How to be? What to do?

Listening with the heart in the immediacy of music’s presence and its melodious flow [“A Fine Frenzy” & “Sigur Rós” while writing this blog post], every question is an answer as it dances into being and sometimes also into action. Then, “How to be”, or “What to do”, is not a question but a feeling-focus within the living mystery of awareness. Choices are made intuitively without appearing in the mind’s “I” – right and wrong are not considered.

Yet when we reflect on this and try to embed our behavior within our sense-making at large, what is natural to us needs unpacking and unraveling. At least in communication and collaborative meaning-creation. So let’s have a go.

(In the video: Sigur Rós – Glósáli)

Our ethics and mores are those guidelines, the deep symphonic structures as it were, that steer how we are and what we do in our streaming-moment life. Dave Pollard, whom I had an inspiring conversation with the other day, touching on these matters, says, “We do what we must, then we do what is easy and finally what is fun.” I don’t really know if I agree with this sequence as I haven’t been studying it in real life very much, but it seems clear to me that we indeed do what we must, and what we must is most likely determined by our true ethics, the moral that we have – partly in spite of ourselves; which means, well, we do what we must. So really, the ethical powers forcing us to do just that are stronger than our own power of decision, or we’d go for the easy way or for the fun. Most likely.

instictsMaybe what some call instincts are just these powerful ethics… But you don’t think that our instincts are ethical, do you? You would want to reserve ethics for some loftier rules?
Consider this: Ethics is really all about what is right and what is wrong, how to be and what to do. And aren’t instincts just those forces which compel us to do so? Fixed, imprinted action patterns that move us in the right direction? If you believe that instincts are real – which is open to debate afaik – than certainly survival and, consequentially, procreation (which is what instincts are concerned with officially) are right. They, and some luck and whatever else, have helped us to still be around on Mothership Earth.

Ah! You say, “Not every form of survival and certainly not every fashion of procreation is right, and instincts don’t care.” Well, now you force me to disclose that I’m very certain that we’re a bit more free than the theory of instincts allows. I believe that there is some freedom of movement on every level of life; even bacteria moving towards food and away from danger have some degree of freedom in the paths they take… we’ll come back to this later, I think.Right now we’re concerned with human beings, right?

When considering how to be and what to do for you and me, for human beings, it seems our choices and the forces that determine these are based on one of two possible ways to think about what we “must” do and what is right, and consequentially what is wrong. Most of us, even if we don’t do much thinking about this (which I don’t usually), we derive what is really the right thing to do from some transcendent source, a source beyond us – if not divine then similarly lofty, some higher authority. You will see how much you are ‘married’ to this way of thinking when I say that all real ethics emerges from the body, from nature, from what you are as a bodily living, breathing being. And to derive what is right, good, beautiful, true from some transcendent or disembodied source is, frankly, part of the the disaster that is upon us ecologically, economically and also socially. [So now how do you feel, what do you think?]

78_mainWhat we are and what we do is part of a larger context. I’ve been contemplating the folk wisdom “The whole is more than the sum of its parts.” In my last blog entry I expanded this to a more specific, “A living whole is exponentially more than the sum of its members.” And since we are members of a larger whole, a society, we should expand it even more to “A living field whole is incomparably more than the sum of its wholes”.

Living wholes determine what is right, good and beautiful, or to use Dave’s terms, what we must, what is easy and what is fun, for all its parts and members. So clearly, our society and the groups we belong to – families, clans, other groups – have very particular “ideas” about that. I put “ideas” in parenthesis here because these are often not obvious or conscious to a family’s or group’s members. They might even deny that they have these ideas – to them, when pointed out, they would be simply part of reality, like the air we breathe. But we can know them as ideas nevertheless, these forces constellating a living field.

A group’s ethics is sensed immediately by all its members. When you deviate you feel uncomfortable and when you go against it you feel very uncomfortable. (Not that we necessarily feel comfortable with what we must do or be, but that is a different. We do what we must if we want to belong for longer, because if we don’t we risk being cast out, which is much more uncomfortable than any discomfort we might presently be experiencing by being who we have to be and doing what we must.) Our conscience is really the a ‘proximo-meter’, the instrument that by the strength of certain feelings tells us the degree of belonging to our group. Conscience, far from being a transcendent or divinely given something, is a finely tuned sense of the super-social animal we are. What, for instance, instantly causes a bad conscience in your family might not even activate in your chosen group of heart-friends…

The result of our historical cultural development so far has, despite everything I’ve so far suggested, led to the situation that transcendent ‘laws’ that tell us what we should do are part and parcel of every groups ethics. These moral rules have usually been created by some greater authority, traditionally by a religious entity through the mouth of its prophets and/or mystics. This can be a deity, several deities or more recently in history also some lofty concepts brought to that group or society by scientists, philosophers or other experts on transcendent content (Jesus, Mother Kali, Immanuel Kant, Ken Wilber, Albert Einstein, to name a few). You know these are transcendent ideas when you can easily get away with paying lip-service; actually often, if you really practice them and put them into real-world behavior you get into trouble and become really uncomfortable as you are pushed towards the perimeter of the group and are threatened to be cast out.

people towerReal ethics are always embodied ethics, they express in how the whole is and what the whole does in everyday life, transcendent ethics are disembodied and lip-served only. Real ethics are practices, transcendent ethics are mostly theories of what is right and true, their real-world consequences are caused by the debates, the struggle, the fights (and sometimes wars) between their adherents as to which is the right theory and doctrine. Surely, some tenets of transcendent ethics are actually embodied by groups and put to (rigorous at times) practice. But that is, I would venture, because it meshes so well with a previous and prior embodied ethics in the first place.

It seems to me that any whole’s prime directive of its real ethics is connected with its existence and duration, with its sustainability to use a modern word. You’ll only call this egotism if you believe in the economic version of Darwinism; you know, the one that relates all evolution-value to ownership (my genes, my turf), to separate being, to competition for scarce resources and what derives from that. But if you really understand that at the very root every living whole is first of all metabolic, which means that it turns what is outside into ‘building blocks’ of itself and gives away some of itself to the outside, you see that that “egoic Darwinism” is real rubbish (gibberish coming from a elite-group of alpha-males and those that lick up to it).
A whole’s metabolic relationship with its ecology – the whereabouts it is embedded in – means: the whole changes its ecology by being around for a longer time. So the prime directive of a living whole by it’s very nature is not egoic but altruistic: it will ‘want’ to change the ecology such that all others except direct enemies will flourish, simply because then it flourishes also. Any living whole is nourished by other wholes, and in turn it’s feeding other beings that feed other wholes that feed other beings and so on. This is living nature bootstrapping itself towards greater and more diverse wholes by metabolic relationships since a couple of billion years on this Mothership, and I’m sure all over this Cosmos. The thrivability of any living whole is contributing to the thrivability of life as a whole – which, en passant, explains beautifully the richness and diversity and creativity of life…

As strange as it may seems, a real ethics, one that helps you and me, takes its clue from exactly this – from living wholes prime directive, “Keep on thriving”, and from the simple fact that we are metabolic by nature.Consider, for a moment your body. It’s an amazing and large ecology of uncountable collaborating and also symbiotic species. In our intestines countless micro-organisms help break down the food we ingested with their own metabolism; we actually live from their ‘waste’; on our skins countless micro-organisms keeping us covered well with their metabolic acts…

So what is our body’s ethics? How to be this amazing wonder of collaboration between a large number of different cells plus countless micro-critters that live inside and on us, this immense ecology that forms the living whole that is you and me, and what to do?

