Shifting From a Tribal to a Planetary Consciousness

Einstein said that we can’t solve a problem with the same kind of thinking that gave rise to the problem. His insight applies also to the domain of consciousness: we can’t solve the problems of our time with the same kind of consciousness that created them. We live in global times, yet most of us have a tribal kind of consciousness – it’s me or you, my group or yours, and whoever isn’t with us is against us. The continuation of tribal consciousness is nothing less than a recipe for disaster in a world of nuclear weapons, environmental devastation, increasing population and dwindling resources.

There can be no doubt: if we’re going to live sustainably and in peace with each other, we must all shift from a tribal to a planetary consciousness.

What is Planetary Consciousness?

Here is how we defined planetary consciousness  in the Manifesto on Planetary Consciousness that I drafted with the Dalai Lama and other luminaries of the Club of Budapest in 1996:

Planetary consciousness is knowing as well as feeling the vital interdependence and essential oneness of humankind, and the conscious adoption of the ethic and the ethos that this entails.

It was our conclusion at that time that the evolution of planetary consciousness was the foundational imperative for the survival of the human species. I remain more convinced than ever that this is the case.

What do you think?

Assuming you agree that we must evolve beyond tribalism if we are to survive, would you consider yourself to have planetary consciousness? Here are ten questions that I believe, if answered honestly, will tell you whether you do.

Do you –

1. Satisfy your basic needs without diminishing other people’s chances of satisfying theirs?

2. Pursue your own happiness with due regard for the similar pursuit of others?

3. Respect the right to economic development for all people, wherever they live and whatever their ethnic origin or belief system?

4. Live in a way that respects the integrity of nature around you?

5. Work with like-minded people to safeguard and restore your local environment?

6. Require your government to relate to other nations peacefully and in a spirit of cooperation, recognizing the legitimate aspirations of all the members of the international community?

7. Buy from companies that accept responsibility for stakeholders at all levels of the supply chain?

8. Consume media that provides unbiased information relevant to you and your community?

9. Do something to help at least one other person escape the hopeless struggles and abject humiliations of extreme poverty?

10. Believe all young people are entitled to the education they need to be productive members of their community?

Answering these ten questions with an honest yes doesn’t call for money or power. It calls for dedication and solidarity, for the spirit that creates true community, both locally and globally.

The evolution of planetary consciousness is without question an imperative for human survival on our planet. In its absence it’s difficult to see how all seven billion of us will be able to live in peace—or even just survive.

To paraphrase Gandhi, “Live consciously, so that all of us may live.”

  • Ervin Laszlo

Ervin Laszlo Biography

Dr. Laszlo is generally recognized as the founder of systems philosophy and general evolution theory. His work in recent years has centered on the formulation and development of the “Akasha Paradigm,” the new conception of cosmos, life and consciousness emerging at the forefront of the contemporary sciences. He serves as President of the Club of Budapest, Chairman of the Ervin Laszlo Center for Advanced Study, Chancellor of the Giordano Bruno New-Paradigm University, and Editor of World Futures: The Journal of New Paradigm Research.

He is recipient of the highest degree in philosophy and human sciences from the Sorbonne, the University of Paris, as well as of the coveted Artist Diploma of the Liszt Ferenc Academy of Budapest. Additional prizes and awards include four honorary doctorates.

His appointments have included research grants at Yale and Princeton Universities, professorships for philosophy, systems sciences, and future sciences at the Universities of Houston, Portland State, and Indiana, as well as Northwestern University and the State University of New York. His career also included guest professorships at various universities in Europe and the Far East. In addition, he worked as program director for the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR). In 1999 he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the Canadian International Institute of Advanced Studies in Systems Research and Cybernetics.

For many years he has served as president of The Club of Budapest, which he founded. He is an advisor to the UNESCO Director General, ambassador of the International Delphic Council, member of both the International Academy of Science, World Academy of Arts and Science, and the International Academy of Philosophy.

Twice nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize (2004, 2005), he was awarded the Goi Peace prize in 2001. He has authored more than 70 books, which have been translated into twenty languages, and has published in excess of four hundred articles and research papers, including six volumes of piano recordings.

Ervin’s next book: Who are We and Why are We Here? Will be released in June, 2017 by Inner Traditions. Dawna has contributed a chapter on the new purpose of business.


The global and business issues we face today require full employee engagement and a different thinking. Dawna loves to work collaboratively to evolve and transform workplaces to be more ‘fit’, agile and inspiring. By shifting perspective to expose the invisible elements creating routine results, clients gain the strength and clarity needed to remove barriers to growth. Intelligent and intuitive insights strengthen leadership capacity to use complexity fluently and grow beyond the limitations of profit to achieve greater prosperity and value. To activate a quantum leap in leadership, Dawna started the Evolutionary Provocateur podcast in 2008. Author of Decision Making for Dummies, a speaker and a tad nomadic, Dawna is currently working on using Virtual and Augmented Reality to accelerate business culture change and human potential. An original thinker, she brings personal experience with resilience and transformation to her leadership.


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