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.

The Community as a Whole is More than the Sum of its Parts – Work in Progress

I’ve been working on this mind map this whole weekend and will be working on it some more. You can, if you like also work on it (best to enlarge it before you do that – and even if you want to see it in more detail)… or comment. (More work from 1 & 2. Sept below)


This is the “Community” part of a larger whole that will incorporate “The Internet of Things”. It seems to me that I need to have this part straight before I can go to the next one…

2. Sept.

Have added an important branch to the above map that can be closer (and probably easier) studied on this map:

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.
m&b

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 & the Art of Living

childrendetail3-cory_enchWikipedia: Art is the process or product of deliberately arranging elements in a way that appeals to the senses or emotions. It encompasses a diverse range of human activities, creations, and modes of expression, including music and literature.

In my most recent post I have been revisiting what I’ve called the Living Field, how I experience it and how I’ve worked with it and still do. Michel Bauwens of the P2P foundation extracted a “typology of fields” from that post and talked about it here.
I don’t know if it was the “Goldberg-Variations field” that Jascha Rohr tweeted about in response that got me thinking about art as a particular type of constellation of the living field or if it was the Wikipedia definition of art; it might also have been the dream I had this morning of creating a large scale systemic constellation in some unknown land and being struck by the beauty of what emerged…

One of the most amazing characteristics of a living field is that it creates epiphanies, realizations or comprehensions of the (larger) essence or meaning of something. In systemic constellations this might be some explicit pattern in the system one inquires into that is surfacing as an “Eureka!” experience, a surprising insight into why or how things are as they are; in a circle that has managed to surrender into a highly coherent we-fulness the epiphany can be the tacit experience of individually being embedded in a higher We or “Circle Being”; and in a Dynamic Presencing constellation it can be the undeniable sense of unity with ‘all-there-is’.
The living field is, it seems, childrendetail1-cory_enchcontinually creating or triggering epiphanic in-formation in living beings. And since my main gate to the spiritual realm is beauty – truth is beauty, love is beauty, the gods are beauty, the essence of life is beauty etc. – to talk about epiphanies is to talk about essential beauty. Beauty – something many of us look for in art – is an epiphany more or less strongly altering our conscious state, momentarily or sometimes even permanently changing us by changing the way we perceive the world and interact with it.

In previous posts I have suggested that a living field is a particular – often dynamic – constellation of elements and/or beings in space and time. It can be regarded as the network, the mesh of relations between all these elements and beings involved. We could also imagine a living field as a web of relationships that in and of themselves already are dynamic, comparable to a melody which can only be enjoyed or understood in their flow.
[This makes me think of the neuronal network in the brain and that this particular constellation gives rise to the ultimate form of beauty: consciousness.]

Take these lines of poetry:

Here are the miracle-signs you want: that
you cry through the night and get up at dawn, asking,
that in the absence of what you ask for your day gets dark,
your neck thin as a spindle, that what you give away
is all you won, that you sacrifice belongings,
sleep, health, your head, that you often
sit down in a fire like aloes wood, and often go out
to meet a blade like a battered helmet.

When acts of helplessness become habitual,
those are the signs.

But you run back and forth listening for unusual events,
peering into faces of travelers.
“Why are you looking at me like a madman?”
I have lost a friend. Please forgive me.

— from Acts of Helplesssness by Rumi

What makes the hair on my skin stand as I read the poem? Is it how I relate to it? Is it how words and meaning of the lines relate to each other as in, “to meet a blade like a battered helmet“? I don’t know. But following the trace of the experience in my imagination/memory it feels as if at a certain moment all the relationships between words, lines, meaning, feeling ‘gel’ into a highly coherent whole. The ecology of the living field has reached a tipping point and evokes an insight, feelings, childrendetail2-cory_enchconnectedness, inspiration – sheer beauty.
This leads me to the understanding that creating the ecology and atmosphere for a living field to resonate with high coherence is very much akin to art. This type of creation, though, goes way beyond the above mentioned definition of art as “deliberately arranging elements in a way that appeals to the senses or emotions“. Creating living field art is also related to the question that shapes the boundary of that ecological niche of highly coherent resonance, asking, “Which dimension am I going to call on, explore and what are the ways, values and means I set out with?”