MARCH-3My guess would be, to let go of the hold of transcendent ideas and disembodied theories us, and helping our friends and neighbors to see them for what they truly are useful for: marvelous playthings and clever tools wherever their use is appropriate. And also to simply be our feeling and take the emotionally intelligent way. In the 21st Century, it seems to me, we are learning to trust the inherent wisdom of whole living beings as intrinsic members of living ecological wholes. We’re letting go into the music of life that reveals its beauty in its flow in time.

Playing it by ear…
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Resonance & the Living Field

In recent weeks I’ve been contemplating the living field and how it operates.
In “The Living Field, Participatory Design & Collaboration Ecology” one of the important points was, apart from taking a close look at what kinds of fields we are dealing with and some other matters, that processes like participatory design and community building are very much linked into the living field and are really an expression of it.
In “The Living Field & the Art of Living” I looked much more at what it reveals and how to constellate a living field in such a way that art emerges, the epiphany of beauty.

These last couple of days my contemplations went more into how we are connected within the living field, sparked of by some writings and tweets that were implicitly based on the assumption that there really is a division or separation between subject and object, as for instance in the thoughts so brilliantly put together by Robert Kegan where he says that human development mainly proceeds by matters becoming an object that previously were part of the subject. A fear, for instance, that we are not aware of and that rules our life as part of our identity, as part of the subject, and by becoming aware of it it becomes an object that we have some distance from and that therefor we can think about. This assumption is also behind Ken Wilber’s idea of the evolutionary “transcend and include” movement of consciousness. (I’m aware that I cannot do justice to the subtle thinking behind all this, but for my purposes what I just said is enough).
Our thinking about almost everything, as shown in the above examples, is very much rooted in the assumed dichotomy between subject and object.We are never shown to be fuzzily sobjective or ubjective, which – I’m sure – is almost always the case…

When I tried to ‘open source’ my own basic spiritual conviction about two years ago I came up with the following statement (this is the current version: v4.1), “Consciousness – upon close inspection – is not located in the head or in any other place. It is part of being bodily alive. Individual consciousness emerges within a living field of being known and experienced by ‘others.’ Upon appreciative self-reflection and we-full co-inspection, consciousness appears to be continually and dynamically self-organizing as relational presence in natural, social, personal, spatio-dynamic and spiritual ecologies.”
AAs you can see from this statement a disembodied universal consciousness separate from appearance does not make sense to me; people and things do not appear in consciousness, as planets, suns and comets appear in space, for instance, but everyone and everything arises with some kind of consciousness (at least for us; can’t speak for a cat, a tree or a stone). An example for what I mean is how the letter A arises in the black background (illustration on the left). The background is only background by grace of the letter arising ‘in front’ of it and the other way around.

That individual consciousness emerges within a living field of being known and experienced by others originally dawned on me – even though I wouldn’t have expressed it like I do now – when I was present at the birth of my son. The way mother and child looked at each other right after birth was an almost tangible field. (There is a small time window when the newly born baby does actually focus very clearly; since birth complications led to me seeing him first I know what this deep unwavering gaze looks like and does to you.) Mother is melting into baby and baby into mother…
When all is normal, the child’s consciousness emerges in the field that mother, and later father and young one form. It is almost as if in this small and then ever expanding group/situation the living field itself grows into consciousness and the individual being. The child – and of course the ‘others’ – are each intelligent nodes, attractors, vortexes expressing, and partially localizing this living field consciousness. And, of course, non of the participating beings organizes the consciousness for the others – what emerges comes about within the field they all form.
Individual consciousness, self-reflection etc. is the living field extending into the endless depth that forms in that region of experience that we call ‘inside’. The localized consciousness, the I, the ego is one of the great evolutionary ‘inventions’ helping us to grow the cultures we are embedded in…

I keep using the living field metaphor because it allows me to think of subject and object without doing away with the whole concept of the actual existence of a subject and an object, like in Advaita or Neo-Advaita or in similar spiritual – usually patriarchal – traditions. There is nothing illusory about subject and object, but neither is it real in the sense a table or computer screen are real, rather subject and object appear within the relational or ‘relative’ field that we happen to find ourselves in, the foundational reality of being/becoming. As an individual we may be intrinsically attached to a particular body but our person, our individuality and consciousness are a localized expression of what we are embedded in: a larger whole, a whole that we cannot be separated from. This whole is what I keep referring to as ‘living field’, a wholeness in which there is indeed an I and You as much as there is a he, she, and us and a they and it; not as things, not as objects or subjects really but as poles of the living field, the multi-polar field brimming with aliveness. So in a meeting with another person I and You immediately form a more or less coherent ‘bubble’ in the living field in which the two main poles are, well, You and I. And this also goes for I and it, us and them, and so endlessly on – multi-polar situations in flux.

What then is the multi-polar living field ‘made of’? What keeps the poles in such dynamic situations related in just the way they are? How are these constellations constituting themselves dynamically?

By resonance (or the relative or obvious lack thereof).

We all intuitively know what resonance is (scientific explanations; a java-applet of resonances in a string).
k&gIt is thrilling when first you discover that phenomenon, or so it was to me as a kid. Me holding a big guitar on my lap and someone playing on a piano – the guitar’s body was vibrating! Oh the thrill of it. Couldn’t get enough! Sheer magic at work, not the magic of stories, but a magic I could feel with my whole body!

As I was contemplating all of this Helen (As tempting as it is to draw lines between synchronicity and resonance, I’ll leave that for another time.) tweeted this quote by Edgar Mitchell, “Resonance is nature’s way of transferring information.
At first glance this feels right, and the quote was rightly retweeted a couple of times, but then… Contemplating on resonance, speaking of “transferring informations” seems severely limited. That idea is still very much married to ‘something’, information, going from one ‘place’ to the ‘other’. Resonance as I intuit it, and as these ideas on the living field seem to demand, is more akin to a dance. When dancing, is one partner transferring information to the other? Well, yes, one could say that they are but that doesn’t make too much sense, does it? A dance is not about transferring information (well, most of the time – when I was younger I wanted to transfer, often, that I was fancying the girl I was dancing with…).
But I don’t think resonance is about transferring information, again most of the time; it seems much more that information transference is a side-effect. Resonance, like a dance, is about enjoyment and expression, it is not really about anything but itself – it is its own meaning and expresses it in its movement. isadora20duncanSomeone once told me that Isadora Duncan, the famous dancer from the beginning of the last century, upon being asked by a reporter what her dance meant, said, “If I could say it I wouldn’t dance it.”

