Br. Chris has been on an evolutionary roll recently with the future in his recent epic interview with Thomas Hubl on Downloading the Future and then his extensive follow-up reflection, Logging onto the Cosmic Internet. Reading those pieces, the need to continue to lean in and push this larger conversation further became suddenly apparent to me. Then I thought of Br. Bruce Sanguin's earlier catalytic piece God as the Future. I couldn't resist putting out an invite to Thomas and Bruce for an exploratory inquiry around this subject of the future and its pressing significance at this point in time.
The text of our conversation & inquiry follows below, but first I want to share some of the impetus that inspired it..
Logging on to Beams a moment ago, I am greeted with Chris's Sermon: The Real Meaning and Practice of the Apocalypse. At some point in his reflections on Charles Eisenstein's vision of a more beautiful world, everything stops.
After a little while, it starts to slowly become apparent to me that there's a world we're all trying to let in right now. A world that humanity is starting to find some significant leverage points and process in—collectively—in co-articulating what this coming transformation needs to look and feel like on the street, in our institutions and most importantly in our heart of hearts.
In the growing quiet of this subtle ecstasy is a gentle arising impulse—call it the future. Listening closer, I can feel it, though it feels more like a her, starting me up again, moving my eyes down the page to riff further through Chris's brilliant transmission and then down into the comments through Phillip's jolting intuition of JC's teachings, followed by Bruce's comment on the sermon feeling like gospel and then Trevor leaning in with the urgency to hold it all wide open. Kind of like how I imagine the raison d'etre of Beams and Struts sometimes, as a basecamp and bridge to this newly emerging culture that beckons and whispers from a place that compels the heart and imagination home.
But it doesn't stop there, down the rabbit hole further and through the comments to the link of Occupy Love where Ian MacKenzie has penned a brilliant piece, We Come From the Future, reminding us so lucidly of what's at stake and what's being asked of those of us who hear this call like a distant melody in our bones right now.
"Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing."
Something is changing. We're not as alone in our efforts any more—or at least it feels that way. And as a culture coming to recognize who and what it is, we're learning how to hear her breathe. In this quiet ecstasy, as we're lead by the undulations and contours of her breath, there's this growing concern for her well being and how to co-enact conditions for her to flourish and become more actualized in us and our world. To give more of ourselves over in ways beyond what we had imagined, in whatever form and expression feels most right to the needs of this shared undertaking.
Retracing back to my original intent, this piece is offered up as a furtherance in this greater collective effort to strengthen our collective capacity to love the future into existence through us and out of this agonizing concern, to heed the call of the emerging not-yet-formed path. The path that is being revealed by an intimate indwelling and listening with her breathing in and through us, giving us real cause for a long awaited basis for shared purpose and direction. Something our human family has been longing for for a very, very long time. In some way I suppose, as far back as we can remember...
Olen: I want to begin by saying first of all it's a real pleasure and honour to be having this call here with you guys today. So thank you for joining me. If its okay with you both, as most of the beams community knows your work, I'm going to skip the intros and get right to the heart of why we are here together. If that's okay, I'll jump in with a couple of points. Does that sound good for you guys?
Thomas and Bruce: That's fine.
Olen: Okay great, as I've shared with you both over email recently, my intent is to explore the bigger conversation around "the future." The three of us have acknowledged in our work as well as online through Beams this more recent resurgence of interest in the topic. It has come up around a lot of different extended conversations in the community recently. There's a collective interest emerging around this conversation. I'm really curious what would it be like for the three of us to look into this a bit more deeply and to clarify and articulate what is compelling our fascination and interest in this topic. I wanted to frame the conversation as an inquiry into that, less of an interview. Process-wise as I've been exploring over email, I was thinking that we open a conversation here in terms of letting the ideas come to us. Does that sound like a plan? Are you guys up for it?
So when we contemplate this subject of the future in our quieter private moments, what do we discover there? What is compelling our interest or what aspect of the future holds our attention in a way that is perhaps a bit distinct than something we've been doing a few months or even a few years ago? I wanted to put that out as a loose invitation to the conversation before we presence into the space together.
A Minute of silence.
Olen: I invite us into an easeful process around that and feel free for someone to lead in.
