I woke up this morning with the (obvious, yet somehow fresh) awareness that this is not only a conference about story, but about the story field. Of course we will work/play together to create new – and share old – inspiring, inclusive and life-affirming stories. What else will we do, to affect the story field? (story fields?)
Ayenwatha, Peacemaker and Tododaho
I will be telling the true story of Peacemaker, the teenager who received the vision of the Great Law of Peace from the Great Spirit a thousand years ago — and ended the wars between the 5 nations of the Iroquois. I learned the tale from Mohawk Peace Chief Jake Swamp and his wife Judy Swamp (who knows the woman’s side of the story). Every 5 years, Jake tells the story over 4 days at the site of the League’s Grand Council at Lake Onandaga.
My version of the story is considerably shorter. Here is a picture of Jake:
It is a story of Sky Woman, who fell to Earth and created Turtle Island, of a peace and harmony shredded by generations of war, of the evil Shaman Tododaho, The Crooked One — who tries to stop the burgeoning peace movement started by Peacemaker and his allies Ayanwatha, the great chief and orator and Jinkonsaseh, the Clan Mother who becomes the Great Mother.
But most of all it is the story of what one change agent, a teenager no less, can do. Sometime around a thousand years, Peacemaker finally succeeded — and the Grand Council met at Lake Onandaga in New York, agreeing to a peace that lasted a thousand years. The Good Mind had won out over the evil and greed that lurks in the human heart.
How did Peacemaker do it? What can we learn from him, Ayenwatha and the powerful Jinkonsaseh?
Every day my creative flow, my way of navigating from one project to another, is led by a mysterious river of energy.
I have learned to trust this river. It feels like fluid subtle positive electromagnetic energy. In whatever I am up to (writing, painting, creating jewelry, working with my assistant making travel arrangements, etc.) I am guided by this energy. When I feel the energy shift, I stop. Usually it’s because somehow it’s not fun anymore, or isn’t flowing with effortless ease. So I stop, wait and listen. I ask my internal compass to guide me.
“OK, what wants to happen now?”, I’ll inquire. Then I wait and listen. Listening for me is often seeing a image on my “inner screen”. And it also happens through an inner voice that softly whispers something.
So for instance, I am in my art studio creating a Floating Painting, following the moment to moment “instructions” from my inner self, as I paint away. Then it happens. The positive effortless ease stops. So I stop. I wait for my “instructions” and then move to the next “assignment”.
In the last month, it has been curious to me, that often I am led to the garden in the back of our house in Point Loma. I look around and wait until I see something light up, and think “oh this would be fun to work on, or rearrange in a fresh way”. Then I ask my inner compass, “May I do this?” I always get an immediate “yes or no”. Actually it’s more like I either get a “Yes!” with huge positively charged energy; or get nothing, the energy is dull. If the inner navigation is not the positive river of “Yes!” then I wait and continue to look around my environment and within, until I do get that “Yes” connection.
Often when I am in this still place and the next directive has not appeared to me, I will look inwardly. Instantly I usually see, feel or think of something delightful I might do next. When that inner image arises, again I ask, “May I do this?” If I receive a “Yes!” than I slowly proceed to follow a path guided by this river of positive energy towards my next “assignment”. Each moment “sniffing” the way along the “river” through my environment. Often I never make it to the goal of what I have seen in my mind initially, as something along the path towards that goal has “spoken” “Yes!” this is what want to happen now. My attention then follows this. Whatever wants to be done next, is done not by the separate Lisa sense of myself that sees the world through two other eyes, but the me who sees with the one inner eye. The me who is completely surrendered to a living force far beyond my personal self.
In this way my navigation, my goals and visions, follow a completely nonlinear path. Because of all my past conditioning of making lists, goals, project plans, this way of navigating life is radically different. As my mentor, Jonas Salk so often said, “Let intuition be your guide, with reason by its side”. I am doing this, completely surrendered to this positive river of energy . Since I have embodied this navigational process, my life is always filled with a vitality of joy, bliss and happiness beyond my wildest dreams of what is possible. It feels like I am floating in the sweet spot of a rapidly moving river of love.
