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


Mural by Cory Ench

Strengths, happiness and 21st Century Life

flex flowMaking myself available and looking out for new streams of income I’ve revisited Martin Seligman’s “Authentic Happiness” site to redo and check out what my strengths are.

Seligman has pointed out, and I agree from my daily practise, that to lead a happy life we need to use our main strengths regularly. Knowing this I felt confident enough to recently write a short statement on twitter:

Happiness is likely when you do / be something you’re good at & like, follow your intuition & heart, communicate from your soul.

Being, who you are, doing what you’re good at – this is exercising our strengths.
Actually, being good at something is our gift to all the relationships and communities we participate in. Who would have thought we don’t have to be anything other than who we are, and do anything other than what we’re good at to be a blessing to this world! This doesn’t mean that we don’t need to develop or improve, if that is what we feel like doing. But unless we do, or are compelled to by inner pressure, simply being who we are is more than good enough: it’s our gift.

Development and improvement is a natural movement; actually it’s emerging in nature all of the time. Our cats, now 8 months old, impress me recently with the precision and strengths of their jumps which have mightily improved these last few weeks. They love hunting the occasional fly that comes into our appartement and to catch them… this is how they developed, by doing what they love doing.

surfing_17_470x350Recently we have moved from a merely changing world to an emerging-flexflow world; by this I mean that the rate of change has accelerated so much that now ‘novelty’ is continually emerging – unprecedented situations, unreducable complexities, ambiguous multiplicity abounds. It seems that a good way to adapt to this, let’s call it simply ‘complexity’, is with collective and collaborative intelligence. This goes for the economy where we’re seeing the first signs of “Enterprise without Boundary” embedded within “Information Fabrics” and “Collaboration Ecologies”, and it goes for social and political life where we also see first signs of the influence of social networks eclipsing the power of parties in some issues. And of course this is true in the individual’s life where the role of community is rising again out of the ruins of mega-individualism; and what we mean for each other is strengthened immensely.

Our identity used to be a fixed ‘thing’. When I grew up – and I’ve heard someone say this just the other day again – grown-ups where asking children (mainly boys, but in emancipated surrounds also girls), “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
It’s a recent development in Western societies that we start to understand that life-long learning and development is not a choice but a must. But actually, that was yesterday, because now having one fixed identity, being someone, is not really needed anymore. Multiplicity, flexibly being many things to many people is much more helpful and satisfying.

So when I say, being who you are – being who I am – this is what I mean, “It’s as if we come from an era where we thought we were a tree in a wood, and now we see that we are a wood ourselves, part of and meshed into forests upon forests.” Another way to put it would be, trust that you cannot be anything but ‘yourself’, which is being many and diverse…

Back to strengths – which are, if what I said above is right, the strengths of all of you; I’ve taken the “VIA Signature Strengths” test on the above mentioned website again today and found that the following are the ones that “we” have; strengths that I very much love to support the larger community with:

  1. Appreciation of beauty and excellence
    You notice and appreciate beauty, excellence, and/or skilled performance in all domains of life, from nature to art to mathematics to science to everyday experience.
  2. Creativity, ingenuity, and originality
    Thinking of new ways to do things is a crucial part of who you are. You are never content with doing something the conventional way if a better way is possible.
  3. Social intelligence
    You are aware of the motives and feelings of other people. You know what to do to fit in to different social situations, and you know what to do to put others at ease.
  4. Curiosity and interest in the world
    You are curious about everything. You are always asking questions, and you find all subjects and topics fascinating. You like exploration and discovery.
  5. Love of learning
    You love learning new things, whether in a class or on your own. You have always loved school, reading, and museums-anywhere and everywhere there is an opportunity to learn.


Enlightening the Passions – Day 1 (Exploring feelings)

After having looked at the videos I posted about yesterday I decided to do an experiment testing in practice what Michael Brown speaks about in those videos. I will blog about this experiment and practice here because it will help me keep it up and reflect upon it daily, and it might help some of the people who read these blogs.

Let me give you a bit of background:
In the recent very challenging time in my relationship I discovered – or better, uncovered – a constant pattern of behavior: Deeply opening up to – trusting – someone will lead to abuse sooner or later. This pattern comes from my very young years when my mother gave me away to my grandparents who then put me in a boarding school that then kicked me out… don’t want to relate the long sad story of what f****d me up emotionally in my young years, only want to indicate an important influence to the present experiment.

