Build it and they will come: Gathering 2020

“In every community, there is work to be done. In every nation, there are wounds to heal. In every heart, there is the power to do it.”

Marianne Williamson

Unphased by a health pandemic, our community was unreasonable and responded to our request to connect with new members with the fervency expected of Life Itself members. It was important to gather around the new concentrated essence of Life Itself after the transition from Art Earth Tech and our old base at La Cheraille. This was a holding space to meet in the whole, our new community – from which we could launch proper: Life Itself. 

Barbacane Hub, Place Barbacane, Bergerac.

“I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work the more I live.”

George Bernard Shaw

We gathered in our new premises, a grand townhouse on the edge of a square facing the river Dordogne befitting of enquiry into culture and our being. We checked-in regularly how the grandiose of our surroundings was affecting our psyche: I for one wanted to host ‘ambassador receptions’ immediately with gold trays and piles of Ferrero Roche. The picking up and packing up from our more feral, rubble farmhouse to the ballrooms of Bergerac was quite a transition, and we enjoyed it. Regular swims in the river, games of tag and hide and seek, late night dance parties around the fire. Opulent meals cooked by members who matched the food to the surroundings with their attention to feeding us well. Helped by our guest Valerie Duvauchelle, a ZaZen monk and chef, we practiced the preparation of food with our meditation practice. 

“It was great to meet new members of the community who became involved via the Berlin hub and the building festival in Thenac. A lot of optimism and possibility was generated as our newcomers became more acquainted with the vision and history of Life Itself. Valerie Duvauchelle, a member of the Aontemplative Activism group added a special and centering day of Zen cooking in the middle of the week.  I got a very high level of interest and engagement from the newcomers during my talk on the equality complex, and we turned to a grounded discussion of how to build the community in the next year.”  

Liam Kavanagh, co-founder.

Rufus led the participants through the Tao: a playbook for Life Itself. The background context for why Life Itself exists, and what we exist for…

“A world that is wise, well and awake”

…was felt all the more with embodiment practices led by Sylvie. Often, we are talking about our primacy of being – and the quality of our being, whilst being in our heads and intellect. This time, we regularly tapped out of that intelligence and into emotional and physical intelligence.

What was in the air and noticeably different in this cohort was the commitment to action. We have held open Gatherings in the past, and this one, because of Covid-19 restrictions, was limited to our new team members and community members. It helped us really distill what Life Itself could be and to focus our energy on our being; rather than diluting it away. We had some ‘crunchy’ sessions addressing fears around intentional community; power relations: decision making and governance; values, and membership. It was a heart opening session and mid way through our week, the community sank into a tenderness, a compassion and love I had rarely seen come so soon. 

Liam shared a presentation and discussion on Questioning Equality:  the Institute’s enquiry on the Equality Complex from his new book on Collective Wisdom. 

The cycle of divergence – convergence – divergence opened up again to create and design our community and activity going forward. The relationships with our Hubs and their autonomy; our Gatherings for the year to come. I include here what Valerie wrote after a session on cultivating our practices.  

“The vision for Life Itself: A manifestation of full beingness coming from collective wisdom practices leading to right actions in the world.

The process seems to be related to a collective frame, which allows for the emergence of a subtle resonant space where individualities can feel a dissolution of separated self for an interconnected one. 

From this feeling of being complete, at peace, arises a deep joy of living and also a deep capacity to embrace the pain. 

Being able to bear witness to pain within joy is the road for collective compassion and right (adjusted action). This emergence of our true human compassionate nature comes from a frame, a « space » which can only exist in the mirror of a trustful community.  Being seen and seeing others with no judgement nourishes our joy of living and reactivates our natural compassion towards other members and outside.  Then, from that, we deeply generate an intuition of acting wisely in the world.”

Watch this space for the development of our collective frame and accompanying practices. 

What a safe harbour to find out of lockdown with extraordinary people to share it with and plot the future for Life Itself. Thank you.

“The Gathering provided me with ways of interacting and bonding with others that I’d never encountered before. More than this, it challenged me to engage with the world around me not just from a new perspective, but in a radically different fashion. I have left with some wonderful relationships I hope to long carry forward, and a curiosity to see what this new way of thinking means for the commitments that shape my life.”

Theo Cox, aspirant.