Tag Archives: intentional communities

Fresh Start

 With four equally compelling bogs on the drawing board, it was hard to choose which to complete first. An article Pinned Tweeted to Jordan B. Peterson’s account boiled it down to two.

Tim Lott’s Life Spectator article, Jordan Peterson and the transgender wars, bears the subtitle, “The psychology professor is in trouble with the transgender crowd. He is also one of the foremost thinkers of our age.”

The first choice from this article echoes a book in the works, The Phoenix Response:

He [Peterson – JBP] points out that the INRI inscription on crucifixes has a mystical meaning, apart from ‘King of the Jews’ — ‘Through fire all nature is renewed.’ Which means that in order to renew your soul, you have to die and be reborn repeatedly.

The second choice, however, is closer to practical home. So that’s where I’m starting today. Besides being the eve of a projected doomsday event, Saturday, September 23. 2017 is close to the Fall Equinox, the Jewish New Year — Rosh Hashona — a new moon and to Old Avatar’s birthday. He’s seated at his work desk, mentally traveling through Otherwhere space, to outward appearances reading through a stack of James Wesley Rawles books. “Do not disturb.”

Be that as it may, according to Lott:

More than 90 per cent of his [Peterson’s] audience are men, which seems a pity since there is nothing particularly gender-specific about his teachings. Why the imbalance then?

Because these men’s stress levels are very high,’ he says. ‘I’m telling them something they desperately need to hear — that there are important things that need to be fixed up.

‘I’m saying, “You guys really need to get your act together and you need to bear some responsibility and grow the hell up.”

Lott continues:

At this point, to my astonishment, Peterson begins to weep. He talks through his tears for the next several minutes.

Every time I talk about this, it breaks me up,’ he says. ‘The message I’ve been delivering is, “Find the heaviest weight you can and pick it up. And that will make you strong. You’re not who you could be. And who you could be is worthwhile.”’

They’re so starving for that message. Young men are so desperate for a pathway that they are dying for it. And it’s heart-breaking and terrible that this idea has been kept from them. . . . Some of the young men who come to my lectures are desperately hanging on every word because I am telling them that they are sinful, and insufficient, and deceitful and contemptible in their current form, but that they could be far more than that, and that the world NEEDS THAT. [emphasis added.]

Though hardly the masculine role model young men crave, I too grieve for their plight. But young women are just as much at risk! For many of them, a gentler, yin perspective on his intensely yang presentation of universal truths is what’s needed to bring his skewed audience numbers into balance.

For my story certainly includes gender-confusion issues. Here’s a snippet excerpted from the “Who I Am To Say” section of Rethinking Survival.

The specter of suicidal thoughts haunted my up-bringing. It’s taken me over fifty years to track this demon to its lair and tame it. In retrospect, in simplest terms, I was raised in a family, reinforced by a culture, which disconfirmed my very existence.

A girl who in no way matched demeaning stereotypes — who had no desire to either cynically exploit or fearfully cave into them — was simply a non-being. She could not and should not exist. The tacit message: “Make yourself gone.”

At first I coped with less catastrophic compliance — denial. I reasoned like this: “Women are stupid, fickle and helpless. If I’m not stupid, fickle and helpless, then I’m not a woman.” I disowned the labels associated with gender and escaped into music and books.

Only later, a yogic energy understanding of the difference between feminine essence and cultural molds allowed me to rescue the baby from the bath water, reestablish an identity in harmony with the facts.

Phoenix - sized

In any case, it remains that for those on both sides of the gender see-saw, there’s a hopeful light at the end of the tunnel. Historically, at critical mass, hidden opportunities buried within danger emerge. The dedication to Two Sides reads:

Though it may seem as if [Millennials] have been economically disenfranchised by their elders, material misfortune . . . contains within it the hidden seeds of humanity’s long-term survival.

