This is the storyboard of what I presented at theCOREconference.com on Sept. 24 2010 in Richmond, California. You might enjoy how I envision the move from the present economy 2.0 to economy 3.0 – a necessary and major upgrade of our Human Operating System to creatively and intelligently turn the challenge we all face into an opportunity to thrive.
A beautiful video illustration a visionary statement by Michel Bauwens which expresses most beautifully the Path I find myself to be on.
“Anyway, this is what the changes are about, augmenting the individual through relationality, with the object of creating common value ‘collectively’, through self-aggregation. The whole push of the p2p revolution is to create the infrastructure for this, designing for inclusion, and for convergence of the indiviual and collective interest, through value-conscious design.”
From Our new digital selves and their relational augmentation by Michel Bauwens
Toke Møller and Monica Nissén weave stories around the chaordic path and stepping stones.
Video & video cutting by Helen Titchen-Beeth
There is something that continues to amaze me every time I see a big spiritual festival announced in which the superstars and celebrities of the mystic heavens, the gurus and the pundits, the successful therapists and masters of living a beautiful life take the stage. If I understand most of the teachings that they are espousing then the wholsesome, holistic, spiritual and sustainable future of life on our planet is high on their agenda. “We need to come together, need to experience the oneness” and so on, so we can help the woes that we all and the world suffers now will fade out. And we all agree on this, don’t we? working every day at finding and creating ways that will help build a sustainable future for this and the coming generations.
So what really amazes me is that not once I hear or read about one of these stars, masters and teachers, be they male or female, or even several of them trying to get each other around the table to devise or let emerge some initiative or program that would be truly irresistible, since all these people have a lot of followers, supporters and fans… and what would happen if they would all support each other, creating a mutual, co-operative “what shall we call it?”.
Please, don’t misunderstand me. I’m not complaining at all. I’m just really amazed, as I do take – at least I have for a long time – these teachings serious. Maybe you have an answer to this question. How come “the enlightened ones” don’t get it together?
(Dia-, Tria- and Multilogues in the Series “We are the next Buddha”)
After some preliminary statements about the quality of Internet connection and lights that have to be switched on, our conversation on the “We” starts.
Mushin: We are going to speak about We, at least that is my plan; It would be very nice if for the time of this conference we would come from the We-space, out of a we-fullness. So that as we are talking about the We, we’re not just talking about it but talking as much as it is possible from it.
Doug: I’m game for that experiment and living into that.
Mushin: So let’s just take a minute of silence for the We to become full…” (in the silence we all hear the birds in Mushin’s location.) Yes, there are many birds here, one singing right in front of my window.
Doug: And that reminds we of the story you shared about the wood, about the plurality. Those birds of all different species.
Mushin: Three or four different species playing together, hopping from branch to branch, playing some game that only birds can play in Wintertime. Yes.
I have been contemplating today a bit about the emergence of the We in a developmental sense, and also about the emergence of the I. And it appeared to me that the I or ego might be coming out of the We; the We of mother and child, out of that unity. That would be a primary-level We, an undifferentiated We. Moving up the spiral of development, it seems that the three of us here and now are tapping into a much wider, much larger We that has very much incorporated individuality.
Doug: But it’s not a primary identity, it is included in the We more as meta-reality, a main reality.
Helen: It might also be possible to talk about it in Wilber’s terms of a more integral consciousness where the I — which is the primary vehicle of consciousness — is waking up to more dimensions of being, waking up to its own embeddedness in the We, which has always been there but has not really been understood. Once that becomes conscious in an individual, then the individual can develop much faster. And once this becomes conscious in a collective of individuals, we get emergence happening at an exponential rate. That’s my sense of it.
Mushin: And there is more that Wilber seems to add. In his book “Integral Spirituality” in chapter 7, “A Miracle Called We”, he says there is a major difference between we and I, and that is the dominant monad. He uses the example of his dog Isaac — what a name for a dog — getting up. He points out that the We of the cells of the dog don’t go this way or that way, they all follow the dominant monad, which is not the case in the We that we three are talking about now. This We does not have a dominant monad.
That is an interesting distinction, so long as we keep in mind that the dominant monad is just temporarily dominant. What I mean by that is: what we are, the I, the individual, is basically a configuration of different subpersonalities or voices. In that commonality of what we usually call “I myself” are dominant voices or subpersonalities which rule at certain times.
In the case of a dog, the matter is pretty simple. But if I get up it might be the young boy getting up to do a little dance — the sun is going down and he needs to do his sundown dance — or it might be the rational, cognitive wise guy that gets up. So that is what I point to when I say that these subpersonalities are temporarily dominant, in this case dominating the whole of me to get up.
Helen: That could be a very useful inquiry. I sometimes feel that these voices and subpersonalities are a metaphor that we take to be real. And we can also look at our identities as woven out of lots of different threads and lots of different voices. Some of the Buddhist views are saying, “The more you look for the I the less you find it.” And yet there is this subjective sense of I-am-ness that Wilber talks about as being the witnessing self, witnessing all of the other things. So when we talk about the ‘I’ it is useful to know which ‘I’ we are talking about. Are we talking about the subpersonality-I’s that pop in and sort of borrow the body for a while, or are we talking about the witnessing I that is or can be aware of all of these different subvoices?
Douglas: And now a story from my personal path on behalf of where our collective we is going in service of emergence. For many years I would notice that action could be seeded from stillness. And I would notice that there was the consideration of an act, but I would pay attention to what preceded it, what kind of dialogue was going on that actually preceded action. So the question, “Who is doing?” was really up inside me, and then action would happen and I didn’t always know who decided.
If we take it that there is something that guides action, that at that point is in control, the dominant monad of the individual self – and I’m thinking of that on behalf of us being servants of the emerging noticing-and-direction seeking for humanity, of that we are antennae of awareness – and between us we will collectively pick up something that we decide to act on through some agency of the circle being.
Mushin: If I understand this — putting what Helen and you said together — I see that what is called the witness, the consciousness that is witnessing everything that is going on, does not seem to be agentive, it’s just witnessing whatever it’s witnessing…
Then the question becomes: “The development from the undifferentiated We through the I of the ego towards the circle-being-We, what is guiding that journey?”
If we accept that different subpersonalities are dominant at certain moments of time, we have all been studying that to some extent,then we can also pose this question like this, “How is the orchestration happening?”
So let’s say my inner child is being deeply hurt and taking over, becoming dominant. (We hear a dog barking in the background – “Being hurt maybe?”) So then the dog in myself awakens and takes over and says, “Okay child, it’s okay. Take a distance,” and so on. So the question is,” What is the guiding force? What is the monad, if that it is, that is guiding this journey?”
Helen: I think back to Genpo Roshi’s Big Mind process. What he does is go through what he calls the dualistic voices, the voices of the dualistic self, and then he moves on to the non-dual voices, and he speaks to Big Mind. And after he speaks to Big Mind; you know, Big Mind sees everything, and everything is vast, and Big Mind is everything, and everything is fine. So if it were left to its own devices Big Mind would just sit there and be fine with everything. So after speaking with Big Mind, he speaks with Big Heart. It is the duality between wisdom and compassion. Big Heart sees the same as what Big Mind sees, but Big Heart acts, Big Heart is driven to act out of compassion. So in terms of “who is acting”, which side of the duality are we acting from? Are we acting out of the subpersonality with the biggest need right now taking over the whole boat, or are we on the other side acting from fullness? I think we can only get into a collective We of the wise kind, that we are inquiring into right now, when the individual and social holons – not all maybe, but certainly enough – are coming from that space of fullness.”
