The Utopian Vision

I offer this entry to elicit commentary regarding the “Utopian” vision which typically inspires the start up of most intentional communities. To be more specific, what in your opinion makes the critical difference between a community that embodies true spiritual fellowship, - and those that are just another group of people co-habitating & gardening on a shared tract of land? What must take place for an intentional community to embody the attributes one might ascribe to the mythical Shangri-La? In the fictional story of Shangri-La, - we see a community of people who work in harmony, love, and goodwill with one another. So, what is most needed in order that kindred fellowship blossom and be maintained within an intentional community? Would it not be valid to assert that fellowship, caring, sharing, goodwill, and harmony do certainly belong at the pinnacle of the community’s priorities? And is it possible to manifest any significant measure of these lofty attributes without the implementation of some program or protocol that engages community members (in group participation) to become more conscious of their own ego driven mindset (as well as its ramifications)? Moreover, what is the optimal methodology for motivating, engaging, and facilitating this community effort to displace the problem of egotism with the solution of loving fellowship?

Like those of you who might be reading this, I too am interested and passionate about intentional communities. But, from my experience and perspective, it appears that very few communities have any form of structured practice or process to deal with the problem of egotism. As a result, most communities do not appear to be on track with the vision that inspired their formation. In this dialog, I would be curious to get feedback specific to several well known teachers and practices that do have a viable track record in so far as addressing this issue of egotism, - and, – how to reduce it by becoming more conscious of it. Perhaps we could begin the discourse with a few well known ego reduction strategies such as the 12 Steps, -or- Study groups that focus on: A Course in Miracles, -or- group gatherings in which community members watch: Mooji or Eckhart Tolle videos together? … etc, … etc, … etc …

scotty

8 Likes

HI Scotty, I only have experience working on small hospitality farms with other volunteers and although we did share a lot of kumbaya times, I realize the main issues were lack of direction or planning. I’ve been working on my own plan for a few years, now I have property, and looking for some kind of book group specifically related to forming communities. I just purchased The Cooperative Culture Handbook from FIC and looking for people who would like to study this book. Maybe something you’d be interested in?

1 Like

Thank you for offering that suggestion.

@Lila_Heard I think that a book club is a great idea, and you might get a lot of interest and visibility for that if you make a new topic. Would you like any help with that?

1 Like

Yes @drbrettschneider I will do that, any suggestions or help would be great. Thank you.

Thank you for your suggestion regarding a group study of The Cooperative Culture Handbook you mentioned in your reply.

Indeed, more attention, study, and emphasis on topics of harmony and cooperation is much needed in our world today. But, if I may, I’d like to continue on this Utopian Vision thread a bit longer and add a few more points to ponder.

At the heart of this I.C. site and forum, and on the minds of most (if not all) who interact here, is the concept of “Intentional Community”. This being the case, I would pose the question: what is the “Intention” we set forth as our guiding light – in order to birth a community that lives up to the dreams that inspire it?

I have deliberately used the verbiage: “Utopian Vision”, as an intention. And yes, it is true that the concept of “Utopia” is a mythical and idyllic state that is not likely attainable in our world today, given its current state of dysfunction.

Even so, I would assert that striving to manifest this “Utopian Intention” will yield benefits that truly satisfy the heartfelt yearnings of those who are drawn to the concept of intentional community. It is certainly true that cooperation is vital, but actively striving for this idyllic Utopian Intention goes well beyond mere cooperation and basic conflict resolution strategies. In essence, striving after the Utopian Intention very much requires a mindset that thinks, interacts, and exists “Outside of the box”.

To wit: Einstein once said: “you cannot solve a problem from the same level of thinking you were at when you created it”.

Please allow me to elaborate: This Einstein quote reminds us of the necessity to raise our thinking above the level that is causing or sustaining a problem. And that level of problem causation of the confused and conflicted human condition (and the dysfunctional world that has arisen from it), - is the ego. Unfortunately, the more identified we are with the ego - the more unconscious we become, and the more riled up we get when we are challenged to rise above it. None the less, it is vital that we look at it honestly and objectively. it might even be helpful to remember that most of us run towards the concept of intentional community in order to escape the insanity of the world. But, if we fail to address this issue of the ego in us - we will unwittingly bring with us into the community - the very same dysfunction we sought to escape.

I would close this reply by adding that rising above the ego is also a bit utopian & idealistic. Though it is possible to overcome it, very few succeed in completely unplugging themselves from the ego thought construct. But the good news is that absence of ego is not required in order to manifest an intentional community that approximates the Utopian Dream. The essential ingredient is only that we become more conscious of it; and that we commit ourselves to keeping it on a leash with deliberate and ongoing intention (IE ~ some form of group dynamic, process, or protocol). I bring this up again because the ego is very ingrained and has much momentum. As such - if there is no intention or process in place that is aimed at rising above the ego mindset - then being unchallenged, – it will persist.

