Spiritual experiences and community

daVinci codexLeicesterSome intimate reflections after The Matrix Explorations with The Global Event College and Yeshayahu Ben-Aharon, Stuttgart 1-5 november 2017.

Coming from Stuttgart two days ago, the impressions from this extraordinary event is still lingering in my mind. Some of the most touching spiritual experiences I have had occurred in our being together, and that inspired me to give expression to some of it in these reflections.

The theme of The Matrix Explorations, as I experience it now, was that of awakening to a higher reality as the creative becoming of our future, seen from the middle centre of our being, our heart – and how this differs from other ways of transforming the experience of reality.

Each day had its theme which we explored, and which was taken from the three movies; what is reality?, determinism/freedom, and sacrifice. We explored this in conversations, to begin with in a college round-table, then in groups with participants, and in the evening working on a joint “production” of a play by all participants. This had been prepared by the College who showed its version on the first day. This way we played with the theme (it was great fun!), at the same time trying to give expression to a perspective completely suppressed by the movie itself.

The Matrix capitalizes on our highest ideals and the deepest truths in such a way that it marshals all the forces of morality, sacrifice and love, but for a destruction of the truly human element in merging with the machine (the last scene of Neo sacrificing himself). “It is done” – these words which are said after Neo´s death, are here an exact reversal of their true origin, just like Ray Kurzweil´s The Singularity is Near is an exact reversal of John the Baptist´s words about metanoia; “change your hearts and lives, because the kingdom of heaven is near”. What we tried to show, was how this development will look like from the point of view of a spiritual development which reckons with the technological transformations that the Matrix thematizes. Ahrimanische_Unsterblichkeit_und_Christus_Ereignis_2

As everyone who look beyond their nose today knows, we are swept up in a technological development which will make what we today consider human look like a face drawn in sand at the edge of the sea – as Foucault formulated his vision already in 1966.

Most people today still seem to think that reality is something given, that it is just there, and that learning to live in the world means to learn to adjust, accommodate, finding one´s way through this “given” reality. But if we as human beings are not outside reality, only looking at it and reacting to it, but if we also are reality in its continuous duration and constant becoming, then our creativity is, at least potentially, not different from the creativity which brings forth flowers and mountains, stars and galaxies. And machines, of course. This would mean that evolution is not only something which happens to us, we also are the evolution. The central question is, can we connect to this creativity directly, and actualize it in between us as a human social process? This form of spirituality which recognizes the social from the very outset, is the so called third middle path. The other two paths, with their different “flavors”, are already gaining momentum: on the one hand self-centered spiritual development, mainly composed of an appropriation of eastern wisdom into an modern individualistic culture, and on the other indirect and mediated transformation of our whole being and civilization by means of the technology we create – by means of our quantitative and mathematical intelligence. Spiritual egotism and materialism.

What would it take to make a third middle path tangible, as a real experience, with the same – and eventually also more – sense of “heavy” reality that our normal experience has?

The spirit must one the one hand be experienced as, well, spirit, and thus independent of the body, as a free activity which initiates and creates itself. However, on the other hand, if the spirit creates not only our consciousness, but also our body, then this spirit must be experienced also as active in the body – as creating and penetrating the body. This is an experience of the body which is not given by the body, but which penetrates it “from the other side”, from the self-active and creative life of thinking. The self-perception of the body, that consciousness which is constantly given to us as physical body (the so-called proprioception) becomes a spiritual experience when thinking is liberated from the body. Rudolf Steiner expressed it in this way in one of his lectures about artistic practice and spiritual development: “True self-knowledge has to do with seeing how that which one otherwise only experiences in the pure point of the I, lives creatively in the organism” (GA 271, 5.5.1918).

But when, as it happened in Stuttgart, this became a social process, a whole new level of experience was actualized. The physical and mortal body was now experienced and penetrated by a liberated thinking which was not only mine (thinking was never “mine” of course – where does the intuitions of thinking come from anyway?) but also was weaving and pulsating in a greater and intensifying stream of life. Here, a tangible and real experience of a new communal body of life was felt, a communal body which enveloped me, and in which also lived in a free way the spirit of community. The group might have cognized this event in different ways, some more imaginative, some more inspirative, but the experience of it was very tangible, and afterwards many observations were shared.

Thus, not only was the immediate experience of beingness as it is given “from below” changed, but also the sense of self high up in the head was transformed. As consciousness became part of a greater spiritual process, the sense of self became more soft and warm, as Cathy described so wonderfully, and I experienced that the light of attention was no longer only in and around the head, but also worked its way gently into the heart, as a healing opening. This opened a new depth and warmth of feeling, different from subjective emotions. The feeling of consciousness as light was filled with the feeling of warmth coming from the heart.

And in between the transformed sense of bodily beingness, and the breath of spiritual inspiration, a feeling of being part of a connective bridge between heaven above and earth below gave me a humble but also assuring sense of being part of a community of people “carrying” the spirit, in a way as real as my physical sense-impressions. For this experience, I am deeply grateful.