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Sep 05 2009

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Ecstasy at the Gates of Ecological Hell

CHINA ENVIRONMENT POLLUTION RECYCLINGEvery evening, when time for reflection and contemplation comes, desperation sets in. And it’s getting worse every day, ever since I’m in the loop of ecology and world change activists’ free-style mail groups. I think it started for real after reading some of the posts on “preparing for civilization’s collapse” – that friend Dave Pollard links to at times. – Anyway, I’m desperate, getting more desperate by the day.

So here they are, all my world change friends. Brilliant, active, moved by concern for planet, society, living creatures in suffering everywhere – some of them singing their final farewell songs as they go extinct. We all know this, anybody that can afford to stay connected through media – which is everybody that is creating her/his part of the challenge we face… We all know in our marrow, and it’s saddening our soul in its depths, we’re on a path of death and destruction. We’re well on our way to oblivion, and to waste go all the wonderful flowers of civilization everywhere on this planet. We all know this song, and many of us care – more and more people feeling concerned, and some act, and some cry, and some prepare for civilization’s collapse.

I’m in the loop, as I said, I’m getting around 10 emails per day that diagnose the disaster and offer ways to deal with it; some are bleak, others urgent calls, again others more positive. But all of us could read all day and all night about this and never come to the end of the sounds of alarm and requiems of loss and a few signals of hope. We could work all day and all of the night and never even come close to answering the tiniest fractions of the calls…

CHINA-ENVIRONMENT-POLLUTION-TRANSPORT-AUTOThere are a thousand great plans that promise to help. There are a million fantastic, creative voices. Leaders, activists, spiritual and post-metaphysical women and men all over the planet. We’re all shouting and pointing in a thousand different directions. “Let’s go!” we say, “We need to be on our way! It’s urgent.” And we’re right, aren’t we?! So, “Let’s unite!” — And hundreds of banners are raised in the field and shouts go out to “Rally here! Unite! We’re in this together!”
But what is this?
Authentic chaos has broken loose, and all the well meaning attempts to take the lead only create more confusion and chaos.

I know, I need to face this – too long have I avoided seeing the obvious. Too long have I thought that if we would all just use this tool or that, align ourselves along these lines or those, all would be well. And now I see, even though we do – we do our very, very best – it’s still authentic chaos, confusion and running around, getting more desperate all the time. Despair constricts my throat. Tears well up. There’s nothing I can do anymore. There’s nothing you can do. There’s nothing, really we can do at all to end this descent into a chaotic hell, where everybody really does their best and nothing gets done…

paul_damato_03And I see – we’re being broken. Those of us, allowing ourselves to see this – we break, and mourn… in our heart a requiem wells up for all our individual possibilities, our creativity, our brilliance, what each and everyone of us could think of and do. I accept.

This is what always happens when the second phase ends and the third phase unfolds in a process I know so very well – it has several names, depending whom you ask, but in the fifth phase of it “collective consciousness” is born, the circle-being, the “critter in the middle”.

And now I’m filled with elation, all of a sudden I’m in ecstasy: All our individual plotting and planning must run its course until it comes to an end, our own brilliance and knowing what’s best – even if we’re absolutely sure it is so. Everything we can think of and do as separate individuals must be shown and experienced to be insufficient to the challenge, and then from our collective unconsciousness it can emerge, collective consciousness!

And I’m elated today as I was ecstatic last night: It all falls into place, our ecological and social crisis, the impossibility to get the willing on one page or even in one book, our evolution as a species… It’s clear what some of us need to do to help us all transform to the next phase of human life and civilization on Earth.

___________

The process I allude to could be called “awakening in collective consciousness”. It has played an important role in my development from being a traditional (be it non-conventional) guru or ‘spiritual teacher’. I’ve written about it some years ago when I experimented with it to arrive at “authentic community“. Then and there, when we had passed through the fourth phase somebody put it very succinctly, “It appears as if we are one body with many heads and arms and legs.” Collective consciousness had taken us in. Not swallowed us but rather everyone of us had become a living, vibrant member of something tangible that embraced and transcended us – something experienced by everyone in the room.

