Collaboration. Many see it as essential to bringing forth the world we desire, yet it remains elusive at the scale we need.  Join us for a week-long exploration of the challenges and opportunities we are experiencing in pursuit of this "holy grail" of systemic transformation.

We are beginning our inquiry here on the forum, and then continuing with our regular Monday Cafe Call on October 22:

Register for our Monday Vital Conversation Series
8-10a PDT | 11a-1p EDT | 3-5p GMT

Note: this theme will also inform our Tuesday "Connect2012" and Thursday "Occupy Heart" calls.

Occupy Cafe stewards Jitendra Darling and Ben Roberts will be the "conversation starters" for the Monday call, drawing on their experience of collaboratively bringing forth Occupy Cafe, as well as ideas that have been "in the air" at the recent conference of the National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation and the Bioneers intensive on "Catalyzing a Resilient Communities Network."

Here is the framing we used in our three breakouts during the Cafe Call:

  • Describe a time when you experienced powerful and effective collaboration
  • Imagine it is two years from now and you have been part of a collaborative initiative that has had transformational impact. What inspired, or perhaps compelled you to participate and what made this collaboration so effective?
  • What assumptions do we need to test or challenge in thinking about collaboration?

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I'm curious about the:

three basic ways to "name"the future:  

  • Magical - bright
  • Rational – dark
  • Spiritual - escapist

It's an interesting perspective.  I understand it, yet it stands on judgement, complaint and, ironically, simply the opposite polarity of "magical thinking".  It oversimplifies and flattens the terrain of thought and activity as if spirituality were a fantasy with no impact in the "real" world. 

It's a very old argument and worldview that perhaps adds more weight to the problem than enlightening a solution.  Newton and Descartes unwittingly sparked a revolution in consciousness that drove a wedge between Spirit and Matter, which in turn opened a pathway for rational human minds to cleverly bring the very body in/on which it subsists to the brink of destruction. 

We are not magical nor spiritual enough.  That is, our spirituality is young and idealistic, only just now beginning to root it's maturation via occupying the physical bodies that make our earthly experience viable.

I also think Pollard is right.  So there you have the conundrum of truth.  As fundamentalists we can draw lines in the sand and separate our obviously righteous selves from the wackos and the ninnies, though as inclusionists, we feast daily on humble pie, realizing moment by moment how much we don't know we don't know. 

For me, spirituality is Being Love.  It is magical thinking that we can accomplish any meaningful task or achieve any meaningful outcome that is transformative, sustainable or lasting without it.

Is your post an invitation to serious discussion, rooted in two assumptions:

1. potential rationality of human mind

2. reality of the spirit?

Or is it just a "ping pong" with impressions?

I truly hope it is an invitation and I truly believe we could ignite such discussion. I have been exploring the state of American spirituality as deeply as I could and I am ready to argue rationally holding both assumptions in harmony.

On the other hand I am afraid such discussion cannot be successful unless preceded by some clarification of meanings. Would you agree to help me to test my hope and belief addressing spirit, spirituality and magic? For me they are distinct concepts and I cannot help the impression that in your post they strongly overlap.  

P,S. I hope you can can allow for my position here as non-native English speaker. It could help to make possible discussion understandable globally.

We can most certainly have a serious sincere discussion. 

My primary assumption entering is that spirituality is a wild and untamed realm that can barely be agreed upon from person to person, much more less from culture to culture.  That said, I'm very curious as to what your impression of "American" spirituality is.  I was not aware that there existed an American spirituality outside of Native American cultures.  I suppose certain flavors of Christianity and Mormonism could be considered American.  The rest though, seems to be a mash of imports filtered by many, many individuals.

As for my spirituality, it is grown mostly from my personal experiences of expanded consciousness framed with Hindu, Buddhist, Zoroastrian, Sufi, Christian Gnostic, shamanic and indigenous wisdom influence—all sitting on an original foundation of Christian Methodism, which I suppose could also be touted as American.

What are your spiritual influencers, Pawel?

PS- I'd say we've taken a left turn out of the topic of collaboration.  It would be more appropriate in another thread—say in the Transforming Systems from the Inside Out group.  Though perhaps you see it otherwise...

To be sincere (your preference):

  1. External view on (contemporary, post-postmodern) American Spirituality is better expressed by a six year old I quoted in my second appendix post yesterday. You must have not read it, it is now below here.
  2. My spiritual frame/influencers: indigenous wisdom, ecophilosophy, Henryk Skolimowski, Rudolf Steiner, Carl Jung, Albert Einstein.
  3. Topic of collaboration: act of collaborating or act of creating new pattern of collaboration? I remember well “Problem definition” discussion on “Transforming Systems...”, leading nowhere because of vague assumptions.

