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When men consider the principle of sharing, they almost always see it in personal terms. They visualize a situation in which they, personally, will be expected to give away considerable sums of money to far-off people whom they do not know, nor care to know. In fact, the principle of sharing can only be organized as a global process.
There are several ways in which this could be achieved, either partially or totally. We, your Elder Brothers, consider that the following is the most practical, the simplest and fairest method of all, one which, if adopted, would satisfy the greatest number. Each nation, We suggest, would be asked to make an inventory of all their resources and needs, what they produce themselves and what they are obliged to import. Then, each nation would be asked to put into a common pool that which they have in excess of their needs, forming a huge international resource from which all could draw. Naturally, the large developed nations would give a greater amount but all would donate their un-needed surplus. This scheme appeals to us for its simplicity and fairness; it would, of course, take time to implement, but We foresee a time when it can be accomplished.
Many are the trained organizers and administrators for whom this work would provide a welcome service to the world. All would proceed under the aegis of a Master or at least a third-degree initiate, to safeguard the trust of all. Thus, at a stroke the curse of poverty and want would be ended. The hearts and lives of countless millions would be lifted into joy, and those who shared for the first time would find a happiness deep and satisfying, which perhaps, they were afraid to know.
In this way only would be engendered the trust essential for the ending of war and terrorism. Without such trust there will never be peace. Without peace the future for mankind would be bleak indeed. Therefore, some form of sharing is essential if we are to survive. When the majority of men realize this, the major problems of the world can be solved.
The principle of sharing is beginning to enter the minds of many groups throughout the world. Bit by bit men inch their way to this conclusion. Maitreya reminds all who hear Him that sharing alone provides the solution to our troubles. Thus, as the weeks and months go by, men can be seen to grapple with their problems, and more and more find sharing to be the key to their future.
[This article from Share International magazine, December 2013 , is by a senior member of the Hierarchy of Masters of Wisdom. His name, well-known in esoteric circles, is not yet being revealed. Benjamin Creme, a principal spokesman about the emergence of Maitreya, is in constant telepathic contact with this Master who dictated his article to him.]
When, as now, man is at the crossroads, awaiting guidance on which direction to take, he sets up an invocative cry for help. Inevitably, when the cry has reached a certain pitch, We, your Elder Brothers, respond and answer. Thus is it today as men flounder wildly in the chaos of their own making, afraid to take the only steps which will save them from further chaos.
Into this maelstrom Maitreya is about to enter, fully aware of the task which lies ahead. Only a Being of His immeasurable wisdom could accept such a burden. Only someone of His incomparable courage could undertake such a task.
Out of the anarchic conditions of the present must He construct the new and better order. Out of the agony of millions must He fashion a new world.
Who is there to help Him in His work of salvage?
Who would rally to His cause and aid their brothers and sisters?
Now, as never before, is the opportunity to serve a world in labour, a new world waiting to be born.
Maitreya seeks to lift man into his birthright.
He seeks to inspire the creation of a new and happier world.
The Great Lord seeks to invest each individual life with sanctity and worth.
He seeks to rid the world of violence and war.
Where will He find His helpers?
Who are ready to respond?
Who have the courage to aid the Lord of Love?
He knows already those on whom He can depend.
Make ready to see Him.
Burnish bright your resolve.
Be not dismayed by the immensity of the task.
Be simple and heartfelt in all you do.
Maitreya approaches, fast, on a shining white steed.
His mantram is: fear not!
All, in time, will be renewed.
All, in time, will be returned to the Light.
Consider this: “Take your brother’s need as the measure for your action, and solve the problems of the world. There is no other course.”
Into your unhappy world now steps Maitreya. He knows your agony and suffering better even than you do yourselves, for He knows, too, the joy which is your birthright.
That joy would He restore to you in full and perfect measure. For that is He among you.
Take Him to your hearts and let Him serve you. Know Him as your friend and Brother of Old. Let Him guide you and teach you; thus will you grow in your divinity.
The time has come when you shall see His face. His smile of love will beckon you to His side. You will find your love magnified a thousandfold and, giving it in service to His Cause, enter into the Plan of which you are a part.
[This article from Share International magazine, December 2001 , is by a senior member of the Hierarchy of Masters of Wisdom. His name, well-known in esoteric circles, is not yet being revealed. Benjamin Creme, a principal spokesman about the emergence of Maitreya, is in constant telepathic contact with this Master who dictated his article to him.]
Q. Is Maitreya still giving television interviews in Russia? If so, how many have taken place to date? On 10 October 2013 there had already been 26 interviews with Maitreya in Russia.
A. Maitreya has given three more, making a total of 29 interviews in Russia.
Q. Are Maitreya’s interviews still taking place only in Russia?
Q. Do you think that on the Day of Declaration children younger than 14 may sense, if not Maitreya’s energies and His Message, the general euphoria? What will children experience on that day?
A. I have no doubt that those slightly under 14 will experience the excitement and sense of a big occasion. Intelligent children will not want to be kept in the dark about what is going on and will know from their parents, but they will not receive the telepathic rapport with Maitreya.
Q. Which animals are most telepathic to humans?
A. Those who work with humans: dogs, cats, horses, cows, trained elephants and camels.
Q. (1) Are there many people in the world who are born with the ability to communicate with animals? (2) Is it the special task of such people to function as communicators between humanity and the animal kingdom?
A. (1)Yes. (2) Not generally, but in a few cases.
Q. (1) Are some members of the New Group of World Servers conscious of being part of a ‘special’ group? (2) Are all members of the New Group of World Servers relatively fairly advanced – say, from 2nd degree initiates onwards?
A. (1) Yes. (2) No, by no means. Some are indeed fairly advanced and work directly with the Masters. The majority have never heard of the Masters and work under the filtered-down inspiration from the Masters.
Q. What needs changing most urgently in the world’s general attitudes and ideas towards education?
A. Everything. The whole purpose and method of education needs and will receive complete transformation. The so-called education of today is geared to preparing people for jobs (whether the jobs exist or not). Future, true education will prepare them not only for jobs, but for life. By this I mean broadening the scope of education to prepare young people for soul awareness and consciousness, and the reality of the spiritual activity of Cosmos. In the future, children will find the Masters present in the everyday world and the range of true education will gradually become apparent.
Q. So many young people seem disaffected or unhappy or hopeless – what can be done to remedy this sad state of affairs?
A. Many children today suffer from spiritual starvation and this gives them the above-mentioned attitudes or hopelessness. The new time will bring not only sharing and justice, right human relationships and peace, but a spiritual awareness and purpose almost totally lacking today.
Q. Why, speaking extremely broadly, does art produced these days (from very late 20th century onwards) seem so bereft of genuine creative genius? It is as if the days of the Great Masters of art, literature and music are over.
A. This is not a period in which great art has flourished but there are a lot of very good artists who have recently died (Picasso, Matisse, Kandinsky) but they are not great artists like Leonardo da Vinci, Rembrandt and Titian. These were all third degree initiates. Picasso and Matisse, both very good artists, were 2.4 degree initiates. That tells you the difference. In the future, with the combination of the incoming 4th and 7th rays, there will be an extraordinary flourishing of the arts, especially as the Master Djwhal Khul has predicted through Alice Bailey, in the art of living.
Q. We are told on p.177 of The Gathering of the Forces of Light that we incarnate in groups, changing relationships again and again. We are also told on the same page that maybe only one in millions of marriages involves a meeting by the partners on all five levels (the soul, personality, mental, emotional and physical levels).
