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Pathfinder Circle Reflections:
The Circle as Sacred Container
April 17, 2003
Bill and Marilyn Veltrop formed the first Pathfinder Circle in January of 2000.  Eight participants met initially for two days, then gathered for a full day each month, and ended the series with a day-and-a-half session in June. The lives of participants had shifted - some dramatically. That circle continued into the second year.  Then, in the third year (fall 2001 to spring 2002), two circles of ten each were formed. That series culminated in a retreat - bringing the circles together for three days in the redwoods of the Santa Cruz Mountains.
What follows is an edited transcript of a conversation that took place on June 29, 2002 between Bill and Marilyn, and FireHawk and Pele Rouge, who participated in one of their Pathfinder Circles that year and co-led the retreat with them. In this meeting, which took place a week after the retreat, they reflected on their experience of Pathfinder Circle gatherings and the retreat.
Questions are interspersed in bold type to invite inquiry and reflection on your own experience and dialogue on what supports the emergence of collective wisdom. (Photographic images are courtesy of FireHawk)
PELE  ROUGE:           
What I'm really interested in our talking about today is: What would serve Life? What would serve the Mystery at this time in relationship to the emergence of collective wisdom on the planet?  And how do we use what happened last week at the Pathfinder Retreat as a way to see into that?
My version of those questions would be: What are the things that we can do, especially in circles, that support the evolution of our collective wisdom, that support evolution at various levels?  What is it that contributes to inner level movement, relational level movement and collective level movement along a conscious evolutionary trajectory?  Our giving language to this definitely opens up the possibility of other people more easily accessing it. It's like the word is made flesh.  The entity that contains collective wisdom takes on form as we speak it.
In your group experience, what has supported the emergence of collective wisdom?  What has contributed to inner, relational and collective movement?
I would also like for us to get fairly specific in describing some of the miracles, or the consequences that excite us.  What do we see that turns us on in terms of what's shifted for circle members or the systems they serve?  Also, if we look at a circle as a morphogenic field, what are the conscious choices that contributed to that field being such a force in our experience during the retreat?
PELE  ROUGE:           
There's a place that I would like to start that feels obvious, and that is with the Circle.  I remember John Shibley, an internal consultant at LL Bean, ten years ago saying, if he could just get executives drawing circles on flip charts, he thought everything might actually start to shift and change.  We laughed and talked about creating flip charts that were circular rather than rectangular and how that would shift our meeting patterns. 
I think one of the fundamental principles for this work is the drawing of the circle, of us always meeting in a circle.  The circle is the oldest symbol that I know of for God, for wholeness, and I know, from my own experience, that something happens when we draw a circle.  What we are saying, in essence, is there is nothing outside of this.  It's a way of connecting with the one-ness of Life and having everybody who's present be a part of a field, be a part of the One, be a part of the whole, be a part of the Mystery, be a part of God.
What does the Circle represent to you? How important have circles been to you?
So, in all of the Pathfinders work and certainly in the retreat, we created the circle, drew the circle, and met as a circle of people. A circle was present in every phase of our time together, and the act of doing that meant that what happened every single time we were together, was different than if we had not done that.
When we're talking about the circle, we're not just talking about the physical manifestation of the circle.  We're talking about the circle of our collective intention, which some people call design work. That circle was drawn way before the retreat happened and was a significant part of what occurred. 
There's also the coming into conscious, joyous relationship with the other beings that inhabit the physical spaces where we meet.  I was thinking about what distinguishes Pathfinder Circles.  Part of it is the space here where we've met all year long, this space in your home, Bill and Marilyn, that's imbued with your collective intention and with the energy of the people who have come here over the years and the work that's been done.  All of that energy is still here, and the trees and plants that you both love so much and care for - all available to us to assist with our work. We've invoked that energy consciously, as we did at the retreat with the redwood trees and the medicine wheel in the meadow.
