Every group of people meeting with the intention of being together in deep inquiry & listening in service of the well-being of its members, humanity or planet earth is potentially a circle of wisdom and healing.
Highly recommended!!! A long, very beautiful and inspiring article including an extensive interview with Joanna Macy.
“We need to sit together, grab each other and be together as we even take in what is happening, let alone how we respond. Because alone you get overwhelmed, and it becomes traumatizing. But once people have tasted that they can, with each other, speak about what they see and feel is happening to our world, a number of things happen, in addition to the fact that they fall in love with each other. There is a trust and realization of, “Oh my god, I’m not alone.” There is a return to your own self-respect. I think self-respect has not been realized as such a source of strength in the individual psyche. I think people would rather see themselves facing an overwhelming foe with conviction of their purpose, than to be comfortable.
So that was the release. And the release would come, and as people began to break through their reluctance to suffer with our world, once they took that on and spoke to it, then they found their unity with our world. Often, not only did a sense of bondedness come, but a lot of hilarity. There is laughter and joking, and a shaking off of a kind of spell or curse. A feeling comes, of, “I can be here.” And that feels more liberating and true to you and brings you into the moment when you are less dependent on someone giving you a failsafe method to make everything fine, because no one can do that. (…)
What is called of us now, from the planet? What are we being called to do at this time?
To wake up together. That is actually the name of the movement in Sri Lanka that I went over to do field work with. Sarvodaya. Taking the Gandhian term, but using it in a slightly different way, but the same Sanskrit, which is “everybody wakes up together.”
It’s hard to wake up alone now. It’s scary to see even what is going on. But there is almost no limit, I’ve come to believe, to what we can do with the love and support of each other. There is almost no limit to what we can do for the sake of each other. This taps into the Bodhisattva heart. That’s that hero figure of Mahayana Buddhism, “the one with the boundless heart.” The one who realizes there is no private salvation.
If you are going to wake up, you have to wake up together. Never has that been more true than now, at this stage of late stage corporate capitalism.”
“Wisdom was once regarded as a subject worthy of rigorous scholarly inquiry in order to understand its nature and benefits. It is difficult to imagine a subject more central to the highest aspirations of being human. The study of wisdom holds great promise for shedding light on and opening up new insights for human flourishing.
As part of the Center for Practical Wisdom, the website features the latest news and publications on wisdom science, and encourages interdisciplinary discussions about how wisdom can play a role in the professions and in public life.”
Nearly a year ago, on March 22nd, 2016 Kristin Verellen lost her partner Johan Van Steen when a bomb exploded in the Maelbeek Station in Brussels. In the first nights after the attack she met with friends to hold vigils for him. They sat in circle, holding space and listening to one another. Gradually more and more people joined. They kept meeting, including others that had in some ways been hurt or touched by what had happened. Kristin and a circle team that emerged out of these experiences goes on organizing circles in different places across the country. A first international online circle in English took place 2 days ago.
“Telling and listening to each others stories is very important to regain our strength. It helps to deal with our emotions and to face life with a new awareness and renewed energy.
By organising these Circles we want to give the opportunity to everybody who was involved or feels impacted in some way by the terrorist attacks and other forms of blind violence in Belgium and elsewhere in the world to take a moment to reflect. What impact do these acts of blind violence have on us, on our choices, on our society? And what do we do with our precious life and the time we have left?”
Circle in the Square is the inspiring story of restorative approaches as implemented throughout Minnesota schools and communities, as told by one of the country’s foremost practitioners, Nancy Riestenberg. “Restorative approaches help to shift the dominant social norms from ‘power over’ to ‘power with,’ talking ‘with’ instead of talking ‘at,’ and ‘we centered’ instead of ‘I centered'” (Riestenberg, 2012, p. xiii). Over the span of her 25 year career with the Minnesota Department of Education, where she is now Violence Prevention Specialist, Riestenberg documented the successes that teachers, counselors, community-based practitioners and administrators have had repairing harm, restoring relationships, teaching lessons,and changing lives.
