(Dia-, Tria- and Multilogues in the Series “We are the next Buddha”)
After some preliminary statements about the quality of Internet connection and lights that have to be switched on, our conversation on the “We” starts.
Mushin: We are going to speak about We, at least that is my plan; It would be very nice if for the time of this conference we would come from the We-space, out of a we-fullness. So that as we are talking about the We, we’re not just talking about it but talking as much as it is possible from it.
Doug: I’m game for that experiment and living into that.
Mushin: So let’s just take a minute of silence for the We to become full…” (in the silence we all hear the birds in Mushin’s location.) Yes, there are many birds here, one singing right in front of my window.
Doug: And that reminds we of the story you shared about the wood, about the plurality. Those birds of all different species.
Mushin: Three or four different species playing together, hopping from branch to branch, playing some game that only birds can play in Wintertime. Yes.
I have been contemplating today a bit about the emergence of the We in a developmental sense, and also about the emergence of the I. And it appeared to me that the I or ego might be coming out of the We; the We of mother and child, out of that unity. That would be a primary-level We, an undifferentiated We. Moving up the spiral of development, it seems that the three of us here and now are tapping into a much wider, much larger We that has very much incorporated individuality.
Doug: But it’s not a primary identity, it is included in the We more as meta-reality, a main reality.
Helen: It might also be possible to talk about it in Wilber’s terms of a more integral consciousness where the I — which is the primary vehicle of consciousness — is waking up to more dimensions of being, waking up to its own embeddedness in the We, which has always been there but has not really been understood. Once that becomes conscious in an individual, then the individual can develop much faster. And once this becomes conscious in a collective of individuals, we get emergence happening at an exponential rate. That’s my sense of it.
Mushin: And there is more that Wilber seems to add. In his book “Integral Spirituality” in chapter 7, “A Miracle Called We”, he says there is a major difference between we and I, and that is the dominant monad. He uses the example of his dog Isaac — what a name for a dog — getting up. He points out that the We of the cells of the dog don’t go this way or that way, they all follow the dominant monad, which is not the case in the We that we three are talking about now. This We does not have a dominant monad.
That is an interesting distinction, so long as we keep in mind that the dominant monad is just temporarily dominant. What I mean by that is: what we are, the I, the individual, is basically a configuration of different subpersonalities or voices. In that commonality of what we usually call “I myself” are dominant voices or subpersonalities which rule at certain times.
In the case of a dog, the matter is pretty simple. But if I get up it might be the young boy getting up to do a little dance — the sun is going down and he needs to do his sundown dance — or it might be the rational, cognitive wise guy that gets up. So that is what I point to when I say that these subpersonalities are temporarily dominant, in this case dominating the whole of me to get up.
Helen: That could be a very useful inquiry. I sometimes feel that these voices and subpersonalities are a metaphor that we take to be real. And we can also look at our identities as woven out of lots of different threads and lots of different voices. Some of the Buddhist views are saying, “The more you look for the I the less you find it.” And yet there is this subjective sense of I-am-ness that Wilber talks about as being the witnessing self, witnessing all of the other things. So when we talk about the ‘I’ it is useful to know which ‘I’ we are talking about. Are we talking about the subpersonality-I’s that pop in and sort of borrow the body for a while, or are we talking about the witnessing I that is or can be aware of all of these different subvoices?
Douglas: And now a story from my personal path on behalf of where our collective we is going in service of emergence. For many years I would notice that action could be seeded from stillness. And I would notice that there was the consideration of an act, but I would pay attention to what preceded it, what kind of dialogue was going on that actually preceded action. So the question, “Who is doing?” was really up inside me, and then action would happen and I didn’t always know who decided.
If we take it that there is something that guides action, that at that point is in control, the dominant monad of the individual self – and I’m thinking of that on behalf of us being servants of the emerging noticing-and-direction seeking for humanity, of that we are antennae of awareness – and between us we will collectively pick up something that we decide to act on through some agency of the circle being.
Mushin: If I understand this — putting what Helen and you said together — I see that what is called the witness, the consciousness that is witnessing everything that is going on, does not seem to be agentive, it’s just witnessing whatever it’s witnessing…
Then the question becomes: “The development from the undifferentiated We through the I of the ego towards the circle-being-We, what is guiding that journey?”
If we accept that different subpersonalities are dominant at certain moments of time, we have all been studying that to some extent,then we can also pose this question like this, “How is the orchestration happening?”
So let’s say my inner child is being deeply hurt and taking over, becoming dominant. (We hear a dog barking in the background – “Being hurt maybe?”) So then the dog in myself awakens and takes over and says, “Okay child, it’s okay. Take a distance,” and so on. So the question is,” What is the guiding force? What is the monad, if that it is, that is guiding this journey?”