There's a mysterious aspect to creating the circle that's not physical, that's not literal.  It has something to do with intention and commitment; it has something to do with mystery; it has something to do with relating to the plants and the animals and the sky - all the other beings that we share this planet with.
This brings me back to the medicine circle that we created on our land here and that became the site for the opening ceremony of our Pathfinder Circles this year and is now serving as a symbol, in many respects, of the work that we're doing here.
What in particular is coming up for me around that is the fact that the medicine circle contains two smaller circles that overlap.  In-between is an almond-shaped space called a mandorla, or vesica piscus in ancient Celtic traditions... the source of birthing, of the Goddess.  This is a source of tremendous creativity and wholeness... where polarities no longer exist.
The reason I'm bringing this up now is that one of the ways we looked at that symbol was the coming together of the two circles we had this year.  There was an area of overlap, which had not physically manifested yet.  Our two circles were distinct and separate throughout the year, and it wasn't until the retreat that they came together and we were able to experience what that potential birthing in the center might be.
There was a fair amount of resistance on some people's parts to bringing the two circles together.  I'm reminded of a concept from the book, What We Learned in the Rainforest.
In that book, the authors speak about the phenomenon of a verge that is created when two entities come together. The verge becomes a source of competition and a certain amount of friction, but it also opens up the possibility for something very magical to take place, in the intersection of the two previously separate entities.
How have you experienced "verges" in your life?
Our retreat experience feels like the coming together of two circles that had a wholeness in and of themselves.  But in bringing them together, there was a new circle created that held all of them.  One of the things we noticed was how quickly everybody was turned on by everybody else.  This dynamic was very much supported by an appreciative introduction of the each of the people there.
To build on your verge idea, the creativity that was stirred in that retreat resulted in people talking in terms of a Pathfinder community - an organism that is different from the circles - one that is more like an ecosystem, more like a rainforest, with the circle being one species in the rainforest.
If you're willing, I'd like for us to describe now a bit about why we feel excited about the Pathfinder Circles and the emerging community.  What have we seen in our own lives?  What have we seen in the lives of others and in the systems and relationships that are touched by our participants?  What is it that says we've got something happening here?  What are examples?
PELE  ROUGE:           
Well, for me, I go back to humans being social creatures.  And that one of the great illnesses, from my perspective, of this time, is our human isolation.  The breakdown of communities, the breakdown of families, the breakdown of the structures that used to hold us together as a people. 
At a fundamental level, Pathfinders provides a structure by which humans can come together.  It's my belief that it's not possible for each of us to truly manifest who we are in isolation.  That can only happen in a community of people.  So Pathfinders provides not just any old community of people, but a very specific, purposeful, intentional, sophisticated community of people and, within that structure, there's the promise of each individual being able to be all that we can be.
I think that only happens in community.  It doesn't happen in isolation.  It doesn't happen in just oneness. There's a part of who I am that needs you and you and lots of you's in order for me to flower, to manifest the magnificence of who I am and who each of us is as a human being.
How important is community to your becoming all of who you are?
Did you see evidence of flowering?
Yeah, I did.  I saw evidence in myself of flowering. One of the things that gives me enormous pleasure and excitement and engagement is when I really hear somebody else's story.  And I hear it in a way that's authentic and true to the moment, but there's also a commitment to evolve the story on that person's part.  That's really the ground of the Pathfinder Circles... a commitment to evolve my own story.  And to write new stories, not just for myself, but for the worlds I touch. That's a tremendously energy-forming and energy-giving process for me - the telling of our stories.
PELE  ROUGE:           
And if I don't know what my story is, to have a safe, supportive AND challenging place to discover it.
What role has storytelling played in your own  journey? What about in your experiences with groups or circles?
Exactly, right.  It doesn't have to be The Story.  In fact, over the year, over the nine meetings, for me, my own story evolved. The Pathfinder Circle gave me a ground to come and not only see how my story was evolving in the mirrors of the other stories, but how the other people were doing it in their lives.  There's this sense of real connection there that I can somehow move my own individual story forward into the world because I'm a part of this circle, because I'm getting mirroring, I'm getting challenge, I'm getting recognition, or I'm getting appreciation from the others in this group.  We're all doing that for each other in a way that's not cumbersome and feels organic.  The practices in the Pathfinder Circle are pretty simple.
