An online community where participants intention to engage in the sacred work of being human; drawing from an integral framework.
To view the online community go to A Place of Shelter
Many, many people experience belonging within a current world religious tradition. A religious tradition which offers them a coherent Story of meaning from which they find identity, purpose and belonging. However, for a growing number of people this is no longer the case; they no longer find their place of belonging within a particular religious tradition. Even so, they long for an intentional community in which they too may experience belonging.
In response, is it now time for a new community? A new community where participants find a place of shelter to explore and deepen their spirituality within an integral framework rather than a particular religious tradition. A new community committed to the ongoing evolution of the human family within the wider Earth community. In short, is it now time for a new faith community?
Faith is not a belief system. Rather as Benedictine monk, Lawrence Freeman wrote: “faith is a way of seeing depth and meaning in the ordinary.” As such, faith is a human capacity for discovering meaning for our living and for our dying. Although faith is not a belief system, it does draw us towards discovering a meaningful belief system.
While the capacity of faith may remain constant, meaningful belief systems will evolve over time. Also, there have been times throughout human history when a once meaningful belief system became redundant.
Note: for the rationale behind a new community – see the resource ‘A new faith community’.
Religious traditions did not emerge within a vacuum. They emerged within a particular cultural Story of meaning in response to particular meaning giving questions posed at that time. In a similar vein, a new faith community does not emerge within a vacuum. It emerges in response to the overarching meaning making question of our time: “what does it mean to be human in an unfolding universe?”
Founding principles of a new online community
To engage in the sacred work of being human
Sacred: an ever-deepening experience of connection and belonging in daily life.
Work of being Human: in response to the ever-expanding knowledge of the nature of being human within an unfolding universe, we are required to participate in the ongoing transformation of the human family. Within such a context transformation takes place within three levels: the individual, the cultural, and the human species within the wider Earth community.
Drawing from an integral framework
An integral framework is one that both “transcends and includes” (Wilber et al) all that has gone before. Therefore an integral framework breaks through and transcends the limitations of all previous human knowledge and belief systems and also includes that which continues to resound in our time and place in history. Such knowledge will include the sciences: including medical science, astronomy, anthropology, biology, neuroscience. Related fields also included are: psychology, philosophical discourse and the arts in general. Also included are the knowledge and wisdom teachings from past and present religious and spiritual traditions.
Unity with diversity
Unity with diversity is symbolized through the imagery of the holon, i.e., an entity which is both a whole in itself and part of something more. Such an understanding of both/and breaks through the either/or boundaries of tribalism and frees us from judgment, fear and prejudice.
Cultivating peaceful relationships through the value of nonviolence
Central to a new faith community is the ongoing transformation of the human family. One transformational shift will be towards cultivating peaceful relationships with Self, others and the wider Earth community. Such an orientation towards living in peace draws from a value of nonviolence and requires of us that we each take responsibility for the way we live and act in our world; “that we be the change we want to see.” (Ghandi)
Contemplative in orientation
A contemplative orientation involves the following:
an “ever-greater surrender to the creative action of love and grace in our hearts” (Merton) towards compassionate Self knowledge; listening for the “primordial whisper” (Hillman) of inner wisdom calling forth a new Story of meaning; listening for “…that deep unfolding that is always happening within (McEntee, Bucko); “inner deep listening and quiet, still awareness … recognizing the deep spring that is inside us. We call on it and it calls to us.” (Ungunmerr-Baumann)
Conversation as a spiritual practice
Because participants may hold divergent views and life experience, conversation will involve respect for and of each other and a willingness to metaphorically see and hear each other. In so doing, all will remain open to learn and grow through the practice of “dialogical dialogue.” (McEntee, Bucko)
Note: According to McEntee and Bucko, dialogical dialogue: "is a way of relating to one another, such that we allow ourselves to be changed in the light of the wisdom of the other. It is a dialogue that is always an exploration. Its philosophical roots stem from an understanding that the other is not really other, but participates in a shared reality of which we ourselves are a part. . . .The other is not the same as our self, but is not separate from our self either. Together, we both participate in a shared reality and we affect and change that reality through our interactions with one another."
With such principles as a foundation, a new faith community will seek to nurture and sustain participants in their intention to explore and deepen their spirituality. (For more on the nature of spirituality see Resources/The nature of spirituality). In so doing, each participant may live their truth (Story of meaning) authentically. Poetic language for such a stance is: standing in our own ground ~ openheartedly.
Practices for a new community
It takes more than intention to engage in the sacred work of being human. It also takes more than a shift in thinking. As one author wrote: “a philosophy without practice is like reading a menu without ever tasting the food.” (Quoted in Hillman) So engaging in the sacred work of being human will require practices which sustain, nurture and challenge us to remain open and receptive to transformational shifts in our view if and when they emerge.
Helpful practices for our time and place in history are:
- meditation: leading us towards the unscripted resting place within.
- compassionate Self enquiry: allowing us to recognize when we are entangled within a particular Storyline; allowing us to experience transformational shifts in our Story of meaning. (Read more on the practice of compassionate Self enquiry).
- gathering in community: where there is a safe environment for Stories of meaning to be told, heard and reflected upon.
Dreaming a new online community into form
A new online community has been established. An intentional community which will involve participants engaging in their own practice of meditation and compassionate Self enquiry. Such practices will then set the orientation for “gathering in community” online in the form of offering to each other open-ended questions regarding the sacred work of being human, insights gained, resources that have sustained, nurtured and/or challenged.
To view the online community go to A Place of Shelter
Ken Wilber etal, Integral Life Practice
Thomas Merton, www.thomasmertoncenter.org
Anne Hillman, Awakening the Energies of Love
Rory McEntee & Adam Bucko, The New Monasticism: An Interspiritual Manifesto for Contemplative Living
Australian Indigenous understanding of Dadirri by Aboriginal writer Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr-Baumann