Abstract for Sustainability Symposium, June 2014
by Dr. Ben-Zion Weiss
and Nicola Lambert
We live in a time when we urgently need to learn new ways to relate to nature to become sustainable. This can be supported through the dynamism of integral learning. Our understanding of spiritual ecology, integral consciousness, cosmology, and evolutionary biology can reawaken our essential connection to the way nature learns.
The work of Jean Gebser (1985) on integral consciousness provides a powerful model for integral generative learning in the age of the Anthropocene. Gebser’s structures of consciousness support the idea that humans have become the most significant global geological force. The question then becomes whether this force is learning to be creative or destructive. Gebser’s work implies that the last 500 years have been dominated by the mental structure of consciousness that began as an efficient cause and later became deficient.
We argue that the sustainability crisis is due to this deficient cause, a consequence of our separation from nature. This has led to learning without the critical feedback of the embodied being in its living environment. What Gebser proposed, and we agree, is that we now need a new structure of consciousness, which he named the ‘integral consciousness’ after meeting the Indian philosopher Sri Aurobindo. This resonates with the work of the geologian, Thomas Berry, who argued that we need a new story in this time. Many contemporary thinkers are reflecting this position and are contributors to the recent emergence of Spiritual Ecology such that Nicola Lambert and myself have been inspired to present courses on integral consciousness through embodied experiential and generative learning.
Our work together has indicated that we were able to communicate to the participants the power of nature, the interdependencies of the human and the more-than human world and our entangled human nature.
Dr Ben-Zion Weiss (Arjuna) is an experienced teacher and community educator in drama, ESOL, yoga, cross-cultural conflict, anti-racism, non-violence training, cultural ecology and meditation. He lectures and tutors at University of Western Sydney, consults for Multicultural Programs in Cooling Conflicts and inter-cultural programs. His PhD research is on anti-racism drama education for youth/youth workers. It develops a theory of an ecology of culture. He presents at conferences, facilitates workshops for youth workers, teachers and community workers; leads Dances of Universal Peace and facilitates dialogues in spiritual ecology. His spiritual practices are drawn from Integral Yoga, Zen Buddhism, Jewish Renewal, Universal Sufism and Dances of Universal Peace. His current book is based on his thesis and he has written chapters, poems and papers for other publications. (B.E., M.A., Dip Ed, Grad Cert TESOL, Cert IV Kinesiology, Mentor of Dances of Universal Peace, PhD)
Nicola Lambert has lived her passion and joy over the last fifteen years through her involvement in the psychotherapy/counselling, coaching, and coach training industry as both a highly successful, and respected, private practitioner and as an educator. Nicola is co-founder of the Institute of Transpersonal Coaching (ITC) – a post graduate facility for coaches wanting to extend their professional skills, personal development and coaching approach into the Masters end of the developmental spectrum. Nicola was honoured for her services to the coaching industry as a coach trainer, mentor and supervisor with the highly prestigious award “2011 Coach of the Year” by the International Coaching Federations – NSW Chapter. (B. Ed, Dip.Ed.; Grad. Dip. Psychotherapy; Counseling Cert.; Dip Transformational Life Coaching; Cert IV Bus. Coaching; Currently seeking to upgrade to Master Coach Certification. (MCC) with the International Coaching Federation.)
Discovering Spiritual Ecology
Dr. Ben-Zion Weiss
Our separation from the natural world
may have given us the fruits of technology and science,
but it has left us bereft of any instinctual connection
to the spiritual dimension of life.
Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee (2013)
Part 1 – The Theory
This quote by Vaughan-Lee (2013) names the fundamental disconnection of our times: a disconnection from the sacred and a disconnection from the living Earth. According to the Swiss cultural philosopher, Jean Gebser (1985) this disconnection is the result of the current domination of the mental consciousness in its deficient form. The first part of this paper introduces Jean Gebser (1985) whose ‘work is increasingly acknowledged as a profound and sobering analysis of the dilemma in which we find ourselves, as individually and collectively’ (Feuerstein, 1987, p. 8). Feuerstein (1987) says: ‘few would deny that hitherto humanity’s response to the civilizational challenge of today has not equaled the occasion’ (p. 7). The paper introduces the practices of our approach to spiritual ecology and integral generative learning as a way to communicate an effective response to these precarious times.
