Archive for transformation

Contemplative Twitter, or #co-tw2

Picture 1 I've just finished taking part in an experiment on Twitter initiated by the consummate Techno Shaman George Por. The idea and instructions were posted online, and the invitation was sent out through the Presencing Institute's online community site yesterday afternoon, but for those of you who like their news delivered directly, here's the gist: it was a one hour experiment laid out in four 15 minute segments – the first of which was to contemplate the following question in silence, somewhere away from our computer screens: "What is needed for openness and dialogue through tweets to scale and affect positive change in consciousness and society?

In our next 15 minutes we shared any "fine fishes" that we'd "caught in our stream of consciousness" during our contemplation, tagging them with #co-tw1. Then we spent 15 minutes reading what others had written and the last quarter of the hour in summarizing or re-tweeting those ideas that had stood out for us, and what the experience had been like (#co-tw2).

I thought it was a very successful way to enliven the potential of social media, and it made me feel great; like I am not the only one who cares about the seeds of intention and consciousness we plant in these powerful tools of global communication.

So, not only was it an invitation into collective awareness and collaborative meaning-making, but many of the ideas that emerged might trigger further reflection – in me, in you, on FaceBook, where all my tweets go automatically, and who knows where else the light beams from this multi-faceted prism may travel. Here are some of the sparks:

"Collective organs of sensing and meaning-making nurture our self-organizing collective consciousness, intelligence & wisdom."
~ TechnoShaman

"The emergence of an evolutionary worldview serves as attractor for community and cohering action"
~ TechnoShaman

"Changing the culture of social media from trivia and marketing to one of depth and true significance."
~ AmySue102

"The unfettered heart's call to connect with others and the collective urge to create shared meaning will lead this"
~ AmySue102

"During the 1st 15 mins it was important 2 let go of the question & tune into its spirit / let that spirit emerge"
~ Mushin

"Letting go of all possible results, including scaling, intelligence or wisdom, or any view whatsoever to be open for the Emergent"
~ Mushin

"Coherent intent creates resonance, brings signals into alignment, radiates outwards"
~ IdeaHive

"Hearing nature expressed in so many birdsongs while contemplating "tweets", dialogue, positive change in the world"
~ Cleeengel

"Clear: intention, purpose, alignment Across: chasms, media, boundaries Letting go: into emergent, depth, collective sensing"
~ Cleeengel

Maturana, Love & Language


My friend (and co-founder of the World Cafe) Juanita Brown has long espoused the extraordinary wisdom of Chilean biologist/philosopher Humberto Maturana.
She recently attended one of his symposiums, and wrote up her notes in Conversation as a Co-Evolutionary Force.

I was very struck by
her post; these excerpts in particular – about what it is to be human and what the capacity to language makes possible – feel full of power & potential:

As humans we are born in the trust of loving and in being loved–within
an ecology of the natural world and within the larger living cosmos."
Love is the legitimate co-arising of the other in the relational space
between us.  What we understand as humanness are relations conserved on
and in love over many generations of our co-existence."

We live in the braiding of emotions and languaging in our manner of
living together.  In this coordination through language, certain
consensus or agreements appear as"reality" and the objects we understand as "real" appear.

 Words are not trivial – words are the nodes or elements of networks of
conversation. Language is the coordination of doings, not a symbolic
act  as we commonly understand it. With one word I can follow one path
and with another a different path.  Our languaging distinguishes a way
of inhabiting a human community and culture.

A person who reflects creates new worlds. All distinctions are made by
an observer. Our capacity for reflection in language is one essence of
our humanness.  We are human beings that emerged with the capacity to
reflect in language and conversations and in that we generate worlds.

Bioneers ~ Last Day

I came in late, just in time for the last few minutes of the first plenary session with Rachel Remen where the whole auditorium was vibrating; everyone in it singing softly as one voice. An auspicious beginning, as it turned out.

Rachel was followed by Maria Durazo, president of the Hotel &
Restaurant Employees Union’s Local 11, who reminded us that the organic
food industry also uses immigrant labor, and doesn’t necessarily treat
their workers, both legal and un-documented, any better. Next, Spencer Beebe, founder of Ecotrust, talking about building a new nation – "Why not call ourselves Salmon Nation?", he asks – based on bioregions governed by nature, on principles much longer-lasting than those of politics.

Beebe was followed by the beautiful Sophia Quintero, a young woman who is helping to transform her world through popular culture. She founded ChicaLuna to support girls of color in developing film-making skills, & because every movie is a political movie, she gives them a solid foundation of political & feminist analysis skills so the films they make can reflect their own values, and not just reinforce the values of the dominant culture that so often demeans them.

The last plenary of the morning was presented by Paul Hawken who was introduced by Kenny Ausubel as a man who has been a human lighthouse to many of us – I know I have been following his thinking ever since he was with Erewhon – a natural foods company he started back in Boston; was it really the very first natural food company? – where I worked with him back in the 70s. Paul is a visionary thinker in the truest sense, but he has always been firmly grounded in the practical, writing books like The Ecology of Commerce and founding many profitable companies including the popular Smith & Hawken gardening supply chain. I lost my pen during his presentation, so I couldn’t take notes, but I was absolutely stunned by what he had to say.

