This week Tj posted a Beams sampler of articles that have appeared on this site since our launch two years ago. This in part was to orient the influx of new readers who were drawn in by the Occupy Integral! article that has caused an anticipated explosion of perspectives in the comment section.
The sampler is also for us to reflect on the past two years. Things are as ever changing here at Beams. We are redesigning the site. We are rewriting the About Us section. (In part because we as people have changed, in part because the focus of the site has changed, in part to refine and focus a mission that we can continue to live into day to day). As is always the case with Beams, we do this without outside financial assistance, or full-time effort from any one person. We’ve realized that a large part of our credibility is in not being affiliated or beholden to an organization, a teacher, or a movement. As far as finances go, we are seeking a model coherent to the world we see emerging and the one we would prefer to exist within. Don’t expect calls for funds from our readership any time soon.
Underlying all of these efforts is the conviction that the sacred shines from within creation. It’s easy to lose this. Rivalries, urgency, desperation, apathy, fear, fragmentation of all kind conspires to abstract us all from the simple perfection that permeates everything.
Below is a sampler from the samplers, fragments from articles that remind us that there is a broad orientation we all share to one degree or another, Creators, Contributors and Readers alike. Occupy Integral! has so far succeeded in drawing out a range of perspectives. Too easily perspectives become positions, entrenched. As one teacher (not mine, but one whose name I wouldn’t dare print for fear of the simple message being drowned in the antipathy towards his/her name alone) once said: we start judging each other the moment we forget that we love one another. How quickly we forget. How rare it is to actually know the deepest truth of it. Love we throw around like a plucked flower, beautiful but already dying. Maybe the root system is less sexy at a glance, harder to get at, even at times contrary to its manifest promise, those fragile petals (she loves me not!). But, watered, it sustains us all. Fortunately, it can manage desert conditions too.
It’s rare to find a good Beams’ article without allusion to that which holds and animates us all. Here’s a modest sampling, a taster, of the myriad reflections that lie within Beams’ pages.
There's a stirring within me, a pull towards something, a dissatisfaction with now and a wanting to move towards something else. When this pull or this impulse isn’t being honoured, isn’t given play in the field of life, it will look to objects outside of itself to glom onto and can become an endless void to be filled—thinner, longer hair, less hair, bigger breasts, better vagina. I’d argue then that if we were deeply engaged on a path of our own growth and evolution, that some of these automatic and habitual ways of relating to our bodies would start to break apart a little and start to lose their grip because the impulse for better would have an expression other than our external aesthetics.
Tj Dawe - Ask Women Questions.
A fertile curiosity can take us out of the paths we've grooved in our minds and show us things we've missed.
Curiosity can spur us on to ask questions, to women and men alike. Actually listening to the answers we receive can get us asking more questions still. And eventually seeing the familiar world in a new light.
Gail Hochachka - Enacting a Post-Secular Spirituality, or Why Yoga Is So Cool.
All this has me pausing to contemplate what is going on. Something is radically changed about how we worship. The Divine has not changed, but we certainly have, and with us, our perspectives on spirituality have too. This season particularly has me pausing to wonder...
Emily Roy (nee Baratta) - In Defense of Chastity.
Chastity requires the masterful exercise of sexual energy in service of my own soul's highest calling, my community, and God. While that mastery can occur irrespective of the number of partners I have or the types of acts we engage in, the more variables in your sexual equation the more mastery required.
Olen Gunnlaugson - Unearthing New Norms of Conversation Online.
In noticing our reflex to defend our views when challenged, and learning how to harness (for the purposes of transmutation) this urge to fight or challenge or spar in real time is necessary to build stronger intersubjective allegiances in order to become more powerful vehicles for uncovering truth together.
Trevor Malkinson - Never Look Away: Reflections on Food Inc. and the Louisiana Oil Spill.
There is, however, another part of this story that’s arising from a different and vitally important part of us. Behind this sad, sensitive reaction is also a big expansive heart that cares so profoundly about the world and its inhabitants that it can sometimes hurt too much to feel the full depths of its compassion. When we really feel into that love that wants to radiate out and embrace and protect all of creation we can feel utterly overwhelmed by the strength of emotion that pours itself forth. We can also feel trapped and helpless in the face of the enormity of the problems we witness, especially when it seems like there's nothing we can do about them. The turning away is thus also hiding an enormous center of compassion, and one that most of us have yet to open to in its fullest potentials.