Ours isn’t the first time in the repeating cycles of history that leaders have squandered national resources. But in the context of Lao Tze’s larger reality, material resources aren’t that significant when compared to the intelligence, inner strength and inexhaustible vitality available to those who choose to access the less tangible but very real levels of inner experience.

Millennials are the ones for whom the results of the current conflict paradigm are so catastrophically dysfunctional that they have no vested interests to protect. They’re the ones prepared to move forward once again into the past, recovering the timeless treasure of . . . the Tao Te Chings wisdom.

They’ve been given the greater opportunity to . . . become the truly radical agents of genuine, positive change. [They have] the means to see through Saul Alinsky’s pseudo-radical pose, answer his twisted rhetoric, and choose the truly radical approach to change.

In work presented elsewhere, I’ve described additional teaching tools which compliment Peterson’s array. BUT . . . I’ve long since come to the conclusion that books and videos aren’t enough. For several reasons.

First, young people need direct interaction with mentors. In addition to psychological advice, they need opportunities to build practical skills. Abstract internet connections are much better than nothing. But they’re not the same as immediate, face-to-face, working relationships.

Second, young people are starved for daily, immediate working environments which support their efforts towards positive change. It’s not enough to walk away from negative pseudo-friends and exploitative employers. There has to be someplace positive, healthy and supportive to go, to live, to sink roots. . . a place where creativity is valued, honesty is rewarded, and personal growth is encouraged.

It’s not only a mental/spiritual pathway young people are starved for. Optimally, they need community: physical locations where they can gather and work together under structured supervision towards a noble goal: human survival, for example.

As it stands now, one of the major reasons many fear change is that personal transformation is the social equivalent of suicide. Too often, there are few rewards and heavy punishments associated with personal growth. In a world where old paradigms are dying, those with vested interests in the status quo are fiercely protective of “normalcy.”

My own university experience is a good example. When I entered the UW-Madison Department of Educational Administration, the doctoral thesis of my choice was “The Origin and Future of Universities.” The plan was to expand on a paper written for an Educational Policy course. It found that universities no longer meet basic student needs and advocated building alternative schools which do.

How naive. Professors married to their comfortable status quo would not allow it.

As a condition of graduation, I was obliged to conduct a statistical research study on women principals in elementary public schools – far afield from my interests in every respect. For a complex set of reasons, including that the Ph.D. credential was essential to accreditation of an alternative school – I completed the study.

Unfortunately, as “fate” would have it, I inadvertently produced statistically significant results that were just as controversial as my original thesis topic. Scratch the surface, it seems. You’ll find problems lurking just beneath.

In this case, analysis of the principal selection process showed that public school administration is a closed-shop monopoly. A pre-selection process grooms candidates who reflect the values and personal attributes of current power-holders. The only teachers who pursue administrator degrees or credentials are those who have already been quietly promised a job. Only pre-approved candidates enter the formal selection process.

Was I rewarded for exposing what insiders already knew? Not in the least!

In retrospect, this career was not meant to be. At least not yet, or as I imagined it then. Within months of my thesis defense in 1978, the rug was pulled out from underneath me. Both of the protectors who guided me safely through the politics of education disappeared. My statistics professor, who was astonished at the quality of my work, died suddenly in his sleep. The job we’d lined up was defunded. My major professor, who never doubted I’d land on my feet, no matter what, retired early and moved out of state (in large part in protest over the way his colleagues had treated me).

I was stranded, left out in the cold – with school loans to pay.

I’m not complaining, mind you. In retrospect, it was the ongoing work of an invisible, friendly hand, closing doors to open windows. But from direct experience, I well appreciate that creative people, no matter how conscientious and agreeable, are likely to find themselves excluded from thoroughly corrupt institutions. It’s simply not a match. Truth seekers and unnatural institutions are – with rare exceptions – a contradiction in terms.

I did, of course, manage to land on my feet. In turn, it has become my calling to facilitate safe landing for as many others as possible.