Gebser’s (1985) classic work details the structures of consciousness that he considers humanity to have passed through since our origins. These structures dominated certain periods of human history, and are present in all of us as is the ever-present origin. He met the great Indian philosopher, Sri Aurobindo and that inspired him to name the integral consciousness. The philosopher, Peter Russell (1995) supports this understanding of the current crisis: ‘The global crisis now facing us is, at its root, a crisis of consciousness… Something new is being called for.’  As does Laszlo’s (2008) work, which shows how evolution works through either a breakthrough to a new level or a breakdown of the old level.
Thomas Berry (1988) argued for a new story that challenges the mental consciousness when he said: ‘The Universe is a communion of subjects, not a collection of objects’ (cited in Laszlo & Coombs, 2011, p. 99). It is this very objectification process that was refined in the mental consciousness through its development of perspective. Before we consider more details of these structures of consciousness, let us consider the word consciousness.
The question of consciousness is a complex one. In the new story of integral consciousness, McIntosh (2007) states that ‘human consciousness is our experiential awareness, consisting of feelings, thoughts, intentions, and our personal sense of identity’ (p. 11). He goes on to say it ‘is the subjective presence of every living being’ and that it ‘is contained and upheld by its biological host, but also by the culture in which it participates’ (p. 11). He further states that ‘the most advanced understanding of consciousness recognizes that some primitive forms of it “go all the way down”, to which he adds that ‘awareness pervades the entire universe’ (p. 12). This then relates to the findings of the quantum physicists on the one hand (see Capra, 1975) and the mystical and shamanic traditions where even, rocks and trees, rivers and mountains, the great ocean itself is conscious. This resonates with Lovelock’s Gaia Hypothesis (cited in Thompson, 1987, p. 83) where the whole planet’s biosphere has consciousness.
Gebser (1985) argues that the process of objectification by the perspectival view, through the mental consciousness, came to the fore during the European Renaissance with invention of the three dimensional vanishing point by artists like Leonardo da Vinci. He quotes Panofsky (1955) the arts historian who wrote:
The history of perspective [may be] considered equally as the triumph of the sense of reality with its detachment and objectification, and as a triumph of human striving for power with its negation of distances, just as it can be seen as a process of establishing and systematization of the external world and an expansion of the ego sphere (Gebser, 1985, p. 19).
This thinking flowed into the European Enlightenment and the Cartesian Newtonian worldview where the whole Universe is regarded as a clock.
As is well known Descartes assumed that there was a fundamental divide between mind and matter, that is, between mental and physical processes. The material world was thus conceived of as a machine with mechanical laws governing its behaviour, namely, Newton’s Laws of motion of matter… Nature was itself also subject to mechanical laws so that all creatures in the living world were complex machines.
The French philosopher, Rene Descartes was part of the development of the mental consciousness, with his famous statement: “Cogito ergo sum“ (I think, therefore I am). This development of the European Enlightenment built on the three-dimensional perspective of the Renaissance enabled humans to imagine the machine, to draw the machine and then to build the machine.
The perspectival world replaced the pre-perspectival world (Gebser, 1985) of the medieval world, which was dominated by the mythic consciousness. In the mythic consciousness people were more connected to the world around them and the art works had no separation of figure from ground. People were still part of the story as part of the Great Chain of Being:
Its major premise was that every existing thing in the universe had its “place” in a divinely planned hierarchical order, which was pictured as a chain vertically extended… An object’s “place” depended on the relative proportion of “spirit” and “matter” it contained–the less “spirit” and the more “matter,” the lower down it stood. At the bottom, for example, stood various types of inanimate objects… At the very top was God.
Gebser’s (1985) theory of these structures of consciousness was that they were each initially an efficient cause, to use a term he drew from Aristotle. As the Gebser scholar Georg Feuerstein (1987) writes ‘the idea of an “efficient” and a “deficient” response, or cycle, in a given structure of consciousness is fundamental to Gebser’s work’ (p. 45). Feuerstein (1987) explains that ‘Gebser’s rejection of a Darwinian-style evolutionary model of the unfolding of human consciousness’ is because ‘he wants to avoid any implication of progress toward the mental-rational as the natural culmination of the history of consciousness’ (p. 45). This may have been an efficient cause when it came in and replaced the deficient form of mythic consciousness, with its burning of witches, its crusades, its inquisition, its indulgences and its attacks on Jews that preempted the Holocaust.