Another important one is that I actually have a very fine-grained ability to feel my emotions; 30 years of therapy and a spiritual path that has been very adventurous has ‘helped’ me discern many shades of, for instance, grief, fear and anger.
And also: Looking at my feelings has almost exclusively happened with the intention of either healing, overcoming or transcending, and even if I did embrace my feelings – as in the meditations I used to do some years ago in which I did “Satsang with my demons” – it was always with the intention of finally healing them.

And finally one more piece of background to my experiment:
In this recent crisis I’ve discovered – or actually uncovered – the indisputable fact that my emotions, the dynamics of my feelings, are out of control; I cannot determine what I feel in almost every situation. For many people, especially women, this is certainly no surprise, and maybe it shouldn’t be one for me, but it is. This is absolutely clear to me now because as part of the crisis – how it came about – was me expressibly allowing, out of my conviction, something that, when it became a reality, deeply hurt, unexpectedly so.

The premises of the experiment

Being unconditionally with what is right now – flowing with life – is of supreme value (it feeds the soul, not only mine but of everybody I’m with, it is joyful and beautiful, it is needed for true love to unfold, and the foundation for understanding any kind of meaningful truth).

Being unconditionally with what/how I feel is an integral, and necessary, part of flowing with life as an actual experience here and now.

What matters experientally has (at least) 3 facets/components: physical, mental and emotional. By physical I mean the person(s) I’m with or the situation I’m in as a physical presence that ’cause’ or ‘trigger’ (partly) what I experience; the mental is the story I tell myself and/or others about this, my interpretation; and finally what I feel actually – feelings being the prime movers and motivators for my actions and behaviors and words in any given situation.

Feelings/emotions are neither good nor bad in an ethical sense, yet there are feelings I greatly value and seek and those I shun, flee and or want to get rid of. Some of them are ‘good’ in one circumstance and ‘bad’ in another.

The premise to be tested in this experiment is that all feelings, especially the uncomfortable ones, are potentially soul-food and enliven or quicken my present being-alive; they inspire in a most profound way by re-connecting me with the flow of life by intentional/willing/conscious participation. This is so as long as I am with these feelings unconditionally (not to heal, change, or in any way influence them).
An important aspect of feelings, maybe their raison d’etre, is to enliven my present state of being.

What this experiment has led to so far

Considering all this in one way or another I’ve identified a number of uncomfortable feelings that are an important part of the ‘melody of feelings’ that in some depth keep repeating themselves (at least when now I remember what goes on in general). I’ve identified 7 that seem to be basic and given them a label for easier identification. They are all situated in the lower breast and stomach area, 2 of them in the gut area.

Much of my behavior seems to be directed at influencing the situations I find myself in in such a way as to not ‘give reason’ for these feelings to come up, and if they come up to immediately avoid feeling them or if that’s unavoidable to diffuse them, throw some nebulae around them etc. If all of that doesn’t work I (like to) blame the other or situation for me having them, suggesting that if I could only change them/it everything would be alright again.

It also led me to, in my conversations – and at moments in other situations – keep an eye on the emotional melody playing. Since there were no overwhelming emotions it was easy to just be with them, ‘unconditionally’, dipping into their flow.

A very interesting effect: I haven’t been ‘reacting’ to what was communicated and could then much more easily respond to the content of what was said…

Design for next few days

In the morning after getting up spend 20 – 30 minutes with both contemplating my ‘feeling life’ and see if there are more primary uncomfortable feelings that need to be part of the Top Ten, and exploring the ones on the list already, that means:
* Remember situations that trigger  those feelings
* Unconditionally embrace the feeling
* Notice what comes up doing that (not pursuing it)

During the day keep an eye on the feelings, also scan for yet ‘unlisted primary feelings’.

Write about this in the evening.

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)

How to be happy, rich and influential

Welcome friend
Welcome friend

At the heart of flow – a word for an inner state coined by Michael Csikszentmihalyi – is the absence of emotion, of any kind of consciousness. “Consciousness and emotion are there to correct your trajectory; when what you are doing is seamlessly perfect, you don’t need them,” says Martin Seligman in his very useful book, “Authentic Happiness”, that I’m working through at present. These lines transport so much of what makes sense to me: for instance that consciousness is much overrated in contemporary spiritual culture.

But first things first: During my recent seminar in the Czech Republic (I’ve written about it here) in one of the exercises that we happened to explore we were looking into what we really, really want. And guess what, I found that I want to be rich and influential. “What for?” you might well ask. But does what we really, really want need a justification?
Not, that I couldn’t give you one: I’m already rich in most matters of the soul, and people coming into my vicinity easily influence me and I them; I call the mutual apprenticeship and what happens between us then “wefullness“. And now, as my understanding of what I want and what is needed matures, I think I cannot only handle financial riches and the influence it brings but I also know how to use it to leverage my vision: “Living in a world where everybody can make their living with what they really want to do.”