The alternative school I had in mind earlier was a School-Without-Walls. It would have allowed self-responsible students to define a professional goal and then select all relevant courses combined with internship experiences that furthered that goal. For example, a golfer could study everything from physiology to design and maintenance of greens to teaching golf students to acquiring the business skills necessary to run his business.

JBP speaks of a future Truth University. Yes. That’s foundational. But it’s not enough, especially because the times are growing ever more precarious, on many fronts. There’s no guaranteeing how long the infrastructure that sustains civilization will remain functional. So now I’m thinking more along the lines of monasteries established as islands of survival, community and learning during dark ages, both in Europe and Asia.

The James Wesley Rawles books OA has been browsing are much to the point. Reading these would be an excellent use of time.

Here’s the amazon description of Patriots: A Novel of Survival in the Coming Collapse:

America faces a full-scale socioeconomic collapse— the stock market plummets, hyperinflation cripples commerce and the mounting crisis passes the tipping point. Practically overnight, the fragile chains of supply and high-technology infrastructure fall, and wholesale rioting and looting grip every major city.

As hordes of refugees and looters pour out of the cities, a small group of friends living in the Midwest desperately tries to make their way to a safe-haven ranch in northern Idaho. The journey requires all their skill and training since communication, commerce, transportation and law enforcement have all disappeared. Once at the ranch, the group fends off vicious attacks from outsiders and then looks to join other groups that are trying to restore true Constitutional law to the country.

Patriots is a thrilling narrative depicting fictional characters using authentic survivalist techniques to endure the collapse of the American civilization. Reading this compelling, fast-paced novel could one day mean the difference between life and death.

One review reads:

I read this book after reading “One Second After”. [a nuclear holocaust scenario] They are two different books by two very different authors. I think it’s a very good follow-up book if you have already read that one. This book is written as a story with integrated prepper “how too” instructions.

From more points of view than can be detailed here, it is becoming increasingly evident that the collapse Rawles foresees is only a matter of time. In fact, it often seems to me as if humans and nature are in a race to see which will do us in and under first.

Who is Rawles to say? From his bio:

James Wesley Rawles is a internationally recognized authority on family disaster preparedness and survivalism. He has been described by journalists as the “conscience of survivalism.” Formerly a U.S. Army intelligence officer, Rawles is now a fiction and nonfiction author, as well as a rancher. His books have been translated into seven languages. He is also a lecturer and the founder and Senior Editor of http://www.SurvivalBlog.com, the Internet’s first blog on preparedness that has enjoyed perennial popularity and now receives more than 320,000 unique visits per week.

Interspersing JBP videos with visits to this website might be an effective way to fortify self-improvement goals. Gathering practical survival information, “real,” survival-related news and other interesting tidbits could make a significant contribution towards future positive outcomes. Today’s quote, for example is, Those in possession of absolute power can not only prophesy and make their prophesies come true, but they can also lie and make their lies come true.” Eric Hoffer.

Surely unknown opportunities are embedded within inevitable disasters that loom ahead. However, things are sure to go better for those who proactively prepare to meet them. This includes building viable support systems.

The model of intentional communities I now have in mind is similar to the rural one upon which my alma mater, Oberlin College, was built. Its motto is “Learning and Labor.”

For urban centers are quickly becoming death traps. If and/or when the grid goes down, it may be too late to escape. Better to get out while it is still an option. (Gives new meaning to “safe place.”) Inland locations, not too close to military bases or downwind from nuclear facilities, are preferable. Further, rural settings provide the opportunity to tune in again to nature, restoring harmony with rhythmic cycles which our forefathers took for granted.

Intentional preppers, regardless of their personal beliefs, are dedicated to restoring practical survival skills: learning how to live outdoors and off grid, work with tools to construct basic housing, farm, raise livestock, preserve food, feed and protect their families.

