Integral We-Fullness – A Trialogue (The We of Us – Part 2)

TogetherThe last trialogue The We of Us [alas, link no longer functioning] was published here on May 21st. Since then there has been two posts by Michel Bauwens of the P2P-Foundation on his blog; one in which he talks about my post “We are the Next Buddha” and one where he looks at Helen’s post “The Next Buddha will be a Collective” (which sparked of my post after I realized that we already are the Next Buddha). Also there have been quite a few interest comments added to the posts in this interwoven thread on “We-Fullness” as we’ve started to call the emerging melody which I encourage you to look at.
Bruce — whom we hope can participate in our next we-alogue — has added significant and beautiful posts on Deep Dialogue (Part 1 & Part 2), and now 3 incredibly helpful posts on The Flowering of Intersubjectivity (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3).
Helen has also looked a bit closer at one of the topics we touched upon in our last trialogue, the question “Could there be a hierarchy of collective Buddhas“?

In this trialogue we talk about the young integralists, the fastness of the ego and development, we touch on trails of breadcrumbs and helpful stories, the art and discipline of we-full living,portable sacred spaces, connecting loops and what We-culture is,learning from ourselves and finally some interweaving. Helen is in Brussels, Doug in Berkley, California and Mushin in a little village near Prague in the Czech Republic.

After saying hello and some preliminary remarks about the quality of our connection …

Doug: I have been sharing the We a lot with young people from New Zealand. There are 20 people from New Zealand here for a youth retreat. It is called a collaboratory: Youth Insight Collaboratory.Starts this afternoon.The youth have been gathering the last three days in California coming from three continents.

Helen: How many will you be?

Doug: A community of 40+, with American youth and adult members, and then some volunteers who will take some of us on a beach outing.This all comes from the same moment I met Morel (one of the organizers of the Edge of Emergence meeting were we 3 connected for the fist time).From the same gathering.

Mushin: And I just want to mention that there are interesting people engaging with our conversation some of which we will surely invite to participate in some of our future we-alogues.

Now we take a moment of silence — the way we like to start these we-alogues.

Doug: I want to tell about this room full of these young people being absorbed into this awareness.In the meditation we had, and they showed up.

Helen: How did you experience that, Doug?

Doug: A lot of light. And also I have been evidencing with them a lot of connectedness to their body.They are very attentive and they have been flying across the world, so they take care of their body to be awake.
I was up early this morning and I ran into some of them, and they were responding to how present they were since time they have had arrived.They are in their young 20s.

Mushin: One of the persons who wrote comments on our last trialogue, Lynn, she is also 23, I saw in her profile.Young people seem to be catching up on that We-fullness rather early.

Helen: Yes, it’s the integral babies;Even if they haven’t found it yet they are very awake and bright souls.

Mushin: I feel called in this regard to create a trail of breadcrumbs, by that I mean us finding metaphors and story-lines so that it can somehow pave the way so We-fullness can easily flourish without people having to go through crystallizing ego structures.Do you think that’s possible?

Helen: I don’t know, because the ego is so fast that sometimes it gets there first; it works so fast that actually it gets a hold of things before they hit our awareness.Our direct experience gets labeled and fragmented almost before we perceive it, in between our perception of it and when it hits our brain it gets labeled and fragmented. But there is something else that is coming to me now.An inquiry whether or not that matters; because if we are present holding that we-full space then anybody coming into the field,whether they perceive it or not is being permeated and drenched in that space, a bit like sheepdip — there is a metaphor for you :-).

Mushin: As you were speaking about the fastness of the ego and fragmenting I was also thinking, “If we are holding the container it really doesn’t matter for the We.” But it does matter for the individual, the single person.I guess that’s where the bread crumb metaphor comes in.There needs to be a kind of collaboration of the ego function, or the individuality with the We, and for that to happen the ego needs good reason, that is, good stories.I think the ego lives by and through stories.Good stories will somehow help it feel the the goodness of that collaboration.I think the ego is always best motivated with goodies.

Helen: I have just been revisiting a paper by Susann Cook-Greuter about the nine stages of ego development, and in particular where she describes the higher, unitive stages, the Alchemist and the Ironist she calls them.The description of those stages is based on her research, people demonstrate those stages.It is fascinating how she describes the relationship between the consciousness and the ego.Susann Cook-Greuter is one of the leading development psychologists, she is one of students of Loevinger.