Helen: I think back to Genpo Roshi’s Big Mind process. What he does is go through what he calls the dualistic voices, the voices of the dualistic self, and then he moves on to the non-dual voices, and he speaks to Big Mind. And after he speaks to Big Mind; you know, Big Mind sees everything, and everything is vast, and Big Mind is everything, and everything is fine. So if it were left to its own devices Big Mind would just sit there and be fine with everything. So after speaking with Big Mind, he speaks with Big Heart. It is the duality between wisdom and compassion. Big Heart sees the same as what Big Mind sees, but Big Heart acts, Big Heart is driven to act out of compassion. So in terms of “who is acting”, which side of the duality are we acting from? Are we acting out of the subpersonality with the biggest need right now taking over the whole boat, or are we on the other side acting from fullness? I think we can only get into a collective We of the wise kind, that we are inquiring into right now, when the individual and social holons – not all maybe, but certainly enough – are coming from that space of fullness.”
Doug: You use the word agentive, and this brings me to the whole issue of the emergence of leadership or direction in action that will come out of what we are exploring. The formulation of direction is a leadership act, and I have been spending these last weeks just asking the question: “Who, and on behalf of whom, is that discernment and direction coming about?” (Dog barking again; we hear that it’s Moonshine, a little fluffy poodle, settling down now)
Mushin: I think the question of leadership is also one that is closely connected to the We. Of course we all know that there are the masses which do have a will of their own and their purposes are usually not very transcendent. I remember in the end of the 60s in Amsterdam, we used to fight the police in and around houses we squatted. There was also a We coming into sync, all of us coming into sync, and actually acting pretty coherently – and violently. I think Elias Canetti wrote about that (Masse und Macht).
Coming back to your question, Doug, about the leadership in all of this. I think we are coming from a point in our lives where we have been through a deep enough personal development — a development of the individual We, a significant number of subpersonalities inside of us – so that they have what I would call it a higher coherence which then allows us to actually explore whatever we wish to explore as this We, internally coming from a sense of we-fullness.
But then this doesn’t answer the question that Doug has put up, which I also think is very interesting to explore.
Doug: It is coming also from my own experiencing of being lived right now. And I’m noticing that when I’m really in clear articulation of how I am experiencing myself in my life and on my path, I also bring the story of a movement, of a collective reality. And as I invoke that with people, immediately there is a palpable response and they get on board and throw in their head-and-heart resources. There is generally a serving all of the movement that we get right now. It has numerous expressions in projects but I think of it all is a uniform direction.
Mushin: As we are exploring the idea of leadership… I suggest that maybe the emerging We is acting backward in time. If we look at subpersonalities in the Big Mind process, I’ve facilitated it a couple of times myself, after such a process with the dual and non-dual voices I often hear the question: “Who is governing this whole process? Which voice is leading one from the most horrible to the most enlightened voices? Who is running the show?” And in the past I have mostly used the metaphor of the ship, that there is some kind of captain, not the controller. The captain is never at the helm, he’s just saying where we go, and who’s on duty. So the captain would give the stage to a personality. That is a way to look at it.
But recently I have come to the idea that maybe I should regard the self as a We and that the self itself, from the darkest of voices to the highest non-dual subpersonality, can develop so that an inner circle-being comes into existence. Not something separate; we all know from when the We appears in the circle context with persons in the outside world, it is bigger than the sum of you and me and everybody participating. Nevertheless it brings a whole new way of being and feeling with the individuals participating.
Coming back to leadership, the idea is that maybe the emerging We or circle-being in some way exerts an influence backwards in time, pulling the voices into the coherence in which then the circle-being appears.
Helen: What are the conditions for the circle-being to emerge, when the individual components or the inner crowd inside an individual is behaving like a violent mob?
Mushin: Obviously that’s not possible.
Helen: The idea of congruence, where congruence would be the way to have that circle being… but again, if the inner circle being is congruent and behind an objective that is self-seeking for the smaller self, it will be very convincing and successful in the world, getting what it wants, but that also is not contributing to the emerging We. So what is the urge we have? Look at us, the three of us, and we are certainly not the only ones, who are hungry and thirsty for more we-fullness, and what is that about? What is that urge?
We can also call it the evolutionary urge of the We that goes from the fusional pre-personal-we, the newborn child, up through the individuation of the individuality, and then to the other side of belonging to an empowered collective that acts from fullness rather than from need.
Doug: …rather than individual need? What’s the difference?
Helen: Even from the perceived need of a group. I am thinking here of something that I’ve written on my blog about. You have Maslow’s pyramid of needs that go up from survival all the way to self-actualization. But everything under the self-actualization comes from a space of neediness rather than from a space of fullness, it’s coming from a space of fear. But there comes a point when that is no longer the driving urge; beyond that point, it’s abundance and one is acting much more from that.
