This blog was created to share with you some of the ideas that stimulated our dialogues at Mount Madonna Chautauqua 2013. We have included transcripts and videos that will give you the flavor of the rich conversations that took place during or annual the 3 day gathering. We began with theme, “How our schools inspire the emergence of community builders?” Our deep appreciation to Angeles Arrien, Robert (Larry) Inchausti, Vivian Wright and the fabulous group of educational explorers who made this such a wonderful experience.
Ward Mailliard: I just want to say a couple words about the learning journey; because part of being the stranger, is actually taking the journey. There are three stages of the journey – This isn’t something I made up, this is somehow printed in our DNA. The “call,” which is the preparatory stage – The interesting thing to note is that in the “call” stage, classically the hero or heroine always resists at least three times. One of the things that I have discovered is how much information there is in the resistance – We are called, everybody in this room has been – will be – is called. To note your resistance to the “call,” and actually my students when we were having a discussion about this one day, really I was stunned at how quickly they came up with all the things that cause us to resist. “It might not be worth it, I’m not good enough, or I might fail.” You know, we all have a story going that keeps us often from taking the journey from answering the “call.”
The “journey” itself is what I would call the social, emotional learning phase. You know we talk about social emotional learning, well let me tell you, that it is a full body engagement. Mind, body, feelings, senses, and that’s where this unexpected process occurs, this alchemy of being on the journey, and meeting with strangers, and being the stranger, and being greeted at the margins of different communities, and how powerful that is, how life changing that is.
The part that usually gets left out in the educational experience is the return. We have diminished those to “exams.” You know, “Did you learn what we expected you to learn?” But the return – This is also from Sobonfu Some. Vivian and I were having dinner with her one night, and she said, “You know it’s the job of the village to welcome you back from an initiatory experience.” Otherwise what results are isolation, alienation, and depression.
So when you have gone through an experience, it is very important that when you come back and you get asked the right questions, “What did you do?” is not the right question, “What did you see?” is not the right question. So the questions, “How were you touched and moved? How were you delighted? Where were you challenged?” This is something we are supposed to do for each other when we note that somebody has gone through an initiatory experience, or we have been through one ourselves. These are the three basic stages of the classic hero’s journey, the call, the journey itself, and the return.
That process of being the stranger, of meeting strangers, and being welcomed by communities reorients ourselves to the whole notion of the stranger – A gift that might be coming in to the community through the stranger, including the gift that you as a strange are bringing to the community, that is not already there. So one of the questions that came up in the dialogue that we had prior to this was, “What are the stories that would allow me to reconnect my strangeness to the community from which I feel isolated?” That one just caught me.
“What are the stories that would allow me to reconnect my strangeness to the community from which I feel isolated?”
Now you are not supposed to do anything with that, I just thought that was such a cool question. (laughter) Going to my own experience from at times feeling isolated from my own community by my own strangeness, What are the stories that would allow me to reconnect my strangeness to the community from which I feel isolated? Then some other ancillary questions that you are also not supposed to do anything with, but I think are useful in the context of the learning journey are: “What is the question that is calling me? What am I really curious about? What’s my resistance?” There is so much information in the resistance. “What is the story that no longer serves me? What is the learning or the liberating conversations that would have the effect of reuniting me with my community? Finally, what is my value as a stranger?”
So the learning journey, this year for me, deeply connects to this notion of Stone Soup. The questions that are calling us, the questions that we bring in to the community, sometimes they are not accepted by the community. Questions are destabilizing. The village really represents stability. It is the status quo. As long as everybody is fed and feeling nourished, change is very difficult. It is only when we reach a point where we have hit a forcing function where things aren’t working, only then we open up to new possibilities. How could we actually have a community that has as part of its aesthetic, constant renewal and openness to possibility, along with the stability of a community that was viable, that was stable? How can we have both of those things working together? So that in brief moment is the “learning journey” to which I’m sure everybody could add many ideas.
Ward: We have developed a ritual over the years called “Stone Soup.” The basic story line, is very simple; a Shaman, which I have drawn here – I’m getting good at androgynous figures, could be male could be female (Laughter) comes into the village, and this is a village that is starving. There is a great famine in the land, and the Shaman comes along, and he or she has a magic stone? Well the Shaman comes into the village and sees that the people are starving, and takes out his or her magic stone, and says, “I have a magic stone.” If you get a pot, and you put some water in it and put a fire under it, I will put the stone in the pot and it will feed the village. Well, when people are desperate, they will try anything. So they got the pot, and lit a fire under it, and the Shaman took the magic stone and dropped it in the pot. Then everybody sat down to see what would happen.
As they were sitting there, the Shaman said, “Well you know what really makes this soup tasty, is if someone had an onion, just to flavor it.” Somebody said, “I have a onion, I have kept it under my house, because it was no good, I mean one onion, what are you going to do? So I’ll bring it.” They went and got the onion, and dropped it in the pot. A little time went by, and the Shaman said, well you know what will make it even tastier, is if someone had a potato. Actually a few people had potatoes that they had been hiding under their houses, because the potato by itself wouldn’t feed them very long, and they put the potatoes in. Well this went on through any multiple numbers of your favorite vegetables (laughter) and by the time everyone had taken what they had been conserving, what they couldn’t figure out how to use on their own, and put it in the pot, a very thick broth stew was made and the village was fed, and it was fed for several days.
The stone as I have come to conceive it is, “The question that hasn’t been asked,” and a healthy community always welcomes the stranger on the margins of the community, because the stranger is always bringing something new that isn’t already in the community. Many communities might think of that as disruptive – “Keep the strangers out!” – Not seeing the gift that the stranger brings, but when the magic stone – the question – goes into the pot, it by itself is not sufficient, but all of the gifts that the community holds in abeyance, ideas, thoughts, that they hold in abeyance are brought together in the communal dialogue, in the pot of deep reflection, and heated by the creative fire, as Angeles would say – “It is the creative fire that requires no wood.” The community then is nourished and reinvigorated, because when we create these boundaries of isolation, whether we do it as individuals, where we become isolated from the community because we in fact are the stranger. We may do it internally because we are the stranger within our self, and we don’t see our gifts, or what we have to contribute.
The process really is one of coming together in a dialogue to bring the gifts, both the unknown and the known, the familiar and the unfamiliar, and to bring those in to the collective consciousness where the creative conversation, which is driven by the creative fire, “The fire that takes no wood,” and that produces something that nourishes, and re-invigorates the community.
So each of you have a book and a stone, the book is yours too keep – we will be playing with that a little bit later on. Your job today is to arrive, to relax, to connect okay? To enjoy, so this is “soak time” for us. We have nothing in mind for you. There is no predictable outcome you are supposed to get, okay? So if you came here with the idea that you were going to learn something, oops! (Laughter) You’ll learn what you are ready to learn in the way you learn it. True learning is always unpredictable. One of the problems with school is that it is being driven by this incredible thirst; I would say lust for predictable outcomes. The real learning is unpredictable. So not to take anything away from any subject area that you attached to, or content that you love; I love my content, you know, but one of the things that I have learned over the years is process and relationship matter a whole lot more, and get remembered a lot longer than any particular content.
So you have this stone, and the job here is to think about as Angeles said, what really, really, really truly, truly, truly, matters to you. If we could sit for a little bit and think about that, and then there are some pens out here and if you could write a word, or whatever you can fit on your stone, front and back for those of you who have a lot to say, and then this is the really hard part of the ritual. This is actually a ritual for the ritually impaired, of which I am one. I have a high resistance to having to do anything where I might have to extend myself out in ways in which I become shy and uncomfortable. So the full extent of your commitment will be after you write on the stone, is to place it in the circle, and then go back and sit down. If that is too hard, then you can just put it in your pocket (Laughter), and then at the break you can drop it in to the circle, okay?
This section is divided into five parts so it can be savored like a five course meal.
Part 1 The Circle
Angeles Arrien: Anytime when we have the opportunity to gather purposefully or that we’ve been called together and anytime that we have the opportunity to sit in circle with one another.
I love that the World Indigenous Council that is sponsored by the United Nations, that all the elders from the different continents of the world come in and they purposefully choose where they will sit in the three tiered circles and always you can see them, will they sit in the first circle or the second circle or the third circle, and will they sit in purposefully in a certain direction. And that always, when they’ve chosen their place to sit, there is always a time of silence and looking around and seeing who are the new people that have come. And who are the ones that have come for many years? And there is silent acknowledgment. And then very slowly there is a reaching out and taking hands so that the circle is sealed.
And there is a looking first to the person that sits directly across from you, is that you are gonna make sure to deeply listen to when that person speaks because among traditional people’s world wide, that the person that sits directly across form you is a mirror of your inner teacher, what you are currently learning at this time. So it’s always to see, who is the person directly across from you. Whenever you sit down every day or every session, “Who’s across from me?” And when they speak, or nonverbally how do they sit, I think because somehow they are a mirror. A mirror of what you are learning at this time, a mirror of your inner teacher or your inner guidance at this time.
