Tag Archives: Frank Lloyd Wright

The Gate Keeper

Responding to a conversation between Jordan Peterson and Stefan Molyneux, Sorting Yourself Out, I wrote:

Practical tools I’ve acquired and developed could well serve to fortify your intellectual arsenals in the ongoing media battle for the hearts and minds of the general public.

. . . my work identifies an overlooked but fatal blind-spot in Western thinking. (I will elaborate on this at length in a post to be called “The Gate Keeper.”) Suffice it to say here that unless/until we restore a complete and correct paradigm to common understanding, the downward spiral of history will continue on its course unchecked.

This, then is The Gate Keeper post.

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The middle level of the Life Wheel is the missing piece of the knowledge puzzle, lacking which one cannot get from here (daily experience) to there (inner peace and truth).

The two-way gate keeper role of Natural Law in relationship to Divine Law and Human Law is pictured on the back cover of Conscience:

gatekeeper.jpg

 

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Here is the description of the e = energy level of the Life Wheel from The Handbook:

e  =  Energy

Much ignorance, misinformation and confusion surrounds the energy level of the Positive Paradigm. The state of chaos into which the world has degenerated attests to this deficiency, as well as the urgent need to correct it. Only the basics are described here, suggestive of further exploration.

The middle level is the domain of natural law, whose dynamics are mapped in the Chinese I Ching, the Book of Change. This body of knowledge has evolved over eight thousand years as sages continue to observe the operations of energy and document the repetitive patterns of change.

Natural Law maps the energetic underpinnings of the dynamic, physical world. It is experienced as the patterned recurring cycles of seasonal change, and is equally applicable to humans and their cyclical life changes: birth, growth, decay and death.

The middle layer is the realm of less tangible but still measurable states of energy, including electricity. More subtly, it is the chi, ki or prana described by Chinese, Japanese and Indian traditions as the life force which animates all living beings. In Greek and Christian contexts it correlates with the breath, the psyche.

These subtle energies influence internal psychological states and drive external human behavior, which in turn affects social relationships. Knowledge of these dynamics is essential to personal survival.

Effective leadership and the quality of life within organizations hinge on the quality of awareness brought to dynamics at this level. While some leaders understand the dynamics of change at a gut level as a matter of common sense, systematic logic and deliberate understanding would significantly improve the results of the decision-making process.

Those denied access to material and social resources are often forced inside. Of necessity, turning inward, they develop and depend for survival upon strengths drawn from the middle and center of the Life Wheel.

At times, material deprivation and hardships yield the opposite and equal blessings of in-sight and emotional fortitude. At other times, however, excessive investment at the middle level results in delusions, latent with the potential for erupting into violence.

In any case, making a virtue of necessity by rejecting the material world prevents completion of the pattern. It can’t correctly be equated with spirituality.

Cultures which enforce an exclusively materialistic worldview and deny the experience of everything not tangible and measurable place severe hardships on those whose inner lives are especially active. The Handbook gives ample opportunities to diagnose such imbalances, the better to remedy them.

Societies which deny their citizens practical outlets for articulating and harnessing inner energies creatively can literally drive people crazy, to suicide, or at best, underground. Many “sensitives” survive by channeling socially banned, unacceptable awareness and longing for self-fulfilling adventure into the arts: music and literature, including romance, murder mysteries and science fiction.

This is a great loss to society. The world would be better off if high-energy, creative individuals were identified as potential leaders, trained and given employment options accordingly.

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Awareness of the middle energy level equated with emotions has recently been brought back into fashion in the guise of “emotional intelligence.” But why has the middle, Gate Keeper level for so long been relegated to the realms of the taboo and banned from conscious awareness?

Certainly laziness is one problem. Cleaning out one’s personal emotional swamp can be very hard work.

Furthermore, untamed and unharnessed, it can be very dangerous. When polluted, the middle energy level  houses the inner demons of terrifying, repressed memories. It is the storehouse of our socially unacceptable worst fears and imaginings.