We know nothing of the living field in ‘ordinary circumstances’ – it is epiphanies that indicate the whereabouts of the high resonant spaces within it that can be used for artful constellation. And then, once the artist has gone through the epiphanic process provided by the living field, s/he can constellate circumstances and deliberately arrange elements so as to propagate an epiphany-prone ‘object of art’. A conversation, a poem, singing, growing a garden, sitting in a circle, writing, dynamic presencing, participatory design, intense we-fulness, the blossoming of the heart-chakra, cooking, painting, cuing up, communing with disembodied entities, a smile on the bus… it is epiphanies that turn these moments and movements into art, making space for beauty in form. There is, of course, always a magic at work, something forever out of control of the artist. Without it all these moments and ‘objects of art’ lose their color and feel; without this mysterious extra it all lacks authentic, beautiful presence in our real-life-stream.

childrendetail-cory_enchAn artist, a living field artist recognizes this ‘magic’, s/he follows its scent to where there is ‘light in the atmosphere’ that is on the brink of emerging as epiphany. S/he’ll arrange – often without knowing how – the words, gestures, colors, beings so that their relationships invoke and evoke, tease out what flows and resounds between them; these streaming sounds, the melody of the artist’s doing, entrain the relating participants into epiphany-prone circumstance. This is where everybody and everything involved is unfolding in a deeper, higher, utterly satisfying space, round and resting in itself, and expressing in religious people spiritually, in the aesthetic ones as beauty, in inquisitive beings as realizations and insights, in philosophic and scientific minds as truth, in life’s sailors as the winds of love, in kosmic space cowboys as bliss-bubbles, in earthlings as the joyful gravity of reality.

Becoming an artist of life entails more than sniffing out, co-creating, co-evolving the forms and ecologies for epiphany, it is developing spiraling processes that enlarge the circle of resonant living fields in the manifest and virtual realms by participating in their emergence wherever that may be, “making it up as we go” with all the other feelers of the collective world-being we truly are.

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing
and rightdoing there is a field.
I’ll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass
the world is too full to talk about.

Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks

childrenstorymural-cory_ench

Mural by Cory Ench

Desire is a meeting place

matteo_tranchelliniDesire is a meeting place. And it’s a matter of timing, aligning so much that synchronicity of desiring is much more likely. Have to have your ‘eye’ on the feeling-field, and keep the connection.

This is an inner gesture, an immediate expression of what you have learnt before. Like walking.
Ever looked at how a child learns to walk. They trie again and again until they can. And everybody celebrates the achievement. This is how we learn that it’s a pleasure we can share our achievements with those we love. And it’s wonderful to be applauded when following deep inclinations – like the strong desire to walk; all the Big Ones walk, I’ll follow the overwhelming desire to trie until I can walk just like them.

We have no examples for a tuned-in life, a life where we’re tuning in continually to the songs and melodies our destiny comes up with. We have to be the ones, we and all those that come after us, that we have been waiting for. If there is no example, let’s be it. What do we need to bring to this laborator?

  • a heart that has come alive
  • a heart that dares to be naked
  • our brightest intelligence
  • soul to soul relationship(s)
  • deep respect for natural development(s); and if possible:
  • the alchemy of a relationship with someone, possibly a life-partner

That’s it, I believe. Being open to the refining processes inherent in life as labratory – and this very wording of it – gives me a degree of freedom that is closely connected with respecting my limits.

What is transmuted is the forces of feelings that are connected with sad, with desperate, with “negative” emotions. The strength of these forces probably remain. The force, for instance, captured in the complex feeling of jealousy doesn’t disappear but is most likely one of the driving energies behind accepting my destiny as it reveals itself to be; the power that allows me to “face it” – facing whatever needs to see my face.
From my point of view this is just the case. Certainly the circumstances now make this a very natural part of the process. In life we can never repeat our experiments to verify if another outcome would be possible – what we would have done if this, that or the other happened?. So given the present state of the laboratory it is much easier for me to “face it” than at other moments in recent weeks 🙂

Since, as Heraclit said more than 2000 years ago, pantha rei, “everything flows” and “you cannot dip into the same river twice”, we are learning the art of navigation in this flow, and what are supportive ecologies to this flow.
I have been speaking of giving an example, and by that I don’t mean to say teaching people this particular metaphor but by being an example, by being beautiful, joyous, understanding, and by loving, wise navigation. Trusting life and each other, authentically being alive, continually enlarging our comfort-zone until it maybe encompasses everyone and all, becoming quite naturally comfortable with life in this existence (willing at any moment to face it when it needs our face)… maybe that’s the ones we truly are, the ones we have been waiting for.jeanbaptiste_mondino

