Tuesday, May 31, 2005
I have only made a start and have only more questions (a good thing). What has been more colonized than our human hearts? What would be the condition of an uncolonized heart--a free and open heart? What would be the nature and quality of our relationships? What would our family structures and social structures evolve to?
My friend K. Louise Vincent has spent many years working on the concepts and practices of disarmament. How we begin to see the defendness of our hearts and learn to disarm into vulnerability. We talked about how this concept is evolving for her into one of undressing. As I understand it, the now undefended heart begins to have the capacity to release the coverings, to strip away the layers between self, world and other.
This reminded me of the work I did in University on the Descent of Inanna. A sacred story from the ancient near east, where the goddess Inanna descends to the underworld and at each gate or challenge must leave something behind. Eventually she leaves even her skin behind and passes through as pure spirit. She is recalled to Heaven by the efforts of a beloved friend.
The idea of the beloved friend had me turning to Rumi. Rumi had a series of beloved friends, beginning with Shams of Tabriz, who inspired his spiritual quest and work. To quote Coleman Barks in his translation, "Their friendship is one of the mysteries. They spent months together without any human needs, transported to a region of pure conversation." It seems as if the role of the beloved friend is at least twofold--to challenge us and prompt us to dive deep into our relationship with Spirit and to call us home to our true natures when we have journeyed far out into the darkness.
Adding to this is the work of Angeles Arrien--particularly the Four-Chambered Heart (see her Four-Fold Way, pg 50). We examine the heart to see where it is full-hearted or half-hearted, where we are open-hearted or close-hearted, where we are clear-hearted or doubting-hearted, and where we are strong-hearted or weak-hearted. The mature person is seen as one whose heart is full, open, clear and strong.
In conversation with my friend, Chris Corrigan, he shared that the nature of colonization is closing. So, if colonization acts to close our hearts, we cannot be fully mature beings until we heal from the viral effects of colonization. If my thinking is correct, most of our culturally sanctioned love-relationships are stunted and constrained to remain in a state of juvenility until we deal directly with the legacy of colonization at the heart level.
Adding to the complexity--in Joanna Macy's recent memoir, Widening Circles, she details her marriage as well as several love-relationships with others. Joanna Macy is someone who I respect immensely and whose work has been influential for me. So I am left with good deep questions when I read that one of these loves is a monk and that she chooses to respect his vows of celibacy. I am left wondering...what is the difference between his vows and hers? Or rather what is the mattering difference? I find this question compelling and I think there is an informative depth here. Don't know where it will lead...it's just interesting...
I have read some interesting recent creative work by Dave Pollard (advisory: some sexual content) that is beginning to push the boundaries in interesting ways and is at least fresh.
And bell hooks work has been recommended and is going on the list.
And if you've got this far you deserve a treat...so here's some silliness:
For those of you who have ever survived a renovation, or who are in the midst of one, you have to check out this blog...
And for those of you who love Led Zeppelin, kitties, and Vikings...you know who you are...check out this bit of nuttiness...
Sunday, May 29, 2005
Originally uploaded by the view from in here.John Jeavons, Executive Director of Ecology Action is a radical agriculturalist. He has been one of my heroes for many years. His simple approach to saving the planet--Feed yourself. Feed the soil. Conserve resources. If you have 1200 square feet you can turn to garden, you can feed a family of four with some left over for sharing or sale. (Remember you can garden up, along and in containers too!)
Another statistic that may surprise you...except for a couple of times in the year (spring planting and fall harvesting) the average workday for an agriculturalist is four hours...how many hours will you work tomorrow? And can you take your kids? We can slow down. We can step away from the unsanity and return to the natural rhythms we were evolved to thrive in. If only we can open our hearts enough...if only we can let go into the vulnerability...if only we can keep breathing through the fear and embrace the possibilities beyond it.
