Neighborhood is the New Wilderness

Neighborhood is the New Wilderness

I have to say it again: Neighborhood is the new wilderness. Love that. Wish I’d said it myself but I didn’t. I do want to go to the neighborhood wilderness though: build a little cabin . . . off-grid, wood stove, birds and animals, my sweetie.

No I heard the phrase, almost in passing, day before yesterday from Peter Block in a little “workshop.” His book Community: the Structure of Belonging was so important to me when I first encountered it ten or so years ago. The book is about imagining a future that is distinct from the past. At heart it’s about a new kind of conversation, one we haven’t imagined yet.

IBuckminster Fuller famously said that to change something you don’t fight the existing reality, you build something that makes that reality obsolete. That’s another way of saying a future distinct from the past. Peter’s work is the best way I’ve seen how to do this! .

The opposite of the existing reality is to make friends out of the strangers in the neighborhood. Being amazed and very happy to learn that our unknown neighbors have deep dreams and talents and gifts just like us. And big hearts just like us.

The new “getting to know you” is also the new activism. It’s the revolution, the one that’s been dreamed of for so long. It’s not about overthrowing evil tyrants. They can fall in their own time. In the meantime, we can do our own work

Could we have the great rest instead of the great reset? Yes, but not yet. Freedom takes time and practice freeing ourselves. It takes something besides fighting the enemy.

The Israelites were enslaved in Egypt for 430 years before they left and then they were 40 years wandering in the desert before they made it to the kingdom. The people weren’t all united on leaving and of course, the Pharoah didn’t want them to go. Seven plagues fell on Egypt while the Pharoah said no but finally he had to let the people go. We already have many of the plagues falling on us. How long before we leave the consumer culture that is enslaving us?

Come join this small group conversation on Thursday at 11 Eastern time. We’ll practice making the polarization obsolete and welcoming strangers and each other. We are using zoom (maybe practice local later). We’ll be in groups of three and then together reflecting on what we’re noticing. It’s free to join.

If you CAN’T make it but get the idea, share this email with a friend and copy me. Friends can join my mail list at

We’ll do some other free experiences. Later there’ll be a closed group that will give opportunity for a mutual social field that can support all of our deepest dreams coming true. If any of this appeals to you, take a wild risk and jump in for something different  this Thursday. 11am Eastern, 4in the UK, 5 in western Europe, etc.

This is an exciting seed of a new direction. Feel free to jump in even if you’re not sure what I’m raving about. The new wilderness is under our nose but we so often miss it. Hope you’ll join us and see what can happen for you. ​

The Singular Place of Dual Blessing

The Singular Place of Dual Blessing

The conscious meeting of the “I” and the “We”

When the “I” and the “We” co-inhabit the room, a striking new evolutionary possibility opens up. I call it The Singular Place of Dual Blessing.


Though the word “we-space” has been around for a little while now, it turns out, as many have seen and as you’ll see here too, that the implications of it are as vast as the discovery of the Americas was 500 years ago. It’s a new world in here.

My own consciousness explorations, like those of many of you no doubt, are unorthodox. I spent thousands of hours in men’s groups hearing individual stories and noticing, with relaxation and delight, the groupness, the extra “we-factor” presence that came from being together. I also, after a dissolute youth as a hippy, spent decades meditating mostly outside of the traditions, not being part of a sangha or with a given view of the world. I say mostly outside because I did have some teachers, well-known and not, and was deeply instructed by the way of some non-dual teachers. I learned to work with what was true for me deep down in a bodily sense. I also spent a great deal of time and energy feeling deeply like an outsider, anxious and afraid and self-recriminating, while maintaining a slender tap root down into a non-dual consciousness through my meditation and group pursuits.

All our ways are unique and worthy of a deep “yes.” For me the persistent sense of exclusion and dispossession, gave me a deep feeling for the invisible rules that govern “we-spaces.” It helps to be an outsider to see what inside looks like!

I sought and fought for groups that an “us” with no “them,” where our common humanity was the bond, even if we seldom used such lofty language. Intellectually and personally, I came to see the world as moving toward, and needing to move toward, a common “us,” one with no “them.”   

The biggest turnaround is one that is really at the heart of this essay. I’ll point to it quickly here and outline it in some detail later because I really do think it significantly alters the view of the “I-space We-space” landscape and I think it’s generally not seen. (In this case, the fact that it’s usually overlooked is an indicator of its centrality.)

It’s that the groups we belong to, including family, work and spiritual communities, put invisible pressure on us to behave, think and feel in a certain way. We conform to this pressure invisibly and seamlessly out of love and loyalty to the group members.

The trouble is, this out-of-consciousness conformity to group norms creates a conflict with the depth of the self. Now the “I” must suppress its own knowing so as not to jeopardize its good standing in the group. While out of awareness, this dynamic is active nonetheless.

