Third Synthesis Dialogues
June 1-7, 2004
for Global New Thought (AGNT) convened the third Synthesis Dialogues
with His Holiness, the Dalai Lama of Tibet, at the Focolare
International Center at Castelgandolfo, in the Roman Hills, situated in
the property which is the Summer Residence of the Pope.
The Synthesis Dialogues were inaugurated in Dharamsala, India, in
September 1999, at the Norbulingka Institute. Synthesis II was held
June 27-July 2, 2001, at the Mariopolis Retreat Center of the Focolare
community near Trent, in northeastern Italy.
Project Director is Dr. Barbara Fields, Executive Director of AGNT;
co-director in 1999 and 2001 was the late Bro. Wayne Teasdale,
Benedictine and monastic in the Sannyasa tradition, a close personal
friend of His Holiness who formulated with the Dalai Lama the Universal
Declaration on Nonviolence.
The 2004 meeting included approximately 30 participants. We invited
recognized leaders from among each of the world’s religious traditions,
and representatives of nations most immanently involved in questions of
governance, religious violence, and sustainable human rights.
Facilitation by the convening organization, the Association for Global
New Thought, aimed at establishing spiritual ethics and radically
evolved personal, national and traditional relationships of faith as
the ground of our strategic collaborations in the future. The plan was
to meet and work for a couple of days as a group, after which we were
joined by His Holiness, the Dalai Lama. Performance arts and music
deepened and enriched the conversation of this gathering. Intentional
time and space was afforded for meditation and reflection.
All participants were significant leaders in their own right who sense
that important breakthroughs are possible only by encountering the
creative imagination of their counterparts in other fields. And
it probably fair to say that everyone shared an interest in the
question of consciousness, itself, in the sense that transformation
within the individual precedes any hoped-for impact upon the larger
These were some of the important goals of the meetings:
• To Discuss the primacy of the religious and cultural diplomacy that
is brought to point by the challenges facing our current world in
crisis. There is urgent need for \a new level of dialogue among
progressive and influential thinkers who can explore these critical
issues. A true and spiritually grounded collaboration would
continue to constructively affect the outcome of religious and
cultural discord and violence actively destroying life and threatening
• To Explore, through open exchange of ideas and "best practices" which
from the core of our own individual work, the breakthrough
opportunities (and persistent challenges to positive change) we face.
His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, is pleased to be a part of these
conversations in which we may well discover specific ways in which we
can support each other, and be supported, by articulating the needs and
resources associated with our existing projects and commitments.
• To Establish, in the process of cocreating at this level, relations
among this community of friends that could meet and be of service in an
ongoing capacity-- much the same model as His Holiness proposes in his
book, Ethics for a New Millennium.
We explored these issues as a community of friends with experience in
diverse fields of social endeavor, and from among the religious
traditions. The focus of our energies was an integral conversation
marked by maturity of spirit and diplomacy of ego in service of human
The meeting consisted largely of a series of conversations about
certain questions that the participants identified as pivotal.
Our intention was to listen carefully to what was being said and to
track the movement of awareness itself as it arose and moved through
the discussions. That is, not only were matters of substance
addressed, but we hope we did so in such a way as to learn how
consciousness itself can be nurtured in human encounters. If we
are able to understand this dynamic more clearly, then we may just be
able to create a fresh lens for understanding our world and its
suffering so that practical solutions can be more easily generated.
The occasion of meeting with His Holiness was not arbitrary. We
believe that the Tibetan model (in which the spiritual impulse
underlying the exoteric religious expression is intended to suffuse
governance, education and all aspects of the culture) is uniquely
suited to teach us about synthesis. His Holiness certainly
embodies that quality. We believe that by “universalizing," or
rendering diverse belief systems into non-codified language, we can
soften the perception that the challenges encountered by Eastern
and Western models are irreconcilable. We can no longer afford false
signals that impede acceptance and understanding, application and
appreciation on a global level.
It is time to pursue an earnest and enlightened dialogue that can
strengthen public respect for every unique role in the ecology of
cultures, and to do so with every available ounce of our good faith and
focused energy. The third Synthesis Dialogues were the most successful
to date in creating a collective commitment among a community of high
global influence to exploring projects such as an international,
interreligious pilgrimage in the middle east, as well as initiatives in
nonviolent social change (in the Gandhian tradition) where complex
instances of conflict have become all but intractable.
Submitted by Dr. Barbara Fields
Dr. Barbara Fields
The Association for Global New Thought
1815 Garden St.
Santa Barbara, CA 93101