Just so it seems to me that it is the living field that is in-forming, constellating, dynamically shaping the rhythms and sounds of all that it encompasses. A living field than is a resonant field and is not accessible as an object, as one would be able to do if one were a subject. It is the personal resonance that allows us to be ‘informed’ by the other. It is my resonance with you, and your resonance with me that forms and is in turn formed by the quality of the field and the consciousness that emerges between us.

But, one might ask, “Doesn’t that mean that it is the resonance in or as the subject that this is about?” – thereby expressing that really I have gained nothing by using this kind of language and these ideas. Doesn’t an outside source (you, he, she, it, they, the situation) set up a vibration that I, then, resound with?
Resonance, in the classical sense that believes in separate entities, already is not a one-way affair. As soon as I begin to resonate I feed this vibration back to where it came from and strengthen that vibration. And so, even if the old separative concepts were true, properly looking I’d say that the ‘sound-field’ as a whole is the most relevant information in this situation. So it just takes a small switch in our understanding to see the living field as foundational; what’s between us as a much more meaningful influence than the poles, the subject and object. Or to put it another way, You cannot reduce the living field to the sum of its participating beings and entities.

resonanceIf you look at the above illustration: Is A (the + pole) transferring information to B (the – pole)? Or do we see a graphic rendering of a resounding field? And what about the center of the picture, or any other place, where there is ‘nobody’ right now – but could potentially be?
Most likely we all see a whole resonant field here, a highly coherent region within the larger living field. We see dancing, a graph of a dance we can derive information from, if we like, depending on where we happen to position ourselves or where we are localized. And yes, surely we might be able to determine what started this coherent field; someone who has seen its birth and history might be able to answer that question.
But it’s surely much more relevant how this sounds, how to tune into it in such a way that the field is enhanced and an ever increasing richness of overtones and undertones can emerge. And more important than the separation between the two subjects or objects A and B is their resounding connectedness and the meaning of this that can unfold as a fractal in the participating poles to resonate as a much larger whole…

There are many avenues of contemplation and highways of wholesome action that a resonant living field opens. Reducing all this to subject and object certainly is possible and yields (lots of?) empiric knowledge. Yet I believe we hear the first verse of a melody, nay the first movement of a symphony of the highly coherent resounding field of aliveness from the polyphonic future… and it’s wind lift us up, as we’re learning to fly into its unknown skies.

Learn To Fly from Christian Letruria

The Living Field, Participatory Design & Collaboration Ecology

field1Physics has discussed fields for quite some time but the term can very well be used in the context of the noosphere, our ‘inner’ landscape, the dimension inside and between living beings. Then there is the so called ‘knowing field,’a concept to explain the remarkable phenomena that happen in family-constellations; these phenomena are also explained using the ‘morphogenetic field’ theory as popularized by Rupert Sheldrake. Shall I mention the “Buddha-field”, a realm existing in the primordial universe outside of space time, produced by the Buddha’s merit? Hmmm, maybe. But surely I’ll acknowledge the ‘energy-field’  as I have been using the term in the “energy-work” I do since 1987, a term that later, upon leaving my role as a guru behind I’ve dropped to use “dynamic presencing” instead because it is a method, really, a way to create a greatly coherent region within the Living Field that connects, informs and enlivens living beings.

A field in physics is an intrinsic part of each point in space-time; we could say it informs that point and/or expresses it’s forces or properties and how it interacts with other points in space-time. A physical field can be measured by the proper gadgets.
field31A knowing field, as we encounter it in systemic constellations can not be measured with physical gadgets because it is not a physical property as we know them at this moment in history. But whoever has participated in a constellation and ‘all of a sudden’ knew things about the person s/he was representing will attest to its informative reality. Having both facilitated and participated in hundreds of systemic constellations I can affirm, “The knowing field is as real as the understanding you get by reading this constellation of letters, these paragraphs.” In some way a well facilitated constellation makes implicit knowledge, emotions, tendencies etc. explicit – deep, often transforming understanding surfaces through the dynamically located presence of representatives in a constellation.
The morphogenetic field [derived from Greek: morphe=form, and genese=create] as Rupert Sheldrake uses the term is also not (yet?) measurable by any means we know of but it gives us an elegant explanation of what helps form such sophisticated ‘things’ as plants or bodies. Genes act upon fields, which then act upon the developing organism, goes the thought. Ever since Sheldrake has experimented and written elequently about these fields they also are taken to be essentially non-local, and the theory also can explain why after, for instance, a substance has crystallized for the first time in one laboratory the next crystallization in a different laboratory far away happens both in a similar way and a tidbit faster; as if the field informs the substance of the ‘best way’ to form a crystal. In a very interesting way it is Plato’s theory of forms all over again.

With the Buddha-field we explicitly enter the dimension of spirituality. In essence, similar to a morphogenetic field, a Buddha-field would inform the aspirants on the Buddhist path by surfacing as enlightening experience or insight within the inner ecology of mind, the personal noosphere. A Buddha-field would differ from, for instance, a “Christ-field” as what it causes to surface in the inner ecology has different forms and different associations attached to these, but both fields (and other such as the “Aura” or “Subtle body field“, for instance) are surely part of the “Spirit-field” as it unfolds within and between conscious beings.

field5The Living Field that I have been accessing for the first time some 35 years ago but more systematically and consciously the last 25 years mostly through dynamic presencing and systemic constellations, and in the last 5+ years increasingly with circles of the heart and spontaneously in other contexts as well… the Living Field, in my view embraces all non-physical fields mentioned above in as much as they express within and between living beings. It surfaces as meaning, inner depth, beauty, healing, empowerment, solidarity, mutuality, to name but a few way that it comes to light. If we consider the effects a coherent living field can have on participation, engagement and collaboration and its consequences in social or financial benefits we might even arrive at quantifiable effects and eventually measurements in the future.

Most if not all of us have experiences of the living field. Remember the last time you were talking with someone and time faded away? You got so involved in the conversation, being absorbed in both listening and speaking, following the thread of the conversation, open, authentic, in full sympathy-mode… It was a “silver hour”. And when you remember it you don’t necessarily remember the exact content of that conversation; but it’s spirit still turns you on when you think about it. This is what a coherent living field can feel like.

As human beings we are super-social animals. The Living Field has evolved with and through all our ways of being together, and feeds back into it. We all know it immediately; it feels good, nourishing. It is most likely the main cause of the happiness a rich social life brings – and the suffering a lonely, disconnected life causes. It is connected with our emotions and most likely our highest ethical values that guide our every day actions (giving us ‘negative’ feelings when we do not move in the direction our ‘highest values’ indicate). We could regard the life-orienting values as ‘attractors’ in the living field, and because we are super-social we can very easily feel what moves the person we meet. A resonance in the living field between people creates some coherence that strengthens that particular constellation of values. A “silver hour” then is an event when a good conversation moves into higher and higher resonance: values are aligning, meaning is apparent and shared on the fly, empathic flows meander into blissful estuaries.

field6The Living Field spans the whole spectrum from the experience of being one with a Supreme Being, or Nature to the instant spark of sympathy upon seeing a stranger, from communication with disembodied entities to sitting in a circle with friends, from intuiting where the person sitting opposite you comes from to inspired teamwork. Yet, for the purposes of this post I refer to the Living Filed most of all in the practical context of participative design and the ecology fostering collaboration.