I’m puzzling about how to reconcile these two statements, because it seems to be saying that we choose our marriage partners from the same numerically-limited karmic pool each life, yet almost never achieve true spiritual marriage.
My question is – from where are we to find a true spiritual partner?
A. From work on oneself and a developed spirituality. With the Masters being present from now on there will be much more intelligent pairing of couples.
Q. In some letters to the editor, the Master Jesus sometimes appears with a disciple. Can you tell a bit more about these disciples? (1) Do they travel through time and space like Maitreya and the Masters do? (2) Or are they living in a physical body like you and me? (3) Are they also involved in the Reappearance work?
A. (1) No. (2) Yes. (3) To some extent, yes.
Q. Who makes up the Hierarchy of the Masters of Wisdom? And, how many are there?
A. The Hierarchy is made up of the three Great Lords: the Christ, or Boddhisatva, the Manu and the Lord of Civilization, and there are 60 Masters of the 5th or 6th initiation. A chart of the relationship is in Alice A. Bailey, Initiation, Human and Solar (Lucis Press, 1922).
Q. A painting, The Risen Christ, has recently been discovered; it is thought to be by Titian. Is it just coincidence that is has just come to light?
A. Yes, it is coincidence.
Q. You and your Master have stated many times that millions, if not billions of people want change, freedom, justice and brotherhood. How then can a sudden appearance (without invitation) of Maitreya and the Masters, the very advocates of these principles, be an infringement of our free will, when so many people long for the very things the Masters advocate? Could you please set things in perspective?
A. Millions of people long for the emergence of a teacher or saviour under one name or another, but everything takes place according to law, above all the law governing people’s free will. Enough of us have to desire these changes for ourselves, to implement that desire, to make them physical realities in the everyday world. This is why it takes this process of change between the old ways and the new so long to implement. We are not all at the same level. We do not all believe in the same things, we do not all want the same things for humanity. Some people have a sense of the oneness of humanity which is absent from others. So everything takes time and energy, the new energies of Aquarius to bring us to a point of change. This is beginning to happen now and humanity is awakening to this promise.
A photograph of E., taken in Krystall Park, Byron Bay, Australia, in the summer of 2013, sent by his grandmother, B.v.W., from Munich, Germany. (Benjamin Creme’s Master confirms that it is a light blessing from the Master Jesus.)
A photograph of J.T-V., taken by her husband, in Saint-Sulpice church, Paris, on 18 January 2007, while lighting a candle and making a wish. Since September 2003 she had received intensive medical treatment for an illness. (Benjamin Creme’s Master confirms that this was a light blessing from the Master Jesus – a blessing for her health.)
NASA – Image from NASA’s Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) taken 4 September 2013. (Source: NASA) (Benjamin Creme’s Master confirms the object is a huge Earth Deva approaching the sun from Earth.)
NASA – Image from NASA’s Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) taken 28 September 2013. (Source: NASA)(Benjamin Creme’s Master confirms that the object is an enormous Earth Deva.)
Florida, USA – A pulsating object that changed colours was seen by Gregg Prescott over Sarasota, Florida, on 16 and 17 October 2013. He also filmed it from Siesta Key, Florida, 3 November 2013, from 7.40 to about 8.40 pm. “It would grow larger when I asked it to,” he writes, adding: “the location of this UFO has moved significantly north, which gives everybody the opportunity to see it for an extended period of time. It’s as if the ET’s want to give everyone an opportunity to see that we are not alone in this universe.” One witness said: “That object is so bright sometimes it can be seen though clouds.” Initially sightings began around 9 October; many reports came from all over the United States as well as Brazil, Japan and New Zealand. (Source: in5d.com; YouTube: in5d)(Benjamin Creme’s Master confirms that this was Maitreya’s ‘star’.)
California, USA – A bright light that changed colours was seen in the sky over Bakersfield, California, on the nights of 28 and 29 October 2013. According to a local television news report: “17 News received numerous calls from viewers about a mysterious bright light shining in the sky for the second straight night…. It was too bright to be a star, too still to be an aircraft.” Amateur astronomer Daron Nunn, who looked at the UFO through a telescope, said the object “split” and “changed shapes”. (Source: YouTube: Isaac Wilee)(Benjamin Creme’s Master confirms that this was Maitreya’s ‘star’.)
Michigan and Ohio, USA – A video taken near Port Huron, Michigan on 27 October 2013 shows a glowing white UFO emitting a beam of moving green particles beneath it. The UFO then rotates above a parked car, sending the green beam onto the car, before rising into the sky and disappearing.
A witness in Cleveland, Ohio, took a video on 1 November 2013 of a similar UFO that also emitted a green beam of light. (Source: YouTube: Research4truth12, Hotbrunette25)
(Benjamin Creme’s Master confirms that the UFOs were spaceships from Mars.)
In September 2013 we had the first video-showing in Fukushima since the nuclear explosion took place. On my way home I was driving on a local road when I noticed a strong bright light on my right. It was very close, with an unusual-looking whitish golden light. First there were two large lights, then they divided into twos and threes and looked like large fireworks exploding. I stopped the car and took photos. Two separate lights were blinking as if to give signals to each other.
M.M, Miyagi-ken, Japan.
(Benjamin Creme’s Master confirms that the bright object was a large spacecraft from Mars; the lights which looked like fireworks were smaller craft which came out of it.)
There is a Chalybeate Spring in St James Gardens, Liverpool, that was first discovered in 1775 in what was then a quarry. Claims as to the efficacy of the water have been made since its discovery.
Recently a friend returned home in the early hours of the morning to discover that his water had been turned off. Desperate for a nightcap, he remembered that he had a bottle of water from the spring someone had given him. He made a cup of tea and retired. The next morning he arose and could feel a crick in his back. He twisted his spine and a loud pop was heard, from that moment he had greater movement (he has long had back problems) and was able to lift his arms above his head which he had not been able to do for years. His whole demeanour has changed and he says he feels like a child again. He is convinced that it was the water from the spring that triggered his healing.
The water seems much thicker than tap water and you are not able to drink much of it as you feel full after just one cupful. On a cold day the water is warmer than the air temperature. People have reported that their pets have recovered from illnesses that the vet could not treat, after being given a regular supply of the water. One said his dog was depressed and despondent, suffering from a hideous skin complaint. After two days of drinking the water the dog was playful and well on the road to recovery. The water really is a tonic to all that drink it and it makes the best cup of tea ever! Can you say what the source of the water is?
R.P., Wallasey, Merseyside, UK.
(Benjamin Creme’s Master confirms that Maitreya recharged this spring in October 1995. Share International reported that on 15 October 1995 Maitreya miraculously appeared to 600 Christians in Liverpool where He “received a surprisingly open response”. See Maitreya’s list of appearances to orthodox religious groups from 1988 to 2002 in Maitreya’s Mission Volume Three: “A water source in the area of each appearance was charged by Maitreya with cosmic energy before the appearance, causing the water to possess extraordinary healing properties.”)
In mid-2012, I found by chance an announcement for a prestigious forum about ‘Sharing’ at Sorbonne, in Paris. The programme was very ambitious with many well-known personalities, from all horizons. I decided to attend the opening session, and arrived just before the start. I found a place at the rear of the auditorium as it was crowded with hundreds of people. I had a copy of Share International in hand. The speaker asked the attendees to give their opinion about what ‘Sharing’ meant to them. There were many interesting points of view, but no one was emphasizing the need for sharing in the way Maitreya is pointing to, regarding brotherhood, justice, peace and end of hunger as a priority. So, I tried to raise my hand and attract the attention of the hostess who was handing out the microphone. Unfortunately, due to my lack of experience at that kind of event, I was too far from them and was disappointed in myself when the speaker ended the comments from the attendees.