Saturday, May 28, 2005
So, audio books. And once again, Harold Bloom demonstrates his twerphood to the world. "Deep reading really demands the inner ear as well as the outer ear," said Harold Bloom, the literary critic. "You need the whole cognitive process, that part of you which is open to wisdom. You need the text in front of you." From this we learn that art and wisdom only go in at the eyes. What comes in by the ear is manifestly a lesser experience. The corollary, of course, is that real writing gets written down by the hand, and only inferior, wisdom-less writing gets dictated by the mouth, which is why Paradise Lost must have been rubbish...
Again, it's just snobbery and foolishness.
Yes, and much more than that. It is another symptom of colonialist culture raising its ugly head again. What is another characteristic of many of the cultures crushed and suppressed by colonial activity? They were cultures with strong oral traditions. Their history and cultural knowledge base was held in sacred oral teachings passed from one generation to the next. Even bagpiping was taught using a special language. When individuals have learned their history, ancestry, and culture by heart...when they carry it with them everywhere...it is hard to deny, erase and replace it. When we have to go to books to find out who we are and to remember what we knew...oh, how easy it is to rewrite it all.
And I am coming to believe that we have lost something vital. When we stopped thinking of storytelling, poetry, and minstrelry as essential components of healthy culture and community, I think we turned our backs on a part of our common human heritage that adds immense joy, depth and continuity to our experience of living. Gaiman again:
I don't believe there are books I've never "read" because I have only heard them, or poems I've not experienced because I've only heard the poets read them. Actually, I believe that, if the writer is someone who can communicate well aloud (some writers can't) you often get much more insight into a story or poem by hearing it.
Bravo! I have a little pet project I am slowly working towards acheiving. I want to get my friend Tim Landers, one of Canada's best living street poets to record some of his poems for this very reason. Because nobody can read them like Tim...and it would be a terrible loss not to have this record. And Tim would also like to record Chaucer--and I'm sure there are few who could read it like he would--who styles himself after Longshanks Will of Ludgate Hill.
Okay, I said quick and it's got longish...
Thursday, May 26, 2005
Originally uploaded by the view from in here.
I stopped and listened for a while to the bees buzzing and whizzing around. The blossoms were thick, profuse.
Originally uploaded by the view from in here.
I began to get an uneasy feeling. I looked around more. The arbutus trees, also weighted down with blossom. The Ocean Spray, the Salal, the Dogwood, the Maples. I have never seen anything like the blossom this year--on native plants...
Sure, I've seen years where the cultivated blossom trees were fairly breaking under the weight. But never the native plants. And the ones responding most are the tough ones, the drought resistant ones...the cockroaches of the plant world...and the bees--absolutely pre-industrial around here.
For those who don't know, I spent a couple of years studying horticulture...have a diploma in it, in fact...and do you know why plants blossom? Yeah...to reproduce. And do you know what it means when a plant drives all of its energy into flowering? (Getting scared yet?) It means that the plant is under significant stress and believes this is its last chance to contribute to the gene pool.
The display is staggeringly beautiful and deeply frightening. The whole of nature is turned up to maximum. "Reproduce before you die", is the message going round. Are we listening? Do we hear what they're saying?--these flowers of fear?
Even this far north, the sun feels scorching on the skin--not healthy and life-giving. The young deer that came to our window yesterday (little antlers just budding out of its head) had black pendulous lesions all over its body. Looks like skin cancer to me...tho' I'm no expert.
The blossom delights the eye, the scent intoxicates, the warm green airs are buoyant with a symphony of birdsong, the blue sky calls forth the soul to rejoice. But my heart misgives me. Is this just one last glimpse of Paradise before we begin the journey into Hell?
Monday, May 23, 2005
So today, I took some time to slow down and watch them and wonder about what I might learn from them.
The hive has been getting bad press these days. Seen as mechanistic, rigid, and suffocating to all we hold near and dear about human nature. I saw something different today.
I saw individuals each carrying the responsibility for the care and feeding of the hive. I saw unique, creative, adaptive, responsive flights--each as individual as the bee who flew it. I saw each bee share its discoveries (in dance) with its hive mates. I saw some bees respond to the dance and join the dancer in its knowing until the resource was consumed. I saw other bees continuing with their own explorations...returning again to share...in an unceasing, reiterative flow. I saw a way of being in the world that had been successful for at least an hundred million years.