By the 19th century, the mental consciousness had led to the Industrial Revolution, with ‘its dark satanic mills’ as Blake called the factories, with its exploitation of factory workers, children being sent down mines, pollution and the general dehumanisation of populations of Europe. At this historic moment a four-dimensional aperspectival integral consciousness manifested, with Einstein’s development in 1906 of the four dimensional space-time continuum and the paintings of Picasso and Braque, whose works manifest ‘integrality or wholeness which are expressed in Picasso’s drawing, because for the first time, time itself has been incorporated into the representation’ (Gebser, 1985, p. 24). These ideas were further developed by the whole psychotherapy movement that emerged from the work of Sigmund Freud,  with his theorizing of the function of dreams, the unconscious and other related phenomena. Psychotherapy’s approach to the dream world inspired the surrealist artists like Salvador Dali, who, influenced by Einstein’s nuclear physics, became famous for the melted clocks in his paintings.
What makes Gebser (1985) stand out is that he presents a ‘broadly phenomenological model of the history of consciousness as a “spiritually qualified process”’ (Feuerstein, 1987, p. 45). He writes about ‘the entire spectrum of human culture, beginning with the first stirrings of consciousness’ (Feuerstein, 1987, p. 8). This he names the archaic structure of consciousness. While he resisted any attempt to give a date as such, we have chosen our own interpretation of historical periods after considering the latest research of the emergence of our species as Anatomically Modern Humans:
The species that you and all other living human beings on this planet belong to is Homo sapiens. During a time of dramatic climate change 200,000 years ago, Homo sapiens (modern humans) evolved in Africa. Like other early humans that were living at this time, they gathered and hunted food, and evolved behaviors that helped them respond to the challenges of survival in unstable environments.
For the first 130,000 years this state of the archaic structure of consciousness served humanity well. It was a state of complete immersion in nature, with no sense of separation. Like all living species our ancestors had a form of consciousness that allowed them to find food, to find shelter, to reproduce and to achieve all the activities necessary for survival. As Feuerstein (1987) explains, the archaic is: ‘The most primitive structure of consciousness-both in the sense of being the earliest and the least articulated’ and is what Gebser calls ‘closest to and presumably originally identical with origin’ (p. 49).
Reflecting on this state of being through phenomenological research into the discipline of yoga, I (Ben) came to realise, that this state of consciousness bore a direct relationship to the base chakra, the subtle energy centre that is found at the base of the spine. This centre is related to the alchemical element of Earth. I began to experiment with this link between each structure of consciousness, with a period of human evolutionary history, a chakra and its alchemical element, as a way to understand these structures of consciousness experientially, in order to embody them and to be able to communicate them. These equivalences were presented in a number of workshops led by Nicola Lambert and myself (see Appendix 1).
In the remainder of this paper we describe some of these processes and demonstrate how they can be used to address more sustainable ways of living in these precarious times. Before we do this let us define our understanding of the terms phenomenology, chakras and alchemical.
The discipline of phenomenology may be defined initially as the study of structures of experience, or consciousness. Literally, phenomenology is the study of “phenomena”: appearances of things, or things as they appear in our experience, or the ways we experience things, thus the meanings things have in our experience. Phenomenology studies conscious experience as experienced from the subjective or first person point of view.
It was first developed by the German philosopher Edmund Husserl. We use it here to refer to the experience of certain structures of consciousness through therapeutic, yogic and meditative practices, especially in relation to the subtle energy centres called chakras in classical yoga. In his study of vibrational medicine, Dr. Richard Gerber (1988) drawing on various ancient texts of Indian yogic literature describes them as ‘energy centres, referred to as “chakras,” from the Sanskrit meaning “wheels,” are said to resemble whirling vortices of subtle energies’ (p. 128). He cites a number of examples of western trained scientific research into chakras that have demonstrated evidence for their existence. An important example is Dr. William Tiller of Stanford University, what Gerber (1988) calls the Tiller-Einstein Model ‘because its insights are basic to the Einsteinian equation, E = mc2’ relating energy to matter, from which it is derived. (p. 143).
The third term we define is the alchemical elements. These were revisited in the work of Carl Gustav Jung.. In Yoga theory each chakra is related to an element. I was trained as both a drama and yoga teacher and the elements invoke dramatic archetypes of sound and movement. With this understanding we created practices for the Spiritual Ecology courses.
