Collective Intelligence & Cyberspace

One of the people that introduced me to the concept of Collective Intelligence was Pierre Levy with his wonderful book Collective Intelligence: Mankind’s Emerging World in Cyberspace. That book gave me a deep insight into the historical dimensions of cyberspace, how we came here, if you like. It’s deep and clear thinking has helped me much in developing my own understanding of how we are embedded in a larger wave of development and what is possible. But since the book was published 1997 a lot has happened, so I was happy that my friend Jascha Rohr tweeted about this much more recent presentation of his ideas as a “slide-share”.

What I like about it – and it will take much more time to digest – is that it indicates a new language that could link the software processes of cyberspace and the human collective intelligence. The slide show is quite helpful for placing recent developments in a larger perspective, to look at how collective consciousness might come about, and to in the end learn something about the language that might bridge machine-language and normal human tongues: the Information Economy Metalanguage (IEML); a part that’s truly challenging at this moment for me to understand. Some of my readers will understand this much better than I do, but hey, that’s what Collective Intelligence is all about – I do not need to understand everything 🙂

The Challenges of Changing the World

ANP-5605840112Visions of what needs to happen on this planet to make it more of a home to the ever growing human population while at the same time taking care that all the other species can flourish as well abound. The United Nations have identified the 8 most pressing ones and on one of them, “Environmental Sustainability”, the political world is going to decide in Copenhagen what it will do, or wants to do.

There is a lot of leadership on climate issues, and if the information I get on what happens in the USA and Canada as a European residing in Berlin is correct, the competition between this leadership is amazing – everybody struggling for the best pole-position in the race to what is seen by many to be the new gold-mine: Green (Social) Economy. In Europe the competition is not as fierce but the call for leadership is strong. And I must confess that I don’t know much about what happens in South-America. Africa, Asia and Australia. I do know, though, there are at least 1.000.000 (1 Mio) NGO’s and other social responsibility organizations world-wide trying to lead the way. There doesn’t seem to be a lack of leadership…

Moreover there are countless experts and innumerable plans and [full disclosure here] I’m working with wonderful and brilliant people at creating “meshworks” that will help align people, plans and resources. We are well on our way in this endeavor, as soon as we’re ready to open up to the general public you’ll be hearing more from me here, and I expect it to raise our collective intelligence a few notches.

OLY-2008-CHINA-SAILING-ENVIRONMENT-POLLUTION-ALGAEAnd yet, when working on my recent blogs on Resonance & the Living Field, Leadership, Community and Transforming the Whole and How to be? What to do? and this last weekend on a mindmap (a work in progress) The Community as a Whole is More than the Sum of its Parts an insight keeps nagging me that I could maybe sum up like this, “While visions, plans, meshworks and a highly committed leadership are absolutely essential, no clearly stated or compelling vision, no plan, as brilliant as it may be, no sophisticated meshwork aligning everyone and everything and no committed group of leaders are going to make the much needed brighter future a reality unless it is embodied by highly coherent communities that involve innumerable engaged citizens of all color and creed.”

In Leadership, Community and Transforming the Whole I’ve made a strong case, I think, why recruiting or aggregating large numbers of people to world change-movements doesn’t work, no matter how wonderful, powerful, idealistic and committed these people may be. No matter how many people we can recruit for “the cause”, the transformation will not result from ever growing sums of individuals working for change because “A whole is more than the sum of its part(icipant)s.”

a-root-rtt-01-keyThe world is not made up of individuals, as we might be tempted to think, but it’s made up of groups, organizations, parties etc., in short: the world is a community of communities. These are the “wholes” that can foster, embed and realize the transformation that we wish for Earth.
According to Wikipedia, for community there “were ninety-four discrete definitions of the term by the mid-1950s” (here), so it might help to discern between what we will in this blog call “real communities” and “conventional communities.” Conventional communities, even if their goals are aligned with the world change we seek to implement, can at best be fertile ground for highly coherent “real communities”. And because transformative action is always local, customized and unfolding (emergent) and needs to be embodied by those that act the real community already lives the future it wishes to realize for all.

The following is just a preliminary list, that – with your help – will be updated continually to more accurately reflect what we’re learning.