Wondered if we adopted a human version of bee behaviour, what would it look like? Each individual, as he/she reached maturity, took on responsibility for the care and feeding of his/her community. Each individual pursued her/his own quest and returned regularly to the community circle to share in song and dance and art and oral story what she/he had discovered. Some individuals joined together to further explore the discovery until all were satisfied it had been thoroughly understood. Other individuals continued with their own quests, coming back each evening to share and learn together.
Each unique being necessary, each valued for her/his contribution. Sounds interesting...
Then I found an interesting article studying bees and the evolution of rationality. Seems like we're not so different after all...
The link to this and Open Space may not be immediately apparent. But in order to live with this kind of deep co-operation, flow and connection, a practice like Open Space is necessary to bring us out of juvenility and into true mature freedom.
Sunday, May 22, 2005
Saturday, May 21, 2005
Following her suggestion of self-experimentation and experience, I compared this with my experiences of the stream of sound and the stream of consciousness during intense, silent meditation retreats. After about eight days (80-90 hours of meditation) I found it possible to experience sound as merely the vibration of the ear drum. This vibration initiated a chain of brain activity (that could be observed and stopped) including the recognition that 'a sound' had been heard, followed by a probe for identification of the 'sound', then by a judgement (pleasant or unpleasant) and/or request for reference (associations with past experiences and other information). There was no constant stream of sound recognition. The experience of 'sound' arose in response to the stimulation of the physical sense organ. There were perceptible gaps in this arising.
I want to replace our familiar idea of a stream of consciousness with that of illusory backwards streams. At any time in the brain a whole lot of different things are going on. None of these is either ‘in’ or ‘out’ of consciousness, so we don't need to explain the ‘difference’ between conscious and unconscious processing. Every so often something happens to create what seems to have been a stream. For example, we ask “Am I conscious now?”. At this point a retrospective story is concocted about what was in the stream of consciousness a moment before, together with a self who was apparently experiencing it. Of course there was neither a conscious self nor a stream, but it now seems as though there was. This process goes on all the time with new stories being concocted whenever required. At any time that we bother to look, or ask ourselves about it, it seems as though there is a stream of consciousness going on. When we don't bother to ask, or to look, it doesn't, but then we don't notice so it doesn't matter. This way the grand illusion is concocted.
Likewise with my experience of the mind's contents. My first observation was that there was mind and something other than mind, 'overmind' if you will that was capable of observing and remaining apart and continuously present--I will call this 'soul' as that is where my thinking is at right now. The mind's content's were experienced as a jumble of disconnected, discontinuous, meaningless stories, emotions, and judgements. Over a number of retreats, and at the 80 + hour mark, the mind was calmed and emptied sufficiently (and the soul's attention adequately honed) to clearly experience the gaps between 'thoughts'. So, I find my experience generally supporting Blackmore's hypothesis--no stream of consciousness. The experience of what we usually mean by consciousness (the contents of the active mind) arises as sensation stimulates a physical receptor. Soul, on the other hand, I have experienced thus far to be continuous--unaffected by the sensations of the physical body. More experiential data required....
How does it seem to you?
Wednesday, May 18, 2005
I just finished my first Open Space. It was just a short 1/2 day of a 1-1/2 day workshop that K. Louise Vincent and I put together, but it was amazing. There is nothing like proving to yourself that something really works the way you think it will. It was a remarkable experience in trust, humility, humour and Spirit. And I will blog about it more, but right now I am just too full and too damn tired.
Some of the many things that came up...the role of the Fool and the Void; the presence of Spirit; imagination, dream, and inspiration; naming the ghosts; trusting the group (and the process); the necessity of the political (or at least an underpinning analysis); the virtues of vulnerability; Joanna Macy; Angeles Arrien; Martin Buber; Thomas Merton; bell hooks; the colonization of love.
Okay, there's a taste of what's on the menu for the near future...taking self off to rest...
Before I trot off...Two more incredible posts from Dave Pollard--one on 12 ways to think differently and one on the end of civilization...