Surprisingly, sitting on my right, two very elegant, and aristocratic elderly women were watching me in my desperate attempt to catch the microphone, and I found them very warm and supportive. They told me very nicely that they come every year and kindly advised me on how I should have been waving much more strongly and continuously to attract the attention of the speaker.
Would you be so kind to tell me who were these two elegant elderly women?
(Benjamin Creme’s Master confirms that the “elegant elderly women” were Maitreya and the Master Jesus.)
Two letters from the same person:
(1)On 15 August 2013, near Dieppe, I saw a bright orange star in the sky around 11.15pm. The star seemed very low in altitude. At the beginning, it seemed not to be moving, but after a few minutes it began to move slowly to the left and disappeared behind trees. It was so beautiful and I was very excited. I’m almost sure that it was a UFO. Could you please tell me what this object was? If it was a UFO, where did it come from?
(Benjamin Creme’s Master confirms that the bright orange light was Maitreya’s ‘star’.)
(2)On 12 July 2013 I experienced something very special. I was on the train from Paris to Caen. I was thinking about my stepfather who had had a heart attack and I worried a lot about him. I was remembering a star which I saw on 30 June which I believed was a UFO. At that moment, I saw the word ‘HOPE’ written on a wall outside the train. Just after that, a bird flew near me following the train. And then, a few seconds later, I saw the word ‘OVNI’ (which means UFO) written on another wall. I felt very happy. These signs were very helpful, and still are now. I believed they were signs from Maitreya or the Master Jesus. Is this true?
M.G., Cachan, France.
(Benjamin Creme’s Master confirms that the words seen from the train were ‘pointers’ by Maitreya.)
Two letters from the same person:
(1)In autumn 2012, co-workers ran a stall in London at a Festival for Life. It was really busy and people were unusually open to the idea of Maitreya’s Emergence. About halfway through, there were several interested people at our stall, and on the fringe, one of them was just beginning to turn away. I began to speak to him and he immediately turned back and listened attentively. He was a tall, thin Afro-Caribbean, wearing colourful clothes and he had a very kind face, with dark dreadlocks coiled very elegantly on the top of his head. Then he said he was a squatter and lived in a community in Manor House, London. They lived from the waste that other people and businesses in the area threw away, including so-called out-of-date food, but still perfectly good to eat. We talked about the huge amount of plastic waste, and he said: “We don’t waste anything, not a single scrap. What we can’t use ourselves, or recycle, we re-design the materials into something people can use, and give it all away. Of course, legally, we have some problems.” I think he was referring to the recent law which the UK government has brought out, making most types of squatting a criminal offence. He said his name was Pacco, then he smiled and took my hand briefly in both of his, and with a nod of his head, turned away.
Would you be able to tell me if he was a Master?
(Benjamin Creme’s Master confirms that the man was the Master Jesus.)
(2)I was driving home after the Easter blessing in 2012. There was a lot of traffic in London that day, and I had to stop at a certain set of traffic lights. A young, Hispanic man, wearing a back-to-front baseball cap, approached the car and asked if I would like my windscreen cleaned? “Yes please,” I replied. I knew the lights would change soon, and wondered as he cleaned whether I would hold the traffic up. He finished the job in no time at all and was back at my window. I asked him how much it was and he replied, “Whatever you can afford.” I gave him some money and he smiled a thank you, and I still had some time until the lights went green. As I drove away, I had the distinct impression that a film had been removed from my eyes. I could see extremely clearly for a while. Was this the Master Jesus?
S.P., Forest Row, Sussex, UK.
(Benjamin Creme’s Master confirms that the man was the Master Jesus.)
On Wednesday 2 October 2013 I was on duty in the Share Nederland’s office when a middle-aged gentleman entered and asked for information.
We started talking and he said that everyone in the group is equal. We are on the right track and he repeated various times that the foundation of the group is sturdy but we should continue building. We should feel love for each other and look at the positive qualities of each other. He advised us to meet more frequently, so as to discuss daily activities and to make agreements about the work. He also said that the Masters of Wisdom will always be present to help us. We need only to ask for help and They will come to us.
From what he said, it seems to me that we have entered a new phase in the appearance of the Spiritual Hierarchy of Masters of Wisdom. It is as if They are now openly involving themselves in our work.
He said more than once that the Kingdom of God is in all of us; that we should focus more on that, for the Kingdom of God is Love. With this he pointed every time at his heart centre. He also said that God loves all of us.
He said that we should not be followers, but be true to ourselves. For example he related the story of Jesus, who upon arrival at the River Jordan with His followers was baptised in the river by John the Baptist. His followers said after the ceremony that Jesus had promised them they would see Elijah, but that they did not see him. The visitor said that Elijah had been present, but Jesus’ followers had not recognised him. [Editor’s note: John the Baptist was Elijah in a previous incarnation.]
Referring to Benjamin Creme’s books he said, “When we know and apply ‘The Art of Living’ and ‘The Laws of Life’ then …”, and he made a broad gesture with his hands, as if he wanted to say that then we would make fast progress.
He repeated that you should always focus on the Kingdom of God, because with love you can achieve everything. When you are having a problem with someone who is negative, you should approach this person with love, because the person will then start to feel uneasy and will eventually change.
Was the visitor the Master Jesus?
E.B., the Netherlands.
(Benjamin Creme’s Master confirms that the visitor was a spokesman for the Master Jesus.)
During a busy day manning a stand at the Festival of Life in London on 21 September 2013, a young couple approached. They looked around 30 years old: the woman had shoulder-length blond hair, delicate features and a pure air about her. The man, by her side, had light brown hair and stood slightly behind her, smiling in a very reassuring way. The woman pointed to a photograph of Benjamin Creme and asked who he was? Was he Maitreya? I explained who Mr Creme is, that for 40 years he has been preparing the way for the coming World Teacher, Maitreya, and that thousands of volunteers around the world are working with him to help make the information known. After I explained that his role was similar to John the Baptist preparing the way for Jesus, she asked if he was the only person doing this job. I explained that four other disciples, in different parts of the world, had been asked to do the same job, but that Benjamin Creme was the only person fully acting on that request. The man kept smiling and nodding: they both emanated a strong sense of joy and goodwill. After talking together for about five minutes, they thanked me, slightly bowed their heads, and left.
Could I ask if they were Masters?
G.F. London, UK.
(Benjamin Creme’s Master confirms that the man was the Master Jesus, and the woman was a disciple of the Master Jesus.)
At our annual lecture in an old 18th century church, De Duif (The Dove) in Amsterdam on 5 October 2013, I met a young Chinese couple. After they had bought several ‘hand’ cards of Maitreya, the man asked me how I came to know about Maitreya and the Masters of Wisdom. I told him that in 1982 I attended my first lecture by Benjamin Creme at the Rai building in Amsterdam. His next question was had I met Maitreya once? I answered him that up till now I had only met Master Jesus and also that I would not know how to be sure that whom I met would be Maitreya. He came up with all kinds of possibilities: “Well such an encounter would be such that it would go through your bones and marrow.”
Then I opened up to the possibility that he could be Maitreya and slowed down my activities somewhat, because during our conversation a friend shook hands to say goodbye as he was leaving the building with his parents, somebody else gave me some money for a card. I was pretty busy. He also said that I put so much time and effort in the work. I answered him that I just love to do this work. Then I thought, how can he know that I put a lot of effort into the work. When he said this I also felt the same delightful warmth as during Maitreya’s blessing.