I have worked a lot on the concept but most of all on the practise of Collaboration Ecology in these last 2 years, co-creating social networking software and practices for community managers, community builders or whatever you want to call these new professionals serving the community and giving it a strong voice in the top-management of a social network. Getting to know Jascha Rohr recently and discovering how close our ideas on many of these issues come I’ve come to understand many of the principles underlying the creation of an ecology of collaboration as participatory design.

Imagine you have to create something that will be used by many people. Let’s, for example take the product to be a little park in a new neighborhood. Ordinarily the local government calls on some expert park planners or landscape architects, lets them draft some plans, presents these plans to the population through some bureaucratic procedure and then decides what it’s going to be. It then has this plan implemented by a company making the cheapest offer on tender. After a very long time, usually some years, the park is finalized and within a year or two it looks quite ugly because the city doesn’t have enough money to keep it in a beautiful state (if indeed it was that in the beginning), and since it’s not theirs but the government’s park the citizens do not take care.

park2Now imagine you involve many people from this neighborhood by using a process of participatory design. This means the citizens, maybe supported by a professional or two, don’t get to vote on 2 or 3 plans but actually collaboratively create the plan themselves in a participatory process. Because the facilitators of the participatory design process know of the power of a coherent living field they take much care for it to unfold its power; they create the beginnings of an ecology of collaboration. Making the plans within a coherent living field deepens the connection between people so that it is often amazing how fast and smooth the collection of ideas and wishes and the deciding on what is best for the common good goes. Obviously such a process turns all participants into stakeholders of the end-result, the park. And since it is not just communal property but has turned into a common good the likelihood that it will be received and kept beautiful for decades by the neighborhood is great. Actually it is most likely that it will be a focus of a coherent living field in the neighborhood much beyond clear psychological and social factors introduced by the participatory design process.

Grassroot-movements, since their first big bloom in the Sixties, have grown so much that this way of organizing is very much a standard among “concerned citizens”. When grassroot-movements have to deal with more traditional power structures (businesses, governmental organisations, etc.) the top-down approach of these organisations and the bottom-up structures of grassroot-organisations can cause very challenging situations.
Yet, looking at a situation like this as a living field that could well do with some more resonance allows us to look for ways that both types of organizations can connect maybe more harmonious. This is exactly, what a Collaboration Ecologist does – he’ll be looking for some kind of process that everybody would be willing to engage in, a process that would bring everybody together for some hours so that a sense of “We’re in this together” can unfold. From the point of view of the living field this means that a higher coherence and first level alignment of forces within the field can happen.

One of the first steps of a collaboration ecologist will always be to create a process (involving as many stakeholders as possible) where everybody will listen to each other and deepen their understanding of a) what ‘we’ are talking about and b) who is involved. Next this is deepened and reflected upon. If this is done by talented people and there aren’t too many ‘prickly plants’ in the collaboration ecology a coherent living field starts to form. If this can be pointed out a quantum jump towards community and mutual understanding can happen that greatly enhaces the richness and will very fast lead to strong results of “what we’re talking about.” Whoever has participated in a process like this that led to a high coherence in the living field will be deeply touched by the experience and motivated to engage much more strongly.

Knowing about, but most of all having been immersed knowingly in the living field lots of times helps. And at the same time the challenge for the facilitator of these participatory processes remains the same: You need to put yourself at a point where you are willing to change, willing to surrender to what emerges in the process itself, trusting that what human beings – often almost in spite of themselves – tend towards is strengthening the resonance of a living field. Understanding this and helping to orient the field towards practical collaboration is the fine art.

I see participatory design and it’s implementation as something that naturally emerges from a coherent living field that is looked at with the purpose to create an optimum ecology for collaboration.

Out beyond the ideas of right-doing or wrong-doing there is a field — I’ll meet you there. ~ Jelaluddin Rumi





A wordl cloud of the most frequent words in this article
A wordl cloud of the most frequent words in this article

We are the next Buddha

Helen wrote in her blog “Why the next Buddha will be a collective.” I hope to show with this article where I am coming from in this regard so that in the time to come we can have beautiful dialogues, trialogues or any other -logues to help this meme propagate.

I guess, for me it all started in earnest when in the summer of 2005 one of my trainees asked, “What about we?” I guess, he asked that because I was using my own path and experience as a template for the spiritual journey, as most spiritual teachers do. Because that’s what I felt myself to be at that time, a spiritual teacher. And, being steeped in a guru culture, my role was centered around having a ‘working relationship’ with the divine, by whatever name you want to call it, and my teaching and methods were congruent with that. (I won’t go into the aspect of the “teaching beyond words and scripture” that also is very much a part of this; some of how I looked at these matters you find here.)
The question really struck me, and so I started to read a lot of Martin Buber, and what he had to say about the possible quality of true relationship moved me deeply.

Wer in der Beziehung steht, nimmt an einer Wirklichkeit teil, das heißt: an einem Sein, das nicht bloß an ihm und nicht bloß außer ihm ist. Alle Wirklichkeit ist ein Wirken, an dem ich teilnehme, ohne es mir eignen zu können. Wo keine Teilnahme ist, ist keine Wirklichkeit. Wo Selbstzueignung ist, ist keine Wirklichkeit. Die Teilnahme ist umso vollkommener, je unmittelbarer die Berührung des Du ist.
Das Ich ist wirklich durch seine Teilnahme an der Wirklichkeit. Es wird umso wirklicher, je vollkommener die Teilnahme ist.

Being in relationship one participates in reality, that means, one participates in a being that is not only one’s inner being nor is it the being outside of one. All reality is a becoming-real in which I participate without my being able to take possession of it. Without participation there is no reality. Where there is a taking into possession to oneself there is no reality. The more perfect the participation the more immediate is the touching of the thou.

The I is real through its participation with and in reality. And it becomes more real the more perfect the participation is.

(My translation of Martin Buber: Das Dialogische Prinzip – Ich und Du – Seite 65-66)

Over time starting to understand what Martin Buber is indicating I left behind my formal conviction that was very much founded on experiences interpreted through Eastern philosophy and spirituality. “Thou art That” (Vedanta)… “I and the world are one” (Upanishads)… “I am is all there is” (Advaita). And I was moved to explore in all manners possible to me, what is between us.

During the winter seminar of the same year I went for a walk in a wooded valley nearby. The afternoon sun was coloring the snow golden white, the gurgling streamlet hid underneath a thin layer of ice and a deep blue sky spanned over the wonderful silence, when all of a sudden I saw a flock of finches, sparrows, stock doves and a rusty brown bird with a many-colored tail that is very common here. Different birds in one flock settling in a couple of trees and starting a game, it seemed, flying from branch to branch and tree to tree: a fink jumped-flew onto a branch on which a dove was sitting who then flew to a branch on which one of the brown birds was sitting and so on. And it seemed to have a rhythm: the birds in a game I used to play as a child called “Bäumchen wechsle dich” – a delightful jumping and a flying all over.
I had never seen anything like it or heard of it before, yet this experience befitted my development of the period very well. It isn’t important what species of bird I am with – what matters is engaging with what is between us, “Can we find a common game?” I wrote in my diary. Because then we can play with all species of birds in the trees of life. You show yourself as the sparrow or the dove you are, as the crane or the eagle or any other bird you find yourself to be, and you are taking the other birds just the way they are… and then something new, unknown, a never before seen or experienced game begins. Whatever song you sing let’s hear it, and listen to our melody, because without both the game, our joyous, delightful, mutual game cannot happen.