Thomas: What I am interested in this discussion is to look what we mean when we say the future because I think most people who would use the word in a different sense. If I look at the future, I would look closer at the possibility that would say the future is not what is happening tomorrow but the future is a potential we can develop into and that tomorrow is different than today. Some people would see tomorrow as a continuation of the same life patterns as today. To me this is not the future but it is just a repetition and if we look at the possibility of the future. People generally run away from their lives because they don't like it and they are dreaming of a possibility that might never happen. If we access when we are so present, so alive in participating, our intensity rises up with this feeling we have today. So we touch this fruit from an unknown territory and then we might come back. The future that makes us more unpresent because we dream about it, but its not the intensity that is being lived, which allows us to touch something that we didn't see before and both points I'd love to have more discussion about.
Bruce: Just to build on that a little bit, I agree with what you're saying Thomas and if I can be personal here for a moment, I've gone back through some therapeutic work doing some early attachment stuff to compensate for some deficits which I experienced at a very early time in my life. When I am in the presence of an unconditional love something happens to me where I make contact with a deep promise that I have a sense of intuitively that has showed up for in this life. There is a profound ecstasy and bliss—a deep YES. This is in a sense what is promised to me. So what is the nature of that promise? And the other thing that happened to me quite spontaneously though I am in this so-called regressed state. By deeply inhabiting that present moment where I'm feeling the implicit promise of the universe as love, bliss and joy I realized in a sense my future. I gained a sense of what my mission was. It was just obvious. I didn't go into a 3 day workshop to find the purpose of my life. It was just given to me. I knew I would spend my life enacting this future that was present in because of deeply I was inhabiting the present moment if you like. So it's that paradox of the future being more present the more deeply we can inhabit this moment.
Olen: This is really beautiful gentleman. Maybe I'll speak to Bruce's sharing and dovetail back to Thomas's. Your sharing brings up a clarified realization of my own in the sense that there's a way in which, by this deep abiding in the present we make contact with the seeds or possible aspects of who we are that maybe initially feel a little unfamiliar or a little bit surprising but there's some kind of coherent voice or self-sense that resides in those deeper realms of who we are. So it's a fascinating point around how through therapy you were able to reconnect with this tacit or deeper part of yourself and in the process of doing that, reclaiming that voice or that earlier part of you opened up the future. It was fascinating to hear how you found the future through a reclamation of your past in a sense. And then what I'm hearing in Thomas is this really important distinction around how we need to become more refined in our awareness concerning how we think about the future. Conventionally how people relate to the future isn't really at all what we're talking about as this conditioned momentum of our past experience that continues to project itself through us. I think people more superficially who are not tuned into this deep present are not in different ways in contact with this potentiality of the future. So it's really interesting to me how what you both shared there connects us around this question of the nature of what the future is and how we access it.
Thomas: Right, because I think some people when they hear we are talking about the future, they would take it as how to avoid one's life here. And if we clarify this from the beginning, its actually an invitation to be so present that we literally--in this therapeutic moment or any other moment--that we fully participate that there is a level of transcendence that starts to happen by the intensity of life. I think the future is then really interesting. If it's not an avoidance of my life, its actually bearing the fruits of living my life fully and by embracing this mission or core intelligence. The second point is that when we look at the past, I believe that the past is only consisting of the past influence of moments. It is just consisting out of the unfulfilled energy that has been created but didn't find its way home.
Bruce: I love that Thomas because there certainly is a bias in the modern era and even postmodernity I think to buy into the belief of historical causality. Certainly science and a lot of scientific materialists would say that's the only possibility but my own experience in life tells me that when I deeply abide in the present moment there are future possibilities that are shaping and informing my freedom if I'm not simply acting out of the habitual past.
Olen: It's almost as though there needs to be some kind of fundamental differentiation in time around this question of who we are. I'm thinking in terms of the conditions that bring about people's personal or collective realization around who we are in this historical moment or in a spiritual sense. But there seems to be a need for more attention given to the role of time here. Particularly in terms of how the self experiences itself. Thomas, your point earlier around this notion of coming home, I think there is a connect or an opportunity to reconnect with this notion of the future as part of the process of coming home. I'm not sure how that shifts our cosmology or what the implications of this are in terms of living more fully. It's an interesting piece. Your comment around how there is this undigested past—that something in us hasn't sufficiently gained consciousness yet and so until it does, we continue to perpetuate this kind of conditioning and so coming home then is a nice metaphor for a central aspect of this lived process. I like that.