And the person on your left right now, the person on your left are always a mirror of your heart work, or your inner healer at this time, the quality of your heart or what you are learning about love at this time, because the most powerful healing force in the world is love, and the physicist, Brian Swimme, in his book “The Universe is a Green Dragon,” said, “You know if I had to put a lay term to the field of the allurement that holds the whole world together, that lay term would be ‘love.’ It’s the strongest magnetic field, and it holds everything together.” So what is it that I’m currently learning about love? What do I know about love? What do I want to pass on to my children about love? Or my grandchildren about love? Or what are my currently learning in my heart about love? And the person on my left, give them a little squeeze because they are somehow a mirror of what I’m currently learning about love and healing at this time. What is calling to be healed in my nature at this time? What is calling me to be healed in my life at this time? What’s calling to be healed in my work at this time? That’s to my left.
And the person across from me is what? It’s what I’m learning. It’s where I’m being challenged and stretched and growing. Is always across.
Now this person on my right is right use of power. Right use of power. My leadership. My leadership! My leadership! The quality of leadership and the ability to empower myself and to empower others is right use of power. The old fashioned term for leadership was warrior. Warrior. Warrior. Right use of power. Honoring limits and boundaries. A place of courage. A place of courage on my right.
So we walk with power on our right, love on our left and we are always moving towards what we are learning. We are always moving towards that which will allow us to unfold or grow. And the universal meaning of the word challenge is an invitation to grow and to move beyond the knowable and the familiar. To stretch. To grow. So that person across from me is my current invitation to grow, to stretch, to unfold.
And so then to slowly drop your arms. And the other beautiful thing is that after you’ve connected with the person across and you’ve held hands with love on the left and power on the right, we are always in the place of the visionary. The visionary is my perspective or my outlook and I’m always moving towards that which will most allow me to grow and that which will most allow me to unfold.
And then the space between us, whenever we sit within a circle is the space of blessing. Is the space where we rest and lean into, it’s known as the space of trust. Or the space of faith. Where all things are healed. All things are healed and all things are free. That empty space. And the circle, cross-culturally is the universal for wholeness and for individuation and for interconnectedness. And just by sitting in a circle, it’s a deep imprinting that we are whole and we are interconnected. Always.
Part 2 – We are Unique – We are Connected
And every human being is a universe to be discovered, uncovered and recovered. And is original medicine. Indigenous people world wide and in this continent and especially South America say, “We are all original medicine.”
And for many years I used to think about, “What does that really mean?” What does that really mean that we are original medicine? Most indigenous language do not have a means of comparison in their language and I find that very interesting. You know something small or larger, there is no valiance it’s just small or it’s large and it doesn’t mean anything more than that. Something’s not better than best; that means it’s a comparison. So I began to do research to see what was meant by that term. And eventually they would always show me their hands and then have me put my fingerprint into the dirt. And then they would put their fingerprint into the dirt and then the prints were very different.
And then they would say, “See even with our twins,” they would have the twins come over and put their fingerprints in the dirt and every research now has demonstrated that even with identical twins every human being in the world has an original imprint. I think that’s quite awesome to think about. So if I have an original imprint nowhere duplicated in the world, why would I spend time comparing? Another wonderful fact about original medicine: every human being, including identical twins or triplets, if we put everyone’s voice on a sonogram every person’s voice, sonic and pattern is completely unique.
No one has you’re sonic, no one has your voice pattern in the world. I think that’s quite an awesome fact. I think that’s really quite stunning. Eye doctors or ophthalmologists have long recognized another very interesting awesome fact that even with identical twins that the color pigmentation and texture of the iris is nowhere else duplicated in the world. So that your own iris and color and pigmentation we can’t find in anywhere else in the world. Your sound and voice sonic is not found anywhere else in the world. And your imprint is not found anywhere else in the world.
So what does that say about the human species? Is that we come and are called to contribute and leave an original contribution or imprint. And we come to speak what we see. We come to speak what we see. And on speaking what we see is a lost opportunity that is going to make a contribution to the grater whole. And so I think that’s all just a wonderful fact. So I spent my whole life, I had the absolute blessing that has been the golden thread throughout all my life to follow what truly has heart and meaning to me and one of the great curiosities that has just been a steady consistent hum is that I’ve always been curious about what are the points of unity? Cross culturally. Points of unity. Regardless of our cultural conditioning and our family imprinting. And so in many ways I help us try to remember that which we have forgotten -that which we have forgotten. And where we are all interconnected and where are the points of unity.
So in many ways what I’m going to share today what are many different points of unity, stir the bowl for all of us, to deeply remember, I have a body for a purpose – for a purpose. And that purpose, that our body is the perfect architecture to support our life dream, or calling or purpose: the perfect architecture! Yes, I dream, probably in the next life of being tall and willowy, but somehow my body is currently the perfect architecture that has supported my life dream of following and discovering and uncovering where are the points of unity. Where are we connected in our original medicine? Where are we connected.
So Carl Jung said, “Life is that luminous pause between two great mysteries which are one, birth and death.” Life is that luminous pause between two great mysteries which are one, birth and death. And then he paused after that and he said, “And both, and both are the heart of creativity – And both are the heart of creativity.” Life is that luminous pause between two great mysteries which are one, birth and death and both hold the force of creativity. The energy of creativity.
Part 3 – The Three Laws of nature
So the human spirit is, and in nature if you really want to know about how nature governs herself, there are three laws. Three laws. And if nature governs herself this way, and we are creatures of nature, then there are certain aspects of self governance as well that comply with this incredible force that’s always working within us, which is the creative force, which is known as Eros, the love to create, the love to manifest, the love to bring into form something that will serve the greater good. To bring into form that will serve the greater good which is the function of community. It is to create something that will serve the greater good.
So the laws of nature: the first law of nature is everything in nature is constantly creating and constantly diversifying. Constantly creating and constantly diversifying. And nature’s rhythm is medium to slow. Nothing moves in the fast lane in nature unless it’s in danger. And then it will move for fifteen or twenty minutes. Will move fifteen or twenty minutes to get out of the danger and then it goes back to the natural rhythm which is what? Medium to slow. And there’s a lot that we can do in the fast lane, that we can create or produce, but there are two things we can never do in the fast lane. Healing does not take place in the fast lane. Healing takes place in nature’s rhythm which is what? Medium to slow. Medium to slow. Integration and reflection. To integrate our experience we need to reflect. Take time. To reflect. And reflection takes place and integration takes place in nature’s natural rhythm which is what? Medium to slow.
And we cannot develop our character in the fast lane because character requires reflection and integration. And so we have to take time for contemplation and reflection and to integrate our experience. To integrate. In what ways was I inspired, challenged, surprised, touched and moved. The four great tracking principles. Where am I inspired? Where am I being stretched or challenged? Where am I being surprised? Where am I being touched and moved? I’m still alive if I can be inspired, challenged, touched, surprised and moved. I’m still alive. Refusing to walk the procession of the willing dead. And every day at the end of each day is to track, who or what inspired me today? What challenged me today? Where was I stretched and moved today? Where was I surprised today? Where was I touched and moved today? Taking time to integrate my experience.
How am I constantly creating and diversifying my gifts and talents? What creativity and diversification am I bringing in to my relationships. What creativity and diversification am I bringing into my work and my creativity. That’s called deep engagement. Wherever I’m deeply engaged I’m creating. And whenever I’m creating things happen. Things happen and we are uplifted. And inspired and touched and moved and surprised and delighted. And that’s called being alive. Being alive.
The second way that nature governs herself is that nature fosters interdependence – Interdependence. Actively fosters interdependence and connection. Nothing survives in nature if it is fiercely independent or excessively dependent. And so for those of us who pride ourselves in being fiercely independent, well we are going to go into burnout. And we are going to overextend ourselves and we can’t ask for help and pretty soon that opens the doors to disease. And for those of us who are excessively dependent we won’t survive. Because we’re not engaging responsibly with our own gifts and talents and wanting others to take care of us rather than we move into our own self care.
And the last way that nature governs herself is that everything in nature has a purpose. There is, and each one of us because we are creatures of nature, we have a purpose. We have a purpose, otherwise we would not have a body, and otherwise we would not be here. And we are here as long as we need to be here to engage our calling and our purpose and what has heart and meaning.
So it’s from that that I discovered that if Jung said, which he did, “That life is that luminous pause,” I think that’s a wonderful phrase, “Life is a luminous pause between two great mysteries, which are one: birth and death. And both engage the creative force.”
So I began to take a look at wondering, cross-culturally, how to we engage the creative force. And the Asians always track movement in nature. And the oldest book of changes that is based on nature and the wisdom of nature and the changes from season to season is called the I Ching. And it’s a book that I’ve read from the first hexagram to the sixty-fourth hexagram. If you want to know everything there is to know about change, instead of using it as an auricular tool, use it as a book of wisdom and read it.
So I read a hexagram everyday, so I’ve done this for the last fifteen years. I read a hexagram each day for sixty-four days and then I go back through and the next sixty four days, and the next sixty four days and the next sixty four days and so I re-read the I Ching almost four times a year. And then some. So repeating that. Well it’s amazing, even after fifteen years I go, “Oh that’s what that means…… That’s what that means.”