These practices enable an experience of integral consciousness through a process of integral generative learning for people of the modern world so embedded in the mental consciousness. We outline the equivalences of the structures of consciousness in the tables below. This is followed by an examination of how we used integral generative learning to present these ideas in an embodied form.
Table 1. Structures of Consciousness – Jean Gebser / *Steve McIntosh
Table 2. Structures of Consciousness – Ben-Zion Weiss
|Mythic||Navel||Fire||10 000 BP- 1500|
|Magical||Sexual||Water||70 000-10 000 BP|
|Archaic||Base||Earth||200 000-70 000 BP|
|BP = Before Present|
The story of the structures of consciousness we have developed is based on the work of Jean Gebser (1985) and commentaries on his work by Georg Feuerstein (1987), Gary Lachman (2003), Steve McIntosh (2007) and William Irwin Thompson (2001) as well as attending the Gebser Conference in Melbourne at Latrobe University in 2008. In the spirit of Thomas Berry’s quest for the new story we told this as a narrative.
Gebser’s theory has much to teach us in these precarious times. His inspiration was that he regarded ‘the history of consciousness as a “spiritually qualified process”’ (Feuerstein, 1987). Thus it makes sense that people involved in spiritual ecology are showing the way to an integral consciousness because of their strong sense of connection to their spirituality and their ecology.
The second part of our paper is a case study of how we used spiritual ecology and the equivalences of the structures of consciousness outlined in the table above to present a series of workshops.
Part 2 – The Case Study
The case study we are presenting is based on a series of experiential workshops on Spiritual Ecology, which involved an engaged pedagogy -a combination of action and reflection (Hooks B, 2003), and generative learning -self generated personally constructed new meaning making (Bonn & Grabowski, 2001). In the following section we describe different participant expressions of media and story making as well as actions taken beyond the courses.
The results of the coursess we believe successfully displayed the emergent understandings described in the spiritual ecology discoursess reflecting an unhitching of personally and culturally dominant yet deficient ways of “knowing” ourselves, nature and existence and awakening to embodied knowing, described as “integral consciousness” (Gebser, 1985). Participants discussed coming into a more efficient, empathic, sensitive, caring and committed and “spiritual qualified”, relationship to wellness and the sustainability of all nature in words, body and deed.
Summary of Method
Our engaged praxis offered opportunities to step back, undertake reflective practice, decode efficient and deficient forms of Gebser’s ‘consciousness levels’ and experiment with ‘blooming awareness’ (Gendlin, 1988) or less deficient and more efficient forms of such ‘knowledge” through body awareness -giving rise to personally constructed new meaning-making.
The participants came from diverse backgrounds, professional environmentalists, helping professionals with quite a few calling themselves spiritual. Each session we introduced into the space encounters with generative learning activities through art, science, spiritual practice, philosophy, meditation, music, poetry, readings and video as well as where possible direct experiences with nature, through the lenses of – the archaic magical, mythic, mental, integral and post-integral.
Instructional generative learning activities provided challenging factual and conceptual information, theories and philosophies regarding the state of the planet as well multi-disciplined presentation of scientific discoveries in quantum physics and cosmology.
In the first session groups shared personal stories demonstrating many symptoms of stress, lethargy, depression, shame, grief, confusion and overwhelm as well as loss of direction and frustrated searching, in regards to planetary or personal concerns, or both.
Session 1 – Base Chakra (Muladhara) – Earth Element – Archaic consciousness
One aim of the first session was to explore how participants connected to and constructed their “ground of being”- or container for their psycho-spiritual orientations. We explored Gebser’s archaic structure of consciousness and discussed our non-separated ground, which Gebser calls “the ever-present origin” -the field of origin always existing in the cosmos.
Our connective practices for the archaic consciousness had resonance with the techniques of Focusing developed by Eugene Gendlin a body-based technique, which Gendlin believed connects us to the knowing of the body and the knowing of “a vastly larger system”(Gendlin, 1997). Gendlin (1992) believed the body can access “a vast amount of environmental information.”
We worked with the base chakra and Earth element. We explored correlations with archaic consciousness. The Dance of Universal Peace accompanying the meditation was The Earth is our Mother, a dance inspired by Native American tradition.
We offered steps that enabled participants whether still or moving, walking or dancing to attend to the ‘felt-sense’bodily signals, sinking into preverbal inner knowing of archaic consciousness, first connecting to our disturbances to feel into what might happen in its ‘deficient form, and subsequently resting into its efficient form until it “blossoms into awareness”’(Gendlin, 1992).