Real communities Conventional communities
Look for possibilities and how to implement them Work on solving problems, cater to needs of its members
Stimulate generosity and hospitality Try to eliminate the causes of what we fear
Continually look to deepen connections and relations, value belonging Need to grow, scale fast; value numbers
Empower and invest in its participants/members and their growth Invests in (and sets out to improve) leadership
Participants/members find areas which they want to be accountable for Set clear(er) goals by using clear processes with measurable milestones
Create space for regenerative conversations Create more controls, measures of effectiveness
Love questions and what they generate Seek the right answers and try to implement them
Thrive through ‘mutual apprenticeship’, trust in self-organization, coordinate action ‘chaordically Hierarchical organisation; depend on leaders, authorities, experts, specialists to “make the plan and show the way”
Encourages authority and responsibility of every participant/member by honoring everyone’s contribution Celebrates it’s leaders and icons, encourages competition
Brings people from the margin to the center to learn, connect more deeply and
regenerate communal strength
Marginalizes people who are not in line with the community’s culture/rules

(With this list I do not in any way wish to show that conventional communities are not needed or at fault, not so! It simply points out that they are not adequate to foster, create or embody the transformation that so many of us feel is absolutely needed if we are to survive in any meaningful way both as human species and as ecologically rich planet.
And what is listed under real community doesn’t make this kind of community right, perfect or “the best.” These are simply some of the characteristics that a resilient, vibrant and deeply meaningful community has, and I believe they’re indispensable for any transformation that deserves to be called such.)


The world I wantProbably the most important characteristics of all communities are its conversations and “vibrancy.”
In a conventional community I cannot reveal much of who I am, and it can therefor not be very coherent, simply because feeling alignment between people depends very much on how much they feel safe to show of themselves and their ‘brokenness’. If ever you were in a group of people where someone opened up and showed some of what keeps her or him awake at night – and others were mature enough to allow that without immediately comforting or fixing or giving good advise etc. – then you know that the depth of a community is directly related to its openness to self-disclosure.

There is much more to say about real community, and I’m sure we will come to that in the next weeks and months, but for now I think we’re looking for a strategy to build the kind of communities that can carry and contain the world change that we all know is at hand – and it’s not clear if we’re going to come out wiser, healthier and thriving or not. My guess is, if we build real communities, we have better chances to come through wonderfully transformed.

Part of this strategy is certainly:

  • Build regenerative social fabric with hospitality, generosity, deep conversations, felt alignment
  • Reframe the crisis as breakdown of community and its restoration/healing
  • Co-creation and enrichment of the “common good”
  • Create time to simply be together and celebrate
  • Understand that community is never a means to an end (even if that is transformation or world change); community is always its own end.

It is my deep conviction that not only do some of these communities already exist but that with just a little nudge many more will spring into being everywhere. So, for now, I’ll leave with this question, How can we/I serve those communities that interconnect and seed “real communities”?

Challenges of Community and Collaboration

challenge

Being an aficionado for collaboration, so much so that I’ve created a job for me being a Collaboration Ecologist, recently more often than not I’ve come to inquire into the question, “If, as seems to be the case, many if not most people and organisations in the world seek collaboration and want to become communities of mutually aided flourishing, how come it is not the greatest hit on Earth?”

Or as my friend Doug who’s profession is coaching CEO’s, among other things,  tells me, “In the US now all companies want to collaborate. They just don’t know how.”

Remember New Year’s resolutions? Remember, what you wanted to change in your life this year? To be honest, I never make any resolutions on New Year anymore, since remembering them later on is such a pain. The reason is most likely the same that keeps all the good willing people on this planet, including the businesses and organisations, from collaborating to change the course of the planetary commons – we don’t like to face the deeper challenges that need overcoming. Actually I think the are the stuff out of which our advances are made.

