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Collective Wisdom Contemplative Activism Gathering

On Contemplative Activism and a vision of Life Itself

This extract is taken from a session at our Gathering 2020 on Collective Practices. Here, Valerie Duvauchelle summarised what was said and some suggested ideas. This is very much a work in progress, and we invite you too to participate.

Contemplative Activism is another name for awakening to s(S)elf, the basis of Life Itself’s vision 

A manifestation of full beingness coming from Collective Wisdom practices leading to joy of being and right actions in the world.

The process relates 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.

How to create the collective frame?

From community practice(s) 

As practice is space in itself

It is often mistaken that virtue, logical thought and good intention are enough, when in fact they are still part of the problem (distorted by Equality Complex as seen in our Institute https://lifeitself.us/2019/12/01/blind-spot-3-the-equality-complex/).  

To point to that we don’t need so much morality or ethics, our natural mechanism produces compassion and unconditional love when we give it the frame to emerge from. It is not something we have to work on or to suffer frustration from .. it is our true nature. We just need the collective frame. 

Since we can’t do the loving ourselves now we have to create the rights and the protection of (see UNHDR). This has value, but the attachment to it can become a dogma. We believe more in laws, ethics, morality than our natural capacity of loving. The laboratory of a community can create the proper frame for collective wisdom and compassion to arise. 

And what is community but a collective practice. 

If we agree our collective goal is to activate collective compassion etc, to act from this compassionate place, we often think (and forget this truth) that awakening this collective wisdom is awakening the self, and that this goal you could attain forever rather than it being a process. 

Awakening is an ongoing process; we are both in the awakened reality when we meet one another and at the same time we are in the relative reality (with different agendas and different opinions) both from collective practice. We can also activate this collective wisdom, the awakened self, from the crossover of the two. We don’t need the goal of absolute truth or oneness – we are in it and then we drop out. It is a movement, a dance.

Practicing collective action, literally daily activities together, is to stress we are not just theoretical but in our bodies too, we are sitting, cleaning and cooking together – which is often forgotten. 

Mixing both eastern (eg Zen) with western concepts (eg neuroscience ), creates an unnecessary filter to talk about Buddhism. 

More than the internal and external perception of self, it touches Francisco Varela‘s concept of autopoïese; that we are both separated and integrated, our autonomy comes from our aptitude to produce from ourselves something else than ourselves through constant integration of alterity.

All whilst still deeply be s(S)elf or the ‘Jikko’ from Uchiyama Roshi (self embracing the Self to be the s(S)elf ) in an infinite interconnected dance where autonomy rather than individuality, equity rather than egality is manifested through actions coming from «being the world»  in a state of constant transformation, with no permanent self. 

Practice is the movement of life moving through life co-creating life

Movement is being within space beyond time (the ungraspable present) 

Practice is awakening to s(S)elf

In that sense, practices are an awakening in themselves as they put us in the movement of s(S)elf by just living our lives together with others. They also are an inclusive way to activate and sustain, learn, integrate fluidity along time (doing circles, meditation, cooking, cleaning is a practice and a teaching at same time). 

Practices should not be based on rules or laws but on patterns and principles based on a new ontology of reality of Self, an intricate and impermanent one.

Precept: we can only truly manifest our (sS)elf through community of trust 

As an illusionary separated lost entity we need a frame of remembering: trust  building and sustainable practices to reactivate the space for our universal being to manifest fully and act accordingly to its true nature.

Here is a Set of practices, principles and patterns to be used in communities, Labs, Hub to protect the frame of activation of collective wisdom.

Everything is practice, as practice is living Life Itself

The question: how to cultivate ways of being within the community and the world? 

Dimensions : 

  • Digital and analogue: online and offline 
  • Community living practices and patterns manual: regular practices to nourish and learn from
  • Regeneration of s(S)elf includes gratitude, inspirations, resolution…

Community Living practices and patterns manual

A tool of practices that Life Itself Hubs can choose from in order to co-produce collective wisdom and wellbeing for each member.  

Feeling together through: 

  • Silent absorption (just sitting with no goal) practices 
  • Transparency practices (especially around power issue emerging from sex and money) 
  • Conflict resolution practices 
  • Celebration practices 
  • Shadows work practices 
  • Community practicalities  practices 
  • Embodiment practices 
  • Creativity practices 

Life Itself commitments in a hub:

  • Affirmation of vision ( vows to be at service to our l(L)ife)  to be written 
  • Daily silent practice ( in each hub a space dedicated to collective practices with  on person sitting at least 40 mn every morning as an invisible anchor )
  • One shared meal a week and community management of food
  • One deep listening circle a week 
  • One hour collective cleaning a week 
  • One shared knowledge a month 

Suggestive practices to be adapted within the ecosystem of each hub: 

  • Way of council ( to share what is needed ) 
  • Forum Zegg ( good for unclear emotions related to sex , money , hierarchy)
  • Work That Reconnects / Food that reconnects ( pain compost)
  • Eye gazing 
  • Contact improv dance 
  • Weekly retreat in monasteries 
  • Weekly secular retreat in hubs
  • Tag and other plays 
  • Ecstatic dance 
  • Sharing knowledge time
  • Celebrating our failures and unskillfulness
  • Celebrating our lineages 
  • A Spiritual representative /mentor each member chooses  a spiritual to meet with every 15 days to share emotional disturbances or questions regarding the practice of living  
  • Honoring the animal genocide 
  • Artistic commitment 

Living together our life in daily activities is practice: 

  • Buying ( facing interdependence of our actions, eg recycling)
  • Fooding ( choosing to cook non-suffering ingredients) in hubs but not imposing vegan
  • Cleaning

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