That, of course, is a world that is governed by what may be called ‘grown-ups with only minor hang-ups’, people who understand that we’re living on one round globe and together with an infinite number of living beings and innumerable non-living beings. People who also know – and live according to that knowledge – that “if we no longer imagine that objects stare back,  then […] they are not partners in dialogue with whom an I-Thou relationship obtains. Once the soul of the world loses its face, we see things rather than images. Things ask no more of us than to be owned and used, becoming possessions.” (Italics mine, from ‘The Force of Character and the Lasting Life’ by James Hillman; p. 149).

So when I say that my path now is committed to becoming as rich, if not even more rich, as I am in character, soul, psyche, imagination, love, wefullness and understanding, I’m not talking about things and possessions, I’m talking about real images coming alive with the breath, the spirit of imagination. It’s money talking with a very convincing voice, saying, “it is my purpose to provide a living, a beautiful and meaningful living for everyone.”

I’m only have slight indications where that wealth might be coming from, but I don’t need more than that. Surely the richess will come, of course, in keeping with the vision mentioned, it needs to come about by doing what I love to do. which is saying the same things as, it cannot but come complementing what I really, really want to do. And since most of the time I’m doing just that – creating the next generation social network, designing the collaboration ecology as well as the first drafts of the UI, doing seminars on self-discovery and self-empowerment in the manner of mutual apprenticeship, writing, reading – I rest assured that my true want will turn into reality.

Now before it became as clear as it is now what I want, when it was just clear what world I want for my children, grandchildren and me to live in – yes I believe it can become a reality before I leave my darling body behind – upon deep reflection it became clear that I choose the happy path to help co-design and help realize this world. Which brings me back to the beginning of this blog-post, and the book I’m reading on “Authentic Happiness”.

Martin Seligman’s encouraging us to do what we already know is good for us (and much more, but I won’t go into that, except to say that if you are looking for very intelligent, or scientific, or just plain common sense reasons for pursuing happiness, you find them in this book), and he says that the one thing that has most influence on enduring happiness is leading a rich and fulfilling social life – and he’s not talking about the online-variant, but I guess that counts for something :-). We also all know that gratitude and forgiveness is very good when dealing with the past; being optimistic and hopeful helps when considering the future… And the above quote comes from that part where he speaks about being happy in the present.
Then he makes a very important distinction: The difference between pleasure and gratification. We all know what pleasures are, they are “delights that have clear sensory and strong emotional components,” as Martin puts it. Gratifications, on the other hand, are “activities in which time stops for us [I would say doesn’t exist for us], our skills match the challenge, and we are in touch with our strengths.” Really, gratification comes from being in the flow, where neither emotions nor consciousness are present; we simply disappear into what’s going on and what we’re doing.

Choosing the happy path in life, actually before anything else you could possibly want, makes an amazing lot of sense to me. So whatever it is that you really, really want, start doing it today, maybe step by step, maybe in one big leap. And doing so, do it the happy way.
And – you can certainly want what you already have; if so, spread your happiness.
If it needs to turn from an image into a tangible reality first, go about it as happy as you can.
If what you want cannot be reached by being happy, it might be worth reconsidering if it is what you really, really want. Because if it doesn’t contribute to your happiness moving towards (or living) it probably won’t contribute to our happiness as human and other beings.
And if you are happy about anything, or just happy without a cause, be assured that it will be a wellspring of goodness to all of us.

Meditation & Irritation

A lovely movie illustrating what meditation can do to irritations…


Keeping the Vision

January 2nd 2006 – Talking to the Serenity-Community

Since many years experiments are being conducted in which human beings are trying to influence random number generators. These machines produce thousands of zeros or ones per minute randomly, that means by pure coincidence. It doesn’t mater how many times you run this generator you always get 50% zeros and 50% ones. And this is always the case unless you put a human being in front of it, trying to influence the outcome. Every human can influence the 50/50 output of this random number generator to a greater or lesser degree. This has been proven countless times. Many, many experiments since the eighties have been done at the most reknown universities, the American MIT for instance and the Princeton University, and they have been conducted in Amsterdam, Holland and other places.

Now, one person can sway this chance of 50% a little bit, if I remember rightly by up to 1 percent, which is very significant from a scientific point of view. If you put two people in front of it they sway it up to two or three times as much. But if these people love each other they sway the machine six times as much. I find that very significant – this love-effect! These are utterly reliable scientific data showing what is possible if two loving people together put their energy, power and imagination to influencing a random number generator.