This leads to a fateful fear of self-awareness. For there are times when one shouldn’t believe or follow one’s inner voices. Disciplined, discriminating thinkers (in the pristine meaning of the word) know that not all of them emanate from the Source of truth and light:

. . . the Positive Paradigm also accounts for the actions of destructive and evil people throughout history which give Page pause. Despite claims to the contrary, such actions are not the result listening to the inner voice of conscience. Evil actions are the mark of unbalanced extremists who have been misled into following the seductive voices lodged within the middle, sub-rational level of the Wheel.

Destructive leaders are heeding not the innermost voice of Conscience, but the clamor of the Seven Deadly Sin-Demons — starting with Pride, followed by (and often in combination with) Anger, Avarice, Gluttony, Lust, Envy and Sloth. Modern day demon off-spring include Separatism, Exclusiveness, Arrogance, and Self-Serving Competition.

What’s dangerously missing from the prevailing, exclusively materialistic paradigm of empirical science — a glaring gap which the Positive Paradigm of Change fills — is a universally acceptable reality map which includes the sub-rational middle level with all its dangers, but in its complete and correct context: contained by the super-rational level of intuition on one side and by the rational level of practical experience on the other.

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An important reason why the middle level has gotten such a bad rep and is rejected by religionists is that, taken out of context, it becomes the stuff of nature worship, paganism and worse. As guest of an extended family of Frank Lloyd Wright apprentices om Spring Green, I heard their stories of how romanticizing nature while rejecting its Source can end in murder, mayhem and untold miseries.

This is why in The Handbook, Axiom One emphasizes the importance of living according to a complete and accurate paradigm. The shadow side, the caveat, warns of the risks which follow from distorting that paradigm:

AXIOM ONE

A complete and correct paradigm is the key to personal well-being and success.

The empirical, measurable physical world of tangible objects and daily experience has its origin and end at the creative center of the Life Wheel. The unseen drives the seen. The invisible precedes the visible. Inspiration precedes actions which in turn produce results.

Therefore, the quality of daily life depends on the quality of belief systems. If the paradigm held is complete and accurate, it leads to consistent action that yields successful, beneficial results. When paradigms are incomplete and inaccurate, however, they generate inconsistent actions which lead to failure, pain and suffering.

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ADDENDUM

The Life Wheel model formulated as the Positive Paradigm of Change is NOT an arbitrary mental confabulation, as are the highly toxic, relatively modern ideological -isms: Marxism, Communism, Socialism and the like. The consequences of fractured, dissociated ideologies begin with personal fragmentation but have the potential to escalate into genocide. The fractured Life Wheel looks something like this:

World gone mad

Significantly, the root of the word “sin” comes from an archery term meaning “to miss the mark.” If the center of the Life Wheel represents the ultimate goal of enlightenment, than any belief system which rules out that center, or attempts to subordinate its power to personal agendas, misses the mark indeed.

The complete and accurate paradigm (belief system) embodied in the target-like concentric circles of the Life Wheel is simply a fact of life, known and taught by the ancients for thousands of years. (Violate it at your own risk.)

It’s not coincidence that yogis describe inner experience in images that evoke the Life Wheel. They speak of increasingly deeper layers as “sheathes” and the process of getting to the core as “peeling away the layers of an onion.” Nor is it coincidental that the word “yoga,” which means union, refers to linking and prioritizing the levels of the Life Wheel so that all are present, balanced and operate harmoniously.

But, of course, arrogant academics will ask, “Where is the proof?”

The yogi’s answer: “In direct experience!”

This is the accomplished meditator’s answer to the skeptical agnostic and antagonistic atheist’s challenge: “The bad news is, it’s like trying to explain what colors look like to a blind person, or how chocolate tastes to someone who’s never had any.

The good news, however, is that inner truth can be known by direct experience. And there are means and methods for getting from here to there.”