Thomas: Yes and the beauty is that thousands of years of evolution have led us to this point in time of thinking and feeling and reacting is that if we don't see it as so unique, but that the uniqueness comes with a more awake consciousness that really flows into this moment that is structured like this. So what makes our lives unique is actually the higher realization to this structure that we sit in. The second thing which is also interesting is that when we watch a movie, all the unintegrated stuff that is still asking for integration which we call the past is actually like an advertisement movie on the main movie constantly. So you watch a movie and then you see two or three advertisements on top of the movie and so we don't see reality really fully as it is because a lot of this unintegrated energy is asking to be integrated constantly and so feelings and thoughts and body sensations are not connected to what we are experiencing right now. The more awake we become the more we look through these advertisements movies (trailers) to see the main movie. I think this changes a bit the notion of how we look at shadow material. Every shadow contraction or disassociated energy that is in in our energy field is actually circular, unintegrated evolutionary drive that wants to fulfil its movement and by this we see how shadow work is equally important than what we normally understand or what Andrew Cohen describes as evolutionary work, which means looking towards the evolutionary impulse. By looking into the parts of the shadow that are looking for integration, this is equally evolutionary work.
Bruce: I love that Thomas. Looking at shadow work not so much in dealing with past unresolved issues but in service of energies that in a sense needed to find resolution so that they can be in service of this cosmic impulse to evolve towards greater expressions of truth, beauty, goodness, joy, love whatever you want to call it—that's profound. Also when you mentioned movies, I was thinking about how I recently saw Terrence Malick's The Tree of Life. I don't know if that was the first serious attempt to integrate the great epic of evolution, that great drama and set within it, this small drama of a Texan family set in the 1950s and to see that smaller drama in the context of this epic of evolution, so that we could in a sense get a transcendent view of the dynamics of that family as an expression of the creative impulse in the 1950s. What possibilities could emerge out of that if your looking at in the context of this great epic? I think there is that historical story of evolution and to expand into in essence, becoming that creative process, not this story of this small self that creates all kinds of dramas but rather we are the presence of that which is wanting to emerge in as and through us. To the extent to which we can stabilize in that big self or that cosmic self and be present in this moment, then there is a sense in which the future and find expression through us I think more readily. We become more transparent vessels for that.
Olen: I think we also need to become more ontologically sensitive to it. It's a piece I've been working with more recently in terms of how do we accommodate the future or how do we accommodate this emergence in terms of our way of being in the world? We've talked about finding or accessing the future through the deep present or as Bruce you were sharing earlier about your therapeutic realization and healing and we could probably open it up further in terms of finding this elusive quality of the future. I think too at some level our language is failing us around what it is or what is this essential quality? The future from a modern perspective is more of a thing and less of a process, which is more a postmodern understanding. The future is now a part of an interior process if we look at it from a certain perspective around creativity or how we experience this phenomena. Its now an individual interior but also collectively interior process that implicates our ontology or way of being in the world. If we start to allow this phenomena to be itself and gain that sensitivity together and alone, through our own passionate pursuits, start to accommodate it as a part of who we are and as a part of a dynamic or alive dimension of our existence in a way that was not maybe as tangible to us. Its hard to comment on the tangibility of it historically as I imagine artists, great thinkers, visionaries and other contributors with a more evolved consciousness probably to a different degree were in touch with this through their own state work and so on, but a new inflection seems to be arising around how our way of being, sense of self and identity needs to consider this aspect of the future as fundamentally apart of who we are.
Thomas: Right, Right. It actually shows us when we reintroduce spiritual intelligence in the way we see life also, even in the academic world, I think after the emergence of the scientific age that abandoned the traditional spiritual values, so we need to reintroduce some kind of spiritual development. I think if we can show this inherent creativity is also a spiritual competency that we can practice and take care of the right circumstances and ingredients in our lives that support this process, then I think we have at least one beautiful ability that this kind of intelligence can give us. There are within the wisdom traditions, 1000s of years of mystical knowledge—a lot of material about how to open oneself into the not knowing that allows future knowing to come in, which would lead to the mastery of the competence. I think that this mystical mastery has two parts of a practice: the competence of silence and the deep unformed realization and the competence of movement or the deep participation in the creative process and if we master the creative process it would mean that we would walk in an unknowing but have access to all the information that we need or that arises in our reality and I think then that access to the future is an ability. To look for a way in our society for the spiritual line of development to be reintroduced with new potentials that would make our children, students and adults very happy. I see in my groups many people that didn't have access to practices, but when they find it now they are excited saying this is what I was looking for many years but my school system and university didn't offer me this so I thought that this part was not valid.