Doug: You use the word agentive, and this brings me to the whole issue of the emergence of leadership or direction in action that will come out of what we are exploring. The formulation of direction is a leadership act, and I have been spending these last weeks just asking the question: “Who, and on behalf of whom, is that discernment and direction coming about?” (Dog barking again; we hear that it’s Moonshine, a little fluffy poodle, settling down now)
Mushin: I think the question of leadership is also one that is closely connected to the We. Of course we all know that there are the masses which do have a will of their own and their purposes are usually not very transcendent. I remember in the end of the 60s in Amsterdam, we used to fight the police in and around houses we squatted. There was also a We coming into sync, all of us coming into sync, and actually acting pretty coherently – and violently. I think Elias Canetti wrote about that (Masse und Macht).
Coming back to your question, Doug, about the leadership in all of this. I think we are coming from a point in our lives where we have been through a deep enough personal development — a development of the individual We, a significant number of subpersonalities inside of us – so that they have what I would call it a higher coherence which then allows us to actually explore whatever we wish to explore as this We, internally coming from a sense of we-fullness.
But then this doesn’t answer the question that Doug has put up, which I also think is very interesting to explore.
Doug: It is coming also from my own experiencing of being lived right now. And I’m noticing that when I’m really in clear articulation of how I am experiencing myself in my life and on my path, I also bring the story of a movement, of a collective reality. And as I invoke that with people, immediately there is a palpable response and they get on board and throw in their head-and-heart resources. There is generally a serving all of the movement that we get right now. It has numerous expressions in projects but I think of it all is a uniform direction.
Mushin: As we are exploring the idea of leadership… I suggest that maybe the emerging We is acting backward in time. If we look at subpersonalities in the Big Mind process, I’ve facilitated it a couple of times myself, after such a process with the dual and non-dual voices I often hear the question: “Who is governing this whole process? Which voice is leading one from the most horrible to the most enlightened voices? Who is running the show?” And in the past I have mostly used the metaphor of the ship, that there is some kind of captain, not the controller. The captain is never at the helm, he’s just saying where we go, and who’s on duty. So the captain would give the stage to a personality. That is a way to look at it.
But recently I have come to the idea that maybe I should regard the self as a We and that the self itself, from the darkest of voices to the highest non-dual subpersonality, can develop so that an inner circle-being comes into existence. Not something separate; we all know from when the We appears in the circle context with persons in the outside world, it is bigger than the sum of you and me and everybody participating. Nevertheless it brings a whole new way of being and feeling with the individuals participating.
Coming back to leadership, the idea is that maybe the emerging We or circle-being in some way exerts an influence backwards in time, pulling the voices into the coherence in which then the circle-being appears.
Helen: What are the conditions for the circle-being to emerge, when the individual components or the inner crowd inside an individual is behaving like a violent mob?
Mushin: Obviously that’s not possible.
Helen: The idea of congruence, where congruence would be the way to have that circle being… but again, if the inner circle being is congruent and behind an objective that is self-seeking for the smaller self, it will be very convincing and successful in the world, getting what it wants, but that also is not contributing to the emerging We. So what is the urge we have? Look at us, the three of us, and we are certainly not the only ones, who are hungry and thirsty for more we-fullness, and what is that about? What is that urge?
We can also call it the evolutionary urge of the We that goes from the fusional pre-personal-we, the newborn child, up through the individuation of the individuality, and then to the other side of belonging to an empowered collective that acts from fullness rather than from need.
Doug: …rather than individual need? What’s the difference?
Helen: Even from the perceived need of a group. I am thinking here of something that I’ve written on my blog about. You have Maslow’s pyramid of needs that go up from survival all the way to self-actualization. But everything under the self-actualization comes from a space of neediness rather than from a space of fullness, it’s coming from a space of fear. But there comes a point when that is no longer the driving urge; beyond that point, it’s abundance and one is acting much more from that.
Doug: I want to add something to the point of hungering and thirsting for we-fullness. There’s another expression of that, which is dancing and celebrating to express the being that We are, as an exuberance of knowing it, knowing we are there.
Mushin: Yes, absolutely. The first time I rediscovered the community-building process by Scott Peck, and I wrote about it, I named the article Hieros Gamos, divine marriage. There was this huge sense of celebration as the We appeared in this group, I remember it so well. It was, from my point of view as someone who basically feels that beauty is truth and beauty is love, as if the whole room lit up and everybody was just incredibly beautiful. Other people were speaking about deep feelings of connectedness, about the incredible joy they felt and so on. So there were many different celebratory expressions about being taken by or becoming part of or being embraced by the We. So there is an absolute sense of celebration, and Scott Peck speaks in this connection even about erotic feelings, a massive falling in love with each other. And that certainly happens.
And that could be also the movement back in time, the joy of We coming into being, the pre-individual We and the post-individual We, like the two ends of a stick holding it together. Not ends really, because you cannot say that there is a beginning and an end, but in this metaphor, there are these two We’s in our beginning as an individual and towards the ending of the individuality as determining life factor, and maybe there is this connection, this thread somehow, and this is the urge. (Losing Helen again… and reconnecting. After the reconnection we speak a bit about how much time we still have…)
Doug: Let me give you a quote as we were using the captain metaphor. This is from the email signature of a colleague from Australia. “If you want to build a ship, don’t divide the work and give orders; teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.” (Saint-Exupery) That brings me into the oceanic character of consciousness that is one of my favorite metaphors for the mystical state.
Mushin: And I was just thinking about oceanic feelings in the Freudian sense. There Wilber’s distinction between pre- and trans- seems to play a role that we might want to acknowledge here. There is the first We of mother and child and then there is the – for lack of a better word – transcendent We that is trans-individual…
Helen: … that transcends and includes.
Mushin: It includes, very much so, yes. This is one of the beautiful things of this We, that I as a person feel absolutely embedded, welcomed, embraced in my light and darkness. That is the compassion, that aspect of the We that I’m always feeling, and maybe that is part of what is pulling us so much.
Helen: Mushin, as you say that, I realized that that is something that I can tune into and feel without there being a We of actual specific individuals. I don’t know quite how to call it, maybe my relationship to the universe or with whatever – it’s not an it, more a thou. But it is not dependent on the presence of other individuals. For me, what I want the circle-being for, that We, is to act coherently and powerfully and flowingly and in alignment with the deeper underlying purpose of life in the world. So it’s an intermediate stage before that really huge We of communion with the God-Being, whatever that might be, which is definitely embedded, welcomed and embraced in my life in that compassionate aspect that we have been talking about, but this urge to form the intermediate We has got to do partly with getting stuff done. It’s also about holding the space for emergence.
Doug: That is what I wanted to bring, to get very practical from the conversation about our experience in consciousness and in we-fullness… (now Doug talks about some of the projects which have been emerging for us in the last few weeks, among others about the coordination and implementation in the energy marketplace.)
The principles of servant leadership and we-fullness and guidance are already active and mobilized. Enhancing collaboration, that’s the practice field for what we’re talking about. (More specifics.)
This is inviting people into the question, “How can I be here for the collective beyond my own self interest or that of my company or initiative? To be here for the collective goals and needs?” So in many contexts the question is, “How do networks of networks collaborate and let go of their own individual attachments?”
Mushin: And in connection with that, I have stumbled across a very interesting thing, it is called Deep Dialogue and it originates with the dialogue between religions. There are seven stages of dialogue mentioned that I will be sending to you. There are also 10 Commandments of deep dialogue which I will be sending to you. That belongs here because I see the We as… you were previously asking, what are the circumstances and atmospheres and so on that are needed for the We to appear? And dialogue as we are having it here right now is one of the ways, and I think at this time and age it is the major gate that we need to take. The silent gate has been taken for ages leading to the universal We that you were describing, Helen. And I think the dialogical gate leads to initiatives and actions in the world we have been talking about in the last two minutes.