That spring and summer I was in trouble because I started to see that I couldn’t go on with my old way of teaching in which I was the one that “has it”, and the people coming to me didn’t – or where not conscious of it. Not, that I didn’t feel connected anymore to the deep sources of life and being, not that there were no more Satori’s or deep mystical states – quite the contrary many of my days were spent in a very juicy sense of lightness, as if bubbles of champagne were coursing through my veins. But it was what I and others made out of this that was the trouble. It was the ‘vertical spirituality’ in the patriarchal mode that I became wary of. It reminded me very much of feudalism, a social structure that I didn’t want to be part of anymore.
And as my opposition was growing (the article linked above was written in that period; you can see how very critical it is) so was my insight into what I came to call the emerging archetype of the “between us”. There is the huge P2P movement, Wikipedia, open source programming, sharing economy, distributed research, Web 2.0 & 3.0, etc.; the Internet has opened a huge gate towards the culture of collaboration in the production of knowledge and understanding but also of products and services.
I also came in touch with spiritual teachings and philosophies that are deep and and encompassing, thorough and practical and sophisticated as well, which apparently are not in need of the ‘vertical stance’ (John Heron‘s participatory spirituality, Jorge Ferrer‘s revisioning of transpersonal psychology, Alan Rayner’s inclusionality, Samuel Bonder‘s wakening down in mutuality… to name but a few).

I also saw that many of the methods I was using already for quite some time – dynamic presencing for instance – could be regarded very much as an expression of the spirit between us, the “We” (whenever I am alluding to the emerging archetype of the “between us”, which is also “the spirit between us” I will from now on be using We with capital W). And as I realized this the methods changed to incorporate this understanding. I started to realize that my real art is creating an atmosphere and situations in which the We can appear and start to move and even incorporate each and every one of us. The beauty of course is that this understanding meshes with another insight that came out of facilitating “Enlightenement guaranteed ;-)” events, a method that has become famous through Genpo Roshi who calls it “Big Mind”. Suffice it to say here that this method uses voices or sub-personalities as the main gate to understand how the human mind works. So there is not only the We between the many persons outside of us but inside of us as well. These ideas evolved into an understanding that I will sketch in more detail below.

Then in autumn and winter 2006 I went through a deep existential crisis which touched all aspects of my life, heart and mind – to put it in the metaphor I met the senex, Saturn, and it took quite some time before I could discover the We and allow it to unfold between us. But as spring dawned and with it my old friend Jupiter it was as if I started to hear a symphony – many different melodies coming together. And if I put it in language, this is how it sounds…
At this moment of our history we are on a critical path starting to leave an old view behind. If I am to sketch the perspectives of this view in a few broad strokes I would say it is basically one of centralism. It reminds me of what I think went on at the time when Kepler revolutionized the astronomical place of earth and sun. Before him most people, even the most intelligent ones, believed the earth was the center of the cosmos. But now he showed that the sun was at the center. It took a few hundred years for us then to realize that this is really not so, this cosmos does not have a center (more about this metaphor it in this article). So instead of our sun being at center we are now faced with innumerable stars and their relationships – constellations and configurations. So as beautiful as the sun might be around which I turn, and as enlightening the sun might be around which you turn, we are discovering that if we do not find the We (the movement and nourishment in our relationships and what happens or doesn’t happen in it) between us this universe starts falling apart into discrete stars and galaxies which are separated by huge stretches of empty space.

So it is very beautiful and makes deep sense that obviously this space is not empty at all; it is flowing over with the We that embraces all. And as I said, the We is making itself felt, understood, intuited all over this globe and is manifesting in many different ways – as people wanting to cooperate, to collaborate, to be in community and communion, seeing that the time of heroes (central suns) is definitely over, the time for the saviors and lone leaders that could set things right again. The world and its problems have become so complex that we can only hope to find adequate answers in “circles”of very different people where we can meet eye to eye and heart to heart – in a sort of collective leadership maybe. And this is underfoot already on a worldwide scale. The place here would not suffice to mention all the initiatives that are going on all over the world. Yet, this is one aspect of We manifesting.

Another aspect is the sense of spiritual or soul families or clans finding each other again across countries and continents. It is as if we have chosen ages ago to come together in this critical time on the planet to be midwives to what is wanting to emerge. What ever may be the case we do recognize each other and there is an immediate connection beyond words, even beyond understanding; all we do is accept it.

A third aspect manifests through what has been called the Circle Being, manifesting as a higher order of being together with an incredible coherence that draws in the individuals participating. This certainly is We, being highly coherent. (Helen has written about it here, and I have also reported a very strong experience here). The “between us” can also come into being in what has been called “a silver moment” or in German Sternstunde, “stellar hour”. In the Bible it has been alluded to – and much misinterpreted as only applying to the divine person of Jesus – as, “Where two or three are gathered in My Name there am I am in their midst.” (Matth. 18:20)

A fourth aspect is the insight that our very consciousness itself can best be regarded as plural and not singular as a traditional mysticism has it. In the individual this shows itself as sub-personalities or the many voices that speak in us – for instance the ego, the inner child, the judge, the saboteur, the seeker, the achiever, the non-seeking mind, the inner master, the higher self etc.. So looking at our individual consciousness or psyche as a “we” rather than as an “I” would pave the way for a “circle being” to manifest inside the mind of the individual. This to me at this moment is one of the most interesting aspect of the emerging archetype.
It seems obvious that the “inner We” does not dissolve individuality, I or ego; it rather enhances its possibilities and functionality, because as the so far dominant ego realizes its embeddedness it can let go much easier of its compulsory need to control, and become part of the conductorless orchestra of the “inner We” tuning in to the “larger We” dawning on all of mankind and even, so I think, all beings and what we now still call derogatively ‘dead matter’.

This allows us to regard the emerging We as a scalable, fractal phenomenon on many and maybe even all levels. Contemplating all of this I come to the understanding that I am called – as are many others – to support and nourish these dynamic constellations of individuals and voices to configure themselves so that the transformation that is necessary for the health of the planet and its inhabitants is facilitated optimally.

Towards an Integral & Pluralistic Spirituality

deepest pic of the universeAn 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.

Copernicus cosmic view with sun in the center

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.

Thank you.

It’s in the Air

Thank you Ria for posting this in your interesting blog, it really turned me on. So here are the Naturally 7 on the Metro in Paris…


To Our Eyes Only

I’m not trying to save the world or even myself for that matter.
I believe not in the necessity of saying anything to anybody.
I’m just – people… expressing, as birds are singing.

