Three Months in a Political Ashram, Working locally works globally : The Plan for Peace


In December 1999 in southwest Portugal an intensive training for peaceworkers began: the Political Ashram at Tamera. For three months twenty-seven men and women from many parts of the world took part in a mental and physical training. They studied the spiritual, scientific and political foundations of the global Plan for Peace and planned concrete


It was the first run of the Political Ashram. This is part of the Institute for Global Peacework, which was officially founded this summer.

”Just the name ‘Political Ashram’ was a magical attraction for me” said the young man with the headband and kimono-style jacket. ”As someone who works with refugees, I reached the point where I’ve lost my strength. I needed a strong inner certainty, a global strategy to believe in. I suspected that I can only be as effective in my outer peace work as I am in creating peace within myself and in my personal surroundings.” 

His search led him to southwestern Europe, to Alentejo in Portugal. Here, nestling in a range of oak-tree covered hills far away from the political hotspots, for what is probably the first time in the world a Political Ashram is being established. Or, as some people say: the Silicon Valley for peace research.

So what is this ‘Theory for Peace on Earth’? What foundations is it based on? It was  developed by Dieter Duhm, who also founded the Political Ashram. ”We can no longer oppose the worldwide violence with violence, the time of revolution by force is over”, says the one-time Marxist. ”We need a new concept for global peacework. The significant point of this new concept is the formation of a global field through local interventions”.

This psychologist and sociologist left the scientific sector twenty-five years ago. With his bestseller ”Fear and Capitalism” he had taken part in the student movement, then he left the Marxist left and visited spiritual schools and community projects in his homeland and internationally, looking for knowledge to help bring his intentions together: a not-university, wholistic research project on the healing of the Earth and humanity. For more than twenty years he has been researching both the discoveries of modern physics and communications research and the teachings and knowledge of diverse religions and esoteric schools. He links these with the political reality of the Earth and the insights into human nature gained from social experiments. For many years he has been working together with the theologian Sabine Lichtenfels. She teaches the spiritual courses in the Political Ashram and in the ‘Department of Spiritual Archaeology’ and developed the system of prehistoric utopia. This points to a knowledge of peace within humanity that can be called upon in every age. According to her supposition, this was put into effect during the matriarchal Neolithic culture, at least in part.

”From both this root knowledge of archaic high civilizations and the scientific thoughts of our time we are developing the concept”, says Duhm, ”for a peace-work which is appropriate for our times and for the healing of life on this Earth.”

Back to the keyword: the ‘local intervention’. What does he mean by that? What is the basis for accepting that a local change in one part of the world can have an effect on the whole Earth? And what should such a change look like?

The 57-year-old compares his concept for peace with acupuncture: ”In order to free a human body from an illness, you don’t need to treat individually every organ and cell. It is enough to provide some new information by putting several acupuncture needles in the right places. When the energy-lines and -points are stimulated, the body performs the rest of the work itself.”

Today even the most hardened materialist has no doubt that acupuncture functions for the human body. However, how far can this picture be extended for the whole of humanity? A human body is one organism, a heart does not exploit a lung and fight for the oxygen, on the contrary, both can only live when they work together. And should a toe need help, because it is itchy, then the entire human organism bends over in order to help the toe by scratching.

Since the development of the Gaia theory we have known that the Earth can be seen as a unitary organism: the community of living beings mutually created the optimal conditions for their evolution. Pre-industrial  peoples remain conscious, that they are connect with the other creations. It is only the modern human who appears not to have received this message. However, while the majority continue to live as separated individuals, the scientific avant-garde are already near to a different picture of the world. 

”Today’s scientist is on course to leave the material worldview and return to a spiritual one”, as Dieter Duhm sees it, ”Everything is one Being. The old high civilizations knew that. For them the meaning of healing was always connecting to the Source: to Chi, God or the Goddess.”

The indicators from modern natural sciences which show that the human, the Earth and all of its inhabitants form a unitary organism  are becoming more and more frequent. Some examples:

In 1953 two young american molecular biologists, Watson and Crick, made a discovery that earnt them the 1962 Nobel Prize: they cracked the genetic code that carries the hereditary information of all living beings. The unbelievable part of it was that this double-helix has a basic structure which is identical in all living things. From a single-celled creature in Australia to the owner of a pharmacy in Munich there are only gradual differences in the coding of the genes, no fundamental ones. In 1969 a further discovery amazed the professional world once more: this code has unbelievable parallels to one of the oldest wisdoms from a completely different culture: the I-Ching. How else could this agreement between two formulas for the world be explained than through the unity of all life?

Yet this is not enough: Pythagoras, known to today’s mathematics students more as the pest of right-angled triangles, discovered the harmonic world-order: everything in the universe – planets, plants, humans – is built according to the model of an inner harmony. The distances and size-ratios of living things can be translated into tones and these then sound harmonic to our ears.

Inter-species communication, the Chaos-Theory and holography offer further indications that everything that lives belongs to one unitary organism.

