I first met Annette, Lisette, Caroline and Leo at ‘Afsana’ early 2013 I think, where they were staying at Auroville. Jon had been bitten by a snake so I could not meet him and Dustin had not come. The 0.6 as they call themselves, were attempting a ‘Global Cooperative Forum’ to inspire a connection/ seeing of ‘prior unity’ on the planet. There was a kind of resonance and recognition. At the end of the meeting, as I stepped out, I realized I had forgotten my characteristic notebook that I always carry so that when the heart speaks, I can take good notes. As I walked back to ‘Afsana’, they met me with the notebook at the gate and invited me to Switzerland for the retreat.
Manish Jain (Shikhshantar, Swaraj University, Learning Societies unConference & ‘Walk Out Walk On’ and now, Giftival 😉 etc.) had invited me for a meeting with this bunch of wonderful people at Udaipur. Since I could go there on those dates, I met them at Auroville where they were visiting.
It was a fascinating gathering of some 32 people from something like 15 countries including Africa, Brazil, Australia, Italy, the US, UK, India, Jamaica etc. From varying backgrounds and inspirations. What seemed to be common is that there was a sincere commitment to truth, to making a difference to people and the planet not from a place of simply ‘doing good’ but being real and operating from a place beyond right/ wrong doing.
I have always had a deep interest in appreciating what it takes to bring remarkable people together and attempt to bring a symbiotic gathering, a synergy of sorts.. each nourishing themselves and the whole and getting nourished also. So I was participating deeply and also watching simply at what was occurring as a process.
I have been a part of and a player in ChittaSangha, a somewhat similar attempt in India over the last 3+ years. Since I have also had a vision of learning how to build communities, I was keenly observant of the process. Some key insights and learnings from the process, the how of the whole ‘Friends Retreat’ (7-13 July) were:
1. Heart Groups :
Groups of 5 to 6 people had been created which would meet every morning for 45min to share and deepen. There was an anchor in that group who would lovingly hold the space for deep sharing and mutual discovery. This served to deeply anchor in the heart the whole flow. There is a certain beauty and intensity that is possible in a small group that does not always happen in a large group of 30 plus people.
A wonderful loving soul, Isioma from Nigeria was the anchor of our group. Our group became somehow the heart of the heart groups. And at one point held the energy .. the shadow and the light of the whole. The whole held us as we held the whole at the most intense churning point. And we moved from fear and anger to love and flow. On the last day Isioma had to leave but his energy was very palpable as we started and ended the heart group sharing with ‘Easy.. Ommmmm…. Aah’ 😉 .. a lightness and a depth sweetly intermingled.
2. Whole Holders:
The 0.6 mentioned above were ‘wholding’ the space 😉 and they had invited a few others in the group to whold with them, the energy, the responsibility, the flow and the entirety. They would meet in the morning, afternoon and evening to sense and shape based on what was emerging. There was a plan but there was a great willingness to trust what life and the group and the wisdom that was unraveling itself.
It requires a tenderness to hold the whole. Because one has to be willing to be held as one holds. Until the division between the holders and the held is no more. And its all one simple and beautiful flow of what is. A flow that honors an apparent stepping out of the flow. Which is only a thought appearing, a story disappearing in this truth called love.
3. Spaciousness & Simple Rituals:
The whole ‘Friends’ Retreat’ was for a week. In this day where test matches are shrinking into 20-20’s, leisurely letter-writing is replaced by quick emails and there seems to be little or no time to simply stand and stare, taking a week out to simply be is remarkable. What was commendable was that while the week was in some ways purposive, the plan allowed time for us to be in the forest one evening to sing and listen. One morning we took a walk up the Jung Frau mountain. One day we went to the lake where some of us swam. And of course the setting was such that we could take walks in the evenings and mornings. There was space for spontaneous conversations.
4. The Charter, A Hearter
Around the charter, the 0.6 created an Open Space. A session that I offered in the space was: “How does a Charter, any charter (the word which is never the thing!) enable and disable the spirit of the Charter..
5. Elders & Eldership
eg. Annette, Guni’s & Anne Maria’s silent magic
Metaphorically the Grandmothers in tribal cultures.. the keepers of the
6. ‘Wholicipation’ & ‘Banyaning’
7. Being Alone
The Poem- Why hurry? – the bench on the walk up the hill
8. Food made with so much Love – the simple and incredible wonder of Madelaine’s beautiful heart.
9. Spontaneous Conversations
Last day with bLissette, Edgard and many others.
I have been postponing posting this hoping that I will fill in more details. God is in the texture and details. And before I know 3.5 months have gone by. I realised that God is also in expression. It would be sad if another 3 months went by without this heart song seeing the light of the day and reaching those hearts who need to see it. Jeff Foster says beautifully that we are Perfectly broken. Broken perfectly. To be human is perhaps what a human being is all about. Deep gratitude to life and all of you through whom life sang this melody which continues to warm my heart.
So I am going ahead and posting this in its “incomplete” form.. a space in between shifts it all … its incomplete …. and in some crazy way it is “in complete” 😉 All a game happening Inside a Completion that never broke, can never break. For it is a song of Love. Ek pyaar ka afsana.