2020 was a whirlwind of emotions and unexpected challenges, and its effects are far from over. Everything we took for granted collapsed in a matter of months, and made it very clear that the rules and structures that have governed the world we know are no longer operative, or even desirable. The pandemic pulled the veil off our eyes and forced us to face systemic injustice, violence, social and economic disparities, and the profound desecration of the planet we call home.
In order to create the new world, we will need to gradually replace “power over” (based on coercion, fear and control) with “power with” (born of collaboration, solidarity and mutual support, “power to” (our agency to shape our life and our world” and “power within”, which stems from self-knowledge and self-worth.
We will need new ways to relate to each other, to our governance, to the way we envision and embody our relationship to Nature and our immediate environment. But we need not consider this a tragedy. It is, in fact, an invitation. Said Ursula K. LeGuin: “Love doesn’t just sit there, like a stone, it has to be made, like bread; remade all the time, made new.” This is the very unique and beautiful challenge we face.
This task will require the best that each of us has to give: the new world cannot be built by a few enlightened leaders showing the way, but by each one of shining our own individual light, in every way possible.
Thus, the name of this course, which comes at a turning point for humanity. We need to find our way back to purpose, meaning, vocation, so that we can be beacons of light we need, for ourselves and for each other. “Lighthouses don’t go running [around] looking for boats to save; they just stand there shining”, wrote author Anne Lamott; that is what precisely what we will seek to do, together.
The metaphor which will guide our exploration will be that of a house, an ancient symbol of the self. And not just any house: one that is open to the elements, in constant dialogue with the environment, and in perpetual change and motion, almost like a desert tent. At night a new wind blows in and rearranges the furniture, uncovers rooms where there were none, reveals new textures and countours.
We will walk through the rooms of this house one at a time, and turn on the light. At the end, we will find ourselves in a house that is lit from within. In other words, a house that is inhabited, animated, enchanted, fully alive!
This is the map we will follow:
1. The Territory. The universe, the infinite game.
What is the nature of the reality we inhabit? Do we live in a world of pure, finite matter? Or is there layer upon layer of mysteries to discover? What is the essence of the game we are playing? Is there room in our lives for the infinite? What everyday practices can connect us to it?
2. The Garden. The more than human world, the path of belonging.
How much intimacy do we experience with nature? How close do we feel to the trees, the clouds, non-human animals? How much do we know of the life cycles of the “green nation”, as some American Indian traditions refer to trees and plants? How much we know about the species that surround us? What is the depth of our dialogue with our inner wildness?
3. The Entrance: Choosing who we Want to Be.
Who are we? Which of our names, distinctions, characteristics, make up our “identity” in the face of others? How much can we modify our habits and behaviours, and decide whom we want to be? What do science, philosophy and the wisdom traditions know about our freedom to shape our way of showing up in the world?
4. The Kitchen. Emotions, the alchemy of the heart.
What are emotions, and what do they bring to our lives? What is the role of afflictive emotions (fear, anger, sadness, jealousy, shame, envy), and how can we befriend them and benefit from their intelligence? What is the neurobiology of emotions? Can our emotions act as a bridge to spirituality? How do we form an intimate bond with our own heart?
5. The Basement. Myths, shadow, ancestral forces.
What awaits us in the “invisible” worlds that lie under ground, in the watery depths, below the level of consciousness? What did shamans go in search of in their forays into “the lower world”? What can we find there, if we dare visit? What luminous forces lie in wait in the deepest darkness? What can we learn from what we never see?
6. The Bathroom. Cleansing and renewal.
In what ways do we ignore the animal that carries us through life and affords us a wealth of experiences and sensations? How can we enter this sanctuary of the body, in which we recognize ourlselves as we are, without masks or disguises? What balms can we offer ourselves, as warm and as soothing as an oil-scented bath? How do we give back to our time-weary body some of the love it bestows us?
7. The Bedroom. Dreams, intimacy, eroticism.
Do we practice the deep surrender that is the anteroom for rest, for moonlight sails through the land of dreams, for the blissful mingling of bodies and souls? How do we gain back the erotic view of life we had as children? How do we help Eros (vital force) and Psyche (soul) enjoy their sensual embrace?
8. Doorways. Rites of passage.
Do we honor the cyclical transitions in our lives? Do we stop to receive the night, winter, spring, dawn? Do we hear the murmurrings in our interior when we enter a new stage, end a relationship, move, have children, grow old? What is the quality of the ceremonies we enact, consciously or unconsciously? What are the new rituals that want to be born?
9. The Living Room. Relating to others, doing our part for the world.
How large is our family? Does it only encompass those with whom we are tied by blood, frienship, work? What is our relationship to the rest of the world? Do we allow ourselves to be touched and moved by the pains, joys and aspirations of the “strangers” we run across in the street, read about in the paper, intuit across space and time? How do we want to contribute to our striking, tumultuous world that is always on the edge of the abyss? Can we dance with others, cry with others, celebrate with others in our common home? What is the crucial and dynamic relationship between inner work and work in the world?
10. The Stairs. The higher stages of human development.
Do we stop growing and developing when we become adults? Is “adulthood” a closed category, or does it include steps and stages? What is the difference between “states” and “stages”? What higher stages of development are available for us, and what teachings and practices allow us to fulfill that aspiration?
11. The Altar. Silence and solitude.
Do you devote quality time to your spirit Do you have a place to go to sit in silence, meditate, write, pray, or practice your brand of contemplation? Do you make time for connecting with your being, and enjoying the sea of calm it can offer? What practices could you incorporate to embroider an oasis of contentment into your every day?
12. The Terrace. Spirit, Self, Supra-consciousness.
What is the “Supra-Consciousness” (or Super Consciousness) aspect of our selves, which holds the visions and intuitions that emanate from our essence? How well do we know it? Do we allow ourselves to experience then freedom and lightness it offers? Do we channel some of its light and spaciousness into our daily affairs, our relationships, our vocations? Do we participate, in other words, in the Infinite Game?‘
When: Once a month (the dates will be announced with two weeks notice). Important: Each workshop is a condensation of the Spanish-language course, which devotes four weekly meetings to each station. Thus, you will receive one month’s worth of practices and questions and ideas in one sitting, plus the video and notes to explore and delve deeper on your own. Although participating in all the different “stations” of the house is recommended,they can be taken separately.
When: Every first Saturday of the month.
Format: Virtual, via Zoom. Recordings and notes are sent after each workshop.
Duration: 2 hours.
Tuition: Sliding scale: 24 U$D to 54 U$D. (Do reach out if this is not a possibility for you, so we can discuss an alternative)