Were you to ask a Zen master how to achieve enlightenment, the simple answer you’d probably get is: “SHUT UP!”

In gentler form, the Yoga Sutras of Patajani offers the same solution.

The yogic process involves going step-by-systematic-step deeper into the Life Wheel. The preliminary stage is to heal and strengthen the physical body which correlates with the material surface of the Wheel. This is called Hatha Yoga. Here, the object of physical exercise is not to make oneself attractive to potential mates, but rather to stabilize the physical body so that distractions of pain and disease are eliminated and the body is sufficiently stable to sit somewhat comfortably for prolonged durations of time in meditation.

The next two steps, called the five yamas and five niyamas, (sometimes compared to the Ten Commandments) are disciplines of social behavior. The point is that one’s character must be sufficiently developed in relationship to others to assure that the knowledge and subtle powers which accrue in advanced states of development will be used constructively, in harmony with the greater good.

Significantly, Pranayama, exercises for regulating the breath (prana) are then introduced to link the surface with the middle energy level of the Life Wheel. Breath control practices relax the body, calm the emotions and quiet the mind. [Building on this tradition, mindfulness therapists instruct stressed clients to take a deep breath.]

Only then are the next steps of contemplation and introspection prescribed. (It is at this point of inner development that querying the I Ching for the purpose of increasing self-awareness becomes an especially helpful discipline.) Finally, meditation prescribed.

It is important to note that the deeper one delves into the Life Wheel experience, the quieter the mind becomes. Thoughts become less fragmented and noisy. Brain waves become harmonized and increasingly slower until the mind achieves the rest of complete stillness. Hence, by the disciplined practice of intentional, systematic methods, one achieves the inward state of grace which scriptures prescribe: “Be still and know that I AM God.”

So western sciences serve to confirm what yogis have taught from direct experience. The following illustration shows how the science of brain waves experienced by meditators (and musicians!!) can be plugged into the Life Wheel. The increasingly deeper states of awareness which sutras describe are the waking and dream states which then slow and relax into the REM state of dreamless sleep. These correlate with bio-feedback measurements of increasingly slower vibrational patterns: the beta, alpha, theta and delta states.

 

brain waves

As an aside – here’s a topic that bears investigation by Western psychologists, particularly those with a Jungian bent. This geometrical construct is consistent with, and may even explain, the fact that careful observers of human experience, especially who aspire to self-knowledge and self-actualization, are persuaded of the significance (sometimes helpfulness) of dreams.

Freud, for example, held that daily events are nested within an encompassing dream state – a field rich in information beyond ordinary access. Small wonder. For, as shown here, the dream state is foundational to the material world. Located within the middle Gate Keeper layer of the Life Wheel, it resides at a deeper level, therefore closer to the experience of light and illumination than the waking state which is invested in primarily tangible, measurable experience.

Be that as it may, the accomplished yogi, one who experiences what has been called “Christ consciousness,” links the levels into a single continuum of awareness called “turyia,” living both here and there. Awareness of the silent core is consciously present while fully awake. One’s daily reality is clear and consistent with one’s dreams as well as with deepest knowing.

On a personal note, as someone who grew up saturated in classical music, I experienced an easier time than most in relating to yoga sciences. String music served as my particular bridge to inner realms of experience.

The following is a description (my emphasis added) of a book that speaks to how this might be so, another example of applying western brain sciences to confirm ancient wisdom: Don Campbell’s The Mozart Effect: Tapping the Power of Music to Heal the Body, Strengthen the Mind, and Unlock the Creative Spirit:

Anyone who has ever seen a two-year-old start bouncing to a beat knows that music speaks to us on a very deep level. But it took celebrated teacher and music visionary Don Campbell to show us just how deep, with his landmark book The Mozart Effect.