I feel myself to be part of this multiverse of diverse voices, vistas and felt-spaces that flow around – creating and being created in this mystery called reality.

I have no hope for a better future. Actually I don’t need a future at all – if there is future, now it will take care of itself. What is not will not become, nor will it ever happen – that is, after all, its nothingness.

My movement is the very movement of time itself – I am time… eternally now inhabiting these whereabouts here – me here, you there and they everywhere else (all these other ‘heres’ that I know of and not know of).
Being time, you are close, they always a bit further away – coming closer they flow into another you, even closer still becoming we… always becoming.

Who are you? I am being asked, and in the question I’m flowing into another way of being here, a questioned being. Never knowing who I am but in the question, an absence flowing into presence – and you.

You flowing into being there for me here
And I here becoming present for you there
– I, never being there, and you never being here; what makes you into you is being there, and me into me is being here. We always flowing into being for each other

Looking for where I end and you begin
I cannot find it – fuzzy limits
My ending and your beginning somewhere in between
Imagination drawing a line

I’m singing a song I’d like you to hear
And maybe, if you wish, to sing along
Not to join!
No, hearing you tuning in
I tune into you
Hearing one melody appearing
Floating around for some time
There’s no more need to know
where we end or begin.

This is not about finding the truth but fitting in more snugly
Into the flows and eddies and currents of everywhere, including nowhere
A revelation in as much as you care, and I care to see us revealed
Revealing as much as we care to reveal
Of what is revealing itself over there and over here
And somewhere between and beyond.

A free floating song
Fallible, diverse, incompletely
Always incomplete and eager to reveal itself
To Our Eyes Only.

The Self is an Archetype

The archetype of the self is the ‘product’ of an evolutionary development – we do not have a self, it has us once in a while 🙂
By archetype I mean a kind of constellation that psyche and cosmos have in common; they express themselves both in what we call reality and what we call our psyche – but more than that archetypes develop in this relatedness and at the same time (in)form it.

Around 7000 years ago (an estimate that I cannot explain right now) the archetype of the self appeared for the first time; it differentiated itself out of the archetype of the clan – the birth of individuality, the individual that could stand up to the gods… maybe this archetype is the one the ancient Greeks called Prometheus.

It appears to me as if presently a ‘new’ archetype is coming into being; it seems that what I call “between-us” and “we-consciousness” is very much part of this new constellation in cosmos & psyche… I really don’t know, but at times it is very clear to me.
Self-realisation would be the historic and personal prerequisite for this new archetype to appear on the evolutionary stage we’re on.
In self-realisation the song of praise of body, mind and spirit as one is sounded, and a true identity is forming when the personalities (inner child, controller, seeker and also the wise one etc.) are ready to become part of the choir; yes, once in a while the can sing a solo, but only once in a while and always as part of the choir as a whole. Individuation then would be the ’rounding’ of the archetype of the self in our psyche which expresses itself also in all kinds of synchronicities as all archetypes are inside and outside…

Archetypes last – they are not to be separated or isolated from existence and being (like disincarnated souls), and they are deathless yet evolving. As in our individuation or self-realisation the archetypes of, for instance, the ‘puer’ (what we call ‘inner child’ nowadays), the controller (in astrology that might be Saturn) and so on surrender to and become part of the rounded self – they don’t dissolve or ‘die’ - so in due time this archetype will become an organ of the now burgeoning archetype that I call “Between-Us”.

The Open Secret

14 billion years of evolution since the Big Bang.

This planet, the solar system, the Milky Way – our galaxy… an endlessly large universe.

This moment, this experience now, you and me… all time and space in a conspiracy to awaken in you and me right now.

And so immensely rich is this cosmos that it gives itself away every moment again – it cannot keep anything for itself. All change is a witness to the unending richness of the mystery called reality – so rich that every moment it has to give itself away.

All that we can have, you and me, is this moment – the experience, the consciousness, the surrender to this moment.

Cooperative Spirituality… a beginning

Picture by lorretineChildren at play
The summer group from July 1st untill 9th is behind us now. It was the first group after I definetly distanced myself from the ‘vertical spirituality’ which is how I now call the way that I myself have been taking for more than two decades; and it was the first group in which we could experiment with the new ways and means and most of all a new perspective on experience and life…
The spiritual crisis that I passed through these last two months (and which brought forth the posting “Abuse in spiritual circles” in June) has flowered into what I now call ‘cooperative spirituality’ since it isn’t fixed on some individual or collective ultimate (like enlightenemnt for instance) but rather proceeds from the understanding that life can be a continual development of ever widening horizons in which we are all participating as co-creators appreciating and honoring (German “wrdigen”) each other.
Therefor it is a deeply humane spirituality because it meets both the most divine of experiences as the divine in the other openly and compassionatly, without any bias. This is also based on the reckognition that I can only really meet others (men and gods alike) if I do not have an agenda, if I do not put them into some prefabricated structure in which one has IT and the other doesn’t (whatever IT might be).
The divine – or whatever one wants to call the ground of being (German “Urgrund”) – is inherent in all and everyone, it is immanent throughout. This is also a claim of vertical spirituality but it is hardly, if ever, put into practise. Yet in cooperative spirituality this goes without saying – due to the prime directive: Honor, appreciate (“wrdige”) all beings and phenomena as they appear.
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.
I learned how much a vertical spirituality protects against feeling my own vulnerability. Emptiness, not knowing, feeling powerless and vulnerable – all of this opens one to the present if one doesn’t strive for anything ‘higher’, if the journey doesn’t orient towards infinity but is open to the finite, impermanent and meeting the unknown in one self and the other.
And the beauty of all this is that none of the valuable experiences of vertical spirituality is lost – enlightenments, Satoris, catharsis, revelations, insights, realisations, unconditional love, streams of energy, experiencing beings of light, seeing auras. etc. all the true, beautiful and good is still there, and, or so it seemed to me, even with greater depth and intensity.
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.

Moving away from spirituality ‘old style’

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…

The Living Field

Published in the German magazines SEIN and Connection

The Living Field

Physics has discussed fields for some time but now the term has been discovered to be significant for spiritual life as well. Readers of CONNECTION will have some working knowledge about the ‘knowing field’ which is used to explain the remarkable phenomena that happen in family-constellations according to Bert Hellinger, an explanation that is closely connected to Rupert Sheldrake’s theory of the ‘morphogenetic field’ [derived from Greek: morphe=form, and genese=create]. Another well known field is the ‘Buddha-Field’, a term that gained wide spread popularity in spiritual circles through Osho’s Sannyasins. And then there is the ‘energy-field’ that I have been using in my “energy-work” since 1987, revealing a most interesting aspect of what fields can be for spiritual seekers.

Bert Hellingers family-constellations are so popular these days that I do not want to bore the readers of CONNECTION with another account of what goes on there. What happened in Osho’s Buddha-field is probably also well known, be it only by the rantings of the Bild-Zeitung or the Stern. The energy-field that I create in seminars and events is not so well known. And because it will play an important role in the further considerations I’d like to draw a short outline from my experience in this field quoting from a report by a friend of mine participating in a seminar in Amsterdam.

