The Third Synthesis Dialogues
June 1-7, 2004
Rome, Italy

The Association 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 community.

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 security everywhere.

• To Explore, through open exchange of ideas and "best practices" which spring
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 needs.

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
Synthesis Director

Dr. Barbara Fields
Executive Director
The Association for Global New Thought
1815 Garden St.
Santa Barbara, CA  93101
tel. 805-563-7343
fax. 805-563-7344