Pictures by Helen & Mushin
Mandalas created by participants in the Summergroupp of 2005 at Serenity Community, facilitated by Mushin
Previous post in this series, and for those who are interested in the general topic we are meandering around, there are some more posts: “Why the Next Buddha will be a Collective” by Helen, “Steps Towards Integral Deep Dialogue” Part 1 & Part 2 by Bruce; “The Collective Buddha Inquiry” again by Helen.
You might also want to look at these blog entries: “Towards an Integral and Pluralistic Spirituality“, “A Collective Emergence“; and “The Art of Relating” – if you think I should post some more important entries here, please let me know and I will be delighted to link them here…
and I hope this will be the beginning of a long and beautiful journey together with lots of more things to come.
George Leonhard has been an inspiration to me for a long time. The morning exercises (German version) I do almost ever day (6 out of 7) come out of the book The Life We Are Given that he wrote together with Michael Murphy; it’s actually a program making it easier to find Mastery, which is the title of the book he wrote also, and now there is a video-trailer of a DVD with the same title. (I found it thanks to Siona’s blog) Very inspiring indeed…
An archetype is emerging – the archetype of a participatory, integral and pluralistic spiritual culture.
People all over the world — caring about the life on and of this planet, and experiencing themselves as embedded in continually expanding networks and environments — are seeking genuine, open and constructive dialogue and mutual support in their work towards a better world and spiritual wholeness: one planet on which all beings are at home.
Until very recently in our history values and practices have been mostly generated in vertical structures, and this is especially true regarding life-guiding or value-generating structures of learning, practice and daily life, the structures of spirituality and religion. Whereas in many ways the Internet has provided ways and means to transcend and surmount ‘verticality’ and promotes a co-creative, participatory and pluralistic approach to all kinds of matters and processes (P2P, Wikipedia, open source programming, sharing economy, conscious capitalism, distributed research, Web 2.0 & 3.0 etc.) this approach seems to be missing very much in spirituality and religion.
Also the spirituality that is now on the increase in business, psychology, politics, and numerous other fields of human endeavor is almost entirely ‘vertical’ in teaching and structure, being founded mostly on what is often called perennial philosophy. This philosophy acertains that the material world is the shadow of a higher reality, that spirituality and religion (re)establish the link between the human soul and this higher and ultimate reality, and that the Ultimate Reality, whatever name it is given, is the Absolute (principle/space) from which all existence originates and to which all will return.
Even the post-60ies, or ‘modern’ spirituality – after freeing itself from ego- and intrinsically ethnocentric views, from materialism and scientific reductionism – is still enthralled by the perennial philosophy and happily believes itself to aspire to, be informed or blessed by, and basically move around a singular Transcendent Sun common to all faiths, creeds, mysticisms and spiritual paths and practices.
This spirituality seems to resonate with the situation in astronomy when we believed that our sun was the center of the universe.
We have had to learn, though, that obviously this universe does not have a center at all or, to put it differently and just as true, the universal center is everywhere. And yet, when it comes to our spirituality we are very reluctant to take serious what we have learnt from studying the heavens astronomically. We object to the image that there are numerous Transcendent Suns around which meaning, understanding, love, devotion and divine, true and valid mystic experience revolves. And even then, surrendering one’s defenses against this understanding, one still would love to salvage some of perennial philosophy’s tenets by believing these Suns to turn around a common Center. And indeed, it seems that some Suns do; for instance the Suns of most Christian, Islamic and Jewish faiths turn around the Monotheistic Galactic Center. Yet, other Suns do not turn that way, they participate in and form other constellations in different Galaxies of our local cluster.
The present day spiritual explorer, teacher and finder is having to face a huge challenge – to come to grips with the undeniable non-centeredness of the cosmos, the plurality of suns and galaxies, the undoing of all ‘cosmic justifications’ for vertical structure and certainties. This might be as scary for us as it wasn’t when it was possible anymore to reasonably doubt Kepler’s, Copernicus’ and Newton’s discoveries. The beautiful certainties of old are evaporating, and with it what gave purpose and meaning to life. All of a sudden we find ourselves in an endlessly open universe that doesn’t turn around us or around what we hold sacred anymore. The One Transcendent Sun setting and a multitude of Stars lighting up the mysterious darkness we now find ourselves in.
This is the challenge: seeing that there are no pre-given and objective constellations in the skies anywhere, and wholeheartedly facing and embracing this freedom; moving from a bi-directional, vertical understanding of the Highest and Lowest towards an omnidirectional, participatory, co-created, radically pluralistic reality.
It dawns on us, a cosmos with innumerable Suns around which a multitude of constellations of experience, understanding, faith and meaning are configured and brought forth, all participating in the dynamic matrix of the mystery we call reality
Formerly embedded in what I’ve been calling “vertical spirituality” it was a personal existential/spiritual crisis which made me realize what I’ve tried to sketch above. Since then I have come in touch with numerous people all over the world moving in this general direction. This in turn has convinced me that, indeed, what is emerging at this time and age is more than a personal revelation. It is an archetype emerging, the archetype of a pluralistic, polycentric, participatory spirituality which is surfacing in many ways, reckognized and not yet reckognized, and being explored with numerous methods which mostly are still very much experimental.
Now, after the the crisis has led me into these truly awesome and beautiful whereabouts, exploring the consequences of such a sea-change in understanding, living, feeling and teaching, I have started assembling material for a book that I hope to write – a portrait of the emerging archetype and how it translates into action, teaching and community all over the world.
Hopefully the book-project in due time will also become a web-plattform for people wishing to communicate what is emerging here, and finally an Academy that will provide an institution where teachers can learn, where students can connect, where all of us can study and learn from each other what richness this emergence offers to us and all of mankind.
At this moment I am seeking financial support of ca. 30.000 € for this project.
In answer to a great post by Helen and her question about what men are about, I wrote an answer and I think it’s worthwhile to also post it in my blog. So here it is:
“I’ve just been informed by one of the beloved people I live with that she thinks it will be very difficult for me to ever find a suitable partner because I am independent and I don’t need anything. So a man can’t feel important and powerful, and men won’t enter into a relationship unless they feel important. Is that so? Are there any men out there who can shed some light on this for me?”
I know this is almost a month later, and maybe you’ll have found suitable answers to these questions already, but being a man, or so I somethimes think 🙂 there are some answers here that might be of use.
“So a man can’t feel important and powerful, and men won’t enter into a relationship unless they feel important. Is that so? ” I don’t know if men generally have this need to feel powerful and important. I am often rather motivated by the feeling of doing something meaningfull and supportive of people around me.
I rather find another general ‘need’ among men – it is the need to be free, which seems to mean, free to go our own way unchecked.
Our first experience as man is of a strong and all-powerful woman – our mother. She sets the limit to our relentless curiosity. She is also the one who had to cope with our sensual joys as they develop: all boys from the age of 1 or 2 years old onwards like to play with their pecker a lot if you let them, sometimes proudly presenting it in it’s hardened shape to their mother and others around. This is not encouraged, to say the least. From this we must conclude that there is something wrong with our feelings – especially pleasurable ones.
So women have power over our sensual and sexual feelings, a conclusion that a boy correctly draws; at least I found that in me. Such powerful beings are best kept at a little distance in the hope that if they hurt us (and that they inevitably will at some time) it will not be too overwhelming. We want to be free from that prohibiting influence.