We can’t resolve the conflict while the loyalty to the group remains unseen.

When it is in awareness, a new possibility arises. I call it The Singular Place of Dual Blessing.

Let’s look at the we-space and the I-space separately, and see just how it works that we miss a crucial piece of each . . . ongoingly. Adding in the missing piece profoundly shifts the experience of both self and group. But let’s look at them one by one, starting with the group.


What we don’t notice as we go about our lives is that one of the many things that spiritual life or consciousness, is, is a system. It’s a “field.” (A “field” is analogous to a physical terrain; it’s a living space or theatre where our relational life takes place, especially when this is being noticed.)

No, we don’t notice that we live in a system or field. Instead we tend to live in a private ego world!

For example, we think that it’s us and our god and our meditation and our mindfulness. And it is all of these things! But all of these are first part of a system, a field.

It’s evident that we don’t think it’s a system because the literally millions of books and articles on all aspects of individual-self development and personal psychology that have emerged since the dawning of the science of psychology have virtually all assumed the individual perspective.

The result is we tend to think that development is self-development and the spiritual work is personal work. As I hope to make clear though, that’s only partially true and that limited perspective dooms our efforts to failure or limited success.

Here’s why this is so important and so little understood!

Each of us already belongs to many circles of greater or lesser personal importance. These circles include our family (both of origin and destiny), our workmates, our church perhaps, our schoolmates, people of our color, sex, ethnicity or language . . . and more. We’re already in relationship everywhere and flow in a sea of these multiple relationships!

So my friends, here’s the kicker!

Each of our we-space circles has a consciousness of its own . . . and unspoken rules of behavior and attitude for belonging. 

And these unspoken rules determine what membership in that group obligates us to act like and to feel like inside ourselves.

This is as true in higher consciousness circles as it is in the bowling league.

One of the reasons we don’t see this happening is that we’re blinded by a root assumption that’s below consciousness it’s so taken for granted. It’s the assumption, deep in our psyche and deep in the historic experience of being human, that there is an “us” and a “them.” Each group or circle we’re in forms itself as a little “us” that’s distinct from “them.” Members become an “us” because we agree that this is “us” and that’s “them.” 

“Us” and “them” are foundational assumptions of the present level of evolutionary development for almost everybody[1]. Moving past that unconscious assumption is one way of describing what the worldwide awakening now possible for us, is about. We’re moving toward a world where there’s only us.

 (Are you with me so far, at least in a checking out way, because a major point is coming? If you’re not, please write and tell me where I lost you – or where I got it wrong!  I’d really like to know!)

All the preceding was a setup to tell you this:

Our membership in circles and networks puts a powerful pressure on us to conform uncritically and automatically to the consensus worldview, internally and externally, moment to moment, as the condition of our membership.

I’m talking about an unconscious pressure to think, feel, and behave in a certain way. Group members are under an invisible pressure to think of and behave toward the leader and members in a specific way and to treat group habits in a certain highly proscribed way. Moreover, a part of us (a watching part of the ego) is delegated to continually watch that we “do it right” by the group. And we hate to get it wrong! This pressure looks and feels like loyalty to the group and as I mentioned, it’s more or less entirely invisible and out of awareness.

When we look at a scene of long-term conflict in the world, we easily see the systemic aspect: the Irish “troubles” between Catholics and Protestants, for example; or Sunni and Shia stresses or Balkan enmities.

What we seldom see though is that we’re all in just the same evolutionary position as these conflict areas when we’re locked into the “us” and “them” space.

The more important the group is to us personally the harder it is for us to see our acquiescence to its worldview. (The more we’re identified with it.) [2]

Moreover we’re very likely to be already in the “us” and “them” space because that’s the inherited evolutionary consciousness. We’re very prone to think it’s “us” who have it right and “them” who don’t.

And the unconscious rule of belonging to “us” is to not question that. What’s conscious is that loyalty, etiquette, breeding and politeness demand no less of us!

What we don’t see, because it’s a group rule to not talk about it, is that our own culture has placed powerful systemic pressures on us to conform to a specific way of seeing the world.

And conscious evolution and “awakening” are not a part of that way!

This makes awakening really difficult for us! But is awakening really difficult, or is simply that it’s hard when we’re identified with a system that forbids it? In a system that makes awakening and conscious evolution its mandate, it could be that not awakening is difficult.

But I get ahead of myself!


How do we miss seeing the systemic connection if it’s so common?

What is in awareness around this is our conscience. A “good conscience” is what strengthens our sense of belonging to the groups we belong to. A “bad conscience” threatens our belonging.

I claim no authorship of this amazing and very powerful idea. The role of conscience is a central insight of Bert Hellinger, founder of modern Family Constellations.