There’s lots of to be relearned by those willing to work in the process of sorting out their personal lives. This is a relatively gentle, voluntary way to make a fresh start, one person at a time.

book header bird

Interestingly, from the Taoist canon which Dr. Peterson greatly respects, Numbers 18 of both Lao Tze’s Tao Te Ching and its ancient great-great-grandfather, the I Ching, both speak the point in repeating cycles of time where – out of the ashes of corruption — new beginnings emerge. For it’s not only humans who crash and burn to be reborn, On larger scales of magnitude, entire communities and civilizations do as well.

Passage 18 from Two Sides of a Coin reads:

18

Hexagram 18 from The Common Sense Book of Change describes a positive approach to encroaching chaos:

18 IC FRESH START.jpg

Our collective future depends upon the quality of individual choices. Is it worth going through the testing fires of positive change to get from here to there? The choice is yours. But be aware. Failing to choose is also a choice, one with dire consequences. In any case, the time is NOW.

Jordan Peterson is doing his heroic best to tip the scales of history in favor of human survival. Clearly, he dearly hopes the young men he grieves for will choose wisely. As do I.

For those with ears, let them hear. And do.

Angel Calling

 

Coming next:

  • Yes, AND . . . .
  • The Heart Doesn’t Lie
  • Be an Instrument of Light

 

 

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Under Construction

Inner Compass.sized

The way drivers from my state tell it, “Wisconsin has two seasons – winter and Under Construction.”

The month of June was living proof. The stretch of highway from home into Madison was an obstacle course of Road Work signs, hard hatters digging muddy trenches, and side-tracking detours.

The recent experience of driving this altered route wove itself into my thoughts about website changes, for I promised that it too will be under construction during summer months and into fall. (See My Worst Fear).  

Local highways and my writing path both reflect an uneasy tension between human planning and the ongoing assaults of natural forces. Engineers design roads to stand up under the wear and tear of daily traffic. But there’s more. Midwest roads are exposed to alternating extremes of hot and cold, not to mention floods and a wide assortment of spectacular storms. Under these pressures, erosion sets in. Even the best made roads start to buckle and crack. Pot holes begin to pock small town main streets, making for a bumpy ride.

Mental metabolism” is the writer’s equivalent of ongoing road maintenance. The physical body is built to take in food, digest it, assimilate the beneficial parts and eliminate the rest. The same goes for the mind. We are continuously assaulted by external influences. The people and events of our daily lives impact our thoughts and feelings. So do the dramas of politics, massacres and heart-wrenching suffering broadcast on the news.

Mental health – and quality writing – depends, among other things, on the ability to digest this information, incorporate what is useful, and delete the rest all the way out of the mental computer.

So back to the drawing board. Nothing extreme or overwhelming. Just small baby steps. Place one foot in front of the other, one steady step at a time, one day at a time, until I bring us back from temporary detours and onto a freshly repaired road.

As promised, after facing and walking through the fears which have kept me in writer’s limbo, here are a few of the significant website changes to come.

1. For a multitude of reasons, as time and resources permit, I intend to make the content of books sold through Amazon available on the website.

In particular, I wrote the personal part of Rethinking Survival so people could get to know the person behind the ideas. I told the story of how the working tools I have to offer evolved and the value I place on them. This (often fantastical) background puts ongoing posts in context.

I owe this information to readers who, without it, have drawn unjust conclusions. For example, it has been assumed that I must have been born to a family of well-off intellectuals or that I married into money to subsidize my writing.

Wrong. I grew up in a situation so complicated and confusing that, to survive, I clung to books. It started when I took literally what a librarian told the newly-orphaned six-year-old me – then living at the mercy of heartless relatives. “Books are your best friends.”

Books saved my life. They fed my insatiable curiosity and need for connection. The best of them gave me tools for thinking about how the world works and understanding my place in it. They confirmed my hopes. In their presence, I lived as a member of the community of minds that reaches out across the span of time, offering the best of human achievement to sustain the best part of me. And, as someone who believes in paying my debts, my life has been dedicated to paying that debt forward.