So here are the challenges as they show up on my radar:

  • Challenge # 1: Probably the mother of all challenges to collaboration and community – Trust, patience, ‘deep’ listening and heartfelt connection.
    Looking at my experience in life, business and relationships, and of course at many, many theories of what community and collaboration is really based upon, these 4 ‘values’ seem to be the most persistent ones.
  • Challenge # 2: If #1 is the mother of all challenges, # 2 is the father – walking in somebody else’s shoes.
    People do not only have different characters and views, convictions, beliefs, theories and opinions, they are also on different levels of evolving towards what we could call “wisdom”, something that doesn’t come with age (as any acute observer of world- and human affairs has already noticed) but with developing all kinds of skills, lenses, and intelligences (heart, mind, gut, social, relational etc.). On the way to some wisdom, for a long time, people live in a land where they wouldn’t know what it means to “walk in somebody else’s shoes”, leave alone that they would actually be able to do so. Yet, it is prerequisite to anything that resembles true collaboration.
  • Challenge # 3: This one is centered around the question of leadership.
    Community and collaboration are situated far beyond democracy – which is based on quantity, counting the number of voices, and not quality, what these voices are saying. The challenge is to find ways and means to govern ourselves so that the good, right and beautiful things are accomplished.
  • Challenge #4: In the famous words of the Clinton Presidential Campaign in the USA, “It’s the economy, stupid!
    Collaborations and communities, on top of being simply a good and soul-nourishing thing to participate in by and of themselves, often also produce goods and services, and a commons that is recreational, inspiring, relaxing etc. (a source of aliveness; something like that, and also something that can be marketed). Who gets to share what of the communally created revenues is the fourth major challenge that needs facing, if communities and collaborations are to be more than a hype.

If you thought that I have the answers and that I’m going to give them here, I have to disappoint you. Not that I don’t have a number of very good ideas, processes and experiences around them (as many of my readers do as well), but if I were to tell them here, at maximum we would have a very interesting exchange of ideas and stories, and maybe even beliefs and convictions.And, so sorry, but I’m not really interested – mostly, because doing that will most likely lead to trying to make technical change out of the needed adaptive change.

There is a world of difference between technical change and adaptive change. A technical change you can manage using the given instruments and procedures. Often these revolve around a more effective use of the given instruments. You get long and wonderful To Do lists, that basically you need to check one after the other. Adaptive change asks you, on the contrary, to leave behind the old instruments and develop new ones. It requires you to adapt to a situation or process that you cannot yet analyse, and as such adaptive change is an “emergent phenomenon”… simply put, “Something is happening, but you don’t know what it is – and you cannot control it either.”

Sure, regarding myself as a Collaboration Ecologist I’ve got quite a number of processes and interventions up my sleeve that I can use in situations where people want to collaborate, and want some help. Often, I cannot do without them, yet these are not the secret of creating great ecologies in which collaboration and community flourishes. The real secret is this, “Find whatever helps the people present face the above challenges co-creatively, and go with what emerges in this group.” If you’ve got compassion, experiential knowledge, a working intuition and some intelligence you will, most likely, empower the people to squarely face these challenges. Then, and so far I can speak for 100% success, what comes out of that process you will advance into the Fields of the Future where Collaboration is Natural again.

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]

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?

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.

Why God does not need a Throne

Adapted from a talk at the Serenity Comunity early Spring 2004

Up until now the relationship between a teacher and his students in spiritual communities or similar contexts has been more or less one sided. The teacher knew and lived “it” and the students didn’t know and live “it”. So in a way the teacher was the king and the students were his court.

Kelaniya.temple.war.of.throneThis model does not suit me very well, and to be honest it is “Old Age” to me, obsolete. The reality in which my life unfolds nowadays a spiritual teacher also learns from his students. Of course, he is much more experienced on the spiritual path and thus his students can learn from him, but they too have experiences that the teacher can profit from. It looks like a Moebius-loop to me: an endles braid in both directions.
I know, of course, that basically the relationship between a spiritual teacher and his students is all about what is beyond words, scriptures, thoughts and form. In the context of this article I will call what is beyond ‘the holy flame’. No spiritual teacher can pass on the holy flame no matter how much he would like to. He or she can only burn with this fire. The flame will go on burning, and when the time is ripe the flame itself will ignite the soul of the student. Up until that time they might catch fire for a moment or a while but it will extinguish again because the soul has not yet been ignited.
So the transmission of the holy flame is the true reason for the relationship between a spiritual teacher and his students, and as I see it nothing will change in that respect. I’m burning and at times the people around me catch fire, especially my students as they are very open to me. This fire can start whatever the context may be – just as with ordinary fire almost anything is combustable material… flames aren’t picky they’ll use anything combustable to fuel it. Nevertheless the context has so far been mostly feudalistic and it still is: a structure that doesn’t really fit in this time and age anymore.