Just like our balance orients us to what standing straight feels like in the moment, our conscience orients us to what feeling and acting right are in the moment.

We align to the we-space’s hidden rules seamlessly, much like we catch our balance automatically when walking. The system’s rules for behaviour define normal and right in every way and our conscience orients to them unerringly.

This orientating to consensus reality is a social agreement that we have only limited control over because it’s invisible and outside of conscious awareness. The rules for membership are shared intuitively within “the field” of all the members and individuals. In fact, the invisible perception of the membership rules and the related lines of cooperation and agreement between members is what a group field is.

The rules are unconscious unless spelled out

In a usual group, the operating rules are entirely unconscious. They didn’t arise because we thought them through and decided they were a good idea. They came because they’re the consensus reality in the group and we wanted to be in the group. Like the side-effects of a drug, they invisibly attend the group reality we adopt.

Without working directly with our human propensity to adapt to systems, we’re at only limited choice in any particular group we’re part of.

Unless we’re consciously noticing the group’s unconscious system, we’ll tend to subvert our individuality to it.


So far we’ve been talking about the power of the group. What we haven’t talked about is the equally important contribution and gift of our individuality to the whole. Western culture is very clear on the centrality of the individual and celebrates it continually. What it misses entirely is the vital context that individuality nest in: the group or community.  

Our individuality is the necessary other pole to the group. But let’s acknowledge our individuality here:

You are a unique one-of-a-kind individual and your particular gift is needed for our awakening! That’s literally true: your particular gift, the you of you is a vital key we need.

If you don’t give it, we’ll have to get there another way. Nonetheless, you have a way into the heart of the matter that is unique to you.

For all our culture’s lip service to individuality, it’s much more invested in “us” and “them” thinking.  A mature individual recognizes that others are individuals too, something more than “them.” To the extent that we buy into there being a “them” that’s not also “us” we sell out the magnificent uniqueness that we are.

It’s a paradox but only the true individual, only the individualized individual who knows her uniqueness, can know that we’re all the same in that each of us is utterly unique. And not only unique but uniquely needed in this awakening game.

But if we’ve given up our individual depth in order to belong to the limited group, we’re unable to awaken. The group consensus reality acts as a limiter we defer to without realizing it.

And conversely, the awakening world needs the unique depth of each of us to know itself!

When we can entertain both of these at the same time, we’re at the Singular Place of Dual Blessing.


Now we’ve come to the place when both our individual perspective and feeling, and the larger whole are in awareness at the same time. Now we start to see that the “them” we were keeping out is also our own depth.

Now we see more deeply that the profound problems of the interconnected world – pandemics and social control, war, poverty, resource depletion, environmental system decay – can’t be excluded or made into “them” in any way.

They too are “us.”

We see that in a real way, the future is up to us.

Frail, human, uncertain, unfinished, unheroic us!

Welcome to the privilege of starting again in this moment! Welcome to conscious evolution! Welcome to the Singular Place of Dual Blessing!

You’re fully you, you’re fully in relationship with a larger whole that is all of us. There’s no escaping, not really.

It’s true that one way or another, your ass is going to get kicked. Like the biblical truth that will “set you free,” the Singular Place of Dual Blessing will set you free but sometimes it might piss you off a little

We don’t really get to go back to sleep. But then sleep wasn’t so much fun anyway, was it?

We don’t get a manual or a roadmap. But the good news is we don’t need a roadmap. The good news is we get to discover that who and what we have are enough.

Road maps are for sissies who think that someone else’s way is good enough. It’s not! There’s somewhere to go that only you can go. And the whole needs you if it’s to get where it needs to go!

From the Singular Place of Dual Blessing you realize that there’s something to do that only you can do and that there’s no real choice except to do it. The fact you still don’t know how to do it and never will doesn’t lessen the call. None of us do but that doesn’t change a thing. The Singular Place doesn’t need you to know.

The Singular Place of Dual Blessing is beautiful beyond description. It’s a bitch. It’s gonna kick your ass.

But deep down you know you wouldn’t want it any other way!

[1] As many of you “evolutionaries” and integralistas know, the perception of “us” and “them” is  related to the evolutionary development or “altitude” of the perceiver and is primarily visible at “first tier”(the relatively low levels of) consciousness. This is true but nonetheless, I contend that not specifically seeing the pressure to conform created by the group is a major impediment to moving into second tier consciousness.

[2] All we-spaces based on “us” and “them” have as a prime directive that it’s rude or worse, to draw attention to the group rules for belonging. They pretend to be talking about reality not about their pre-judgment. They imagine there are no rules.

Building a Personal Support Network – Part 2

Building a Personal Support Network – Part 2

Part 1 is here.