Wednesday, May 11, 2005
This evening, as we all piled off the ferry, tired and ready to head for home, one of my little guys, Beric, stated that he wanted to walk home. Now, home is a little over 3.5 kms (about 2 miles) from the ferry. And that distance begins with a very steep hill that goes on for about the first km, which is then followed by two more hills a bit farther on. We have never walked home from the ferry before.
If I hadn't been watching out for invitation, I probably would have engaged in some sort of negotiation to get us all packed in the van and outta there. Instead, I heard the invitation and found the space to accept. So it ended up with Beric and Rowan and I pushing Gareth up Ferry Hill in the stroller while George followed along with the van.
Rowan and Gareth decided to opt out of the trek about half-way up. Beric, however, was determined that he would walk all the way home. And we did.
Somewhere along the way, he asked how far it was to home...he noticed how long it was taking and how much farther it seemed on foot. I replied that it was about 3.5 kms. And then I started to do some math, to help him get an idea of that distance...a metre is about as long as my arm, I said. There are one thousand of them in a kilometer. I came up a bit short at that point, because I remembered having my stride measured at one point (for snowshoeing, I think) and it is about a metre long...so that is 3,500 steps for me...then I noticed that Beric was taking about three steps to each of mine. This was a journey of over 10,000 steps for him...
I am so glad I accepted his invitation to accompany him on this little pilgrimage. I loved watching him revel in getting to make all the decisions. I received the gift of his non-stop conversation, sprinkled with about 100 why's, little songs, reflections about what he loved, insights into his world. I learned a lot about invitation, a lot about slowing down and lot about my precious son.
Originally uploaded by the view from in here.
Monday, May 09, 2005
In deep is not a comfortable place. My ship has sailed, compass lost, and I am headed out into the thick of the storm--no going back--only a faith-filled surfing on the leading edge of change. As Rumi says, there is a window in the center of my chest that has been opened. To close it would be a betrayal of self. To leave it open invites all sorts of discomfort.
Change is not a comfortable process. Deep transformative change, where we push ourselves to the edge of chaos, can only be navigated by an engagement of soul that manifests as faith and love in action. My dear friend and colleague K. Louise, calls the energy of this experience, shapeshifting energy. For me that phrase really captures the uncertainty and discomfort of the process. It can feel like peeling off one's skin and walking raw and exposed into an unknown future. In transformative change, the goal is inherently unknowable; to proceed we must engage our faith, be willing to soften into the harsh places, and move forward in our boldest truth with presence and non-attachment.
And so I sit, like a pea on a saucepan, as Kipling would say, while the whirlwind of what I have invited transforms me into someone new and unexpected.
Change of topic here....a bit...
Chris Corrigan has posted an excerpt from his report on the Appreciative Summit he facilitated in Prince Rupert last week. I urge any of you who care about Aboriginal Youth or deep community change process to go read it. It is a remarkable piece of work.
I posted a comment, which I will excerpt a bit here, because I found some pieces in other blogs that relate to what I was trying to say and I want to capture the connections...
... connections to the radical environmental reading that Dave Pollard has been blogging about...about how colonial culture and much of what we currently consider civilization, has robbed us of our capacity for personal responsibility. I am hearing a resonance between what the youth are saying/wanting about their communities and what is emergent in the world in general--that we are experiencing a tryannical narrowing of latitude of personal response--that our natural capacities for resilience have been stolen/repressed/oppressed to the extent where personal and/or social/cultural destruction has become an epidemic and endemic behaviour reaction. An opening of the space between us--a revolutionary mutuality of respect and care--feels like one of the few healthy responses available. Opening space--for individuals to reclaim their personal power through responsibility and then share it as mature beings--feels like an evolutionary step that will lead to, as you say, a possibility larger than our fear. The voice, the wisdom and the fearlessness of youth are calling us home to our own true natures.
From Stephen Downes at half-an-hour:
Nietzsche, writing at the height of this society, recalls a similar age:
"Socrates guessed even more. He saw through the noble Athenians; he saw that his own case, his idiosyncrasy, was no longer exceptional. The same kind of degeneration was quietly developing everywhere: old Athens was coming to an end.