It’s time for a revolution in heaven. God descended from his throne a long time ago, he doesn’t need it anymore. God doesn’t need bows. This doesn’t mean that a bow as a natural movement from the heart is now obsolete. When a feeling of deep thankfulness moves you bowing to god or your teacher may be the only way to truly express it. But to do that you need neither throne nor feudalistic structure. The king has abducted and now the court doesn’t have a job anymore…
buddhas empty throneThe feudalistic structure of spiritual communities is based on the realisation that the ego needs to be modest and humble before the soul can be ignited by the holy flame. A fat ego, an arrogant or überhebliche person doesn’t have the slightest chance to experience even a spark of the inner light. He or she is so full of himself, so pleased or abhorred – so busy with himself that not even the tiniest ‘something else’ fits in there. And to hear, “You have to yield, to obey and serve,” is quite humiliating for any ego, most of all an arrogant know-it-all. To humiliate the ego, to break the ego, to get rid of it: in a feudalistic structure everyone – except the very top of the pyramid – gets many lessons in humility, and that is as it should be. Modesty and humility are needed and we can’t do without them… but maybe we can realise them in a different way.
The revolution I am speaking about doesn’t need the traditional humiliation of the ego, yet it still learns the much needed humility – I’m sure because I have seen this happen time and again. It is not only the feudalistically structered obedience towards his teacher that makes the students ego more modest and humble but the love and respect of the teacher towards the student can also accomplish this – that is, if the student is not totally caught up his neurotic games but has already done a few steps on the path. Hard nuts need nutcrackers: the feudalistic structure is certainly good this regard. But most spiritually motivated people I meet apparently have already done away with this hardest of armouries – or never put them on in the first place. They can reckognize that humility is the proper attitude even in a non-feudalistic context.
Love and respect make you humble because good and bad or right and wrong don’t play a role here. Love and respect are not interested in those judgements. But the ego is always judging. It is in need of empowerment or justification, and it wants acknowledgement most of all – but love and respect are not acknowledging it. On the contrary, love undermines the ego structure. Love melts its armory. The tendency to isolate, to do ‘your own thing’, to be comfortably numb, to justify yourself etc. might appear when you are in the company of one who loves unconditionally, but these tendencies are simply not supported – on the contrary one sees their ugly faces and wants to get rid of them as soon as possible, so that you can rest and be where unconditional love resides… the ego armour melts.

That’s why love causes the revolution I’m speaking about.
Suppose one of my students is angry or even mad at me because I said or did something that hurt his feelings or convictions. In the feudalistic structure any kind of criticism is Majestätsbeleidigung and will thus be suppressed or sanctioned. The student will either swallow his anger or suppress it or eine Breitseite abbekommen for being so preposterous as to express it. Within a feudalistic structure he will be humiliated and his ego shot at and maybe even broken.

Yet within the context of love and respect I’ll say (with words or by action), “I can see you’re angry… and will go on loving you.” Because when love and respect rule everything can be just the way it is. And confronted with these energies the ego has to either melt or – when it can muster that kind of strength – withdraw. And when one of my students decides to withdraw to tend to his wounds or to foster his anger (Groll zu hegen) – regardless of what I might also feel I’m respecting that without any buts and don’ts – than he or she can reappear any time as she can be certain of my love and respect. Then the ego melts a bit and becomes more humble as it cannot attach to it’s resitance because in love and respect it really is of no importance whatsoever.
Respect means, to honor the dignity of another person, no matter what his or her ego looks like. If I respect you then your soul will perceive that no matter what you might think about me. That will make it difficult for you to reduce me to my habits or the things I said or did. You cannot but see the love in me and acknowledge that, even if only in your secret chamber.

It is well known that “everything is permitted in love and war.” Regarding war it is quite clear, the one who carries the guns can allow himself to do anything. But that everything is permitted in love is not that obvious because love is often confused with romanticism and its Hollywood-version. In this version of ‘love’ it is only permissible what will make the violins play or sweeten the feelings. But the way I see it is that love moves you to a Yes, a feeling, total, unconditional Yes towards everything that is the case just the way it is, a Yes to everyone present just as they are.

