[The original interview was published in The Primal Feelings Newsletter, Issues Spring, Summer, Autumn 1994 The version below has been updated in 1996 by The World Peace Project.]
In September 1993 I received information concerning The World Peace Project. Based in Denver, The Project is presently headed by Peter Lavender and has World Peace as its objective. The World Peace Proposal which Peter sent includes an excellent bibliography of books and articles dealing with feeling therapies and kindred subjects. I thought that Newsletter readers would be interested in details of The World Peace Project, so I made a proposal of my own - that I interview Peter about the Project. Happily, he accepted and the exchange is printed below.
- John A. Speyrer
Editor: Peter, would you tell us something about your background, the therapies you have explored, and any benefits you may have derived?
PL: Sure. Before therapy I was a lot in my head and was a commuter airline pilot and flight instructor, and later got an M.S. from M.I.T. in aerospace engineering and physics. Then at the University of Illinois I studied for an M.S. in astronomy and continued toward a Ph.D. During this academic period of my life, I was frequently hospitalized with severe asthma. While working on my thesis, I was unable to get my computer modeling project on exploding stars to work, and out of extreme anxious defeat, I wound up in the hospital in the second of two four-day asthmatic comas. I realized my body was telling me to get out of the pressures of academia, so I went back to being a pilot and then to computer programming research at Harvard. However, the stresses of the work world put me in the hospital several more times and kept me on osteoporosis-causing cortisone, so I went on disability and got into primal therapy (described below).
After these life changes in the early 70's, I never went to the hospital again for asthma! However, I was hospitalized for a number of surgeries to repair weakened areas in my body that endured early trauma-induced stresses and strains throughout my life. I found my way to the Denver Primal Center and have remained in Denver. There's no question that primal therapy saved my life in a number of ways, including from the near-death asthma. My asthma has improved considerably and I'm taking less medication (including cortisone only once in eight years) and can do more. Therapy also noticeably improved my deep emotional conditions of insomnia, anxiety and depression, and saved me from killing myself. Now I'm less in my head and am internally a lot more connected to my heart, spirit and physical/emotional experiences. Although I'm still disabled, I don't live under the death threat I used to, and I volunteer what efforts I can through The World Peace Project.
In primal therapy I relived and released many different feelings, including a tremendous amount of near-death suffocation feelings. I was able to feel back to the origins of those suffocation feelings as an embryo, at uterine implantation, and at conception. The details are complex, but essentially, when I was an embryo I had to constrict my chest very powerfully to make the two sides of my newly forming chest/heart fuse together, or else I would die. I truly almost died of a broken heart! This chest constriction became my automatic asthmatic reaction pattern to any stress for the rest of my life. Other people have their own different life reaction patterns or problems (such as overeating, addictions, violent and unfriendly tendencies, unhappiness and depression, and difficulty with change, to name a few) that originated in their own early traumas.
I still primal, both alone and with friends, and over the years have done a number of other things to help my growth. These include exercise, traditional psychotherapy, acupuncture, conscious nutrition and herbs, meditation, "devotional" yoga, Holotropic BreathworkTM, shamanic journeying, Hakomi TherapyTM, prayer, being in nature, hypnotherapy, The World Peace Project and other processes. Each of these growth tools has helped me in different ways that all enhance and multiply each other's effects. And today my ongoing growth continues to increase my awareness and capability to Be There for Self and Others.
Editor: That's a very interesting and broad background you've described, Peter.
In The Proposal you say that Stanislav Grof has implied that if a large enough number of people became caring and feeling individuals through inner growth work, it would begin the evolution toward World Peace. This possibility was mentioned by Arthur Janov when he wrote that "feelings will be the salvation of mankind," and that "primal consciousness certainly means an end to war." Other authors, including Ann Schaef and Alice Miller, have explored similar beliefs. And Stan Grof points to the need for the visual mass media to help the world's people understand these ideas. But you go beyond these ideas to describe in detail how World Peace can be achieved by joining the power of people's inner growth work with that of video and computer networking, including on the Internet. Obviously, the first step in that direction would be for more of us to start feeling through and releasing our repressed traumas. What's next?
PL: That's right, the first steps toward Peace will be for more of us to learn the basics of Being There for Self and Others in order to help each other feel our repressed feelings. And as a person feels ready, they can join a Team of 20 or so others in their area who are committed to helping each other grow. We are initially recruiting our Team here in the Denver/Boulder area and will soon recruit people for many Teams World wide. Also, we'll be starting an Inner Growth Training Center for Being There for Self and Others.
Each Team, as the members feel ready, would video portions of their growth sessions and groups (people going through their feelings, or primaling) and each others' lives, including at work and play, and in relationships and family situations. It's vital to include positive parenting and other close relationships with children. Of course, each person has the absolute right to have any scene they are in kept private. All this feeling video footage would become the foundation for Oprah-type discussion shows, slanted toward World Peace and inner/spiritual growth issues, which each Team would edit and produce using personal computers with appropriate video software. These shows would be distributed among other Teams, to community (public access), cable, PBS and major network TV stations. And as each Team feels ready, they'll transmit via the Internet. To ensure high quality productions, Team members are urged to go through video training workshops, for very low or no cost, at their local community TV studios.
