It takes a village to raise a consciousness!

“Why can’t you just admit it! You were too projecting your judgments onto Jane! Weren’t you John!” said the head of Fred with bulging eyes and forehead veins.  At this John walks out of the room to never come back to this newly forming New Culture Community group again.  “No wait, he didn’t mean to hurt your feelings…” cried Jane down the hallway after him. Here we have a small but complete example of what Clinton Callahan calls “Low Drama” from his Next Culture trainings work. (See  We have the victim John, the perpetrator Fred and the rescuer Jane unconsciously playing out their painful and destructive roles in what is called the Karpman Drama Triangle.

Fortunately this group had invited a New Culture Community trainer to help them grow their skills and consciousness for an upcoming weekend workshop.  These three people were not new to personal growth, in fact all three were what you might call workshop junkies.  I have known them all for many years and witnessed their struggles with people and power.  Unfortunately the way they communicated and reacted in these kinds of situations had not evolved much in my opinion.

Fred received a lot of priceless feedback thru the community building process called The Zegg Forum. (See  Fred got into the middle of the psychodramatic Zegg Forum process and did his best to express what was alive, authentic and true, but kept saying he felt stuck, and distant from the group and the only feeling word he  came up with was feeling “separate”.  After his “performance” others were invited to give him reflective mirrors (expressions, comments) about his piece.  I went into the middle of the circle and expressed my sadness that the only words Fred used to express himself were spatial images like “separate” or “distant”.  I spoke of my own frustration at not getting the sense of personal connection I wanted to feel with Fred at the being/emotional level.  (The facilitator and others expressed similar discomfort at not being able to feel Fred’s heart in his words, as he seemed to speak only from his head.)  I also expressed in words, sounds and movement what I thought was the elephant in the room, Fred’s sadness, loneliness, longing for connection to himself and the community.  Fred later thanked me for “not being nice” in my mirror to him as the honesty impacted him in a way that allowed him to access and deeply feel his sadness and thereby bridge a connection to himself and thereby to others.  (For a good book on this subject I recommend “Don’t be Nice, be Real” by Kelly Bryson MFT)

In Mensa member Fred’s life he had been able to hide out in the gun tower of his head and defend himself from really hearing the feedback he needed to grow as a social and therefore spiritual being.  However getting the same clear, and most importantly, loving hard honesty from so many caring hearts was beginning to support Fred in accessing his vulnerability, humility and therefore his ability to be in intimacy (Into me See) with his open hearted community.

It’s easy to be spiritual and conscious and nonviolent when nobody is around to push your buttons.  It is easy when everything is totally structured and controlled like a Sunday Morning Church Service or a highly structured of personality dominated meeting.  But when we enter the real of true grass roots democracy or when money, sex, power, or love is involved and egos are at stake, then we find out if  the spirituality is earthy or just ethereal.  Practical or Pie in the sky.

During the course of the weekend New Culture Community Building workshop, the whole community was guided thru a series of experiential exercises designed to help them recognize and name group power dynamics. (For example: Power Over, Power Under, Power With, In Group/Out Group, Emergent vs. Design, and more)  They were allowed to experiment with different kinds of interventions to address dysfunctional group dynamics, and opportunities to practice stepping into one’s power and voice.

Dying Sociologist Morrie Swartz told Ted Koppel of ABC Nightline news “Our culture is broken, we need a new one.”  What I think he means is that we have what Riane Eisler calls a domination culture, a militaristic culture that collectively supports codependent, self-sacrificing, conformist, self-disempowering, and dominant/submissive relationship patterns.  This collective field of mainstream unconsciousness keeps its members forever struggling to find healthy love, self expression and acceptance.  If we are going to have fully lived lives, and not just fall into the fold of culturally acceptable “sheeple,” I believe we will need to associate ourselves with a network of at least five communitarian-thinking people.  People who can help create a new field of energy that accepts and holds sacred space for each person’s experiment with spirituality, sexuality, self expression, power, love, and money.