Part 4 – Three Processes of All Human Beings
But what they talk about over and over again, that in any kind of creative experience, there are three processes that no human being is exempt from, but before I go into the eight movements, there are three processes that are not exempt from any human being, and that’s work with self, it’s the longest relationship we will ever have in our life.
And so how am I befriending myself. The longest relationship. Who do I eat with the most., sleep with the most, shower with the most, talk to the most, is my relationship with self. And where am I in that relationship. Do I befriend myself? Do I treat myself as a friend as I do others? And every human being on the planet has some work to do with self. I think that’s an awesome fact. No one is exempt from that.
And I love the very short story of Zusha, the Rabbi, who went to the top of the mountain to pray, to get guidance for his community cause he was considered the wise-man, the Rabbi of the community, and he came down after three days and he was terrified. And the community gathered around him and they said, “Rabbi! Rabbi! Why are you so afraid?”
And he said, “Oh I now know what the angels will ask me on the last day, I now know what the angels will ask me!”
And the community said, “But you’ve led a model life, why would you be afraid?”
And he said, “Oh no! Oh no you must ask yourself the same question! The question I’m going to be asked is, “Rabbi! (And put your name in front of this question) Why weren’t you Rabbi or why weren’t you Zusha (His name was Zusha)?”
What gets in the way of me being authentically who I am? What do I allow to get in the way of being who I really am?
Which is really why I’m so honored for all of us to have Larry Inchausti here because he’s written an incredible book: Subversive Orthodoxy which is really asking us to take a look at, “Angeles, why weren’t you Angeles?” or “DN, why weren’t you DN?” Or “Charles, why weren’t you Charles?” or “Hannah, why weren’t you Hannah?” Or “Amber, why weren’t you Amber?”
You know, what do I allow to get in the way of the authentic nature? So that work with self.
The second universal process that we are not exempt from, besides our work with self, is this one to one work called relationship. Myself and one other: a friend, my best friend, or a colleague, or a loved one, or my partner. This one to one, which is a crucible around intimacy, and a crucible around learning about love, and all the forms of love. There’s a love in friendship that’s very different than the love in collegiality, or the love of a beloved, or my partner, or a lover, what do I know about all the forms of love? And there is one very short story, around everything we need to know. Around this one to one relationship that also includes work with self, but begins to take a look at what might be the keys that are essential in every relationship.
And it’s the Pandora myth. And the Pandora myth is really found in every culture. But in every culture it’s not Pandora, sometimes it’s a male, and sometimes it’s not a male or a female, it can be a creature.
But the story is always the same: the gods and the goddesses in every culture were kind of bored and they needed a project, and they thought, “What would be a project that would unite both the gods and this thing called Earth? That would actually bring them together and that would last for all time and all eternity?”
And so the gods and goddesses we’ll tell the western version is the Olympic gods and the goddesses decided, “Well, let’s fashion this creature out of earth itself, which is clay. Let’s fashion this creature out of clay and then let’s give them gifts from us: the divinity.”
So Venus gave this creature love, and Mercury gave this creature communication gifts, and Zeus gave this creature leadership, and they went on and on and Aphrodite gave this creature beauty and they added all their gifts, all these incredible heavenly gifts, these gifts of divinity into this clay, and they were very pleased with what they created, they thought, “Finally a creature that held both divinity, divine gifts, and also was of the earth,”
And how could they make sure it would last through all time? And so they thought and they thought and they thought and they said, “Well, you know, Earth and Divinity have one great quality which is curiosity and loving to explore anything that’s new or anything that’s forbidden.”
We’ve all experienced that right? We love to explore something new and then we kind of want to know about this kind of forbidden thing. And cross-culturally we know that as the taboo. Every culture has their own taboos. And so they decided they would give this creature either a box or they would give this creature a vase, or they would give this creature some kind of container and say, “You must really care for this. This must go with you wherever you go and you just care for it. Your charge is to care for it. But there’s one limit. That you can never open it. You can never open it.” And so the creature thought, “Oh this beautiful box and container and case” and caring for it and gorgeous and made sure it was always in the proper place and always tending to it. And you know, as the years go on you get very curious as you’re dusting for it and caring for it, it has a little lid or it has a little top and you think, “Well,” because the gods and goddesses carry great curiosity so why wouldn’t humanity also carry great curiosity and so when you have both within you it’s called double curiosity. And double trouble that way.
And so finally one day, just couldn’t quite resist, you know, “I’ll just lift it up a little bit, maybe just take a little peak,” And out came all the evils and the ills in the world. And many of us think that that’s where the story ended. But when you take a look at the Pandora myth cross-culturally, there’s always something that was left at the bottom of the jar or the vase that was overlooked.
And in Asian cultures what was overlooked, what was overlooked when the gifts and talents and the evils and ills of the world are very strong, in Asian cultures what was overlooked was compassion. In Western cultures in the Pandora myth, what was overlooked was hope. In indigenous cultures of the world, what was overlooked was truth.
And so in our relationships with one another, and especially when we explore the light and dark within us, we must remember the three golden keys. Where am I in our relationship? Where is hope in our relationship? Where is compassion in our relationship? Where is there truth in our relationship? And in my own relationship with myself, where is there hope? What do I find hopeful? What elicits my compassion? And where in my life do I find myself really in a strong relationship with my own integrity or honesty or authenticity?
Cause that’s all a preparation for how I will be in community. How I am with myself and how I am with my one to one relationship, prepares me for the third process, the universal process which we are not all exempt from, which is community.
And community means, “Common Unity. Common Unity” Common-unity. And in community you are going to find the eight movements. In community. And in community, community always is an organism itself, and it always has it’s collected wisdom and it has it’s collective shadow. In every community. And in every classroom, there is a collected wisdom in every classroom. And in every classroom there is a collected shadow. And shadow really means, “That which I have not explored, That which is still , that which I don’t want to explore.” I hope I’m never like them. Oh I couldn’t possibly ever achieve that. It’s the shadow. It’s the shadow part. And so in, in community we find the most creative energy possible because it’s amplified. And in community it’s an organism that always different parts of the community are involved in four sets of two. Universal movements around creativity.
Part 5 – The Four Pairs or Eight Movements
Gathering and Rising – And when we go through these I’d just like for you to notice what comes up for you around these movements because the first movement, just think about right now in your life, just this year so far, who or what has inspired you the most? Who or what? And it’s important to track what inspires us. Because we cannot be inspired unless it has meaning. It’s impossible, and so even if I were to track for thirty days at the end of each day, just that question, “Who or what inspired me today?”
At the end of the month you’re gonna be surprised at what has meaning for you. Because inspiration always is related to meaning. It’s impossible to be surprised unless it’s somehow meaningful for you. And so, the first movement, and It’s interesting, we never gather anything unless it’s meaningful. So the first movement of creativity is when it’s a combined two-fold movement. I gather, I gather what has meaning. And whatever has meaning inspires me. So just notice, doing that, gathering, what am I gathering? Because whatever I am gathering, pulling together, has meaning, otherwise I wouldn’t be gathering it, and so you think about people who have collections of things right? They are gathering. And whatever they are gathering, or collecting, it has meaning. And you’ll find these four great movements, and there are two, they come in pairs.
There are four pairs and they make eight. But the gathering. Whatever we gather always uplifts us. It has meaning. Gathering, what has meaning. Gathering – Meaning, Gathering – Meaning, Gathering – Meaning. And in every story cross-culturally, something is being gathered or searched for. Because it’s meaningful. We don’t go on a journey unless we’ve been called and it has meaning.
And so what have I gathered already this year, in my life, in my work or in my relationships. What have we gathered that has inspired us both? Or what have I gathered in my creativity that is really meaningful? And yesterday, you know we gathered images. We gathered images, purposefully, we gathered those images, and the images that we actually picked or drew have meaning. We gathered and it was meaningful, right? Gathering and rising. Gathering and rising. That’s the first great creative movement. And everywhere in the world now, in everyone’s life, something is being gathered and something has meaning. Even when people are depressed. Even when people are depressed. Even when people are depressed you can always reach them by what they genuinely like, whether it’s food or whether it’s color, anything that’s a favorite. A favorite tree. A favorite color. A favorite flower. Has meaning, otherwise it wouldn’t be a favorite. Gathering and rising. Ok. That’s the first.
Expanding and Contracting – The second: somewhere in our life, besides gathering and rising, we are growing, we are growing, we are expanding, and we are also contracting. Expanding and contracting – Expanding and contracting – Expanding and contracting – Expanding and contracting. This is the breath. Breath every day is expanding and contracting. It’s also the heartbeat. Expanding and contracting – Expanding and contracting.
The second great creative movement. I can’t grow unless I expand. I can’t learn about limits and boundaries unless I contract. Limits and boundaries, contract. Knowing what my limits and boundaries are. Expand, contract. Definition: expand and define. Expand and define. Expand and define. Oh yeah. Oh yes.