Tom Atlee in an article that was written a while ago: “I am coming to suspect that it is the fringes that make the difference between collective intelligence and collective wisdom.
Collective intelligence solves problems or resolves conflicts of, by and for a group, an organization, a community or a whole society. It solves those problems and conflicts for the here and now, for people who are interested, aware, and involved.
Collective wisdom, on the other hand, has a bigger challenge. It needs to expand out from the particular problem or conflict, from the here and now, from those interested, aware and involved. It needs to embrace larger contexts, interests, drivers and possibilities. It has to consider the deep needs of people long gone and yet unborn, and to delve into deeper levels of understanding and caring. It ventures into unseen dimensions of life – into background trends, hidden corruptions and connections, psychospiritual influences, scientific microcosms and macrocosms – to realize unexpected consequences, novel resources, and extraordinarily potent answers. Being the Big Picture form of intelligence, wisdom is born out of our capacity to stretch creatively into the unknown and the unacknowledged, into the new angle, the deeper parts of ourselves, the fringe insights and possibilities.”
Highly recommended: An Interview on Collective Healing with Kosha Anja Joubert and Stephen Busby by Robin Alfred – This is an expanded version of an interview first published in Communities Magazine, Summer 2016
A small excerpt from the interview:
ROBIN: Can we say more about the quality of this holding space?
KOSHA: It has to do with qualities of wisdom and maturity, the ability to include expressions that are not normally acceptable and to slow things down when necessary, so that awareness can grow in the whole group.(..)
STEPHEN: What you are calling wisdom seems to me to be an ability to show up in an appropriate way so that we stay available and alert to what is going on behind what is being spoken and externalized. We are listening to the deeper movements within the collective that is gathered. And in a second step, we train the abiltity to bring and express this in appropriate ways so that it can be heard and received by the collective.”
A team of seasoned facilitators from the US and Europe will host a new type of gathering exploring how to create spaces that enable collective healing. A first gathering in Florida in August will prototype a process that builds the capacity to work with historic traumas. Emergent in nature, it will weave together various organizational and creative processes that enable groups and communities to access healing shifts, allowing life and love to be restored.
This is a collective inquiry, sensing and exploring the emerging edges of what it means to create collective healing. Insights and learning will be harvested and shared to ripple. And the aspiration is that experiences and connections among participants will spawn a community of practice and new collaborations.
“You can call it compassionate listening. You listen with only one purpose: to help him or her to empty his heart. Even if he says things that are full of wrong perceptions, full of bitterness, you are still capable of continuing to listen with compassion. Because you know that listening like that, you give that person a chance to suffer less. If you want to help him to correct his perception, you wait for another time. For now, you don’t interrupt. You don’t argue. If you do, he loses his chance. You just listen with compassion and help him to suffer less. One hour like that can bring transformation and healing.”
In an article for Huffington Post Otto Scharmer shares valuable experiences and insights that are relevant to any circle of wisdom: “You need to take entrenched stakeholders on a journey where they experience a situation without their usual armor of habitual judgments. You go on this journey in order to practice deep listening to each other, to the whole, and to what is emerging from oneself. It’s these practices of deep listening and stillness that often have the biggest transformative impact. (…) In every process of transformation that I have had the privilege to witness over the past few years, this has always been one of the single most important turning points: activating the intelligence of the heart, not only in the individual, but also in the collective.”
Phill Cass on the importance of the one who hears a call, and calls together a circle or any other initiative:
“I think that the original caller, the one who first articulated the longing, plays a critical role in the actualization of the possibility. They are the original fire starter and need to tend that flame while at the same time letting go into the collective so that the flame has a chance to ignite into something far larger. If they hold it too tight they can squash the flame and any possibility of it becoming something and if they let go to soon the flame may extinguish because it wasn’t tended long enough.”