He also said that when one meets Maitreya one’s life can take a completely different direction. I said to him how I would love this so much. Who were these lovely people?
A.A., Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
(Benjamin Creme’s Master confirms that the man was the Master Jesus, and the woman was a disciple of the Master Jesus.)
The Great Approach: New Light and Life for Humanity by Benjamin Creme
Book review by Carmen Font
The fact that Maitreya and the Masters are externalizing in the world is a brilliant piece of good news. Whether it comes as a welcome surprise for some, or is understood as the logical consequence of the state of humanity today, it is a simple truth that can be accepted by everyone – regardless of their background or age. However, the simplicity of this event does not imply that the process of Emergence is an easy one. Sometimes, in their zeal for positive change, individuals from audiences around the globe ask why Maitreya and the Masters are “taking so long” in their public emergence. Even though Benjamin Creme in his lectures and in the magazine Share International has explained the gradual process of Emergence that is already taking place – the series of television appearances with Maitreya reported since 2010 stand out in this regard – people are often anxious about the date for the Day of Declaration. “What are Maitreya and the Masters waiting for? The world is a mess, we need them!”
This sense of urgency, if properly managed, can be useful to trigger us all into action to participate actively in the process of making known Maitreya’s reappearance. At the same time, this kind of comment often reveals a lack of understanding of the complexity of this event. How is it that something so immediate and easy to grasp can be so complex at the same time? The Masters are omniscient and omnipresent; They know we are in need, They are aware of our suffering and frustration at not being able to change the many areas of life that need overhauling. Hence, many wonder, “how much longer can we bear this situation”?
A comprehensive response to this and many more questions related to the development of Maitreya’s emergence is given in Benjamin Creme’s The Great Approach. This is the last of his four main books devoted to a full account of Maitreya’s mission, and is another treasure trove. It is in three parts, entitled ‘Life Ahead for Humanity’, ‘The Great Approach’ and ‘The Coming of a New Light’. It includes edited talks by Benjamin Creme, and a comprehensive selection of questions and answers stemming from these lectures. The structure follows a meaningful rhythm: it illustrates the background of the Masters and “why” They are returning openly to the world; then, in Part Two ‘The Great Approach’, we learn the particulars of “how” the Day of Declaration will take place; and finally, in the third movement of this harmonious symphony of events, we are acquainted with “what” will happen after the day in which the whole world sees and recognizes Maitreya and the Masters for what They are: stalwart champions of humanity.
The Day of Declaration is indeed a climactic event for us, but it is no less so for the Masters. As Benjamin Creme writes, the Masters must “return to physical-plane activity, only now in group formation, in order to re-enact Their own life expression in preparation for the Way of Higher Evolution” (p.x). As much as the Masters are invincible and all powerful to us, Hierarchy itself is involved in an evolutionary process as a Centre of Energy of this planet. These Ways of Higher Evolution are well beyond our grasp, but bearing this in mind helps us to realize that the Masters cannot freely manipulate the laws that govern the path of evolution. They act in response to humanity’s need and our invocation for help. Their adherence to the Law of Cause and Effect, and their full acceptance of our Free Will is not an act of cruelty, but of love, trust and respect towards humanity. Feeling distrustful or dejected about the apparent length of time that Maitreya is taking until the Day of Declaration reveals a sense of disconnectedness between Their mission and our task at hand. Instead of viewing ourselves as builders in the transformation of the world as we have known it till now, many bemoan that the Masters are not fulfilling their promise or that the world will never be saved. Our actions and decisions are interlaced with the actions and reactions of the Masters. When we walk the path of service, They can come closer to us. When we advance in the direction of sharing, They present us with wonderful opportunities. Hierarchy has decided to return now to the world because we are prepared for this event. We could feel proud and ashamed at the same time: proud of deserving Their help, and ashamed of the regrettable state of our world. This delicate handling of pairs of opposites within the Law requires much more than a careful rapprochement. It is a Great Approach.
It makes little difference whether we think we know all the particulars of Maitreya’s Emergence as Benjamin Creme has described them in various other writings and lectures. Reading the first part of The Great Approach, entitled ‘Life Ahead for Humanity’, provides a fresh insight into the kind of task that Hierarchy has to accomplish before They can openly speak to us. This section not only includes a detailed account of what will happen on the Day of Declaration (p.47-54), but also the background work of preparation for this event: encounters with Maitreya and the Masters, including His appearance to religious groups (p.61), and the right attitude of disciples and the public in general to favour Maitreya’s emergence (p.70). At the same time this event is the way humanity overcomes the injustices generated by our current economic system and commercialization. Benjamin Creme analyses the effects of market forces on our everyday running of world affairs, and highlights the manner in which these energies of destruction will be defeated, from both an esoteric and exoteric point of view: “When market forces are seen as the destructive agencies that they are – because they benefit the few at the expense of the many – and when commercialization is recognized as the destructive mode by which that destructiveness works out, then the energy of it will be resolved. It will be reconstructed” (p.87). Creme adds in this regard that the law governing action and reaction, which is the law underlying the work of the Spirit of Peace or Equilibrium (the Cosmic Avatar Who overshadows Maitreya) “will re-create, out of that destructiveness, its opposite, and in the exact proportion. That is being done now.” In this Approach from the Masters to humanity and we to Them, sharing is essential. The final sections of Part One of The Great Approach are devoted to the nuances of sharing (p.96): what it is and how it applies when solving political, social and environmental hardships.
Part Two of the book concentrates on a long commentary by Benjamin Creme about the full return and externalization of the Hierarchy. This is where the reader can see the degree of complexity of this milestone, which is both inevitable and at the same time flexible in nature. The nuts and bolts of the sentence “For over 500 years the Masters have known that sooner or later Their return would have to take place” (p.141) acquire greater significance when we read, for example, an account of the seven paths of Higher Evolution (p.141-148) or “The way the Masters work”. We are here reminded of the humility of the Masters, which is a divine quality in that its major expression is lack of self or ego. “Humility is left when pride and self-love are not present. It is a natural given state, not something you acquire. You acquire arrogance, conceit and glamours of all kinds, but you cannot acquire humility. You can acquire a humble attitude, but that is something quite different” (p.172). Once Maitreya is openly among us, we will be astonished by His humility, and His treatment of us as equals.
This section gives further information on the “historical Jesus” and His relationship with Maitreya over the centuries, as well as further details about the Master Who was Mary, the Mother of Jesus. “The actual externalization is not simply the Masters coming out openly, waving to the populous and being very chummy and friendly. It is to do with the externalization of the inner ashrams onto the outer physical plane” (p.198). The task of preparing the way for the Emergence of the Christ and the Masters into the world is (almost) completed.