From what I’ve learnt since it is unmistakable when it’s there – when you’re still asking yourself, “Is this it?” you can be sure it’s not. You do not need any special training to discern it, it’s “in your face”, and you sense, feel and know it immediately, no matter what you believe, how much meditation or philosophy you’ve done or haven’t done – and it doesn’t matter if you’re spiritual inclined or not, either.
You might think about it differently, you might draw different conclusions from experiencing and being embedded in this collective awareness, but the very ‘fact’ of it is as unmistakable as waking up in the morning and knowing that you are…

Collective-Consciousness-Sadness-GaiaAs many others I’m convinced that we’re going through a momentous evolutionary period and the ecological hell we’re collectively creating on this planet is that face of reality that has become impossible to ignore. Yet a deeper aspect of reality seems to be that in and through humanity an evolution towards collective consciousness is possible. There are many good reasons to think so, here I only want to mention the evolutionary pressure the ecological predicament exposes us to.

Our planet’s ecology is an amazingly complex affair and it involves many strands of influences that dynamically interact. Not only the web of life is extremely complex, also the web of human politics is so, and if we take some other webs interacting with this, the very idea that any number of brilliant individuals might rise to the challenge is hilarious. The web of life is out of control, and our human influence is pushing it towards an ecological hell. And again, there is no way to get that under control. But, and here is my personal hope after last night’s elation, evolution is already formulating an answer – self-organizing some of us into testing grounds for the emergence of a collective intelligence, which might be complex enough to rise to the challenge we face.

I’ll end this post with indicating what I’ve learnt in the Circles I facilitated. The process that clearly is conducive to the emergence of collective consciousness can be shown to have seven phases:

  1. Recognition that the “old ways” don’t work
    In the first phase people are usually kind and polite to each other. This phase comes to an end once it is generally understood that artificial kindness and civilized responses don’t work, and that a deeper authenticity is a minimum requirement on the way forward.
  2. Chaos
    People authentically struggle to come to good results; discerning & acknowledging what is “really going on”, trying to work things out. Alliances are wrought, leaders work with persuasion, ‘acting as if’ counterfeit ‘collective awareness’ is tried and fails, everything in the book and more is used to try to mend, fix or heal the situation. Yet, collective consciousness is not achieved. This phase usually lasts longest of all phases but is finally overcome as more and more people give up trying to realize it their way or by following others and confess their failure in getting ‘things under control’ or ‘making collective consciousness’ happen.
  3. Mourning, brokenness
    In this phase a sense of utter failure often appears; we can’t do anything to make it happen. Sometimes people cry. Often people move back to the second phase trying to mend and heal the ones who accept their brokenness and inability to ‘do it’. A sense of gloom can become quite strong. Yet, when enough people are letting go of their ideas, interpretations, theories, opinions of what needs to happen and allow themselves to be with “I don’t know”, with their helplessness, the next phase gels.
  4. Silence, turning point
    Slowly the mourning over failure, the feeling of defeat is replaced with a sense of peace, the peace that comes with accepting ‘things as they are’. As more and more people start to listen to simply being together in peace, to this ‘silent center’ we all share… something emerges that after a while is clearly perceived, sensed, felt, known by everybody as it gets deeper and stronger. And then it is utterly and unmistakingly clear…
  5. Collective Consciousness is discovered
    Elation even ecstasy is felt, “We are one body and mind with many heads.” A sense of celebration pervades the room. We finally know what it is! Conversations are of an amazing deep and authentic kindness, everything that formerly was a matter of morals or learnt behavior becomes fluid and natural.
  6. Living Field Zone – What do WE want?
    If the collective has enough time and space to go on beyond the celebration of our embodied consciousness and unity it can look into its collective desire and what WE want. Very complex matters are seen as beautiful challenges and people very easily find their role and resources to act upon the collective desire.
  7. Realization
    In this phase the immediate sense of collective consciousness moves to the background as what one has decided to engage in as member of that collective moves to the foreground.

