Soul Education and SEL: A Pathway to Global Consciousness and Spirituality

In recent years we have witnessed the erosion of our first amendment rights, such as freedom of speech, freedom of the press, the right to assemble, and the right to petition. Inconspicuously, the freedom of religion and the freedom of conscience are also being threatened in our institutions. Our nation’s founders knew this type of freedom was especially important to the establishment of a free nation, “spiritual freedom is the root of political liberty…As the union between spiritual freedom and political liberty seems nearly inseparable, it is our duty to defend both,” Thomas Paine.

            In the 1990s, the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) created a global educational movement emphasizing social and emotional learning (SEL). This new style of education quickly spread across the globe. The Rockefellers, the Fetzer Institute, and the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) were all vital to its creation. Examining the connections between CASEL associates and Dr. Robert Muller’s Whole World Curriculum, Alice Bailey, The Shift Network, the Collaborative for Spirituality in Education (CSE), the World Commission on Global Consciousness and Spirituality, the Contemplative Mind in Society, and those organizations who are featured by the Lucis Trust raises questions. Are our public schools and educators being used to transform the culture anticipating that this will lead to the formation of a “global consciousness and spirituality?” Although many of the associated organizations claim that spirituality is separate and distinct from religion, their mission seems simple–shape the worldview, shape the world.

            Dr. Robert Muller spent 40 years working for the United Nations (UN) where he achieved the rank of Assistant Secretary-General. He is known as “the father of global education.” Advocating for world governance and world citizenship, many of his ideas resemble those proposed in the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Goals including the Target 4.7 of global citizenship education. An EdW article from 1985 titled  Educator Proposes a Global ‘Core Curriculum reported that Gordon Cawelti, the executive director of ASCD, announced at an international-curriculum symposium that a world core curriculum would be developed based on “proposals put forth by Robert Muller…in his recent book New Genesis: Shaping a Global Spirituality.” The preface of Dr. Muller’s World Core Curriculum Manual claims, “the underlying philosophy upon which The Robert Muller School is based will be found in the teachings set forth in the books of Alice A. Bailey.”

            Bailey supported the UN, influenced the New Age spiritual movement, and formed the Lucis Trust. She created the Lucifer Publishing Company, which later became the Lucis Publishing Company in the 1920s. Her spiritual revelations and teachings are steeped in Theosophy and the occult. In her book, Education in the New Age (1954), she speaks of the importance of group consciousness in education. She encouraged the use of meditation, “the building and the development of the antahkarana, the development of the power to control life and to work white magic through the science of meditation, and also the science of service whereby group control and group relationship are fostered and developed.”

            Even though her words were written almost 70 years ago, they are relevant to today’s version of holistic or whole child education. She says, “to all of these I would like to add that one of our immediate educational objectives must be the elimination of the competitive spirit and the substitution of the cooperative consciousness.” She prophesied that “the educator of the future will need to be more of a trained psychologist than he is today.”

            Bailey also discussed the goal of world citizenship and the need for“fusion or integration of the different aspects of man’s nature—physical, emotional and mental. When this has been accomplished we shall have the manifestation of the integrated elemental forces to which we give the name of the Personality, producing the manifestation of a powerful, self-directed, high grade human being.”

            An article on Bailey’s Lucis Trust website, titled Soul Education for Social Change by Nina Meyerhof, states that the “next relevant educational model is to educate for tapping into higher consciousness…Educators must learn to reach into the consciousness of the student—to touch that very inner core.” The Lucis Trust Arcane School instructs students “located throughout the world” to “work together in group meditation and study helping to precipitate the ideas on which the new civilization and culture will be founded…an experiment in group consciousness.”

            The Lucis Trust is not a fringe group that lacks influence. Much of what they speak about in their writings are key elements of the SEL and whole child movement. In the Lucis Trust’s Newsletter 2021#2 Education: Unveiling the Light of the Soul, they point to aspects of the current SEL movement to support the arguments for spiritual/soul education stating, “there is a growing awareness of the human potential for empathy, compassion and cooperation, accepting that these qualities can be carefully cultivated in classrooms and educational environments.”

            In the Lucis Trust/World Goodwill 2018 Newsletter under University Courses on Meditation Can Awaken Intuition, Dr. Andreas de Bruin refers to Francisco Varela and CASEL co-founder, Daniel Goleman’s conclusions that “science’s major contribution to the 21st century would be to tackle destructive emotions, which are the underlying causes of most planetary problems.” He “sees [their] work…in dialogue with the Dalai Lama and other Buddhist monks…as the seed of the boom in research into the value of mindfulness…which is the precursor stage to true meditation, which only takes place when there is integration with the personality, allowing the link with the soul to begin to be built.” Gloria Crook, the founding President of the Robert Muller School, concludes the Newsletter 2021#2 Education: Unveiling the Light of the Soul with “we believe ‘The World Core Curriculum’ will be, indeed, an Unveiling of the Light of the Soul in Education for the Future of Mankind.”

