The Architecture of a New Culture An interview of Jean Houston by Kris Steinnes
“This is the time in history to be a woman, and the most challenging, because the roles of literary thousands of years are being changed and the whole new notion of partnership as well as a new narrative for and about women. I can’t think of a more critical time to be a woman. And to really begin to do the great design of the future of women, which is really the future of the planet.” Jean Houston
Margaret Mead, Jean’s most influential mentor, sent Jean out with letters of introduction to leaders of indigenous tribes all over the world and that allowed her to study the way different cultures activated different potentials in different ways.
In comparing our western cultures with these indigenous tribes, Jean found when young girls are initiated into the secrets of being a woman they begin to feel the deeper possibilities of the essence and the genius of their women hood, which is so different from our western culture. Here a woman CEO leader is brought in to talk about her work, but she doesn’t go into the deeper story of the gratification that comes from spirit, and the essence of being able to be a woman. In Jean’s words “to keep the vertical dimension of her spiritual womanly center, and the horizontal of being able to do well in the world.”
There would be a large shift in the consciousness if young girls were taught the value and respect of the essence and genius of being a woman. We search for this when we finally realize there’s more to life than just a job, when we want a fulfilling career that has meaning for ourselves, and contributes to the well being of the planet.
Jean sees we’re rising into full partnership with men and the whole domain of human affairs so it behooves us to discover and to activate women’s power, women’s core reality and women’s uniqueness and genius. She feels a lot of people don’t like that, they want to say all women and men are the same. They want to say to be equal partners, women have to take men’s roles, and men take women’s roles. Jean maintains they’re not the same and that it behooves us to look at what is unique about women in this time.
“If we look at what is a culture in which women’s ways of knowing begin to thread through the tapestry of culture, the fabric of our reality, then you serve as a lure of becoming, and people get a lot of ideas because they have been released from the old constraints and the old forms of traditional economics and politics etc. You’ve got to provide the opportunity for this lure of becoming.”
Jean believes we are creating the architecture of the new civilization, which also allows men to be who they can be. It isn’t a put down of men, but it’s the rising up of women to equal and full partnership with men.
I asked Jean to share what she wanted to share with women about finding their purpose and how she got in touch with her own.
Jean was fortunate to have known her purpose since she was two years old. What keeps her going year after year is a sense of that “these are the times and we are the people. If we don’t do it then who will? We have to keep doing these things to stay on task. Given the momentous changes in our world that have occurred, we’re living at a time of the changing of the guard, on every level in which every given is literally up for grabs. This is the momentum behind the drama of the world. The breakdown of every old way of being, knowing, relating, governing, believing. It’s shaking the foundations of all and everything and it is allowing for another order of reality to come into time.”
This is what Jean finds so exciting and why she leads others into an intensive investigation into themselves and into a part that we would never have suspected before – which she calls the exploration into God.
“We can consciously make choices for new possibilities and turn them into probabilities for our lives, that we can be co-creators of the design of social structures that enhance life rather than diminish it.”
Jean believes strongly in the responsibility of the stewardship of the earth at this time and that we can assist in the re-creation and growth of ourselves to the fullness required to take on this task. Her work is making people wake up and find the deeper partnerships between themselves and with the non-local universe to be able to do these things.
She claims to find your purpose comes from a state of longing. You feel called; you have a longing for a great return to the primary order of being; a longing for another order of consciousness. This means you agree to give up the limitations and the old restraints and you get beyond the old inhibiting structures of your culture. This is a huge transition in history. It’s monumental in its implications and many people feel it. We’re told that we’re free to be whoever we want to be. They don’t tell us the amount of effort and intention it takes to get out of our boxes, both personal and collective. It takes remarkable efforts of courage and consciousness, and determination to stay out of these boxes. It actually takes an internal shift that says I belong to another order of being. And once you have exceeded the psychological and spiritual dimensions of the box of the old ways, the box can’t get you.
Jean says one of the most important things that we can do is to access one’s unique reason for being on this planet at this time. Because women have not belonged to the traditional pattern or expectations of success they have a certain kind of freedom to explore their reason for being.
When you get a sense of knowing – and she claims it has to be visceral, really gutsy, all body, all mind, and all knowing – it can serve to keep you on track and to attract appropriate allies, resources, and other tools and skills that help accomplish the task you’ve been given.
“I firmly believe we’re not going to survive unless we move towards a planetary civilization with high individuation of culture and women have to play a very critical leadership role in making this happen.”
Jean states we have to essentially build whole systems that take all aspects of our humanity into account. “What is at stake is nothing less than the shape of human existence on planet earth. What is required is nothing more than a whole shift in human consciousness and it will not come about unless we really have a deep, deep partnering of men and women and also of course many cultures.”
What is happening in our time is a re-genesis of the society that was a partnership society that allows for the earth to be restored, reinvented, remembered, and that will only come about with this new order of partnership.
Jean Houston, Ph.D. is one of the founders of the Human Potential Movement. With her spouse Dr. Robert Masters, Dr. Houston founded the Foundation for Mind Research. She is the founder and chief teacher of the Mystery School, a program for the cross-cultural study of spirituality and ritual processes. She founded the International Institute for Social Artistry and works with the United Nations Development Program, training U.N. staff and leaders in developing countries in the new field of social artistry. She has lectured in more than 100 countries and worked intensively in 40 cultures. She has received many awards for her work.
First published in Aspire Magazine, April, 2010 at