Second great movement. That’s going on universally in everyone’s lives somewhere. So what in my life right now is expanding, and what is being defined or clarifies? Expanding. Where am I growing this year? And where am I getting clear and defining? What am I clear about? What do I know are clear limits and boundaries for me? Definition.
Inflow and Outflow – So after contracting, and these don’t go into, we could be doing these simultaneously in different parts of our lives, and they’re not hierarchal, we could start anywhere, but also the other great movement that’s happening all the time is: inflow and outflow. Inflow and outflow. Some of us have too much coming in, we get flooded and overwhelmed. Too much inflow. Too much outflow, we get exhausted and overextended. But the balance is also, giving is the outflow, receiving is the inflow.
This is where we create mutuality and collaboration. Inflow and outflow – Inflow and outflow – Inflow and outflow. Very different movements, very different movements, very different movements. In and out – In and out. And it’s all, I can’t do in and out unless I’m open. Unless I’m open. Nothing can come in and nothing can go out when I’m closed or shut down. So inflow and outflow. And just noticing which of these are even easy or difficult for you to even do. Often shows us where we are ease with certain movements and where we find it very difficult.
Settling and Releasing – Ok and then the last pair. The last pair is settling, settling, another word for integration, settling, integrating, settling and releasing. Settling and releasing – Settling and releasing – Settling and releasing – Settling and releasing – Settling and releasing. Oh yeah. Oh yeah. Oh yeah. Oh yeah.
Now we can do them all together now. That’s what happens in every project. Every project, all at once, all of these movements, any time we are creating, any time we are creating and any time when those two great mysteries, death and birth come together, we are in the force of creativity, and these are the eight movements. If you really study Asia, well what are the movements that come out of the oldest book of changes? And this is it. Because we are experiencing these in different parts of our lives.
So we can start first, before creativity we start preparing. Oh I’m really interesting, anyone out loud, what’s the topic that has had your imagination this year that you’ve started gathering information about it. Anyone.
Angeles Arrien: Ok great, community.
AngelesArrien: Just notice what captures your curiosity cause wherever my curiosity is captures it has heart and meaning and I’ve already begun to gather. Gather. Because, it has meaning so I’m rising and it’s allowing me to grow and to clarify and define and that’s allowing for more inflow and outflow so that I can settle it and integrate it and then release it. Isn’t that fun? Ok so here we go again. Here we go again. Cause this is happening all the time. Inside with work with myself. You know? What am I gathering about myself? And what am I curious about myself that has meaning that is allowing me to expand and see new perspectives and clarify and define and to allow for the inflow and the outflow and that I can settle and release.
Every story, something is being gathered that inspires us and uplifts us and allows us to expand and see things differently and to clarify and define so that there can be more inflow and outflow and allows us to settle so that we can release and let go. Ah ha ha ha ha. (Laughter)
And that’s when we lose time, or we experience a timeless place. And we all have experienced timeless place. Guess what’s been happening? All those movements at once. And sometimes we can start with stretching and expanding and defining and clarifying but it always takes us to the inflow and to the outflow and settling and releasing so that we can gather and rise again.
So anywhere you start. Anywhere.
Oh I just, I’m really in a settled place, you know. Everything is really integrated, and I just let go, and oh, interesting, I’d like to give out this, this and come back here and, gather and uplift, and there they all are. But if you, really, before you start a new project or working with a team. What do we want to gather together? And what has collective meaning for us? So that we can rise together in a meaningful way that will allow us then to explore and expand and clarify and define and come in and go out and create mutuality together so that we can settle and integrate and finish the project and let it go. Let it go.
So that was fun huh? That was fun huh?
That’s what happens, that’s the story of here in community. Some of us are in a rising place and some of us are in a stretching, defining place, and some of us are really in the place of inflow and outflow and collaboration and mutuality, and some of us are, you know, something’s falling into place and coming together and it’s completing itself and it’s time to let go. And all that’s happening all the time. All the time.
So just notice who and what came to mind and that allows us to go into some circles together to capture, what is my heart of my work with self at this time? What is the heart of my work in relationships at this time? And, of these four movements, which is the easiest for me? Do I really follow meaning? Do I follow what uplifts me? Or do I take it for granted. Because wherever I’m inspired, it has meaning. It has meaning. It has meaning and that means that’s where I can truly be creative with my gifts and talents. We don’t track enough of our inspirations so who or what inspires me? You know, already, yesterday and today. Who or what inspired me? Yesterday and today. Who or what challenged me to look again? Or I found a little unfamiliar?
You know, “Oh we’re gonna do this movements thing, are you kidding? Are you kidding? I don’t want to do that.” But those are the movements. And one of the things indigenous people always use the voice and the hands to imprint for memory. You won’t forget these. So here we go again. Here we go again. Gathering. There’s a voice and the arm and the hand imprint. Gathering. And remember we have an original sonic. And indigenous peoples recognize that our voice strengthens the sound of our voice singing, chanting or singing, strengthens the immune system.
Native Americans said, “Sing for your life” so: Gathering and rising – Gathering and rising – Gathering and rising – Gathering and rising.
I worked with depressed people or people who have panic attack disorders and I have them doing gathering and rising and you can’t stay depressed and do gathering and rising. It’s impossible. Gathering and rising. Gathering and rising. And then stretching, expanding, and stretching and contracting and defining. Expanding and stretching and defining and constricting. Expanding and defining and contracting. Just notice which of these are easiest for you? Inflow, outflow, inflow, outflow, inflow, outflow, inflow, outflow. If I have trouble expanding and defining I’m gonna have trouble with inflow and outflow. I make room for inflow and outflow when I expand and constrict. So and then settling and releasing. Settling and releasing. And now just close your eyes and silently do those movements yourself.
No fair peaking. And just notice which ones you forget.
And then just silently do them in your mind. Because sometimes, in any meeting, is to track what energy needs to be here right now. What energy? Maybe there’s too much inflow. Maybe there’s too much outflow. Track in any meeting. Track in your relationships. You know, is there too much expansion and not enough definition? Is there too much settling and not enough release? Is there too much gathering without rising. So one of the great mysteries. Ok. Ok. Oh yeah.
Vivian Wright: Subversive Orthodoxy, you heard from Angeles the necessity of that, for the survival and evolution of community and ourselves. So Larry is going to help us think about, in a way that comes from his work – What that is, and to tell a story, and then we get to play with that story.
Larry Inchausti: The task falls on me to explain “Subversive Orthodoxy,” because I use that as a title to this book that I wrote about 20th century figures who had the courage of their strangeness and gave back to their communities by being non-conformists and following a different path. Ward took the title of that and turned it into a whole mythology (laughter). So now “Subversive Orthodoxy” is not just the name that I gave to… I don’t know ten or fifteen 20th century heroes, but it’s also thanks to Ward, the name for an entire paradoxical relationship to community where the very thing that makes you valuable is your strangeness, and your willingness to share that. So we were talking about how to best talk about this and in my book I have so – I have models of great subversive orthodox people in the 20th century because it turns out the 20th century is the century of subversive orthodox. Basically by that I mean that people that come out of great traditions but carry those traditions into the 20th century in unique and unexpected ways. For example, probably the most famous – Or one that we would know about here at Mount Madonna, is Gandhi using the Bagavdagita as a tool for political revolution.
He’s got a chapter in my book, and one of the quotes from one of his followers summarizes a little bit of ‘Subversive Orthodoxy’ when they – They ask one of his followers what it was about Gandhi that made him a more attractive leader than the socialist alternative who were more politically connected and had greater military threat. One of them said “Well he’s given us a way of fighting without becoming like our enemy.” And I’m sure Angeles is going to talk about this, projection and how do you stand for what you stand for without making an enemy of the person that is causing you difficulty.
But the one that I wanted to talk about today because his story is more fun and we want to have fun in the afternoon. It is also the most outrageous in some ways, Lech Walesa of the Polish Solidarity movement and he became President of Poland and – of the first non-communist government in Poland and essentially was the architect of the end of Soviet domination in Eastern Europe. Now what makes him so interesting is that Lech Walesa in nobody’s imagination had the authority to become leader of Solidarity or leader of Poland, in fact he had a 9th grade education. He was an electrician so his training was entirely vocational. He worked at the Gdańsk Shipyards as an electrician, and he really didn’t have much political sophistication except for the fact that he knew when he was getting screwed. This turns out to be an incredible important trait for the group, to have somebody who is willing to say: “We are getting screwed! And I am willing to fight for it!” Now this is the way.
I love this story because this is the way Lech Walesa got elected to President of the Solidarity Union. They had a meeting, like millions of meetings where the communist management of the Gdańsk Shipyard was at a little table, and then they had representatives of the union from the various shops sitting at another table across from them. So Walesa was a 28-year old electrician representing the electricians right? And so they start the usual song and dance about you know “We would really like to give you increase salaries but you know we’ve got to cut back, and the west is putting all this pressure on us and you’re just falling into the hands of the western agitators and don’t you see you really – For the good of the country you should really not press us for increased wages.” At which point Walesa says “I have something to say.” And they say “Lech, what do you have to say?” He says “I don’t mind when you lie to me in the newspapers, I accept that and you lie to me on television, because you control the television, but you don’t lie to me to my face.” And he, Lech leaps across the table and tries to hit the guy in the mouth, which is not very Gandhiesque (Laughter). And they pull him off and he’s you know “Don’t lie to me.” And everybody in the room said: “That’s our next president.”
