“WHEN WE MEET REAL TRAGEDY IN LIFE, WE CAN REACT IN TWO WAYS- EITHER BY LOSING HOPE AND FALLING INTO SELF-DESTRUCTIVE HABITS, OR BY USING THE CHALLENGE TO FIND OUR INNER STRENGTH.” - DALAI LAMA
Where did the inspiration come from for the World Consciousness Center?
As an architect, my aim is to create environments in which people can thrive. The well-being of human beings is at the center of all my designs. When 9/11 happened in New York in 2001, I felt that I had to go to the scene myself. I had to go in order to understand how such a tragedy could have happened and what we must do in order for mankind to move forward. I flew from Los Angeles to New York.
I walked around Ground Zero. The feelings of tragedy overwhelmed me. Then I walked into one of the side streets. There I saw something completely unexpected. There were two wreaths of yellow roses placed on the sidewalk.
The wreaths were tied together by a yellow ribbon, and on them was a handwritten note which said, “From Afghan family to American family”. My knees just gave in. It was as if all the sadness I was holding within collapsed on me. I knelt on the ground and started crying. The emotions that were captured in those simple words were just overwhelming.
GESINE THOMSON is an internationally recognized architect of large-scale communities and iconic structures. While integrating thought-breaking innovation, her work reaches into the heritage of each local region to allow a sense of belonging and purpose.
By the time I got back on the plane, I knew I had to do something. I knew that such a tragedy cannot happen again, and that we all have to carry the globe. Mankind has to come together, transcending the differences of politics and religions, with a much higher purpose. Suddenly, without consciously thinking, I raised my two hands in front of me as if to embrace and uphold the globe. During the flight back, the concept for the World Consciousness was born.
The World Consciousness Center is a place where people from around the world and many different backgrounds can come together to create common experiences and share their emotions. It’s a platform for cultural exchange, research, and many other functions that will create a community for humanity. It is designed so that a person will feel uplifted, as if he or she is at the center of the universe.
Whenever I’m asked to give a presentation about the World Consciousness Center, I accept. I’ve decided that I will walk through every door that opens for me. I’ve walked through over four hundred and forty doors by now. I once flew from LA to London for a half-hour meeting. I never ask why I’m there. I never Google the people who invite me. I just go. I’ve met heads of state, businessmen, and military people. I saw tears in the eyes of five- star generals after one of my presentations.
Later their spokesperson said, “Another great war cannot happen in this world. We will work with you.” Once in Silicon Valley, someone said that the World Consciousness Center has to be built in the hearts of the seven billion people around the world.
How does inspiration happen?
Inspiration comes from all different venues. And it comes unexpectedly. The key is to be open and do what I call “listening”. I work with all senses. Whichever sense is touched at the very moment initiates something and sets free an energy. It’s like the drop of water that creates ripples in a very still lake. I walk through the world with a very open heart. My eyes are open, my ears are open.
You dream, you manifest, and then you do the work of implementation. I call it the “salami technique”. It’s overwhelming if you want to achieve everything at once. You can’t do that. So you need to slice it down, every day a slice that is attainable, so that you have a series of small successes. You don’t get from A to Z in one leap. Slice. Slice. Slice. And then all of a sudden, one day, you walk into the finished building or the community.
We need to go about life the same way as well. Today’s young generation is faced with so many choices and a huge clutter of information. You can easily get confused and lost. Use the salami technique. Know your desired result, and get there one step at a time. But in order to know what you want, you need to sit down and go deeply into yourself. You need to be truthful to find out what your dream is. When you know it, take action.
You have to be courageous. You have to take that leap off the cliff, and prepare to be in free fall. It is when you are in free fall that all of your senses become alert. That’s when people become superheroes. All of a sudden, they can do the impossible.
In public speeches, you’ve talked about motherhood as an important source of inspiration.
To me, there are really two important professions in this world. One is a mother and the other is a teacher. They are all heroes. Motherhood allows a woman to experience the full arc of what mother nature has intended. Being a mother is a commitment for a lifetime. It’s not for twenty years or twenty-five years. It is not easy to be a mother. Motherhood is so much larger than you ever thought it would be, trust me. You have to show up for the job every day. Does it get rewarded? Not always. But it teaches you so much about love and what it means to nurture another life. That influences everything else you do including your career. Personally, it has benefitted me greatly in my work to have the nurturing perspective of a mother. But I’m not talking about motherhood in only a biological sense. Mother Teresa was the mother of all mothers. She was the mother of a community. Motherhood is the ability to provide unconditional love and to nurture.
What is a meaningful life?
I don’t think there is one formula, and the answer is different for each person. For me, it is to contribute to humanity in ways to help humanity elevate. We shouldn’t just be moving forward in our development as humans. The direction cannot be horizontal. The movement for humanity has to be in an upward curve. It needs to be uplifted. Elevated. My purpose is to contribute in any way I can and to make the world a more beautiful place than when I found it. I try to bring beauty into everything I do – my work, writing, speeches, relationships and my home – and to elevate humanity at all levels.