Further to the question of personal support network, we might call it a creative support network. Or an everything-everywhere-is changing-so-what’s-important-for-me-today support network.

If we think of a Creative Support Network, this means being supported with our creative works, whether that be work as a writer or artist or craftsperson, through things our society have designated as “creative.” But it also can be living artfully through the challenging time we’re in. Navigating this is creative work too. Perhaps not seeing it as creative work is a symptom of the times, which don’t much value stepping back and reflecting. Although we’re not in Kansas anymore (the once-familiar landscape that Dorothy referred to in the Wizard of Oz), the mainstream hasn’t really noticed the landscape has changed. The market and the numbers are the metrics it uses and these keep it unaware of the wider context.

I can imagine people saying,  if you’re to be “creative,” why don’t you just get on with it and do the work. Why talk about it?

The reason is that  good listening and reflection open the way to the next step. That’s why playwrights “workshop” their new work to people who are invited for that purpose. They need fresh eyes on what they’re doing. Good listening and good feedback are part of the creative process and I would say, the human process. We thrive in a high feedback environment.  

But most of us don’t have such an environment for ourselves or even think it’s possible. Thoreau said, The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. People usually blame themselves for their sense of abandonment but it’s not an individual failing. Rather it’s a social issue with deep roots. Our consumer culture expects us to play by rules that prioritize consumption and structures a world in which “soul values” take a second place, if they’ve any place at all. Even “creative artists” often work within a paradigm in which success is based on future rewards of recognition and money, rather than on joy in the creation, or on generosity and gift.  

 People have lived for so long without a supportive environment for their meaning-making that, like a neglected plant, it hangs in the corner of the window without sunshine or enough water.

Good support, happy plant; bad support, sad plant! Good support, happy human; bad support, sad human. It’s not that you do nothing. Creative support also requires your participation at every step, or nothing happens.

The nutrient that people love is live connection with what is true and meaningful. For many people, this might look like traditional religion. It might look like individual meditation and prayer and study.

But for many of us, including me, the oxygen also needs to come from meaning making and sharing with others.  And in real time too, not in a workshop you took last quarter, but updated today.

Like taking the dog outside into the world for a walk, it has to happen when it has to happen. Its immediacy is one of its chief charms.

More on this soon!

Building a personal support network

Building a personal support network

An exciting direction that’s just appearing now for me can be to create a personal support network that helps you daily with your creative process. This could look like inviting several people you can check in with by phone or perhaps by video chat. It could be small, just a person or two you invite and make a clear agreement with. Or perhaps you could have four or five, or seven short check-ins with different people most days. This is similar to the injunction in many spiritual traditions to check in with “spirit-as-you-define-it” many times daily, perhaps just for five or ten minutes. Think of the call to prayer or the Catholic office.I have part of this in my life but this idea is more honest about what I want for myself. Thanks to Neli and her mentor Dominic Barter; the audio in his teleseminar link here will give you a lot of info.With such a personal support network, you get to define exactly what kind of support you want and make clear agreements with others based on it. You can talk about what’s really going on with you and the other, get feedback on an idea or project, get emergency help – if that’s in your agreement. You can stay more current with your inner life by sharing with a skilled listener and getting the feedback you ask for.Many many of us are more or less adrift with the massive changes going on in our world, with climate change and the other uncertainties. People are often struggling on their own. I can imagine personal support networks, active daily, being helpful to many people, including activists, recovering FaceBook and Twitter junkies, meditators, people concerned for their children’s welfare in a world that encourages alienation. The system often has us in its thrall. This is a way to collaborate on busting out!

Inside activist culture

Inside activist culture

​Inside Activist culture

I received a phone call this morning from a friend in Germany who’s active in Extinction Rebellion. She was concerned about the ​activist culture there, how it favors action over reflection, a masculine doing over a feminine being, how it has little tolerance for the hidden or secret voices of members which were paved over with a tendency to group think. 

​People often ​come into activist groups​, exploring, and ​don’t find the welcome or the home they want. ​There are voices in them that feel unheard or unwelcome, not reflected back. They can’t quite find themselves here. ​

This isn’t about Extinction Rebellion, but about activist culture in general. Activist culture tends to unconsciously ​conform to the values and structures of the larger culture, even as it tries to confront ​them. It’s ​similar to the larger culture in the pressure for conformity, the lack of space for listening. When we sense this ​pressure (and humans, being the supremely social creatures we are are tremendously good at sensing it) we immediately know it’s risky to show up and speak up just as we are. ​We know what the group norm is and we conform lest we become unpopular quickly. This emotional riskiness and lack of safety is much like the wider culture which also favors a more superficial conformity.

The more we can counter this in ourselves and in the activist culture, the stronger we’ll all be.

