thoughts on a retreat

In March I participated in a retreat that is somewhat hard for me to describe. It’s hard because I fear being judged. So, to my more materialist friends I want to describe it as an experiment in developing the practices of collective intelligence and collective wisdom and stick to the intellectual content. To my more spiritually oriented friends I want to describe it as a re-inventing of the practices of Quaker corporate worship in the context of the post-post-modern, quantum/relativist, networked, Wilberized, self-conscious and what-else-have-you, world.
But this splitting into the mental and the spritual to appease my imagined world view of this or that friend, is a mistake. A huge mistake. So now I declare: go ahead and judge me!
Here’s a better description: I participated in a retreat where a small group of people together worked on integrating all levels of their awareness: physical, emotional, mental, and “soul,” into a single group awareness. I put soul in quotes because there is common agreement that parts of our conciousness are separately devoted to physical, emotional, mental awareness, and we have decent language to talk about those three types of perception, but we don’t have good language or terms to talk about “soul” perception, or even agreement that such a form of perception is even “real” (what ever that means!) and has a similar status as the other three. [And now I’m noticing that that last sentence is yet another caveat to try and prevent judgement.]
For those of you with a scientific/materialist bent I recommend reading Jean-François Noubel’s paper on collective intelligence. This paper mentions only in passing at the very end the need for personal transformation. But it was that part that is what the retreat was all about. The practicing of that transformation to begin to make possible the potential for real collective intelligence.
If you aren’t turned off by spiritual language, try the sacred circle web site.
Some things I learned: I am generally very unaware of my body, and what it has to offer me. If I change the way I sit, I change the way I perceive. I can tell when people are speaking from a place of fear. If I take my glasses off, I can’t see detial, but detail is not all there is to see. The things that I am naturally good at, that come easily to me, are my gifts to the world. If I toss them out as if they don’t matter, I disempower myself and those gifts at the same time. One of the key structural benefits of the open source world is that it requires the formation of human relationships. Because it’s free, i.e. the value it generates has not been monitized, you can’t rely on money to get you what you want, instead you have to either rely on yourself, or, prefereably, rely on relationships with others. I am afraid of esoteric, new-agey, airy-fairy, “stuff” and I have a hard time just being with it when it shows up. Taking on and accepting as true things that people say is very different from being with them and actually listening to what they have to say. There are many levels of listening, at least four of which are: from the past (where we try and understand what we hear based on what we already know); with an open mind (where we try and learn new things that we don’t know); with an open heart (where we try and put ourselves empathically in the position of the speaker and really listen to where they are coming from); and with an open will (which is harder to describe, but it is deeper than the other three, and is similar to the experience of listening for the sense-of-the-meeting when clerking a Quaker meeting for worship with a concern for business, where not only are you listening from all the three other levels, but you’re basic will, i.e. your desires, are left open and subject to modification). Quakers already know a ton about collective intelligence and the practial stuff about what is needed to move foward in this realm, but they suck at integrating body and emotion into mental and “soul” practice. If you get into this work, it will have ramifications on your “personal” relationships.
[tags]quakerism,collective intelligence,open source,FLOSS,Ken Wilber[/tags]

open source spirituality

The open source movement is, I think, the tip of the iceberg of a fundamental sea change in human thought that is swirling all around us. I had been emailing with a friend about how Quakerism seemed to me to embody in a religion,the principles of open source software because (I wrote) “it handles the balance of the community and the individual in a precise way: 1) the individual is highly autonomous and assumed to have unique and direct access to the devine. I.e. everybody can write code. 2) because this is true of everyone, individual revelation must be checked with the group for further descernment, i.e. your code has to be checked in to the repository and actually work with the whole system! Thus there is no preacher/parishoner or consumer/producer relationship, we all minister to eachother (we are all prosumers).”
My friend pointed me to various links on open source spirituality that are worth looking at. I was especially intruiged by yoism which at first seems like yet-another-newagey spirituality thingy, but on closer inspection is quite a bit more than that.

the “free software” of land ownership

The FLOSS movement has questioned (or at least provided an alternative to) private ownership of software. One can, on very similar grounds, question private ownership of land (and historically the followers of Henry George have). Recently the E. F. Schumacher Society has published its work on forming community land trusts including actual legal documents that have been used to set up these organizations. Private ownership of land is burned much deeper into our psyche’s than private ownership of software. Thus even though many of the exact same issues are at stake, we are much less likely to see these two realms of ownership in the same light. The Schumacher Societie’s approach, however, bears close study because it steers so far clear of communistic and centralized approaches that we might rightly fear.