2. Immediate practical needs in combination with unfortunate experiences inside the shark-infested publishing world lead me to the following website solution.

Some background will help you understand where I’m coming from. I will be 70 in August. (The photo I use as my gravatar happens to be one of the only two I have. This is another misunderstanding to be corrected. Current photos are in the works and will be incorporated in the improved website.)

At the moment, my only income is a pittance of Social Security. Financial pressures increasingly keep writing output to bare minimum. I keep adding to the long list of useful and entertaining ideas which wait their turn on the drawing board, but don’t have the resources to complete as many as I’d like.

Up to this point, the website has been a one-person project, created with ingenuity, love and hours of effort, but on a zero-dollar budget. There’s no return from the books. Quality aside, I can’t afford to pay for the networks and machinery required to market them.

As a work-around, if you will, my solution is to add a “Donate” page to the website. Instead of paying for books, visitors will be given the option donate on an honor system of sorts, only if and as much as they can, depending on their perception of value received and anticipated. No pressure. Just an opportunity.

I will also request that, if the Handbook content (which so far I’ve kept secret to prevent theft) proves useful, readers link family and friends to the website, to magnify its potential influence.

3. In an effort to be more responsive to your concerns, I will expand the Contact Page to include an email address where visitors can forward confidential questions. Starting now, you are welcome to contact me at rethinkingsurvival@yahoo.com.

Under stern (and wise) advisement, I’ve relinquished grandiose desires to “save the world,” or even to finance physical Positive Action Communities (see the illustration labeled “Super-Objective” at the bottom of this page: https://rethinkingsurvival.com/handbook/ .)

Even so, I persist in day-dreaming about the possibilities inherent in intentional communities. For now, as a baby step, I satisfy myself with this known simplicity: “To save one life is to save the world entire.” Perhaps, by “thinking small,” it remains within the realms of the possible to build a small internet community of supportive like-minded thinkers. It would be qualitatively different from the LI self-promotional mind-set or WB’s adversarial smack-down approach. Instead, its basic mind-set will reside in our innate quest for self-awareness and a universal respect for life.

Just perhaps, together, we could begin the construction of another road less (but well) traveled.

 

globe bullet size

François Zuccheri

July 7, 2015, 7:54 AM

Patricia, I just got your email so I quickly skimmed your article. Will read and listen to it later tonight when solitude soothes. Just a question: does your site allow for other people [writers] to actually post their own articles related to your topic as opposed to just leaving a reply? Cheers.

ME:

Good question, François. Thanks for asking.

I‘ve thought about adding a GUEST POSTS page. So long as basic rules of the game – civility and relevance – are honored, I would welcome them. How these would be included becomes an administrative question. I’ll have to look into it.

Although hosting guest blogs would be a pleasure, it would require precious time and be an additional expense. One solution I’ve considered is looking into CrowdFunding. Another would be to make guest posting a privilege associated with paid membership. “Pay to play.”

Recently, a WB commenter took offence at the option to order books. He jumped to the contusion that money motivates me. But it takes an entitlement mentality to expect that I should give away the product of a lifetime of work, education, research, experience, etc. etc. for nothing. Even if I could afford to, it devalues the work. There’s some truth to the saying, You get what pay for. Something given away for nothing runs the risk of being valued accordingly.

ME Again:

François. It seems most readers quickly skim and leave it at that. I patiently await your careful “read and listen.” Wish others would take the trouble to do so as well. It’s worth it. : )

Now Needed: An Army of Arjunas

Sometimes it seems the magic is gone forever from my life. All that remains is chores, living like an unwelcome fugitive, dodging the condescending cruelties of householders who bring in more money. Pretty grim.

But suddenly that changed. Today the magic is back, full force. Coming out of the blue, encouraging messages from strangers sparked me back into the writing mode.

It started this morning (Saturday, April 18. 2015) with an email notice. A recommendation had been voluntarily added to my [now cancelled] LinkedIn profile. “Insightful, ground breaking, immensely important.”