Nevertheless, humans behave as if they were contenders in a contest where the prize-winner is the one who is the best at getting rich at the expense of everyone else. Quite an absurd, and unhealthy, behavior for the different organs of one body. Duhm says that the human is the only one that can turn itself away from this connection to the whole. This he has done since the time several thousand years ago when the age of partriarchy and the war against everything female began. Along with the sensual knowledge humanity forgot the relationship with other living things. The living became something suspicious for him. The fatal consequence of this was a societal structure which punished and oppressed curiosity, sensuality and the desire to expand. Fear and violence as consequences of blocked life energy are the illnesses that have afflicted humanity and through that the organism Earth. Healing can only happen when the female knowledge is once again fully in the center of interest.

Every living thing is therefore a part of a common organism. If this organism is suffering under the illness of fear and violence then there is a conclusion nearby: we ought to be able to heal it if we can use the appropriate remedies to provide it with the information of peace. The founder of the Political Ashram puts it like this: ”If we put a new information into the information holder of the organism – the biosphere, then this information affects the whole system that is the Earth just as a medicine affects the whole system of our body. Through this information a new morphogenetic field arises.”

What a morphogenetic field is has been described by Rupert Sheldrake in his well-known thesis. Life develops itself according to fields; there are countless examples of this from evolution, from the history of humankind, its civilization forms and scientific discoveries. For this we don’t need to go into the molecular world or deep into history, even in sport there are examples: under the eyes of the whole world in 1956 at Friedrichshafen am Bodensee Armin Harry made the discovery that 100 meters can be run in under 10 seconds. As he did this a limit was extended. Very soon many other sprinters could do the same. 

It doesn’t matter which topic we look in: when an individual makes a new discovery a limit is extended. As soon as it is meaningful for others and taken on by them then the information exists in a latent form in all other parts of the population and can be called upon when needed – whether it be for sprinters, dormice or amoebae.

The Chaos theory has now justified mathematically the results of Sheldrake’s investigations in the field of biology: a tiny local change can have a large global effect. This has become famous as the Butterfly Effect: theoretically the flapping of a butterfly’s wings in Hong Kong can be so amplified that it lets loose a hurricane in New York.

Neither Sheldrake nor the Chaos theoreticians have investigated the application of their teachings to peace work. What is the flapping of a butterfly’s wings which would work for a peaceful world? What would a morphogenetic field for a fear-free non-violent co-habitation be? This is exactly where the work of the Political Ashram begins. Under what conditions can an information be targeted to bring into effect a peace-field? What is ‘an information’, anyway? According to the cyberneticians informations, not atoms, are the building blocks of the universe. Information creates reality. From this viewpoint a prayer is an information which humanity gives to God or the Universe. This information or prayer does not come only from what one says, but also from what one doesn’t say, what one lives, feels, perceives – and suppresses. This insight already suggested to Duhm a conclusion as to what the first criterium should be  for an information to create a field: it must be free of contradiction. In psychology it is called a ‘double-bind’: the mother strives to keep smiling, even though the brawling infant is already getting on her nerves. The infant is aware of both and is confused. The confusion that arises in the Universe or God in view of the differing information that it or he receives is at least as large as the infant’s. The chasm between the official statements and the deeper, sometimes subconscious, layer of consciousness thwarts the success of many prayers for peace. Admittedly, in our modern industrial culture a person can barely move without becoming an unwitting accomplice in the global violence, whether it be in diet, in bringing up children, in the products which he buys or in the course of his job. The involuntary contradictions of life make it impossible to formulate a contradiction-free prayer for peace. In the sense of a morphogenetic field theory, prayers for peace can only function when there exists at least one unequivocal non-violent way of living.

This sociologist has formulated more criteria as conditions for an information for non-violence: it must be compatible with the universal matrix which underlies the creation of every development like a blueprint. Then, it must be used. And fourth: it must be complex, that means as multi-faceted as needed to be used in as many spheres of life as possible. How can this required variety in the most diverse areas of life emerge? Not on a desk, that much is clear. For this you need a life that is lived, an experimental life or a type of microcosm, in which every sphere of human life is included. With this we come to the core of the global peace plan: the ” ‘Healing Biotope’ – a community of life – humans, animals and plants – whose life-powers mutually complement each other and are no longer hindered by violence or fear.”

In a Healing Biotope all spheres of life are understood on a planetary level: ecology, technology, children growing up, architecture, social forms for love, religion and communication. To begin with these can be studied in the hills of Tamera. Healing Biotope 1 is being built there now on a 140 hectare site. Next to the Political Ashram will be an ecological self-sufficiency for foodstuff, a children’s house, a youth school, a center for art and new technology, and spiritual-energetic power-places. The preparation for this huge experiment has been running for many years. Healing Biotopes should become real nuclei of the future and work through the effect of building a morphogenetic field.

Suppose we accept that there is a pool of information from all living things out of which humans pull their decisions and with this generate either war or peace. Suppose we also accept that a Healing Biotope is a suitable instrument for putting peace-information into this information pool. There remains the question: What should this information consist of? What discovery could be so deep and persistent that it is stronger than the superiority of war and destruction? That it can help people in threatening situations to react not with fear and violence but, for example, with knowledge, trust and making contact? In other words: where is the butterfly whose wing-flap can grow ever stronger until it generates a global peace?