I’m sure I can’t do justice to it… and it might not sound so unusual if you don’t know his history… but Paul shared that he has come to realize the environmental movement has to be based in a spiritual ethos; that to be viable it has to embrace the social justice movement so that the two become one. He said that in fact the environmental movement grew out of social movements that later went on to become religions, like Taoism & Confucianism, and that human beings are born with an altruistic instinct – that the need to care for others is hard-wired into us.

The implications of Paul’s talk are still reverberating in me, and I for one am going to download his words from the Bioneers site – share them with my partner and listen to them again myself.


This last day was a very different kind of energy for me. Things were happening slower, and a lot more went on, somehow. Perhaps because I was experiencing more outdoors… I took my lunch outside, and after eating laid back on the grass, looking up at the thick tangle of leaves above me, feeling the sun & warm breeze on my skin.

After lunch, I was drawn to a rapper who was on a rough stage in the center of the plaza with a mic in his hand, calling out rhythmically to the crowd "There’s only one God… He’s got a lot of names, but there’s only one God… He’s got a lot of names." This guy, whose MySpace name is GoodFelllow (yep, three ‘l’s) was very good, and he reminded me of my friend Jahan, who is also a rapper that draws on spirituality for his poetics. I hope the two meet, and they take the world by storm. (I just looked up GF and found that he calls himself a ‘Troubador of Divine Bliss’! 🙂

My first post-plenary session after lunch was wonderful, if a bit strange. It was supposed to be an interactive session on EcoArt, with about 30 artists taking part. Apparently they’d only expected 30 additional people because there were 60 chairs set up in a tight circle in the front of the large tent where we were meeting. The trouble was there were more like 90 people in the room, and the circle didn’t expand, so a lot of of us were sitting in rows looking at a solid wall of backs.  Still, there were some fascinating artists there and I heard some wonderful words spoken, even though for the most part it was impossible to know who was speaking.

Answering a question about the kinds of tools they use, one artist said that he thinks of his art as a bridge between those things he carries deep inside him and their manifestation in the external world, and therefore he sees his heart as a primary tool for art-making. Another said that in her experience photography is a tool to bring people into the moment and produce a sort of meditative experience. Helen & Newton Harrison were there, and Nelson said they often use what he calls an eco-flip; they will take something assumed, penetrate the belief or metaphor surrounding it, and then ‘flip’ it – taking their design in a whole new direction. Work on ‘flood control’, for instance, might become a piece with ‘spreading of the waters’ as a central theme. Their creative scope & vision is amazing; I would have liked an entire session focused just on them!

I think I might have saved the best for last, however, because I was truly entranced my my last session, and could have stayed there forever – I didn’t want to leave. It was David Abram, who I absolutely adore because of the pleasure I got from reading Spell of the Sensuous, and the ever-interesting Susan Griffin, in a session called Re-visioning the Language of Environmentalism.

They talked about the extremely transformative metaphoric power of words; their ability to change experience & therefore reality. David said there are ways of speaking that enhance the reciprocity between words and our bodily senses & there are those that stifle this connection and tend to make us live more in our heads, keeping us aloof from our bodies and the earth we live in.

Susan brought up the old split between the spiritual and the material, and how the pejorative way we use the words and association of ‘matter’ effects us and cuts us off from our bodies, each other and the earth. She talked about the need to find a language that can hold the grief
that is commensurate with our times, and David said perhaps this is one
of the reasons for our abstractions, and why we are all in flight from
a body which we fear cannot hold all the grief we know is there.

We talked a bit about the abstraction of a phrase like ‘global warming’ – David prefers the term ‘planetary fever’ because it’s really more like a fever, this world-wide malaise we are all experiencing, where there are extreme oscillations between overwhelming heat and the ‘shivers’ that follow.

Then the phenomenon that is David Abram started to wax poetic – he talked about gravity as eros, the definition of gravity being the natural force of attraction exerted by one body upon another. What if, he reasoned, our every step on earth was a conscious enactment of our love affair with earth? How would knowing this effect the way we experience the simple act of walking?

He impressed upon us the need to rejuvenate oral culture – to language the local culture of which we are part without always needing to bind the words down to paper. Instead, he invites us to share our words, so that you can hear the breath behind them. Speech is shaped breath, he reminds us, and it is the air that carries your words to my ears. Air is the mystery we live in, where all the voices of the ancestors live… we are immersed in this atmosphere, like fish in the sea.

Air is a part of earth – sometimes he calls it Eairth to make this clearer – and when we connect with it in our speech, we remain grounded rather than withdraw into abstraction. What if our minds are not ours, he asks, but the earth’s? If that is so, we are all immersed in the mind of the earth – the air.

Each of us lives in the mystery, in direct relationship to the elements around and within us, & each of us has our own creative access to the ‘real’ of our bodies. He invites us to find the ways & begin speaking from our own skin, our hearts, our bones. Language is just a set of poetics, he says – get in there and play! Be creative!

We need to develop speaking that is contagious, he went on, language that can spread through
the culture like a virus. We all need to become poets, in the sense of
speaking beautifully –
luring people with our words into their senses and skin, helping them
to wake up in their bodies.

See what I mean? 🙂