So here are some thoughts on what ​something better might look like, ​​sparked as my ​thinking usually is, by another conversation. ​

Hidden beneath the conformity are fearlessness and vulnerability

​What does the conformity and suppression of individual voice cover up? ​One way to say it is our ability to experience both fearlessness and vulnerability. 

​Fearlessness is distinct from bravado or martyrdom. It doesn’t suppress other parts of ourselves and diminish or belittle them, as if we’d be stronger that way. Fearlessness is based on a free choice, consciously chosen. In fearlessness, every part of us is lined up behind the action and we actually feel grounded and ready. We recognize our friends who are there with us too!  Fearlessness isn’t really possible as a solitary act because ​to the extent it’s a solitary act we’ve no one to be fearless for.

Vulnerability is distinct from collapse or weakness. It means knowing the risk and showing up anyway with an open heart. Vulnerability also opens us to the trauma that’s part of the human experience, what we’d like to pretend wasn’t there. Trauma is in the larger human body and every family’s history is touched by it. ​Welcoming our experience sooner or later means opening to trauma and even the fear of death. Like fearlessness, ​vulnerability is also social. ​We can’t be vulnerable without others to be vulnerable to. Another thing that vulnerability means is daring to go at our own ​speed and to respect and take care of our own needs. It’s a form of self-care, including for parts of us we may have been denying our whole lives.

Neither vulnerability in the sense I mean it, or fearlessness, are possible without intentional places to practice and improve in. That’s because the social norm is to not welcome them.​ It’s not socially safe to risk either vulnerability or fearlessness.  

​Hidden beneath the conformity: tension between the individual and collective 

A​lso hidden beneath the pressure to conform is an ongoing but almost always invisible tension between the individual and the collective. The more he or she speaks with an original voice – the less she conforms – the more she risks being excluded. But the more she conforms to the group and suppresses individual doubts or concerns in order to belong, ​the more she disempowers herself and the less truth she has to contribute. (​Read more about this in The Singular Place of Dual Blessing​. Dual Blessing is the place where we make room for both sides of the paradox.)

​We can ​explore this personally and practically in​ small groups that name these issues and welcome others​. ​

My secret wish​ is that everyone ​have an opportunity to ​do the work that can’t be done alone​, both for themselves and for the ​sake of the work. ​Otherwise we’ll ​”unintentionally” ​propagate the unconscious biases of the larger culture-  and feel frustrated doing it. ​​

​We need ​the messy, emerging-in-the-moment voices we have, just as ​they are to get the ​transformation work done. ​Need it ​both for the work and for ourselves. 

​Check under  Groups, above, for practice opportunities! 

Facebook junk food

Facebook junk food

A friend wrote about her frustration with Facebook where commercialism and self-aggrandizement rule (she didn’t use those words). Here are a few of my thoughts it, not the whole truth most certainly . . . Mostly they’re from my book Evolutionary YOU: Discovering the depths of radical change which is about escaping the control of the social matrix we think we already know about. I added the junk food metaphor just now.

In the tribes of old, we lived in full view of each other. Members were fully and constantly updated on what other members were doing. That was the tribe’s way, and there was no place to hide. In other words, long before Facebook, in our ancient past, tribal members were caught in an ongoing celebration of belonging and checking for the stone age equivalent of Likes. Everything we did reaffirmed our belonging and how much (or how little) we belonged to the tribe.

Facebook updates make this status-checking behavior more visible to us, but Facebook is just piggy-backing on the social architecture that’s already there: the need to know how we’re faring in the group and how “Liked” we are. How much we belong. Facebook members may check twenty or thirty times a day, but in the tribe of the past, this was constant, ongoing. The matrix is our past, whatever it may be in our future. 

The difference, and it’s an important one is that in the tribes of old there was a context of kinship and agreed upon social values so the connection was nourishing. FB by comparison is closer to social junk food.

There are a few nutrients in there. There are added vitamins in junk food too. The body takes in and assimilates whole foods in their contexts, food grown in healthy vibrant soil and local if possible. But with FB, the wholesome article-vitamins are denatured because they don’t come within a wholesome and complete context.

People are seldom able to actually use the intellectual, emotional, or spiritual material they get from FB to understand something more deeply. If they do, it’s in spite of the medium not because of it. FB doesn’t help to build a body of knowledge, live in it or connect with each other.

But it’s incredibly compelling.

Status and belonging are the invisible dark matter in our social space. Just like the dark matter in space pulls at us and is not seen, the need for status and belonging tugs at all of our exchanges. Beneath the stated purpose of the get-together, people have an underlying and more basic need to be accepted and respected – to belong. Although we seldom are conscious of it, this need is the glue of social cohesion and everything else rests on it.

