“The only way to enlightenment is through others.” Crotalo Sesame
I am in a meditation class that is looking at enlightenment, what it means to each of us and how it is best achieved. In our last class, the teacher talked about the purpose of nucleos in Damanhur (for 40 years the majority of Damanhurians have lived in large houses with 20-25 non-related people.) He talked about the daily choice to change, to love in community, to transform oneself thru interaction and feedback from others that living in the nucleo provided. That placing themselves in this daily choosing is part of becoming more of whom they desire to be, of responding to life in better ways, of becoming more aware of what is occurring with others, to find a path to personal enlightenment.
The question that he posed at the end of the class was ‘what was the importance/preciousness of being in a group’? It got me to thinking about all the groups that I have been part of in my life; of ones that have endured and those that have not; of groups where I lived with others or saw the people regularly and those groups that are virtual.
We all start living in a group of at least two people. Mom and me. Most of us spend our early years with our biological or adopted family of three or more people. These are the people that we learn to survive/thrive with and who give us their feedback about how we are doing as a human being and as a member of our first group! Since it is this same group that informs us about what it takes to be part of society, it has a great deal of impact on how we form as a personality, as a member of society, and probably forms our opinions about whether we like groups or not. Whether we liked this first experience or not, it sets the stage for how we transform into an adult in society.
One of the best parts of adulthood is getting to choose the groups that we are part of. Many of the groups of childhood are pre-determined, i.e. the schools that we attend, the teams that we join, the other classes that we take. So, let’s look at that groups that we choose as an adult. They seem to be the ones where we find kindred souls and where we often find support for new behaviors. This is where I remember the old dictum about choosing to be with people who have qualities that we admire, that we want to emulate. These kinds of groups can help us shift from familiar but not beneficial behavior patterns into patterns more in alignment with how we want to be in the world. I have chosen to be part of friendship groups, church groups, business networking groups, spiritual groups both virtual and in-person. Each of those groups provided something that supported me in a specific way – some for a sense of shared community and purpose, some for friendship sharing, some to build our businesses, some for common learning experience, and at least one that has taught me about the importance of being with others in a field. This last group is The Spirals of Being that is held in the field of Tantra Maat.
My question to myself and you is this – does the group that you are a member of, support you in moving towards your own goals of becoming the best you or does it help you focus on areas of experience or learning that you love? Does it help you comprehend your role in the group’s growth and development? Like a bee in a bee hive, we each have a role in helping our group thrive. If we don’t recognize our role or in fact determine how we behave for the benefit of the whole, how does our group thrive?
I have loved being part of groups that focused on spiritual practices such as meditation, rituals, ceremonies, and sounding. I have also loved to be part of groups that practiced team approaches to leadership, that practiced listening to all and creating a new future together. As an adult, I found that in many groups, there were people who wanted to use the group to network or just play a role of a reciever but showed no interest in being part of building the group. I saw this most often in networking groups where people would come in and just give everyone their business cards and then wonder why no one contacted them. If we don’t invest in the others, why should they invest in you? If we are not part of the interaction within the group, of what true value is the group to us?
What about virtual groups that we belong to? There are those on Facebook and Linked In for example where members share articles or advertise their work. These seem straight forward and don’t require a lot of time except for the idea that if you don’t pay attention to what others post by commenting, why would they take the time to read your new post? I belong to one virtual group that addresses both the spiritual aspect of my life and the aspect of actively being part of the group. This group is The Spirals of Being that is held in the field of Tantra Maat. We are about 55 members and most of us meet only thru monthly phone calls, online chat groups and Zoom meetings. Probably under 20 of us have met each other in person at least once, so we don’t have the daily life contact that seems to provide most people a place for showing both their best self and their worst self. Yet, because of the way the calls and online activity is structured, we each have the opportunity to observe our own behaviors and to change them. We write the creation exercises (from the Language of Creation by Tantra Maat). We crave the life that we want and we observe where we are. This shared field of practicing the creation exercises regularly seems to build a common direction that we are all headed in. We share on our calls to inform the field about what is occurring with us in our lives (good/bad/trying/joyful) and we always look beyond the obvious. By that I mean that most humans are used to naming an emotion or event with historic associations. In the Spirals, we have learned that this is ‘not necessarily so’. That the meanings attached previously to a health issue or a sensation or emotion, does not necessarily mean the same as today’s health issue, sensation or emotion, even though they may feel ‘the same’. Tantra has modeled both acceptance of and challenge in her responses to our sharing so that we can come to see the world in new ways and can come to events in our lives in new and different ways. It is in this viewing the world and ourselves differently that we come to choice point. Do I want to hold on to a pattern of behavior or am I willing to shift it? To the degree that members do the activities and share online or on calls, that is the amount of impact that the Spiral membership has in our lives.
We all need groups to be part of, to grow from the interactions and to be supported in changing into our best self. Groups demand time just like any relationship and the amount of time and attention that we give, in most parts, determine what we will gain from the group. It is critical that we choose groups that support us in moving into our best selves. Groups that demand conforming to their “ways” are not the best choice, as ‘their way’ may not be in alignment with whom we came here to be in this lifetime. In Damanhur, it is part of their constitution that citizens are required to develop themselves. They use their living together in nucleos as a cauldron to help them leave behind historic behaviors and reactions and move into response patterns that support them becoming the best self that they can be. Even for those who search for enlightenment, they can only find it by being part of a group. Without the group focus and expression on the experience of enlightenment, well, there is no feedback from others, there is no observing of others. Both the feedback and the observing are necessary if we are to see how we can be different, how we can become our best self, how we can become whom we came here to be or be enlightened. I agree with Crotalo, we do need others to become our best selves. What do you think?