One participant’s process helped her decoded her deficient form of archaic consciousness as a ground of being that on a bad day felt like “walking up a steep mountain on slippery, lose, instinctive, footfalls of shale.” After the exercises and activities this participant described her efficient form through a profoundly different metaphor- “a deep, secure belonging to an all pervasive communion with eternal blue light.”
Another participant, while very aware and present to her predominate state of distress as deficient form, described it as an anxious impenetrable ancient mass in the pit of her stomach. This participant described her efficient form as pink energy that felt existing in all things, peaceful, warm, safe, relaxed and free”.
Others in the group expressed an awareness that pervades the whole universe as cosiness; aliveness; a tingly “place”of trust; a calm, peaceful, floating. These comments arose after watching the video of ‘Journey to the Universe’ (Swimme, 2011). Highly scientific participants used deeply personal language when describing the sacredness of these cosmological wonders depicted in the film.
One client, a psychotherapist made a link between her archaic consciousness and her prior knowledge of Attachment Styles, (Bowlby, 1960, pp.89-113) describing for herself a symbiosis with the whole universe.
Session 2 – Sacral or Sexual chakra – Water Element – Magical consciousness
In the second session we explored exercises introducing to the space an inner encounter with the sacral or sexual chakra, (Svadistana) – the water element and the magical, alchemical consciousness as described by Gebser. Here we offered the dance – The Ocean refuses no River, for the selected generative learning activity as well as words inspired by the 13th century Sufi poet Rumi.
The meditation was focused on–the Water Element, sexual and magical consciousness and we watched the video The Global Brain by Peter Russell.
One participant explored her deficient form of magical consciousness in the images “a damp, dark rainforest, still alive but shadowed by threat- someday the logging will come”. Her second image arose after our exploration of efficient consciousness. This participant described building on her peaceful archaic consciousness in a safe location for the rainforest – “deep in the heart of the Amazon”. The activities of the sacral exercises encouraged deep embodiment to the living earth- this participant described breathing as the rainforest, her lungs as the forest lungs, breathing for the world.
Pre-rational trauma came up for another amplified by her current life situation; riddled in emotional chaos she faced uncertainties from job to family. Her anger at the treatment of the natural world raised in her a sense of a similar threat. This participant saw herself con-fused with her work and family. She hinted at deep personal and planetary sadness dampening her whole existence.
We discussed nature’s alchemy and e-motion and the activities supported a re-communion with our capacities to access these powers in pre rational impulses, sensations and polarities. We explored the subjective and the impact of the observer.
Participants named their deficiencies in magical consciousness- the shadows of suspicion, jealousy, depression, chaotic or unbounded e-motion.
A participant became aware of how trauma was affecting her connection to nature’s aliveness. Two participants identified how jealousy and drugs gave them a false sense of nature’s earth moving and climactic powers. Participants speculated as to the defective and subjective distortions operating at the level of magical consciousness. Some spoke of personal addictions to electronic media, others of cultural complexes and drives such as consumerism, and “never enough-ness”.
In the activities fostering an exploration of efficient forms of magical consciousness many participants reconnected to special places and times in nature, often discerning a spiritual quality of the archaic consciousness in these fondly remembered places, with their sense of sacredness and the vivid clarity of nature’s alchemical polarities in its rich and abundant diversity of “birth/death”, “waking/sleeping”,“alertness”, “strength”, “sensuality”, and “growth”.
Session 3 –Navel Chakra – The Element of Fire – the Mythic Consciousness
In the third session we explored the third Chakra of the Navel (Manipura), the Element of Fire and Gebser’s mythic consciousness. We inquired into how our mythic consciousness was affecting our approaches to personal and environmental wellness. We explored the alchemical element of fire through the specific myth of Shiva and Shakti, with the view to us exploring and writing our own.
One participant decoded her deficient form of mythic consciousness in the imaginative form of a lone-hero Shakti, a bereft female fire fighter up against it all, untold villains – bosses, governments and family members.
We had Shakti princesses escaping into human healing, Shiva caught in the bricks of the tower, separated and split in retreat from the chaotic raging sea of humanity below.
In one transformational myth we had a corporate slave caught in the jaws of capitalism, rescued by the schools of the sea, a brutalised Monsanto farm, rescued and returned to its permaculture origins- Shakti and Shiva dancing in union- organic wholeness returning life to the land and sea.