We maintain our physical comfort by, for example, moving slightly or adjusting our sitting position. We loosen our too-tight clothing or scratch the momentary itch. In much the same way we monitor and maintain our social connection. With a similar effortlessness we bring our actions and thoughts into harmonious alignment with what fits into the culture. Just like our balance orients us to what standing upright feels like in the moment, our conscience orients us to what feeling and acting “upright” are in the moment.

Belonging is the hidden subtext in group settings and the hidden subtext underlying our mood and thoughts when we’re alone. As long as the dynamic is hidden and invisible, we’re shaped like Plasticine dough by the pressure to belong. Our sense of meaning is pulled subtly this way and that according to different loyalties. Meaning becomes free-floating, unmoored, not tied to our sense of self.

But when you’re seeing this, and especially if some other tribe members do too, you’re no longer under the influence of the tribe’s hidden rules. You’re now, at least partially, in a we-space where the rules can be rewritten.

Change is a shift in consciousness

Change is a shift in consciousness

​My friend John Heney has referred to our normal experience of the world as an “isolating personal performance.”​ This seems to me a telling phrase, one I can certainly relate to ​from personal experience.

In this essay, I want to take this experience of ​isolating performance and place it beside the experience of Presence or non-​performance and ​offer some ideas about ​moving from one to the other.​ Along the way this I’ll show ​the relevance of this to our moment, to climate change and ​adapting to a future we may ​not be able to “fix.” 

Warning: 1. Along the way there will be ​​bad cartoons. ​2. When I say that “we experience … [this or that],” I’m referring to the usual mindset, the everyday sleep the spiritual literature speaks to. ​That’s not all we are, of course. The everyday sleep IS the personal  performance.

​The purpose of the performance of an isolated self is to maintain or improve our ​right to belong well in the human community.​ ​The social norm is to want ​very much be on the good side of the status measurement​s that indicate worth: rich-poor, succeeding-failing, enough-not enough, blame-forgiveness, high-low, ​valuable-​not valuable​ ​. . .  ​​​Most of us, most of the time are involved with this. ​​

So when we experience stress and difficulty, which we inevitably do, ​the natural thing to do is to look to that solitary self to understand ​what went wrong. ​Most therapy and most healing modalities presuppose this solitary self. It’s been with us throughout evolutionary history; it’s what we know. Yet the solitary self​ has a limited understanding of what’s going on. It sleeps or it wouldn’t experience itself as solitary and separate ​the way it does.

​​In a crude characterization a caveman might raise his eyebrows at, ​the world of the solitary self looks like this:

​​The normal sleep of everyday life is one of continual judgement and evaluation, trying to find a good place relative to others. The wider context isn’t in awareness. 

Where​ is the wider context, you ask? Where is the deep love we ​know in all this? 

​It hasn’t gone anywhere. It’s all around. We’re inside it and we intuit it and ​sometimes experience it. But what’s in the foreground of normal awareness is our relationship to others, high and low. Compared to ​the immediacy of this normal perception, ​talk of love comes across as an abstraction, ​secondary. 

​The reality may be that we’re bathing in ​the greater reality, held by it continually. But ​we usually don’t see it. We’re spellbound by the drama of the world. There ​may indeed be a “divine comedy,” but usually we see something closer to the Jerry Springer show. 

If we manage to move past or forget about the judgemental and evaluative mind, what’s ​already there shows up.

A second cave man drawing might ​show it like this:

​We’re immersed in a greater whole, represented by the yellow​. ​We’re touching everything through it since the ​wholeness is undivided. High and low, big and small don’t matter much. 

​Underneath and around the dramas where we protect our fragile self-sense and try ​and get by, we’re connected to others and made of the same stuff as them.​

We’re each in ​exactly the same relationship to the whole as everybody else. This is the great leveler. The commonality ​sits underneath our seeming world of differences, the one in which the norm is to perform to prove our right to belong​. ​When ​we’re noticing this greater whole, others appear not​ as other but as expressions of the same thing we are. Status and judgement ​are not very relevant or interesting. ​Uniqueness is valued because it ​gives us scope for creative partnerships. 

​”What is greatest in human beings is what makes them  equal to everyone else. Everything else that deviates higher ​or lower from what is common to all human beings makes us less. If we know this we can develop a deep respect for every human being.

​(Bert Hellinger observed this, while/ after reading the Taoist source book, 

Tao te Ching.)

​The world of struggle for higher and lower ​status is ​easy to see when we look out at the entire world​. It’s less visible to us at the local level but the ​same dynamic applies there​.

If we’re able to move past it and see each other inside a larger whole, a different dynamic comes into view. The individual characteristics and experiences of others, represented below by the letters, are seen as values that each person in “the field’ has access to.

​When the individuality of each person is ​genuinely welcomed, then the qualities of each become available to the others in the field. This sense of ​collective intelligence can be very palpable​. It’s not a rare or difficult experience. 