Bruce: I'm a part of a practice group that is working with your transparent communication practice with Chris and Chloe [Dierkes] in Vancouver. I'm feeling like a bit of a rookie with that spiritual practice, but I appreciate that you're developing spiritual practices that are congruent with what we're talking about here today. It is interesting to think about in my lineage, which is the Judeo-Christian tradition that Jesus came along and had this metaphor of the Kingdom of God as already present and not yet manifest. And he was the one who would say to people, "If you want to see where this divine realm is a present reality, then look at my life." So he stepped into that and was so transparent to this field of infinite possibility and actually was the presence of that. He was this divine realm. This is what the early church claimed about him and how they experienced him so I think in a sense a guy like Jesus anticipated the possibility of inhabiting the present so deeply that people could see in him this actual possibility of the future. That this is what it could look like; this is how love could show up in relationship and community. This is what our social, economic and political system could look like. He was an exemplar of that here and now. Why his presence was so compelling, in the gospels I always thought it was hyperbole when they tell these stories about these disciples dropping everything immediately and following him but in truth whenever we come into the presence of the one who is the presence of the promise of the future, our soul awakens. We go yeah, I showed up for that! It's alive in this dude. I will drop everything. This is what my life is for. I think this partly explains what speaks to the power of Thomas's presence. I think a lot of people find you have that kind of presence that is that promise.
Olen: Just to build on that Bruce, thank you, this promise of the future as its being embodied through Christ—again a very beautiful articulation of that—really helps. I think there needs to be some kind of restoration work around Christ's story and his teachings so that more of the secular world can understand this better because its really refreshing how you framed that. I'm wondering also and this connects a bit with my work around collective intelligence, and in seeing what has been emerging in the last twenty, twenty-five years but more in the last five or so around groups and collectives starting to come into an experience of that promise of the future as a co-embodiment as something that everybody who is present in that space is receiving.
So its not Christ in the centre of the circle, although I'm sure some groups wouldn't have a problem with that, but what is interesting is the field itself becomes this intangible, tangible dimension of the group that I know you both have experienced and Thomas I know this is central to your work as well. The significant point here is that the field itself becomes the teacher in this new post-postmodern context, which is really interesting because we're not used to that historically. That's not a typical way that a teacher shows up. I mean, how do you introduce the teacher? This connects to an interesting inquiry that's starting to come out of these we-spaces or collective emergence. Mainly in the larger integral spiritual community with upcoming events this year (i.e. Integral Community Seminar, Celebrate Life Festival, etc) and evolutionary groups (including your work Thomas, as well as Craig Hamilton, Patricia Albere & Jeff Carreira, Terry Patten, Andrew Cohen, among others). It is spreading and has been picking up momentum more recently. Otto Scharmer has been a popularizer in business contexts with his work on Theory U, which has heavily influenced my thinking and research building on his work in the context of communications and collective leadership. There are others from related fields such as dialogue that have been evolving different methods. So it's a really interesting development when we start to contemplate the teacher in this intangible tangible way as something that is apart of our innate ability, innate identity and sense of self and possibility within a group context. Such groups open up a space for this future to become more tangible.
Bruce: I will just briefly comment that within the Judeo Christian lineage, that field can be imagined what the Jewish folks talk about as the divine feminine principle of wisdom or Sophia so that its possible and that I'm sure you both have experienced and which you described so well Olen, for wisdom to be imagined as that field of infinite possibilities and that if you go through a process of grounding people in meditation deeply in the present and then allowing them to speak not about wisdom but as the presence of wisdom as the personalized presence of the field if you like, then its quite astounding in my experience what comes, what happens in the conversation? It is as if we have given a voice to the future and I'm starting to develop that practice within my particular lineage. And I know your doing that work Thomas.
Thomas: Right. I also think that what I have experienced in the groups in recent years is that there are some very beneficial ingredients for this new emergence. And one is what we practice in this transparent communication where we stop talking about things but we literally learn to talk from them. How can I live my life where I don't talk about you Bruce or you Olen, but if I'm speaking, how can I talk from you, from your energy and information? And not just my interpretation of what I see in you or in you and if I take this really serious, I start aligning then I start aligning with this kind of process that leads to this manifestation we see here as Bruce, Thomas or Olen. I think this is a very interesting process for I in a way suspend my interpretation in my own separate bubble and my images that I create from reality and more and more look to align with the energy that becomes these forms or people that I see. I found this is a very interesting ingredient because it helps us to transcend partly our separate self and to access bigger spaciousness. It also implies that there needs to be some kind of transpersonal insight. And then by this intensity that we build, I cannot go back to my separate bubble of self, because life needs me more intensely. Then suddenly in this group context there is so much intensity as we are all practicing this at the same time. It's a kind of contemplation and meditation in communication. And suddenly in this intensity, this new level of we emerges. I see this in groups, when the group hits a certain level of vibration, there is an intensity where something starts to happen that wasn't there before—like a new level of human intelligence that we cannot see. It just arises from a certain vibration or resonance. I am also interested in the research around this. If this new level of evolution is actually an emergence, at a certain level of probability. If the probability is high enough then this will become a more manifest reality and if the probability drops, it will disappear again. I think this is what many people describe in groups when the energy rises and then they have an experience of this, but then go back to their old value systems, their old reality constructs and then it seems to disappear. I think this is a very interesting process to research where we can learn how evolution emerges and how it is connected with the mystical knowledge of our past.