. . . The Mozart Effect has a simple but life-changing message: music is medicine for the body, the mind, and the soul. Campbell shows how modern science has begun to confirm this ancient wisdom, finding evidence that listening to certain types of music can improve the quality of life in almost every respect. Here are dramatic accounts of how music is used to deal with everything from anxiety to cancer, high blood pressure, chronic pain, dyslexia, and even mental illness.

. . . Campbell asserts that the kind of noise to which one is exposed can have important effects on mental and bodily health. As a trial, try protecting your hearing for a few days from the continuous barrage of noise in a typical urban environment; it really does seem to improve one’s attitude and fatigue levels.

Where Campbell’s ideas become more provocative is in the realm of music. Supported by much anecdotal evidence, he proposes that Classical music with a big “C” (the music of Mozart’s period) can reach out to those who are mentally isolated from their fellows, like the autistic, and can help infants react and think better. In addition, the music of Mozart contributes to the improved functioning of the higher cerebellar functions, including the ability to deal with logical and mathematical concepts, while contemporary rock actually decreases mental acuity.

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In Why Our World is Hell, JBP comes close to I Ching awareness. On 08-19-2017, I responded:

28:35 “Your nervous system is evolved to tell you when you’re in the right place at the right time.” This is Lao Tze’s definition of “virtue,” the Te in Tao Te Ching, a book permeated by the wisdom of its ancient, foundational antecedent, the I Ching.

Respectfully, the science (meaning “with knowledge”) of cyclical nature of change has been masterfully encoded, if not articulated, in the seriously underrated, misunderstood I Ching, The Chinese Book of Change. See Common Sense Book of Change (CSBOC) shown on rethinkingsurvival.com.

Hint: ideograph for I Ching looks like DNA strand, not coincidentally so.  

Also — urgently — please see last 5, soon to be 6, posts directed to JBP which describe use of Life Wheel as another, more accessible I Ching derivative. All this offers the KEY to canon of your map work. Consider it the meta-map — the ultimate map of maps. All best, Patricia West

Later, Jordan Peterson describes Nietzsche’s take on the consequences of scientific materialism:

32:45. Nietzsche said that the destruction of [a world view] with God in the center, replaced by materialistic science, was a CATASTROPHE and we would pay for it with millions of lives.

In response, I posted this second comment:

NB. Another “catastrophic” consequence of hollowing out (flattening) the multi-dimensional Life Wheel into the exclusively materialistic paradigm of modern “science,” was that the value and proper use of the I Ching was ruled out. It reduced a mystical magical decision-making manual into a trivial, superstitious sort of divination, fortune-telling game.

In fact, it resonates at the e = energy level of the Wheel, and in its two-directional Gate Keeper function, has the potential to help make the unconscious conscious — to lead from confusion to non-physical guidance experienced as intuitive “knowing” and then direct experience of the Source of that knowing. [This is followed by completing the circuit, returning to the world as a visionary capable of positive action.] Jung, who wrote famous introduction to Wilhelm/Baynes translation of the I Ching, sensed this.

See https://rethinkingsurvival.com/2017/08/07/the-gate-keeper/

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The Wright Connection

 

connection

On two separate occasions, I’ve recently had reason to revisit a blog about Frank Lloyd Wright originally posted elsewhere.

The first was reading about Judith Orloff being jilted because her boyfriend’s rabbi called her a witch. Contact with her deceased grandfather was judged unacceptable. Especially because — though living in Europe with no way to know that he’d died — I had vivid dream warnings from my Grandpa West at the time of his passing. It’s described in Rethinking Survival:

In another memorable dream, I spoke with my father’s father, Hubble West — the one his grandkids nicknamed “Hubba Hubba,” from whom I inherited my Native American looks. Gravely, he warned that I was trapped in a high-rise tower. I was dead and didn’t know it.

I took this troubling message as a warning that important parts of me were atrophied. I was stuck in my head, neglecting my body and failing to listen to my heart. As a result, I was in mortal danger. Later I learned that at the time of the dream, Hub had just passed. This was his parting benediction.

