On Community

The sage has no mind of his own.
He is aware of the needs of others.

I am good to people who are good.
I am also good to people who are not good.
Because Virtue is goodness.
I have faith in people who are faithful.
I also have faith in people who are not faithful.
Because Virtue is faithfulness.

The sage is shy and humble – to the world he seems confusing.
Others look to him and listen.
He behaves like a little child.

Lao Tsu, Tao Te Ching: Forty-nine
Translation by Gia-Fu Feng and Jane English, 1972

Yesterday I came back from hosting the 4th Danish Authentic Relating Festival with my dear friend Michaela. At the festival more than 20 teachers hosted a variety of workshops for around 100 participants, from “closing the distance” through dance and movement to working on how better to deal with conflicts through “restorative circles”.

For me the festival this year gave me a sense of the importance of community. We have all grown up in a culture that makes a hegemonic claim on reality and as far as I can see we are all terribly constrained by this idea. We need help to realize that other realities are both possible and attainable.

As individuals it is so easy to get trapped in the idea that “this is just the way the world is” and succumb to that story. We lose faith in the idea that things could be otherwise because everything around us seems to confirm that this is the way reality is. That it is normal that people are suffering. That it is normal that you are feeling lonely and disconnected.

“When we dream alone it is only a dream, but when many dream together it is the beginning of a new reality”
Friedensreich Hundertwasser

A while ago a saw a video with Brené Brown where she posed the question “do you believe that people are doing the best they can?“. I find this question to be a fantastic inspiration on how to be with other people – especially in the form “who would you be and how would you act, if you believed that everybody was doing their best they can?

If I trust (as I do these days) that many (if not most) of the actions we take as humans are based on fear, the way to help each other is to reach out a hand and pose an invitation that allows the other to see more than the reality they are currently trapped in.

I have a strong pattern in me connected to wanting to work everything out on my own. That some parts of life are “private” and should not be brought into the light of others. But I am increasingly realizing how nonsensical it is to try to deal with the difficulties of the world on our own (or with a single partner) rather than to share and talk about the issues we are facing with people around us.

We need communities that enable ourselves and others to make invitations for new realities. New ways of being together. New ways of living. New ways of consuming. I trust that we can help each other to build the realities we long to live in. But it takes courage. It requires us to name our desires and dare to ask people to prototype other ways of being together with us. It requires us to take the first steps into the dream and invite others to join us.

Part of that invitation for me implies building community structures that are able to hold space for or be with more than what is possible in default society and bring consciousness to difficult questions. Helping to heal troubling interpersonal relationships by bringing more perspectives. Communities where we trust that it is possible to deal with offenses, transgression and other controversies together – even though it is hard.

“You have to do the work yourself, but you don’t have to do it alone.”

For me this is about generosity. Really daring to share my experience of reality as it is, including all the pain, shame and regret, but also including all the love and my longings. And allowing others to do the same.

At the Authentic Relating Festival I hosted a workshop experimenting with something I for now call “core relational practice”. My idea is to develop a community flow practice, that mixes movement/dance, bodywork and circling into a way of being together that invites for other interaction patterns than the ones we are used to with friends and family.

For me this new practice (as well as the Authentic Relating Festival in itself) is a small step to create a new and more connected reality – the kind of reality that I long to live in, and with to invite others to live in with me.