All over the globe a new matrix (grid or system) of learning, knowledge, practices and technologies for growing morphogenetic “fields of conscious awareness,” i.e. New Culture Consciousness Tribes are forming.   These new groups embody some of the values outlined in Eckhart Tolle’s book, The New Earth, including deep energetic transparency for creating trust and respect for the divinity of autonomy and the growth of strong individual self expression which naturally leads to strong communities.  Even the “Occupy” movement is expressing some of these same “New Culture Values.”  Tolle says that the “new earth” will come through conscious  groups coming together and consciously dropping their egos, and actively seeking to create fields of communion/awareness among their members.

I have again and again experienced, in New Culture workshops/events, what might be called a “peak”, spiritual or mystical experience of a “unified field of consciousness” among the participants. There was a wise guy from the middle east who said “Where ever two or more of you are gathered in my name, I will be there.”  I believe the name is Love and Truth (Transparency?), and the “I” is the I of consciousness itself.

This actually living out of spiritual principles according to the entelechy (An entelechy, is a seed blue print pattern/design and is what allows a spider to know how to spin a web without a “Web making for Dummies” book.) of what is possible for human community, is what so many great spiritual teachers and leaders have taught.  The Christian Bible speaks of “thy kingdom come, thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven.”

Martin Luther King wrote: “The ultimate aim of Southern Christian Leadership Conference is to foster and create the ‘beloved community’ in America where brotherhood is a reality. . . . SCLC works for integration. Our ultimate goal is genuine intergroup and interpersonal living — integration.” And in his last book he said: “Our loyalties must transcend our race, our tribe, our class, and our nation . . .” and a completely integrated society, a community of love and justice wherein brotherhood would be an actuality in all of social life. In his mind, such a community would be the ideal corporate expression of the Christian faith.

Although King had a beautiful and clear vision of this conscious and loving community, his own organization was plagued with scandal, dissention and power struggle along with the love and harmony and inspiration.  I believe so many great organizations and communities do not have all the tools, or Tribal Technologies as I call them, to facilitate the development of a “beloved community” or organization.  I believe it also true of the M.L. King inspired organization that I have been serving for many years, the Center for Nonviolent Communication.

After over 25 years of teaching Nonviolent Communication (NVC) for a living, I have truly come to believe “It takes a village (or a network/community/tribe) to raise a consciousness”.  It has always been easy for me to get people to ‘catch fire’ about NVC, but without a holistic sustainable community to fan the flames, it dies out.  I spent 20 of those years teaching thousands in San Diego, and today there is barely a flicker of the practice left burning there.

I believe one reason for this is that none of us really had any community building tools nor much understanding about how to evolve groups.  We had enough consciousness to hold onto our autonomy but not enough to create synergy and energetic consensus.

In most cities you can find groups of people who meet frequently, connect deeply, love each other unconditionally, and are committed to each other’s evolution and well being, but they are not holistic. Some groups tend to focus on particular aspects of human experience, such as only experiencing positive emotions and lack the tools for dealings with suppressed emotions and desires. For example many spiritual communities I have worked with have beautiful practices for opening the heart chakra and higher spiritual chakra’s, but have few tools for addressing interpersonal communication, like clearing withholds or addressing the lower chakra issues of survival (money), sexuality or power.  Other organizations are very sex positive and work to liberate people from personal power issues and sexual repression with very little focus on the elements of love or spiritual consciousness.

Communities are developing now that collectively understand how fear does not need to be a part of life, how jealousy does not need to be a part of love and how duty, obligation and sacrifice does not have to be a part of service, and punishment and praise no longer a part of parenting.  One day it will be part of the collective and the cultural norm to be conscious of our individual needs.  Only then can we have true grass roots democracy.  We can only be self determined if we have self awareness of our needs in the context of an autonomy supporting community.  Heinze Kohut the existential psychologist said “What human beings most need is the mirroring presence of others”.  Why?  So we can know and accept/know our needs, feelings, essential selves, personalities, hearts, and souls.  From this supportive, conscious and empowered community container, individuals can be fully expressed.