So, to me, the clergyman’s assumption seems most unjust. To the best of my knowledge, Dr. Orloff’s dream guidance had nothing to with witchcraft. The Wright post serves to vindicate her, putting her experience in larger context.

In brief, as I understand it, our experiences of nature or the so-called “supernatural” are pagan only if we  seek them out, especially to the exclusion of or elevating them above their deepest, original Source. Wright overtly courted the pagan god Taliesin, defiantly rejecting Isaiah’s Hebrew God. Dr Orloff’s stated beliefs, however, are completely compatible with the Positive Paradigm shown below.

The second occasion was an email exchange with friend describing a museum visit. She wrote:

Seeing a tapestry/hanging from Frank Lloyd Wright in the crafts section brought you to mind, although I’ve forgotten just how you ended up with your connection to Taliesin. Through music perhaps? The same association came to me as I listened to a talk at the Seattle public library on the history of Seattle architecture just before leaving for Boston.

I reminded her:

The Taliesin connection was music and yoga related. I was at Hill Top for a yoga retreat. It’s just down the road from Taliesin. The owner, Herb Fritz, was one of Wright’s apprentices. Also a cellist, he heard me play violin and invited me back to play chamber music. The rest, as they say, was history.

She isn’t familiar with the context of that connection, however. This Wright post also fills in those blanks for her. For example, as described below, Herb Fritz was sole apprentice to survive the Taliesin mass murder and testify about what happened.

So for those reasons, I’m posting below an edited version of the earlier LinkedIin post.

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Frank Lloyd Wright Had It Wrong!

Why does it still matter that a century ago, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin burned, torched by an ax-wielding mass murderer?

It matters a great deal. Not because of the tragedy’s lurid details. But because Taliesin East – located in Spring Green, Wisconsin – is an important example of how NOT to organize an intentional community.

Years ago, from stories told in Spring Green at dinner tables and around fireplaces, I learned how powerful an effect Wright’s personality had on apprentices and their families. They remembered him with equal parts awe and dread. He was, so they believed, an architectural genius. He was not, they all agreed, a good neighbor or compassionate, trustworthy friend.

What I learned from those close to him motivated me to read books written by the Wrights, as well as biographies by others – notably The Fellowship. I came to the conclusion that intentional communities like Taliesin – an inherently worthy endeavor — deserve careful rethinking.

I wrote about Taliesin in a LinkedIn email exchange.

Viewing my profile, a connection (“Senior Zen Practitioner and Baseball Umpire”) noticed mention of the time I spent in Spring Green. He emailed me RE. Taliesin West:

My Mom was the Office Mgr. for 21 years…small world

To which I responded:

This particular West has never been to Taliesin, either East or West. But the tales told by scarred survivors (some of whom are very dear to me) sparked keen interest in building BETTER intentional communities. . . . I’m sure your Mom has her share of stories to tell too.

The conversation continued from there. Quoted with his permission, he replied:

“particular West.”…you are cracking me up! My Mom knew everyone, was dear friends with all of them, one-on-one teaching. survivors…you are very wise. my Mom fell down and they fired her because they were afraid she would sue them and she is hard core Catholic and would never sue anyone. . . they broke her heart. . .

Later he wrote:

i just spoke with Mom, she says everything i already told you is true, which i already knew. She said FLW was a slave driver who made the apprentices build the buildings themselves, i did not know that. She said when they cut her loose the yearly tuition was 30K.

Later I responded:

Have been giving much thought to the best ways to use limited time and energy. (Did you see the blog posted over night on rethinkingsurvival.com?)

I mention this because it applies to the article on Wright. It’s important to keep my focus on how to do things RIGHT. Exposing the dark side of Taliesin isn’t my purpose. For the tabloid dirt on FLW, you can easily read The Fellowship: The Untold Story of Frank Lloyd Wright and the Taliesin Fellowship by Friedland & Zellman. In fact, you can just look up the book description on Amazon along with the comments to find out all you ever wanted to know . . . and more.