Doug: I want to add something to the point of hungering and thirsting for we-fullness. There’s another expression of that, which is dancing and celebrating to express the being that We are, as an exuberance of knowing it, knowing we are there.
Mushin: Yes, absolutely. The first time I rediscovered the community-building process by Scott Peck, and I wrote about it, I named the article Hieros Gamos, divine marriage. There was this huge sense of celebration as the We appeared in this group, I remember it so well. It was, from my point of view as someone who basically feels that beauty is truth and beauty is love, as if the whole room lit up and everybody was just incredibly beautiful. Other people were speaking about deep feelings of connectedness, about the incredible joy they felt and so on. So there were many different celebratory expressions about being taken by or becoming part of or being embraced by the We. So there is an absolute sense of celebration, and Scott Peck speaks in this connection even about erotic feelings, a massive falling in love with each other. And that certainly happens.
And that could be also the movement back in time, the joy of We coming into being, the pre-individual We and the post-individual We, like the two ends of a stick holding it together. Not ends really, because you cannot say that there is a beginning and an end, but in this metaphor, there are these two We’s in our beginning as an individual and towards the ending of the individuality as determining life factor, and maybe there is this connection, this thread somehow, and this is the urge. (Losing Helen again… and reconnecting. After the reconnection we speak a bit about how much time we still have…)
Doug: Let me give you a quote as we were using the captain metaphor. This is from the email signature of a colleague from Australia. “If you want to build a ship, don’t divide the work and give orders; teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.” (Saint-Exupery) That brings me into the oceanic character of consciousness that is one of my favorite metaphors for the mystical state.
Mushin: And I was just thinking about oceanic feelings in the Freudian sense. There Wilber’s distinction between pre- and trans- seems to play a role that we might want to acknowledge here. There is the first We of mother and child and then there is the – for lack of a better word – transcendent We that is trans-individual…
Helen: … that transcends and includes.
Mushin: It includes, very much so, yes. This is one of the beautiful things of this We, that I as a person feel absolutely embedded, welcomed, embraced in my light and darkness. That is the compassion, that aspect of the We that I’m always feeling, and maybe that is part of what is pulling us so much.
Helen: Mushin, as you say that, I realized that that is something that I can tune into and feel without there being a We of actual specific individuals. I don’t know quite how to call it, maybe my relationship to the universe or with whatever – it’s not an it, more a thou. But it is not dependent on the presence of other individuals. For me, what I want the circle-being for, that We, is to act coherently and powerfully and flowingly and in alignment with the deeper underlying purpose of life in the world. So it’s an intermediate stage before that really huge We of communion with the God-Being, whatever that might be, which is definitely embedded, welcomed and embraced in my life in that compassionate aspect that we have been talking about, but this urge to form the intermediate We has got to do partly with getting stuff done. It’s also about holding the space for emergence.
Doug: That is what I wanted to bring, to get very practical from the conversation about our experience in consciousness and in we-fullness… (now Doug talks about some of the projects which have been emerging for us in the last few weeks, among others about the coordination and implementation in the energy marketplace.)
The principles of servant leadership and we-fullness and guidance are already active and mobilized. Enhancing collaboration, that’s the practice field for what we’re talking about. (More specifics.)
This is inviting people into the question, “How can I be here for the collective beyond my own self interest or that of my company or initiative? To be here for the collective goals and needs?” So in many contexts the question is, “How do networks of networks collaborate and let go of their own individual attachments?”
Mushin: And in connection with that, I have stumbled across a very interesting thing, it is called Deep Dialogue and it originates with the dialogue between religions. There are seven stages of dialogue mentioned that I will be sending to you. There are also 10 Commandments of deep dialogue which I will be sending to you. That belongs here because I see the We as… you were previously asking, what are the circumstances and atmospheres and so on that are needed for the We to appear? And dialogue as we are having it here right now is one of the ways, and I think at this time and age it is the major gate that we need to take. The silent gate has been taken for ages leading to the universal We that you were describing, Helen. And I think the dialogical gate leads to initiatives and actions in the world we have been talking about in the last two minutes.
Pictures by Helen & Mushin
Mandalas created by participants in the Summergroupp of 2005 at Serenity Community, facilitated by Mushin
Previous post in this series, and for those who are interested in the general topic we are meandering around, there are some more posts: “Why the Next Buddha will be a Collective” by Helen, “Steps Towards Integral Deep Dialogue” Part 1 & Part 2 by Bruce; “The Collective Buddha Inquiry” again by Helen.
You might also want to look at these blog entries: “Towards an Integral and Pluralistic Spirituality“, “A Collective Emergence“; and “The Art of Relating” – if you think I should post some more important entries here, please let me know and I will be delighted to link them here…
and I hope this will be the beginning of a long and beautiful journey together with lots of more things to come.