Subtle Activism

The Inner Dimension of Social and Planetary Transformation

By David Nicol

Subjects: Spirituality, Religion, Psychology
Series: SUNY series in Transpersonal and Humanistic Psychology
Paperback : 9781438457505, 246 pages, July 2016
Hardcover : 9781438457512, 246 pages, September 2015

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Table of contents

List of Illustrations
An Ancient Approach, Revisited
Science and Consciousness
Empirical Evidence
Direct “Versus” Subtle Activism
1. The Inner Dimension of Social and Planetary Transformation
The Planetization of Humankind: Teilhard de Chardin
The Integral Earth Community: Thomas Berry
The Re-enchantment of the Cosmos: Richard Tarnas
Summing Up
The Path of Subtle Activism
Broadening the Scope of Activism
Broadening the Scope of Spirituality
Global Meditation and the Evolution of Consciousness
2. Subtle Activism and Spirituality
Yoga, Hinduism, and the Vedic Tradition
Judeo-Christian Tradition
Western Mystery Traditions
3. Subtle Activism and Science
Lessons and Metaphors From Quantum Physics
Distant Healing
Implications of Psi and Distant Healing Research for Subtle Activism
The Maharishi Effect
Field REG Research
Global Consciousness Project
Global Coherence Initiative
4. Foundations of Subtle Activism
What is Consciousness?
History of the Scientific Study of Consciousness
Theoretical Perspectives Examined in the Chapter
Maharishi’s Theory of Vedic Defense
Sheldrake’s Hypothesis of Formative Causation and Theory of Morphic Fields
Bache’s Model of Collective Healing by Individuals in Non-Ordinary States of Consciousness
Areas of Overlap and Difference
Parallels in Physics: Bohm’s Theory of Holomovement and the Implicate Order
Parallels in Psychology
Parallels in Esoteric Thought
A General Hypothesis of Subtle Activism
5. Subtle Activism and the Emergence of Planetary Consciousness
Definitions and Concepts of Planetary Consciousness
Owning the Shadow
Embracing Difference
Identifying Resistance
Signposts of an Emerging Order
Crossing the Threshold
Subtle Activism and Planetary Consciousness
6. Conclusion
Appendix 1: Subtle Activism Resource List
Appendix 2: Subtle Activism: Science, Magic, or Religion?

Explores whether consciousness-based practices like meditation and prayer can contribute to social change.


Can awakened consciousness contribute to social change and, if so, how? David Nicol introduces the concept of "subtle activism" to describe the use of consciousness-based practices like meditation and prayer to support collective transformation, such as global meditation directed toward peaceful resolution of a conflict. Subtle activism represents a bridge between the consciousness movement and the movements for peace, environmental sustainability, and social justice. It is not a substitute for physical action but rather a potentially crucial component of a more integrated approach to social change. Although ancient lore is rife with tales of shamans and adepts intervening on spiritual levels for the benefit of humanity, this book is the first comprehensive treatment of this topic. Nicol grounds his consideration in the available scientific research and in dialogue with a broad range of thinkers in the fields of consciousness studies, transpersonal theory, and New Paradigm thought.

David Nicol teaches in the Philosophy, Cosmology, and Consciousness Program at the California Institute of Integral Studies. He is also executive director and cofounder of the Gaiafield Project and cofounder of BeThePeace.


"Many good books are published each year but important books are harder to come by. One of the marks of a truly important book is that it challenges our deeply held convictions about what is real and what is possible in the world. It opens new intellectual horizons by showing us previously hidden connections. David Nicol's Subtle Activism is an important book, a very important book. " — from the Foreword by Christopher M. Bache

"Remarkably well written, accessibly organized and presented. " — Midwest Book Review