Though I will add that (unless I missed it), the authors omitted a significant detail. The third Mrs. Wright was not only a student of [the so-called mystic] Gurdjieff, but bore one of his illegitimate children (Svetlana the first). Gurdjieff wanted live at Taliesin, but Wright would have none of it . . .

So, moving on. My basic purpose is to address a viable approach to doing intentional communities RIGHT. As an intermediate step in this direction – proof of the larger point — it is instructive to consider what Wright did WRONG.

Here’s my underlying premise: Paradigms are of life-or-death importance. Incomplete, inaccurate beliefs result in tragedy. Achieving more positive, sustainable results requires the foundation of a complete and accurate worldview.

Like Wright, many today strive with all their hearts to accomplish great work. Sadly, even geniuses like Wright, despite the best of intentions, undo themselves, precipitating loss and disaster. In the process, they hurt others as well as themselves. Yet they rail against misfortune as if they were randomly selected, unjustly persecuted victims of fate.

From my point of view, positive solutions start with recognizing a major source of life problems: a knowledge deficit. For example, outcomes would significantly improve by expanding one’s reality map to include three kinds of law. Each regulates its own level of the Life Wheel.

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The levels are interrelated and interdependent. When they are aligned, integrated and balanced, when they operate harmoniously, all goes well. When any of the levels is left out of the equation, nothing works right. When they are out of balance, so is life. When they aren’t correctly prioritized, all hell breaks loose.

The Positive Paradigm represented by the Life Wheel is a universal standard. In this context, Wright acted without respect for the whole of life. As a consequence, he experienced repeated setbacks — as do many of today’s leaders.

Here is Wright’s attitude towards each level of law:

  • Divine Law. He rebelled against it. In his equation, the innermost level of law was ruled out. To the extent God exists, the relationship between God and man is one of mutual enmity.
  • Natural Law. Instead of God, he worshiped a romanticized version of nature.
  • Human Law. In his financial and social behavior, he demonstrated an arrogant disregard for fellow human beings, acting as if he were out exclusively for himself.

Ironically, Wright seemed to think his genius (a gift of God) placed him above the laws which ordinary mortals respect and follow. He didn’t pay bills, didn’t honor family commitments, and later in life, presumed to act as if he were a god, dominating the lives of apprentice architects.

And, as the Greeks knew, the flaw of pride – hubris – precipitates tragedy.

From his books, we know that Wright hated and probably feared the wrathful prophet Isaiah. In reaction to the failings of his preacher father, he swung to an opposite extreme – replacing worship of God with deification of nature.

He may well have had valid grievances against his biological father. He may have been correct about the limitations of conventional morality.

But (if you’ll forgive the pun), “Two wrongs don’t make a right.”

Taliesin (meaning shining brow) is the name of the pagan Celtic god Wright invoked as patron of his unconventional lifestyle. When Taliesin East was built, Wright had just walked away from his first wife and their six children. It was designed as a love nest to share with the married mistress from Chicago whom he felt was his soul mate.

The dynamics of ancient Natural Law (a subject altogether different from Wright’s beliefs) explain the inevitable misfortunes that plagued him throughout life. The Law of Karma (“As ye sow, so shall ye reap”), is quite straight forward. Whatever you do returns in kind.

As a simple, infallible law of nature, if you hurt and harm others, your actions come back to you, in some form or other, at some time or other. (“What goes around comes around,” as they say. Or, “Payback is a bitch.”)

In this case, Wright had remarkable (dare I say, God-given) gifts as an architect. But on a personal level, he was despised by many people, for many reasons. Not all were forgiving. Newton’s law, “For every action there is an opposite and equal reaction,” caused his short-sighted desires to backfire in horrific ways.

