Tag Archives: sustainability


Invitation to the The Temple of Understanding session (18 April 2013)

Second session on the spirituality and environmental action series

The Temple of Understanding and Interfaith Consortium for Ecological Civilization will organize the second session on the spirituality and environmental action on 18 April 2013 in New York. The first session took place at the Open Center in New York in late December 2012. See above the link to the invitation.


In summer and fall 2012 some spiritual people of various faiths and religious associations, but also concerned about the deteriorating trends in our climate and environment, gathered in Finland and New York to discuss how spiritual people around the world should be mobilized to move things around. The men and women of faith and spirituality represent an overwhelming majority of people on earth and are therefore an important asset to change the planet toward a sustainable future. After these meetings and further consultations it was decided that an interfaith movement, a world prayer and meditation network for environment, climate, peace and our economic and spiritual well-being should be established.  Contrary to many other existing networks its efforts should be very practical, namely joint prayer and meditation should lead to concrete action as explained below.

World prayer and meditation network for environment, climate, peace and our economic and spiritual well-being

All religions and spiritual traditions share, at their heart, a common vision for preserving and promoting the well-being of both humans and nature and for an aspiration of continuous spiritual progress and peace through prayer and/or meditation.  We are all part of the same globe, and its climate and natural resources are making us all interdependent – a fact more evident today than it was decades and centuries ago.  Some call this universal unity-consciousness that we are all one, and the sustainability of the nature is part of our heritage and our ultimate destiny. Mother earth nurtures us and, on the other hand, we all have a responsibility for its health as well.  If the environment and the climate around us deteriorate we all ultimately also become sick.  When we are healing our human environment we are also healing ourselves and rising up the humanity and our collective level of consciousness.

The science tells us that the planet is exceeding its ecological limits and it urgently needs deep-healing that only humans working together and coming from all religions and spiritual traditions can give to it – indeed it is our highest and now even an urgent duty.  It is time to act together but with joint vision, purpose and action. Action is key as each one of us is instrumental for proposing and implementing concrete steps to improve our environment and thus creating the harmony and health that lifts our spirit and soul. The world prayer and meditation network for environment, climate, peace and economic and spiritual well-being is an interconnected forum for doing this together.  We need to get together for a joint, shared session as in the group we can achieve more that individually.  Therefore, we urge you to join us in a session ,or you can organize one yourself in your community.  This would not be as such a religious but rather inter-spiritual, inter-faith session uniting us for a common purpose.

To start with, we need a facilitator who is passionate about the above mission statement and can deal smoothly and friendly with very various kinds of people.  And we also need an expert on scientific facts on what is happening to our environment.  That’s all – this is a small-scale grass root event which will eventually change the world.


Suggestions for proceedings in a session:

1. The facilitator first explains the purpose of the session. A guided prayer for healing the planet for some 2-3 minutes follows but the facilitator might first very shortly explain the power of prayer and meditation (or maybe in some traditions a silence of mind with attuning it to God or the highest spirit) common in all religions and spiritual traditions.  Then we all sit in silence for some 3-5 minutes.  Each one of us can and should use the prayer or mediation according his or her own religious or spiritual traditions and beliefs during this time. No one will be converted to anything.  When we sit silently for a while in a harmony of a group we can achieve more once we start working together.

2. Secondly, there should be a power point or other type of scientific presentation for some 20 minutes or so about trends in our environment: climate, natural resources, water, pollution etc.  This should be a non-political talk for knowledge and understanding in a similar way as a medical doctor describes a diagnosis to a patient to the best and honest understanding of the doctor.  The presentation should be given in a spirit of humility as we do not always know everything as a scientific fact as science is evolving but we should be able to get a broad picture.

3.  There should be a short question and answer segment after the presentation with the facilitator and the scientist/statistician/expert giving the factual presentation.  During this time participants could be directed to study more in selected websites, books and other documents.

4. Then the facilitator breaks the participants into small groups where each one can take part and express his or her views.  One group could be on actions to be taken in one’s house/apartment and in one’s living style; another group could discuss what could be done in a neighborhood (complex of apartments or houses, or a village or suburban community); and a third one could be for actions on what could be done at city, county, national and international levels.

5.  After the work in small groups is finished the facilitator calls for a joint session where the groups report their findings (using blackboard or other facilities).  Then groups or individuals make commitments for action – either publicly or silently – and also brainstorm jointly how to monitor progress (including whether or not to organize a follow-up session or sessions, whether or not to report the results of the session in a website or a blog to spread the message, etc).