For another participant his transformational myth beginning as a cancer growing in a riddled body recovering its wellness by restoring “Shakti’s gifting feedback”systems.
This third session saw clients reporting significant actions occurring between the sessionly sessions. Unplanned trips to Uluru, nature trips sprouted into participant’s sessionends, radical changes in consciousness towards work situations – a pervasive peace despite the chaos, like eyes in the storm raging around them.
Session 4 – the Heart Chakra (Anahata) – the Element Air –the Mental consciousness
For the heart we deferred to the Sufi Tradition, which takes the Mind as heart.
Our meditation and activities focused upon the heart/mind the servant to the lower chakras. Our generative learning activities included watching a variety of activities plus a PowerPoint presentation on Integral Consciousness.
The task of this session was to explore our mental, rational and logical abstractions as evidence of divisions and separations in our relationship to nature. The participants were given an abundance of resources, provocative books representing the mental consciousness relating to spiritual ecology.
One participant decoded her deficient form of mental consciousness in a stunning image of her health in crisis, despite a library of books at home, she saw she had devoted her career to skills development while ignoring her anxiety, poor diet and exercise and her gradual slide to ill health.
By the fourth session participants experienced their greatest imbalances. As we exposed the personal and cultural deficiencies built skyward on our imbalanced warpings of archaic, magical, mythic and now mental consciousness the divergence of our meaning making was never so extreme, such that a sober toppling was both more, yet also less challenging, than it had been before.
Ego jostling and competing needs pulled some participants more towards self-centric considerations. Some members shifting, leaving and affecting the group’s ecology. Many stories contained the stripped back dualities, re-storying facts as the poetry and wonder as simple science. The books were used as “divining tools”- letting something larger than themselves be the guide towards what they “needed”to “know”or “understand”.
Session 5 –Chakra: Throat – the Element Ether – the Integral Consciousness
This session we worked with the Throat Chakra (Vishuddha), which relates to the Ether Element, to our voice and our creativity. We discussed how the physics experiment by Michelson Morley had disproved this element and how it was being rediscovered by quantum physicists as the quantum vacuum, the Zero Point Field, nu-ether or the Akashic Field (Ervin Laszlo, 2009). Our dance for this session was drawn from the Mayan tradition, which also related the 2012 shift in the Mayan calendar that both Ervin Laszlo and Peter Russell acknowledge.
Our Video was the Pachamama Video Action in the world called “the Story of the Pachamama Alliance.” 
This session we also named and discussed some growing discordancy in many of the participants and in the shared territory of the group. This was the session of uncertainty, disorientation and the most tears. Our group showed signs of what Laszlo (2008) calls “the point of break-down or break-through”.
The group’s initial responses to images in videos and discussions of the planet in crisis mirrored and amplified participant’s discordance.
Participant reactions ranged from appalled, to deeply saddened and contracting, some “fired up into solution” and “rational fixer”, one drew into dark intolerance.
In regards to the self expression and image work one participants drew as art a hall of mirrors with abstractions of mental consciousness going on into infinity, mirror upon mirror, the images every less indiscernible from the original.
Stirring images of the cosmos and the evolution of life on earth and deep meditative practice opened many to the awe and wonder available through the advances of science, looking a new through the eyes of the scientist and the wonders unfolding since the big bang and before.
Our activities settled us into the deep archaic peace, the alchemical aliveness of the magical consciousness, our new narration of eco-mythology, and from here the groups emerging new mental consciousness arose to write a flowing story as a stream of consciousness – it came, like a cloth weaving itself. A moral tale of guidance for our times. Unedited. Raw and real. (See Appendix 2)
Significant actions came forth in the second last session – a “water”workshop for one participant in the form of engaged activism. From another a decision to transform his myth from a previous session, into a teenager book. From another a decision to leave her work for more meaningful and nurturing conditions.
Session 6 – 3rd Eye chakra (Ajna) –the element Light –post-integral consciousness – Final Session
Our meditation for the last session focused on integrating all the structures of consciousness, explored over the 6 sessions of the courses. Our generative learning tasks raised awareness to modern and ancient mappings of integral consciousness.
It is hard to describe the last session, there were few words available that evening or now, to describe it. Had some participants crossed the threshold into Laszlo’s break-through? Had some let go of something? Had some surrendered? Two were missing, nothing was named or said, it just was.