To be serious:  Sincerity is the attribute of disputants; seriousness should be the attribute of creative collaborative discussion and its goal. You answered neither of my questions so I can’t help understanding your post as a “ping pong” of impressions only. In this game American spirituality is always the winner...

First: My sincerity/serious distinction carried some humor in it, though I now realize it may not translate very well.  My connotation for seriousness is that it conducts an element of fear, whereas sincerity conducts focused intent with a more agile quality.  Having been a philosopher and teacher of edgy spirituality, I have adopted the liberty of shaping the meaning of words to fit my evolving context.  It is not enough that I make my American compatriot, Ben, a bit crazy, but now I am tormenting my fellow global citizens with little access to American colloquial language.  Apologies in advance, Pawel, for complicating our communication. My beloved Pia was raised in New York by parents and grandparents who immigrated from Chile.  I used a "familiar American" saying yesterday which she had never heard and had no idea what I was inferring.  Shen then shared about a friend of hers who was raised in the US by parents from both Mexico and Germany.  They both struggled their whole lives to understand many common American sayings, because they were not part of the English they were taught growing up.  This is no small matter in attempting to communicate, much less collaborate, cross culturally.  Furthermore, I, without saying so, have put the burden on you to translate our exchanges, because I don't speak your native language. 

So, before going any further—Thank you, Pawel, for your patience and kindness in attempting to communicate with me in my language. 

Back to the content:
We may need a bit of ping pong before we find each others' wavelength.  I am still trying to understand what you mean by "American spirituality".  I am not academic by nature.  I have read cosmology so that I can frame what I have experienced in order to communicate something beyond words, to others as best as possible.  I don't grok contemporary, post-postmodern American Spirituality.  I have no concept of what that means.  I have my personal internal experiences of consciousness and the meaning I have personally constructed around those experiences which continue to build and integrate as years roll by.  I have no viable answer for those who ask me what my philosophy or spirituality is.  None of them make sense because my experience and framework is literally an unfoldment of Presence in motion.  It is often like a symphony shifting from key to key as it progresses through time, even changing its featured instruments, making it very challenging to identify it as being any particular mood or style.

I am familiar with Steiner, Jung and Einstein (not at all w/Skolimowski) however, not in a spiritual context, although I do recognize them as spiritual voices.  So we have the adventurous task of trying to locate each others' frameworks within the context of a discussion that is already at the fringe of consensus reality, even for people of like culture and language.

I am a bit pressed for time to give this conversation as much attention as it deserves, but I'll do the best that I can. 

Again, what would be helpful to me, is if you could explain in clear language what you understand American spirituality to be.  What are its characteristics?  What is the basic  premise it is built on? (I'm wondering if "American spirituality" is what some characterize as "New Age" philosophy.)

I'm not finding your moderation, however well intentioned, helpful, C.A.  The response I have chosen is above.

Again, what would be helpful to me, is if you could explain in clear language what you understand American spirituality to be.

If your intention is collaboration through communication my motivation to help you has no limits.

Clarification: 1. I do not understand, I experience (trying to communicate with, exploring communication barriers).  2. To be clear I must be provocative (ping pong rule). I hope you get it. On the other hand I am ready to argue any issue listed below.


  - Powerful, influential, institutionalized

  - Hermetic

  - Limited to people of WASP origins/identity.

  - Founded on two pillars: Zen (Buddhism) & Ken (Wilber - Integral Theory)


  - One = not two (selective understanding)

  - Deep inner experience clashes with perceptual one (either – or relationship)

  - Love & Freedom – sacred runes (traces of Christian origins and Nation’s



  -  As you didn’t answer my question: Spirit is for me the grounds of reality, 

    spirituality is its conceptual interpretation upon inner experience.

  - “Some” characterizing “American Spirituality” as “New age” are radical


An appendix - qoote from Ben's scribing:

[Six year-old son is an amazing teacher for me... He says] "Occupy is about talking louder than everybody else and not listening to others!"  Where did he get this Notion?  Maybe our rage and urgency--a desperate need for change-- is what  is causing the rest of the world to see us in this way.

How do I communicate with the world from deep within, so that I am not seen as shouting, but is received in a loving and peaceful manner?