3 Likes

And last but not least …

You may recall from my last post, an insight, stating: that those who identify themselves with the ego will tend to get riled up whenever mention is made of undoing the ego. To wit: In the manuscript titled: A Course in Miracles, there is a similar insight given that states: “the ego will resist any effort to undo it, every moment, and in every possible way”.

Perhaps now is a good time to touch upon the challenges associated with unplugging from the ego. Simply stated - any effort to undo the ego will be met with resistance & fear. All who embark on this inward journey will sooner or later collide against this wall, and it can take a long time before measurable progress is visible. It is important to know about this so when this resistance & fear is encountered, it is seen as an indication one is on track with the objective of overcoming the ego belief system. Otherwise, the ego can easily distract and derail your best effort and intentions.

On a seemingly unrelated note, I would also mention that many lament the notion that there aren’t any more epic adventures left that can still be undertaken. Perhaps these individuals think the world is too mundane to accommodate adventure that is on par with fables of legendary lore. To this notion I would say: Not So.

If we think about it - we might notice that nearly all Epic tales of adventure center around this concept of the “Heroes Journey”. These adventure tales usually unfold with some backdrop of great conflict between the forces of light and darkness. In addition, these fables usually entail an arduous journey undertaken by someone who courageously faces overwhelming adversity - to finally prevail in some great undertaking, – which in the beginning seemed hopeless. This is the essence of the hero’s journey. This is the “Road Less Traveled”, the “Final Frontier”, and the Quest for the Holy Grail - all in one. This is also what is experienced when one turns inward in an earnest attempt to overcome the ego in order to set the imprisoned splendor free. So rare are those who have successfully made this journey - that religions sometimes spring up in tribute of what these individuals accomplished.

At this point, you may be wondering what any of this has to do with the Utopian Vision. Simply stated, these points are Germain to any discussion about the utopian vision because in order for an intentional community to in any way resemble the utopian vision, a kindred level of loving fellowship must blossom. And this loving type of communion and heartfelt connection cannot occur among people who are unconsciously identified with ego and who think of themselves as Mavericks. Moreover, given that this endeavor of unplugging from the ego can be so upsetting and scary, it would not be unreasonable to suggest that following this spiritual path to its lofty conclusion does constitute the Hero’s Journey.

So now - lets cut straight to the bottom line and consider a synergistic solution that can bring these lofty Utopian Intentions into fruition.

This solution starts with goal setting. We must first set the goal. We must then declare our intention and commitment to that goal, and then, we must put forth the effort to manifest the vision we wish to see. And here I might add: that when it comes to this dynamic of goal setting - no vision, intention, or goal is too lofty. To the contrary, more often than not - goals are typically set so low – that they offer no inspiration at all.

Putting all this in practical terms: If an intentional community declares that heartfelt loving fellowship is at the pinnacle of its priorities then all that remains is the implementation. Here, I would assert that there are a number of group dynamics that could successfully propel this Utopian Intention into fruition. Unfortunately, here - it must also be mentioned that those who would rather worship at the alter of ego than strive for loving communion - will only serve to make the manifestation of this goal more difficult and unlikely. In other words, this goal of loving fellowship must be a community wide commitment and effort. But on a brighter note, Once this group dynamic has momentum and is inspiring the community to stay aligned with its Intention - then the issue of rogue egotism will tend to fall away.

For the sake of example, lets examine one possible group dynamic to get a sense of how the big picture might look. For this example lets look at the 12 Step Support group dynamic. The 12 Steps are usually associated with Alcoholics Anonymous, but these steps are universal metaphysical principals that can be applied to any dysfunction. Especially appropriate to this discussion, it is noteworthy to mention that the 12 Steps are a tried and proven strategy (that when practiced in group settings), tend to culminate in significant ego reduction. This 12 Step Support Group Dynamic actually entails a number of powerful spiritual principals that are all conducive to reducing egotism - and at the same time – bringing people together into a more loving bond of heartfelt communion. And all this could be made manifest with a group commitment of an hour or two per week. Here I would also mention that this time together would quickly become regarded as a cherished activity - rather than seen as a penalty or burden. Stay tuned and you will soon see why.

