This year we hosted a training course led by Margaret (Meg) Wheatley, called Warriors for the Human Spirit. The training was hosted in partnership with Kufunda Village from Zimbabwe and participants came from both countries. 18 participants, 10 of which received bursary support from Be The Earth Foundation, enrolled in the training that took place online and at the SI. Vanessa von der Heyde reflects on this training.
Many of our conversations, especially in the non-profit and activist world but also in the corporate sector revolve around such concepts as change-makers, social entrepreneurs, technological advancements to solve climate issues, and so forth. The danger of this solutions-focused approach is that we unintentionally replicate, re-enact, or reinforce the very problems we are trying to solve.
Our challenge is to refrain from crafting an answer when perhaps we don’t even have the right question. This warrior training is one of many ways we are working to expand our consciousness.
Margaret Wheatley tells us that the prerequisite to a meaningful and purposeful life is “to give up hope”. This will come as a shocking thought to many of us. But once we have stepped over the threshold to the place beyond hope and fear we will experience a huge sense of relief – the kind that comes when an astronomical burden has been lifted off our shoulders. Once we are here we will be able to open to the world as it really is. I heard the philosopher Bayo Akomolafe once say that hope is an escape clause; a politics of continuity. Hope wants to restore the image of the familiar. It is a form of colonisation – an anticipatory mode that wants to grab hold of and instrumentalise the future so that it serves our ends.
This is what it means to open up to the world as it really is – we let go of the delusion of control, and instead let whatever is next find us. By balancing compassion with insight we learn how to be with this sorrow and pain while keeping our hearts open, and remaining calm, present, generous and available. This will bring with it the time and spaciousness to expand our consciousness of what is here so that we don’t recreate the patterns that do not serve us.
One of the core tenets of the training was learning how to let go of hope so that we can access deeper levels of compassion, while simultaneously training our mind through disciplines such as meditation in order to deepen our level of insight. The training, inspired by the Tibetan legend of the Shambala Warrior, taught participants a number of disciplines that help them appreciate and promote the goodness of the human spirit.
In this world full of pain, grief, fear and anger the best we can do to bring about a more regenerative future is to remain steadfast in our belief that gentleness, decency, and bravery are available to all human beings. Let us stop chasing false solutions and let’s instead focus on building communities; let us cure the modern disease of busyness and instead create spaces that afford us time and spaciousness to slow down, to think, and to playfully explore the unfamiliar and the unknown; let us remember our common humanity regardless of political and world views, and tend to relationships with love and kindness; let us show up with compassion and insight, and fight for the goodness of the human spirit.