Doug: I have one other thing to bring from what we are saying a few minutes ago.When you talked about the bread crumbs and storylines… I’ve been a conscious of the role of one that has journeyed on the way to elderhood relative to the youth that I guide as my mission.I am very aware of being a storyteller when I’m in their presence.The stories just come out in the moment, and these young people are incredibly present to the stories and the teachings therein.And then they’re commenting, loving the stories.This is about Wu wei, action without action — in the way of being that I am with them in that role there is a telling of the stories as a way of transmission that is called forth in their learning journey.They love that, so that happened this morning…

Mushin: As you’re speaking about stories, breadcrumbs and storylines, I am considering that we-fullness and the We we are talking about is a new storyline.And just as the old stories have been told by good storytellers, and I think we as elders to young people…We tell stories.I often find myself doing that also, mostly stories of my life, experiences or stories that I’ve read.This is not so much a mutual storytelling, it is still one-way.The we-fullness is there, having a focus on that now I can experience it, but I doubt that it is experienced in the sense that we are having and focusing on; they experience it as a beautiful atmosphere which accompanies storytelling occasions.So what we are doing here now is — the We spinning new stories.And that seems to be an art that we are learning.

Helen: Can you tell more about this art?

Mushin: Take our conversations here: They differ from ordinary conversations because they are contemplative, that means as we are speaking we are aware of the speaking, and we are aware of each other and the nonlocal we-fullness, and we are consciously upholding it.So that would be part of this art.
Michel Bauwens in his post picked up on your term pattern cohorts… What emerges in we-fullness is patterns.And we are unpacking these patterns rendering them to each other in the story of we.

Helen: I keep having this image of Indra’s net where each of the stories reflects all the other stories and is reflected in them.That implies we are weaving some kind of Indra’s net with the conversations we are having, and with the way in which we are tracking other conversations and weaving them together, detecting the patterns in these different stories and holding them up so that people can see them. But not only the patterns in their own stories but also the shared patterns.And this is basically what Michel has done.He has picked up our conversation and is showing it to his interlocutors, saying, “Look, these people are talking about the same thing and they are taking it up in these languages and words, and here is the gateway into their conversation.” — it is nice to find soulmates.

Doug: From the time we first met until now I am quite conscious that in describing this part of my lifestyle recently or choosing to bring the story of the trialogues and the we-fullness to someone, that this invokes a sacred space.It’s quite subtle, but there’s a different quality in the choice to tell what we’re doing and to invite someone to open up to what is We.Sometimes I really miss we.The field is strong enough so I am conscious of the gap…

Helen: What is coming to me right now, and we’ve mentioned it a couple of times before, “Where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am to.” We have convened this We and it is always there and not only for me — before I laughingly have referred to myself sometimes as a portable sacred space… but this has become three times stronger, and I’m noticing it in the way people respond; it’s as if this we-ness has become a dominant part of my personality.

Mushin: When I consider how this We influences me then it’s almost as if I’m becoming a spokesman towards other people who still see themselves as a lonely isolated I.Immediately or almost automatically, this is how I connect to Helen saying that it has become dominant, I take others in to the We that we are.And it is being sensed, and it is being felt I think. If you use Indra’s web instead of Indra’s net, it’s as if one immediately starts to weave a person in to the web, into the We.

Helen: What degree of volition or will is needed by the other in order to stay in the We?

Mushin: If I look at my history, where I am at now, it is the result of a development.Resulting from this development there is a voluntary focusing on the We, holding the We — like you say, Helen, I’m a portable sacred space. It’s intentional.It’s a doing that is becoming more and more automatic, but there are times when there is tensions with friends or my girlfriend so then there is a stronger willfulness needed to come back to the We.
But for others to stay in the We…You would need to have a kind of grounded basic feeling of being embraced by a bigger We, and then embracing this bigger We yourself, turning that into a discipline, a daily discipline of often looking at the we-fullness or we-emptiness of a situation.Some situations are not very full of We so you bring it in and other situations are we-full so you don’t have to bring it.

Helen: Through the habitual filters of the egoic mind, why would one want to be in a We — there is this whole groupthink…?

Mushin: Because you don’t want to be alone. Talking with my girlfriend Janshi recently about what in systemic thinking is a concept of loops… I’m using that concept in my training; we are working on loops of our basic assumptions, believing in something and also something else, and then there are tensions between these beliefs. And yet this tension is also creating a kind of balance; so I asked my girlfriend, “What do you think this balance is for?” And she said, “It’s aim is to be connected to others, connected well.” And as she was saying that I saw that this is a very natural tendency. If for instance you give children no chance to talk to you or relate to you, to be we-full with you, then if they’re small enough they will even die.So it’s obvious that the psyche is absolutely predestined for we-fullness.