For example, to all appearances, the mass murder at Taliesin was an orchestrated hit. The assassin, 30-year-old Julian Carlton, an estate worker originally from Barbados, was recommended to Wright by Chicago associates who just might have held grudges. Carlton himself had no motive for butchering Mamah Borthwick or her two children. He didn’t have the education to plan his carefully calculated attack on the apprentices, standing outside the only door of their burning room, ax in hand, waiting to cut them down one-by-one as they tried to escape certain death by fire.

Killing the apprentices was probably a secondary priority. Had all of them died, there would have been no witnesses to the crime. One, however, though gravely injured, survived long enough to run from the isolated rural setting and sound an alarm. A second (Herb Fritz, my Spring Green host) lived to identify the killer.

How would a simple hired man have known to purchase and pack a vial of cyanide to swallow in case he was caught? It scarred his throat so badly he couldn’t have answered questions in jail even if he wanted to. Nor could he eat. He died within a few days of capture, starved, in agony. So today, no one knows for sure who commissioned his crime.

But then again, back in the day, no one really wanted the world to know the facts. Carlton’s death was a convenience not only for the unknown master-mind, but also for Wright and his followers. Being highly invested in their image, whether for personal or financial reasons, they preferred to deny any connection between Wright’s personal life and its logical consequences. Rather than recognizing the opportunity to learn from hard lessons, Wright wallowed dramatically in his grief. Rather than take personal responsibility, he blamed a vengeful God for this (as well as the following string of repeated tragedies – including a later fire at Taliesin which destroyed newly acquired treasures of Japanese art and then the drowning death of Svetlana I).

The lessons set by his example, however, remain useful for us now. Bottom line: communities based on upside-down worldviews are tragedy magnets. They never have and never will work out well.

What remains to be seen is whether, on the basis of a complete and correct paradigm, with sufficient motivation to do things RIGHT, we can do better now.

book header bird

Rethinking COMMUNITY

For years now, the same familiar pattern repeats. Whenever I decide I’m finished with writing, something comes along to make me rethink my decision. Two such events triggered today’s post. One was a thought-provoking article, “Mindfulness, Behavior and Social Change” by Mark Leonard, Director/Mindfulness Trainer at the Oxford’s Mindfulness Exchange.

I responded with a question: I’ve often thought about the possibility of building intentional communities, despite the evidence that experiments in the past have not always worked out well. Any thoughts on the subject?

In fact, I had mentally sketched but not followed-through on an article about intentional communities based on my connection with Spring Green and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin Fellowship. It was an example which, for many important reasons, I would not recommend following.

He replied: I suspect an intentional community needs a suite of conditions including contemporary analogs of functions which hold traditional societies together. I think that mindfulness meditation could play a part here.

The basic axioms listed in The Positive Paradigm Handbook are my recommended contribution to this cohesive foundation. They were fatally lacking in the Spring Green experiment.

Coincidently, these axioms were the reason for accepting an invitation from Swami Narasimhananda to submit an article to Prabuddha Bharata, a journal devoted to the social sciences and humanities started by Swami Vivekananda and in continuous publication since 1896.  [See When Conflict Escalates, What Can Be Done NOW? ]

Timing being everything, I had decided a few hours earlier to list them there in the context of rethinking leadership, family and community based on timeless wisdom traditions.

My interest is based on the observation made in The Age of Heretics (Charles Krone) that when chaos enveloped the civilized European world, monasteries appeared during the dark ages as islands of purposeful community — centers of learning, healing and hospitality. Similarly, monasteries of refuge from barbarism appeared in Asian lands during particularly harsh historical times.

This dynamic seems highly relevant today, for, as Mark Leonard details in his article, the world is surely sinking into another dark ages. Intentional communities may once again become the necessary counter-balance of positive change — the means for ensuring human survival, which, as Einstein warned us, can no longer be taken for granted.

So for starters, from Conscience: Your Ultimate Personal Survival Guide, here are my original thoughts on community. It forms a hopeful basis for rethinking intentional communities. Although my frame of reference for thinking about the dynamics of change is the Chinese Book of Change, resonance with the immediately popular mindfulness movement will be immediately apparent.