What is required, writes Benjamin Creme, “is an interpretation of the work of the Masters, an explanation of Their reasons for returning and for the particular relationship They make or do not make with humanity” (p.213). The ongoing task of ‘illuminating’ the audiences, present and future, will be an important aspect of the coming of a New Light, the subject of the third part of The Great Approach. Benjamin Creme offers an extensive and precise commentary on the article ‘Let there be Light’ by his Master. This covers both the scientific nature of light and its esoteric significance. Soul-infusion is actually the amount of Light of God that the soul brings in from the Spiritual Triad, that is, “the Self, the Spiritual Being which is reflected through the soul, and from the soul to the personality” (p.223). We bring in more light to our personality as we begin to serve, and this is not simply an issue that impacts us personally, but also globally, since the overall aim of the incarnational process for the soul is the spiritualization of matter in this planet. There is an Inner and an Outer Light: “There is the light of the atomic particles of the brain itself. Then there is the light of the etheric body, the etheric counterpart of the brain. There is the light of the soul, which is usually seen as a brilliant sun in the head” (p.248), and the interactions of these different kinds of light, if properly managed, transform the density of matter. Sometimes, however, we misuse that light which goes through all the planes, including the astral-emotional plane. Benjamin Creme makes the point that there is now an intensification of the astral-emotional light of the planet and a downward movement of that light onto the physical plane (p.253). Even though this may have a positive side-effect, such as the awakening of humanity to the awareness of life after death and of the subtle planes of matter, it is of paramount importance that humanity begins to change the focus of our polarization to a mental one. This does not happen overnight, but the Emergence of Maitreya and the Masters will precipitate a greater recognition of the light of the soul (seen as a desire to serve) which will help dissipate astral miasmas. The Master said: “The world stands ready for more light. The peoples everywhere are thirsty for new knowledge of themselves and of God” (p.225). This knowledge is not merely intellectual but practical, and its unfoldment will bring with it greater health and a sense of happiness. Readers will be pleased to see that the last heading of the book is entitled “Happiness”. This beautifully summarizes the essential nature of The Great Approach: the expression of humanity’s true nature in its full potential. It is, as Benjamin Creme describes it, a kind of “inner secret” (p.295), and when we fully interiorize it, then all questioning ceases.
We present a selection of quotations on the theme of “A climate of expectancy” The quotations are taken from Maitreya (Messages from Maitreya the Christ and Maitreya’s Teachings – The Laws of Life), Benjamin Creme’s Master (A Master Speaks and Share International), and Benjamin Creme’s writings.
As the destined hour approaches, mankind awaits the Messenger. Already, the signals flash around the world that the Expected One is indeed among us. The longed for, impossible dream becomes a fact. Suddenly, a new wave of expectation grips the hearts of many and turns their minds to the central event of our time.
Across the world the signs have done their work. More and more, men recognize their import and grasp gratefully anew at the comfort that they bring. A fresh joy rises in the hearts of those who know the truth: that the Messenger stands ready to emerge into the full light of day, awaiting only the call to begin His mission. Soon, that call will sound forth and a new era will begin. (Benjamin Creme’s Master, from ‘The destined hour’)
Many of you will see Me soon. Share with your brothers this joyous expectation and tell them that Maitreya, their Friend, their Brother, their Teacher of Old, has come. Do this now and restore to men the hope which they have lost. Do this now and work for Me. Work in service to the world and stand in the blessing of My Love. (Maitreya, from Message No.19)
The opportunity to work for the transformation of the world, for the saving of humanity, the lower kingdoms, the Plan of Evolution, is a gift of grace, an opportunity never before offered to so many. I know it is easier to believe than to act on the belief, but if you believe it at any level, make it known at that level. This will be the only opportunity you will have to do that. When Maitreya comes forward, millions of people will gather round Him, the world will be transformed really rather quickly – but you have the chance to know beforehand, and to create the climate of hope and expectation which is required. (Benjamin Creme, The Great Approach)
Many await, with expectation, the sight of Maitreya’s face, the sound of His voice, the tenor of His teachings. Many thousands around the world, knowingly or not, have already seen Him, heard His call, felt the warmth of His love. Daily, that love pours forth upon the Earth, kindling the selfsame love that is the true nature of men, and bringing into grace all who can respond and act. Thus does the Great Lord work. Thus does He ignite the fire which lies dormant in the hearts of all. (Benjamin Creme’s Master, from ‘The dormant fire’)
The need to serve conditions My existence. The Love of My heart draws Me to you. We are together therefore, you and I, to serve. Knowing this, grasp the opportunity to serve the world in a unique fashion, My friends, and travel far on the Path. Why sit and wait for My Appearance when the world needs your weight? I ask you then to work with Me, to prepare My way before men, and to induce, somewhat, the climate of hope in which, readily, My face may be seen. (Maitreya, from Message No.102)
Make it known! If you believe that what I say is true, make it known by every means at your disposal. If you have 100 per cent conviction, as I have, make it known at that level; if it is only 50 per cent, then at that level; if you have a minuscule, 5 per cent conviction that it might possibly be true, then make it known at that level. Whatever you do is of value. In that way you will help to create the ‘climate of hope’, of expectancy, which allows Maitreya, under law, to come forward openly. (Benjamin Creme, Maitreya’s Mission Volume Three)
The world awaits the appearance of the Christ, and, soon, the expectations of countless individuals will be fulfilled. His mission has already begun; the changes which proceed apace bear witness to His presence. The signs are there for all to see, not only for the discerning, but for those who must hear a thunderclap to sense a storm.
Soon, the final preparations for His emergence will be in place, awaiting the outer events which must precede His declaration. Dignitaries around the world await His Call, ready to reveal their experience of His blessing. Many who already know Him stand poised to speak. From all nations and peoples will come the representatives of each, eager to add their voice to the hosannas of esteem.
Maitreya’s task has but begun yet already the nations shake off the stranglehold of the past. What then can be imagined when in full vision He stands before the world, His teaching and counsel uplifting the hearts and minds of all? (Benjamin Creme’s Master, from ‘Day of destiny’)
My Coming has been expected by millions. My Arrival among you is known to relatively few. Nevertheless, these few can tell the others and light in them the joy which My Promise brings. (Maitreya, from Message No.29)
First and foremost, if you believe, even as a possibility, that Maitreya is in the world, make it known, in every way, to all who will listen: through speech, radio, television, press, letters, etc. In this way you help to create the climate of hope and expectancy for His advent which will allow Him to enter our lives – without infringing humanity’s free will. Advocate sharing and justice in the world, as the only way to true peace – and try to live His teachings. (Benjamin Creme, Maitreya’s Mission Volume Three)
Men await a signal from a higher source. Consciously or not, they know that these are not the usual times but times of major import, maximum tension and unlimited possibilities. They turn to the old Truths, the time-worn scriptures and rituals of the past, but, dimly unsatisfied, sense, and wait for, the revelation of the New.
That New Revelation, too, awaits man’s searching heart; the simple realization of brotherhood will fill the outheld Chalice. Men, in millions, stand ready for this blessed consummation and turn their heads upwards in expectation and renewed hope.
Not in vain do men wait. Not purposeless is their hope. Maitreya has come to fulfil the pledges, to reunite man with man and men with God. He has come “to make all things new”, to fill man’s Chalice with the nectar of Love, and to lead men safely into the New and Blessed Time. (Benjamin Creme’s Master, from ‘The New and Blessed Time’)
My dear friends, I am happy to be with you once again, and to give you this last communication in this way.
It has been My intention to reveal Myself at the earliest possible moment, to brook no delay, and to come before the world as your Friend and Teacher. Much depends on My immediate discovery, for in this way can I help you to save your world. I am here to aid and teach, to show you the path to the future, and to reveal you to each other as Gods.
I am sure you realize that much depends on the actions of men in the coming years. All the world knows this. All the world stands in fear. Nevertheless, there is a growing sense of hope, a likelihood of change, a response to My Presence, creating thus a point of stillness in the tension.
Hopes now run high for My Appearance. Gladly would I present Myself to the people. Look for Me then, and find Me waiting. Search for Me then, and grasp My hand.