Bruce: I appreciate bringing in the possibility of research. What are the factors and strategies that are most likely to help a group to experience evolution in action? That's very exciting.
Olen: I agree Thomas. Can you clarify your approach again?
Thomas: What we train is to attune ourselves to one another, tune in in order to not speak about the form I see but speak out of the energy that manifests itself. Actually I tune in with higher and higher levels of creativity that lead to the reality we call "you" "me" or "Bruce." I want to tune into that which is before we see this reality. I want to be connected with this underlying intelligence and then my words become a mediator of this intelligence that speaks, it is not anymore my separate mind that speaks about it. Then we will enter a phase where we will not think so much in objective, consecutive thoughts but more that we learn to think in fields that contain much more information than this reflective thoughts about reality. I'm interested in this field thinking. In groups we expand this thought process to contain you and your life as a full process, not just parts and bits. How can I think and feel you as a field? Not just as a personality but all of your life at once? Is there a possibility of this and how can we expand our thinking into this field thinking in a company or institution, a global process, a group, whatever.
Bruce: Thomas, I'm wondering if the goal of that if we can think in terms of goals would be to help that person jump out of their separate self-sense into their expanded identity as a part of the presence of the creative process itself.
Olen: It's interesting to me around the distinctions of where and how you are placing your attention. There's definitely a juicy conversation here. I have some thoughts as well. For example, when you make the emphasis on the person or if I understand you correctly, it is through the relational contact with one another that these deeper fields are accessed. That particular focus you bring to your work, would it be fair to say that through this deeper relationality, you begin to access a more coherent intersubjective field of experience?
Thomas: Yes, let me see. First of all through a certain transmission, we introduce the possibility of spaciousness so that the unformed needs to be experienced, because we need this transpersonal anchor. What we start with is relational exercises because most of the time people feel a bit separate like they are in two bubbles. Two bubbles that meet. In these two bubbles there are two images inside our bubble, which we interpret according to our whole past knowledge most of the time, but when we tune in deeper, we arise above this and we learn to speak from the information that is there and I always say, if we can train this then I can look through your eyes and see how you see it and vice-versa.
Olen: To that point, do you ever have people giving resistance around that or any objections. I'm trying to anticipate someone's response. I can imagine some people might be thinking that's a little invasive or a little bit too personally framed and I'm wondering if you've ever encountered that. Can you appreciate where I'm going with this?
Thomas: Ya totally. I experience this sometimes but I'm not focusing on this, I'm saying listen, let's look at this very simply, when we learn these tools of communication, then one thing that we really learn is that we totally appreciate and respect when people say no. So if I tune in with you and you say "no" at a certain level of your being to this process then I will just enhance my skill to respect this. I'm not creating this tool to bring about disrespect. If you go into a meeting with others with a certain aliveness and you come out feeling more drained, exhausted, then you missed something in the meeting. What we often miss is that people say no energetically and nonverbally to something but they don't say it verbally. If I continue talking to you even just one word and your energy field says no and I continue speaking, then I am actually creating a pressure in you and me. Then the energy goes down. So if this creates an unconscious pattern between us and I am not aware of this, my energy will also drop. And yours as well. So if we see this, therapists, people who work with people, teachers, whoever, this happens more often during the day and then you go home and feel a bit tired from your day but this does not need to happen if we have the right competence of communication. Which means I will respect your no even more because I will learn to see it even if you don't say it.
Olen: Right, it brings to mind some of Wilber's thinking around agency and communion in terms of those two primal drives. The yes happens in the communion but then there is a boundary out of which we encounter the other persons agency or independence. When I originally heard your framing of this, I was questioning what I was hearing. It sounds like a process that invites a deep kind of intimacy where we are softening or relaxing some of our accustomed boundaries of self as a way of accessing this field or a deeper communion through which we access this field.
Gentlemen, as a meta-process piece, we've gone over our time. So maybe we can close for now and reschedule later on for another call at some point? To be continued?
Thomas and Bruce: Great, sounds good!