Often I am led to the garden. There I work with my bare hands touching the dirt, planting flowers and gathering dead leafs to throw away. Initially the pull to work in my garden was a challenge for my mind, when it chattered “But I have such a full plate of work that I should do, is this the highest priority now?”. (Often I am spending 2 to 3 hours each day with my hands in dirt)
I have come to realize the value of directly touching dirt as it connects me to the whole living earth, the biosphere we live in (including dirt, water, air, insects, plants, animals etc. ). In my experience the natural world is connected to the whole of life on this glorious garden planet. By touching the dirt throughout my day, I also am touching the one life, outside my human sphere. The living earth is sharing enormous energy and information that helps me understand my place in service to all of life. I see visions of our human species surviving and thriving on this planet in the 21st century. However we MUST reconnect to the dirt and plants (the biosphere as a whole). We must sync ourselves with the living body of the whole earth connected, an alive conscious awakening universe.
Work with the dirt in your garden. It will help our species survive the challenging times ahead of us.
I am sorting though old floppies, to dispose of, and chanced to look at a BU file of an essay composed in 1986. The concept of “precision of fit” remains critical, and I often couple it with the concept of “sufficient action”. I copy/paste my old essay into my personal blog and present a link to it here. The essay goes into some of the precision of physics and biology to make the point that we need to consider such precision and complexity in our social systems.
Find this essay on my personal blog on WordPress:
The Shift, an upcoming movie representing a selection of the incredible transformative work that is happening in the world today is good example of what is going on in the Story Field. It emphasizes the fact that we can act powerfully by choosing the kinds of futures we wish to live, and start living them now. By telling the stories of those futures, we bring them into the present, and we can turn them into inspiration and actions that makes a difference.
There are many stories that can and will be told. Paul Hawken’s book Blessed Unrest reveals some of the pattern, the Story Field Conference will reveal additional bits and pieces, and there is an endless supply of amazing stories around us if we simply start looking for them and re-telling them.
It’s the concept of continuously seeking to weave and re-weave these emerging patterns together into new views of what is happening in the world that attracts me to this conference and work. The mere act of getting these stories more “out there” reminds people that they are not alone, that there is hope in the world, that we have the potential participate in creating a world that is more complex and more beautiful than the one we have today. We are co-creative beings engaged in the process of evolution. As we engage with greater degrees of individual and collective consciousness, we become part of the rising tide that lifts all ships, addressing extinction-level issues with forward-looking visions and forward-thinking practical solutions. And we end up having an incredible time along the way.
As Derrick Ashong says in the film, “Making the world a better place is not only your responsibility, it is your joy, it is your blessing, it is your gift, it’s your opportunity to make your life mean something.”
In The Enlightenment of the 1700s, the crucial factor, the catalyst that finally upended the old worldview and jumpstarts the paradigm flip, appears to have been the writings of the author Voltaire. Although known primarily as satirist and essayist, Voltaire was also an historian and scholar.
His books on science and the past popularized not only the Copernican Revolution and the significance of Newton’s achievements, his true history of the French royalty gave a historical center to the new worldview, it gave the new paradigm a “Story”.
Every worldview is based on its Story of who we are, how we got here and where we are going—it must answer those three essential questions. Voltaire explained to his time a New Story, how the king, rather than a divine being, is just a man driven by the lust for power—thus we should have a democracy in which the people have the power. Voltaire declared that Laws of Nature caused events here on Earth, not God. Science should thus guide us rather than religion. He made the concept of progress a common one, focusing attention on science and the future in a whole new way and giving the multiple revolutions to come a powerful image of what they could be.
It was this New Story of Voltaire, this re-answering of the three essential questions, that allowed the new Copernican paradigm to finally transcend the cultish control the old Medieval powers had on the population. Once it was realized that the divine rights of the king and nobility were just made up to enrich the few, that control evaporated very quickly.
By the 1760s, the rulers Louis XV of France and George III of England were suddenly faced with a large part of the population that despised them and wanted deep change, especially for George III in the American colonies. Their personal mistakes concerning foreign policy and ruinous tax structures ended up discrediting the whole Medieval worldview. It was a time very similar to our own.
Old paradigms disguise themselves with partial, glorified histories and lots of Public Relations. One’s view of history guides opinions about everything from politics to religion, so a history based on a new paradigm changes opinions like nothing else. In fact, no new history, no New Story, no paradigm flip, no new future. The re-telling of the Story is the catalyst to the whole process of the new transcending the old. Once the old was transcended, the new worldview grabbed power and reinvented the world.