It wasn’t because he was sophisticated; it was because he had something that the room needed. Now after he got elected President – This is another little funny thing, the head economists of the Solidarity Union came to him and said “Lech, you know you have a 9th grade education, you are an electrician, I think maybe you should step down and maybe let one of us who know how to handle politics take over the Solidarity.” And Walesa says: “Well you never helped us for the past 20 years, why should I trust you to help us now?” And they said: “Well because you don’t know anything.” And he goes: “Well I’m President of the union.” (Laughter) So they said: “Well what’s your plan?” and he says: “Well I’ll figure it out.” So his plan – He was a very religious guy, which is another thing that – Which is a lot of these plebian figures of subversive orthodoxy like Gandhi have their connections with indigenous traditions and orthodox traditions. So he would go to the negotiation meetings, and then when there was a break the communist would go to strategy meetings and Walesa would go to church, and he would meditate and pray for the 30 minutes that they were having the strategy meeting, and then he would come back with these cockamamie ideas that he got when he was praying that they didn’t know how to deal with. So he – His friend told him: “You know Lech, you are going to need something, a plan, something because you can’t just be, you know ad-libbing it after what the Virgin Mary tells you what to do.” (Laughter) He says: “Okay, well how about this, I’m not going to give in – I’m not going to sign any contract until we get a 6% pay increase across the board.” And they said: “You’ll never get a 6% pay increase.” He goes: “Well okay, that’s good negotiation, and I’ll just hang in there.”
So day in and day out they are negotiating and Walesa 6% says: “You got 6% here.” They say: “Oh, we can’t go that high Lech you know…” Meanwhile every other union in the country is going out on strike in solidarity with the ship union. So the entire country has been shut down because Walesa is holding down to the 6%. So the head of the Communists figures it out and goes: “You know, this guy, he’s been telling us all along he only wants 6%, if we can break solidarity union, GIVE the guy 6% you know? It’s no big deal! We’ll co-opt him, we’ll take back the country and the communists will be more in control.” So Walesa goes into the meeting after lunch and the communist guy says: “Lech you’re a tough bargainer, you know you are really tough, were going to give you the 6%.” And he says: “Okay, well that’s everyone at the shipyard?” He goes: “Yeah everyone at the shipyard gets 6%.” So he goes: Victory.
So he goes out – Everybody, the whole country is sort of watching this and they are like on, you know fences and what was the result of that negotiation. So Walesa comes out and he goes: “6% across the board!” The crowd then says: “6%?” We had a revolution, we were going to over throw the government and you sold out the revolution for a 6% pay increase?” Walesa says: “Well yeah that was my plan, 6%.” Then the boo’s start, “Traitor” “Walesa-Traitor!” So he’s looking around and they are going “BOOO! Did you sign it?” He goes: “Yeah I signed the agreement.” And the boo’s continue, and then he had one of those great plebian or subversive orthodox moments; he says – And this is something that somebody without – That had more than a 9th grade education probably wouldn’t have done. He said: “I made a mistake, I blew it!” He rips up the contract and says: “The strike is on! We’re going to continue to strike until there is a revolution in the country, I’m sorry, I blew it.” And then everyone is saying: “Walesa you’re a hero!” So then they fire him from the shipyard so he can’t officially be a union representative because he is no longer working for the shipyard, and so the next day when they were shutting down the plant again for a nationwide strike, he leaps over the fence and they make him an honorary member of the union. Ultimately they shut down the government and he becomes President and makes a thousand and one mistakes; but he able to do something that nobody else could do. It was his moment, and it was his time, and his place. The authenticity of his anger was something that the intellectuals couldn’t have provided.
Vivian Wright: “He didn’t even talk properly did he?”
Larry Inchausti: Oh and that’s the other thing you wanted me to mention is when he became President a lot of people in Poland were upset because in his public address he would use four letter words. (Laughter) They said it is very embarrassing to Poland to have a President who is saying those fuckers are not going to screw us around anymore. (Laughter) He is – You know he is a 20th century icon, now he has had his problems since then but that’s the way the people’s revolution moves.
One other thing and we’ll get back to our question, but Elie Wiesel who was also in my book, who won a Nobel Peace Prize wrote “Night”, he was a concentration camp survivor. He said that if you wanted to understand the 20th century and politics and our current state of why we have to be subversive orthodox: Not subversives, they’re a dime a dozen, not orthodox. We’ve got enough conformists to keep the trains running on time. The people that bring their uniqueness and non-conformity to the table rather than just hide it away in a blog for deviance or something, I don’t know. (Laughter) He said that what happened with western civilization was about 250 years ago, western man made a deal with God and said to God: “God I don’t really understand you, I don’t really know what your plan is for the universe, could you let me be God for one second? Just so I can understand what you are going through.” God said: “Well you know I would do that except that once I make you God, there is no guarantee that you will switch back, because you will be the guy that is in control, and I’ll be out.”
So the man said: “No, I promise this is just instructional, I am just doing this as a kind of experiment to find out what you are experiencing and I promise you that I will switch back immediately when I have that insight.” So God, in his stupidity says: “Okay, let’s make the trade.” So they made the trade around 1732 or something and western man never trades back. Since that time, God has become man, and man has become God. He says – And over the last 50 years or so, since WWII both sides are getting uncomfortable with the relationship. (Laughter) And we’re getting ready to negotiate a new deal. We are tired of being gods, and he’s tired of being human.
Since we started with a Rabbi and ended with the Holocaust survivor, I’ll end my little presentation with Kafka because Kafka is another great subversive orthodox because here is a guy who is writing works that may never get published, in a tradition that seems to be disappearing and what keeps him going? So there’s this little book called “Conversations with Kafka” written by a student, 18 years old, who visits Kafka on Friday, because his dad works with him in the insurance company and after Kafka became famous he wrote his memories about all these conversations that he had with Kafka. Of course the academics find this a dubious document because how could anyone remember word for word – But you read these conversations and you think: “My god, that’s Kafka.” So there’s one, and I’ll end with this because I think it’s really great description – Why we have to be subversive orthodox, well not we have to be, but why we are subversive orthodox. There’s a communist rally taking place outside Kafka’s office at the accident insurance company and the student says to Kafka: “You are a critic of the modern world, why aren’t you out there with the communists advocating for revolution?” And Kafka says to him: “That’s the problem with the modern world, everything goes by false names. They call themselves revolutionaries, they are really totalitarians. The capitalists call themselves free marketers, they are really monopolists. They say I have a great job, working here for the accident insurance company; it’s a form of penal servitude. Tonight I am going to go home to my apartment, have dinner and do a little writing; no, tonight I’m going home to my prison cell lock myself in and try to find my soul.”
Now how many names do we give to what we do? I mean how many heroic actions do we call un-heroic deeds. And it just takes somebody like Kafka to re-describe it for us. Or Lech Walesa who says: “You don’t have to take the bullshit.” Then we all recognize it and it’s like – You know they don’t have to be our leader, they could be badly dressed they just have to be in the community right? Once they say it, we say: “Damn. He’s right on that one! (Laughter) I really don’t like his use of language but you know he knows what’s going on politically.” So that’s my version of Subversive Orthodoxy and I think Vivian has a question about our Subversive Orthodoxy…
Vivian Wright: Oh my god that was so good. After cookies that was just like hit the spot. So what we are thinking of doing know is getting into some small groups and exploring with one another what is that wild hair in you that needs to speak truth to power. Whatever it is, however small… and I’d love for you to add to the question, but the question that we were thinking of is: “What feels subversive that is being called for…”
Larry Inchausti: “That you are a little bit hesitant to contribute because it seems too strange like let’s have a war and not kill anybody, let’s have a revolution and let’s have it based on love and… you know these – Or Martin Luther King was another character in my book and his great innovation was: “Lets love Jesus and not be white supremacists.” (Laughter)
Vivian Wright: So in the spirit of my so called democratic facilitation style which is really totalitarian (Laugher) Who would like a minute to just like – A minute or two of journaling before you get into small groups to answer this question… Raise your hand. Okay, just so you know it is a totalitarian facilitation style. Let’s take a couple of minutes with some – And Devin would you provide us with some background music? What in you feels subversive? That you feel a little uncomfortable about bringing forward in your community?
Ward: I have to confess, I was feeling a little sad this morning realizing this was our last day together, and I was going you know we should hangout a little longer you know? (Laughter) I don’t have quite enough rooms in my house (Laughter). From the Call, the Journey, and we start that ark homeward, and the Return is actually the part of the journey that is often forgotten. Because that is the point where we need to be witnessed by our community, to be whole in the initiatory experience and I will only speak for myself, but for me this was a very initiatory experience. This is our 9th Chautauqua, but it feels like our first in some ways to me, and maybe that is about endings and beginnings. Actually I wanted to impose something on one of my students, that’s one of the liabilities of knowing me, for which I apologize…. but I don’t relent, but not really. (Laughter) But Sophie had a reading last night – that I thought was interesting, and she doesn’t have it with her, so I am going to ask her to extemporize a little bit.