There are three areas, says the peace plan of the Political Ashram, in which humans must seek a fundamentally new information: community, sexuality and anchorage in the spiritual world.

The first area has already been named. And by a biologist - Lynn Margulis, who developed the Gaia-theory jointly with James Lovelock. She is constantly defending herself from being seen as part of the New Age movement, yet proclaimed, ”that, if we want to survive the ecological and social crises that we have brought about we will be forced to engage ourselves in a fully new and dramatic community-undertaking. Perhaps we are being forced to such a type of unity that was previously only conceivable in religious thinkings.”


In their own art the early bacteria who resisted the oxygen crisis came to the same conclusion: ”Work together or go under!” A dramatic community-undertaking: this could also be a description for the intention of the Healing Biotope. To build truth and trust, even in the lower and thus unconscious and suppressed levels of the human consciousness, would be the greatest adventure of our time. That’s the report from the participants of the Tamera experiment. A community setting is the first place where we might see a concrete vision of a peace that is more than the absence of war. Within the protection of a community it can be possible to dare to look at deeper spheres of the human soul.

Such depths were explored in past-life trances with the participants of the Political Ashram. One of the students reports: ”We received an insight into the subjectively experienced human histories and the spiritual basements of civilization. Probably everyone was a perpetrator as often as a victim in their karmic biography.”

In deeply moving eye-witness reports from the diverse cultures and epochs, it becomes clear that above all sexuality is humanity’s most suppressed power. ”Sexuality finds its way, if not through sensuality then through violence. As peace workers we ought to be interested in that”, she says. ”War was and is a valve that releases sexuality’s unlived violent energies. A morphogenetic field for non-violence needs the information about how this heavy current in life feels and how humanity can live in accordance with it – but without violence. Otherwise their vitality always remain inferior to that of a perpetrator of violence.”

 The historical struggle against the feminine world was the cruellest chapter to date in humanity’s history. Duhm’s conclusion from this insight: ” Significantly a new, non-violent loving culture has its roots in a new, loving, non-violent relationship between the sexes. This is a point, that can not be allowed to be overlooked any more in the concepts for ecology, spirituality and healing. There is no healthy ecology without a healthy, fulfilled sexuality.” But what that is, a healthy, fulfilled sexuality, in order to find that out, we would need a community of trust, in which we can dare to recognise and express the truth about our own sexuality, without hitting condemnation or fear.

The third part of the information triplex for peace concerns the anchorage in the spiritual world. ”To know that we are a part of the Whole, that we are, so to speak, an organ of God, to learn how to deal as such, is already the fundamental spiritual experience” is how the student of the Political Ashram describes it. Knowing this is an undogmatic religion of the sensual and spiritual connection with every living thing, all the way to a connection with the cosmic world which arises in this way.

The information packet will be ready when a first Healing Biotope is established with these depths and multi-facetedness and has, according to estimates, at least 300 participants. ”With the advent of the first model the likelihood of the second will increase, and then the next one, and so on. The more Healing Biotopes there are, the denser will be the the formation of the global field.”

The formation of the field will work itself out slowly at first, but then stretch out to ever-increasing circles, according to the mathematical principles of positive feedback. An ever-growing number of decisions will be taken not in the sense of seperateness, fear and violence, but in the sense of trust and knowledge, communication and making contact. However, people without fear are a revolutionary factor. That was seen by Mahatma Gandhi in his principle of civil disobediance. Police states, exploitation, and war function only though fear and the obedience of the victim. They can no longer be enforced when the field of fear is broken. Dictators would lose the ground on which they stand. Freedom from fear could spread like an infectious virus of increasing health.

The currently prevailing economical and political systems are no longer capable of survival, according to the opinion of most future-researchers and ecologists. If they collapse, a survival for humanity will depend on whether stable alternatives have been built in time. One such alternative is the Healing Biotope.

A Utopia is more powerful when it is more concrete, according to the participants in the Political Ashram. Therefore they want to make sure that it doesn’t stay a dream. During their training they made plans for the integration of their new experiences in their occupations as doctor, youth leader, technician or in a refugee project.

”Peace work with this background means to carry a peace-information within you – not as a verbal power of persuasion but as an experience which is lived out” reports the young man with the headband. ”A community has developed between us as students and this will continue, even when we aren’t living together, as the core of a ring of peace. We will remain in contact with the intention to build up an expanding network of peace. In summer we will meet up again, at the official opening of the Institute for Global Peacework.”

For more information on the Institute for Global Peacework (IGF) in Tamera:

IGF, Monte do Cerro, 7634 Colos, Portugal. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Tel: +351 283 635306 Fax +351 283 635374.

What is your opinion on this issue?  On September 28-29, 2000  there will be discussion on the points raised in this article as part of the Transcending Boundaries on-line conference. Join the discussion  by visiting