This is the purpose of the sacred community container called the ZEGG Forum.  It provides a safe space for self exploration while offering no advice, or peer/community pressure to conform to any external values in any way.  The Forum helps people own their shadow elements and stop projecting them onto others.  It stops endless dialogue about issues and allows people to see/experience the intrapersonal (and not interpersonal) aspect of an issue.  In the process, an individual deepens their relationship with the larger community, and consciously accesses the power of the community ‘field’ to heal and break up inner blocks to the flow of life force or prana. Within the nonjudgmental field of the community, individuals find their internal autonomous authority.

The ZEGG Forum grew out of the ZEGG community founded by Dieter Duhm in Germany 20 years ago.  In Duhm’s book “The Sacred Matrix – From the Matrix of Violence to the Matrix of Life.  The Foundation for a New Civilization,” he writes about the power of a concrete Utopia. “The Sacred Matrix is the original, trans-historical, non-alienated, cosmic, and divine matrix of universal life.  According to the plan of Creation for the human being, we are to realize it on earth.  It is not a dream, but a deep, deep memory that wells up inside of us when we touch the Sacred, and this memory keeps re-creating our yearning.  For the sake of truth we cannot but find and follow the content of this yearning in its entirety, for the yearning that is recognized and not suppressed or sentimentalized is the signpost that leads us to our sacred home.”

Duhm says that the  most important issue on the planet is the loss of trust between men and women, followed by the rupture of humanity’s connection with nature and the breakdown of the fields of community.  In my practice as a licensed Marriage and Family therapist, I am astonished at the ubiquitous occurrence of secret affairs and other losses of trust in the couples I see, and it’s devastating effects on their field of trust and the lives of the children involved.  John Bradshaw said “Families are only as sick as their secrets.”

But where can they share these secrets without fear of judgment or punishment?  Dr. Marshall Rosenberg once said “You would have to be pretty stupid to tell certain truths in a punishment based culture like ours.”  This too is why we need the safe confidential container of the sacred circle of community.  This will also help us take back our social justice system from those who teach retributive justice and give it to those who facilitate restorative justice circles.

What if through our exploratory conversations we decided to experiment with valuing transparency in our communication with each other.   Conventional wisdom suggests that telling someone our self responsible honesty can hurt people and if you are kind you won’t.  However have we fully explored the costs in terms of loss of intimacy and trust when we withhold important honesty?  These are just a couple of the important questions for Tribes to explore in their journey to becoming a tribe.

We humans are like wolves not swans. We are naturally pack animals not dyadic units of humanity.  We need each other to grow in consciousness and spirituality.  Tribes with great communication skills understand and consciously evolve as unified, cooperative social beings, and therefore as spiritual beings, because as human beings we exist and grow in a social field of consciousness.   There are spiritual writings and philosophies that suggest we don’t need a social setting, but these are not the Super Natural Earthy Spiritualities I am writing about today.

I believe we spiritually and psychologically evolve quickest through our relationships.  Sure you can grow by sitting in a monastery or ashram for 10 years alone.  Or you can experience the same amount of growth in a couple of weeks by entering into authentic, honest, deep, loving relationship or participating fully in a conscious tribe.  In these new tribes the focus is on the holistic development of relationships and individuals.  The strength of the community is connected to the wholeness of individuals.  They consciously choose their values and question cultural norms. I believe it is through the evolution of the conscious relationship between individuals within these new tribes that humanity will evolve.

What are the most effective ways to grow spiritual qualities like kindness, generosity, patience, forgiveness, honesty, empathy, compassion, courage, and love and create loving, conscious communities with great communication skills, values of transparency and respect for autonomy?  Absolutely essential to this growth is the courage and love it takes to give clear, constructive, clean, love based, self referenced, and, sometimes hard, honesty.  Rollo May, the great psychologist, wrote that all healing begins with empathy. Empathy, coupled with honesty, connection and trust, produces dramatic growth and shifts in consciousness.  Empathy is like the massage, but honesty is the “crack“– the chiropractic adjustment. Within my heart is a great hunger for conscious community, the urge to merge, and a longing for growth and honest self awareness.