Viewers of these feelings-centered Oprah-like shows would see how Team people's lives dramatically improve through helping each other with their inner feeling work. Also viewers would see how people grow away from harsher, noncooperative and even violent tendencies toward increasingly caring, helping and loving behavior, and ultimately toward World Peace. A key area of life improvement for Teammates would be the increasing number of closer and more caring relationships they experience. These shows would also feature guest experts from all areas of the healing arts, who would be interviewed and share videos of their work.
The expected effect of these shows on the viewing audience would be to empower people who are ready, to feel a sense of safety and permission to begin looking at, and then opening more to, their own feelings and real inner selves. Then they can begin to share this with friends and loved ones, and many of them would evolve to form groups and additional Teams committed to helping each other grow. They can video their process if and when they feel ready.
Editor: You've said here and in The Proposal that Team members would video their growth sessions and groups, and each other at work and play and in relationship situations. Would showing videos of growth sessions be offputting to many people? I think perhaps very few viewers would identify with videos of any form of deep feeling therapy. How will you deal with that?
PL: John, I estimate that 5% to 10% of the viewers, after seeing some of our shows, will be ready to begin opening up more to their inner feeling selves. Then they would naturally begin to share their growth with friends and loved ones whose new interest in feelings would cause many of them to join our growing audiences. I see that feelings are, essentially, the universal language of humans and, in fact, all life! Feelings are the means of communication between cells in one's body, between different organs and areas of one's body, and of course, between people. We are feeling something every second, and all our decisions, conscious or unconscious, come from the feeling "this choice feels right, and these others don't". Also, from many years of experience and study, I know that connecting to and releasing deep feelings are important and natural parts of our inner healing spiritual process. All life events are teachings and growth opportunities. The more we're in touch with our feelings, the more we integrate all life experiences into our bodies, minds and souls. And the more we continue to open to our feelings the more completely our old wounds heal. Therefore, conscious processes that specifically help open us to our feelings are a very important type of growth tools.
The broad appeal of feelings was demonstrated when I was editing some earlier shows, including scenes of people primaling, at a community video center. A number of other people in the building were spontaneously drawn to the editing room to watch in fascination. So, I have a very strong and basic trust that people subconsciously know feelings are our common language, and deep down under the layers of pain, basic instincts of caring, loving, spirituality and World Peace are naturally present in everyone. Of course this will be proven only when World Peace follows from the steps we are talking about here. I know most people only need a little gentle permission and guidance, and to see feelings in action, to understand that feelings are safe to go into, and doing so will improve their lives. And they would evolve from seeing our feelings-oriented shows to opening increasingly to their own feelings. If I didn't believe this very deeply, I would not be doing this work. Even so, videos of people in their deep feelings would not dominate our programming. More time would be spent showing peoples' positive life changes, including their realer and more fulfilling relationships, adventures and work. And again, each person has the absolute right to have any scene they're in kept private.
Also, I believe our shows would have an audience appeal similar to but realer than most of today's network TV. This is because videos from Teammates' growth sessions, lives and relationships constitute elements of what is the natural deep-feeling and real human counterpart to network TV's contrived, scripted and acted soaps, sitcoms, dramas, etc. In addition, programs like Joan Rivers' Nov. '93 show on regression therapies, the proliferation of confrontational, secret-revealing and conflict-oriented talk shows (like Geraldo, Sally Jessy Raphael, etc.), and the networks' so-called "reality" programming trends (such as Cops, Rescue 911, 60 Minutes, Dateline NBC, MTV's Real World, etc.), all make it very clear that a large number of viewers are ready for the ultimate realness of our feeling shows.
Editor: In The Proposal you say you expect The Project to evolve to the point where donors, grants and foundations would fund a national and eventually Global TV network, including transmitting it on the Internet. This network would be devoted to programming on inner/spiritual growth and World Peace issues. What would be the content of these TV shows?
PL: With national and then Global funding, the videos mentioned above from a selection of various Teams' members' growth and lives would be extensive enough to provide footage for a daily one hour show. This would be an edited summary of the 24 hour day of the adventures, relationships, interactions and growth of these people. This show could be called Real Soap!
There are many other shows detailed in The Proposal which will be important to do, but I'll mention only two types. Many viewers drawn to Real Soap will want more details on the basics of inner growth work for themselves, and so they can Be There for their friends' and loved ones' feelings. So one type of show would be documentaries on the basics of inner growth work, including videos of people in their feelings, and specific guidelines for people going into their feelings (experiencers or primalers) and their helpers (sitters or facilitators).
Another type of program would be done on all kinds of inner growth, World Peace, relationship and ecologically-minded adventures that Team People go through, all the while helping each other with their growth and feelings. Viewers would be encouraged, and shown how, to process and grow with the variety of feelings stimulated in them by watching these shows. These video experiences would include, for example, extended visits and sharing with other teams, and tours with Team members to all the wonderful diverse cultures and beautiful places around our Planet.