“It is the year 1988. We are in a large room, 150+ square meters. This is an open evening for Mushins seminar in Amsterdam and around 35 people are present. At first we were dancing to great music, and when it was over Mushin asked us to form a circle. Then he put a few people in our midst and touched them here and there, placing them in sometimes odd positions. He asked us to tune in to them while he went to the stereo equipment and put on a new cassette — strange and beautiful pop-music. Some people in the middle began to move weirdly and in slow-motion, others much faster. Someone fell to the floor — being caught by a helper. At some point I closed my eyes.

Mushin probably walked by the people in the circle, and must have passed and touched me for I felt a warm laser beam of light penetrating my chest. My legs gave in and gravity did the rest. I fell,  and while falling I dissolved in an endless white space, my sweet shining home. Tears rolled over my face. I was safe, this was home, it had my ‘temperature’; I was delighted. Everything showed its true face: being ONE, resting in itself, round, all-encompassing”

These and other illuminating experiences happen often in energy-fields, and sometimes they happen in other ‘spiritual fields’ as well, experiences that go way beyond the scope of our ideas and concepts about reality. I know from countless experiences that those who partake in the energy-field are catapulted beyond the limits of the personal. Being in this field thus is an alternative to the isolation in the prison of the small self, the ego.

Energy and Information
When I dived into the knowing field of a family-constellation for the first time many years ago I was deeply touched by the perfection that expresses itself in the soul of a family, through people who could not possibly know what they were expressing. The information and often strong feelings came from a source that obviously was not in them,  being representatives they gave voice to those they represented. I was, and I still am moved by the fact that the knowing field expresses the informative and social variable whereas the energy-field (whenever I use the term energy-field, I mean the field that I’m using in my ‘energy-work’) is its mystical expression. Where the soul during a family-constellation is moved by information and knowledge,  body and spirit are moved by energy in the energy-constellations I use. In both fields the movement goes beyond the normal limits and reveals the fact that we are part of much larger constellations than those of the small I.

An interesting connection between the knowing field and the energy field is the movements of the soul in Hellingers family-constellations and the ‘energy-movements’ in my type of constellations; there is a great similarity between the two types of being moved by the field itself. As much as energy-movements happen in family-constellations there is information and knowledge are revealed in energy-fields, spontaneous knowledge that enlightens people’s situation in life. When this became clear to me I could also see in my seminars and events how terrific these two approaches complemented each other, and I sought a better understanding. Not for the work in seminars. On the contrary, I have learnt from years of practical experience that this work grows with the measure in which I can empty my self, tuning in to and acting upon what reveals itself to me intuitively. (Hellingers terms for what I call intuition here is phenomenological view.) I would call this maybe taoist practise, and it happens without words and explanations entirely.

Yet, from this practise interpretations, ideas, concepts and theories accrue. These in turn do have influence on what I do in seminars but most of all on ordinary life, the life I share with most of humanity. On this level well founded concepts and understanding is important and desirable. And by the way, I’m sure that the insights and understandings one finds in taoistic practise can stand the test of reason without fail.

So I chewed on the topic, looked at it from many angles, spoke about it with friends and therapists/experts, and at some point I let it go. “It doesn’t really matter,” I said to myself, “how energy and information are connected,” and I also dropped the elegant but uninformative thought that information is energy in formation,  constellated energy. “Most important is that it works and that it helps people on their way.”
And then, all of a sudden it dawned on me that both energy-field and knowing-field must be the two aspects of one encompassing field, like the two sides of a coin, both poles of a circle, male and female. The energy field is as much an expression of something deeper as the knowing or morphogenetic field is; I have been calling this unified, spiritual field The Living Field.

If we approach the Living Field on the energy-level it expresses itself as it does in the kind of constellations that I facilitate. But if we approach it on the information-level it expresses itself as knowing field. Approached on the level of the formation of biological beings it expresses itself as morphogenetic field. The Living Field encompasses and is the source of the biology, the family, and the larger humanity as it moves with the energy we all share with each other and our surroundings. The Living Field is Soul and Energy of the moment, form, gestalt and dynamics, connectedness and movement. All of this is enmeshed and embedded in the Living Field no exceptions.

All is ONE, or what?

It is an absolute cliché in spiritual circles and it is true as well: All is one. And if we ask around we hear that many people have had this kind of experience. To put it in my present terminology: the Living Field has revealed itself in some depth. About 10 years ago around 60% of the responders on a questionnaire in the USA said that they have had a mystic experience. But we don’t have to look that far. Many participants in seminars or events that create effective energy fields do have mystical experiences of variable depths, my friend’s experience mentioned above is a good example for this. And now an interesting question arises: Why does not everyone lead an enlightened or awakened life after such an experience, but rather keeps on seeking as if this experience never happened?

After reflecting on my own spiritual development and the many mystical experiences that happened I can only say, “Because I didn’t trust my experience, it was too ‘alien’. I rather trusted the convictions I had won so far in my life.” I was convinced, for instance, that I had to have this experience of oneness all the time. But when I really looked into this concept it became obvious that the experience of a separated, isolated personality, the ego had to be part of wholeness because there can be nothing outside of the Whole. All experience is interwoven with the fabric of our being, connected with everything that forms the Whole. Whoever understands and accepts this doesn’t expect his experiencing to be other than it actually is, whichever way it might be, it is already part of the all encompassing whole, the experience of this oneness being as much part of the whole as is the experience of separation.
For spiritual seekers this means that there is no definite or absolute aim or goal. There can be no experience that ends the search but rather the understanding that all experiencing is part of the infinite landscape of being, an organic part of the Living Field in which it partakes. This insight when it has penetrated body and soul has amazing consequences, consequences that reveal the greatness of the mystery in which we are positioned.

Such an interpretation of what these fields are can relax you so that you are finally able to simply do and let be what is appropriate to the situation in which you find yourself in. In this view there is nothing left to be done, except of course all the pragmatic decisions and activities to which our life, our situation and our destiny prompt us.

Hieros Gamos

The first Circle of the Heart was quite an intense happening. 23 people followed my Invitation and were willing to experiment – an experiment that was to show all of us what “authentic community” really means.

My account of what happened during the first Circle can only be a general one. If you would like to know what it is like to commit yourself to be part of such a circle for 10 to 12 hours I can only recommend you participate in of one of the next Circles of the Heart (October, 23rd & December 3rd 2006).

During a Circle of the Heart a very natural process unfolds (a process that has much similarity to what happens in a personal meditation). In its first phase, the “pseudo-” or “cliché-phase“, in which the Living Field is still incoherent, we are convinced to be isolated from each other and the world. The group – in the beginning – acts as if it follows these rules: “Don’t say or do anything that could hurt someone. If somebody says anything that irritates or annoys you, act as if nothing has happened or as if it hasn’t really touched you. If differences of opinions arise, change the topic.” The purpose of these rules is to minimize differences between people or to ignore them, and not to get too close to others. To follow these rules curbs truthfulness and honesty. People speak in generalities, and let others get away with it.