I guess that men, wanting to feel important and powerful, are going for a compensation for the little power they have over women – and the huge power they have over ‘us’. This is a conclusion I draw from the first ‘men’s group’ I did as part of the Dionysian Festival I organise here in Postupice (Czech Rep.) once a year. Asking the men to share their most traumatic experience it’s all about this huge power of women in their life and how they were hurt. And how now, trying to protect themselves against it, they don’t want to get too intimate (and I would add especially with a strong, independent woman – especially if she isn’t obviously restraintful. The need to be with a young woman might very well stem from the centuries of experience that these women have not enough power to overwhelm us. The sad part being, of course, that they don’t allow for a peer2peer partnership where we can truly meet eye to eye).
I’m not such a fan of what I call “vertical spirituality”; much rather I take a stand for what so far I’ve called ‘cooperative spirituality’ (more about that here). The vertical spirituality looks for ‘higher development’ etc. to gain power over the ‘lower’ levels of development – basically. (You can see some of it’s results in the frequent mean-green-meme bashing that is going on in Wilberian circles – which is another topic showing, in my view, some of the possible pathologies of yellow and beyond – if indeed that color coding makes any sense). This is the spiritual male’s way out of the necessary acceptence of powerlessness, unknowing and embeddedness that we have to face.
There is no culture of suffering – rather every man seems to be looking for a way out: either through spirituality, or technology or or economy/politics/military. The Buddha’s promise that there is an end of suffering hasn’t done much good either, as I see it. (As not many people – usually men – have been able to go that way to it’s very end of enlightenment; so what about all of us who ‘fail’?)
Opening up to and opening up as the suffering here with me (in me) gives me depth and connects, showing me the blessing of being alive in the mystery called reality. If this ‘way’ is wrapped up in some kind of friendly heroic words men actually get interested in taking it I’ve found.
So, back to your question. When I look at your face on the picture with Geert (and I must say it looks familiar to me; have you been in seminars with Michael Barnett?) I don’t think that men will not be attracted to you. But what I do think that it is good to come from, “I really don’t know what you are, know, feel, etc.” This is what I practise with my girlfriend (I practise; she does whatever she does to go through the difficulties I manifest for her). Allowing myself to find out day by day what this paradoxical creature I’m with is being.
(She is definetly not a mirror – even though at times I see my ideosyncracies clearer though our interaction.)
I really have less and less idea of what it might be like to be a woman (or my girlfriend), and I’m happily and sadly surprised at times how unsurmountably different we are. So best to come from radical respect (and stop the telepathy-syndrom of thinking you know what the other means) and open heart, and see what life brings…
Hmm, I guess I got into rambling a bit. But maybe this might be of some help for you.
Around us all space, cosmos.
Amidst the glistening darkness we are
breathing, we become
embraced by everlasting darkness.
Held by the moment
carried in the arms of dark open space
we, orbiting, turn towards the luminous body
warming and enlightening us.
Rising from nights embrace
we go about our manyfold business of light.
Until twilight when we can see
where this globe we are twists and turns:
And we are embraced again by the darkening night
in which our central luminary is among countless sparkling beings.
As I was watching one of the I-I videos I downloaded a week ago I was again struck by the enormous cognitive slant in the presentation of the “self” – what the self is, who we really, really are…
Not that there is no talk about feelings. Not that there is no mention of the shadow, and all of that. No, all these ‘matters’ are mentioned and talked about at length sometimes. Nevertheless is is all this cognitive understanding that somehow gets on my nerves – I’m positively irritated.
Now that might be, of course, because I’m just one of these dumb guys – easily irritatable, fast in their judgement, and so on. Maybe. But maybe there is something to this: “I miss the feeling side of things.”
As if we knew what we are dealing with when we cognitively know phenomena. ..
So here is a question for you: When Adam knew Eve and she begot their first son Kain, what kind of knowing is meant there?
Well, I think it’s called “carnal knowledge” and making love is just a prt of it, I presume – I’m not English (my mothers tongue is German and I grew up speaking Dutch). So there is this cognitive knowledge which is what people at I-I are very good at, I think. And there is feeling knowledge which, in my understanding mind which deals with language, is more like an expert participation in what’s going on.
And then there is mystic knowledge. I think it fuctions in everyone as ‘intuition’ and comes into bloom when you’re into all kinds of spiritual practises of which meditation is the quietistic one. That’s the kind of knowledge that goes by the name of ‘revelation’ or ‘enlightenment*’ I think.
I simply wish that I-I could go more into those kinds of ‘presentations’ – but don’t ask me how, because I have no idea.
I took a distance from what I call ‘vertical spirituality’. If you want to know how and why then you will find reasons here in a short essay.
Actually I’ve had this coming for a long time as you can see from the article that I wrote originally in 2003 “Why God does not need a Throne“. And it does have consequences, of course. A friend, who recently visited, wrote, “It was also a lot of fun to be with you and the people of the Community. It’s beautiful to feel the changes time and again, and see that you guys nevertheless manage to use the chaos productively. Anyway, I think it is great that you let go of the vertical structures and guru-dom (even if this revolution comes from ‘above’ 😉 )”
Well, in my events and seminars things are not as chaotic as S. writes about the community’s development even though the vertical structures are disappearing more and more.
I call the direction in which I see us moving cooperative spirituality. All of this leads me to tell you what I have found useful these last weeks:
- After waking up in the morning I remember the many fields and dimensions in which I am embedded ( body, family, friends, neighbourhood, country, continent, planet, galaxis, flexiverse… and the subtle dimensions as well: the aura, fields and energies between us, the dimensions of the predecessors and disincarnate entities, the very subtle fields, the realm of archetypes and godheads, the nothingness and fullness: the whole unspeakable mystery…)
- Remembering that we ourselves are the highest authority – this is our reality, our life, our destiny, our development and opportunity…
- Remembering that reality always also is a co-production between me, the ones I’m with and all I am embedded in.
- Remembering my heart’s resolution: May the fullness and richness of all fields and dimensions be with me and all living beings.
- If I feel like it : sing, dance and express in any way what bubbles up from deep within.
- And then I let go of it all and move to do what’s next …
This is just a trial run of a new ‘morning exercise’ – and I would like it very much if you would use some similar process and tell about it, for instance in this weblog.
Much Love ,
PS.: Short remark re. “Silence & Celebration” from August 24th ’till 27th: We will also be silent outside the group-room (There will only be a very short possibility each day to confront burning questions).
This article is to be published on a German magazine soon – please do not publish or copy to other sites or places. Once it is published, I’ll put it up here regularly… and take this note away. So until then, feel free to link or comment.
Vertical Spirituality and the Suffering it Causes
Let’s start with two examples for the suffering recently caused by vertical spirituality:
Ken Wilber is an intelligent theoretician of spirituality and also an enlightened practitioner living what he speaks and writes about. If you’ve read his diary-like book “One Taste” you know that he has indeed realized the level of consciousness that he describes in his books as the highest.
All right then: June 8, 2006 Ken Wilber throws up a appalling rant against his critics on his weblog.
I can only support this initiative with all my heart.
Hard Truths & Fresh Start:
A Bold, Comprehensive, and Integral Strategy for the Middle East
East Don Edward Beck, Ph D
The safest place in any crisis is always the hard truth. Distorted recriminations about the past and naïve idealism about the future can be just as blinding as the tear gas. Personal or political agendas, whether obvious or hidden, protect no one from simplistic suicide bombs or sophisticated air-borne rockets. The smell of cordite has a way of cleansing one’s filters, or at least focusing on what is real. Alas, we often refuse to deal with the hard truths until all sides lie bloody, exhausted, vanquished — having jointly destroyed the relationships and physical resources necessary to invent a better future. The mythical phoenix that rises from the ashes is too often a vengeful vulture.
But what are the ‘hard truths’ about the Israeli/Palestine crisis? What if we had the visionary minds and courageous hearts to address these core realities? Would a fresh start, one that transcends the current stalemate and repetitive cycles of violence, become a possibility? If so, what are its principles and contours? Who can introduce it? How might it self-organize into the mainstream?
