Saturday, October 17, 2009

Unconditioned Love

It's not unconditional love i yearn for, it's unconditioned love. Love without objects. Love that arises sublimely from the very process of being alive.

While we may strive for unconditional love, it is an ideal we can no more than aspire to until we have faced our own conditioning. And that can be the work of a lifetime. Finding and then facing our conditioning takes courage and devotion.

How can i love you unconditionally, without projecting any of my shadows or demons or angels onto you unless i have become intimate with them? Unless i know them in every dimension? Until i have freed them from being anything other than what they are? Than what i am?

What does unconditional love mean anyway? Does it mean nothing more than a non-negotiation? Is merely an absence of transaction? I don't think so, although that is how many people see it. I hear others talk about wanting to be loved by another who won't put terms on the relationship or who will love them just the way they are. In their words i hear the desire for both freedom and intimacy. In their eyes i see fear and pain and self-doubt. In their souls i see chains.

To me unconditional love, is really unconditioned love. The love that arises when we are at one with What Really Matters. With what Is. Whatever you want to call that, Spirit, Universe, God. And yourself. How can you/I love anyone until we can love ourselves. Fully. All of our disowned and unloved and ugly and inconvenient and imperfect and plain disappointing moments/parts/habits/behaviours/histories. Because these self-judgements arise from our conditioning. From the values we learned early, early. And they create our suffering. And our loneliness. And our unlovedness. Our joylessness.

I yearn for a love that is not based on objects. Me included. No wendy-thing. I feel an increasing longing, a pull towards a love that arises ever-fresh, in each moment Now, from the source of all-that-is. It arises as joy in my center--from my core. It arises all around me. And i believe that in relationship it is no different. It is merely the recognition of that ever-present arising in another. The beloved.

The beloved may be self, the beloved may be child, the beloved may be partner, the beloved may be Source. Love arises, unconditioned from the center. We are always held in that grace.

Breathe in the grit of this moment, breathe out a spark of joy. Breathe in the love of the sacred ground you stand on in this moment, breathe out a full-blooded breath HAH! and feel your feet on the earth.

What are the stories you tell yourself about love? What don't you love about yourself? Why? What parts of you have been colonized by the loveless lies of modernity? Where is joy? When did you feel it last? Look there. Then look deeper.

Unconditioned love arises in each moment for each of us. It's there. Always. Like the space between breaths. Hidden sometimes behind dragons we fear to confront. And so i yearn for it. Not having challenged all my dragons yet. The yearning itself grows sweeter each day. So i learn to love what is unresolved in myself. And take another small step closer to the joy that never fades.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

A bit of Pratchett for your enjoyment

Been Tweeting a bit of Terry Pratchett's brilliance and so, for the uninitiated and old fans both, here is a bit of classic Pratchett from "Hogfather".  This excerpt occurs near the end of the book and is a conversation between Death and his granddaughter, Susan (Death talks in caps, of course):

Susan: "...You're saying humans need...fantasies to make life bearable?"


"Tooth fairies? Hogfathers? Little..."


"So we can believe the big ones?"


"They're not the same at all!"


"Yes, but people have got to believe that, or what's the point--"



"Yes, but people don't think about that."




"You make us sound mad."


Thursday, June 11, 2009

Vital skill for forging our future

I am a long time member of the Open Space Listserve.  There are a lot of amazing folks and deep thinkers over there.  Today my dear friend and OS colleague, Doug Germann, posted this quote:
It is their presence in the whole, and the fact that they are helping the life of the whole, which gives them their individual life....Italics in original. Christopher Alexander, The Nature of Order: An Essay on the Art of Building and The Nature of the Universe, Book One: The Phenomenon of Life, p 431

Doug followed that up with his own observations and one of his wonderful questions:
What I am seeing here as an inside-out truth, is that in a group we do not lend the group our individual life, it goes somewhat the other way round about. What gives us our individual existence and life is our presence in the group, our helping of the group; in turn the others helping the group give us life. We intensify each other.

Can this be true?

So i chimed in and here is an expanded version of my reply:
Yes. It's about Circles of Belonging, Doug.  
Don't we feel most alive when we know we are truly significant?  That our existence matters essentially to another?  We can only see that truly reflected in the eyes of our community.  

