Edgecamp Unconference: report on session on 'spirituality and resilience: practices for transformation'

My first mission, and it’s not a typical one: I offered a session on spirituality and resilience at the Edgecamp Unconference, and by request I’m putting up some quick notes/summary for those that attended, and those that didn’t.

We started with a simple mindfulness of breathing exercise and I began by proposing a working definition of spirituality for the purposes of Edgeryders (a fuller definition is impossible in this context). The definition is ‘practices and structures for transformations of consciousness’. In the Edgeryders context, this means developing equanimity to avoid reacting to external stimuli: consumerist materialism, the domination system/ neoliberal growth economics etc. This stimulated a discussion on advertising and marketing, and the ubiquity of symbolism of death and sex- eros and thanatos- something designed into marketing since its inception by the nephew of Sigmund Freud, Edward de Bernays (Adam Curtis has a great series on these ideas called 'Century of the Self: view the first episode here: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=9167657690296627941

Arthur talked about Alain de Botton’s ideas of atheism and science learning from the valuable elements of traditional religion: community, ritual, meaning and gathering etc. see this link for a critical take on de Botton’s ideas: http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2012/jan/12/religion-for-atheists-de-botton-review

Nadia, with a background in advertising and cognitive science, challenged the idea of much traditional religious practice and queried the purpose of this transformation. I suggested that this is a case of Stephen Jay Gould’s 'non-overlapping magisteria http://www.stephenjaygould.org/library/gould_noma.html . I define consciousness change as separate, but connected to religious heritage. it’s an injunction: perform the practice, analyse the result. Effectively, a scientific method.

Recommendations were made for the work of Peter Senge, specifically his Theory U http://www.ottoscharmer.com/publications/summaries.php and also Don Beck’s work on Spiral Dynamics (I’m not really into SD any more, as I think it’s reductionist and pseudoscientific, preferring other developmental theorists that are a bit more evidence-based, eg Robert Kegan’s work at Harvard).

Time was against us, so l left with the proposal that Edgeryders is a community of practice, and that transformation of consciousness can be a component of its development. I recommended new movements of peer-to-peer spiritual practice, including Pragmatic Buddhism http://www.pragmaticbuddhism.org/ , Daniel Ingram’s work on ‘Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha’ http://www.interactivebuddha.com/mctb.shtml or… whatever practice or community you choose.

Feel free to comment and continue the discussion.

It’s been great to meet fellow Edgeryders and also test my own resilience and urban survival ability, having had my wallet lost or stolen and being without money or accomodation for the first day! Looking forward to the rest of the Unconference. I’m in Arthur Doohan’s ‘state in a box’ session now, and I want to turn my attention to it now, so signing off…

An essay about consciousness in french

Interesting stuff you share here.

I’m really interested on spirituality and i’d like to share my lastest work. It’s in french, and it needs some rework.

Here’s the original text : http://demopolitique.fr/node/65

Here’s a google translation of it :

