RadioActive Interview: Jean Houston

By Brandie Balken

Jean Houston, ostensibly the mother of the human potential movement, talks about “jump time” and becoming aware that we are cosmic beings.
by Brandie Balken
Ours is an era of quantum change, the most radical deconstruction and reconstruction the world has seen. Life paths that contain and sustain us across the millennia are vanishing as we speak, like Gaia's species that are hourly becoming extinct. At the same time, we know that we are the ones who must go on.

Jean Houston, Ph.D., is a scholar, philosopher and researcher in human capacities. She is regarded as one of the principal founders of the Human Potential Movement. She is the author of several dozen books; including her most recent, "Jump Time." She is also the creator and principal instructor of the Mystery School and the School of Social Artistry, which explore the art of enhancing human capacities in the light of social complexity.

KRCL'S Brandie Balkan talked with Houston during a recent RadioActive.

– Troy Williams, producer, "RadioActive," on KRCL Radio, FM90.9

What is jump time?

Jump time means a time of enormous acceleration. Technically it goes back to evolutionary studies where you can actually see fossil deposits that seem to be the same over thousands of years until suddenly there is a jump to significant change. Now of course in the fossil record, this kind of exponential change will occur over thousands, sometimes hundreds of thousands of years. But with human history it's changing much faster-in the scope of our lifetime. We are literally in a time of whole systems transition.

RA: This embodies a sentiment that so many of us are feeling: We have to be ready for something.

JH: Yes. This is literally all over the world. I've worked in a hundred countries. Right now I'm working as a senior consultant to the United Nations in human development. And what we find-this sensibility that you speak of-is literally all over the world. Everybody feels on the verge of something, a singularity in history, a uniqueness. How do we make this new world that is trying to emerge?

RA: A lot of people are noticing an intense disparity around the world, and feeling like they personally need to do something about it. That's a unique thing that has happened to me, personally, over the past five years.

JH: One thing that Margaret Mead, the great anthropologist, told me on her deathbed (she lived with us the last six years of her life), "Jean, forget everything I've taught you about working with governments and bureaucracies." And I looked down at her and said, "Now you tell me!" And she said, "If we are going to grow and green our time, it's a question of people getting together in teaching-learning communities, just growing in body, mind and spirit. They do whatever it is that they can do to grow together, and from that depth and growth and understanding, they take on the social challenges wherever they are and make a better world".

The "zeit" is getting "geisty." Meaning the spirit of the time is this intensive jump time. Once you start going, people will join you, if you are also working together to deepen your consciousness, to extend your capacity of vision, for seeing, for thinking, for being out of the box, for understanding that you are not an encapsulated bag of skin dragging around a dreary little ego. You have many personas and skills within you. You are part of this larger story emerging in our time. And we are, as I believe, sourced in spirit. We are part of this incredible emergence that is our time and place.

RA: You describe the forces propelling us forward – the evolutionary pulse from the earth and the Universe.

JH: Well I think it's true. Whether it's 2012, or whatever it is, more and more history is happening faster and faster. And Earth herself, out of her incredible suffering, is almost demanding of us that we care for her. Earth is a very small village now. I had something to do with helping the astronauts remember what they saw when they came back. Coming back to the earth, Ed Mitchell, the sixth man on the moon, said, "Jean, you are asking the wrong question. It isn't what we saw on the moon that was important -it's what we saw coming back to Earth. There she was. We saw her through our little space capsule. This magnificent, beautiful blue and silver planet floating in the cosmic womb, and there was no war there, there was no difference in people. It was one great unified being." Ed said to me, "I felt such great nostalgia for what the world could be, that we had entered a time of sacred stewardship."

When we all saw those pictures of that world from outer space, it was like a time-release capsule was activated in our minds. We knew we were stewards and co-creators on this beautiful planet. That's the pulse. We are cosmic humans; that is, we are citizens in a universe larger than our aspiration and more complex than all of our dreams. And we are part of this extraordinary, incredible jump in our time in history. What we will do will make a difference in whether we grow or die.

RA: Really this is an opportunity to become partners in this creation – we can become creative agents. You mention the re-patterning of human nature.

JH: We are living in the golden age of mind and brain research. And this is joined to the harvest of so much of the genius of so many different cultures. Different cultures, often because of climate and geography, activate different potentials. For example, if you were living up in Tibet or the high Andes, you'd have the kind of consciousness that was given to meditation because of the clarity of the air. If you were living in a jungle in Africa or South America, your hearing is going to be very important, and thus leading to the whole drumming psychology.

Different cultures activate different potentials. I've spent a lifetime studying different potentials in many different cultures and then harvesting them so that people can do more, think more, be more. Most people, given education, can learn to think and to create and to become so much more than they ever thought they could be. We are living almost posthumous existences out of such a small aspect of what we are. But we can no longer afford to live that way-as half-light versions of ourselves. So what we are finding all over the world is people getting together to expand the use of their capacities, mentally, psychologically, spiritually, ethically – and become what we really can be. We have to grow into the possibility of a new humanity that is emerging to create a new sacred stewardship of the earth.

Learn more about Jean Houston at

RadioActive airs weekdays Mon.-Fri. from noon to 1pm on KRCL 90.9 FM. Stream the entire interview at

This article was originally published on January 1, 2008.