It explains modern existential angst.  Without true community and a way to find our place in it--we find life deadened, numbing, meaningless.  The same thing is mirrored in organizations.  We have largely managed (all puns intended) to engineer an inhuman context for ourselves.  If we are to create a future where we and all the other species on our planet can thrive, we will need to understand the need for authentic significance deeply and begin working to acquire the skills and instincts to provide this to each other in the way we live and work together.

Re-membering and re-claiming the skills and patterns of connecting to the whole is a vital process for our future.  There are ways of being in community that we have forgotten (and many of us never learned).  And i don't just mean human community; i mean the WHOLE.  We also need to feel, really experientially, in our bones, feel our connection to earth and cosmos and all the life in it.  

I see groups working to emerge these ways of being.  Aikido is one place.  We work there on ourselves within a community of care, to understand the deeper connections between us; how our intentions intertwine, how our energy flows and merges, how we can learn to treat each other with delicacy.  As one teacher said, "Aikido is about caressing the soul".  It is one of the places i feel seen and feel welcomed to see others.

I see the Non-Violent Communication community working to build the skills for verbally connecting in ways that we can truly give appreciation to each other. Working to learn and teach how to communicate in ways that honour the self and the other, without harm.  

Again i am finding it hard to put words to this knowing.  In order to thrive in complexity, we need each other like never before and yet we are stuck in this vise of not having the skills we need to live and work well together.  That is the work i am passionately engaged in now.  How can we transform ourselves into who we need to be to thrive?  I have found that this work takes great personal courage to engage in.  We all carry the grief around of the wounds we have received from those who were supposed to see and love and appreciate us and who didn't.  So many are walking numbed, and deadened.  So many of us don't even know how to accept appreciation and love when we are exposed to it.  

So i say, these skills and patterns of connecting to the whole (self, family, community, world, cosmos) are vital to our future.  Vital to our individual and collective health.  Vital to life. We need to re-learn, to co-create, to co-emerge these skills and patterns of working and living well together.  

We will know we have arrived when, as Harrison Owen has recently pointed out, Open Space Technology is just one of the ways we do things.  I believe the deep inner resonance for this sense of one's place in the whole is what many people experience and enjoy about Open Space.  And Aikido.  onegai shimasu O Sensei.  I don't want to bore all you non-aikidoists, but there is a jewel at the center of Aikido--a sparkling diamond gift of finding the connection to each other and the whole that gives us life.  

Where have you found this resonance?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Change is dead.

What?!? I hear you say.  Change is dead?  But isn't everybody talking about the pace of change, change management, how to be more resilient in the face of change?  And the Buddhists in the group are going, but, everything is change, change is all.  Yep.  And that's the point actually.

The problem, as i see it, is that the word, change, has gathered to itself a terrible gravity and that is creating a damaging and painful illusion.  Many people, if we're being honest about it, see change as what happens between the disruption of one status quo state and the emergence of another.  And that assumption/belief/mindset/illusion served us okay while we lived in a largely simple or complicated world.  The challenges we faced responded to analysis and our solutions were largely repeatable.  Solutions also tended to be effective over relatively long periods of linear time. Hence the illusion of a status quo state that experienced episodes of change.

Enter the age of complexity.  Our challenges are now complex.  They don't readily yield to analysis, but demand of us new skills like pattern seeking and new ways of working together like collaboration (yes, new, but that's another conversation).  Our solutions are seldom repeatable (although they may inform future challenges in an evolutionary way) as our challenges are embedded in unique contexts and histories.  Our solutions converge in an evolutionary flow, each leading us in a spiraling pattern to the next iteration of the challenge. No more home base.  No more status quo.

Welcome to chaos.  Complexity if that scares you less.  So, i say, "change is dead", to shake you awake.  To invite you to loosen your grip on the idea of the shore and take the plunge into the flow.  The pace of change isn't increasing. The degree of complexity is.  The distance between the temporary handholds in the stream flowing from evolving now to evolving now is lessening. I am inviting you to learn to swim before they disappear altogether. 