Juma Wood (Me! I said that!) - Why Talking About the Weather Matters.
There is intelligence that matters but isn’t properly understood. Much of it is still latent or undiscovered. Much of it was born of the modern mind. But some lives importantly in a collective past whose wisdom is cordoned off by the strict abstractions of that same modern mind, a mind that echoes prominently in the post-modern and integral sensibilities of the current age.
Andrew Baxter - Replays on the Game of Life.
Sports offer us the opportunity to learn how to accept defeat with dignity and respect victory as a merely fleeting condition always subject to chance and the mysterious hand of god.
Deep layers of acceptance and insight into the egoic patterns are the hallmark of the best of the psychological, psychotherapeutic way. But by itself, I would argue, it is not sufficient. The egoic identity alone can only take one so far. It has deep built-in limitations: it is always full of fear, always built around self-defense, always seeking, always desiring and (at least partially) wounded, always quite narrowly focused (in relation to the other identities), always stressed and contracted.
And yet it is one of the three components of who we are. No ego, no manifestation in this world.
Tim Walker - On Men's Pain and Transformation.
This way goes into the darkness, the wounds, the pain, and also the silence and solitude of existence to find what we have to learn there. It is a way of letting go and letting be, of emptying and being emptied, of moving beyond judgment and beyond control, of sinking and learning to breathe, to sit, to be still, to calm the raging monkey brain, to dwell in silence, to taste nothingness without flinching, and ultimately to focus. It is the way of grieving. Without grief we cannot move to the next stage, which is one of giving birth. This, all spiritual warriors need to undergo many times and in many places and on many occasions and under diverse circumstances.
Jeremy Johnson - There be Dragons! Or Mythopoeisis, Chaos, Catastophe, and Evolution.
Most importantly how can we change our relationship to the serpent known as chaos? Civilization has demonized the serpent, and in our creation stories we have chopped up the chaos and made order upon it. Perhaps we do not need to transcend this idea as much as we have to re-contextualize it for our planetary, ecological age. If you believe that these evolutionary cycles, which occur in rhythms, have a larger theme to them--and that is emergence--then around this bend of the spiral, how can the human imagination learn to work with this watery serpent? Can we perform a "Dance of Dragons?"
Jeff Bellsey - Identity-Formation and Finding Your Purpose.
Once the wall of enclosure is low enough, you start to see other people… this time for real. The experience of intimacy without any self-image to protect is staggering, and incredibly precious. You begin to experience the process of life, the flow of emergent potentials that are born once we’re free enough to release our deepest gifts… the gifts we always knew we had, but lost touch with in the process of identification and enclosure. Human development, as individuals and as a society, takes on a creative dimension in addition to its restorative dimension.
Bergen Vermette - Meditation: Reports from the Field
Seeing that all this turbulence isn’t you, its ability to disturb is instantly reduced to zero. It feels like it doesn't matter nearly as much as you thought it did and you can’t remember why you felt otherwise. I think it’s similar to being on a boat in the water. When you’re in a boat, bobbing up and down in the water all day, things can get pretty choppy. Even when the water is calm, if you step off the boat and onto sturdy dry land you can’t help but walk funny. You didn’t realize how much you were actually compensating for all the movement of the waves. Meditation shows you how you’ve been compensating your whole life.
Bruce Sanguin - God as the Future.
Followers of the Christ are always on the way to Galilee, drawn by the promise of a coming order that may shatter, confirm, or reorganize the existing order of our life. This is what gives us hope when our personal and planetary lives are falling apart. This is how we evolve. It matters more now than at any other time on our planet that we take hold of
this future that is holding us—that we consent to be apprehended by this hope, and we each find our unique way of saying “yes” to God’s promise that has gone ahead of us, and yet is always coming to meet us.
Maybe all the sadness, scars and suffering that are coming from this frightening rise of cancer can serve as a critical wake-up call of sorts. We can make meaning from it, without believing that we deserve it. After all, the world needs something from each of us, and it’s hard to serve from a sick body.
Our revolution may then start by having the courage to challenge the false ideas of empowerment and fearlessness that have so often been sold to us by postmodern consumer culture, and begin to realize that, although not “wrong”, uninhibited self-expression (sexual or otherwise) will never ultimately take us where we want to go, nor will it support the deeper possibilities for real freedom that we truly yearn for.