            Marc Brackett, board member of CASEL, owns Oji Life Lab who partnered with Bo Shao of Evolve Ventures. Shao speaks of his investment saying, “Oji Life Lab is perfectly aligned with our core mission to support the evolution of consciousness.” Businesswire  reports that Evolve Ventures funded The Shift Network. Similarly, Shao says, “We are at a point in history where we must evolve our consciousness if our planet is to meet our challenges…This is at the heart of Shift Network’s mission — to help humanity wake up.” Brackett was a speaker at The Shift Network’s Body Intelligence Summit in 2016.

            Many programs that promote spirituality in education do so through educator development initiatives and educator spiritual retreats. Columbia University Teacher’s College has a division called the Spirituality Mind Body Institute. The Spirituality Mind Body Institute “exists to integrate spiritual life into our society – in our institutions, in our boardrooms, our classrooms, and our homes.” Part of the institute consists of the CSE, which is a sponsored project of Rockefeller Philanthropic Advisors. The Awakened Schools Institute is an initiative of CSE that provides a year-long course for educators with each session beginning and ending with a “ritual.” Tim Shriver, co-founder and director of CASEL, gave the keynote address at a 2019 CSE Conference on spirituality in education. The event was sponsored by CASEL founder and supporter, the Fetzer Institute. The connections don’t end there. Bob Boisture, President of the Fetzer Institute, is on the board of the CSE.

            The Fetzer Institute’s mission is to “[help] build the spiritual foundation for a loving world to inspire and serve a global movement that transforms the world into a more loving home for all.” Also acknowledging that they are “working to add pluralistic, spiritual development into whole child curricula.” As indicated in Alex Newman’s article Occult Roots of Social-Emotional Learning, Bailey’s “Great Invocation” was once used at the Fetzer Institute meetings. In a Fetzer Institute video titled Carrying the Vision Fetzer Institute Retrospective, Bruce Fetzer states, “[the Contemplative Mind in Society] followed a strategy of creating mindfulness programs in hundreds of educational institutions, and that actually laid the seeds for public acceptance of mindfulness practice, which now is being practiced by over 50 million Americans.” The idea of using public education to promote a spiritual ideology and make it mainstream should send shivers down the spine. An article on the Fetzer Institute’s website titled No Sustainability without Spirituality by Frank Peabody III, co-chair of CSE, makes the claim that “the imperative of our times is to move from a consciousness of separateness to a consciousness of connection. Bringing the spiritual development of our children into schools is essential for this process.”

            Steven Rockefeller is a CSE board member and a drafter of the Earth Charter, which is featured on the Lucis Trust website. According to SourceWatch, Steven Rockefeller was a member of the “Global Council on Planetary Ethics and Values”, part of the “World Commission on Global Consciousness and Spirituality.” Dr. Muller was a co-chair of the Commission, which is a member of the AwakeningMind Alliance.  The AwakeningMind Alliance was founded by Dr. Ashok Gangadean, promoter of “A Global Declaration of Interdependence.”

            An organization called the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society or Association for Contemplative Mind in Higher Education is also featured on the Lucis Trust website as an “agent for a spiritual force… dedicating their creativity and passion to bringing a new world into being.” Mirabai Bush is the founding director of the Contemplative Mind in Society. She was also a faculty member at the Esalen Institute, an institute influential to the “Human Potential Movement.” An initial founding meeting for the Contemplative Mind in Society was held at the Fetzer Institute in 1995. It was based, in part, on white papers written by Steven Rockefeller and Daniel Goleman. Initial meetings were sponsored by the Tides Foundation, the Fetzer Institute and the Nathan Cummings Foundation among others. In 2002, “the Center worked with the Mind and Life Institute project to develop a curriculum based on meditation and emotional intelligence for teaching ethics in secular educational settings.” Goleman is listed as a founding steward of the Mind and Life Institute while His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama is listed as a co-founder.

            If schools engage in soul/spiritual education, where does that leave the parents in their own religious rights? Although these organizations claim they are not promoting a particular religion in public education, teaching part of a religion while neglecting the whole, combining elements from various religions, teaching a form of spirituality apart from the religious texts, or teaching a spiritual worldview antithetical to the family’s worldview would interfere with the ability of a parent to raise their child according to their own values free from government influence. The war is bigger than individual battles against Critical Race Theory or Comprehensive Sexuality Education. This is truly a battle for our children’s souls. On his website, Dr. Robert Muller tells the following story: “An educator wrote to me, ‘Through your world core curriculum, the world’s teachers can now have access to the soul of every man, woman and child on this planet.’” Dr. Muller replies, “I hope this will be the case.”


Bailey, Alice A. Eduaction in the New Age. Lucis Trust, 1954.

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