From Chapter VII:
Hazel: Let’s talk for a moment about vision, which I think relates very closely to this movement towards cosmic consciousness we’ve been discussing. One of the things which I have learned in my own life, is that certain things are essential if one is to become part of the new being. One must have, first of all, the intuition, and the faith, that is a vision–even if you haven’t yet any clearly defined sense of that vision. Faith is very important; you can’t give up on that vision, even if it is vague . . . I have always had that faith. And even if everyone around doubted it, it was real, it emerged. I have always had trust in the very deep levels of the vision.
Jean: And even if unseen, these things are real. They are there in their loaded, coded potencies.
Hazel: And we know how these unseen visions manifest themselves in very concrete ways.
Jean: Everything beings in vision. Would you like to know something about the physics of envisioning? It’s quite interesting.
Hazel: Yes! That would be interesting.
Jean: Well, suppose you have something held very vividly as an image, or as a feeling — it can be touched, smelled, tasted . . . Somehow this switches on to the autonomic system, which is a very deep system relating to older areas of the brain. We have reason to believe that the autonomic system, when it is activated by images, is related to the bioplasmic fields that surround the body.
Hazel: Biosplasmic fields?
Jean: The electromagnetic fields surrounding the body. The image thus held sets up a wave frequency into the fields surrounding the body. This then, since we are ecosystems within ecosystems, envelopes within envelopes, sets up a wave system in other ecologies that are around us. In point of fact you do, quite concretely and quite physically, send images out into the atmosphere.
So, be careful of what you really want, because you’re likely to get it. In other words, there is an ecology of happening — of how things happen. Your system sets up an imaginal wave that changes the electron balance, which changes other electron balances, and it begins on microcosmic levels to be encoded into the environment — so that what you really wish beings to occur.
Now, there are people who are able to sustain this, and they are the great optimists of the world — like Margaret Mead, for instance. Margaret gets almost everything she wants — because she is sure that reality would not dare to do otherwise! [laughter] Her reality is one of intense imagery: any event she sees, touches, hears, feels, smells. She feels it absolutely; she sends it out; she talks about it; and it begins to cohere. A deeply held thought, feeling, or image is literally a seed planted in the fields that surround us.
Barbara: So there is then a physiological basis for the envisioning process.
Jean: Yes. There are a lot of steps that we don’t know, but the oscillation wave function of the autonomic system with respect to deeply held image is certainly part of it.
Hazel: Is there some kind of a theory that might be analogous to critical mass? Step theory? In other words, if enough people are imaging the same thing powerfully enough, and resonating, you do create the manifestation of that image.
Jean: Oh sure. There are many instances of this. Have you ever heard, for example, the story of rather queer group of thinkers in Britain who collectively projected the image of Rudolf Hess coming over to England? They did this for months: “Rudolf Hess, come over! Rudolf Hess, come over!” And for no particular reason Rudolf Hess got on a plane one day and flew over!
Hazel: No, I’d never heard that. Is it true?
Jean: Oh yes! Yes! They did it for months! And they actually brought him over. So, if you have a group of people that begins to work together — I mean a prayer circle is that kind of thing. Very frequently people are cured after prayer circles. Not the usual Christian prayer circle — “Oh, dear Lord, please!” — because then you’re missing your step function. It’s a level of affirmation, and the perception of a different reality.
Reality is as we construct it! There is a wonderful science fiction story — a John Collier story — that brings this idea home. It seems that a commuter train was pulling out of Paddington Station, and it leaped the track. And suddenly — wham! — it seemed to be back on the track again. And you see all the gentlemen in the first-class section reading their London Times. But the train starts going down–for hours and hours. “I say!” says one of the gentlemen, “we seem to have had a bit of a drop.” And he goes on reading his London Times. But the train keeps hurtling downward. Eventually smoke begins to fill the compartment; fire is all around them. Finally, the train comes to a stop and they all get out.
And here come all these curious little red men with long tails and pitchforks: “Get your burn cream here! Four shillings for burn cream!” “Get away from me, you filthy little man!” says one of the gentlemen. But he continues to make such a pest of himself that finally one rather dandy-looking young man says to him: “Do you know what? I don’t believe in you!” “What did you say, sir?” says this repugnant little creature. “You beastly little thing, I don’t believe in you!” “Oh, don’t say that, sir!” “You beastly little thing, I don’t believe in you!” And all of a sudden they find themselves back on the train, pulling into the station as usual. The next scene shows this same young man standing in front of the Bank of England shaking his fist and saying: “I don’t believe in you!” [laughter]
But reality, in a curious way, is really like that! We are not innocent observers of the environment. One person can become a critical mass. It’s better if there are more, of course. But a powerful imagizer — like Margaret Mead, who has no doubt about the effectiveness of her thought on the environment — gets about ninety percent return. It’s a kind of metaphysical chutzpah that you have to have.
Hazel: But, you know, that image of standing in front of the Bank of England saying, “I don’t believe in you!” and seeing the building begin to crack apart. That’s the image of the imperial system right now.
Jean: Yes. That’s what’s happening. It’s the people in the lower hierarchical levels who are saying “I don’t believe!” and it is happening.
(Reprinted with permission from The Power of Yin).
(Note to editor: We have permission from the three co-authors, Hazel Henderson, Jean Houston and Barbara Marx Hubbard, to run excerpts from their book with the author credit to be The Power of Yin – they are all referenced in the about the author box.)