Shortly afterwards, a delightful, koan-like message (re: Humanity) appeared: “Very acknowledgeable am smiling please carry on.”

That me jolted out of my funk. After thanking these messengers of the Universe (no naming names, so as not to offend anyone), I continued, responding to overlooked messages I earlier hadn’t had the heart to answer. One simply said, “Hey Patricia, Thanks for the new post.”

Another wrote, “Patricia, Good morning, I trust you are doing well. Take good care.”

After that, I checked an abandoned blog site to see how old friends are faring there. I was delighted to find a post from an earlier commenter whom I thought I’d offended beyond repair. Resonance with my work showed he’s following through in his own way. He wrote:

We tend to miss that our immediate environment is part of a much bigger ecosystem whose dynamics and ramifications extend far beyond our limited grasp of space and time.

Though delighted, I kept my response short: Well said. Agreed. : )

But I still had questions about writing. If I should I continue, in what in direction? I’ve been stuck on the topic of intentional communities, which has stalled on the drawing board for months. The content continues to elude me. Outlines only generate more questions.

Further, one LinkedIn connection who’s now occupied elsewhere rejected the topic, assuming communism is what I have in mind. (No way!) Another connection with enormous potential to do great good has taken a different direction, choosing to engage in a family-run start-up.

I considered listing my doubts and inviting comments. But that didn’t click either.

So now, in thinking about the “interesting” timing of encouraging emails, I remembered that today – April 18th – – is a new moon, traditionally associated with new beginnings. Before checking for a description of the day’s potential, I “knew” I should first consult my old, best friend, the Book of Change.

That’s when the magic kicked in big time.

Granted that the I Ching (especially useful as a vehicle for entering the fourth dimension of time-space where synchronicity comes into play) is outside the comfort zone of some professionals. Nevertheless, please stay with me. After all, it has also been the enduring, practical foundation of leadership training in Asian cultures for many thousands of years – with good reason.

Be that as it may, I queried for direction. The resulting hexagram COMMUNITY was directly to the point of my concern. The CSBOC reading for #13 is:

IC 13

A changing line in the second place reinforced the concluding warning against selfishness: Avoid special interest groups. Selfish and corrupt motives bring downfall.

The resultant change, were the warning heeded, is #1 – CREATIVE POWER, which further reinforces the text.

The changing line in the fourth place reads: If you have become isolated, understand why and correct yourself.

This warning line pin-points a major problem. If heeded, the resultant change would result in # 37 – FAMILY, the cornerstone of community. I take the concluding warning very personally: Avoid roles not suited to your nature.

This returns full circle to my immediate dilemma. As a writer, my topic – the uncertainty of human survival – puts me in the role of a Cassandra relative to the larger, defiantly oblivious society. Being the messenger of an unpopular warning, though it seems my calling, can be isolating, not to mention unrewarding. It results in lifestyle issues with no immediate solutions in sight.

Nevertheless, I persist in believing that as increasingly more people find themselves in desperate social and economic straits, readiness will increase and my time eventually will come. The funding needed to support the intentional communities I envision will eventually materialize.

The situation reminds me of the dilemma faced by the warrior-charioteer Arjuna in the Bhadavad Gita. Those who opposed him were corrupt relatives, which posed a great conflict. Was it morally right to take sides against family, even if they were in the wrong? Forced to make an apparently no-win choice was paralyzing. On the battlefield, overwhelmed, he put down his weapons and refused to fight.

But at this crisis and turning point, his chariot driver, Lord Krsna, revealed his true identity. With inspirational encouragement, he encouraged the warrior to take heart, stand firm and win the righteous battle against evil.