The basic ego structure – this movement in you that is trying to own everything – is the opposite of love. The ego even tries to control love and tame it like it does with everything else – that’s why the romantic Hollywood-version, being nothing but domesticated love, has lost almost every natural aspect and power. So an ego-navigated person can only have limited and limiting releationships in which not much can be or happen.

But a love-navigated person doesn’t know any limits. When moved by love like this you don’t say, “I only love you as long as you behave.” Love doesn’t make those demands. Or would you tell your father, mother or even child, “I only love you when you are lovely, nice and friendly.” That sounds pretty absurd in my ears, even though it is quite clear to me that most people only know conditional love and we can assume that they will actually say or think something like that. Nevertheless unconditional love is also present in these people, maybe perverted or confused as the person is deeply entangled in his or her suffering.

(Since Bert Hellinger’s work we can know that this without doubt. A really earth shaking fact of family constellations is the observation that even in families where the father or mother has abused their son or daughter, there is real love. It is quite unfair, and it is against all we hold dear: to have to reckognise that there is love even in abuse, be it in extremely perverted form. Well, love is not a romantic phenomenon but rather comparable to a force of nature.)

Unconditional love will inevitably lead to the revolution I speak about. If I understand the Bible correctly than Jesus lived just this revolution with his disciples. He was certainly not sitting on a throne, and he wasn’t worshipped by his disciples. He was much more like a primus inter pares: the first one among his equals. This is reflected in many pictures of the Last Supper where everyone is sitting around a table enjoying food and drink and company. So his feet weren’t kissed, and no one adorned him with garlands ofd flowers like it is he case twith so many Eastern gurus and those that copy that structure.

So obviously the revolution I’m speaking about is no so very new, it seems. On the spiritual Way what is important today has always been important. When your soul has ignited, when you are ‘enlightened’ or have ‘awakened’, when the holy fire is burning in your soul, you will become a Brandherd. Then others will want the fire from you; that’s only natural and as it has always been. And you don’t have a choice to pass on the fire or not, because whatever you do you’re burning. But you do have a choice regarding the structure in which the transmission of the holy fire can take place even if some spiritual teachers may not be aware of that choice.

In the feudalistic structure the teacher or master is regarde as perfect; he has achieved what is achievable. This then shows itself in the form of spiritual kingship, and that in it’s turn does attract students that want to become a king themselves. That’s why the student whose soul has caught fire within this structure usually has to leave his teacher and start his own little fire somewhere as it is impossible to be king next to a king. But when we live this revolution we can all catch fire without anyone having to go anywhere else to start his own. We can be connected in love and give and take from each other – and start a veritable Fl�chenbrand. So wether the teachers is burning and his students are warming themselves at his fire or if some or many of them are on fire themselves, they are being together in love and mutual respect.

We could say about the spiritual way that one person is at milestone 5, another is at milestone 10 and still another at milestone 15 and so on. The feudalistic structure is based also on the conviction that the one at milestone 15 is much further than the one at milestone 5. But the revolution is fueled by the insight that both are on the very same way – and by the observation that there is no final destination. The well known saying, “All ways lead to Rome,” is complete nonsense.
All ways lead everywhere.

The spiritual way has no final destination and the mystical endeavour no “final solution” so it is complete nonsense to say that one person is further on he path than another. That doesn’t mean that you can’t learn from others that are on the way, on the contrary. But to build a throne on the wayside at milestone 15 and then say, “If you want to know how to get from milestone 5 to milestone 10 you have to kiss my feet first,” belongs to the middle ages. We don’t need this structure anymore.
This doesn’t mean we’re all equal. No we are all different and everyone is unique. That means I can learn from every single one of you, and I do as a matter of fact. I didn’t catch fire or ignite my soul with you; it has been ignited elsewhere. But I did learn from you on many levels. And of course everyone of you can profit from my experience and being.

Surely, in my seminars and events I am in charge, I say where we will go and what we will do next. But the feudalistic structure where I sit on some pedestal and all of you sit one level below me is not up to date anymore. I’m experiencing this all the time: Someone is stuck in some ego movie somewhere, and I become still and leave it up to love and respect. Then usually that person wakes up to see what’s going on – what he or she is doing. And having been on this path for quite some time now I do know some ways to maybe make this a bit clearer to him or her. But I’ll only do that if love wants me to or if you draw it out of me.

