A new platform has ambitions of transforming the lives of hundreds of thousands of people by showing them pathways to ‘light’. But it’s not as woo-woo as it sounds, says Lucy Cleland.
Let there be Light: The New Tech Platform that Will Help you Grow
Macartney has his audience held in rapt attention as he recounts the story of the Children’s Fire, a fragment of ancient indigenous American wisdom sacrificed, at least in the world’s leading economies, at the altar of egotistical or autocratic rule – you wouldn’t catch Boris, Joe, Vladimir or Xi Jinping paying it much heed. The teaching, upon which Mac has formed his own profound thoughts around leadership, comes from the chiefs taking up their positions around the fire as wise elders by pledging that ‘no law, no decision, no action, nothing of any kind will be permitted to go out from this council of chiefs that will harm the children’, i.e. the welfare and wellbeing of future generations (both human and non-human) are at the heart of everything. And, when you think about it, if every leader followed that one guiding principle, the world might not be falling so desperately apart. This realisation, spoken so beautifully in Mac’s soft but intense tone, has affected us deeply, our faces are riven with emotion. I frantically journal in my notebook pouring out the thoughts he’s provoked within me.
We are not, though, as you might think, with Mac in person. We are all sitting in our own homes with our computers watching Mac on screen. We are part of a group that is testing Light, a new platform developed by Simon Hampel whose ambition is to engage ‘a hundred million people as quickly as possible’ in a programme that allows ‘growth’, or indeed ‘light’. ‘Growth,’ says Simon, ‘only happens when you can create a gap. And you create a gap by calming the stimulus and response [fight or flight] mode which most of us are on most of the time. You practice this gap by building a habit. This gap then allows growth which leads us to make different choices, so suddenly you don’t find yourself being as quick to anger, or as quick to judge, or as quick to despair.’
Light is Simon’s way of introducing as many different paths as possible to as many people as possible to find their own entryway to ‘growth’ (or spirituality, or even ‘faith’ though there is no religious connotation here necessarily). So it’s not just Mac and his philosophical readings and practices; the next time it’s The Breath Guy, Richie Bostock, guiding us through multiple breathing practices that induce deep calmness and a sense of peace or a vibrating energy that makes your mind sing with possibility; or it’s three-time Nobel Peace Prize nominee Scilla Elworthy talking about the importance of really learning how to listen as a pathway to resolving conflict – as relevant to us in our daily lives as it is to the work she does in peace negotiations in conflict zones; or it’s Master EFT trainer Annie Penny taking us through tapping exercises to release ingrained trauma. There’s also movement practice with performance artist Zia Nath, and sessions on laughter, dance, meditation and more.
And it’s by no means just a series of passive lectures; each online session, where your Zoom camera is encouraged to be on at all times, sees us split off into breakout rooms where one of Light’s guides leads us through a few minutes of sharing our thoughts on what we’ve just watched; or putting into practice some of the ideas such as listening, according to Scilla’s wisdom,and reflecting back what we’ve heard, so that our partner really feels we are present with them – so often, in interactions, our minds are elsewhere.
Sessions left me variously elated, exhausted, inspired, sad or fully joyful. They always left me curious and thirsty for more.
Simon has only been able to put together this groundbreaking approach to what I’m going to call ‘scaleable spirituality’ because the story of his own life has allowed him to be the embodiment of his ambition. Predictably, maybe, it kicked off with abject failure.
A serial entrepreneur, founding his first business at the precocious age of 21, Simon admits that ‘most things I touched turned to gold in the early days’. However, in 2001, after raising external investment from venture capital for one of his biggest companies, the financial markets changed dramatically and all the funding was withdrawn. ‘I couldn’t turn the big boat around quickly enough and so it meant I took money out of the other businesses to support it. They all collapsed. I lost millions of pounds of my own, my family’s and my friends’ money. It was just ghastly and awful. I ended up with literally nothing.’
But learning to live again from nothing took Simon on an extraordinary path that has now resulted in Light. ‘I learned to trust life. I had to trust, because I literally had nothing else. I learned that if I trusted, things came to me, not always what I wanted, but what I needed.’
What came to him over the next 13 years or so was, among other serendipitous encounters, joining explorer John Blashford-Snell, helping him to guide an expedition of around 30 people down the Amazon, before going on to lead groups into the Himalayas and Mongolia, and learning about very different communities and dealing with every conceivable drama from life threatening illnesses to one of his group being taken hostage. Simon then went on to run an NGO in Asia before ending up as a managing partner at Leaders’ Quest, a not-for-profit that takes senior leaders away on experiential journeys to challenge the existing mindset and learn how to ‘build wise compassionate leadership in the world’.
It was only four years ago, though, that Simon really tuned into his inner voice, which kept nagging him, and repeating the question: ‘How does consciousness, energy and technology come together to create tipping points for change in the world?’ He could only ignore it for so long before he took the drastic step of resigning from Leaders’ Quest, unsure of what the next step would be, yet now with a wife, a baby and a mortgage.
But – with his embedded trust in the world still perfectly intact – he had soon gathered together into a room at The Conduit an diverse collection of friends met throughout his life, particularly through Leaders’ Quest, to explore the themes consciousness, energy and technology. These included everyone from climate activist Clover Hogan to Scilla Elworthy, as well as mystics, scientists, AI specialists and energy healers. ‘We did everything in the circle so that no one was deemed to be the expert or in charge. And we would learn together. My role was to hold the room and invite people to just experience something.’ And then lockdown happened and it all went online. ‘Soon 30 people became 70, then 120. And by the summer of 2020, we all felt something was really happening – we were growing.’
And now we come full circle. The experience of Simon and his group of extraordinary thinkers and doers has resulted in a revolutionary tech platform (‘because the tech side of this is the scalability of the project’) that aims to open up pathways to ‘growth’ for all of us who know that there is something bigger out there (‘purpose’) – but we just don’t know how to access it – yet.
Light offers programmes for businesses and individuals. Visit light.app to join the waitlist and to find out more.