GITA sized

Similarly, the communities which timeless scriptures encourage, of which Einstein wrote, and of which I am thinking, are not based on biological or even cultural kindred, but rather on resonance of heart and mind. Communities connecting kindred souls, if you will. And in this, the exceedingly dangerous times in which we live hold magical seeds of opportunity. From Two Sides of a Coin:

Whereas most rulers suffer the unanticipated consequences of ignorance, pride and greed as shock, humiliation and undoing, sages intentionally harness the forces of nature to positive ends. Thus it is, that throughout history, at the right time, in the necessary circumstances, leaders of ordinary and humble beginnings have catapulted to extraordinary levels of accomplishment, effecting broad political and social change.

By voicing the collective yearnings of the suffering masses, perennial sage-leaders shed the light of eternal hope on times of greatest darkness. By inspired words and living example, they recreate ever-new the Gita’s vision of opportunities hidden within the outward experience of hardship.

For as sages know, “when social degeneration reaches critical mass, regeneration follows.” From Passage 78 of the Tao Te Ching:

78a snippet

Returning to this morning’s magical COMMUNITY reading: another next bend in the road occurred. Surprisingly, the changing lines combine to produce a most inauspicious outcome: # 9 – FRUSTRATION, which begins:

External factors you may not even be aware of will cause FRUSTRATION. New projects will not work out now. . . Your choice is either to wait patiently or to leave the situation.

It concludes by advising, Avoid major commitments.

So, turning to what I saved for last, I asked, What is the nature of the frustration in building intentional communities? The answer, when I checked the astrological description of today’s new moon was this. Timing. Major planets of communication and reform are currently going into hibernation, so to speak. Retrograde.

According to the calendar, the correct decision for me personally is to wait until the end September and into October. For the time being, continue to patiently endure unavoidable frustrations.

For others, for many other reasons, there will be other choices. What is consistent across the board is that building effective intentional communities will depend on an army of Arjunas, each of whom listens to the inner voice of conscience represented by Lord Krsna rather than to the dictates of their particular biological families or immediate social, political and religious prejudices.

Sometimes I wish I could win the largest lottery in history, as if that would end current frustrations. Yet I know bringing in money that way cannot solve the deeper problems. It would not influence hearts or minds, persuade the public of the wisdom needed to ensure human survival. For this, patience is required. So it is no accident that first three letters of PATIENCE are also the first letters of my name.

Today’s magic provided the immediate encouragement now needed to keep writing . . . balanced with acceptance of long-term timing. May my telling of it encourage fellow Arjunas-in-waiting, those who also will, when the time is right, God-willing, be ready to build on common ground.

Where Is the Unity in COMM-UNITY?

Working with words mindfully is an interesting challenge.

For example, have you ever wondered about the names United States and United Nations? Why did Founders choose to describe their country as United? United on what levels and in what way(s)? By common principles? Common interests, commitments, or vision for the future?

What did charter members of the international organization intend by using the same word, United? Pursuing common goals, pooling resources and/or standing firm against common dangers? Does the word hold the same meaning today as it did earlier? What does it mean now, and to whom? Does United mean the same thing to insider elites as to the rest of us? Why does this matter?

The use of the word United is ironic with overtones of tragedy, given the current fragmented and contentious condition of both entities.

It part, current problems were inherent from inception, a consequence of failing to be philosophically correct in foundations. This single picture shows wherein unity can truly be found, and where not.

0 Def of Paradigm

Looking for unity in the wrong places was fraught with potentially dangerous consequences which are still bearing poisonous fruit today.

It’s especially important to rethink the meaning of Unity in the context of building intentional communities, for the chain of individuals bound together by common purpose is no stronger than its weakest link. The foundation of viable, sustainable communities begins with the integrity of each participating member.

The following Essay from Conscience provides food for thought along these lines. It offers a holistic perspective on unity, both within and without. This comprehensive view offers a useful understanding for building effective communities, as well as diagnosing past failures experienced as a consequence of limited vision and follow-through.

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Essay 60. UNITY

An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity. — Martin Luther King, Jr., The Words of Martin Luther King, Jr. 