In the summer group this manifested as growing trust, and very, very deep experiences that we now could regard and inquire to in mutual respect and appreciation. And because we didn’t come from any prefabricated opinion or perspective or some spiritual teaching and point of view but rather supported each other in the art of dignifying inquiry and interpretation a great and hitherto unknown richness could unfold.
And we could see how this cooperative sprituality is also an emancipated spirituality in which one rediscoveres one’s own authority, power, love and intelligence and experiences that one can actually trust it. This shows the unending diversity as much as what connects us – the unity of being – and it also reveals the different poles of being human.
So with cooperative spirituality we can enter into the inheritance of the great vertical traditions (like Buddhism, Vedanta, Zen, etc.) without taking on their vertical, patriarchal top-down structures in teaching and being with each other.The transition is not always simple – one of my oldest students in the Czech Rep. said that he was irritated and even frustrated in the beginning by me not leading but much rather facilitating the seminar. But, he then added, what he had always wanted had now become a reality: a meeting from heart to heart and soul to soul, and a communion and communication beyond words, concepts and forms.
Now the re-search can begin.
I now remember many things that happened along the way which are much more congruent with my present way of inquisitive and cooperative spirituality than with the authoritarian spirituality that I was participating in these last 22 years.
Having dropped the feudalistic-patriarchal maps of spiritual experience and the universe I stand unencumbered by the need to realize anything at all. That allows me to stay with reality in it’s, I was going to say two directions – within and without – but as I now look, there actually is no inside that I could look into: it somehow stops at the ‘point’ of awareness. Yes, I can explore this ‘point’ – being aware of awareness, being amazed at the very fact of it being. Yet, I don’t feel that I should privilege awareness above its content .
Following what goes on elsewhere on this world and the ‘integral Blogosphere’ in my German blog on June 12th I published a post called “Houston, we’ve got a problem”.
It is clear that abuse by spiritual leaders & gurus is a difficult topic; one that raises eyebrows and much more than that. And whoever raises this topic has got to deal not only with applause from all kinds of quarters that one surely doesn’t want it from, critique and stunning silence from quarters that one would like to have emotional support from, and the accusation that it is actually all about oneself and one’s immature look on things.
So let’s take it from the beginning: On my travels in the internet I stumbled on this piece of info “Cohen Collaborator Gafni Removed For Sexual Misconduct“. It is about Rabbi Gafni, a much celebrated spokesman of the Jewish Renewal movement, who also is in high esteem of Ken Wilber and prominently featured in his Integral Institute (I-I). The sexual misconduct (abuse) is not just one of these Internet-rumours, it is a fact that has been admitted openly by Gafni himself: He writes: “Clearly all of this and more indicates that in these regards I am sick. I need to acknowledge that sickness and to get help for it.” I find that courageous, and want to honor him for that.
What struck me, though, was that even now his work is still plugged on the I-I site with such works as “The Mystery of Love”, “The Ultimate Erotic Art” or “The Kabbalah of Surrender”. I don’t mean to say that theses teachings are not valid regarded on their own. But it does seem a bit – tasteless? Especially to the women who have been at the receiving end of the ‘misconduct’.
Also on the same I-I website there is a lengthy discussion about ‘integral ethics’ between Wilber and Roger Walsh which I found quite inspiring at the time I listened to it. So what then to think of Ken Wilbers reaction in his blog to the case of Gafni? It has ten numbered paragraphs. In #1 he says that indeed something happened that is not quite kosher. And in #2 he immediatly starts bashing the ‘mean green meme’ people for how they react pathologically. In #3 he says that Gafnis behaviour is pathological (something strange between the order of pathologies here, don’t you think?) to then says in #4 that Gafni has admitted to being sick in his letter. In #5 Wilber states that Gafni therefor is not fit as a teacher at the Integral Center until he has undergone therapy (which makes me wonder all the more how he is still fit to teach, for instance, “The Kabbalah of Surrender” at I-I). In #6 to #9 the therapy is thouroughly mentioned, and in #10 Wilber is saying that Gafni should nevertheless be allowed to write. And finally, in the very last paragraph of his statement Wilber finds words for the women, saying that his heart goes out to them.
I do understand, and appreciate Ken Wilber’s support for his friend Marc Gafni. Nevertheless it seems to me that mentioning these women only at the very end says something about ‘integral ethics’ in the practise of one of its proponents.
Maybe I wouldn’t have spent this much time on this happening if it wouldn’t have coincided with reading extended reports by former students of Andrew Cohen about his teaching-methods. Sure, ex-students can and will reinterpret what happened for them, once they leave their teacher behind, and not always fevourable. But what is astonishing is both the consistency of these renderings and the loving way in which most still regard their former teacher. These are, among others, stories (undenied by the defenders of ‘the faith’) of Cohen ordering senior students to slap others in the face as hard as they could for being ‘ego-ruled’ or other things that he didn’t see fit in his community, extorting great sums of money from people in deep distress, sending a student to a prostitute against his will, forcing a father to tell his teeange daughter about the sexual escapades of his mother from long years back to break her attachement to her, and so endlessly on. And all of this, you could have guessed, to help his students overcome the ‘ego’. (And Andrew Cohen is a good buddy of Ken Wilber who, remember, doesn’t have a problem in severly criticising the ‘mean green meme’ for reacting pathologically to the Gafni-incident; there does seem a great difference of ethical standards at work here which I, and maybe that’s my fault, have not found a way to reconcile).
And the story goes on: Wilber is not only criticised for being buddy-pal of Andrew Cohen but also by many others for flaws in his work. And recently he has greatly ranted “Wyatt Earp style” – his way of headlining his verbal bashing: The Unbearable Lightness of Wyatt Earp – against his critcs. Then he explains it away in “On the Nature of Shadow Projections in Forums” where he says (quite rightly, I think) that if something hurts us it is because there is a disowned part of us projected out there. But let’s look at this matter in a simpler way.
If I slap you in the face, and then say that you respond angrily because you project your shadow on me, than not only am I right, of course, because the anger is in you after all, but I am also being very nasty at the same time if I am an authority (rightly or wrongly) to you. Because deep down you know I’m right and are thus utterly helpless. The Wilber question is in this case, “Are you mature enough to get my lesson?” If you are, you didn’t need it. And if you aren’t, not only will you not get get my meaning this way but you will probably also be estranged enough to henceforth scheme behind my back to slap me back in some way.
Well, all of this looks confusingly (not convincingly!) abusive to me. I can’t understand this anymore. Here is Ken Wilber pleading for his friend Gafni: Give him a chance to rehabilitate. Then Ken Wilber has no problem whatsoever in supporting a guru that is very clearly quite violent in his teaching methods. And now he strikes out with verbal furor against his critics (punching some old friend, Frank Visser, wickedly hard who has the audacity to be a harbour to critiques of his work he doesn’t approve of – read Visser’s answer here) and then blames the people who cry ‘ouch’ for projection their shadow on his rant. (An insightful comment on the cultic attitude of Wilber in this regard here)
It is too early for any kind of conclusive learning from this situation for me. But it seems to be time to question the basic teachings where such behaviour comes from. As it looks to me these are the top 4 questions on my agenda:
- What is the effect of the prolonged distancing of the observer (“I am not his body; I am not these feelings; I am not these thoughts; etc”), the prolonged ‘neutral witnessing’ of the phenomena inside/outside in a ‘mirror of pure consciousness’?
- What is the effect of the ‘trans-ethical’ stance that regards all human values as merely relative, and only the Spirit as absolute?