I need your help to come before you, to bless this world and teach, to show men that the way forward is simple, requires only the acceptance of Justice and Freedom, Sharing and Love. These aspects are already within you and need only to be evoked by me.
Christ is here, My friends. The Avatar has come. Your Brother walks among you. My Mission begins. Know Me soon and help your brothers to know Me. Take My hand and let Me lead you to God.
May the Divine Light and Love and Power of the One Most Holy God be now manifest within your hearts and minds. May this manifestation lead you quickly to see your roles in this heroic time. (Maitreya, Message No.140)
New energies inspire new ideas and ideals and it is these which alter the framework of men’s lives. Watch for the signs of the new dispensation: Tolerance and Goodwill; Democracy, Justice and Sharing; Co-operation and Interdependence. These are the signs of the New Time when men will walk proudly and free.
Shortly, the truth of these words will become apparent as events move closer to their inevitable climax. Even the Angels hush and whisper in expectation of that time. When the Great Lord shows His face men will know that the time for change has come: the time to make amends, to heal old wounds, to rectify the past, to light the lamp of the future, to close the door on evil, to cleanse and purify the structures, to welcome bravely the new, to walk unfamiliar paths. They will know that there is no turning back from the future, a future which will reveal to them the meaning of their existence and the nature and purpose of God. They will know that the time has come to remake the world. (Benjamin Creme’s Master, from ‘The New Life’)
[The miracles] are signs that we have come to the end of one era and the beginning of a new one, and that the Christ has returned to the world to inaugurate this new cycle. These signs are given to uphold people’s faith and hope in the future and in a spiritual basis to life, to keep them aware that we are in a world which is constantly changing, and that the days of miracles are not over. The miracles of the Bible, for example, and also of earlier times, are being repeated now daily, almost hourly, across the world. These events add up to very definite evidence to humanity that the time is nigh for the appearance of the Christ openly in the world. (Benjamin Creme, Maitreya’s Mission Volume Three)
Obviously in my work I have tended to create the most hopeful picture which could galvanize human response and hope and expectancy. It may well be that [Maitreya’s] problems are greater than I envisage, but I do not think any delay in His declaration to the world will affect the speed of our response. Maitreya Himself said: “All else failing I shall emerge into a world ready, but unprepared, a world which knows not yet that I am among you. Far better would it be for Me to come before you as the expected one.” So Maitreya knows that humanity is ready. (Benjamin Creme, Maitreya’s Mission Volume One)
Very many now await My Presence, expect My Return. How could I disappoint these blessed ones? No, My friends, from the heart of man has risen the cry and to that cry for succour have I responded. Likewise, from Me shall come a cry for help. From Me shall issue the cry of man’s heart. In your response to that cry of anguish shall you find your divinity. Thus shall it be, My friends. Thus shall I know My people. Take it upon yourselves to make known My Presence, and reveal yourselves as Gods. (Maitreya, from Message No.113)
Take this opportunity to serve your brothers and sisters throughout the world by telling them the glad tidings. Awaken them to the priceless experience and choice which will soon be theirs. Encourage them with hope and expectation of a better, happier future and open, thus, their hearts for Maitreya’s love. (Benjamin Creme’s Master, from ‘Man’s essential choice’)
Total belief that all of this is true is not essential. An open-minded acceptance of the possibility of the Christ’s return now is the overriding necessity at the present time. This alone would release in humanity a renewed hope and a spiritual expectancy which would galvanize it into a much needed change of direction; and ensure a positive response to His Message and His Teaching when He reveals Himself. (Benjamin Creme, The Reappearance of the Christ and the Masters of Wisdom)
Men and women throughout the world, who share My hope for a new life for men, will lead the way; and together we shall make safe the world. My Vanguard has been preparing mankind for this time. There are few in the world who know not in their hearts that My Return is nigh. On all levels this truth resounds. You will find this to be so when you make your approach to your brothers. Each one of you in his heart has seen the new light which beckons from afar, which holds the Promise of the future time. That light will grow into a flame unseen before on Earth, when mankind takes the Path which will lead him back to God. (Maitreya, from Message No.23)
In the wings, awaiting His entrance into the arena of the world, stands the Christ. His energies go before Him, doing their transforming work, creating the equilibrium longed for by all men. Many now sense His presence, whether by name or not. They sense the release of new life and hope when they had all but given up. They feel, too, their growing power and ability to shape their future. When they see and hear Him speak, naught will halt the crescendo of change which will then ensue as He gives voice to their deepest longings and needs. The world stands, expectant, on the threshold of rebirth. (Benjamin Creme’s Master, from ‘The threshold of rebirth’)
A fresh joy rises in the hearts of those who know the truth: that the Messenger stands ready to emerge into the full light of day, awaiting only the call to begin His mission. (Benjamin Creme’s Master)
Interview with Catalina Escobar
by Jason Francis
The Juan Felipe Gomez Escobar Foundation is a nonprofit organization that improves the quality of life for teenage mothers and their children who are living in poverty in the city of Cartagena, Colombia. Since 2001, the foundation has provided access to healthcare and psychological support, as well as education and vocational training. Catalina Escobar, the organization’s founder and president, is a successful businesswoman who sold her international trading company to dedicate herself to helping the city’s poor children and their young mothers. Jason Francis interviewed her Share International.
Share International: What inspired you to found the Juan Felipe Gomez Escobar Foundation?
Catalina Escobar: Two painful experiences. One, when I saw a baby who died in my arms because a teen mom failed to raise $30 to save her baby’s life. The other one, four days later, when my second son, Juan Felipe, 16 months old, fell from the eighth floor of the building we were living in.
We lived in Cartagena for two-and-a-half years, between 1998 and 2000. I ran a company, but was also engaged with the social sector. Cartagena is the most beautiful city of our country, but with the greatest social despair. The city is surrounded by extreme poverty. It is impossible not to notice that! I became a volunteer at a public hospital called Rafael Calvo Hospital (very poor). Half of the children in Cartagena are born in this hospital. That means around 11,000 babies per year. I instantly noticed neonatal deaths, the total misery where mothers give birth there, and a lot of corruption. The health system was collapsing.
SI: What is the percentage of infant mortality in Colombia?
CE: When I started the foundation in the year 2001, Colombia was at 23 deaths per 1,000 babies born alive. Now the percentage is around 14 deaths per 1,000 born alive. Cartagena used to have the highest infant mortality rate of the country: 48.6 deaths per 1,000 born alive. It used to be double the national average. [The rate in Cartagena has been reduced to about 25 deaths per 1,000 live births.]
SI: What is the percentage of teen pregnancy in Colombia?
CE: 19 per cent. It is number one in Latin America. The problem is not the 19 on average. The problem is that when you look at the poverty line, below that line, the teenage pregnancy rate is 55. That means that more than half of the pregnancies in Colombia below the poverty line come from teenagers.
SI: Is there a correlation between poverty and infant mortality and teen pregnancy?
CE: They are all tied together. Save the Children came out with research a year ago, published by the UN, which says the number one cause of death for teenage girls in the world is pregnancy. There is a reason for that: teen pregnancies are high-risk pregnancies. The correlation between poverty and teen pregnancy is very simple: the poorer you are, the more children you have. When a girl gets pregnant, and she is poor, she will drop out of school immediately. When she does that, she no longer belongs to the pyramid of development. The greatest danger is that next year she will get pregnant again, and the year after too. When she’s 22 she would have 4-5 children. Those children will grow up poor. This girl is repeating the same paradigms as her mother and grandmother. In my job, I have met grandmothers 27 years old….