Sophie Kamkar: Robben Island was our first day in South Africa, and I think it was actually one of my very favorite parts of the trip. We took a ferry out to Robben Island, and we had the opportunity to see Nelson Mandela’s cell, which was surreal, and to interview a former prisoner, Thulani. We went there not really knowing what to expect, but we gathered around in this room, and Thulani starts off the day by getting down on the floor and showing us different ways he was tortured, while telling us this heartbreaking story of what he endured the years that he spent in the prison, and just horrible things that brought tears to a lot of our eyes as we were listening.
As he was telling us his story, he was strong and he wasn’t getting emotional, and I was just in awe at how he could be telling us all of these things, and how brave he was – To return to the very same place where all this happened to him. This prison took up most of his life, and is a huge part of his life, and then he proceeded to take us through the cells, and he actually owns the key that was used to unlock all of the prison cells; and as he was taking us through the cells, he opened Nelson Mandela’s cell, and I am sure you all know of Nelson Mandela’s current condition.
But he opens Nelson Mandela’s cell, and he stops talking all of a sudden, and he starts crying. We were all just standing there and watching this older man cry, and it was just so heartbreaking, because we could see all of the emotion flooding back as he looked back into the cell of his dear friend who is now in the hospital. I just didn’t know what to say, I was at a loss for words because I could not imagine returning to this place that holds such dark and horrible images for him, and he told us that the previous night that he was having nightmares about Robben Island, and everything that he had endured, and his wife was telling him: “Oh you shouldn’t go, that will be too hard for you.” But he didn’t want to break his commitment to our teacher and our class, so he came anyway.
He walked through the cells, and he kindly told us his stories, and he did it, and that meant a lot to me, because I don’t know if I would have the strength to even consider returning back to a place like that. I don’t think I would ever want to go back there again. And – But it made me realize that I think sometimes a return is what is necessary to heal from past experiences. Sometimes you have to face what it is that damaged you, in order to heal from it, and I think that that was a healing experience for him, even though it was clearly very difficult for him to return to that place that holds such dark memories for him, but it made me realize that this man, he could have given up a long time ago, and he said that while he was in the prison, he considered committing suicide many times, but he for some reason he didn’t, and he stayed strong, and I think it is because he had hope. If he didn’t have hope he wouldn’t be standing there with us that day telling us a bunch of American teenagers his story. I think it is amazing that returning to the prison was just – It is just outstanding that he could do that and he saw the importance of doing that.
Ward: Thank you Sophie.
Group: Thanks Sophie.
Ward: So I have a little coincidental reading, and I think that we can unpack that story for a long time. But in “Subversive Orthodoxy” Larry writes on page 71“What critics like Roger Kimball don’t get about the beats in general, and Keroac in particular is that it is just as possible to be unhappy in a wonderful environment as it is to be hopeful in a difficult one. And that this capacity for unhappiness amidst great material plenty is not necessarily a symptom of ingratitude towards America’s socioeconomic gains, political liberties or modern technological miracles. Human beings are not just organisms in environments, or subjects within histories, but individual souls working out their own salvation amidst great worldly suffering and injustice.”
Now, the whole process of the return – What I have noticed personally is as I have sat in conversations, there is something about the people who are here in this room, where I find myself saying to myself: “Self did I just say that?” That there, is a level of invitation to vulnerability where I find myself unedited, which is slightly frightening, and hard to do in a community in which you are known, but in a way it is its own return to the things that are actually really and truly there and simmering, and maybe not expressed. So the “return” is a much more complex thing, but part of it is the return for whatever happened in this journey, but the “return” within this journey that we are in right now of coming back to self, and reaching down to the place where we are noticing what is there that we maybe we didn’t notice. I thought this story of Thulani was extremely poignant in that we get out of the prison, and yet we can still be in the prison, and we have to go back and work through it.
Vivian: I’d very much for Larry to tell us a couple of stories that really bring us back to the connection between our subversive-ness and orthodoxy. So take it away! Let it rip my friend!
Larry Inchausti: Okay, well it is a great honor to close – I really am apologizing for following the agenda but…
Vivian: I already admitted to being a totalitarian.
Larry Inchausti: When we were planning this, the debate between Malcolm X and James Baldwin came up (1963) came up. What you had were these two giants that stood for two very different approaches. They had total respect for one another, and yet total disagreement with one another, had a public debate for two hours. You can get that debate on YouTube now; you can listen to it, so if you ever want a great powerful experience listen to that debate between Malcolm X and James Baldwin.
So I am going to end with a little bit of that debate because it deals with what we are dealing with here, you know, your relationship, your history, and your time; how you understand yourself… what you call yourself. But before I get there, there’s another story I wanted to tell first, because to me it summarizes everything in the world, and it only takes 5 minutes to say. (Laughter) And it wasn’t on the agenda, but I wanted to get it out on the table because – And it’s not actually a true story, it is part of my misinterpretation of a movie that… A French film that I mistranslate because I don’t believe the subtitles, because I know what it really says (Laughter)… so I wanted to tell you this one.
Jean Luc Godard in the 60’s was a French experimental film maker who made a movie called Alphaville, and it is based on a science fiction novel In this world, the world has been taken over by a super computer. So everybody is 24/7. Everything they do every day is controlled and directed by a super computer, except for one guy, and his name is Lemmy Caution. He drives around a Ford Falcon, and he is a cross between Humphrey Bogart and Albert Camus. (Laughter) He is allowed to do whatever he wants to do, because he is the last free man. The only thing that he has to do is he has to come in for interrogations on Friday. So he comes in for these interrogations and the computer asks him questions, and he answers in lines from modernist poetry. So the computer says: “Where were you last week?” and Lemmy says: “I’ve been scuttling across the floors of silent seas.” And the computer goes BEEP, BEEP, and what were you doing there? He says: “Who would hear me among the angelic orders if I cried?” The computer does the same thing and says: “What are you going to do next week?” He says: “I’m going to go out where the stars are spread across the sky like a patient etherized upon a table.” The computer does its little beep and then Lemmy says: “You know you have been interrogating me now for three years; you will never understand me, why don’t you let me go?” And the computer says: “You underestimate artificial intelligence; I’ve cataloged and decoded 20,000 of your stupid metaphors, how many more do you got?” And then Lemmy says: “Well if you really understood metaphor, you know that metaphors are not meant to be decoded. Metaphors are an expression of freedom and language. Once you understand that language is about the expression of freedom, and not about power and control, you will cease being a machine, and you will become a human being. And then you will let me go.” And the computer says: “See you next Friday.” (Laughter)
And it seems to me that is part of where we are in a conversation between the people who want to be machines and the machines that want to be people, and the – Do we want to learn how to talk in ways that the machine can understand, or do we want to talk in ways that make the machine human? Do we let the machine interpret the meaning of our metaphors or do we hold on to the freedom of our self-expression? That problem was raised by that movie and I thought it showed great genius to leave it unresolved. Are you going to come back next week with a living metaphor, or are you going to say: “You got me.” Well okay that was the Alphaville story that I think summarizes my existence, having talked to computers my whole life.
The Great Debate
I wanted to tell you about this debate between Malcolm X and James Baldwin and it speaks to the Robben Island story, so it is wonderfully fortuitous. Some of you might have heard that debate, and one of the interesting things about that debate was Malcolm X was a very controversial figure, and you can imagine 1963. One of the Things Malcolm X was famous for was unlike Martin Luther King who had made a vow of non-violence to which James Baldwin was committed. Malcolm X’s slogan was: “By any means necessary.” This meant that he was not necessarily going to hold back violence if that is what it took to liberate the country, and his name Malcolm X… The X stood for X- The unknown because his history had been stolen from him.
So part of his presentation was until I have a history, I’m not going to call myself by my slave name. Until I find out my true name, and my true name has been hidden from me and history, and I might eventually have to go back to Africa to find my name and find out who I was. Of course James Baldwin was using Baldwin as his last name and he was one of the most famous writers in America at that time and one of the most famous spokesmen that tried to bridge the divide between races in the early 60’s. Malcolm X went right at him and said, you know, how can I talk to a man who still has a slave name? Then just went at Baldwin for the introduction, about how could he not realize that he had to change his name and enter into the struggle for revolution. Then Baldwin says – And it was often celebrated when that debate came out that Malcolm X had sort of eviscerated James Baldwin. Now you listen to that tape and its Baldwin’s reply that seems at least to me, more powerful.