Enlightening the Passions – Day 17

We must be true inside, true to ourselves, before we can know a truth that is outside us. But we make ourselves true inside by manifesting the truth as we see it. — Thomas Merton

Whenever I have the opportunity these days – when designing a screen, maybe, or creating imaginary people for demos; things that don’t require great specific concentration – I’m listening to classical music, a lot of Brahms, but also Dvorak, Beethoven maybe and this afternoon Faur: Requiem Op. 48
I like pop very much, rock, rap, funk, shoegazer and whatever else it is called; but classical music often goes much deeper on a feeling level for me. You might call me a feeling-depth junkie! There is so much soul-food in the deep regions of emotion!

Visited a very good friend last night. I notice that we get much more candid now and really talk about those sides of us that are a bit more difficult. Not in a finding-solutions mode but in a listening, “Ahhh, that’s how you feel and think” – mode. And, of course, we get into a bit of theory of how these things work: we’re men after all, and we like to take things apart to put them back together afterwards.
I noticed when we went too far into the theoretical or mental side of things that I lost this juicy connection that I’ve come to appreciate so much in the course of this experiment so far. Or maybe it’s simply too theoretical for me when I loose the juicy connectedness. Whichever way it is.

As I’m moving ‘outward’ more with my tendrils I notice that now I can actually quite easily see where people are at; not precisely but I definitely get the feeling. I ask if my impression is correct, for sure, but so far it seems to be spot on. And I now see what one of the main reasons for the activity of “feeling-restriction” is: Uncertainty.
“Touching” whoever I open to in this way I cannot respond automatically, that is, I don’t know what the correct response is. I have to take it all in for a moment and let my “unconscious” or “feeling self” process what I experience and come up with a suggestion/impression. This makes every meeting somewhat unpredictable. Intensity is made of this. And intensity can be stressful, actually it is stressful unless I’m relaxed, unless I ‘hang loose’ in my reality.

Another “reason” for not moving into the feeling-field with another person is the fear of being seen, touched, moved and losing control over the situation. And also you might feel that you are trespassing into their comfort-zone, and people do get irritated when you do that. I’m happy that all of this emotional ecology and the feeling-field is only now becoming available to me in this strong manner. That enables me to tread slowly and to ‘keep it for me’ if I’m not invited to enter.
Mind you, that doesn’t mean that I’ll restrict myself and stop feeling my feelings, or, alternatively that it would irritate me. Non of that, I’ll keep looking, opening and ‘derestricting’ myself in experiencing the situation. But I will not enter into the stream directly, or only in as much as I can with total respect for the other persons’ preferences (in as far as I can perceive them).

This is a thin line, in a way, but I’m more obliged to the principle of honesty then to protecting ‘you’ against my perceptions and experiences. So I will, gently, respond from the deep that I’m in anyway, and this has shown to be an interesting way of contacting people I know and also those I don’t know. It has some as yet indescribable quality to it that I love and thoroughly enjoy.

There is magic to all meetings, I’m sure. And it feels amazingly beautiful if you are open and the other is as well. Then the being between us can awaken, the soul-flow-dynamics, if you will, that is the ‘stuff’ that beauty and joy of the interpersonal and sometimes positively transpersonal is made of.


Starting up the experiment
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4 (Powerlessness)
Day 5
Day 6 (Jealousy)
Day 7 (Guilt & Jealousy)
Day 8
Day 9 (Shame)
Day 10 (Interlude)
Day 11 (Under Pressure)
Day 12
Day 13 (Clear Delight)

Day 14
Day 15 & 16
Day 17
Day 18
Day 19 (Dark Waves)
Day 20 (Time Out)
Day 21 (Splash)
Day 22 (Understanding)
Day 23 (Fear & Imagination)
Day 24 (Vulnerable)
Day 25
Day 26 (The Presence of The Past)
Ending the Experiment – Day 27 (Intentional Vulnerability)

Open Source Spirituality & The Emerging Spiritual Commons

Over at the P2P Foundations blog we are having a conversation about the principles of open source spirituality instigated by Michel Bauwens. In the course of this conversation some things have become clear to me and I hope to show here a draft of what an Open Source Spirituality could be, and how that could lead to something that might be called Spiritual Commons.