Awakening and Consciousness prism

This text is not a final version, please forgive the blunders and bad formulations.
Any comments or suggestions are welcome.
The kundalini is a form of spiritual elevation.
It arises from the intimate and personal encounter with the snake, the symbol of this awakening.
This snake needs to be fed to evolve.
The method of kundalini yoga and by extension all methods of meditation and prayer are ways to achieve altered forms of consciousness. Inner calm seems to encourage its development.
However, different expressions of enlightenment exist and have things in common:
-Aware of things and people increased.
-Greater tolerance and openness
In general, this is manifested by a greater curiosity and interest in things that do not directly affect the person. More the individual awakens, the more the other becomes more important in his heart, to become the priority.
The main examples of this type of spiritual elevation are the saints and mystics, but I think we can also meet much more varied, especially in the arts and manual labor, but also intellectual.
Music, especially during concerts, is a good example. An alchemy created between group members, but also with the public. The musicians feel this connection, this force, this energy. It boosts their talent and their will to become the engine that drives them to continue to share their passion.
The expression of this force, this awakening, thus depends on each individual and especially his prism of consciousness.
The prism of consciousness is the awareness that the individual has of his environment and the extent of this environment and the sum of its knowledge. Otherwise defined, the prism reflects the barriers and internal and external borders of a person. This prism defines the scope of an awakening but also its feasibility.
Yogis and saints are shining examples of their material and spiritual detachment. Their words have survived the ages because their actions have shared their experience.
I think there are far more expressions of this kind of awakening. Every person on earth can come alive.
This awakening is similar to the quest of Nietzschean superman, "You must become the man you are. Do what you alone can do. Become always who you are, be the master and the sculptor of yourself. "
This quest is always personal and intimate, and its expression is too.
So, how to identify and encourage the expression, this awakening, this quest?
I think it imperative to confront the individual in many situations and different approaches while being attentive to his reactions and his interest.
It is also important to fight against beliefs. Many mental patterns can stifle the awakening or pervert. Beliefs, unlike knowledge, can prevent an individual from developing.
In our individualistic societies, the dominant message says that happiness is in the ownership and individual fulfillment. Many obstacles can prevent the development of a spiritual person. Two worlds collide, and one great inner strength can help to awaken last.
Internet and open source are already a way to find, develop and express his awakening. The first person who freely shared the fruits of his work has perhaps laid the seed of an awakening of humanity, which would join some theories of collective awakening. Indeed, the internet has it interesting that may materialize in part the collective consciousness.
In history, there are examples of inventions or ideas that have emerged around the same time at distances that did not allow their transmission. There are also examples of ideas that emerged to reappear later and elsewhere. Internet changes everything. And the canvas will be larger, collective consciousness that will materialize.
The prism of consciousness corresponds to the things a person cares, its scope of impact in some way. In the case of monks or yogis, their prism is turned inward and their belief is: by raising me inside, I work in the collective consciousness. A friend made this choice and went to live in a monastery.
In the mystic and religious, the prism is also outside because they often share their thoughts and experiences, as Buddha or Krishna. Moult also act physically as Abbe Pierre.
Thus, number of people who attained enlightenment have allowed others to achieve it through their teachings. But not everyone can do it, and, according to individuals, it will take more or less time or may never even happen. Indeed, these "manuals" are from intimate beliefs and experiences that must be achieved to integrate and feel.
Thus, in this way to reach enlightenment can not be generalized because it is the result of individual experiences.
In my opinion, everyone has their own energy which will find its own expression he has the chance to discover who he is, but also to build in accordance with this energy. Intelligence can be logical-mathematical, spatial, interpersonal, bodily-kinesthetic, verbal-linguistic, intrapersonal, musical-rhythmic and existential (see the theory of multiple intelligences). Individuals have always thrive in these areas.
Education today, especially in France, seriously devalues ​​the logical-mathematical intelligence and even manages to pervert it. Indeed, this intelligence is often used for commercial purposes.
An educational approach combining these seven intelligences, with an infinite number of approaches, allow everyone to find their mode of expression, his voice, his quest, his enlightenment. Computer tools, teaching and educational could quickly help to identify patterns, ways to direct the individual to himself, to his deep and hidden strength.
Many theories and philosophies speak of collective consciousness and personal quest. These two concepts are intimately related: moving towards his personal quest contributes to the collective consciousness.
Internet already allows us to observe this in part through the open source and methods of information exchange and virtual collaboration. More and more people are able to flourish because they have access to many more possibilities and different paths in the physical world. There are many people like this on atypical Edgeryders for example, self-made men, independent thinkers, self-taught ...
If education uses the internet, free knowledge, cooperation and collaboration, and especially if she continues to direct and compartmentalize knowledge, we could well see the emergence of a new human being. The idea of ​​Luminous man fascinates me as a person radiates in full bloom around him and sparkles that can inspire such dazzling.
But I would prefer a simple definition of Free Man who has the means to accomplish, to discover and choose his own life.
It is also possible to widen the prism of consciousness towards a more global awareness of fairly simply. The prism expands during encounters and discoveries. It can also decrease when an individual withdraws into itself and is locked within four walls, physical or mental, which often happens in today's societies.
A person trapped in these four walls limit his consciousness to this prison that the World Cup outside where his deep person can not or do not know how to express themselves.
Two worlds collide: a world within a single, standardized and multiple external world which does not leave much room for these unique worlds.
That shock, more or less violent depending on individuals and their environment, could explain many "mental illnesses" and depressions, because the outside world is stronger and has many tools of deception, manipulation and illusion as we don ' in'd never known.
The prism of consciousness can be extended only by comparing the individual to new worlds and realities, both physical and mental.
The tree of consciousness
The prism of consciousness can be likened to the branches of a tree. Awakening is a seed that we all possess and which is unique to each. It germinates more or less naturally and when it grows, it adapts to its environment. Thus, each trunk takes a different shape and texture.
The foliage is our knowledge and our awareness of the world. A curious person will have a growing number of different branches, and many are its leaves and fruit.
A person trapped between four walls will have a tree where only a few branches bloom, the rest is not powered.
We are the gardeners of this tree, and by our choices, we have the antlers. Some let it grow a little wildly, or prune branches regularly. But we are not the only ones able to influence our personal tree.
Others can graft branches or cut, some have even made their specialty.
However, each individual is the guardian of his own sacred tree, and he is its master.

Thanks for the summary and references

I’m going to look a couple of those up. My question was whether it was possible to understand the sturcture of the house you’re in without moving a wall that may well bring it down :slight_smile:

So what is consciousness?

Interesting session, and I missed it completely!

Just one burning question that came to my mind: When defining spirituality as “practices and structures for transformations of consciousness”, you also have to define consciousness because it has wide implications on what measures of spirituality can then be considered reasonable. There are at least these two big alternatives that come to my mind:

  • The human being as being implemented completely in matter, so abiding completely in the framework of the physical world. That would make consciousness a part of a cybernetic hardware/software system, and would mean that experimental psychology etc. has much to say for informing spirituality. Spirituality would be an exercise in reprogramming the brain.
  • The human being as being also partially implemented in a non-material, spiritual sphere. One that has its own laws, completely independent from physics. If that is the case, there's room for spiritual practices that would be completely unreasonable when considering consciousness as a function of the brain.
So what case did you folks fall into in that session, or has there been a division among participants?

The third alternative

What about the third alternative:

  • consciousness is an emergent property of a cybernetic hardware/software system. It still means that experimental psychology etc. has much to say for informing spirituality - but reprogramming the brain is several steps removed from what happens at the top level of awareness itself.

Spaces, practices and projects that contribute to

Hi Luke,

I hope all is well with you. The session on resilience and spirituality came back  to me today and I wanted to ask whether you might have some suggestions. Here’s the thing, a little while ago I was contacted with a request to contribute to a parliamentary assembly motion: http://assembly.coe.int/Documents/WorkingDocs/Doc10/EDOC12256.pdf

If I’m not mistaken the work you are doing  and maybe the work of friends or people you know gives relevant insights. So I wanted to invite you the conversation we’re having around it here: http://edgeryders.ppa.coe.int/where-edgeryders-dare/mission_case/edge-learning