And Socrates understood that the world needed him--his method, his cure, his personal artifice of self-preservation. Everywhere the instincts were in anarchy, everywhere one was within sight of excess: monstrum in animo was the common danger."
"The impulses want to play the tyrant," wrote Socrates, and we, today, see no shortage of the manifestations of such impulses...
From a comment by John King on Stephen's post:
...this is a good and timely piece that reminds me to re-read Doris Lessing's "Prisons We Choose to Live Inside". You may recall that these Massey Lectures from the mid 1980's ('85 or '86?)were written with exceptional clarity and quiet alarm about an increasing return to barbarism enabled by apathy.
And from Dave Pollard on Derrick Jensen's "Walking on Water":
Teaching anything, even writing, is fundamentally about teaching people to be free, and then teaching them to be responsible -- both lessons are revolutionary and counter to everything the education system stands for, so if you dare do
this, be prepared for push-back from The Man.
The job of words is to direct us toward experience, to round out experience, to facilitate experience, and to give us ways to share at least pale shadows of that experience with those we love. And the job of words is to help us learn to be -- and act -- human.
Friday, May 06, 2005
Originally uploaded by the view from in here.
One of my very early posts to this blog was about a little deer that came up to my office window and left it's nose prints. Well, I hadn't seen it for a while and then yesterday it showed up again, a bit bigger, but still very attracted to my roses.
I took this picture sitting in my office chair...you can see the camera reflection on the glass...
Nose to nose once more.
Just to let you know I have started a new blog called one place most sacred. It's a photoblog and an experiment and a proving ground for an idea I have had perking for a long time. I have wanted to do something like a visual haiku...this isn't the full-blown idea, but is a first step. I am committing to take a picture a day, somewhere on our half-acre on Gabriola that exemplifies the beauty of plain ol' unadorned nature. I am adding a quote of poetry or other inspirational thought...mostly at random...you know, wherever the page falls open...hoping to engage synchronicity.
I met a new friend, Toni Crawford, at the Open Space event last week. She shared with me her definition of synchronicity and I find it rather compelling. She said, "Synchronicity is Spirit acting anonymously." Cool, eh?
Thursday, May 05, 2005
So I have a proposal. I want to start a Whisper Campaign. Sometime in the next 30 days, identify someone you genuinely admire, and when the opportunity presents itself, whisper, or say in a low voice, when no one else is paying attention: You're amazing. And then just smile, pat them on the shoulder or
shake their hand, and walk away.
Now I can hear you saying to yourself this won't possibly work. Worse, it might get you charged with sexual harassment, pandering, or even infidelity. That's why it's important not to say it loud and not when anyone else can eavesdrop. It is less likely to be startling or embarrassing if it's said quietly. The smile is to let them know you're sincere and not being sarcastic (and don't tell me people won't assume you were being sarcastic -- without the smile and the pat they might just stay awake all night fretting about what you really meant). And by just walking away you make it clear that you're not expecting, or waiting for, a response. But make absolutely sure it's sincere -- if your motive for saying it is to get anything in return don't say it (if you do, and it backfires, you deserve it -- you're cheapening the compliment and spoiling the Campaign for the rest of us).
What do you think will happen? At the very least, you will make that person feel better. It's very possible they will ask you, when you next meet, what motivated you to say it, and why you did it that way. Just be honest, tell them you said it because you meant it, tell them that we are all too shy about complimenting people who deserve it, and if you like, tell them that some guy on the Internet is trying to start a Whisper Campaign to get everyone who receives such a compliment to pass it on to someone they really admire and from whom they want and expect nothing in return. Don't be specific and don't try to justify it in more detail than that. If they even try to return the compliment, politely stop them and explain that the Whisper Campaign is like Tag or Pay It Forward -- no tag-backs are allowed.
If you try it, please let me know how it works for you. We may not start a meme, but maybe in a small way we'll make the world a little better, a little happier, a little more honest.
My friend Chris Corrigan has been wondering about the wonderful mystery that is Open Space and the depth that he feels functioning there. He has asked his community to think about it...so here I go...pulling some threads...