- Are so called higher levels of evolution (yellow, turquoise etc. in SDi language as used by Wilber and his adherents) right in using all kinds of violence to raise lower levels up to their standard?
- Is the non-participatory nature of the ‘pure witness’ in situations and phenomena in ‘the world’ – which will eventually dissolve according to Wilber et al in non-dual One Taste – maybe a cause for the kind of abuse we have recently seen in the integral world of Ken Wilber?
Often in my seminars and events someone asks, “Why…?” this or the other frustrating is happening in his or her life. The Buddhists among us have quite a clear answer to that question, citing the First Noble Truth, “There is suffering and impermanence in life for all beings.” Not being a Buddhist, although I do have great sympathy for the wisdom that this tradition brings, this is not an answer I prefer, and that is because I am not thoroughly convinced that life – our being in this world – actually is suffering. Neither do I believe that impermanence is a reason or cause of suffering.
The question ‘Why?’ is always also a question where the unliked or frustrating happening comes from, and often it is a request for a reasonable explanation for what is happening to me or us. And, of course, a good answer then gives us a meaning that we can attach to what is happening. This, it is supposed will give us an opportunity or the means by which we can avoid this unpleasant thing or happening in the future (and maybe does).
Whatever may be the case, we cannot avoid the fact that what is happening to us in daily life is… already happening; it is the case – whatever the meaning might be that we give it (even if a ‘good’ meaning might be helpful in dealing with its consequences). Seeing that this is so I am bold enough here to tell you ‘Mushins First Noble Truth’: “What is happening is already the case.” Or to put it more flippantly, “Reality, as I am experiencing it, doesn’t care what I think about it.” And this leads us to ‘Mushins Second Noble Truth’: “What I think about what is already the case determines very much wether I suffer or not.” So it is up to me – in many ways – how happy or unhappy daily life is in my case.
What does that mean for my spiritual practise?
Let’s assume that I meet someone that says something hurtful to me or that something frustrating is happening to me. My First Noble Truth informs me, “This is already happening – regardless of whether I want this to happen or not. And I perceive this happening as hurtful or frustrating. I can accept it, supress it or try to change it, but so much is true: It is happening/has happened and I feel bad.”
If I am adequatly awake . and maybe the frustration has awakend me from my dreamlike state – I will pause. That means the automatic chain of judging (“this is frustrating”) and feeling bad and reacting (I justify myself, fight or try to escape) has been broken.
Now I have created enough space to undo my judgement (that I ‘automatically’ had) or regard it as not very adequate to the occasion. In this space also the ‘bad’ feeling loses power so that I can now accept and possibly ‘study’ it: How does it feel – exactly? Where does it manifest on the bodily level?
And I have another possibility in the space I created: I can – as this feeling (or with this feeling) – open to what is happening. Now my feelings don’t seperate me anymore from what’s going on – it doesn’t serve as protection, justification or whatever anymore – but rather connects me to what is the case right now. I don’t recoil or cramp up but rather loosen up and relax into what is the case.
In opening to this moment – just as I am feeling and experiencing it; just the way I am right now – I don’t need a ‘why’ or ‘whence’ or ‘where will it lead’ anymore; what is appropriate to this moment opens itself to me spontaneously. The moment of crisis showers its entire richess on me, and I can live it in relationship.
And so the way has become the goal…
PS.: We still have a few places free in the summer-event “Opening the Cosmic Heart” – July 1st untill 9th – and I would be delighted to see you there.
The seminar in Olomouc was very nice, indeed – though we started a bit late due to ‘Czech timing’ as I’ve come to call the rather loose view of schedules here, and because my lap-top (home of all my musicfiles which are pretty important in most of my seminars) spontaneously forgot an important systems file… it did remember it when I used it the last time. So I was happy to have brought my back-up system (a iRiver 20 GB player, also playing the great OGG format). I’m writing this post on the Community computer which usually is always occupied…
In the group it was clear that more and more I am moving away from spirituality as it is regarded by many of my contemporaries. As I’ve said a few days ago (on the MP3s in the post “Awakening to Mutuality”) the traditional or “old style” spiritual ways adhere to the viewpoint that there are superior perspectives (for instance, the enlightened) and inferior ones (the endarkened or the ignorant, unenlightend). Yet it seems to me that cherishing one perspective over another takes away much from what can unfold between us… and also it incapacitates persons taking “superior” perspectives from what can transpire in an open meeting where no such preferences are setting the stage. For, a meeting in which we put each other in a box might be informative and even give us good feelings but it is never an open meeting, and I don’t think it deserves to be called spiritual. An open meeting where we can explore together whatever might be real between us is much richer and more revealing than one in which I have a higher (more informed, superior, more enlightened, wiser etc.) position than the other person.
Spirituality “old style” has a map of reality – which I do not have an opinion about other than to say that I myself have been using it for a very long time – in which there is a progression towards ever higher and superior states or levels which the aspirant or seeker realizes; from egotistic to altruistic to cosmic centered, from disconnected to connected; or as in Ken Wilbers beautiful integral map, from preconventional to conventional to post-conventional to ultimatly “One Taste” – a beautiful map, I say, based on the “perennial philosophy” that has a great value as far as placing states, levels, types, etc. on a hierarchically useful map goes. This doesn’t mean, though, that I’m opposed to maps and hierarchical structures as I feel that these play a major role in intelligent communication and in interpreting experience well. And the more embracing and detailed these maps are the better – an ‘integral map’, for instance, allows for much more helpful interpretations of an experience and life in general than, say, a christian fundamentalist one. But from what I gather from the practise of Ken Wilber fans it is quite clear what’s the trouble as well: these beautiful people (and others using this and similar maps) often are very much concerned about “Where am I on the map, and what do I have to do to sufficiently transform so that I can move to the next rung on this ladder… to finally get there, and realize THAT. (Whatever THAT stands for in the terms of that map.).)”
Spirituality “new style” – if I may be so bold as to claim that label – is based on an altogether different realisation or understanding. One is, as best I can put it right now, “Reality – as accessible to human beings – is composed of perspectives.” The other is, “All perspectives are equally real (or “right”).”
It seems important here to clarify what I mean, because you might think that I believe that the child-molester’s perspective is of equal value as that of Mother Theresa. But I mean this a different way: Reality as seen with the eyes of a murderer is equally real as the one that a righteous judge sees. So the reality of a murderer is appropriate to him and his view, and thus it is right. And by that I do not make a moral or ethical statement (as in: It is wrong to kill someone.)
Spirituality “new style” goes beyond such value hierarchies however important they may be in a conventional world. It doesn’t deny spiritual value-hierarchies (from egotism to non-dual consciousness, for instance) but presupposes it as part of the person practicing this ‘new style spirituality’. This person comes from the insight that, “if I position myself above another’s perspective, regarding mine as superior to it, I cannot truly meet with the other nor exlore reality with him or her. So I have to concede this person’s perspective equal reality to truly meet. Only if I meet on eye to eye level, honoring him and her perspective, a meeting and inquiry into reality is possible.”
Let’s say, that I am in a state of “heightened awareness”, feeling compassion for the persons in my vicinity, feeling very much at home in my self, having a sense of utter equanimity etc. Now here is a person in another state, let’s say she is worried about being a good mother, asking me to help her. Now in spirituality “old style” I would in the best possible way communicate that it is quite normal to sometimes hate the little tyrant as all mothers I’ve ever met do have such feelings. In spirituality “new style” I ask her what she thinks herself – never for positioning myself to be in a higher or other state to her. We explore together what she feels “being a good mother” means, and if what she is feeling and doing runs counter to her belief of how she should be. We will maybe also want to look at how what she wants and how she goes about getting it fit together, and so on.