According to the Wikipedia, Open source is a development methodology, which offers practical accessibility to a product’s source (goods and knowledge)… The open source model of operation and decision making allows concurrent input of different agendas, approaches and priorities, and differs from the more closed, centralized models of development.” And for spirituality Wikipedia offers us this meaning, Spirituality, in a narrow sense, concerns itself with matters of the spirit, a concept closely tied to religious belief and faith, a transcendent reality, and one or more deities. Spiritual matters are thus those matters regarding humankind’s ultimate nature and purpose, not only as material biological organisms, but as beings with a unique relationship to that which is perceived to be beyond both time and the material world.”

The aim of an Open Source Spirituality (OSS) is the aim of any spirituality, to develop a relationship to what can be called our ultimate nature and purpose, our deepest root, or the ever-present origin (TEPO) as John Heron calls it in his longer critique of what gave rise to the above mentioned conversation. So if we follow the Wikipedia’s open source definition and take the product to mean spirituality then in order to move towards an OSS a “practical accessibility to its source” is required. Which means that we need to first get clear on what exactly is our personal spirituality’s source code. If I were a practicing Buddhist, for instance, my source code would encompass the 4 Noble Truths, awakening from the “sleep of ignorance”, the Noble Eightfold Path, and what is most important, what I personally believe and act according to.

So taking a First Step in OSS entails to figure out and openly state what is the Spiritual Source Code (SSC) that the person participating in this endeavor is using.That in itself might already be a challenge, as different people have different talents, and for some it might be hard to verbalize and/or state their spiritual source code in written form to be shared in the Emerging Spiritual Commons (ESC), but there are other ways: a movie of a dance that expresses it, for instance, or a mind map, or a sculpture, or a hyper-textual mesh-work or whatever might be possible in this regard.

Taking John Heron’s ideas into account I would think the purpose of Open Source Spirituality to be “to support an Emerging Spiritual Commons.” I moreover envision this ESC to be composed of people practicing their basic beliefs – what John Heron calls Code 1: one’s basic beliefs and practices. The principles that guide the emergence of the spiritual commons, it’s Prime Directive can therefor not be about the “content” of some Code 1; it’s Prime Directive must be about the socio-cultural ecology needed to create enough trust amongst participants so that they can be open about both the content of their Code 1 and share how they practice it.

The Prime Directive of the ESC is in all likelihood also an expression of the insight that any real-life practice of spiritual principles (sense-co-creating, meaning-guiding principles) is worth sharing and learning from. Since the Prime Directive helps to co-create the ecology that fosters flourishing relationships between people implementing their Code 1, and since creating an ecology is a process of/in mutuality, most likely the Prime Directive incorporates encouraging people to find out and live according to what is true and authentic for them, and to share this in an atmosphere of deep respect.
I refrain from formulating the Prime Directive so that it is wide enough to take in anybody of ‘good will’, and at the same time I write what it is about to indicate where its boundaries might be.

To ‘open source’ something means to put it into a language that is shared with a larger group of peers who can than contribute to this ‘project’ as they please. So certainly any Open Source Spirituality worth this name needs to co-create a “Meta-Code A” which ensures maximum flexibility and ‘space’ for different Code 1’s. Meta-Code A would be an incarnation of the Prime Directive as guiding principle of research and expression.
And even though there is the Prime Directive it is also clear that, paraphrasing John Heron, “it is neither a prescription, nor even a recommendation, for any other node or person, but a contribution to the commons pool of experiential data, which others may find of interest. Then it is simply up to them whether or not they integrate in any way any part of it or the whole of it, within their own Code 1.”

Within the Emerging Spiritual Commons there would be a “library”, as a participant in the conversation, Simon, suggested; a library that functions as the main “memory” or maybe even as the DNA of Open Source Spirituality over time.

To conclude, I couldn’t agree more with John Heron, when he says, “This allows for varying degrees and kinds of hybridization, cross-fertilization, between different nodes.” He seems to be using the terminology of nodes within a network where I would prefer terms coming from the idea of constellations and ecology – all phenomena come in constellations or patterns within an ecology of influences.

And finally it seems important to realize that even using the terms “Open Source” in connection with “Spirituality” is already a language of concepts influenced by recent developments in ‘net-culture’.

Me to the Power of Us

A beautiful video illustration a visionary statement by Michel Bauwens which expresses most beautifully the Path I find myself to be on.