I am keeping some distance from the statement "change is all there is", because i am now seeing that as an illusion referencing an illusion.  I am proposing that the ever-emergent flow is all there is. Take that into your body for a moment and see if there is a different response.  

And how do we respond to that?  With self-organization, like we always have.  Like there was ever anything else.  Only now, we can choose to do it consciously.  We can choose to learn and create processes that leverage the power of emergence, of context, of relationship, of questions. So let go of change.  It is a concept that no longer serves us or our organizations.  It locks us in a jail of false hope and is creating increasingly disastrous consequences. We are simply in the flow of the ever-emergent.  We shape our present and future through our collective intention. Might as well step up and start taking responsibility for what you care about and see who else shows up.

The journey to this place is not simply one of mind. To thrive here, we need integrated mind/body/heart/soul systems. We need all channels online and functioning.  

Our organizations need a much better understanding of what level of response is necessary and how best to support those responses.  Change Management?--bah humbug! How about Complexity Response Management?  Or maybe Systems Resilience Patterning? Emergence Driven Strategic Leveraging?  Strangely Attractive Critical Juncture Processing? Okay, now i'm having too much fun.  What's your two-cents?

NB: A little esoterica for the aikidoka in the crowd:  ever-emergent flow: Takemusu.  (from calligraphy by O Sensei: Takemusu Aiki has descended and its energy can be felt everywhere.)

Thursday, April 30, 2009

New poem up at oneplacemostsacred

Well, after a very long hiatus, i have just posted a new poem up at my other blog.  It's called Opening to the spring within.  You can view it at oneplacemostsacred.

So ends a wonderful Poetry month and Poem in my pocket day.  The poem i found in my pocket (really) is one of my favourites.  "Wild Geese" by Mary Oliver.

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes, 
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely, 
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting — 
over and over announcing your place 
in the family of things.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Is #twitter changing #blogging?

Anyone else noticing that we are witnessing a #tippingpoint?  Something happened about 3 weeks ago with #twitter that moved it from the emerging edge to the mainstream.  Just about everyone i know, including me started tweeting.  Non-tweeters are already complaining about twitter updates on Facebook.  #Hashtags are appearing everywhere.  I'm contemplating filing to add an @ sign as my first initial.  (okay, not really)

What i have noticed is that i am more conscious about what i put in the first 140 chars of my blog posts.  That it sets the context and gives a good idea of the content of the post.  I know this isn't and won't become an absolute.  But there is certainly a solid awareness of all of the different places this will now show up and the different ways people will be looking to assess context and content.

Also, i am finding that i am turning to twitter as my main platform for watching for trends, emergent information, and new connections--rather than blog feeds or other aggregators.  I am finding the enforced 140 char limit awesome in terms of helping to manage the signal to noise ratio.  

As Bryan Alexander tweeted today: 
"Managing feeds, in addition to (or instead of) managing items, is an aspect of digital literacy that’s only just emerging" - J. Udell
Thank goodness, it's not just me whose struggling to figure out how to manage all of the incredible amount of content generated.  And how to leverage these interconnected flows of information, insight and opinion.  

I am very curious to see how this will continue to unfold and how quickly we will see hashtags and @-signs become ubiquitous.  

The other pattern that intrigues me is the speed with which this happened.  I believe, if my understanding of his tweets are correct, that Neil Gaiman celebrated his 100,000 follower and his 333,333 follower within about 10 days of each other.  My thought is that the 'viral' nature of the web is evolving and becoming more powerful.  I struggle with the term 'viral' because it feels like it is a metaphor that is obscuring the deeper nature of what is happening here.  The ecosytem (if i may use the term) of the internet is evolving.  With its self-organizing, complex adaptive systems becoming more mature and robust.  The interconnections are beginning to approach the level of those found in nature:  like in a nervous system.  This took a while and it looks to me like we are arriving at a level of complexity and fluidity that will make some very powerful things possible.  Not judging good or bad, just noting the power factor.  

What are you noticing?  Any thoughts?

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Easter on Gabriola

This year was a special one:  the 10th Anniversary of our Community Easter Egg Hunt.  It was held at the Commons for the second time and it is such a special location.  I feel so grateful to have this kind of community space. The Gabriola Commons is 26-acres of community coordinated land with an agricultural focus.  

