My world continues to evolve rapidly, in the wake of the Scotland retreat. In every area of life things seem to be coming together in new ways. The Sufis say that when you are on the right path the universe will come to your assistance.
The new book, for example, has come together over the past month — the book is now complete. That is, every part of the book now exists, either as a near final-draft chapter, or as an abstract. For many readers the book already says everything they’d be interested in. The whole vision of a transformational process is outlined. The remaining details to be added will be of interest to some, and boring to others. I consider the book, even though still evolving, to be ready for prime time. Chapter 5 is still not finished, but there’s enough there to understand where it’s going.
2012: Crossroads for Humanity:
As regards my activist mission, a new, sharper focus has emerged. It happened as I was writing about the central importance of ‘process events’ in community awakening, and the central importance of a ‘neutral convener team’ in making process events happen. I found myself writing the following words:
I know of no way to approach community awakening and transformation without such a team. And I would count the formation of such a team in a community as being the essential first step toward the goals of awakening and transformation.
Earlier in chapter 5, in introducing the concept of a neutral convener team, I outlined the ‘virtues’ needed by such a team if it is to do its job effectively. Virtues such as harmonious operation as a team, the ability to work respectfully with all segments of the community, and the competence to plan and carry out ‘excellent projects’.
My new mission is to foster the formation of ‘virtuous neutral convener teams’, who hold a vision of community awakening and transformation as an unfolding dynamic process. This is an important breakthrough for me. I now have a lot of energy for venturing forth into the world and meeting with community-oriented activists.
I’ve gone on several ‘book tours’ in the past, where I’d meet with activist groups, and sometimes give talks at public events they had arranged. Those tours have been valuable undertakings in many ways, but they lacked ‘action focus’. I’d typically present the whole scope of my research, from geopolitical analysis to wise-democracy processes, and everything in between. I had a vague hope someone would pick up on the ideas and do something with them. In Victoria I was able to contribute somewhat to local initiatives, but in general I don’t think my visits had much effect other than being, for some, ‘interesting’.
I had more or less given up on such tours. They were not succeeding in ‘making a difference’. But now, with the new mission, I am eager to pursue new tours. I have a clear idea of what kind of groups I want to meet with, what kind of process I’d like to engage in with them, and what kind of outcomes I’d be working towards.
The book, as it exists and as it will evolve, serves as a useful resource for such tours. If a group takes the time to look at chapters four and five, and responds positively to them, then they are a group I can hope to accomplish something with. I’ve also worked out a ‘preparation process’, using email, designed to advance our mutual understanding prior to a visit, so that we can get maximum value from the face-to-face time.
And lo, just as all that was coming together, the time has arrived for a long-delayed visit with some activists in Glasgow. They have been eager for me to visit for months, but early September was the first time they could all clear their calendars for a weekend. Anticipation of that visit has spurred me to get the book into a complete state, and the email exchanges with the group have led me to my ‘preparation process’. Regardless of what happens in Glasgow, those folks have already made a very significant contribution to my mission. The universe coming to my assistance.
So next weekend I jump into the deep end, into the real world, into the matrix, to pursue my new mission in Glasgow, armed with new understandings, and with action outcomes in mind. Among the ‘new understandings’, those of a spiritual nature have an important role to play.
In my first post-retreat posting, I talked about noticing a breakthrough in how I responded to people, particularly in small-talk situations, which I’d always found awkward. That breakthrough then evolved into the ‘observation of my own responses’, as an ongoing exercise.
That turns out to be a very powerful exercise, a version of what the Sufis call ‘self remembering’. I wrote several pages, which I almost posted, on all kinds of breakthroughs I was experiencing out of that process. And then I remembered about the Sufi concept of ‘dried fruit’. Better to let ideas simmer down to their essence before sharing them.
The exercise gradually peels away layers of automatic responses, bringing more consciousness into the way one interacts with the world. After several layers peeled away, I came down to the realization that I’ve been suffering from a fear of spontaneous face-to-face engagement. A fear of not knowing what to say in small talk, a fear of not being able to deal with conflict, and a fear of being uncomfortable in social gatherings. These fears have helped lead me to a hermit life of writing, which I consider a real benefit, but enough is enough.
I can see now that these fears have closed down my consciousness when with other people, leading me to certain automatic behaviors that were maintaining the fears. By observing those automatic behaviors, it becomes very easy to stop doing them. And by letting go of the fear, all kinds of new behaviors emerge spontaneously, which are in turn useful to observe.
In pre-retreat days, I would tend to greet an acquaintance on the street with a “nice day, how’s it going”, as I continued on my way, thus avoiding a possibly uncomfortable situation, not knowing what to say. Now I seize on such meetings as a chance for some kind of spontaneous soul-to-soul connection, wide open to learn what’s going on with that person. Not only that, but I notice people who seem open to being approached, and find ways to get a conversation going. I’m finding the world a much more alive and responsive place these days.
These developments are I think very important to my activism and to my new mission. For example, in Glasgow, we have left everything very fluid, with no agreed agenda, and with different people coming in and out over the weekend. Normally I would have been very apprehensive of such arrangements, so fluid, so unpredictable, so many ways things could go wrong, and turn out to be a waste of time.
But now I am solid in who I am and what my intention is for the gathering. That intention includes advancing my own mission, regarding the promotion of convener teams, and it also includes being open to flowing with the energy of whoever is there. I’ll be quite happy to flow far from mission, if that’s what feels right and useful, and I’ll also be quite happy to use Aikido moves to bring the energy around to my mission. That is after all why I’ve been invited.
Some of you may be interested in trying this self-observation exercise. I’ll post about how to do it in the next few days.
2012: Crossroads for Humanity:
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