Editor: Ok, let's say that everything is going in the directions you suggest and that a national or Global TV network has programs on inner growth work, World Peace topics and Team members' lives and adventures. What happens next?
PL: Well, it's now virtually certain that developments in video transmission technology will lead to the capability for each person in the World, who wishes, to video and transmit portions of their lives on the Internet! This will make it possible for naturally curious and adventurous people to share videos of their lives with other growth-oriented and supportive people of diverse cultures and backgrounds around the World. The fundamental issue in a video-sharing relationship will be trust, that is "how much, if any, of my video can I trust each interested person with?" Potential sharers would explore together and resolve their feelings around trust before exchanging their unique access codes. In fact, a person could share different degrees of video intimacy with different categories of people using different access codes for each category. In this way each person retains the right to keep different combinations of scenes private from different people. This video sharing will evolve to where everyone in the World, each person in their own way and at their own pace, can become video-connected with as many (or few) people as they choose in helping, cooperative and caring ways for the greatest good of all people and species on Earth. This would constitute the ultimate Global World Peace TV Network. It's awesome to realize that this new interconnected biosphere of shared consciousness would be a Global life form, called "The Global Heart" by some, that is more advanced than the sum of its parts. And it's highly likely there are a great number and variety of advanced life forms in the Universe waiting for us to join them!
Editor: I want to speak bluntly with you, Peter. It might seem to some that this Project is overly ambitious, farfetched and probably impractical.
PL: That's a very good and important question. The answer is: no, I'm sure the Project is not farfetched because of the practicality of how we'll proceed. We'll take one simple, doable step at a time. We'll start with recruiting our local Team, and then begin training with each other in Being There for Ourselves' and Others' feelings. Then we'll get several video cameras to begin videoing ourselves as we've said. This will also be the beginning of our Inner Growth Training Center. Then we'll decide on the next few doable steps at that point. The Project will unfold at its own pace and take on a structure and life of its own. The Proposal is only a guide and starting point, and there are many ways World Peace can unfold. The Project has already received important support from around the country, including various kinds of help, suggestions and funding from a number of therapists and others on the growth path. We've had inquiries from a few colleges and several people have inquired about starting Teams elsewhere.
However, up to this point our World Peace efforts haven't reached many people. The reason is that my remaining depression and low-self-esteem issues have blocked my ability to give talks and workshops on World Peace. This has greatly impeded The Project's unfolding. So I've recently begun taking the small doable steps necessary to do presentations of this work. At the right time this will suddenly accelerate The Project. One of these steps is updating and simplifying this interview. The bottom line is that Project work is a powerful supplement to my other growth processes, and it will be for others who decide to join. And, as we evolve and attract more and more participants, our collective growth process literally becomes the World's! The further we go on this path the more we'll have Peace, Love and Happiness for all of us.
When we begin programming, we'll be helping to empower viewers with their feelings and with video sharing, and once that's started I feel certain the process will ultimately evolve to World Peace. The main message we'll be emphasizing in our videos and TV shows is that releasing deep feelings is liberating and healing. And by showing feelings in action, we'll show how people's lives and relationships become richer, fuller, and more peaceful, loving and satisfying.
A few additional thoughts: To most people the inner growth or healing arts areas probably look like a fragmented and bewildering array of unrelated therapies and practices. We intend to show how many effective growth processes have much in common and can be made understandable. For example, most of them lead us into some degree of altered state of mind and feeling. Altered states are well known to facilitate healing. Also we'll show how the great life-improving and healing benefits of all various processes can be made accessible to all of us.
Editor: Last question. I understand you're working on expanding The Proposal. What's being added?
PL: Yes, we're updating and expanding The Proposal. We expect to publish it in various forms that least expensively reach the largest number of peole, including on the Internet.
The current Proposal needs to be preceded by a thorough discussion on the basics of Being There for Self and Others, and how inner growth work and early trauma operate in us. These topics, which will be the new Chapter 1, are important information that Team people will need to implement the existing Proposal. The latter, which will become Chapter 2, is a detailed discussion of how the power of inner growth work and of Being There for Self and Others, can be joined with that of video and computer networking to bring about World Peace. Then in the new Chapter 3, we will discuss the logic that shows World Peace will evolve in a variety of different ways, and therefore is overdetermined and inevitable! This knowledge is very potent motivation for us to put forth the efforts needed to implement the Chapters 1 and 2 steps to World Peace. Finally, in Chapter 4 which is optional for the reader but is of interest to scientists and others, we write the knowledge described in Chapters 1-3 in simplest mathematical logic form, in what we call The World Peace Equations. These Equations turn out to be a very special class of equations in mathematical physics.
PPP: Thank you, Peter, for sharing your impressive and exciting ideas on World Peace evolution.
PL: You're welcome, John. Thank you for stimulating me to get these ideas better organized. And we at The World Peace Project thank you for making your wonderful forums of The Primal Feelings Newsletter and your Web page available for our work. This is a growth step toward creating our own Web site.
Thank you very much and we wish you Peace, Love and Happiness. -- Peter Lavender