The "global brain," the "global soul," and the United Religions Initiative

by Lee Penn

Summary: The concepts of the "global brain" and the "global soul" are common currency among supporters of the United Religions Initiative (URI) and Gorbachev's State of the World Forum (SWF) - as shown by the following quotes from Gorbachev, Bishop Swing, and Robert Muller.

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Lee Penn

The Gorbachev Foundation's "State of the World Forum" is an ally of the URI. The Forum's glittery annual meetings in San Francisco (intended by Gorbachev to establish "a kind of global brain trust to focus on the present and the future of our civilization"(1)) attract the usual assortment of rich people, celebrities, former heads of state, social reformers with a pet cause, and New Age gurus. About 750 people attended the 1998 Forum.(2)

In his 1995 speech to the Forum, "A call for new values," Gorbachev provided ideological direction for the members of the "global brain trust," to guide them in developing "methods of social action and policy":

"We should take a sober and unprejudiced view of the strengths and weaknesses of collectivism, which is fraught with dictatorship. But what about the individualism of Western culture? At the very least, something will have to be done about its purely consumerist orientation that emphasizes 'having' rather than 'being,' acquiring and possessing rather than revealing the real potential of humanity. ... The search for a new paradigm should be a search for synthesis, for what is common to and unites people, countries, and nations, rather than what divides them. The search for such a synthesis can succeed if the following conditions are met. First of all, we must return to the well-known human values that were embodied in the ideals of world religions and also in the socialist ideas that inherited much from those values. Further, we need to search for a new paradigm of development, based on those values and capable of leading us all toward a genuinely humanistic or, more precisely, humanistic-ecological culture of living. Finally, we need to develop methods of social action and policy that will direct society to a path consistent with the interests of both humanity and the rest of nature."(3)

Bishop Swing does not invoke the "global brain" concept; rather, he wishes to call forth the "global soul" and the "global tribe." In 1995, Bishop Swing said that the world is moving toward "unity in terms of global economy, global media, global ecological system. What is missing is a global soul."(4) In February 1996, Bishop Swing said, "I think that as we become one global unit, we have to find out where religion is in regard to our global tribe."(5)

Robert Muller, a former UN Secretary-General and a fervent supporter of the URI and other New Age causes, does call upon the "global brain," and considers the UN and the URI to be signs of its emergence. Muller said in a 1995 interview with World Goodwill, a Theosophist newsletter issued by the Lucis Trust, "The UN is humanity's incipient global brain. ... We still need a global heart ... and we still need a global soul, namely our consciousness and fusion with the entire universe and stream of time."(6)

Regarding the "global brain," Muller also has said:

"In my view, from all perspectives - scientific, political, social, economic, and ideological - humanity finds itself in the pregnancy of an entirely new and promising age: the global, interdependent, universal age; a truly quantum jump; a cosmic event of the first importance that is perhaps unique in the universe: the birth of a global brain, heart, senses, and soul to humanity, of a holistic consciousness of our place in the universe and on this planet, and of our role and destiny in them."(7)

"In response to these challenges, in addition to the work of the UN and its world conferences, a multitude of initiatives of people's movements (the non-governmental organizations in the world represent 250 million people) and thinkers are springing up all around the world, to mention but a few of them: The independent world commissions, the peoples' assemblies parallel to the UN Conferences, the yearly State of the World Forum in San Francisco, the United Religions Initiative, think-tanks like the Club of Rome on the Limits of Growth, the Club of Budapest on Planetary Consciousness and the Club of Tokyo to save the Earth and Humanity. These are all manifestations of the birth of a global brain and consciousness to the human species, probably the most important aspect of the phenomenon of globalization."(8)

"I hear more and more voices saying that the soulless capitalism which now rules the world will end the same way as the second 19th century ideology, communism, already defunct. When I hear many voices from around the world expressing concern about an event to come, I open a file because the global brain of humanity has begun to function and to give us the first warning signals. But as distinct from the demise of communism which has not found a new way, we must face the above dismal hypothesis and do two things: get the best minds of the Earth to think what can be done to avoid a catastrophe which will hurt innumerable people; have all local communities think of the actions they will take locally to face the consequences of the catastrophe."(9)

"I think the number of optimists has increased because of the birth of a global consciousness. That consciousness, that global brain, is the new evolutionary phase that will help humanity to become probably the most advanced species that has ever existed."(10)

>From the delusions of the utopians, Good Lord, deliver us!

Footnotes; Internet document locations verified 10/25/99:

1 Mikhail Gorbachev, "Toward a New Civilization," September 27, 1995, State of the World Forum; Internet document,, p. 1 (no longer available on-line)

2 Telephone interview by Lee Penn of State of the World Forum staff member, February 16, 1999; she said that "700 or 800" people attended the 1998 Forum

3 Mikhail Gorbachev, "A call for new values," Internet document,,pp. 1-2

4 Bishop William Swing, "What is missing is a global soul," Pacific Church News, August/September 1995, p. 5

5 Richard Scheinin, "Bringing Together the 'United Religions': Episcopal Bishop Begins Tour to Build Support," San Jose Mercury News, page 11E, February 3, 1996, (p. 3 of Internet printout), ellipses are in the original text

6 World Goodwill, World Goodwill Newsletter, 1995, No. 2, "Interview with Robert Muller," Internet document,, p. 4

7 Robert Muller, "Foreword: Preparing for the Next Millennium;" Internet document; p. 2;

8 Robert Muller, "2000 Ideas and Dreams for a Better World," Internet document,, idea 548, 9 January 1996

9 Robert Muller, "2000 Ideas and Dreams for a Better World," Internet document,, idea 731, 10 July 1996

10 Muller, Safe Passage Into the Twenty-First Century, Continuum Press (Global Education Associates), New York, 1995, p. 97


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