The scientist or the artist takes two facts or experiences which we separate; he finds in them a likeness which had not been seen before: and he creates a unity by showing the likeness. . . . All science is the search for unity in hidden likenesses. — Jacob Bronowski, quoted by Todd Siler in Think Like a Genius

I have always felt that one of the simplest and most apt metaphors for an organization as complex as the United Nations is the Rorschach inkblot test. What one person sees as the hope of a world free of war, famine, poverty, and disease, another interprets as a global boondoggle comprised of uncaring civil servants threatening the cherished concept of state sovereignty. — James Holtje, Divided It Stands: Can the United Nations Work

THE FRONT

The Latin root of “unity” means oneness. Webster’s first definition is the state of being one, or united; oneness, singleness. It means something complete in itself, single, or separate. It can be the quality of being one in spirit, sentiment, purpose; harmony, agreement or concord. In contrast, it can also mean uniformity.

It can refer to an arrangement of parts or material in a work of art or literature that produce a single, harmonious effect. It can refer to constancy, continuity, or fixity of purpose or action.

The difference amongst these definitions reflects a general cultural confusion as to the optimal relationship of the individual to nature, society, and their creative Source. Effective, consistent action depends on an integrated concept of self and a comfortable relationship of each part with the whole. Therefore, thinking carefully about what unity means — as well as what it doesn’t — is a necessary prelude to ultimate success in life.

Accepting the I Ching view that accomplishments begin with the smallest unit, unity is first to be attained within. It’s common to say, “My mind’s not made up” or “Get it together.” The familiar saying, “The right hand doesn’t know what the left is doing,” could also be phrased, “The left brain doesn’t know what the right brain is doing.”

When Westerns say, “I’m of two minds on this,” it reflects confusion, ambivalence or lack of discipline. However, the martial arts advice to have eight brains and eight hearts refers to the height of attainment. It suggests ability to intentionally shift internal gears to meet any situation. From the totality of unified mind, the ideal I Ching master focuses from above while acting through each of the energy centers according the immediate need at the time.

According to the MPI Standard, the Motive, the WHY of psychologies and meditative practices is the same: to unify fragmented, antagonistic functions of mind, personality and behavior.

The Purpose, the HOW they accomplish this is diverse. Some practices start from the outside with behavior and work inwards. Others start with the mind, ideas and attitudes, and work outwards. Still others work on both simultaneously, which is possible in comm-unities where work and self-awareness training go hand-in-glove.

The Intent, the WHAT, ranges from personal self-mastery to inner peace and/or functional relationships.

As pictured above, in a holistic world view, external diversity complements inner unity. The core of life’s concentric circles, like the hub of a wheel, remains still as the outer rim revolves, constantly changing and in motion. Meridians, like spokes of a wheel, link center to surface, connecting and organizing the Wheel of Life in a dynamic unity.

It hardly matters how the goal of inner unity is attained. Once one is focused and all the facets of inner energy are coordinated by a single-minded purpose, the pieces of life’s mosaic fall into place, forming a coherent picture. Then life becomes a work of art, like a poem or a song.

Albert Einstein — equal parts musician, philosopher, physicist and world citizen — searched lifelong for a Unified Theory. The Book of Change embodies the universal code he sought. We’ve failed to recognize the clues hidden for centuries in a venerable text that have the potential to lead us to solutions desperately needed NOW. Restoring this treasure to the general culture would provide a fully functional paradigm from which positive, life-sustaining results can be generated across-the-board.

THE BACK

Regimentation and conformance are perversions of unity. Nature flourishes in diversity. Like snowflakes, each individual is a unique variation of its kind. Yet, in extreme social contexts, variations are suppressed and punished. While this unnatural state might be appropriate to unnatural situations like war, it’s antithetical to personal well-being.

Technically, because all things are connected, it’s possible to dabble in the dark worlds of demons and departed souls. However, though these realms do exist, it is dangerously unwise to explore them without a specific, positive purpose (“know the enemy”) and a white magician’s guidance.