by Amina Knowlan | August 2008
"I have one small drop
Of knowing in my soul.
Let it dissolve in your ocean."
…the sixth-century Hsin-Hsin Ming (which translates to Faith-Mind Verses) describes the properties of an essence that is the blueprint for everything in creation. Called the Tao, it’s ultimately beyond description… It is all that is-the container of all experience, as well as the experience itself. The Tao is described as perfect, “like vast space where nothing is lacking and nothing is in excess.”
According to the Hsin-Hsin Ming, it’s only when we disturb the tranquility of the Tao through our judgments that its harmony eludes us. When this inevitably does happen and we find ourselves enmeshed in feelings of anger and separation, the text offers guidelines to remedy this condition: “To come directly into harmony with this reality, just simply say when doubt arises, ‘Not two.’ In this ‘not two’ nothing is separate, nothing is excluded.”
- Gregg Braden
The old story or contraction always resides in separation. The new story or expansion always resides in connection. It is through connection that we can open, in the present moment, into our fullness. We can stay present with, and engage in each other’s brilliant, expanded expression. We become mirrors of, and players in, the new set of possibilities. Together we form a widening, deepening river. The channel for the fullness of life and love is amplified in connection-just as the acuteness of suffering is lessened when the fields of the old contractions are distributed and shared. Like children whose play becomes exponentially more creative when they cross the developmental milestone from parallel play into interactive play, we literally call each other into the truth of our full, different, interconnected selves. We find out again and again in a myriad of ways, that we are loved-beautiful and brilliant, each in our own unique way. We rediscover our freedom to express love, gratitude and joy. We re-story ourselves as held in a Matrix that is both human and Divine. 1
A mother with her new infant in her arms lives in a profound state of connection or Union (Unitive consciousness) that defies description with words. A bride-when she is past all of the preparations and the performance of the wedding ritual-may find herself overcome with gratitude and awe. If she is fortunate, she will relish the moment when her body and spirit first know a sense of resting into-of being held in-a Union with her beloved that is beyond the sum of their two individualities. Parents watch with pride and amazement as their grown-up sons or daughters chart their own unique path with profound inspiration, enthusiasm and accomplishment. They may even wonder how did he grow into this magnificent young man? How did she develop such confidence and grace? These archetypes and somatic memories only begin to convey the fruition of the recent conference: Matrix Emerging, Leading Through Radical Interconnection. A Call to Connection; A Call to Action
It is hard to describe in a short article the emergence that occurred and is ongoing. Today, I asked someone who attended, “What was the best thing about the conference? Or, what did you walk away with?” He said, “You know, beyond any of the amazing content-workshops, keynotes — or even the specific Matrix groups or application groups — it is the feeling of connectedness. It’s the feeling of being connected in a web that will stay connected and is committed to working together to create change in the world.” Though there were many people who did not know each other, the ease, quality and fullness of connection that occurred from the beginning moment to the end was remarkable. It was as if there was already a shimmering, vibrating, web of love and connection that everyone could just plug into.
Simultaneously, the intelligence was sourced in each node of that web. I, as the founder and director, did not do any of the teaching. I gave an opening and closing address and held a role of courting our connection with the ecstatic and the Divine. All of the primary teaching, facilitating and co-visioning came from other Matrix trainers and graduates. My role became to listen, to witness and to articulate the collective intelligence - a role that will also come from multiple sources. This is a breakthrough! This is beyond adolescence. This is beyond hierarchy. It was like birth, a partnership or union and the time when parents release their adult children-all at once.
It was through the connections between people that the intelligence, the wisdom, the rarefied love and call to action were manifested. I do not diminish my role as founder or elder or teacher, but in this gathering, we were all each other’s teachers. We all integrated denied aspects of ourselves through touching our common humanity. We all experienced a profound level of communication and presence.
The practices that we teach in Matrix Leadership were apparent as shared norms of communication in support of ongoing connection. One man described his interaction with a woman he hadn’t yet really met. When he sat down to talk to her, he made a light-hearted joke rather automatically. Right in the moment, she let him know that the joke was a classic trigger for her in her history. But rather than react, she gave him this feedback neutrally — even lovingly. She stayed in connection. It gave him a chance to become conscious of an automatic behavior. More profoundly, he was struck by how this direct, personal communication — both in the moment and in the open — immediately deepened their connection and created trust. It was quite different from the silent disconnect he would expect in the norms of our ordinary culture.
We felt a profound sense of being a Matrix of people remembering ourselves as interconnected parts of a larger whole. The old stories of isolation, scarcity and separateness loosened their grip. We learned to honor and claim our unique and diverse multiple intelligences — beyond mainstream logical, mathematical. We deepened our understanding of how we are all hurt by systems of oppression. We worked collectively to liberate ourselves from the internalized oppression of racism, sexism, adultism, heterosexism, ageism and more. We moved beyond shame, blame and guilt. We awakened into the Mystery with songs of Lakota, the call of an Australian didgeridoo and the universal intonations of Arabic voice and drum. We courted the ecstatic and the ordinary, the human and the Divine.
We resided in the understanding that connection occurs in the Space between. It exists in the realm beyond subject-object, I-You or us and them. The more willing we are to explore our differences and “rubs” with each other, the more fully we are willing to express our glorious uniqueness, the greater the alchemy. There is an ocean, a field of abundant possibility. “The Tao is described as perfect, “like vast space where nothing is lacking and nothing is in excess.” We are remembering and we are collectively inspired to foster this remembrance in the many circles of our lives. “We are the change we’ve been waiting for.” 2
1 Knowlan, Amina, Matrix Leadership, The Art and Science of Creating Sustainable Communities and Organizations, 2008. Forthcoming.
2 Hopi prophecy and lyrics from Bernice Hill and Sweet Honey and the Rock.
MLI was an incredible experience that helped me grow tremendously personally and professionally. As a clinical psychologist, I had studied group process before. However, this was the experience that most helped me understand myself in new ways. The training was not easy nor simple but was one of the most important experiences in my life. Thank you for your caring, your expertise, and your loving leadership.
— Sue L., Ph.D.