The following are excerpts of what I wrote in the application for residency to the intentional community that Alia and I wish to join. The community’s website is lostvalley.org if you are interested. These excerpts express my views on various topics at present.
Life Without a Design
My personal vision is to live, to the best of my ability, a ‘life without design’ which means that I can let go of the past and also of projections into the future. My experience is that in a state free of assessments, prejudices and expectations I am most open to a direct encounter with the deeper truth of my being and therefore the truth of the other person. The depth and quality of this direct perception is my passion, and the particular life circumstances are secondary, although also of great significance.
I welcome the possibility and, as it seems, probability, that I will be living with several or even many who have made mindfulness a way of life. Being able to move together through daily tasks with others in that way is one of the great satisfactions in my life. When we have the presence of mind to really see and listen to each other from a place of real interest in the quality of our human connection, magic happens and that serves my passion.
Learning Teaching Sustainability Holistic Understanding
The realization around which my life centers is that learning is another word for love. Whenever I feel that I ‘know’, I very likely have fallen out of that stream of consciousness that is new and fresh in every moment in which I merge with those around me. Sustainability for me means being aware of how precious each resource is, no matter how small – nothing is insignificant. To look at things in a holistic way is to dissolve that which might suggest that I am separate from anything. I cultivate the understanding of our interdependence – as Thich Nhat Hanh says: our interbeing. This term speaks to ecological, social as well as personal growth. Educating in practical applications is, in my view, the only genuine way to learn/teach. Mental ‘learning’ does have its place, but only when it leads to practical applications.
It is very difficult to develop compassion, understanding, caring and blossoming of one’s potential in life circumstances that demand one’s life force for simple survival. To provide affordable housing, access to land and facilities for community development means to open up the way for us humans to learn to love and care for each other because circumstances no longer bind our attention to satisfying our individual needs. My own personal vision needs relationship with other beings in order to flower. To live in a cave or a monk’s cell is not the way for me to deepen my personal process. My ideal is to lead a contemplative lifestyle amidst a group of practically-minded truth-lovers.
The word ‘educate’ comes from Latin: “bring out, lead forth,” from ex- “out” (see ex-) + ducere “to lead” and we could say “to draw forth” is an equivalent English expression. We often use the expression “to bring up children”. In my own experience those adults whose influence during my childhood and youth I most appreciated were generally not those in the formal roles as ‘teachers’ but rather it was certain persons whose way of being impressed me. I was able to glean from them a certain posture towards living itself that encouraged me. Their fearlessness and high sense of integrity are two qualities I can name. These qualities were demonstrated in everything they did in daily life from cooking to short conversations and also in their professional work. The way that they treated everyone with equal respect is something I am still focusing on in my personal growth today.
That said, I hope that in whichever way I may be in contact with other members of the community and with youths at formal educational events at Lost Valley Educational Center (LVC) I will have a beneficial influence in drawing forth such qualities in their personalities. I also trust that they will have the same influence on me.
All resources on our home planet need to be used with a sense of great responsibility. All negligence and lack of respect for these resources results in drastic reduction in the quality of life right now, not just down the road for future generations. The quality of our appreciation and gratitude for all the gifts in this world day by day determines how future generations will live. Living wastefully and without awareness is a phase of our human evolution that we need to leave behind.
My Experiences with Intentional Communities
The bottom line of my experiences with a total of four intentional communities is:
Absolute respect for the choices that others make for their life; absolute clarity as to whom I chose to join together with on my life’s path; absolute sovereignty in taking responsibility for my own actions and realizing that it is never the actions or behavior of the other person that cause me discomfort. I must always look at my own clearing and growth in challenging situations. It is never the ‘what is’ that troubles me – only the ‘what should be’ and that is of my own making (my imagination).
Consensus and Sociocracy
I am very open to not only honoring responsible authority but welcome and appreciate those who take on authority in order to safeguard the common good. Responsible authority includes that the person who takes on that role is eager to get the response from those whose interests he/she affects by decisions and actions. I am very willing to actively support such persons and to contribute my feedback on their actions. In my experience differing points of view are valuable to give expression to each individual’s perspective and enrich the group’s collective perception.
Hopefully the consensus process leads to a more true perception of the ‘what is’ than any individual alone can gain. My interest is to open up to a clear understanding of the ‘what is’ as deeply as possible and therefore I welcome the expression of differing points of view, knowing that there is always some truth in each one’s perception. On that basis our chosen course of action will have the greatest chance for success. When a ‘point of view’ becomes solidified in a person’s attitude and becomes more important than the quality of joint interaction of the group as a whole, then it creates separation and limitation rather than expansion. A man of old said “let go of your views and you let go of suffering.” I am ready to let go of all my personal views if that will help maintain creative peace in our community. Then only will I be able to see if the character of the community is in alignment with my deepest truth or not.
Issues from My Past
I have been doing transformational, personal growth work for close to 50 years now and I’ve come a long way but I’m “not finished yet.” Even in my present situation I got triggered a number of times – after all these years. I have learned to look within myself first for the source of the problem AND the GIFT. I, like most in our world today, experienced abuse of various kinds as a small child and that left its mark. We speak of accumulated and unassimilated pain as being a ‘pain body’ and I recognize that syndrome in myself. In our present community setting I experienced clearly for the first time how my pain body gets triggered by disorder and dirty surroundings. I recognize that, as a child, a dirty and unkempt house meant danger, because then my Dad would come home and whip us (especially us boys – we were 11 children) because we hadn’t cleaned the place up. The gift is that I am now an excellent housekeeper and often tackle nasty cleanup jobs with gusto that most shy away from. I continue to monitor the OCD potential and I seem to be keeping that in check. In a large group like LVC there may be triggers lurking that I haven’t yet recognized – who can say until I am in that situation – but I promise to take self-responsibility and seek help for any reactions I may have.
My Involvement in Community
The inner process I am involved in and which is deepening at present includes quiet/alone time from waking to about 11 am. Again I take quiet time/reset mid-afternoons for about one hour. Before closing the day I spend another hour 90 minutes alone and quiet. My preference during the rest of the day is to be able to be spontaneous as much as possible and join in activities or do small repair/beautification projects that appeal to me.
What is My Plan B?
I have had four or five extended periods of a radical shift in perception, independent of the ingestion of any substance. The longest was sustained for almost a whole week. During that time there was nothing apart from the Heart. In that experience the entire physical surroundings, the walls, the floor, the buildings, the trees, the lawns and all living beings were ‘inside’ the Heart, which I might equate with “Divine Substance” or “the One Substance”. The quality of these shifts in perception has remained as my deeper feeling tone, although it is often partly obscured by the illusion of separateness that is so prevalent in our consensus reality. In that heightened state it is clear that Existence is one whole and that it is continually about its business, which is to care for every part of itself. My plan B is my plan A, and it is a statement by Lao Tzu, from the Hua Hu Ching:
Eighty One (excerpt)
“Take time to listen to what is said without words, to obey the law too subtle to be written, to worship the unnameable and to embrace the unformed.
Love your life.
Trust the Tao (flow of existence).
Make Love with the invisible subtle origin of the universe, and you will give yourself everything you need.”
I have been living according to these precepts for the last 20 years or so and experience bear out their truth. If this question is asking if I might be ‘stuck’ in LVC after finding out that it is not my place, I can only answer that I have rarely been stuck anywhere for long, and at this point in my life do not conceive of me being a burden to anyone.