We were treated to a concert by the Juno-nominated, Gabriola-grown band the Kerplunks. (And they sang the new Lego song!)   And then the wild hunt was on!  Imagine a hundred or so 2-12'ers making like fox and hounds over the fields and through the bushes looking for eggs.  

This is just one more reason why i love living here.  Moms, Dads, kids, Grandparents, folks who just love kids and have to watch the gaiety--all gathered on the green.  Dancing and singing, clapping and cheering.  What a rare experience these days to have so much community out for kids.  And we were joined this year by eagles and hawks, snakes and ants.  Nobody left any litter, everybody had a terrific time, and money was raised to support our local 4-H club.  A big cheer to the local businesses--esp. Village Foods and Coast Realty for their steady support.  
Lots of pics:
Picnic before the show:
Tina Jones of the Kerplunks pointing out the eagle blessing the beginning of the show!

Everybody watching the show:

Do you like my Easter Bonnet? 

Rowan & GranGran

They're Off!!

The Wild Hunt

Searching for the last few

That was fun!

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Trust and Collaboration

Trust is an essential ingredient in any true collaboration.  The most important thing to understand about trust is that it is a result.  Not a given, not an expectation--a result of a repeated pattern of behaviour.  If you want someone to trust you, you need to demonstrate trustworthiness over time.  How much you trust someone depends not only on your past experience of their behaviour, but also on the degree of risk you have shared. 

There are two vital components to trust:  letting go and engagement.  If you want to be trusted you must be prepared to be fully engaged in the interaction.  Half-hearted commitment to your actions will not inspire trust.  And less than full engagement with the other sends a message to your partner that they may not be safe as your attention is divided or you are distracted. In collaboration this activated focus is so essential.  Engagement evokes the energy for the group.  Without it collaborations go flat and creativity dries up (because creativity is all about risk engagement).

If you have decided to trust someone, then you need to practice letting go into that trust. Attempting to manipulate a trust relationship by continuing to attach to outcomes or control of the situation, prevents the other from fully participating in the collaboration and inhibits your own performance.  It endangers the collaborative effort by disturbing the delicate interplay and dynamics of creativity and emergence.  Ultimately, not letting go into trust, once it has been reasonably established, defeats the entire point of collaboration.  

NB: Photo is of Saito Sensei demonstrating loading for a hip throw.  For practioners please note: head position of uke should have neck fully extended and relaxed down (but this would leave him headless in the photo, so he's holding it up so you can see him).

Saturday, April 04, 2009


The degree to which we turn our pain into suffering is the degree to which we obstruct our own healing.

I've been engaging with pain a lot the past couple of days.  The transitory physical pain of minor illness, the long term emotional pain of grief and heartbreak, the illuminating pain of spiritual exploration of the edges of compassion and conflict, courage and fear.

I am in the middle of a practicum in Integral Psychotherapy with Robert Masters and Diane Bardwell-Masters, so this is not simply a casual exploration. I am learning on myself, nothing new as y'all know, and also on fellow practicum mates and practice clients.  

So the edge that fascinates me most is the dynamic space where pain and suffering dance.  How quickly one becomes the other and how slowly and how much work it takes to unweave the knot of suffering from around our pain.  And when i add on the layer of spirit, it gets even more interesting.  Then compassion and its counterfeits enter the arena.  Then my aspirations jostle with my abilities of the moment and reality and spiritual ambition spar.  

I am amazed at how fast pain converts to suffering.  When i pay attention, i find it is such an habituated response.  Pain is felt and then almost immediately the storytelling starts. And then we're off into the dramatics of our suffering, the siren call that keeps us asleep. The song of Maya sinuously weaving a tapestry of illusion so tight and fine we mistake it for truth and name it our reality. Humming an addictive distraction from the simple pain that could awaken us--that could align our perception more closely to What-Matters-Most. 