Scribing the harvest for our Cafe Call:

  • The energy of "propulsion" is an obstacle to collaboration.  People get left behind and it crushes the energy.  What if someone wants to communicate in something other than words, such as art?
  • Very interested in Collab. with people who are heart-centered.  Appreciating Jerry for showing up despite not being a part of Occupy and sharing his passion for collab. that supports "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."
  • When we're sailing on the ocean of consciousness... the seas can be rough!  We need "gusts" to get somewhere.
  • Collab. as a "focused fire."
  • Six year-old son is an amazing teacher for me... He says "Occupy is about talking louder than everybody else and not listening to others!"  Where did he get this Notion?  Maybe our rage and urgency--a desperate need for change-- is what  is causing the rest of the world to see us in this way.
    • How do I communicate with the world from deep within, so that I am not seen as shouting, but is received in a loving and peaceful manner?
  • "Bringing in the bubbles."  We spoke of relationships as key, but we need to go farther than that.  We need to collaborate with the Universe too.
  • "Power" and Collab.... Is power an illusion?  Is keeping one's self "safe" an illusion?  Competition as an interfering agenda or energy as well.
  • A story of a kind of Collab.: humans raising wolverine pups--it's very hard to do!  People who are successful do it by "becoming like a mother wolverine at first, and then a father as well."
    • Adopting the tropes of the entire system we're working with.
    • Survival can depend on our ability to adopt the ways of those we are among, esp. in a threatening or dangerous situation.
  • My purpose in being here: to learn what I might do to spread the word and wake people up to the need for us to work together, in response to this oppressive system.  We need to colaborate to secure "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."  We can't do this by force, but we are strong enough to create the community we need based on love...

Thanks for the notes Ben. Helpful.

I wonder if its possible to be mindful of every single person within a group... that is, keeping open to the unspoken messages- like when someone looks or sounds puzzled, are hurt, or detached, confused, or nervous, or bubbling over, etc., etc..  Although it sounds like an impossible task, in reality I seems I may only have to be actively open (maybe scanning) for it and it will come knocking.  I abhor my being guilty of this, so want to add that I do not have the answer.  I am only formulating a question within who's large domain I hope to learn.

My experience is that we can feel these unspoken signals and messages.  Albeit, they are difficult or impossible to hide (body language)... even on the phone! 

And to the extent I would miss these signals (that others are communicating), I am disrespecting that person, and show it by continuing, propelled in my trajectory.  Doing this (caught up in myself or 'the' topic) can exclude and harm people... even though many people are use-to this treatment and withdraw into themselves (poss thinking it is normal that miss stuff or I'm not that smart, etc.).  So it's my intent to find this skill or compassion within me.

Q.  Is it possible within a group who's intent is to collaborate, to be continually aware of all 'signals' of communication?

I love the inquiry, Dyck.  Perhaps taking the time to check in with people can accomplish this.  Also directly asking for people who are feeling such things (" puzzled, are hurt, or detached, confused, or nervous, or bubbling over") to check in with us about that and for us to be curious about that might work.  Only asking for what's "inspiring," on the other hand, might play into what you are calling out.

Even with a focus on the 'signals' (that tell a truth about a listener/collaborator) there might be a growing-into necessary to recognize and 'see' one's real (silent) message... not simply to hear and even understand the words (talking about 'signals' now).  Am I, Joe Citizen capable of this?  The call-out here is that "the word is not the thing it describes."  Meaning is experiential, rich and new-- not mental... even if we use our past experiences to glean meaning surely this is approximate and weak compared to actual in-the-moment sensation. 

So as I think more deeply into the query, it suggests another level of 'listening' and whether that's within our every-conversation reach.  (maybe an example is even right now in written words, are there 'signals' within your last reply... am I sensing vigor, curiosity, cheerfulness?  In my paragraph above I had some bewilderment in arranging words that convey what I mean.  And then I had doubt to determine again what do I myself mean, and do I understand what I'm purporting.  Maybe a little shaky, then finding my way.  I'm tentative about what I'm saying.  Can you tell?) 


Weekly Cafe Calls

Regular Calls are no longer being held.  Below is the schedule that was maintained from the Fall of 2011 through Jan 10, 2013.

"Vital Conversations" 

8-10a PDT | 11a-1p EDT | 3-5p GMT 

Tuesdays (except 10/16)
"Connect 2012"

1-3p PDT | 4-6p EDT | 8-10p GMT

"Occupy Heart" 

3-5p PDT | 6-8p EDT | 10p-12a GMT

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