I’m going to try to keep it together here because… I don’t want to be sentimental, because he certainly wasn’t sentimental in his answer. So after he is done, Baldwin says, well you’re right you know, Baldwin is the name of my white great grandfather, slave owner, who raped my great grandmother, and that is my history, I want to keep it, and I want to remember it, and I don’t want to mark it out. But you have got to go back to prison and be liberated, and you can’t just make it out of your history and substitute politics for it. That’s why I’m here talking to you Malcolm. And so that’s what I think we are doing here, you know we are kind of struggling with rejections, with history, the cases we make against people, and the cases we make against and for ourselves and then ask ourselves is it even possible to exit out? Or do we have to tell the more inclusive story that we haven’t had the imagination yet to grasp, and that is what community reminds us of. You know, you left out my part of your story.
I think one of the lines Baldwin said in that debate that I always remembered, he said: “My struggle with history is to figure out how my specialness connects me with other people, not how my specialness isolates me.”….. “My struggle with history is to figure out how my specialness connects me with other people, not how my specialness isolates me.” And that I think is a great way of conceiving how community empowers individuals, and how individuals find themselves in community. So that’s my two cents at the close. I think that the final reflection that – Vivian maybe can articulate it better than I can, but I think it has something to do with this, with both of those stories in terms of language and naming and the freedom to make your words mean what your words mean, not what – How the computer defines it or the history has told you it means.
So that’s it. James Baldwin, and that debate you can – You know I was looking for that debate online because I was sure that somebody had printed it out because I wanted to see the language written. – Now we are in the new media age, so you have to, you just have to watch it or listen to the whole thing (Laughter) So you can’t go and find the line you know? And I didn’t have the time to watch the entire thing… I think it goes on for 2 hours. It is incredibly powerful, and it is not only because the issues are so emotional and powerful, it is because both of those guys had so much respect for the other, it was kind of like Ward was saying that kids tried to do when they interviewed people on their trip, was show respect for the person that you are disagreeing with, and give them the chance to come back and explain themselves. That is really modeled well in that debate, and the response to that debate was another classic example of rejections, people pick sides. You know, and said Malcolm won that one, or Baldwin won that one, when in fact the truth was the shadow was being taken off both, so you could see the real intelligence of the humanity of both men.
Vivian Wright: This morning in two very short hours were going to try to pack in (laughter) a couple of offerings; one from Angeles on mirrors of projections and community and a break out and an offering from Larry which I think you will find very interesting – and a break out and a little bit of an ending process… So we’ll just see how much of that we can pack in but – that’s my vulnerability in trying to serve the intent of a plan which is just to give you courage to move forward until you know what you have to do. So over to you Angeles.
Angeles Arrien: Good morning everyone! Morning, morning! And also just a couple of things around the return and also Sophie’s offering. What we witness we are changed by, and when we are witnessed we cannot go back to the old way. And what happened on Robben Island – the power of witnessing mutual witnessing, that garners healing is very powerful. Then followed up with Ward’s reading from Larry’s “Subversive Orthodoxy” that we can be unhappy in the best of conditions and hopeful in the worst of conditions, and the future as Rilke says enters into us and transforms itself long before we’re aware of it. One way of tracking the future you started on when we first gathered as we began to take a look at some images that were capturing our imagination. Any image that we put on our book has entered us long before we were conscious of it and the selection of those images is a conscious remembrance of something that has already entered us and transformed us – and has transformed us to the point that we could recognize it.
I love what Carl Jung said that the psychological mechanism for transforming energy is the symbol or the image. The psychological mechanism for transforming energy is the symbol or the image; and so we began our journey together as important strangers, selecting that which had meaning, we gathered, we went with the first movement of gathering what was inspirational that we recognized or had meaning for us. We used that first, and yesterday has been a time of expanding and clarifying or defining and allowing new things to come in and go out and then last night it was a period of kind of settling and integrating and releasing so that we could come together again.
What’s fascinating to me about any gathering of a community, this community gathering, is the same people will not be here in any other formation and so there is something original that happens because no two groups really meet with the same people at the same time and that’s what’s original medicine, that this time that we’ve come somehow to explore subversive orthodoxy, to explore images that have incredible meaning for us to take a look at endings and beginnings; to take a look at where we are in the journey and to recognize where we entered together and where we came to the midpoint yesterday. Today we’re on the westward side of mountain and return and reentering out. At the return there’s also a taking a look at where have I been inspired? Where have I been challenged? What has surprised me while I’ve been here? What has deeply touched and moved me? Where have I strengthened – what has strengthened in me as a result of being here? What has softened or rounded out some of the hard edges or the places where I have been really closed? What has softened – What has opened in my nature? What has fallen into place or come together?
All of that starts to gather itself at the return as a preparation. What will I be taking back? What will I be taking back as a result of being reformed and informed and transformed in this original container of important strangers. And always, always – What’s so interesting is indigenous people say that you know you’ve been changed when once again you can be warm like fire. Fluid like water. Solid like mountain. So where did I become warm like fire? Where did I come home to my heart and what had meaning for me while I’ve been here. Warm like fire. Where did – Where was their flow fluid like water, where did I get in touch with my resiliency while I’ve been here? What solidified – Solid like mountain. Warm like fire. Fluid like water.
In the southwest among the Navajo Hopi and Zuni people being warm like fire, fluid like water and solid like mountain indicates that I’ve touched my inherent wisdom. Wisdom is not age bound…..Wisdom is not age bound. People in their 20’s are very wise people and people in their 30’s are very wise people or in their 40’s are very wise, but after 50 if we are not demonstrating some kind of wisdom it’s less then becoming. (Laughter) And we have an opportunity in any kind of collective work, of any grouping of five or more people is to come to an inherent place of wisdom. And gathering is a way of wisdom, and settling is a way of wisdom, and opening or expanding is a way of wisdom, and the capacity to take in and to give out, those are all movements that support not only creativity, which is happening all the time, but also it supports our accruing of wisdom where ever wisdom is being accrued we’re attending to character development. We are attending to character development, and getting clearer about our ethics and values out of which all subversive orthodoxy is anchored in.
Part 2 – Mirrors
Deep ethics and deep values motivate that which has meaning for us that will ignite courage that we will take a stand no matter what. Along the way the important stranger – There are many important strangers that ignite what it is that are positive gifts and talents and there are many important strangers that ignite: “oooh I don’t want to be like that” – Ignite our shadow. But every stranger, every stranger is original medicine as we discussed yesterday and Rumi says if I see you, I will laugh out loud, or fall silent, or explode into a thousand pieces. And if I don’t I will be caught in the cement and stone of my own prison. If I see you I will laugh out loud with delight, something there that I really like, that I resonate to, or I’ll fall silent because I have been so deeply touched and moved. Or ill explode into a thousand pieces because I have been so stretched and turned inside out and have had to look again at all my belief systems and stuck places and all of that. And if I don’t, I will be caught in the cement and stone of my own prison. Into my own control patterns or mechanisms, or stuck places. Every indigenous culture has what are called mirrors; they believe that every person is a mirror of some aspect of my own nature, a part that is knowable, a part that is unknowable, a part that I resonate to, a part of myself that I dislike, but we all function as mirrors for each other. And so often you will find that in ceremonial head dresses or ceremonial vests or ceremonial pant legs, is that they will be in such tiny pieces of tin or glass to reflect back which is a reminder that we are all mirrors for each other.
Five Stages of Projection – I am learning from you about a different aspect of myself and there are three types of mirrors cross culturally that – The western term for mirror is projection. The good news is about a projection is it is a part of myself that’s out of the bag, that is on its way home – It’s out of the bag and I don’t know quite what to do with it so I look around for a perfect fit. To carry it for a while so that I can look at it out there (laughter) before I can bring it home, so stage one of every projection is some part of myself is out of the bag whether it’s a positive aspect of myself, let’s say that my leadership – You know, I haven’t believed that I have leadership skills, let’s say that my leadership has popped out of the bag finally, or that my beauty or attractiveness has popped out of the bag, or my anger that I have repressed, and heaven forbid that I’d ever be angry, like that person over there that’s just out of control (laughter). So my anger is out of the bag but it’s too scary to bring it home yet, but it’s out of the bag so I look around and I find the perfect fit for my leadership and think oh I hope I can lead like that. I look around and I think, “Oh my God, I would have to have fourteen plastic surgery’s before I could ever look like that.” My beauty is out of the bag. Or my anger – Oh that person is really hostile, I don’t want – My anger is out of the bag but I find the perfect fit.
So pretty soon I look around the second stage of your projection, after I have found the perfect fit the second stage is the projection begins to slip. But I don’t want it to slip so I put it back up. For example, the person that I have my leadership on, well I wouldn’t have handled that meeting that way, I mean that was a little off, and then I think to myself, “You know I really admire them in this and this and this but I slip it back up and think well everyone has an off day. Everyone has an off day.” So I slip it back up, or the object of my beauty or attractiveness you know they are so beautiful and together and all this that I notice that it is a safety pin on the hem of the skirt and I notice that the fingernail polish is a little chipped and I notice she didn’t wash her hair really but then I can’t stand that its slipping off so I put it back up as quick as I can and say you know – I know what it’s like to travel and have so many commitments and put it right back up. Mr. Hostile, you know actually smiled, and laughed out loud and I think, or maybe Miss aggressive you know actually smiled and looked soft and I think oh well that was just a fluke, put it back up.