Or let’s take a spiritual seeker – like the person in the Olomouc seminar asking me, “What is the meaning of life?” A very serious, and time-honored question; which is, what I actually said. Then we went on – after a little sideline in which I told him about my realisation many years ago that life (in my eyes) doesn’t have a meaning – to look at what he believes, “Does life need a meaning?” And, “How would you feel if life had no meaning; what would change?” Exploring these questions together we found that there was another matter that bothered him much more than what the meaning of life might or might not be: “I’m afraid of the unknown,” he said. And now I asked him if wanted to explore that, “not verbally, but in action?” And he wanted, so I created an unknown situation for all of us – including me (in which, by the way, some participants did have some extraordinary insights into the meaning of their life).
Spirituality “old style” has a map of Reality in which there is a way “up” – and sometimes, if these maps are more encompassing there is also a way “down”, an ascending and decending current. Body, matter, the world are seen as lower order, spirit, soul, nirvana/heaven/One Taste are of a higher order; there is the Relative and the Absolute, and only the latter is to be aspired (even in Tantra, which is a way to ‘sanctify’ ordinary pleasures like eating, sex etc.). This is, of course, a dualistic view. Yet, even when we take Advaita whose “ultimate realisation” is the non-dual, then still in practise it is a dualistic teaching as it shows that, “you haven’t got it but through enlighhtenment can get it.” Or if they see the difficulty of this statement they say, “You’ve got it – as everyone has already got it – but you’re simply not yet conscious of it,” or some such. Whatever is the teaching, it is a teaching of an ascending order towards a greater, better, superior state. (No wonder that 99 percent of it’s main proponents/teachers are male…)
Spirituality “new style” has no quarrel with these maps of Reality. It simply chooses to explore a very different way in which “Reality is just as it appears to be this very moment… and this moment as well – as it appears within the framework of my perspective. And I can never disentangle what appears from my perspective (even if truthfully it isn’t even my perspective). What appears might be a function of my perspective, or my perspective might be a function of what appears, or both or neither or all kinds of mixtures of these. There is no way to know, as I cannot not come from a perspective. And as much as I have a perspective so does everybody else, and possibly even every thing else. So the best I can do is meet it and explore Reality as it appears between us (in conjunction, communion, communication, even opposition, struggle and trial for annihilation). And the richest way I can do this – at present – is by being open, equal and true to any other I meet.”
All of this is still quite sketchy, so I do appreciate all comments you have…
A few days ago in our daily evening contemplation it seemed important to me to state what I feel my present position is on spiritual matters.
It turned out to be a quite critical appraisal of traditional spirituality and it’s view that the sprit or “the world beyond” is radically different from the world we all inhabit, deeming “spirit” to be superior to “matter”, turning away from the world to gain spiritual merit, etc..
I also give an explanation why there is so much (sexiual and other) abuse by teachers of students, and why basically the ‘heros’ are mostly male (giving also an answer to Ken Wilber’s question, why there is so few women in the ‘integral movement’ he’s mentoring.
I’m still groping for what’s to come instead of this basically feudalistic – or top-down – spirituality, and go for ‘mutuality’ where we treat the perspective of toilet-cleaners, morons and wise men with equal respect.
The talk comes in four installements due to the slowness of our Internet-connection here in this Czech village. I hope, you enjoy it, and would be delighted to read or hear your comments.
Download the MP3 file (32 kps; 2,6 MB; duration 10:42): right click this link Awakening to Mutuality and “save as…”
Download the MP3 file (32 kps; 2 MB; duration 8:39): right click this link Awakening to Mutuality and “save as…”
Download the MP3 file (32 kps; 4,8 MB; duration 20:20): right click this link Awakening to Mutuality and “save as…”
Download the MP3 file (32 kps; 1,7 MB; duration 7:17): right click this link Awakening to Mutuality and “save as…”
August last year I sat on the mountainside on the Cotes d’ Azur 800 meter above Nice and meditated. It was a star spangled night and I could see the city lights glittering. The day before I had read that U2 would arrive the next day in their private jet, so I knew that there would be quite a party down there.
In my meditation – my eyes were open – the world was present to me as was my knowing about that party. Then the field of my inner perception expanded and I also saw the suffering that people caused each other at the same time, the sex that was surely going on down there and everywhere, the passers by and the television viewers, and the entire busy and difficult goings-on of the world. By and by my meditation deepened and the world disappeared. The phenomena were still present, the lights of the city shimmering, the darkness of the night, the soft warm wind of August, the chirping of the insects and much more. But it wasn’t the world anymore, neither outside nor inside… it had become transparent. And then there was only emptiness, the non-being of all form, the formless.
But I didn’t abide in this state, and something surprising happened. Words are not quite adequate to express what happened then, so the only way to express it is to say that now something beyond the world and nothingness revealed itself: pure compassion. Compassion for everything, for the world and nothingness, for form and the formless. It was as if this compassion was a being, a presence, a living heart, a source. And from this source waves of compassion were streaming through the dimensions of form and the formless, like a heartbeat pumping the light of compassion through nothingness into everything: Boom, boom, boom!
I don’t know how long this revelation lasted but it changed me as it transformed all phenomena. And I also don’t know what really happened there. I just know: Whatever is calling forth the unending universe and emptiness, the I and the other, being and non-being and enlivening it, shows itself to a human being like me as all encompassing compassion. Compassion for all beings, for everyone and even no-one and nothing. No exceptions.
Every evening before I go to sleep I read a bit. Last night I was reading a few lines from the Jewish-Christian tradition saying that in prayer one should stand totally naked and alone before Gods face. And I asked myself, “Am I willing to do so?”
Those who know me know that I’m not perfect in the least – hanging out with myself 24 hours per day I am quite sure about this. So the question was really, “With these characteristics, with this imperfection, these stupidities, mistakes, with all my habits good and bad, am I ready to stand naked and alone facing the Godhead knowing and seeing my totality?”
If God were righteous as many people in our culture believe, if He were to judge me, if justice would be His essential quality I could never stand before His face. I would be turned into a pile of ashes or a pillar of salt because of my failings. If God were like the Judaeo-Christian tradition depicts Him I could stand before Him at most in sackcloth und ashes but never naked.
But the Godhead is not interested in righteousness; at most this is a human endeavour. God is beyond all and nothing, beyond all form and formlessness. And from my own anschauung I have absolute certainty that She is compassion – God is beginningless and endless love and therefore I can stand there alone and absolutely naked. It is Her Grace that allows me to.
So last night it was given me to stand there in Her lovelight enlightening all with compassion – God sees me, totally naked and with all my imperfections, overflowing me with pure unending compassion. But, being imperfect, after a while thoughts and pictures appeared that took me away from Her face. I thought of tomorrow and the people here that I serve and want to serve better every day, so that they too might taste of Her undying beauty… and with these thoughts I disappeared from Her presence. I drifted back again into the darker regions… the presence of this unending light of compassion disappeared from my awareness.
That is what darkness means. It is paradoxical: I am aware when I come before Her face, and I am also aware of being totally encompassed by divine love, but when I lose this presence I am not aware of it… the clouds of unconsciousness spread their mist wholly unaware.
But after a while I awoke to this and noticed. This is not new to me, by the way. I have experienced many mystical ecstasies in which I stepped out of my darkness into a greater light – only to then lose it again. And in the past there was always a sense of loss and the question, “How do I go back there? What can I do or not do to bathe again in this light?” Yesterday it was given to me to pose a different question, though, “Am I ready to be compassionate towards those inner aspects and forces that have taken me out of Gods presence? Can I be as compassionate towards these as God is towards me?” And I know I can, and I do. And so in the midst of my darkness I felt light-hearted because I saw that I can be just as full of compassion for the endarkening aspects of my self as God is full of compassion towards me… and not only me.
