Death & Life: Lessons from attempts at building community

I have been involved in several attempts at community. A lot of learning from how a lot has failed and died, as much as what has lived and thrived. Some insights I share below. Know a few people who have also succeeded in some ways. Some of the communities that I have been a part of are- some are pan India, some more local, some even global.

Learning Societies,
Friends’ Retreat, Switzerland
Sangha of Being,
BasicIndia/ Neredu/ Samuel’s,
Tao/CoEvolve loose family!

Some insights:

1. The fundamental (innermost) must be seen and kept the fundamental- and must be ‘seen’ together at least verbally/intellectually to start with – call it the ending of separation, fear, conflict, the self. Only on the foundation of this can true community be built. The key question to live with is.. What does it mean to live with the unknown and unknowable?

2. Most will want something ‘meaningful’ to be done in the world. The outer ‘purpose’ and ‘project’ often distracts and takes attention away form inner and certainly the innermost is mostly not paid attention to. While this has a place, great care needs to be taken to see that any project or a ‘created’ purpose does not hijack the vital.
Equally if there isn’t something worthwhile that is done together in the outer, energies overly focused on the inner can also harm the togetherness.

3. An openness to learn esp. in the field of living relationships is at the very heart of the matter. Unless there is a real commitment to existentially looking at Responsibility n Freedom, Love n Commitment there is little hope for a sustainable community.

4. Ideas, ideologies and philosophies can greatly derail unless there is a living commitment to the spirit of community. No amount of creating things on paper will help unless there is a ‘concrete’ building of real loving togetherness and trust. This requires great resilience and investment of time and energy.

5. Some basic (obvious and yet hidden) understandings like- relationship is a mirror, 100% responsibility, deep listening and speaking from the heart, willingness to wonder and be silent. – must become realizations. Negation as the “way” to move into love and truth. The structure of ‘me’ etc.

6. A way to resolve Conflict must be arrived at early on. And ways to surface differences often n whenever they arise in a way that they don’t derail the essential togetherness.

7. The fundamental issue is always about learning to deal with polarities and paradoxes. And operating from a place that is not trapped. To face and surface them within us and lovingly in diads and triads and the entire small group!

8. It can be very powerful to have a tool to “measure” dissonance and co-creation. What are the personal values, the collective lived values and what is the desired place (culture) we want to co-create! And I was delighted to discover such an amazing tool being used across 71 countries and in thousands of organizations and communities.

9. There must be a few people at least who are able to hold the whole and who are ‘respected’ by all for their demonstrated ability to be present and operate from a place beyond ideas and concepts. And these people must be willing to learn and not operate from authority.

3 Mar 2016

Today I read a beautiful piece which my dear dear friend Deepti Rupani forwarded :

13 ways of looking at Community – Parker Palmer

I would highly recommend you have a look if this question is important to you.


4 thoughts on “Death & Life: Lessons from attempts at building community

  1. Thanks Sanjay.. would love to hear of your experience in belonging to various communities. If you were to crisply share the top few insights – even in just a line or two – what would they be?
    Happy to meet you here.

  2. This is well surmised but i am telling my inner child to not be daunted by the task of finding or building a community and living upto all that you have outlined, while its the ideal. That a moment at a time and courage to go forth in the direction of ones calling will reveal the rest in any case. Thank you Kiran!

  3. Yes, this can come across as daunting seen from a certain lens. And I must keep that in mind as I write in future.
    And this can also be perhaps seen as what is possible and required not as a response from a fearful child (the mind) but as an invitation from a loving heart.

    And above all, to watch from a peaceful place the game that seems so real, is it not Dipalle?

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