I'm still working on how to write about my own inner journey.  So until next time, here are some gems i came across in my explorations today.  First some lyrics from Melissa Etheridge that tell the harsh truth:

Everybody's got a hunger
No matter where they are
Everybody clings to their own fear
Everybody hides some scar

Precious pain
Empty and cold but it keeps me alive
I gave it my soul so that I could survive
Keeping me safe in these chains
Precious pain
Then some from Robert Masters' new book, "Meeting the Dragon" (avail free here):
Where pain is consciously felt hurt, suffering is the conversion or manipulation of that hurt into some level of melodrama, wherein we are likely so busy acting out --and being literally occupied by--our hurt role that we've little or no motivation to stand apart from or illuminate it.  
As we step back from the dramatics of our suffering, we start to see through our role as the sufferer, and to also see our investment in that role.
It is in the conscious and compassionate entry into our pain that we begin to find some real freedom from our suffering. 
The healing of pain is found in pain itself. As we become more intimate with our pain, we find that we are less and less troubled by it.  Suffering is , among other things, a refusal to develop any intimacy with our pain.  In fact, suffering jails our pain.
And from Barbara Kingsolver, some lyric prose:
In my own worst seasons i've come back from the colorless world of despair by forcing myself to look hard, for a long time, at a single glorious thing: a flame of red geranium outside my bedroom window.  and then another: my daughter in a yellow dress.  And another: the perfect outline of a full, dark sphere behind the crescent moon.  Until I learned to be in love with my life again.  Like a stroke victim retraining new parts of the brain to grasp lost skills, i have taught myself joy, over and over again.
 In solidarity with the broken many,

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

More on Coral vMeme

More thoughts on Spiral Dynamics emergent Coral vMeme. Inspired by comment on my original post from tenzwarszawy:
...for me Coral would somehow reflect selfishness of Red but on different level where Self is wider and organizing systems according to it's needs would mean setting new standards, paradigms or system metacomments and playing with them with full respect of others needs.
So it is a selfish game but on the level where self is wider than individual ego structure - it's like discovering divine possibilities of mankind reflected in singular entity.
Curious what you think.
The way i see it emerging is this:  Yellow is Survival meme transformed.  This is where all systems are coming online; all 16+ senses are re-awakening to allow us to connect to immanent dangers and act for survival of self, species, planet.  Awareness of transpersonal self, holonic free-agent functioning within holarchies.  Turquoise is transformed/transpersonal tribalism.  This is being enabled by social media.  We are seeing the arising of holonic/holarchical clans within a global tribe consciousness. 

So Coral, to me is transformed/transpersonal Warriorship.  What you are talking about as the wider sense of self i think is captured by the anarchistic flavour and the following: "Seeks only to express the intent of the energy of the Universe as expressed in personal acts of presence, art, movement, love".  This is the fully integrated ego--not transcended ego as many current practices and teachers are promoting, but the integrated ego--the divine experience as body, as human.  There is moral fire here.  As Marilyn Hamilton coined it to me, "it's the Kick Butt meme".  This is warriorship transformed to guardianship.  Warriorship arising as and from Being.  And the butt is kicked with love in alignment with flow of Being Consciousness. 

I like the way you put it:  organizing systems according to it's needs, but with full respect of other's needs.  This is the holonic nature.  A lot of folks are talking about autonomy and radical autonomy in regards this;  i challenge this.  Autonomy precludes the essential integration of interdependence of the transpersonal perspective that is online for this vMeme.  I am preferring to refer to this quality as mature-evolved-Being-centered-holonity. There is definitely, as you point out, a solid sense of unique personal center AND a full integration of interdependence and connection to Being.  That is the phenomenon i find present in Aikido.  This nurturing of both the unique center and a profound capacity to connect at the level of essence with the other. Language can still fail me.  If you haven't experienced it, i invite you to look for a good dojo near you and try it out.  (Look for a lot of smiling.  That's the hallmark of good Aikido.)  Sorry, gotta promote the art whenever i get a chance.  

Would love to deepen this conversation.  I can tell there is a lot more here if i had a reason to think about it further--and others to think with :)

Foolish blessings to you all

A Happy Adventurous April Fool's Day to you all!