Undoing or reducing the ego is much like breaking an addiction. As such - it can be quite challenging. This is why utilizing a 12 Step support group dynamic makes sense. But, there is still a bigger bounty from community participation within this support group dynamic. That is to say, an important and very powerful spiritual principle is invoked by the mere gathering of those who share this lofty intention to join in loving communion. This metaphysical principle to which I refer is the one normally associated with the biblical passage: “where two or more are gathered”. In a more modern treatise on the human condition (i.e. A Course in Miracles), this principle is stated: “where two or more are gathered in the search for truth, the ego can no longer defend its lack of content”.

Stated even more succinctly, whenever two or more people come together in the spirit of love, the ego thought construct of separation, isolation, deprivation, lack, littleness, victim-hood, and fear starts to crumble. For the fear based egoic belief system is dispelled by the light of love (“perfect love casts out fear”). And that LoveLight shines most brightly when a kindred union of two or more souls occurs.

This support group dynamic has yet another benefit. That is to say: communion occurs rather easily and naturally among those who share a common peril and who have elected to come together in support of one another. To confirm this - simply attend a meeting of veterans who have served together in time of war. In this setting you will get a glimpse of how powerful and beautiful this camaraderie and bond can be. And at the risk of being redundant, I might add: that those who undertake this endeavor to give up the ego in favor of true unconditional love (will at times), feel that they are sharing a common peril.

Perhaps the most notable benefit that accrues from support group get togethers is the close personal relationships that typically blossom among community members as they join and go through this growth process together. This joining can be quite intimate and this process has great potential in so far as uniting people at the deepest most heartfelt level. This group communion - propelled by joint commitment to a shared goal – can create bonds that are intensely beautiful and satisfying. Herein lies the secret of Shangri-La; this is the Utopian Dream made manifest; And here is the concept of intentional community seen as fulfilling its higher potential.

2 Likes

I think that is why communities need to have a good vetting system and clearly written rules and laws that protect our sovereignty.

4 Likes

I would like to offer thanks for both of these recent posts. And though I intended my last entry as a summary, perhaps a few more thoughts might be in order.

To begin, regarding the post insinuating that hateful intentions were lurking between the lines of my earlier discourse, - I am inclined to believe that either the person making these comments is somehow confused, or my writing is a lot worse than I thought.

Moving on; I have previously mentioned that those who are highly identified with ego tend to be unconscious and are easily riled up by any mention that the ego is a problem. This point should be gaining in visibility and probably does not need any further elaboration.

I have also mentioned that very few people on this planet have as yet overcome this affliction of egotism and so - the fact that we all still have some issues with ego – does not mean that we are without worth, merit, and value. It simply means we are not yet living up to our full potential. In my estimation, - having no ego – is not required in order to manifest a “Utopian Community” that has loving fellowship as its guiding intention. However, becoming more conscious of the ego and participating in some ongoing group dynamic that raises consciousness and reduces egotism - is required!

This is not about pledging allegiance to some group leader, to the land owner, or to some sort of intentional community culture or group think. This is about thinking outside of the box, raising the bar, and rallying around the highest, most loving, most supportive, most beneficent code of conduct for promoting loving fellowship, support, harmony, and goodwill. In addition, everyone in the community would need to be committed to, and involved in this venture, in order that the desired outcome have any real chance for success. In short; this is an egalitarian endeavor - in which, everyone involved gives their best effort for what is in the highest and best interest of the whole community. In a perfect world this is what all love based relationships (marriages/communities/tribes/global populations/- etc, etc) would have as their goal.

To be sure, many are not ready for this; - or their goals do not coincide with this lofty Utopian Intention. And that’s okay ~ “to each his own”. Moreover, it would seem that most on this planet are not ready to tackle the task of overcoming the ego. I am here to share my thoughts with those who truly want to overcome egotism; who want to raise the bar and think outside of the box; and who want to see the Intentional Community concept live up to its full potential. I offer these posts for those (like myself) - who are deeply touched by the concept of a Utopian Community, - - and who believe (or at least, want to believe) it is possible to manifest this vision.

1 Like

Hi @scotty140, letting you know that I just added the tags “community-vision” and “vision” to your topic! We’re trying to keep this forum pretty organized, so if you can add relevant tags to your future topics, we’d appreciate that participation. You can learn more about adding tags in our Getting Started document!

2 Likes

I definitely need a community where I can realign(?) myself. To be honest, I don’t remember a time I felt properly aligned. My emotions & mentality are not where they should be. I think what I’m saying is that I need to find my inner utopia before I find my outer utopia; God knows I’m going to need plenty of help. Being surrounded by multiple chaos points certainly don’t help; which is likely why I’m drawn toward nature. I’m aware there are things I need to unlearn, as well as relearn, or even should have learned. Which is likely many reasons why I’m where I’m at now.