So I ask, “What will happen if we here put this principal to work with the vision of an integral and compassionate culture? … Or are we here at the Serenity-Community not ready for this, yet?” I think we are, and I do believe that in spite of our difficult financial situation at this moment we will manage, but we will not do so if we don’t put our energy, our imagination, our power into influencing our future. You live here expecting some spiritual nourishment, and you can expect to be so nourished, of course — but if you don’t want to be just as a consumer of spiritual goods then you have to sit down and put your energy, imagination, intelligence into that vision of creating an intelligently compassionate culture now. This is the kind of school we are having here at Serenity, an integral school for a different, a true spiritual culture. And this way we make this place attractive for people coming here, a place were you can now already get a taste of the coming intelligently compassionate culture. Not a place of people privatizing, doing their own thing — which is quit fine, I am not against that at all — but most of all a place of intelligent love and loving intelligence. And that means in all moments of life … whenever you have conflicts or tensions between you, you stop for a moment, remember what both of you are up to, that is: you want to realize that vision, that kind of life. And then from there you will find the energy and the intelligence to do so. You put your energy there, put your love there, and put your intelligence there… and realize it this very moment.

This is not an ashram or a monastery with the motto, “ora et labora” (pray & work). We actually never had much labora compared to monasteries anyway, and this has never been a place where you’re suppose to give up your joys and the little private fun you have, not at all. But if you give as much energy to realizing the vision of an intelligently compassionate culture as you are giving to your own private joys right now , we will be an unbeatable force. It’s fine, it’s perfectly all right to want to realize your own goals and have your own happiness — but if you put as much energy in the vision as in realizing your own goals then you will live to see that incredibly beautiful culture.
I have seen the future and I tell you: It is incredible! But I can’t make it a manifest reality on my own. I can be a great teacher, I can be a great energy worker, I can be terrific, my groups are getting better all the time. This I know, people are telling me this quite often now. So I don’t need anybody for doing that, but for realizing this vision I need people and I need you, every single one of you. And I’m happy it’s you, because I love everyone of you. And I don’t only love you, I actually like you as well. Liking is personal, loving is from heart to heart, to heart regardless of the person. So that’s a double plus. And undoubtedly there will be many others as well that we love and like…
Actually we have had a great omen, different kinds of birds flying and playing together, I told you about this experience in the winter seminar. The I Ching has told me much the same, and I’ve seen the future, so it’s all there. The spirit of the times is with it, and the Tao is moving in that direction. Now, this year I hope to open up a few more places to do seminars and events and so on to involve more people and make the vision and possibility known far and wide, hoping, that the seed will fall into fertile ground here and there — this is what I can do. And I am investing everything I have in that, as you well know. So now I want you to look inside your heart and see if that’s what you want too, and if that’s what you want in your heart of hearts, then be courageously joyful and go! Because that’s the way — yes, you will move in the right direction. And if this is not there for you, if it is not your truth, you will also move in the right direction: yours. It will be a private one, and that is just as fine. I do not criticize that at all. Who am I to know what life wants you to be and do? But then this place, Serenity, is not the place for realizing that; you might want to consider finding a more suitable place for realizing your own private goals.

So this year is the year of manifestation for Serenity or it will be the year when Serenity comes to an end. We will see which it is. Don’t worry about it, because if you act from worry or fear, you might help a little bit, but it doesn’t amount to much; you will loose your energy and power that way. So don’t worry about it, don’t be fearful about it. Move from the truth; look in your heart and find it there, and then move from there.
There is a Bible verse where it says about Jesus’ disciples: “Many are called, but few are chosen.” This doesn’t mean they were chosen by Jesus, they rather chose them selves. So this vision I am having is calling many people. It is attracting many people, but only those that choose them selves to realize it, to co-create it, they are the chosen ones. They are the ones that build the nest for the vision to come true, and those are the people I am interested in. I want to teach, I want to relate, and I want to give everything to them, to people that choose themselves. And I am sure we will get all the help we need from as yet totally unknown quarters. But it will never come if we are not moving with our heart and intelligence in the direction we believe in.

And you will notice that on that way there is already a lot of happiness for you personally, because if you are moving in the direction that comes from the heart, then every movement gives you happiness right now. You might fail, but the moving in that direction gives you happiness, and that counts much more. So don’t worry about it, just move in the right direction, step by step, day by day, moment by moment, whenever you remember. And if you don’t remember and you remember later, don’t worry about forgetting sometimes.

Well, that’s how creation came into being, God forgot himself, herself, and here you are. So don’t worry about that.