“Anyway, this is what the changes are about, augmenting the individual through relationality, with the object of creating common value collectively, through self-aggregation. The whole push of the p2p revolution is to create the infrastructure for this, designing for inclusion, and for convergence of the indiviual and collective interest, through value-conscious design.”
From Our new digital selves and their relational augmentation by Michel Bauwens

The Most Effective Way to Change the World

Wow… that’s really a headline, isn’t it?

And that is really what we’re going for here, isn’t it?

Well, one extremely effective way to not only change the world but your self as well is:
Changing the World one smile at a time.

If today we all make at least three strangers smile – maybe by a nice remark, maybe by smiling at them from our heart of hearts , maybe by offering them a helping hand – and commit ourselves to doing that every day… we will be spreading a lot of the “good stuff”.

Another way – and you can combine these methods – to effectively change yourself and the world is:
Doing what you want to do with all your heart.

What do you really want to do now? I ask myself this question in many situations…
Entering a restaurant I ask, “Were do I really feel like sitting?” and then I go there.
Talking with someone I take a moment asking myself, “What would I really like to talk about?” and then I do that or steer the conversation in that direction.
Standing in a grocery store I ask, “What would I really like to cook tonight?” and then I buy that. (Hey girls, you can do that with shoes too 🙂 )

You might say, “But often – in my work for instance – I have to do all kinds of things I don’t want to do.” Well, I’m not going to advise you to find the work you really want to do – you might not be ready to live this so radically, yet; we all go step by step, don’t we? So I’ll give you the advice I have been following for some time before I could muster the strength to actually live this way all day long; it come from Neil Young (I think):
If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with.

Simple, effective, and causing lasting changes in your body-mind and the environment around you. Bringing your heartfelt presence to this moment and giving yourself truly, madly, deeply to what your doing (or not-doing for the Taoists among us) will not only be a blessing and change you on the cellular, psychological and spiritual level it is also already reflecting the world we want to live in, doesn’t it?

And one last ‘thing’ you can do for yourself and with friends as well – I have been doing this with the participant of my recent 7 day seminar “The Art of Being Happy”.
Take time to reflect on what you are really good at (and allow yourself to consider everything you’re good at).

What would happen if you told your friends today, “I really love it how you can …” or, “I think you’re a real master of …” or some such thing?
What if once in a while you got a little circle together with the expressed purpose of telling each other what you are good at, and help each other see even more things that you’re good at? You might even want to tell us here in the comments…. 🙂

So… what is your Most Effective Way to Change the World & Yourself?

The Collective Buddha – Polilogue 1

Since I’m pretty busy these days with developing the concepts around a knowledge & community ecology online – more about this once we’re ready to go BETA for the general public – dearest Helen has taken the time from her busy schedule to finally place the polilogue (term derived from dia- , meaning two, to poli – meaning many, hence polilogue) Doug, Bruce, Helen and I had almost three weeks ago (has it been so long already?) on her blog.

It’s called “Collective Buddha Series – Polilogue 1” [after much time some of these links look awfull, others are maybe in disarray; 19. April 2011]

For the beginning of the story:

Why the next Buddha will be a collective

We are the next Buddha

The We of Us – a Trialogue

Integral We-Fullness

Nondual Community: The flowering of intersubjectivity. Parts I, II and III [alas, all these links have vanished with the ‘zaadz’ community]

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.)

An amazing question?

TogetherThere is something that continues to amaze me every time I see a big spiritual festival announced in which the superstars and celebrities of the mystic heavens, the gurus and the pundits, the successful therapists and masters of living a beautiful life take the stage. If I understand most of the teachings that they are espousing then the wholsesome, holistic, spiritual and sustainable future of life on our planet is high on their agenda. “We need to come together, need to experience the oneness” and so on, so we can help the woes that we all and the world suffers now will fade out. And we all agree on this, don’t we? working every day at finding and creating ways that will help build a sustainable future for this and the coming generations.

So what really amazes me is that not once I hear or read about one of these stars, masters and teachers, be they male or female, or even several of them trying to get each other around the table to devise or let emerge some initiative or program that would be truly irresistible, since all these people have a lot of followers, supporters and fans… and what would happen if they would all support each other, creating a mutual, co-operative “what shall we call it?”.

Please, don’t misunderstand me. I’m not complaining at all. I’m just really amazed, as I do take – at least I have for a long time – these teachings serious. Maybe you have an answer to this question. How come “the enlightened ones” don’t get it together?

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.

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.