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Pattern Stories
Excerpts from Centered on the Edge

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"I became enchanted with the stories and images revealed in the dozens of interviews we gathered - the details of an interaction, the honesty and depth of a speaker's voice, the courage to speak about ideas not yet fully formed. In these collective stories I saw patterns, often involving an unexpected turn of events, a transformation, a healing, a clarity that spirit can be made manifest in action. Was it possible to reflect the whole by linking together excerpts from a subgroup of the interviews we gathered? I began with a story that I thought was immensely engaging, wise, and grounded in social reality. Then I began to search my mind for a second tale that could follow this first one and also take us in new directions. I would sit imagining the effect each story might have on a reader and what new riches might be found in the next tale. My role became that of weaver and guide into material that together demonstrated the range and depth of the field of collective intelligence. I found myself hoping that the readers might experience an emotional resonance with the material, even a heightened sense of themselves as part of a larger community of seekers and mystics." - Alan Briskin

The Least Qualified Among Us
: Listening for the Wisdom in the Group

Juanita Brown: "The year is 1966. The grape fields of California are ablaze with conflict and tension. Cesar Chavez and his fledgling United Farm Workers are seeking negotiations through collective bargaining elections with the DiGiorgio Corporation - the largest grower of table grapes in the nation. Many new workers are frightened, already indentured by the company who paid their way from Mexico and now living in DiGiorgio’s labor camps. They support their brothers and sisters in the United Farm Workers who are seeking a better life but they have children to feed and have no passage home...." [read Juanita Brown's story or hear the narration by Alan Briskin]

Rose Petals Falling: The Group as Symbolic Field

Lauren Artress: "An example of the large group spiritual work Veriditas does at Grace Cathedral is a pilgrimage we call A Moment In Time. How do we open ourselves to a transformational moment in time? And, of course the invisible part of this is my hope everybody is going to have a transformational moment sometime during the weekend. We work very much on an interfaith model, so we use interfaith or universal spiritual language. So, referring to the Light works well, especially when we hand them a candle at the entry way of the cathedral and the labyrinth is surrounded in candlelight...." [read Lauren Artress' conversation with Alan Briskin]

Coyote and other Archetypal Tales: Synchronicity, Surprise and the Unexpected Moment

Angeles Arrien: "I think we’ve been trying to define transpersonal for years (all of us who are deeply interested). It’s the spiritual or the mysterious or that which is greater than any part. Use the word “magic.” What creates magic in us? And it’s a mystery. But I think there are choice points along the way. I think that the transpersonal is a unifying force.... Wherever there’s magic there’s delight and love. Humor. The human spirit is being moved. Moved and uplifted. I think the transpersonal is very mysterious wherever there’s breakdown. I guess it’s a call to creativity. All conflict is a call to creativity and problem solving. I also see the transpersonal as something that wants to move something forward.... " [read Angeles Arrien's conversation with Alan Briskin]

A Finn in Denmark: Initiation Stories of Collective Intelligence

Finn Voldtofte: "I use the metaphor of the relationship between the ant and the anthill and the neuron and the brain. As individuals we are like ants or like neurons-both an ant and a neuron are intelligent entities, but we are more interested in the thinking of the anthill or in the thinking of the brain. So if you are willing to participate as ants or neurons, then should we engage in the process of getting to know what the anthill thinks?...." [read Finn Voldtofte's conversation with Sheryl Erickson]

From Lacrosse to Healing Our Species: Thought Passing Toward a Goal

Tom Callanan: "During college I was a member of Middlebury College’s lacrosse team. During my senior year, we were playing Williams College for the New England championship. I’d read about sports teams entering 'the zone,” but I’d never really experienced it until that game. From the opening whistle we entered this space that seemed like everything was happening in slow motion. Roy would win the face-off, and I knew where he was going to run and where he would pass to me. And I’d move in that direction, and he’d make the pass just as I’d seen it...." [read Tom Callanan's conversation with John Ott]

The Cauldron and the Crystal: Awakening to the Truth of Our Experience

Tom Hurley: "At the Institute of Noetic Sciences, I had many opportunities to explore the kinds of questions we’re concerned with here in diverse group settings and with a variety of really wonderful and talented people. I learned an enormous amount in that context, for which I’m very grateful. But one of the issues that always arose was: 'What do you do with any of it?' In a way, that’s the challenge that defines my work right now.. " [read Tom Hurley's conversation with Alan Briskin]

The Ramp and the Pit: The Ecstatic Darkness in our Midst

Arthur Colman: "I think this interview comes from, or comes at, a time of a very deep pessimism, which I hope isn’t cynicism. I think a lot of it has to do with being in the very disturbed world of South Africa and seeing how processes of individual escape and denial and group genocide and horror can continue. Erik Erikson has this term, 'pseudospeciation,' - really making the blacks and the coloreds and the Indians a different species, a lower species - which is what apartheid did, legally...." [read Arthur Colman's conversation with Alan Briskin]

The Group as Sphere of Hope and Healing: Sitting in the Silence

Elena Diez Pinto: "From 1954 until 1996 Guatemala lived in conflict. In that period, 40,000 people disappeared; 200,000 were killed; and 2 million were internally displaced. We suffered a terrible war. Since 1996 we have been trying to come together as a society and rebuild. Vision Guatemala started in 1997. The idea of the project was to bring together a group of 44 prominent people from all sectors of society-the media, the church, the military; indigenous and political leaders-to think about a future for our country. " [read Elena's story]


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