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Essay 14. COMMUNITY

We can create communities and relationships that are based on love and intimacy rather than fear and hatred. We can learn from the suffering of others. Awareness is the first stage in healing. . . Likewise, we can create a new model of medicine as we move into the next century that is more competent and cost-effective as well as being more caring and compassionate.” — Dean Ornish, Love and Survival

As we accept the smallness of the world, the density of the population, and the myriad influences on individuals and families, someday we may recognize the community and even the whole society as the patient. Imagine, then, what a “doctor of society” might do, what kinds of diseases he or she might treat!” — Patch Adams, Gesundheit!

Each celestial body, in fact each and every atom, produces a particular sound on account of its movement, its rhythm or vibration. All these sounds and vibrations form a universal harmony in which each element, while having its own function and character, contributes to the whole.” – Pythagoras, quoted in The Healing Power of Sound 

THE FRONT

Community stems from a root word meaning fellowship. In English, the word refers to all the people living in a particular district or city. It can also mean a group of people living together as a smaller social unity within a larger one, and having interests or work in common, such as a college community.

Alternatively, it can refer to a group of nations loosely or closely associated because of common traditions or for political and economic advantage. It also covers similarity of tastes and preferences. The last definition Webster’s gives is the condition of living with others in friendly association and fellowship. The last definition has come full circle back to original meaning.

Communities are founded on a common cause. It can be as practical as survival or idealistic as freedom. Often, community cohesion is artificially stimulated by fear and hatred of a common enemy. Hitler inflamed passions against Jews and foreign bankers to mobilize his war-weary country into a second world war even more devastating than the first. Then Americans rallied behind the common goal of defeating enemies of democracy on two fronts, Asia and Europe.

In Common Sense, Thomas Paine wrote about the relationship of divine, natural and human law in a way that inspired readers at the time of the American Revolution to fight for freedom from tyranny. Winning that war did not, however, automatically secure freedom for all times. Democracy isn’t a static achievement that can be passed on unchanged from one generation to the next. It must renewed and earned again, one individual at a time, each generation at a time, continuously redefined in the context of immediate circumstances.

Nor can the structures of American-style democracy be imposed by force, whole, from the outside, on peoples whose beliefs are shaped by vastly different cultural influences. It is the common respect of life and liberty, not external forms, which is universally translatable. The music of life that moves every organization, smallest to largest, is the basis of harmonious fellowship. Approaching natural law and social organizations from the deeper understanding of the ancients could inspire a new, more humane and effective approach to international relations now, one based timeless values which the human community shares in common.

Sages say that freedom from tyranny begins with dispelling ignorance and overcoming negative emotions. True freedom and stable communities begin with the self-awareness and self-mastery which can be gained by diligent use of wisdom tools like the I Ching. First remembering the core of compassion and caring within, we can then extend and expand this good-will into healing society as well.

Put another way, it’s useless to fight for a democratic world before one cleans out the inner swamp of negative emotions. Since inner life projects into external experience, fighting tyranny in the turmoil of anger and hatred reaps results in kind. Therefore, working to establish positive community relationships before attitudes of good-will and willing self-discipline are established is a futile exercise. As Covey reminds us, first things must come first.

Conversely, the more individuals free themselves from personal problems, the more they become open to the calling to community and able to play their part in the harmony of the natural whole.

THE BACK

Street gangs, terrorist groups, religious cults and secret societies are subgroups within the larger community. To the extent that their goals oppose and even endanger the community at large, these organizations are antithetical to the general good.

Pariahs, nomads and outcasts [heretics!] are individuals excluded from society, either voluntarily or by edict. Whether justified or not, their attitudes and behavior are out of harmony with accepted norms. If enough of them find common cause to band together, they form alternative groups which become the foundation of new communities.

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