I have had amazing profound success in introducing various principles and practices, Tribal Technologies I call them,  in Southern California, San Francisco Bay area, Oregon, Colorado, New York, Maui, Oahu and Hawaii.  I introduced nonviolent communication (NVC) which helped resolve many conflicts, allowing a whole new wave and release of enthusiastic energy to flow forth for creating and organizing their community. To work at the community archetypal group dynamic level we used modalities such as Spiral Dynamics, The Gene Keys, The Zegg Forum, Arnold Mindell’s Organizational Development work, HAI or Human Awareness Institute, The Sacred Matrix principals, Riane Eisler’s Power of Partnership, Abraham’s Art of Allowing, Eckhart Tolle’s New Earth teachings, Neal Donald Walsch’s Personal Creation work, and my own Tribal Technologies and Trust Based Relationship modalities.

The consciousness of nonviolence, love, the Tao, and the Now, is a very different vibration than that of the dominant Domination culture we live in currently.  Therefore in order for us ordinary individuals to even come close to swimming up against the main stream of our culture, we need to establish many mini subcultures that support us in our Sacred Matrix cultural values.   Imagine an individual walking through a noisy construction site in downtown New York city singing “Lennon’s Imagine” and expecting to stay on key.  Okay, there may be spiritual athletes like Deepak Chopra, or Tolle who can stay tuned in the midst of the mayhem, but I am not one of them.  I am not Thor Heyerdahl who sailed across the Pacific Ocean solo in his tiny boat.  I personally prefer an ocean liner, The Love Boat, with tons of joyous community for my grand adventures in paradise.  The power and beauty of singing with a community chorus is that if you start to get off key, you can listen to the majority of other singers, and find your way back into harmony.  Can you imagine a parade of hundreds walking thru this same New York construction site singing “Imagine” together?  And staying on key?  It starts to seem more possible doesn’t it?

When we succeed in completing the cultural shift from a dominator to a partnership social ideological community, we will see a real sexual revolution—one in which sex will no longer be associated with domination and submission but with the full expression of our powerful human yearning for spiritual connection and erotic pleasure.  Jean Houston, the mother of the human potential movement and president of the Association for Humanistic Psychology said “The reason the peace movement of the sixties failed is that it was not sexy enough.“  And it will be a sexuality that will make it possible for us to more fully express and experiment sexual passion as an altered state of consciousness.  It will also bring the recognition that erotic pleasure can be imbued with a spirituality that is both immanent and transcendent.  And it will combine greater sexual freedom with greater empathy, respect, responsibility, and caring.  All this can only happen in the context of a new, more natural, safe, confidential community.

Peoples’ souls are longing for a place to express their gifts, to play with others who are really fun, to create schools with people who share common values, and to live with those who are more alive.  A conscious community is the best resource anyone can have to experience rapid growth and deep joy.  As psychiatrist Jean Baker Miller writes, “[the longing for community] allows for the emergence of the truth: that for everyone—men as well as women—individual development proceeds only by means of affiliation.”

What I am writing about is not a nice utopian dream, because it is already happening in many places around the world.  The communities that are the strongest are the ones that emerge organically, without a charismatic leader or school of philosophy or religion, as this weakens the community’s access to the Sacred Matrix, the direct intuitive access to the collective messiah of the own group wisdom, their autonomous authority, the entelechy of human community.  (When I use the word community I am also referring to small or large networks, clubs, associations, tribes, all kinds of groups too.)

The new “beloved” community does not exist.  However it is awakening through our hearts, through the quality of connection we make with the real people in our lives.  It rises up in our hearts when our compassion for the suffering of the world is touched.  This new community is invisible.  It shows itself through your eyes, your touch, your words, and your actions.

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