These link to what I’ve written about the general topic of the Living Field, Community and Collective Consciousness – I would hope that you would put your links around this topic in your comments. Thank you.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.mushin.eu/en/blog/ecstasy-at-the-gates-of-ecological-hell/

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  1. Dredd

    “As many others Im convinced that were going through a momentous evolutionary period and the ecological hell were collectively creating on this planet is that face of reality that has become impossible to ignore.”

    For sure.

    Check out: http://ecocosmology.blogspot.com/2009/09/tenets-of-ecocosmology.html

    1. Mushin

      Except using this blog as a spring board to reach yours, is there anything more in depth that you wanted us to know?

  2. Helen Titchen Beeth

    Interestingly enough, I just participated in a ‘political constellation’ ( la Hellinger) about the Copenhagen climate negotiations in which we went through exactly these phases… it was quite spooky. Nobody knew what was going on, and we just enacted it spontaneously. It wasn’t until afterwards that i realised what had happened.

    1. Mushin

      These stages come from observing what happens if you allow the dynamics of a ‘living field’ to unfold naturally. And I’ve facilitated hundreds of Hellingerian constellations and thousands much more formless ones (the type that he and people in his tradition call ‘movements of the soul’) ones – the seven (or five, if you take some of them as one pahes) phases of the sequence I’ve sketched in the post are also akin to the phases that Otto Scharmer describes in “Presencing” as the U-process.
      I think it’s safe to say that this is an evolutionary sequence, or ‘path of least resistance’ – what happens when systems go ‘chaotic’ and re-form on a higher, more encompassing level; only this time we experience it both from the ‘inside’ and are bordering on participating in a we-consciousness. That, at least would be my interpretation of the pattern surfacing here.

      I find, what you’re saying intriguing; would it be ok to say a little more of the learnings from this particular constellation?

  3. csd70

    I'd disagree about the chaos. There's a few projects where the "center does hold":
    • 350 Day on October 24th 350.org
    • The Transition Town movement

    Are you saying that Rob Hopkins, Joanna Macy and Bill McKibben fall in the category of ludicrous leaders? "ALL [without any exceptions anywhere] the well meaning attempts to take the lead only create more confusion and chaos."

    I'm surprised you didn't mention Paul Hawken and his book Blessed Unrest.
    I feel there's a global movement of common sense under way, and many participants are cross-supporting each other.

    My neighbor down the street organizing a garden tour in my neighborhood is part of this. So are all the people opening up their backyards that afternoon.

    It's also useful to remind people (I need this- I'm sure others do, too) that phases don't go in clear lockstep manner. When confronted with our own death, we don't orderly go through a process of denial, move all the way through it to anger & only anger, but instead bounce between denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

    Have you gone through these seven steps you listed in a group? Are there anecdotes you could relate?

    1. Mushin

      Yes, I know it's quite something to call all these wonderful endeavors "chaos". Mind you, the very first time I was active in this was in 1969, helping in one of the first "bio-shops" in Amsterdam that only sold organically grown things… was not much, I tell you. So I have seen this movement grow for 40 years now (hmm, anniversary!) So if in this piece I gave you the impression that I find any of these movements or their leadership "ludicrous" than maybe I made misunderstanding too easy. The chaos is not in the fact that people "are the change" or try to organize the change or attempt to make a difference; the chaos is in "hundreds of banners are raised in the field and shouts go out to “Rally here! Unite! We’re in this together!”" – or can you possibly discover something non-chaotic in how the international and national concerned climate change groups and initiatives come to, go to Copenhagen?
      And I'm not saying there is anything wrong with it. Nevertheless it is chaos…

      And yes, most certainly I have gone through these seven phases many, many times, and have facilitated the process dozens of times. I've written about one of the first times extensively here. There are a few remarks of people who were part of that happening in the comment section as well.

      Thank you for your response.
      Love,
      Mushin

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