We’re in a different relationship to the whole and everything changes. Rather than holding on to some truth, what is is emerging in the moment.

This wholeness has many names and none. “The Tao that can be named is not the eternal Tao.” Presence is a word for it that resonates with me but whatever we call it, the thing ​the word refers to is​n’t a word. It’s what is and a direct experience of what is. ​Presence isn’t inert and doing nothing. It’s full of energy. It is energy. ​​It’s effortlessly doing, wu wei, as some ancient Chinese called it.

To be an effective change agent, we’ll do well to be aligned with Presence, by whatever name. Otherwise we’ll project the game of opposites onto our enemies and​ their problems will become ours. Presence tends to integrate problems.

Another person’s difference is another way to experience how the wholeness is expressing. ​The possibilities for collaboration are literally infinite. Every person can combine with every other in any way. Basically, ​everything comes clear in Presence.

​By ​definition the direct experience of this “beyond the opposites” noticing is neither hard not easy because ​. . . it’s beyond the opposites. The opposites are inside it. It’s a spontaneous manifestation like happiness or laughter and it’s not further away than them or more foreign than them.

​But like them it can’t be ​”accomplished” directly or by intention. 

Presencing Practice, because of its simplicity, helps bypass some of the ways we get in the way and ​subscribers are welcome to join in a practice session. ​(Click on Groups above.)

Facebook and Twitter miss the good stuff

Please indulge a little rant . . .

” Facebook is not enough for me. I want to know you and to know your struggle, your story as it shows up. I want the vulnerability of your presence. I want to be with you NOW. I don’t even care about your opinions. If your idea costs you nothing then it’s worth nothing to me. This is the time to prepare. We have work to do beyond liking and disliking. I don’t want to belong to the tribe of righteous anointed, hidden away from the unwashed. If we have trouble, I want to look you in your face up close and see in your eyes if you’re looking back and I’d like to receive your gaze. I don’t want to be alone in a simmering war. Let’s meet. I claim the authority of the messed up but willing warrior. I show up fully for that because that’s what I have to give.

Social media and hearing from people outside of real time isn’t enough for me. I find it stressful keeping up with it. I want to know you and to know your struggle. I want your story in real time. I want the vulnerability and realness of your presence so I can find my own. I want to be with you NOW. I don’t care much about disembodied opinions. If your idea costs you little to say or share, then my full attention doesn’t go there. This is the time to prepare. We have work to do beyond the liking and disliking that’s built into our lifestyle, that’s part of the architecture of FB, at least the way I use it and understand it. Liking and disliking is about all you can do with ideas and opinions that float around in a hard to get hold of, slightly disembodied way like so many ocean jellyfish. Beyond liking and disliking is the place of acceptance where what we share is most important and taken just as it is. That’s where I belong. I don’t want to belong to the tribe of likeable righteous anointed, hidden away from the bad people. I’d love to be able to look you in your face up close and see in your eyes if you’re looking back and I’d like to receive your gaze.

Glad I got that off my chest! Thank you! 🙂

Or in plainer English . . . we need something direct but the world, and of course not just social media, swathes us in indirectness at every turn.

Another name for this ongoing tide of misdirection and distraction is denial.

And yet, and yet . . . plenty of us are waking up to see that the ubiquitous denial system we live with isn’t worth the effort we put into it. We’re having what Gail Bradbrook of Extinction Rebellion called a f*ck it moment – when we realize that giving our lives to keeping the existing system going may not be the best option, when we see that the rules have changed and we can choose for ourselves – maybe take care of the people instead. Wherever we are on the change spectrum, and it’s OK to not know where that is, our inner world is being profoundly challenged because climate change poses an existential threat. We can’t help but be affected by it.

And it’s exactly that inner experience that we and others need to hear and witness if we’re to do better. Detached language misses it, misses it all.

The opposite of that is direct connection. In person is awesome but it’s often difficult to find people close by who can and want to fess up to this. So online is often the better choice.

Here too we’re just at the very very beginning of realizing what’s possible.

A deeper welcome and a higher belonging

A deeper welcome and a higher belonging

Many of us find it difficult to accept and trust what we’re seeing, feeling, sensing around climate change and the other the big issues of our time. We lack solid self-support systems and can’t easily trust ourselves. We feel vulnerable and at the mercy of large world forces. We may be concerned about climate change and it keeps us up at night. Or we’re drawn into partisan conflicts that are unsettling.

We feel that if we step outside the circle of peer expectation there’ll be no one there for us. We’ll be hung out to dry. We fear we’ll be alone with all our bridges burned. The traditional supports with steady jobs and religion based in the community are no longer there to support us.

We lack a solid self-support system. By a solid self-support system I mean the inner and outer supports that tell us that, at least for now, we’re in a friendly world where we’re welcome just as we are.