3 Likes

Thank you for adding your thoughts to this discussion. I think you are spot on with regard to seeking your own inner utopia first, for how can one reasonably expect to find peace “out there” in a chaotic world while their own mind is feeding into (and off of), - that very same state of chaos.

But, insofar as arriving at this inner place of peace, there’s a bit of paradox at play. In other words, first and foremost - this journey to inner utopia is mostly a solo walk requiring: self discipline and self initiative. And yet, the process of shifting ones prevailing mindset to that of inner peace does seem to work best when we are in the company of others who are on the same page, - and who are striving to do the same thing.

2 Likes

A week or so back a good quote was added to this Utopian Vision thread. Though the quote no longer appears, I then felt prompted to pen a few thoughts that at the time seemed relevant. But as so often occurs, I got busy with other things and forgot to post this entry. So on the off-hand chance that there might still be some lingering interest in this thread topic, - I’ll include a copy of the original quote (see below) – and just beneath this quote by E.M. Cioran, I have pasted the thoughts that occurred to me when said quote first appeared last week.

================= Subject Quote ===================================

True contact between beings is established only by mute presence, by apparent non-communication, by that mysterious and wordless exchange which resembles inward prayer.

E.M. Cioran

================= End Quote ========================================

Thank you for sharing the above quote. It adds to this discussion by giving attention to higher aspects of communication. It even seems that this quote might be touching on the “Kindred Connection” - that is ever present at the core of our existence, and which constitutes the eternal bond that we all share.

Though this topic might be better left in the hands of poets, I beg permission to wax philosophically for a moment. For here, I would submit that community and communication are two words that both share a common root concept. That is to say: community, communication, communion, connectedness, and even the word love (in its higher form) all point toward an ever present heart-to-heart connection.

Here I allude to the esoteric premise that all of us forever share a common and familial bond with one another. But if this is true, it begs the question: If we already share some deep soul level connection, then what is disrupting this communion and causing the apparent dis-connect which is so typical in our daily experience of interacting with others?

To begin, it should be noted: That all of us tend to engage in (and are usually unconscious of), a great number of counter-productive activities and self sabotaging mental maneuvers. In other words we all do a lot of things that are harmful and disruptive. Yet frequently, we don’t notice what we are doing -nor- do we give any thought as to why we are doing it. On a related note, it should also be mentioned that most people mistakenly think their mind is private, separate, and that their thoughts are secret and invisible to others. But, it doesn’t take much introspection and objective observation to realize that this is not true. We all affect each other by our thoughts, emotions, attitudes, and judgments (not to mention: our all-to-frequent insensitive and obtuse behavior).

So let’s now jump straight into our key question: I.E. ~ If we are already connected at the soul level of “Being”, then why don’t we experience this higher level of connection more consistently in our daily affairs?

To shed light on this - I’d like to cite a common (and usually overlooked) example of how communication, communion, connection (and community) is easily disrupted. I also offer this example to help explain and illustrate a larger point that I have been touching upon all along.

In short, the culprit lurking behind this question mark is the mindset of judgment. For most people, this business of judging others is usually thought to be of little consequence. After all, given this world’s common belief that minds are separate, - and the thoughts we entertain about one another are private, – it’s easy to overlook this pervasive tendency. In fact, most of the time, we don’t even notice that we are engaging in it.

After all, if I have a critical judgment about someone, but I wear a smile on my face and keep that judgment quietly to myself, then what’s the problem? Would it not be reasonable to just go on about my business and treat this as an insignificant little faux pah? To these questions I would say: there is nothing inconsequential about this destructive act of judging others.

Whether we judge another or they judge us, communication is disrupted. A disconnect does take place. We may not be conscious of the other person’s specific thoughts, but we can feel when we are being judged - and so can they.

To shed light on the scope and magnitude of this toxic dynamic and its ramifications, I would assert that most people are very unconscious of how pervasive, persistent, and pernicious this negative thought activity actually is. The first time I made a conscious attempt to notice and tally up how often my mind would swing the sword of judgment during any given day, I was flabbergasted.

We judge our spouses, our neighbors, those we work with, those with whom we share the road, politicians, friends, family, people who write forum blogs, those we do business with … etc., etc., etc., … ad nauseum.

Has anyone here not experienced how icky it feels to be around someone who looks down upon them in judgment? Would it not be correct to say that being judged by another disrupts any sense of closeness we might otherwise feel towards the person who is judging us? These simple deliberations should be enough to clearly indicate that we judge a lot more than we realize; and that the judgments we project onto others are disruptive to communication, communion, relationships, and community. When factored into this larger discussion on Utopian (Vision / Community / Intention), - it should go without saying that judgment is a formidable barrier that stands in the way of achieving any measurable success with regard to these higher Utopian Ideals.