What is of most value in this world that is a place of suffering for most people – for even the greatest pleasures and joys of the world are bleak and dark if we remember whose light’s child we are? It is compassion. And if I speak of me and my work, if I speak of my vision that I wish to realize with everyone who wants to commit to it in the midst of this world – what is it about? It is about bringing this lovelight down to earth, bringing it into daily life, into relationships, projects, buildings, businesses, in short: to turn it into a manifest way of life. That is the vision that is alive in the Serenity-Community, and I hope this vision will lead eventually to an integral village. But this is not just a vision of a future reality; it is also a metaphor for a present process in which every step mirrors what the goal will manifest in a larger way and with more depth and power.
The world in which most people live is not a manifestation of compassion and love but rather a manifestation of greed and media-spawned bright sparkling lies, it is a world of not so beautiful pretences and mediocracy, a world of ignorance. That is the darkness we have to face, and much more than that it is the darkness inside us that comes into being through our failings to be lead by intelligent love and compassion, living our light; it comes from giving space to greed, pretence, mediocracy and ignorance in our behaviour and communication and relationships That is the shadow we have to face – and that is what we have to be compassionate about.
Where will we manifest the vision of an intelligently loving and compassionately intelligent society? Amidst the darkness, amidst the world of ignorance, misunderstanding and a crazed individualism in which we live. So if you are asking yourself in which way you can become part of that vision you could ask, “In which way can I best reflect this compassion?” And if you’ve found the answer to that you have defined your comfort-zone. That realm is very important. Foster and strengthen that realm, keep it alive, this realm where it is not such a big challenge to manifest compassion.
It is easy to be compassionate with people that are somewhat similar to us or who move in the same direction. And it is good and helpful – maybe even indispensable – to surround ourselves with such people or live in a community with them. The Serenity-Community is such a place. And the integral village – if it will manifest at some time and become a reality in which we all live together with many others – will also be such a place. Here at Serenity it is already much easier to love people that you don’t particularly like or with whom you are having problems. Here you are supported continually, day by day and hour by hour, to accept your own shadow and that of others lovingly, just as the Godhead compassionately accepts us when we stand naked in front of Her. And then it is much easier to face the challenges and handle the shadows where being and acting compassionate is not so easy because it simply not fostered or supported. So surround yourself with such people or even better, become part of such a community.
If you feel, like I do, that a spark of the Godhead is present in every soul then you certainly see that this spark wants to kindle a fire – your soul wants to be on fire. The light in you wants to engulf all of your soul and enlighten it. It wants to burn in your sex-life, it wants to shine in the bathroom, it wants to set your meditations ablaze as it does your work or your business; it wants to shine brightly in every aspect of your life. The Godhead doesn’t only want to be transcendentally present everywhere, which is the case already, but it wants to be manifest in all of creation – and that isn’t the case. And as much as God wants to set your soul on fire it wants to enlighten the whole world and everyone in it. For that She needs your willing and feeling cooperation. And She is very patient. She loves us all the way, as we are slowly opening up to what we truly are.
I have a vision of a society, starting maybe with a small village that is ruled by intelligent love and compassionate intelligence. (I use the terms intelligent love and compassionate intelligence to free love & compassion from its romantic, naive, Hollywood-like associations and intelligence from its often construed coldness.) This vision can only become manifest, though, if the people committed to this are prepared to let the lovelight enlighten all aspects of their lives. What I can contribute are all kinds of seminars, trainings and learning occasions which empower people to embrace the shadows and, of course, to experience and explore the deep dimensions of their spirituality and humanity. And just as I am serving the Serenity-Community and many other people who are connected with me I am an instrument and servant to an integral lifestyle and hopefully an integral village; a village in which the cooks and the toilet-cleaners, the accountants and the seminar facilitators, the farmers and shopkeepers, and whoever else is going to live there, can do their work in the spirit of compassion.
This vision has countless dimensions. That’s why everyone who wants to connect with it can contribute to it on the level they choose. I cannot and will not decide which level that can be. Because I know this is not only my vision or the vision of a few people. I know this is the vision of all of humanity. For thousands of years people have been touched by compassion and manifest it in their way. So it isn’t just my vision. And to transform this vision in flesh and blood, pathways and streets, houses and shops and businesses, gardens and flowers many more people have to turn it into their vision and realize it in their daily life now. The vision is either reflecting in every step of its realization or it will lead at best to a nice little village full of good-doing people – and honestly, I wouldn’t want to live there.
The vision is simple. On the way upwards from below, where we are selfishly seeking our own profit and that of our clan to where we really care for the well-being of all mankind and beyond, this vision depicts an individual and collective way of development. On the way downwards from above it is the gesture of true embrace, as the Godhead embraces us with compassion so we take all lower levels and realms – including even the selfishly governed spaces – in the arms of our love and compassion. The very same power that moves us to develop our highest potential makes us lovingly embrace that which may not have developed so far yet, including ourselves.
We are asked as human beings to do the next step in our evolution. And I will cooperate no matter how this adventure will turn out in the end. And every step, everything you do out of love and compassion is already a contribution to this development. If you want to do more, if you want to contribute so that in due time this way of life turns into an integral village – welcome!
“Solange der Mensch keine Verantwortung übernimmt, hegt er Zweifel, hat die Möglichkeit, sich zurückzuziehen und handelt wenig effektiv. Für jedes schöpferische Handeln gilt eine elementare Wahrheit: sowie der Mensch sich endgültig verpflichtet, bewegt sich die Vorsehung. Alles Mögliche, das sonst nicht geschehen wäre, steht ihm hilfreich bei. Ein ganzer Strom der Ereignisse folgt der Entscheidung und begünstigt sie durch allerlei Vorfälle, Begegnungen und materielle Förderung, von denen keiner zuvor geglaubt hätte, sie könnten ihm auf diesem Wege beistehen. Was immer du meinst oder glaubst, tun zu können, beginne es. Denn dein Tun enthält Magie, Anmut und Kraft.”
“As long as a man does not take his responsibility he has doubts and the possibility to withdraw, and his acting is not effective. For all creativity there is an elementary truth: as soon as a man definitely commits himself destiny moves as well. All manner of things that wouldn’t have happened otherwise come to his aid. A veritable stream of happenings follow his decision and further it by all kinds of happenstances, meetings and material blessings of which no-one could have thought beforehand that they could have helped him on his way.
Whatever you believe or think you can do, begin with it. Because your doing works magic, beauty and strength.”
– I saw this quote first in the Internet where it was accredited to Goethe. Fred Kofman in his book „Metamanagement“ accredits to Sir Edmund Hillary who was the first human to climb Mount Everest (and survive) –
How can you take part?
Just pick & choose what you’d love to do
- Connect every morning
- remember that Compassion is already engulfing you with its Lovelight shining from the Heart
- decide to regard yourself and others, including your and their shadows, with compassion today
- bless this day with intelligent love and loving intelligence
- let your Heart shine
- any day
- when confronted with difficult behaviour, stop, listen to your Heart and respond from there
- regard your failings and shadows with compassion
- make a stranger smile
- to a lifestyle of compassion
- to support people trying to realize a lifestyle of the True Embrace
- rather then speaking about love and compassion live it on a daily basis
- as much as is appropriate turn your working place and/or business into an example of the power and beauty of the compassionate way of life
- create a community (or join one) that is dedicated to the True Embrace
- to meditate, communicate, relate, make love, make money in such a way that you can forever expand your and other peoples ability to live a compassionate life.
- tell us how you are doing – in private or in a comment to this article
- tell us how we can support and serve you
- tell us if and how you want to support us
- Visit us (and maybe be so kind to announce your visit)
- and you might even want to live with us…