There were no explanations needed or given – we accepted, engaged, danced, drew, shared – a softness was present, an intuitive touch, an interconnectedness in attending to each other’s needs. We were in a space that had not previously been felt or witnessed in the group. Was it a feature of an ending or was it a release of the fear of going forward, was it a new consciousness, an unknown?
The drawings and circle discussions commented on finding a new consciousness a greater sense of the sacred, hard for some to express, better felt and drawn. The group’s pictures showed spontaneous depictions of subjects not objects in communion. There was a feeling of wholeness in the space – expressed strongly was the joy of community creating, of paradox, of nothing to get right, of nothing to get wrong, nothing to have and nothing to not have in this ending, only the ever-present always and beyond, not described here in words.
Most drawings reflected a new expression of collective consciousness connected webs, no walls, permeable membranes, pervasive presence, more intimate.
There was an embrace in the space, soft appreciation of sameness and difference. Integral consciousness or natural cohesion? Someone commented “that it took all that time to release our perceptions and just be together”.
The case study demonstrated the importance of providing an atmosphere of trust in the learning space. Self generated learning objectives maintained high interest in the learning. Self-designing experiments required rapt attention and involvement by the facilitators, normalising to optimise the level of risk. Using the learner’s life experience from both personal and professional standpoints was invaluable. Providing frequent opportunities to reflect and challenge enhanced critically feeling, surmising and thinking. Substantial shifts in behaviour was demonstrated and actions continued to demonstrate a congruence to the courses work shifts, such as two people leaving long term employment situations after finishing the courses to pursue more personally and culturally ecologically friendly pursuits.
Let us end with a quote from William Irwin Thompson (2001) that illuminates the spiritual ecology process:
Unconsciously, the world is one, for global pollution spells out a dark integration that does not honour national boundaries of nation-states.Thus we see that industrial nation-states in their fullest development have contributed to their own end.
Collectivization, then, must mean that the future is some sort of collective consciousness in which the completely individuated and conscious ego becomes surrounded by the permeable membrane of an ecology of Mind and not by the wall of civilization (p. 53).
Spiritual Ecology – Our Story
It is important for people to have the space to heal, to feel supported and to know it’s OK to be have pain or be unwell. It is invaluable to create the time to heal – if healing is the path. Doing kind things for each other, in times of stress and challenge such as acts of loving kindness creates a vibration in the field, transforms consciousness beyond the individual.
Transmission of kindness.
Our collective story brought forth consideration of the Transmission state to transmit kindness to others, that it be ego-less. If behaviour or the way we interact with others and nature comes from ego it can interrupt a transmission of kindness which implicitly extends to humans, animals and nature.
Ego interrupts – it creates resistance to what is, ego feeds coldness, resistance to that which is could occur as greed, a force not letting out what could inherently flow to humans, animals and nature. Fear as resistance could stops transmissions of the elemental kindness of all that is being let in. Ego is the guardian of the membrane and can tilt the membrane into imbalance if it is fearful or greedy.
A mechanism of the membrane in humans is the ego as humans developed so did it. Ego can stop nature’s transmission in or out, and therefore kindness could not flow in or out.
This might also be seen in consciousness, when we are conscious to the whole energy it can shift and come into flow, bring forth a very uplifting quality. When we are not conscious we might create resistance. Intention, can create non resistance and flow- asking ourselves what is the more/most helpful ‘being’, what is the more/most helpful ‘doing’ opening the membrane and permeability in making connections, listening to concerns, being with others, allowing others to heal through soothing, and kind connections.
How do we get to extend and be a part of the transmission of kindness both at a micro level and bring this kindness as activism to the macro environmental level?
How do we get the focus for the dream we want to achieve between these two things.
Just keep dreaming, the more we put into it the more we get out of it. In these spiritual ecology workshops we awaken the dreamer, connect with others in different contexts, such as Dreamer Symposiums however the connections have all the same purpose…. opening the way for kindness in all Connections, connections, connections…
Things just happen once you put it (kindness?) into the field, the field brings it back.
Keep trusting (it might not come back as we imagined it but it will come back). That is ever-present origin, the dream living and the living dream, by living the dream we can heal.
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Shiva and Shakti are drawn from Indian mythology, where Shiva in his form of Nataraj is the Lord of the Dance and Shakti is the feminine energy that he draws on. He is often portrayed as dancing in a circle of fire. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nataraja accessed 15/6/14
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