As soon as the group understands that it is following these rules it drops them since they are experienced as being debasing, and thus individual differences cannot be ignored anymore. The group enters the second phase; it stumbles into confusion and reacts with fight or flight, with struggling or trying to escape. (The confusion seems to result from the awareness of being separated from others and the world, so one has to assert oneself and defend ones positions and opinions. In confusion one strives only to create a better constellation or “version” of already known forces and situations – a willingness to authentically change would put the foundation of ones security and safety at risk.)
The struggle is characterized by continually trying to convince and persuade, to convert and heal others from “wrong” points of view, and give then “good advice”. The whole struggle and strive is aimed at obliterating differences and winning others over to ones own position. In doing this the group doesn’t think of itself as struggling or fighting, rather – with “the best of intentions” – people want to help others… but they do so by means (like persuasion, conversion, healing, good advice, etc.) that don’t work.
When the group doesn’t struggle it looks for a way to escape from this confusion of separation. This “escapism” has many faces, among others the desire to control, to organise things; the groups looks for leaders, some people go for ostentatious independence, try to forge alliances with their partner or others in the group; they play question and answer games or make joking comments on what goes on. A new attempt to escape confusion – I call it ‘self–realisation’ – occurred when a member of the group (and then a few others) said, “I feel good when I express myself; I realize myself by doing so, that makes me feel wonderful.” These individual’s delight turned the rest of the group into a passive audience of their self-realization-alliance.
This confusion (which seems to be a good representation of the state of affairs of our civilisation) is based on fight and flight in its widest meaning. Both reactions are based essentially on preconceptions and judgements, on expectations and hopes or fears, following the adagio, “I am different from you, a unique and therefore isolated individual that is not one with you and the world. In essence I am totally alone.” The hope is, of course, that someone – a hero, teacher or master – or some happening – an illumination or insight – will allow one to escape from confusion, and the fear is that it will not happen (although one isn’t much aware of both tendencies in general).
By struggling and trying to escape one only manages to avoid the next step… a very uncomfortable step into the unknown.

When the group (or in private meditation the person) understands and acknowledges that it cannot satisfactorily organise chaos or transcend it by fight and flight, and that everything it has done so far has led it only into dead alleys – not being able to achieve some sense of “authentic community” (or “authentic self”) – all doors close on the group. As a consequence more and more members of the group are willing to acknowledge their failure, and they start to confess their feelings in this regard.
Now the third phase has begun, which can only be characterized as letting go. Because the “old ways” obviously don’t work there is nothing one can do but to give up ones ideas, possibilities and everything one thinks and holds dear. Into the silences that are now much more frequent than in previous phases, and intense rather than awkward, people speak of their true feelings; they say how they feel right now. They speak about their failures and their inability to do something about it. The group faces the facts…
And it looks as if the group has entered mourning – similar with the sorrows one experiences when separating from a partner that one does still hold very dear but with whom one simply cannot live and be together anymore. If the group is open to this grief, its helplessness and the pain it feels in this situation, without any other comfort than listening compassionately and without comment to each other – if the group can stand this uncertainty without trying to fix or heal it, if it can stand this emptiness without trying to fill it with the ways and means of confusion, if it goes willingly into this darkness…

… by and by other voices sound out of the silence, “It is wonderful to just sit here and listen. I feel held and carried.” “I feel a delightful peace.” “There is a deep silence and openness inside.” In the fourth phase it slowly becomes apparent to all – authentic community. (In meditation one could call this phase ‘authentic self’.) In this We the individuality isn’t dissolved but rather embedded in a new context. Somebody maybe says, “It appears as if we are one body with many heads and arms and legs…” Or, “I can feel you inside me.”
The Living Field is now coherent, and one can feel that one is part, or better still: an organ of a greater, living whole; one feels to be embedded in it. And it is clear to everyone that this unity was not created but rather the group has stumbled upon what is already there, “It is as if the hand becomes aware that it belongs to the body. All it let go of was the conviction that it is something special/separate.” People speak of the unconditional love they feel, of a free and open space in which everything and everyone can be as they really are, of a deep feeling of fulfillment, of the endless richness of being related. The unity in the midst of diversity comes to the foreground, and is celebrated times and again with a rich and beautiful shared silence.

This phase can without exaggeration be called hieros gamos (divine marriage), and due to its fecundity it leads quite naturally to the fourth phase, the phase of inspiration. It is indeed inspiring to listen to the living unity, to the authentic We. How does it want to express itself? What does it tell me/us? What does it want to show me/us? How is it manifesting itself in life?” We can get a sense of seeds of our ‘future’ coming into being. We listen for what wants to realize and manifest in the manifold, diverse life: ways maybe that give meaning to our life, because we now have a heartfelt intuition for how to serve the Greater Whole – out of the living unity come occasions how to co-create the True, Beautiful and Good.
The experience is deep, powerful and clear – if we listen to the living unity that we now feelingly belong to we can again, and maybe for the first time really, use what in the confusion-phase only served our isolation, and the glorification of our self and our own point of view. Now the purpose of organization is not to hold chaos at bay anymore but it serves the development and unfolding of all beings (whatever they may be). Now different views serve our mutual enhancement and the widening of our horizon instead of restriction and segregation. The hierarchical pecking order gives way to a holarchy where greater talents, abilities or skills do not support the rule of one over the other anymore but rather they help everyone to unfold within the frame of his or her possibilities, serving the integration of the entire spiral of life’s evolution. The wish for control and the will of separate persons and their interests gives way to the desire to follow the tendencies of the “coherent, living field”.

This can lead into the fifth phase of crystallisation in which talents and resources group themselves around the seeds planted in the fourth phase, like atoms assembling around a crystal. This phase unfolds only when the group (or the person in meditation) wishes to create something concrete – a project, a company, an organisation, a prototype or a process. This flows into the sixth phase of feed-back in which the new (a project, etc.) opens to what “the universe” or the context has to add or say. And the seventh phase finally is that of manifestation or realisation.

Because the first prototype of the Circle of the Heart (which itself is now in its sixth phase in this process) last Wednesday was not aimed at creating something in this manner I want to leave it to further experience which factors and developments are paramount in these phases. It seems obvious, though, that they differ from the former in that they need much more time to fully develop, thus probably being infused with more “Mini-Circles” (phases 1 – 4) that we have discussed more in depth here.

Finally I would like to communicate a few notes I’ve made during the first Circle of the Heart.

  • In all phases I follow the process itself; no matter what I have already experienced and what I know about it, I let it go and listen to the phenomena as they unfold.
  • Time and again I’m surprised and delighted by the effectiveness and precision by which the process itself navigates us through these phases. In the second phase I just reported a few times to the group which of the seeming ways out are actually not so, and this only after the group has sufficiently tried these ways and landed in a blind alley… I only speak after they’ve actually experienced this, and serve the group by pointing out what they already know. (I highlight the obvious. And it was helpful to set times in which I was allowed to “intervene” next – for instance at 3 o’clock and then again at 3:45.)
  • In the first phase it was helpful for the group to be told the “rules of artificial community” (see phase 1).
  • In the end of the third, beginning of the fourth phase it was helpful to say that it pained me to see how when somebody showed “a broken heart” others tried to heal or comfort them.