Saturday, June 14, 2008

Dueling with my demons

The Sheya community is going through some interesting changes lately. Which in turn are stirring up some interesting issues and generating good discussion. What I find fascinating is that it's so easy to not see when something is our own issue. We become so determined that this thing is right and proper and that others just are not seeing the truth of it that we loose all sight of how things actually are. 

One of the issues that has come up is that of providing certificates of completion for those going through an initiation. For some reason, this hits me right in one of my own issues. I obviously need to work this out before taking it to the rest of the community.

It my mind, the initiations are tremendously sacred and powerful doorways into the sacred Mysteries that lie at the heart of the human experience. As such, it strikes me a somewhat absurd to go through such a transformative, mind-blowing experience and then be handed a certificate that states that you have, in fact, been through this experience. It's kind of like getting a certificate that states that you have received a tattoo - isn't the experience itself certification enough? Apparently not. 

So how do I address this? I recognize that my response is based on my own deep reverence for the initiatory process which I feel would be defiled by certification. But would it? Would the Mysteries be changed or lessened in any way if we handed the initiates a piece of paper afterwards that proclaims that they are now an a certified initiate? Hmmmmm. . . .

There are other questions that have been raised by the recently announced changes to our mentoring program, but most of them don't even ruffle my feathers. So I can tell that this one has managed to run right into one of my own personal shadows. Perhaps I am afraid that if we are not properly respectful of these awesome mysteries, that they will cease to function for us. Isn't that a little like being afraid that gravity will stop working if I don't brush my teeth? 

But what to do? The reality of it is: I really don't WANT there to be anything that lessens or distorts the impact of the initiations in any way - and there is nothing I can really do about that other than to continue to honor them and to provide the best and clearest initiations that I can, training other initiators to do the same. And I believe that I need to give our students the opportunity - should they so desire it - to have another piece of paper to hang on their walls.


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

looking in the mirror

Our social evolution impacts our personal lives as well as our society as a whole. The movement away from integrated community toward radical individualism has birthed a whole spectrum of new reactions to old stimuli. One clear example is the tendency to draw away from others when hurt. I've seen this in myself as well as in my friends and clients. We seem to think that there is comfort and/or safety in being separate. But all this does is lead to greater separation and further frustrates our hunger for connection. 

When we look at the animal world for reflections of our own nature, we tend to think of the "lone wolf", the eagle, the lion or other predators with little or no tie to community. But the closest real reflection of us in the animal world is the ape - a very communal animal. So - why do we so often chose to see ourselves as an anti-social predator, rather than a communal omnivore? Whatever the answer, this certainly reflects a long standing movement in human consciousness. I don't know when it began, but there is a long history of predators being chosen to symbolize nations. 

Perhaps we need to consider what it would be like to have a nation whose symbol in the bonobo ape.


Monday, June 9, 2008

Diving for pearls. . .

Like pearl divers, who learn how to hold their breath for considerably longer than the average person, we modern humans have learned - however unintentionally - to live without the necessary element of community. However, as any pearl diver can tell you, the need does not go away. 

Unfortunately it seems that we've forgotten that we have this need for community, and in the process, forgotten what community is. You can see the frantic attempts to fulfill this essential hunger - in the creation of internet "tribes", Special Interest Groups, sport clubs and other new variations on the theme of community. What it comes down to is that we are desperately hungry for real connection with others. And our modern culture has evolved by ignoring and attempting to replace this fundamental need with personal achievement, individual recognition and sovereignty. While these may all be good things in and of themselves, they also keep us from realizing that we cannot do it alone. 

It is past time for us to rediscover the recipe for real community. It will not be a return to the way things were. We can't go back. It will need to be a movement forward, informed and inspired by what we once had, but honoring who we have become. Rather than returning to a sense of tribe in which the individual is submerged in the whole, we will need to explore how to create a real sense of connection and integration between sovereign and equal individuals. This will mean going through a lot of work - together. It will be more than swapping emails, IMs and blogs. It will mean getting sweaty and dirty working together on something of value to the whole group. It will mean going beyond the range of comfort for those who you share this wholeness with. It will mean living in proximity and committing to maintaining that proximity, even when it becomes difficult. It will mean working THROUGH difficulties together. 

Only by going through the necessary stages of development together can a group hope to become a whole. It seems to me that more and more of our rugged individualists are ready to make this leap into the unknown and unremembered place of communion.