We can also glean a lot from looking at the opposite side of this same coin. I suspect that at least some who might read this have had the blessed experience of interacting with someone who genuinely cared about them, who supported them, and who did not judge them. It might have been a parent, a grandparent, a teacher, a spouse, a coach, or a close friend, … etc. The essential point of this is to highlight how uplifting and heart warming these supportive and non-judgmental relationships tend to be. To Wit: for those who have experienced a relationship such as this, would it not be accurate to say that this has been the closest connection you have ever felt with another person?

It might now be time to revisit a statement I made in an earlier post. More specifically, I once asserted that without some specific, ongoing, interactive, community-wide effort to bring the ego mindset into remission, achieving a utopian outcome with regard to the intentional community concept is highly unlikely.

Tying all this together - I have cited this current example because judgment is a potent cornerstone of the ego thought system. That is to say: the ego thought construct judges constantly, and this attack minded maneuver actually upholds and perpetuates the whole ego thought system. Here it might be eye-opening to note that the ego thought construct usually exudes a mentality of separation, fear, insecurity, judgement, self-centeredness, and blind allegiance to self-interest at the expense of all other sensible considerations. This is why we must become more conscious of the ego; Otherwise, we will unwittingly get tangled up in its shenanigans.


1 Like

Paul Goodman: “Speech cannot be personal and poetic when there is embarrassment of self-revelation, including revelation to oneself, nor when there is animal diffidence and communal suspicion, shame of
exhibition and eccentricity, clinging to social norms. Speech cannot be initiating when the chief
social institutions are bureaucratized and predetermine all procedures and decisions, so that in
fact individuals have no power anyway that is useful to express. Speech cannot be exploratory
and heuristic when pervasive chronic anxiety keeps people from risking losing themselves in
temporary confusion and from relying for help precisely on communicating, even if the
communication is Babel. As it is, people have to ‘think’ before they speak, rather than risking speaking and finding out what they mean by trying to make sense to others and themselves.”

“Oh, the comfort, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person, having neither to weigh thought nor measure words, but poring them all right out, just as they are, chaff and grain together, certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and with a breath of kindness, blow the rest away.”

Anonymous Shoshone

2 Likes

The Impersonal Life is a brilliant piece of channeled wisdom. At the metaphysical level, it is consistent with this Utopian Vision topic thread.

And for what it’s worth, I would mention that much of the sentiment I have shared in this thread can also be gleaned from reading the channeled manuscript: A Course in Miracles (ACIM). Not coincidentally - when I read The Impersonal Life - it sounded very much like it came into being via the same channel as the ACIM.

Hi Scotty: I’m late to participating in this class and forum but I very much appreciate this question.

I have just come out of a community where a Utopian vision was put forth with the most unrealistic demands placed on members to follow a certain belief system. It began as a Catholic Worker community with very progressive, even radical views of changing the world, then became toxic when disagreement over tactics and values came into play.

Our consensus-building process was torn apart by strident radical voices who had no interest in listening to different viewpoints and eventually the original members left because there was no common ground.

I believe this could have been avoided if there had been buy-in to the process by which goals could have been reached. That would definitely have required a common understanding of HOW we could achieve our goals and what happens when addressing the conflicts that are bound to occur in a diverse community.

Again, I appreciate this conversation and plan to be more active in this final. month.

1 Like

Hi Karen,
Thank you for sharing your thoughts and comments regarding the Utopian Vision discussion thread.
scotty

Could it not be that “solo work” would simply mean intentional self-directing growth? Self-directing means consciously choosing to be in an environment that has the potential to promote the greatest growth in oneself, as opposed to trying to escape that growth by choosing the opposite environment, whichever it may be in that person’s case. These environments could be isolating oneself from the world and going within full force, immersing oneself in social situations almost full time, and anything in between. That is just the social aspect of selecting an environment playground for oneself to interact with and learn from since this is what we are currently talking about.

I for one am realising that I am not happy in isolation anymore, although I am a hard-core introvert, and need close relationships with people. I know my ego revolves around safety through control and by staying at various eco-villages I have started to allow myself to adapt more to the ways of those places. And I probably have some way to go. I am learning to see where the line is between healthy adaptation and unhealthy self-sacrificing. I am learning to differentiate between a need and a want. It isn’t always self-explanatory and it will be different for each person depending on where they are on their journey.

2 Likes