Support doesn’t mean co-dependence, that someone else will do it for us. I mean self-care that includes trusted others, on our wavelength as part of our lives. I feel a hunger for this in people I speak with. I feel it myself. Doesn’t everyone have a deep need to be welcomed and acknowledged, seen for what they’re bringing?

The art of the future is the deep welcome. It’s the self-care that extends to the part of us that feels unwelcome and not wanted in the moment, that feels blamed for what’s not working. The opposite of welcome is shutting the door in our own or another’s face saying you’re not what I wanted. You’re not important. You’re not worth it. That’s the voice we  fear we’ll hear if we really show up.

What we really want is the deepest of welcomes. We want a welcome too for the part of us that wants to make the world a better place while we can, our dreams. What we usually do, settling for less, doesn’t work. Settling for less might take the form of resistance (saying yes but demonstrating no in our actions), or resignation (giving up and plodding through), or rebellion. I mean rebellion in the sense of being against something and not for; I don’t mean Extinction Rebellion which I see as pro-active activism.

 The deep welcome, our place in the world, is claimed, not given. But we can’t claim it sitting on a meditation cushion. It’s in relationship in the everyday world where we practice the art of deep welcome.

This deep welcome, this self-care is a primary political act. Activism is important, but to the extent it lacks the spiritual base it’s ineffective. The self’s real nature IS deep welcome anyway. It wants, we want, to take in the world and contribute. We want to live and be a part of it.

This deep welcome is something we open to gradually. At first it’s  an intellectual idea that we may like a little or a lot but still aren’t practiced in. We don’t know how. (I’m not speaking of meditation and personal practices that are important but not enough in my opinion, not the firehose that is available to us now.) Secondly it looks like welcome groups with respectful conversation, honest as we can stand – and a lot of listening. Third is Presencing Practice, a moment to moment welcoming of what’s coming up. Presencing Practice carries on into our daily lives.

The core understanding is the felt knowing that it really is safe to be ourselves, even that we don’t have to do anything but be ourselves and live our lives, and that we’re deeply welcomed and held as we do so.

You in the Climate Change Ecosystem

You in the Climate Change Ecosystem

A reality I’ve been slow to see is that the social contract we grew up with is connected to vast pools of loneliness and isolation . . . and that these are central drivers of our climate predicament. This social isolation is particularly difficult to see because in order to see it, you (we/I) have to step outside of it, witness it. Only then can you see where we were, where we came from. Otherwise, like the oft-cited fish in the water, we can’t see or feel where we are. And where we are is in a social system that, to a great degree, is organized around tokens of worth and status, represented by money. And this underlying structure affects us deeply and intimately. Our lives easily become about fitting into it. The economic system and the social system are inseparable like the chicken and the egg, parts of each other. 

Here’s a chunk to digest, unless you’d rather spit it out because it’s not too tasty. Or maybe you know it already. It’s that we can’t meet the intense targets for CO2 reductions  without changing the economic system we have. And we can’t change the economic system without changing the social system because they’re really different views of the same thing. And further, we can’t change the social system without changing ourselves. Everything that’s made us us has come about within the structure of the society that is currently failing and that needs to change.

The economic system, the social system, and little ole us are all parts of the very same thing. As this slowly starts to come into focus for us, and even when snippets of it do, we more or less immediately start to gravitate toward a new way of being together. The ones who feel the same disenfranchisement / reinfranchisement start to drift together. They’re hearing the same music.

Of the three systems, economic, social and personal, the social system  is, perhaps the easiest to work with, the most amenable to change. For one thing it almost immediately makes demands on us as individuals to treat each other differently and in a way that’s often engaging and fun. The economic system is more deeply buried and so  it’s easier to ignore and keep it out of sight for a while. But it’s there. I’ve been going to a wonderful festival in the woods near where I live near Ottawa, Canada for almost 40 years (Blue Skies). Much of the festival could have been part of a fair from the middle-ages. It’s a wonderful fantasy. But you go down the laneway past the gate and scattered in the woods are fields of cars from all over the world and a great deal of money underwriting the freedom festivities.

So activism’s effectiveness is tied into an ecosystem that contains social, personal, and economic aspects, none of which can be left out. It seems to me that to the extent we don’t know that, then under pressure activism will tend to become reactive, which is basically where the revolutions of the past started and ended.

In short, if we’re to reach our CO2 reduction goals, which radically change the economic structure, we’ll also have to invest deeply, and perhaps personally in the social structure. That basically means paying attention to the aspirations and gifts of activists, their individuality, rather than assuming these will take care of themselves or  be nobly overridden for “the cause.”

And we can’t do all this en masse or all at once either, just the little part of it we have in front of us. And that we can do.

Your comments are a kind of love and are very welcome.