If you talk to me about how I might be able to support you in your work, there’s a good chance I’ll eventually bring up elevations. What I mean by this is, what are we looking at? From your organization, to the time-frame, to the impact. From the thinking necessary, to the center of our perspective.
I like the analogy, because it’s generally easy to grasp. Most of us have flown and so we know the experience of moving from the runway to 5,000, 10,000 (you can begin using electronic devices), 20, 30,000, and so on. This is the same in an organization. You need different thinking at 10,000 than on the runway. You need different approaches.
This is true in all corners of our lives. This morning, I had the privilege of being in conversation with some good folks thinking about this. A big part of what we were discussing is how one can generate a language that’s relevant at all these places. It’s an exploration that I’m quite looking forward to.
Box? What box?
There’s this band that I’ve been listening to lately. They are called Jinjer. They hail from Ukraine, and are quite surprising to anyone unfamiliar with the type of music that they play. This is especially true when the first introduction is their song Pisces. If your interested, start there. And then when you’ve got some time, you can check out this compilation of people experiencing this song (well, its “twist” anyway) for the first time.
The thing is, it’s easy to try to put this band in a box. But you’re not going to be successful. The above song should make that clear. Same would just about any other song of theirs. They are doing something pretty unique. Of course, I actually think that we really can’t put anything in a box the way we think we can. Boxes are mostly illusions. And they get in the way of us seeing what’s really going on.
It’s not about thinking out of the box. It’s about realizing there never was a box to begin with.
Learning a new language
Our stories matter. For one, we identify ourselves within stories, it’s where we are located. It’s also how we frame the world we live in, and understand whether or not what we are experiencing fits or doesn’t fit. One could argue that our lives are a patchwork of stories — conscious and unconscious. Story is what’s at the heart of Charles Eisenstein’s work. Story is what our religions are about. Story is at the center of our politics. Have you ever said to someone, “So, what’s your story?” If not, you’ve likely asked someone else, “What’s that guy’s story?”
When we go to therapy, one of the things that we do (often) is to reframe our stories. To lean to understand our lives in new ways. We can learn to hold the entirety of the world in new ways. Think about this. From where you sit right now, your story can completely shift. Your entire world can be turned upside down in an instant. This can happen at any given moment. Like I said, our stories matter.
Much of the story we hold of the world isn’t even in our awareness. It lives in our unconscious. It’s hidden. Imagine reading a great book — say, any of the Harry Potter series — and then finding out that there was an entire other story hidden between the lines. You had to be shown how to find it. That’s kind of like us. Only once we’ve heard the story that isn’t in our awareness do so many things begin to make sense.
I mentioned in my last post that it’s possible that the work of world transformation may very well be an art project. One of my reasons for thinking this is that I’m starting to think of art as the language of the future. This language shows us the stories that can be created. It shows us the ways that we can reshape our current story, sure. More importantly, however, it shows us what is possible if we listen, and if we begin to act with the courage of an artist. This takes cultivating a presence, and willingness to listen, and opening to a flow that is beyond us. It takes getting out of the way.
I think this is what’s meant by the idea that everyone is an artist. We can all do this in our own way. In some ways, we all need to.
The thought that’s been on my mind since getting to see the FLOTSAM! crew, led by Jason Webley, on Friday night is this: perhaps this whole world transformation thing is actually on big art project. See, art is a language if the future and the parallel possibilities that live among us. It whispers to us. It invites us. It speaks to that which is too big to be named.
It is, in some ways, a direct communion with the gods.
This is an exploration that feel ripe.
Sometimes we just need the hokey
I was going to start writing, and then got lost down a bit of a rabbit hole. That’s been happening lately. When I slow down and try to understand why that is, what comes to me is that I’ve not slowed down enough. I’m not quite attuned to what there is to listen to. That might sound a bit hokey, but I think if we all pay attention, we will find ways in which slowing down will give us more space to hear what the world is whispering. What is it that this day asks of us?
Yeah, that does indeed sound hokey.
Hokey, but right.
Identity | Initiation | Sacrifice
These three things are at the heart of this conversation between Charles Eisenstein and Orland Bishop.
Identity as a central organizing mechanism around which we build our lives. Our identities become not simply something from which we view the world, but they become what we are. Just about every spiritual tradition cautions us about this idea.
Initiation as a means by which we move beyond our identity, toward something bigger. Inititaion is an invitation, one that comes from those who walk ahead of us on the larger path that we share. These are the elders, the ones who have gained wisdom. The wisdom is of experience, but it’s also of accepting the invitation to that bigger path. An invitation that leads us to unknowing. To trusting that there is something beyond our identity.
Sacrifice as the mechanism that must be utilized where the identity meets the initiation. Transcending the moment requires a letting go. This sacrifice is at the heart of every transformative moment. Sometimes it feels obvious, or happens unconscoiusly. But where initiation is required, it means stepping into the ultimate fear, the fear that lives at the center of our being: that of death; for where there is a letting go, there is a death; where there is a transformation, there is a death.
The point that gets made in this dialogue between these two remarkable men is that this isn’t sipmly just a process that humans have come up with — it’s something that lives within us as living beings. It’s woven into the very fabric of life. And if we don’t construct the structures within which to experirnce these thigns they will happen on their own. This can lead to some very dark things. Dark things, I would argue, we are beginning to see come to fruition.
Western society — which is really a polite way of saying “white society” — has abandoned the initiation. Indeed, we’ve abandoned almost all ceremony. This need has been met in some interesting ways. It’s met on sports teams, in college greek “houses”, in corporate and military life. It tends to be filled with shadow, and it tends to be traumatic in ways that can cause lasting damage. In the dialogue, Bishop talks about how right now, in this time that we live in, the entire planet is going through an initiation. The question isn’t so much, what is happening, it’s how will we participate?
We don’t have a direct and clear connection to the ceremonies that can help us navigate these times. Some do. Those who have ties to their indigenous roots do. But those of us in white society, who, unfortunately, hold much of the power in how the world is taking shape right now, don’t have direct connection. In their dialogue, Bishop and Eisenstein talk about how tryihng to appropriate the ceremony of others (which we tend to do in white culture) is dangerous and harmful. So, what do we do?
What is offered in the recording is to come into alignment with what is being called for by the larger energies around us. By the greater whole we are all a part of. It’s in this part of the conversation that Bishop says something I love: “Attention doesn’t require content.” Here, he means that we can hold attention on beingness itself. And then we can see what arises.
From where do you think our ancestors received their ceremonies? Did they invent them? It seems it’s quite likely they received them. Perhaps it happened over time. Perhaps it happened over generations. But does that matter? Perhaps the very act of going “in search” of ceremony is a part of the healing that the world requires.
And in this all, an initiation. An initiation that brings us beyond our identity.
One great sacrifice.