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David La Chapelle

We honor our colleague and friend, David, who passed July 21, 2009.

His photo and writings, appreciatively woven into the CWI website, remind us of his significant and continuing influence as we seek to deepen our understanding of collective wisdom.

A poem, Within This Tree Born Temple, which he wrote in 2003 reminds us of his strong and compassionate spirit.


What is an underlying question that gives form to your work or interest in this field?

The underlying question that has informed my life work occurred first to me while on a plane to India in 1976. I had just spend three days wandering in the MET in New York city being bathed by the visual history of Humanities journey on this blue planet of ours. I was on my way to an Ashram north of Bombay in which I was to have a major spiritual opening. Looking down on the Arabian Peninsula the thought suddenly occurred to me:

“What is it that is vibrating that holds our experience?”

In other words what is substance which registers the impressions of all the dimensions of our being? What is it that is the root of our experience.

This question has informed my work and inquiry ever since and continues to be an abiding form of spiritual practice.

What is your personal experience of collective wisdom in groups?

There is the wisdom of diversity. The many points of view allow a more complete understanding of reality to emerge. This is a co-generational process that has a unique complexion within each group and situation.

Then there is a dimension of what I would name vertical wisdom which appears when the energy of the room, and the subtle bodies of the participants begins to open. This descending current of insight, most aptly described as the Holy Ghost in the Christian stream, informs the immediate context of eternal qualities that are based in pure vibrational awareness. The discursive mind lays down and deep sense of the interconnection of life arises. This wisdom is the co-emergent field of deepest potentiality.

What is it about the work in this field that excites you and connects you to your own deepest self?

The aspect of the group field as a form of raja yoga practice. In other words the ability to discern specific vibrational aspect of our human experience as mirrored in the participants. The perception of these states drives the bodies, minds and emotions of those present into deeper connection with the field out of which we arise.

Please provide a brief storyline or snapshot of what brought you to this work.

As a child I spent many hours alone at the edge of Glacier. (My father is a glaciologist). The intensity of natural beauty, the resonant frequency of so much crystalline water and the prana of high altitude served to alter my perceptions. My life has been a journey towards the stabilization of those early states of consciousness that opened as a child. Along the way John Fire Lame Deer, a Lakota Medicine man, Baba Muktananda, Izthak Bentov, Ramana Maharshi, and St Francis have been anchors for my journey. The many hundreds of individuals who have entrusted me with some dimension of their inner lives has been a powerful and beautiful teacher as well.

How would you like to be available to others in this field?

I am available to pursue sincere lines of inquiry into the arising of our experience. Meaningful connections occur as an outgrowth of this dialogue, sometimes explicit, sometimes not. Phone conversations, an occasional email dialogue and the recognition of our journey together through a common link of interest and attention is the elixir of this openness.

Links to this site or others:

Seed Paper: What Supports the Emergence of Collective Wisdom?

Seed Paper: Exploring Essence: Collective Wisdom and Group Experience

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