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In the presentation part of the warming-up webinar Dosho quoted Dogen-zenji on the benefits of practicing in a community:

Although the color of the flowers is beautiful, they do not bloom of themselves; they need the spring breeze to open. The conditions of the Way are also like this; although the Way is complete in everyone, the realization of the Way depends upon collective conditions. Although individuals may be clever, the practice of the Way is done by means of collective power. Therefore, now you should make your minds as one, set your aspiration in one direction and study thoroughly, seek and inquire.

– Dogen

We cannot bloom by ourselves and to become transformed we need to be exposed to all kinds of weather conditions, get proper nourishment and be tested.

Later the same evening it was time for the second call with the Integral Enlightenment teleclass. This time we were invited to try for size nothing less than the perspective of the Evolutionary Impulse (IE) and from that larger place look at our lives and the specific areas where we were struggling. What was possible from thar larger perspective, no matter how frightening it might seem to the smaller, personal self?

When we were  sharing in small groups what came up to us as a response to questions, I felt that very spring breeze that Dogen writes about, go through my living room and my heart. Our brief but full-hearted exchanges expanded my own understanding of what was possible for me and fuelled the internal fire when I was listening to the responses of others. At times I experienced it as one response voiced differently.

For the coming week we were offered the following questions to reflect on and explore on the daily basis how we could approach our lives from that larger perspective:

  • What does the Evolutionary Impulse need from me?
  • What are the values of the Evolutionary Impulse and how, if at all, do they differ from the values of the personal self?
  • How can I stretch to more fully embody this Impulse?
  • How does aligning with the Evolutionary Impulse impact my experience of myself?
  • How does it impact my relationship to Life?
  • How does it impact my behavior toward others?
  • What does it reveal about my and our potential for radical evolution?

Having carried the questions around for three days and just listening to the responses that showed up, I noticed that my mind was getting seduced by the “How can I stretch …” question which was more on the doing side. It is the most familiar mode: identifying the problem (existance of the ego) and suggesting the solution (get rid of it NOW!). My mind loves tinkering with whatever shows up on the horizon and prescribing solutions. Who is talking? Yet another self-image: me, myself and Irene, the bettered – the ego-less – version. Ego-less who?

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On our first call with the ”Awakening to the Evolutionary Relationship to Life ” teleclass at Integral Enlightenment we heard an impressive number of participants – over 400 people from 25 countries – that the course gathered. Rather amazing! During the call Craig went through a few principles of engagement for people coming together to practice.

One of them is that actually it is less important where we are on our journey than where we are in relationship to our edge. Craig pointed out the importance of allowing for the evolving edge by welcoming the discomfort and the growing pain of stretching instead of resisting or avoiding it.

“If we’re not uncomfortable, we’re probably not evolving.”

I find this to be very true for my path and maintaining a blog actually challenged me in ways I could not anticipate when I wrote my first post and which I came to appreciate.When comments starting coming in and when I started commenting on other people’s posts online, I saw how the way we listen to each other (or read) and respond to each other’s writing influences the energy between us and in itself can be used as way to deepen our practice.

The other day I posted a comment to a friend’s blog in which I shared what came up for me after reading the post but my comment deeply upset my friend. He felt that I misunderstood the point he was making in the post and thought I was lacking compassion when I replied to what other people wrote. That feedback made me reflect on my listening/reading/ skills as well as on what matters to me as someone who writes a blog (how important is it for me to be understood? ). I felt sad that my comment have created an emotional divide between us, wondering how I could have responded differently. From what place was I reading the post and what were my intentions when I was replying to it?

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Not one

One of the insights from the last Ango period was the importance of a community and a teacher for one’s practice.  In a community (as well as in relationships of all kinds) we have a chance to test what comes up for us in our practice.  I took a look at my own hang ups coming from earlier sometimes quite emotional experiences of joining a spiritually oriented community.

Here are some of the traits that I noticed a group could develop that can take it into a different direction than the one intended from the start:

  • Being nice – syndrome:  Socializing can take over and overshadow the initial purpose for which the group is created. People start getting to know each other, get comfortable with the ideas of others and themselves, develop friendships and …new attachments. To help each other grow we need to be open to fuelling our practice by dealing with whatever comes up when the Pandora’s box is open. Conflicts? This, too.  I believe a teacher can help in a situation like that by rattling the cage now and then and bringing in the element of discomfort and uncertainty.

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