Helen: As we hold that we-space and expand it around us even non-localy… as we hold the we-space that we have created with each other people feel it and they do come into it.And you’re right, there is something that is part of our birthright and part of what we are being called into as the next stage of our development. It is possible that if you’re walking into that field that your sensory mechanism, your energetic mechanism is going to pick it up and resonate with it whether or not you know how to interpret it with your egoic are rational mind. How you going to interpret it depends on your developmental filters.But fact is that you will feel it.It will be picked up in some way and that puts you in an altered state of consciousness ever so slightly.

Doug: Have you heard of David Suzuki, the Canadian environmental cosmologist? There is a metaphor for the field we are talking about and the effect of we-fullness on those in our surrounding; this is a scientific analogy that comes from him.Molecules of the breath that I breathed in in Japan within hours are breathed in and become part of beings in Vancouver. Our life energies is merged and integrated with the same stuff molecularly with those of beings all over the world within hours.

Mushin: That makes me think of Masaru Emoto, the Japanese man working with water crystals and resonances.If we claim for air the same properties that he claims for water then we breathe spirit into each other; inspire, inspirare, “breathing together.” That’s going on all of the time and has been going since the beginning.So there must be a difference to that situation now as we are coming to We-culture.So is what we’re doing now creating a We-culture, turning this into a We-culture?

Doug: It is very simple, “What do we as a society put our attention on?”We do this by choice, so we-fullness can become a choice.Therefore being an accelerator of the formation of we-culture is an elemental choice of beings.

Helen: This is waking something up in me in the moment, saying, “What do we choose to pay attention to?”

Doug: It’s a very powerful phrase.What do I have my attention on? Then you can direct it.Shaping and influencing in leadership is about calling into question what does the group have their attention on? And then it instantly shifts…

Mushin: Self-consciousness means being conscious of yourself, then we-consciousness is being conscious of us, us-consciousness is being conscious of the We that we are.We are moving from self-consciousness to we-consciousness in some way, and as we are putting more and more attention on that then the we-consciousness inevitably will grow.

Helen: It’s a learning curve.Basically we are becoming consciously competent at holding the We, and there are times when you need to hold it consciously and other times when it’s more automatic.So that is the learning curve.And it is incredible how much faster one learns when one is awake.

Mushin: We can actually learn from ourselves… how easy that is!Much easier than learning from some other. If I had to learn from somebody else there is always the possibility of resistance, my ego and their ego, who is right and who is wrong, and all that stuff.But when we are learning from ourselves,there is none of that resistance.

Helen: This is something I’m learning with a colleague. Since we did the Women moving the Edge there is a very strong sense of a We… once you’ve had this extraordinary experience like we had, once you’ve been through the eye of the needle, you don’t get back again.

Mushin: The first time I really experienced this was 15 years ago.And I forgot all about it, I didn’t remember any of this anymore, it just disappeared.I remembered that there was something special there, the sense of being together but really I forgot all about it.This brings me back to the breadcrumbs and we-culture… at the time of the first experience of this I was busy with quite another story.It was the story of my personal enlightenment. I was concerned with moving up the ladder of a spiritual conquest, of spiritual development, of being able to doing this and that, to meditate deeply, etc.So my attention was very much on myself.And even having had that we-experience didn’t change that.Somehow it needed the development of the last 15 years for me to be ready and willing to create a we-culture and not be so concerned about myself.

Doug: There is a power and a limitation in the illusion and fantasy of progress that you were caught up in in the past, and in its essence it’s very self-oriented

Helen: And yet you have to go through it.

Mushin: That brings me back to the young integralists. It seems that our job as elders is to create we-full containers and we-cultural memes and powerful stories.I think this ego development of trying to conquer Mount Kailash, climb the Himalayas and do this whole heroic story is necessary, at least for men.What is valid for both genders, to reach my happiness, to first be happy myself and to then spread it.Thinking about Robert Kegan’s curriculum for fourth level consciousness, on that level it is all about self, self-empowerment, self-trust, self-reliance… so the question is, and this is maybe something for the next trialogue, how to embed this quest for self empowerment, self-reliance and so on which is absolutely needed in my view, how to embed it in such a way in we-fullness and we-space that as you’re climbing your personal Mount Everest that you can easily jump off any place on the mountain into the we-space, and to be embedded, to be embraced and even empowered on this journey, being encouraged on this self-journey that eventually will come to an end.

Doug: I would like to introduce you to one of the youngsters from down under. (Doug introduces us to Karl and him to us.)