Teens in the Teenage Mothers Program
SI: Could you tell us about the Social Center?
CE: The Social Center is where we provide all of our services. We have a medical center there where we see 36,000 patients a year, a teenage mothers’ ward for 650 girls a year, and a day care center for 150 babies. We feed 600 people on a daily basis and have 112 people working to make the social transformations we want.
SI: Could you tell us about the role of your Crib Program and the Juan Felipe Medical Center in addressing infant mortality?
CE: It was created to sponsor babies that are in danger of dying, extreme poverty babies, whose families lack economic resources. Today, more than 35 per cent of Cartagena’s population does not have access to proper medical care. We built a state-of-the-art neonatal intensive care unit for those babies in the Rafael Calvo Hospital. We have operated it for about seven years. Before constructing that ward, around 740-760 babies used to die there every year, that is, 65 deaths per 1,000 born alive, on average more than two babies a day.
We created a proper facility, with high-tech equipment, where doctors were trained and medical protocols implemented. The real problem was that the system did not pay the bills. That’s why we provided sponsorship to those babies (in extreme poverty conditions), who were out of the health system. During the first six to seven years of operation, we reduced the total infant mortality rate of the city by 80 per cent, without any public policy. Just business-oriented models, focused intervention and non-stop work.
SI: Could you tell us about the Teenage Mothers Program and the Teenage Mothers Extension Program?
CE: Our model of intervention for teen moms is also a business-like model. In two to four years, if a girl follows our protocols, she will break the poverty cycle. The teen moms come to our Center on a daily basis. The first six months are the most important, because the girls are pregnant and at their most vulnerable. We work hard on what we call the four dimensions: empowerment, entrepreneurial skills (life-project), healthcare and counseling.
The second cycle, the Teenage Mothers Extension Program, gives the girls the opportunity to get back to school. We provide scholarships for technical schools and college as well. We have productive workshops for job training, and we keep track of industry to see which opportunities these girls have to get a decent job. What we do is called a 360 intervention, where everything is measured for an outcome….
SI: How does the life of a young mother and her child change when she has access to healthcare, psychological support, education and vocational training?
CE: When these girls see that there is a whole world of opportunities out of that ‘fish tank’, they already know that they deserve a better future. We help them break the poverty cycle when two main things happen: When they are empowered earning a stable income, and when they have a responsible sex life with a method of contraception. When these two things happen, they turn back and tell me: “Cata, I will never go back to poverty again, not like my mother or my grandmother.”
For more information: juanfe.org/en/
Interview with Will Ruddick
by Niels Bos
Great ideas tend to go a long way. Take, for instance, the Swiss WIR, a complementary currency that was initiated in the midst of the Great Depression by a group of entrepreneurs. Back in the 1930s, these men saw how small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Switzerland were struggling to cope with the effects from the financial crisis. While there still were unmet needs within communities and plenty of unused resources too, there simply was not enough money in circulation for many transactions to be made. So they implemented an organized bartering system – backed by a voucher linked to the goods and services in the community – that enabled small businesses to continue trading with one another even when the Swiss Franc was in short supply.
The term WIR derived from the word “wirtschaftsring”, or “economic circle”. Wir is also the German word for “we”, signifying togetherness and solidarity. Nowadays, not only are a quarter of all Swiss SMEs members of the WIR network, the model itself has also been replicated and implemented successfully all over the world.
Perhaps the latest, and certainly one of the most interesting follow-ups, has sprung up in the ‘Bangladesh’ slum community near Mombasa, Kenya. Within a few months of operating, the Bangla-Pesa complementary currency has already drawn wide acclaim from international organizations for its achievements, especially improving the lives of the many women business owners in the slum area. However, the programme just as quickly drew the attention of Kenya’s Central Bank. In a peculiar turn of events this led to the arrest of six programme associates, including its founder Will Ruddick, on charges of forgery. With the continuation and expansion of the programme put on hold, does this signify the untimely end or just the beginning for a promising development initiative?
Niels Bos interviewed the founder of Bangla-Pesa, physicist and economist Will Ruddick for Share International.
Could it really be, I wondered, that what worked for SMEs in 1930s Switzerland will work for small businesses in a Kenyan slum area?
Despite the obvious differences, Will Ruddick is positive about this outlook: “With the WIR ideally you are creating stability amongst a bunch of businesses. You’ve got around 60,000-plus businesses as part of this network and it’s helping them trade when they don’t have many Swiss Francs or maybe the Swiss Franc is not doing so well. So it has this countercyclical, stabilizing nature [during economic downturns, barter or alternative trading goes up, freeing up cash for other uses], and really the concept can apply to people living on less than a dollar per day. Bangla-Pesa fits under the umbrella of complementary currency, which is a fairly wide umbrella. What distinguishes it from most other programmes is that we are dealing with people at the very bottom of the economic pyramid.”
Ruddick describes the Kenyan situation: “In terms of poverty here in Kenya you have a lot of ‘economic traffic jams’ when the market just stops and this happens quite regularly here, and it is something that developed countries are not really familiar with. We have periods here in Kenya when the economy will literally stop and markets will tend to just shut down. For instance, quite regularly there is so little money in the system, the means of exchange is so scarce here in Kenya that when in January everyone has to pay school fees for their children it literally saps the entire market.
“Yet this market has this capacity, the same capacity it had before, you have a lot of people who have goods and services to exchange with one another yet literally there is just not enough money. The burden caused by this scarcity tends to affect the women in these communities most heavily. While women make up the bulk of the businesses and labour force, male business owners earn more profit from their enterprises. In addition to this gender inequality, women experience a double burden by performing a disproportionate amount of household work, such as taking care of children and the elderly.”
Ruddick goes on to explain that the Bangla-Pesa network consists of 75 per cent business women who regularly fall below the international poverty line. Generally, they work several jobs and find no way to save money from month to month. Faith Atieno, one businesswoman who epitomizes this trend, sells porridge and flat bread to support her three children while working five hours a day on household chores.
After intensive preliminary research Koru-Kenya, a community based organization, began to see complementary currencies as a promising part of the solution to both gender inequality and economic instability in a Kenyan slum known as ‘Bangladesh’. Koru-Kenya found that:
Bangla-Pesa in four denominations
Following their findings, Koru-Kenya developed a means of exchange called the Bangla-Pesa. It is a complementary currency that works to strengthen and stabilize the local economy of Bangladesh, Kenya, by organizing its hundreds of small-scale businesses into a business network.
Again using Faith Atieno as an example Ruddick illustrates: “In a typical day of exchanges Faith Atieno buys water from another woman for 10 Kenyan shillings. The water seller then uses the 10 shillings to purchase charcoal for cooking. The charcoal seller then goes to buy flat bread from Faith, completing a full barter cycle. In this situation, if Faith or anyone in the chain has no money, the Bangla-Pesa exchanges prevent the local economy from stalling. The Bangla-Pesa circumvents such bottlenecks by providing a means of exchange which can be used even when national currency is scarce, as it often is.”
In addition, because most Bangladesh Business Network members work several jobs and still make just enough to support their families’ most basic needs, they struggle to save money and pay additional medical and education costs. By using the Bangla-Pesa to exchange and pay for basic needs locally the Kenyan shillings can be spent, on education, health, or saved. Bangla-Pesa are issued in the form of paper vouchers, or promissory notes, that pass from hand to hand as payment for goods and services. Any business in the community that is guaranteed by four other businesses in the network can receive a credit line of Bangla-Pesa at no interest. All of these groups are part of the bigger network of small businesses, and the Bangla-Pesa vouchers are good at the entire network.