Third stage of the projection or of the mirror is that I can’t rationalize it. It actually falls off and there is no way I can rationalize it, no way in the world I can rationalize it and so what I do is two things. I either look around for somebody else to put it on or I’ll build a case and tell everybody be careful, you know they’re not what they seem you know? They really aren’t, so I build a case. The third thing that I have a choice to do, and if I don’t pick it up and put it on someone else – And many of us do what I call the waltz 1… 2… 3… is that we go through the first three steps of projections over and over and over again and then we finally find different fits until its comfortable enough for us to come home but in stage three I either build a case, find another fit or I just leave it there, just leave it there and I don’t pick it up. I think oh, maybe this is really my material. It kind of dawns on me, which delivers me into stage four which is a stage of grief of recognizing that that part of myself has been away for a long time and yes it was out of the bag but I spent a couple of years doing the waltz 1… 2… 3… trying to find different people to stick it on before I finally got tired of picking it up and sticking it on someone else and stopped building a case, and justifying and defending and all of that and think oh this is my material, you know maybe it’s time for me to own my own leadership without projecting it onto other people and to own my own authority. Maybe it’s time for me to befriend and to own the fact that yes I’m very angry about certain things in my life and what am I going to do about that? Maybe it’s time for me to really look at the disappointment and the grudges, and the resentment that I’ve been carrying that have me so aggressive and angry and how to befriend that or to do some healing work. That all comes in stage four; I know it’s my material and I begin to work with it.
Stage five which is the last that I incorporate – that I befriended to such a degree that you know yes there’s a part of me that gets disappointed, but I’m handling it differently now and not getting so angry, and there are parts of me that are really vulnerable that I don’t hide that vulnerability with anger. You know I’m really comfortable, I just really didn’t realize that I had – That I loved being a leader and creating conditions where people could learn and grow and I really like that. Or you know I am an attractive person, I’m not overly attractive, but I’m certainly not ugly either you know? So I befriend my own aesthetic and my own beauty and my own sensuality and sexuality and my comfortably with my body image and also more holistic in embracing all the parts in who I am and those are the five stages of projection.
Now I just quickly want to go through the three types of mirrors that we face all the time and for you to take a look in this collective for who have provided that mirroring for you as well and to notice a clear mirror – And mirrors always have charge. In the last stage of a projection I no longer have a charge. You know I have incorporated that gift and I don’t – I no longer inflate or deflate myself; I no longer make it a problem or an issue, I recognize this is a part of myself and I have befriended it and it’s a gift that I’ve befriended and I don’t inflate it or deflate it. Stage 5 is where there is no charge, there’s no charge at all. I don’t inflate or deflate, I’m at home, I’m comfortable with myself warts and all. You know yeah this is a part of me that’s still undeveloped and this is a part of me that I sometimes get ignited. You know I’m more at choice.
Three Types of Mirrors – Clear Mirrors – Smoking Mirrors – Split Mirrors
The first kind of mirror is what’s called a clear mirror. A clear mirror has a charge. This is someone that I admire and respect and it’s somebody that I want to learn from and grow from and have wonderful communication gifts and they have a great sense of humor and you know they are very creative and they are always coming up with solutions, and the good news is if I can see it, I have it in myself otherwise I wouldn’t be able to see it. But it hasn’t been amplified or developed to the degree of what I’m seeing so it’s a lot of charge and you always know when you have a clear mirror in your life because they capture your imagination and you wonder about them, you know so who have I wondered about since I’ve been here this week, and what there life is like and I’d like to get to know because I see something in them that I really like and that I really resonate to, and that’s a clear mirror.
The second type of mirror is what’s called a smoking mirror. There are three kinds of smoking mirrors. You know I came in on the first day and I looked across the room and I thought oh my god he’s a dead ringer from my ex-husband. Or you know oh my God there’s my ex-wife just the way she turned her head and did this hand thing. Or, oh my God, there’s my ex-employer you know. And its unfinished business that we walk into that we want to avoid. We don’t see the person because they remind us of unfinished business. Or like “that person has talked four times today, I’m so sick of them being an air hog”. You know it’s like, “give me a break.” It’s like an old business, how I could never get my viewpoint across to my family because my older sibling was always flaunting their knowledge or taking up space. So a smoking mirror can be – Reminds me of unfinished business and to give gratitude to – “Oh I still have some work to do around the ex-wife, I still have some work to do around the ex-husband, I still have things to do around siblings. Isn’t it interesting I can’t even see this person without even seeing this other person?”
So that’s the first kind of smoking mirror, and the second kind of smoking mirror is somebody that I look across the room or I hear them speak or I looked at the cover of their black book you know and all their images and they ignite my competition and comparison. Like hmm, hmm, hmm, (laughter) and I find myself when they talk you know I’m going to follow afterwards you know kind of one up the ante a little bit. So it’s always interesting to see who or what in any collective ignites my competition or comparison because it shows me that I have self-respect and self-esteem and self-value and self-trust work to do. And to thank them silently for igniting something that hasn’t been ignited for a long time. You know I thought I’d work through all of that, and I would commit more of myself into my self-sufficiency.
Then the last kind of smoking mirror is who has ignited my Congo line of judgments. You know… 1… 2… 3… kick! 1… 2… 3… kick! You know it’s like I’m silently assessing very critically. Bless those who ignite our criticality and our assessment of how they are doing and that were not just on their case. They could never do it right. And I’m very critically silent – Silently critical sometimes it leaks out and I have a zinger that goes across the room and I can say “oh I was just teasing he he” (laughter). You know but it shows me where I have compassion work to do and to give gratitude. “Ah, oh boy, I thought I have done a lot of work on my own criticality and judgmental-ness and oh I have some compassion work to do here and can I look again at this person”. So the three kinds of smoking mirrors are unfinished business, who ignites my competition and comparison, who ignites my criticality, judgment or assessment and the last mirror is what’s called a split mirror.
The split mirror. And there are two kinds of split mirrors. And the split mirror is “Ah you really are – You really like someone and you really admire them and you walk up to them and you lose your power and you get all shy and awkward and you know you think you have four heads and you know you just can’t relax and be yourself.” Usually we do this around authority figures or people that we admire, or people that we want to have more of a relationship with, but is more like looking back to see if they like you as much as you like them kind of thing. And so that’s with authority figures and often shows me where I’m needing to come into my own authority as well or hold my power in the – When I respect or admire or really like other people.
The second type of split mirror is the one that is the hardest for us to handle. For all of us regardless of whatever age we are, even from pubescence to our 80’s and 90’s or 100’s. And this split mirror is where I am actually attracted to someone – You know when you are attracted to someone right? We know when we are attracted to someone. Like really attracted to someone right? Right? And Sometimes when we are really attracted to someone we don’t go in straight around our attraction, instead we say “ Oh – We go in kind of sheep’s clothing” (laughter) and go “Oh I understand that you’re in organizational development work” “HEEE” (laughter) “HEEEE” (laughter) “HEEEE” (laughter). You know? And I just thought we have so much that we could share and talk about “HEEE” (laughter) you know we don’t go in straight you know? We go in with this kind of sideways approach and yet when somebody does go in straight someone says I find you very attractive and I find that its getting in the way of me exploring a genuine friendship and I also know that you happen to be married and I don’t want to intrude on that. So there’s recognition and it can fall away. But most of us have difficulty handling the secondary split mirror of our attractions openly and honestly and we often go in in a sideways approach rather than saying I just really find you attractive both inside and out. So those are the three kinds of mirrors.
So who has functioned for you here? Who has ignited you’re clear mirror? Who has shown you gifts and talents that you have and that you’d like to develop even more, or who you wonder about. The three kinds of smoking mirrors and then the two kinds of split mirrors, and they are happening all the time. What’s exciting is that there are a parts of ourselves that out of the bag on the way home, that’s the good news, and then you have the five stages of projections and you know that you are in a neutral place on all of the mirrors and all of the stages of projection when Rumi says out beyond ideas of wrong-doing and right-doing there’s a field, I’ll meet you there. That’s where we have come to meet each other in our self-respect our self-value and our self-trust. It’s out beyond ideas of right-doing and wrong-doing or out beyond inflation and deflation there’s a field and I’ll meet you there, and that is where I am at home, I am at home. So what in the return in this particular collective that will never have the same combination again has been exactly the right medicine that I’ve needed for me at this time in my journey? And touching upon what Larry said about subversive orthodoxy, you know is really getting in touch with our deepest original medicine, and remembering that we have an original imprint, we have an original voice and we have an original way of seeing the color and texture of our eyes. So there’s a lot more that has happened here than what we recognize so when we come conscious to it every grouping in every collective is a mirror to show us where we are and where we aren’t. It shows us the work that we have done, the work we haven’t done, and the work that we need to do. I just really feel so honored every time that I come into any grouping of people because it is such an incredible opportunity to meet the mystery of who we all are internally individually relationally and collectively.