Karl: It’s really a privilege to join you. Doug showed me the transcript or montage of the trialogue you were having, and I am enthralled. I’m with these 20 young people, and we are looking at how we shape the future and the spaces between us… (long silence)

Helen: This silence is also a part of our trialogues (I usually don’t transcribe these silences 🙂 ; Mu.).

Mushin: We-fullness is also emerging from the interweaving of silence and words coming through one person or the other — opening up, different colors coming through different voices — whereas the silence, of course, comes through all of us. (Silence)

Helen: I am getting such a surge of spirit right now. Just hearing Karl speaking about what these young people are gathered together to do.

(After Sam, another young man from down-under says hello to us it is time for Doug to start the retreat and we finish this trialogue.)

The We of Us

(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.

 

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.

A Collective Emergence – a deep view into Andrew Cohens teaching

As part of his Evolutionary Enlightenment Teachings the spiritual teacher Andrew Cohen in an article “A Collective Emergence” speaks about what others have called “Circle Being” (Otto Scharmer), “Community Building (Scott Peck), “Circle of the Heart” etc.

Andrew Cohen is talking, of course, about what happens within the framework of a certain context — that is, people sitting together in a circle and relating to each other most of all verbally. This is an important distinction to make as the path taken into the process Andrew is speaking about plays, of course, an important role in how the “collective emergence” then will communicate/commune with and between us. As a person who is experienced using the way Andrew and his students are exploring the emergent collective (see: hieros gamos) but most of all experienced using quite a different method (I call it “Dynamic Presencing“) for exploring this emergent I think it important to explore his ideas about this phenomenon.

Andrew sets the stage by stating what consciousness is, “the intersubjective field that we all share.” I come from the point of view that there is a mystery between us that shows up in our individual consciousness, and then, when the process comes to fruition, steeps the individual in a more encompassing and all embracing consciousness. The “between-us” is a mystery, though, and taking it to actually be consciousness is premature and probably mistaken. We’ll come back to that in a while.

Andrew then says, “You should begin to ask yourself: What is it that captivates your attention?” But why should we ask this question; from my and other’s experience, there are many other interesting questions to ask to get the process going. And, by the way, I don’t think there is much respect for the participants and their authentic questions in Andrews should.

He then goes on to tell us what we will discover if we are “authentically engaging with the process”. But why pose a question or start an inquiry if you already know the answer? And again, I don’t think it is showing much respect to the emergent between-us or the people participating in the inquiry when we’re told what we’ll find if we authentically engage; there is a value judgment implicit in this statement, it says that any other outcome isn’t authentic. If we go for authenticity of all participants than it cannot be up to one person to judge who is, and who is not authentic in the process, rather it requires a much more open view and way of questioning.

He is right, surely and beautifully so, when he says, that ‘here’ we are oriented radically different in our relating to others, as we are primarily relating within the intersubjective consciousness itself. But then he again tells us what will happen to the concepts we may be exploring (the ones he said we should be exploring to begin with), that is, these concepts become secondary. But what if it is our concept to explore what actually is between us? What if we are relating to each other what is our individual take on the emergent “being”,  the “circle being” as some explorers call it?

He says, “The concepts are just what you use to manipulate the field.” But this concept,  the concept of manipulation, is flawed already. To sit together in a round of people “to engage directly with the development of consciousness” as the “intersubjective field” is already a manipulation if we take Andrew by his word, because this too is a concept.
I’m not using Andrews’s concepts when I configure a constellation for inquiring into the mystery between-us through Dynamic Presencing. I have another concept, the concept of non-verbal kinesthetic inquiry that mostly I use. Or I have the concept that ‘in the end’ we’ll be arriving at experiencing the “Circle Being” first hand.
The point I’m getting at: There is no way to not manipulate the field, as the very way we constellate ourselves (for instance by sitting in a circle and talking / being silent) is already manipulating, or if you don’t think the term is applicable, how we constellate the field is already based on certain concepts, or at the very least incorporating a particular set of concepts (and not others).

I very much like when then he says, “You find that you are one step ahead of even what you understand, and you discover that you are spontaneously acting and responding from a much more intuitive dimension of yourself.”
Yes, in all the ways that I have explored the mystery between-us so far, and I do that in many different ways nowadays (Dynamic Presencing, Circles of the Heart, heart-to-heart-dialogues, but also very much in ordinary life when meeting with any person, more and more there is this element even if not made explicit; matter of fact: it is great to inquire into the between-us without making that an explicit point of the meeting),  there is this element of coming from a deeper dimension of ‘myself’, or, using the language of voice-dialogue: A more loving-enlightened personality is called upon and relating.