I do not have particular plans for anyone; I don’t want you to go anywhere where you are not now. If I look at someone with the eyes of love and this person is in some movie or other then nothing in me wants to stop that movie. I might see – and usually do – that he would be much happier without it but that doesn’t mean I’ll try to get him out of it. This movie and the ego structure that projects it don’t encumber this love; on the contrary, where this love is no owning (the main activity of the psychic system called ego) can function. We don’t need the feudalistic structure to become humble, we do it with love and respect.

boab39_sigilSplashAs it does seem much easier for the people today to ignite their soul in a non-feudalistic context it seems to me the time has come for this revolution. That will also take care of one of the other problems of the feudalistic relationship between teachers and students on the spiritual path, and that is that the teacher is slowly losing contact with the reality most of his students live in. This is so because within this structure it is very hard to approach the teacher personally. And then we haven’t even mentioned the fact that within this structure abuse is very, very easy and students have a hard time noticing that (You can think of the inquisition in this regard or so called islamic terror, but you might also think of Sheelas “fascism” in Oshos buddhafield in Oregon; all these abuses in the name of god or enlightenment are being fostered by feudalistic structure that are not to be questioned.)

Nevertheless all of this has not hindered the transmission of the holy flame in the past as the only thing that is needed for this is a teacher burning with the fire and a student humble and trusting enough to ignite his soul. But – and now I come to a point that is very important to me – the feudalistic context in which this flame is being transmitted is always transported with it too. This is due to the way our psyche is apparently structured: we project the content usually to that form in which the content comes to us. Every structure in which the holy flame can burn is thus sanctified by it, and over time to the students and often even the teacher the form becomes just as holy as the fire itself.

If for instance you have deep mystical experiences in the christian context you would sanctify it and regard the form of worship, the christian teaching, the church hirarchy in which your ‘divine revelation’ happened as the body of the holy spirit, as it were.
Or suppose you have a deep spiritual experience in the context of buddhism. Then you would think that the special form of Zen, Vajrayana or Theravada – just to name a few buddhist schools – in which it happened is ‘it’. You would identify the form with the content simply because you saw the light in this form, and so you would probably speak with much conviction of the dignity of the Buddha, Sangha and Dharma.

And it is almost inevitable that most of the people having spiritual experiences in my presence will regard the structure and patterns we have created here almost as just as holy as the experience itself. This is often the case because as you’re having a mystical experience you often also feel an enormous authority, these experiences have a divine characteristic and divinity is the highest authority – that’s what many people feel. In these experiences you often have the feeling that you are perceiving an enormous or fundamental truth, an all encompassing meaning, eternal beauty, bliss and so on. All of this is, if you aren’t careful enough, projected onto the form in which it manifests.
As I see it the experience itself – if it is truly deep or mystical – will transport you to a dimension beyond form; but you mostly return to the form where you ‘started’ from. So in your understanding of what happened the formless and the form relate to each other in a way in which the formless sanctifies the form in some manner. But if you’ve been to that dimension often enough and your trust and inner certainty has grown than you see that the formless is actually sanctifying all form – unconditionally.
All these experiences and insights have led me to this revolution that I propose here and that we are already living at the Serenity Community, a revolution in which we leave the traditional feudalistic structure and the one sided relationship between teacher and student behind. And apart from everything I’ve said so far I want to really stress this: With this revolution we sanctify the context of love and respect, that structure in which the teacher and the student are moving along one and the same path – and we are charging this way with our holy fire so that it might carry us through new and fruitful landscapes.

Since ancient times the transmission of the holy flame happened in the context I have been calling feudalistic here – and as we can see this fire is still burning today. I don’t know if the revolutionary structure of love and respect can safely carry the holy fire like that. We’ll know in a few hundred years if this is so. But here and now I see the holy flame flowing and florishing within this context of love and respect, and so I am very zuversichtlich

God does not sit on a throne.
He is not even the center around which everything revolves.
If there is a whereabout of God
it is everywhere and in everything
and everyone is his homeststead.
You too!