that vision of peace in their daily thoughts.
- People gather together in small groups to increase the power of their individual envisioning. They join together as an expression of their oneness to collectively pray and meditate and hold the vision of a peaceful world.
- People meditate, pray and hold the vision of peace at the same time around the world to increase the power of their effort.
- Special events are arranged where people around the world can link more openly with one another to increase the power of their collective vision. People begin to see and experience the power that comes from joining together in expressions of “oneness.” (from chapter 8, Reinventing Jesus Christ)
*Quoted by Ray Yungen from A Time of Departing, p. 160 from Quantum Spirituality, p. 68.