6.  The session ends with the facilitator calling for silence, prayer and meditation in two stages. The first part is a prayer and/or meditation during which each participant can think in his or her mind what one has committed of doing and asking God or other high spirit or entity – according to one’s spiritual or religious tradition or belief – to help him or her to implement the commitments given publicly or silently in order to help the environment and us all to heal and prosper.  Secondly, the facilitator asks for a general silent moment during which the participants harmonize their energies for well-being of all humans as well the mother earth.


First session

The first pilot session of the network is scheduled to take place in December 2012 in New York. Its results, to be reported in this blog, will give a useful model how future events could be best organized to get concrete results.

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Helsinki Sustainability Center

Helsinki Sustainability Center (HSC) was established on 4 October 2012. The initiative is not a direct follow-up to the book “Crisis of Global Sustainability” but related to it. Dr. Mika Aaltonen, the founder of the HSC and head of the Research Unit for Strategic Intelligence and Exploration of Futures at Aalto University, has been conducting seminars and consultations in discussing and deepening the concepts and ideas promoted by the book (as explained in Chapter 8) and the author of the book Tapio Kanninen has on his part been giving continuous input for the establishment process of the HSC and is a member of the scientific advisory board of the Center.

The Helsinki Times reported on 5 October 2012 the following on the establishment of the HSC: “Former president Tarja Halonen has been appointed as the chair of Helsinki Sustainability Center, a company promoting sustainable development, Helsingin Sanomat and Talouselämä report. Founded by Mika Aaltonen, a research director at Aalto University, the centre is a non-profit consultancy firm, the task of which is to help countries and companies to combine their business operations with sustainable development. According to Halonen in Helsingin Sanomat, the chairpersonship is part-time and unpaid.”

Here is a short description of the Center’s main mission and major functions:

1. What?

Helsinki Sustainability Centre was established in order to make research and analysis related to global challenges (climate change, land system changes, water system changes, biodiversity), and their application in decision-making, truly effective. Helsinki Sustainability Centre will translate the scientific findings and policy realizations into detailed socioeconomic implications and assist Finnish and international actors in articulating and implementing actionable solutions.

Helsinki Sustainability Centre´s targets are:

1) to become a globally recognised knowledge provider an honest broker with full transparency in sustainability

2) to assist the Finnish people, whether in government or business, in finding and implementing timely and disciplined strategies towards an innovative and truly sustainable society, and 

3) to contribute to the international research, discussion and decision-making related to sustainability.

2. Uniqueness

Not research, but analysis

– to allocate R&D&I and education resources appropriately and in a timely manner,

– to identify rapidly and dynamically opportunities for innovation,

– to determine which opportunities are in our strategic interests and which are not, and

– to field innovations faster.

Not focused only on changes in physical landscape, but especially on the implications they bring along for social, political and economic domains

Such knowledge must be dynamic, both anticipatory of and rapidly reactive to changes across the global landscape of business. These are NOT the attributes of academic expertise. Nor can such knowledge be acquired in any single corporation.  Nor is such knowledge resident or dynamic in a traditional R&D organization. 

3. Why?

It will not be enough to generate more and better scientific data, or to develop more sophisticated models to reach a truly sustainable society. 

We need a much deeper, clearer analytical understanding of the interrelated developments and the relationships among their components.

It is not enough to define the problem; we have to show the implications of policies so that policy makers can find actionable solutions, taking the holistic and synergistic implications of their policies into account.

4. How?

Helsinki Sustainability Centre has multiple facets. It is an intelligence network, comprising trained analysts, software tools, and professionally established operational processes. It will develop connections to other relevant centers of excellence and contribute internationally to establish sustainability centers globally, regionally, nationally and locally, as feasible.

Briefly, it is a concrete step towards open source science. The pursued virtues are, according to the best traditions of science, critical engagement, open discourse, and cooperation – but the methods for achieving these goals are those of the 21st century.

Helsinki Sustainability Centre uses operational analysis as its main methodology. Operational analysis is similar to systems analysis, but transcends the technology and engineering relationships to include critical factors outside individual systems. It almost always yields new perspectives and very often highlights potential catastrophes.

Helsinki Sustainability Centre provides highly skilled, analytical capability for projects undertaken by universities and companies. It operates like a newspaper or media “desk” structure, with a desk for each major sector of global business.  

The model is a composite of MI5, the Financial Times, and a technical library/network.  No studies – online models comprising collaborative software linked to a large number of commercial and non-commercial  sources.

Helsinki Sustainability Centre is designed to be gradually developed, using efforts underway today as starting points. An important component of work is to develop connections to scientific and international organizations working on sustainability issues, contributing to their decision-making as well as using their results as input into the Centre’s own work.

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