In terms of results, after only a few weeks of activity, members of the business network have seen more than a 20 per cent rise in their daily sales. Koru-Kenya’s survey data indicates that, at the very least, businesses were doing around 22 per cent of their trade in Bangla-Pesa. And since most people reported an increase in their daily sales, this number likely represented additional sales which might not have happened without this means of exchange.
In the long run, Koru-Kenya expects to see an increase in local market stability. The fundamental driver of this stability and increase in trade is the members’ ability to trade their excess capacity. Studies indicated that businesses in Bangladesh were only operating at a fraction of their potential capacity. For instance, a bicycle operator may have the daily capacity for twenty customers but in general he has only ten. With the Bangla-Pesa he can give rides to other members of the network in exchange for the goods and services that they have in excess. This increases the overall efficiency of the market and helps the community to weather poor economic periods. And, because most of these businesses are owned and operated by women, these increased sales demonstrate the potential for complementary currencies to directly address gender inequalities by boosting the income of women.
One of the other factors which earned the programme accolades from international organizations and the media alike was its cost-effectiveness.
“The material cost of the programme is only around 400 euros”, Ruddick proudly points out. “That 400 euros is made up within a few weeks of trading, in terms of extra trade going on in the community. It’s the same effect you would see in Switzerland but now you are doing it to an economy where people are living on a dollar per day. That extra stability has a huge significance; literally we are seeing families with food on the table regularly for the first time in their life.”
So far so good, one might be inclined to think. Unfortunately, while it seemed that the community of Bangladesh was poised for sustainable and self-driven economic and social resilience, on 29 May 2013, the government of Kenya declared the programme to be a threat to national security and placed five community members as well as Will Ruddick, the programme founder, in jail. Finally, when claims of ties with local terrorist groups were found baseless, the group was charged by Kenya’s Central Bank’s fraud department with holding forged papers, despite the fact that Bangla-Pesa vouchers look nothing like Kenyan shillings and are clearly labelled as vouchers. Remarkably, the WIR currency also faced a lot of adversity from Swiss banks in its own time, as did the Brazilian Palmas currency in more recent times. So, historically complementary currencies have been viewed as a threat by the monetary authorities.
As for the Bangla-Pesa, the international community quickly refuted the charges made against it. The head of Kenya’s stock exchange declared promissory notes, such as Bangla-Pesa, legal and many international organizations, such as the United Nations and the International Reciprocal Trade Association, came out in support of the community-based programme. Ellen Brown, of the Public Banking Institute, stated in the Huffington Post: “No other poverty alleviation programme can compete with the cost-effectiveness of this approach, which is easily replicable in poor communities across Africa. The plan was to expand it to other villages in a democratic grassroots fashion so that it could provide a local medium of exchange for people throughout the continent.”
Finally, after weeks of uncertainty and sentences of up to seven years hanging over their heads, the group received news from Kenya’s Director of Public Prosecutions that all charges against Bangla-Pesa were dropped immediately, indicating indisputably that no laws had been broken by the programme. After the acquittal, Koru-Kenya immediately expressed gratitude for the support they received from people all over the world, including the “International Complementary Currency movement that is growing daily”. Before reintroducing the successful programme to the Bangladesh community Koru-Kenya is now waiting on two things: the return of confiscated Bangla-Pesa from the Central Bank, and official government recognition of the programme. Then, nothing stands in the way of the organization placing the Bangla-Pesa back in the hands of the community and helping it expand to communities around Kenya and East Africa.
In a statement released after the acquittal, Koru-Kenya reiterated once more what is at the heart of the initiative: “As a poverty reduction programme, Bangla-Pesa points in a new direction for community development by fundamentally rethinking our means of exchange and how it is issued. It also gives those living in dire conditions the ability to create their own means of exchange and stabilize their own economy.”
And so it seems the longstanding tradition of complementary currencies continues to influence communities in this day and age, far away from where it all started. In closing, I ask: Is this development welcomed by all?
Will Ruddick comments: “Some people have told me that they’re afraid that this type of programme is somehow going to decrease the amount of sharing in the community; that somehow we are monetizing things too much. Actually I have seen the opposite happen. I’ve seen that this actually brings the community together because the lack of money in the community really causes people to hide and withdraw into their shells. And when they feel ‘we can share with one another using Bangla-Pesa’ it actually opens up a lot of doors.”
For more information on the Bangla-Pesa and Koru-Kenya’s work visit http://koru.or.ke
Government officials in the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador announced a moratorium on fracking, or hydraulic fracturing – the natural gas drilling process that some scientists say causes serious water and air pollution. “Our government will not be accepting applications for onshore and onshore-to-offshore petroleum exploration using hydraulic fracturing,” the province’s Natural Resources Minister Derrick Dall said. “Our first consideration is the health and safety of our people. In making this decision, our government is acting responsibly and respecting the balance between economic development and environmental protection,” he said. The provincial government will assess the geological impact of fracking and open the review process to public comment. The Canadian provinces of Quebec and Nova Scotia have previously announced moratoria on hydraulic fracturing pending further study.
In the US, three cities in the state of Colorado voted in November 2013 to ban fracking. Residents of Fort Collins and Boulder, Colorado banned hydraulic fracturing for at least the next five years, and the city of Lafayette passed a prohibition against all new oil and gas wells.
(Source: commondreams.org; cbc.ca; mcclatchydc.com)
The 2013 Brower Youth Awards were given to six young people in the USA in recognition of their outstanding environmental achievements. This year’s winners were:
The Brower Youth Awards are presented annually by the Earth Island Institute’s New Leaders Initiative, based in Berkeley, California. Winners receive a $3,000 cash prize and a weeklong visit to San Francisco where they attend meetings and workshops to improve their networking and communications skills.
During the past 14 years, 85 current and past Brower Youth Award recipients have raised more than $2 million for environmental causes, trained more than 3,000 young people in advocacy, involved more than 50,000 people in green projects, implemented 20 university-wide environmental policies, passed eight pieces of legislation, organized more than 4,000 events and actions, produced nearly three dozen documentary films and held more than 500 lobbying meetings with elected officials. (Source: ecowatch.com; broweryouthawards.org; goldmanprize.org)
Japan’s anti-nuclear movement received an unexpected boost when one of the nation’s most popular figures, former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, publicly renounced his previous support of nuclear power. In a speech to Japanese business executives in early October 2013, Koizumi said that Japan should rid itself of its atomic plants and switch to renewable energy sources such as solar power.
As prime minister from 2001 to 2006, Koizumi was an enthusiastic proponent of what he called “cheap and clean” nuclear power. In his recent speech, however, he said that he had changed his view after the Fukushima nuclear accident in 2011. Koizumi now believes that nuclear power is the most expensive form of energy, citing not only the billions of dollars needed to clean up Fukushima, but also the unknown cost and method of dealing with nuclear waste. “There is nothing more costly than nuclear power,” he said. “Japan should achieve zero nuclear plants and aim for a more sustainable society.”
Koizumi’s change of view challenges the current government’s intention of restarting as many nuclear power plants as possible (currently all shut down), and their claim that nuclear power is essential for economic growth.
Koizumi made a compelling argument that, if the ruling party was to announce a zero nuclear policy, “the public mood would rise in an instant, and the nation could come together in the creation of a recyclable society unseen in the world”. (Source: New York Times, USA)