I am currently reading Harrison Owen's, The Power of Spirit. In it he pulls out this interesting tidbit from Gregory Bateson, "the perception of difference is the essence of learning...learning occurs when we notice 'differences that make a difference'." I guess I'd probably say differences that matter--assuming there is a quality of attention here. Harrison then spins it out by combining it with the attributes of chaos..."chaos creates the differences that make a difference, through which we learn."
Chaos draws the attention of the soul (rather than merely mind). Mattering is the quality of attention that drives the self-organising principle. So what is 'mattering'? The recognition/mirroring of the soul's purpose?/passion? in another being/object/idea...from which connection, the chain of action/arising unfolds...thought, action, and so on...
Add to that this interesting quote from Dave Pollard's site yesterday (talking about John Livingston's 1994, Rogue Primate)...
So, maybe, Open Space with its manifest chaos acts to un-numb us, as it were, and reconnect us with our wild soul-mind...
He argues that, far from being less conscious than civilized man, wild animals and wild human cultures actually have a greater 'participatory collective' consciousness beyond...our primitive individual consciousness, that extends to their ecological community and to the entire Gaia organism of
the planet, an interconnectedness to which we, and other domesticates, have become numb, have lost from disuse or ideological counter-programming.
I am also pulling in thinking from Eric Maisel (Fearless Creating), who talks about the necessity within the creative process of feeding and nurturing the "wild mind" (chaotic, original, deep) versus the "tame mind" (structured, known, prosaic).
Phew...that's enough of that...
Some more goodies...
blogging Dracula in 'real time'.
Jeremy at lifestylism pointed folks to a recent post by Stephen Downes about leadership, power, and people. More good, gutsy thinking--Thanks, Stephen--you contribute so much to our community!
Tuesday, May 03, 2005
Originally uploaded by the view from in here.
On my way in to the second day of Open Space, I discovered this relic in the parking lot. Yes, it's the Santa Maria...courtesy of the Society for Creative Anachronism...ooops...I mean the Knights of Columbus...
There was a small movement to adorn the ship with warning signs "Go Home","Land contains only fierce natives, vicious bugs, and EXTREMELY large snakes." However, a latent streak of maturity emerged...and we left the old guys alone...
For those interested in the real Society for Creative Anachronism, here is their website. Unbeknownst to me, I apparently live in the Kingdom of An Tir...
Monday, May 02, 2005
Back from Open Space. Wow. I can’t get specific yet…it’s too fresh…I need some distance to integrate it…I can say that I feel about as blessed as a person can feel. It was an extraordinary environment to be in. I learned an immense amount about Open Space and many other things thanks to the generous spirit and genius of Chris Corrigan. I don’t think I know of a word to describe the working relationship—there was mutuality, fun, an intensity of focus and presence unlike anything I have known outside of serving at silent retreats, respect, space, and an amazing ease of flow from task to task…and freedom.
I did a lot of reading/studying/thinking/meditating in preparation for attending the event. Harrison Owen, who discovered OST, and many other OST practioners talk about grief work often playing a role in the aftermath of an OST event. And I am certainly experiencing something like grief that started almost immediately after I left the space. I think that my heart and soul know that Open Space is the possibility realized…a way we can be together in truth and freedom…that it brings out the best of who we are—when we are willing to give ourselves fully to the process. And I am in withdrawal, feeling the pain of not being in that space anymore…I want to live in Open Space… always… Fortunately I know that this is possible—and so a new journey begins…
Here is a picture of a lot of people working hard in Open Space (Yes, that’s a pool).
Working in Open Space
Originally uploaded by the view from in here.
Don’t believe me? Well, these 53 people self-organized 29 working groups, produced a 30-page report, and left by 1:00 p.m. on the second day with eight working committees with action plans and schedules to meet/connect again. (Yes, that’s a day-and-a-half!) In the process, they had fun, made new friends and connections, and generated a sense of renewal, hope, and faith. That’s Open Space. That’s what happens when you invite people to work with passion and responsibility. (in other words---mature freedom)