The first step then toward a new world is to realize a new history. Beyond the evolution of species is the story of human consciousness and how it evolved. This is what I will be bringing to Storyfield.
A Beautiful r EVOLUTION
Troubadours of Transformation Shifting Global Consciousness
This is a workshop I will be leading in the fall through the Institute of Imaginal Studies…these are the ideas I’ve been thinking about. Though I think I know what I mean by these things, I don’t yet know how to make them ‘happen’ live in a group- something I think the conference will open up…
From pre-historic times the arts have ‘intuited’ and catalyzed the emergent collective consciousness. The artist has served as a vehicle for the transmission of higher order knowledge and experience, as healer, shaman and conduit of revelation. Today the Arts are often relegated to decoration, hijacked by consumerism and usurped by titillation and cleverness. In these watershed times we are called to dispel the sirens of glamour and follow the deeper call of truth, beauty and meaning. We are all called to become troubadours of transformation, nourishing the vitality of the inner life and awakening emergent higher capacities through our creative expression.
Discussion and hands-on play with creative modalities to foment:
• Discovering ‘Strange Attractors’: the power of images to make positive futures probable
• Shifting Cultural Meta-Narratives, changing the stories we tell ourselves
• Accessing the realms that are not linear, sequential or bound by time
• Tapping ‘super conscious’ solutions from deeper and higher realms of reality
Emotion is our first language. Before infants understand words, they form memories based on the emotional content of their relationship to their parents and other caregivers. This emotional understanding doesn’t disappear as a child grows up, even though it may take a back seat to the written and spoken word. It is still there, available to be tapped in the right circumstances. Storyteller Michael Meade, in his extensive work with adolescents and myth, explains that when part of a story resonates emotionally with an individual, it likely holds a nugget of personal truth that may be exposed and understood. But there’s another dimension to a story, especially a myth or other cultural story: The available truth may go beyond the personal and also open up a connection to the unseen world of meaning that all people share because of our common origins.
My own experience in studying some of civilization’s oldest stories has taught me that it is the details of a story, the images that it brings to mind, that can unlock this level of meaning and energy by speaking directly to the unconscious mind. I’ve gone back to school to stimulate my own “narrative intelligence” and to learn how to coax that “story sense” out in other people. For, I believe that we all hold stories filled with deep significance — we just don’t always recognize them or take the time to slow down and savor them. Realizing that my stories dovetails with yours is the first step in acknowledging each other as fellow worthy humans and establishing a relationship. Imagine that happening on a worldwide scale, at Internet speed! Through the Story Field Conference, I hope to connect with other people exploring these ideas in theory and in practice.
Have a seat so we can talk for a while.
Here’s an excerpt from an article I just wrote for a journal in India and it expresses what I’ve been thinking about…
“…It is not the nation state, nor the tribes and races of humanity, nor the religions and traditions of our world’s diverse cultures that must circumscribe the boundary of our identity in these times. An emerging planetary culture demands a new paradigm- a way of grasping the whole that both includes and transcends the differences. What is needed is an identification large enough to hold the magnitude and enormity of the world now emerging. In my parent’s generation we were taught that the world we inhabited was the size of a single galaxy. It was thought we might one day discover another galaxy- perhaps several. A few decades later we aimed our Hubble telescope on a part of the night sky that was dark and empty space and gazed with wonderment at thousands of galaxies dancing in one tiny aperture. “Who tells me Thou Art dark, oh my mother Divine? Thousands of Suns and Moons from Thy body do shine!” (Lyrics to a Bengali Chant) And as we peered into the microcosm our gaze penetrated further still, from atom to electron to quark until we plunged into a quantum foam of virtual particles popping into and out of existence. The world we live in has expanded by exponential proportions. So too must our worldview.
The paradigm fitting of the 21st century will begin with the necessity of a ‘post-modern meta-perspective’ but it will not be flattened by materialism. It will embrace diversity and complexity without abandoning meaning. In a more sophisticated comprehension of the relationship between systems of knowledge and truth itself, there will be a higher order integration of reason’s breadth with intuitions depth. The capacity to hold a meta- perspective that embraces multifarious viewpoints without losing the polestar of truth and meaning is, in my view, the most imperative demand of our times.”
Even more important than a new and better cultural narrative is our ability to hold a meta perspective to the story- and in a way that doesn’t flatten.