I’m critical about his use of the ego-concept which I’ll talk about later, but I really object to his idea that by this process “our attention gradually moves from being focused only on the individual to becoming attuned to the collective, until finally it is drawn directly to the field of consciousness itself.”
I object because he does not distinguish between “the field of consciousness” and “attuned to the collective”. It shows that he believes that the ‘between-us’, which basically is the mystery we are exploring, is “a field of consciousness” whereas I’m sure that consciousness is blissfully included but the between-us is much more encompassing than consciousness. It is certainly not a field of … (whatever you want to put on the dots).
For us, of course, it turns up,  it appears, manifests in consciousness very much, blissfully so as everyone who has been there will most likely say, but it’s a world of difference to then take the field to be consciousness into which then “our attention” is “finally drawn”. There is no finality whatsoever in this process as far as I can see, and even if it were, being very much at the beginning of this exploration it is way too early to state such finalities. I can understand, though, that Andrew would make such a statement as this concept of “the field of consciousness” fits with the ‘evolutionary enlightenment’ that is his main business.

Andrew, in his appraisal of the phenomena he encounters in the process as he is practicing it, turns ethical and moral, saying, “This [honor and uphold the higher level] is the moral imperative inherent in the evolutionary process at the leading edge. If the individual feels obligated to sustain his or her highest attainment, which has occurred in an intersubjective context, then individual transformation becomes the only moral response to the collective emergence.”
He obviously likes to be “leading edge” which probably fits well with his personality-type. He also likes “evolutionary process”, particularly because he obviously thinks he already knows where it’s going. I am not so certain; I’m still taking the questions serious, not wanting to rush into answers that don’t come out of the process itself, also reflecting on what instruments and procedures we use in the process and how these determine the between-us that then emerges.

In a process in which the between-us moves to the foreground of our awareness in such a way that it becomes almost tangible to all who are present and participating, what we experience is of high value to the individual, and most likely it will be honored and upheld, if a supporting structure in the person and their surrounding has been somewhat established. What happens more often though, alas, is that it takes many dives into these spiritual or mystical realms before a person finds suitable structures to to sustain the value gained, and turn it into a way of life.

But how do you “sustain his or her own highest attainment, which has occurred in an intersubjective context?”, which is Andrews’s moral imperative, if, as he says himself, “In an ideal world, each individual would spontaneously feel…”
He apparently himself knows that we do not live in an ideal world, so his imperative is not a reality here in this imperfect world we live in.

So when Andrew goes on to tell us why this process will demand that everyone partaking in it transforms, and that this “moral obligation is not imposed from without; it is spontaneously generated within each individual by the intersubjectively revealed higher potential itself,” he is stating the obvious.
Whoever has dipped into the ocean of spiritual delight by whatever means, be it through the ministries of what emerges between-us under certain circumstances or be it through some meditation, catharsis or meta-noia, will feel obliged to transform towards being more in alignment with what has disclosed itself. And this is always generated within each individual, always, because that is also the one that then transforms the individual.
This could only be a surprise to a guru like Andrew who still believes that the Master or the Enlightened somehow effect people’s transformations from ‘outside’ (that actually there is no inside and outside or subject and object is another matter I have discussed elsewhere). So here goes Andrew, “Could there be a greater challenge for the ego? And yet it’s not coming from an external authority.” And we all can know that Andrew sees himself as great, and at times even physically violent, challenger of the ego (whatever that means beyond being the repository of everything one doesn’t like, or what stops one from being/becoming enlightened; the ego being the most abused term in present day spirituality — nobody likes it, everyone believes it must be gotten rid of; it is the arch-enemy of the spiritual; but is it?).

A realistic process of inquiry into the mystery between-us is not centered around concepts that Andrew holds most dearly: “Evolutionary Enlightenment”, “the true teacher” or “Authentic Self” — nevertheless, of course, it is perfectly legitimate to inquire into the between-us like that, surely what emerges there can provide participating individuals with deep insights into what these questions mean for them and the living field. But it is not really opening up to the possibilities of, nor does it show much respect for, the between-us if one already acts as if one knows what the answers to these concepts or questions will be, and from everything he writes here, it is clear that Andrew thinks he does.

If there is one thing the between-us is not, it is the guru-principle. Learning occurs, even very deep and transforming learning. I know for it is this very living field that has been decisive in my migration from being some kind of guru / spiritual teacher myself to being a companion and a friend for some, moving away from vertical spiritual concepts to relational ones; this is what opening up to the mystery between-us has done in my life.