Foolishness i engaged in today:
  1. White Rabbit, White Rabbit, White Rabbit as soon as i woke up (I love you Gracie!  I miss you Gracie!)
  2. Taught a sleepy Gareth about the tradition and worked on his routine with him (he told the bro's the Easter Bunny had come!  TeeHee)
  3. Took myself too seriously. (Only a little..i'm getting MUCH better ;))
  4. Got on the ferry to Nanaimo, got off the Ferry in Nanaimo, took call on cell phone to say meeting was cancelled, turned around and got right back on the ferry from Nanaimo...
  5. Had oatmeal and French Toast for dinner.
  6. Watched Looney Tunes.
  7. Engaged in a little pookoobraznost! (Please help my spelling here dear Rafushka!)
  8. Blogged this (and played with tweeting all day long)  I guess you just can't call it Twittering.  That really sounds foolish!

Such an open space day.  All about letting go and letting come.  Being in the NOW.  Whatever happens. Integrating it all with a sense of joyous abandon.  Inviting intimacy with all that is--warts, alligators, tigers and all.

May you all be blessed with utter foolishness.
May, "I know nothing!" be your battle cry and prayer.
The Venerable Reverend High Dupess, Wendy The Valorous (Church of St. Murphy the Divine); Dr. Wendetta When, Dean of Accidental Education, Titanic University;  And Other Mystic Titles Too Arcane to Mention

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Third Sector and the current economy

While governments are busy bailing out failing banks and corporations, another significant driver of our economy and our society is struggling largely in silence.  The so-called Third Sector, also known as Non-Profits or Charities.

An excerpt from the Government Non-Profit Initiative describes the scope and impact of the sector on the BC economy:

The non profit sector contributes an enormous amount to public life in British Columbia. The sector has a substantial economic presence, contributing 6.9 per cent of the province’s GDP and employing 7 per cent of the provincial workforce. The non profit sector employs more than 147,000 people (23 per cent of whom work in hospitals, colleges and universities) – a workforce larger than the total employment in the forestry, fishing, mining and oil and gas industries combined.

The non profit sector reports around $3 billion a year in revenue from provincial government sources, accounting for one-third of the sector’s total revenues. The sector contributes an additional $6 billion into the provincial economy, more than agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting and on par with mining, oil and gas. Not included in this equation is the monetary value of over 114 million hours in volunteer time mobilized by the sector – the equivalent of 69,000 full time employees.
So, with Canadian media beginning to take some notice, it's time for the rest of us to start speaking up.  Canadian charities support our social safety net and are responsible for providing a lot of the services we have come to expect as an integral part of Canadian society.  If we want to continue to enjoy the benefits of engaged and healthy communities, we need to step forward and support our local charities.  As a fundraiser and organizational consultant, i am inviting leaders in my community to an Open Space-based meeting to plan what we can do to support our local charities in surviving the next three years.  I will be suggesting we provide resources and training workshops (for free or cost only) to our local charities to help them prepare for what lies ahead.  

So if you have a local (or national) charity that you love, sing their praises, let your local representatives know of your concern, encourage all of your networks to continue to give, and point the charity to this resource as a good place to start for ideas on how to survive. 

Monday, March 30, 2009

Web 3.0

Just can't stop now i'm started :).

I've been volunteering with a new social change initiative called Sound Connections.  Their website will be up shortly.  We've started with live meetings: Open Space Tech in a Whole Person Process wrapper.  The idea is to create a platform to connect social entrepreneurs with each other and with those who have the skills and passion to support them.  

What i've noticed:  a new trend that i call web 3.0.  We connect online to others who share our passions via web 2.0 social networking tools, then these connections become real-world as we meet in person, or create real-world projects that affect the lives of others.  I love this pattern.  It feels like the maturation of the promise of the internet.  What could have become isolating is becoming a powerful tool for real world transformation and relationship.

It's about time

It's about time i started blogging again on a regular basis don't you think?

Not possible to catch up.  So just going to jump right in.  Lots of new stuff in the cooker.  James Lemmer and I are in the final stages of launching our new company: The Collaborative Experience.   We have developed highly experiential workshops that include shadow process, genuine contact program, open space technology, integral theory, spiral dynamics, complexity theory and aikido to support teams and leaders working in collaboration locally and globally.  

New website up soon.  Watch all social media for the launch.