Could you describe the practices just a bit to bring them to light?
The practice of coming together and sitting in silent meditation and invoking and evoking the sense of our ancestors and the sense of the "spirits that love and care for the people" at the beginning of each gathering, for me, is one of the practices that sets the ground. When we recognize Spirit in ourselves and in others, there's a willingness to step out that is created.  There's a willingness to go beyond whatever the boundaries I may be in or caught in at the moment because I feel that invisible support of Spirit.
Another practice is "stringing the beads" or check-in.  The practice of hearing the voice of each individual as they choose to speak.  This often takes two or three hours with eight to ten people, so it's a long period of time.  People speak what's in their heart, whatever it is that needs to be spoken. That speaking is a way not only for others to hear their story, but as we speak it, we discover what our story is, what our journey is.  The speaking helps to illuminate what it is that is going on that may otherwise be unconscious.
What practices have been important to creating sacred space in your experience of circles or groups?
Marilyn, I wonder if you would describe one of the practices that we've used every year in initiating a new group - the practice of people preparing the story of their journey.  This practice had its roots in your dissertation work. Would you describe that?  To me it seemed central to the success of the circles.
MARILYN   VELTROP:          
Before our first sessions, we requested that everyone complete a lifeline.  Many people have done various lifelines before, but with this one, we asked for a particular representation of our life journey to date.  We encouraged people to focus on both literal and metaphoric births and deaths in their life, and on various comings together, in a sense symbolic marriages or partnerships, and also on divorces or things breaking apart, as a way of reflecting on key incidents or key periods on those journeys.  So everyone prepared a lifeline, and we encouraged creative expression around how each person chose to represent that.  We received a variety of different forms for those lifelines.
Then, when people came to the first gathering, they used their lifeline to share a story of their journey.  That set a foundation in the group because many people found that they learned about themselves just through the process of doing this.  But also... we've found that really being witnessed and heard and seen by others in the circle creates a natural and robust bond between the members of the circle. 
Through the reflection and feedback that took place after each story was told, those stories evolved even further.  Both for the person who just spoke, but also for those others who were seeing themselves in the story of the person who just spoke and who were resonating with various aspects of that story.  The story of the "other" was illuminating things about their own journey that they had not seen before.
There's another principle about how we gather together in our "higher selves", in the most expanded manifestation of who we can be and who we might become.  The principle is one of seeking process and interaction and engagement that provides multiple benefits.  So it's not just the story for me. Everybody gets benefit individually, and then the interaction of everybody collectively adds another layer of benefit.
What are examples of processes that provide multiple benefits from your group experiences?
I'd like to go a bit deeper in this area, because I think it's rich. The point I want to underscore is that the stories that are told are intimate.  They are disclosing.  They go very deep, and they're presented in a way that presents a wholeness, a very soulful picture of who I am.  It's our story. There is an experience in telling your story that's one thing.  But then to have it deeply heard and have the other leaders reflect back on how the story touched them is a truly transformational moment.  It establishes a level of resonance and trust and love that then provides a field - a field we can play in that we rarely get to access.
Your words, Bill, trigger for me Barbara Waugh's concept of listening something into being. 
One of the qualities that I think is primary in Pathfinders is the quality of spaciousness... spaciousness to hear one another, spaciousness to hear ourselves. For me, creation only occurs, or occurs in its beauty, within a frame of spaciousness.  One of the things that people commented on again and again and again in the circle was that this was a place out of space and time.  Of how precious our time together was because it wasn't run by the clock; it was run by a deeper rhythm.  Whenever things started to feel crowded or pressed, there was always a call by one of us to come back to this quality of spaciousness... a quality which, for me, is profoundly important for the world to create if we are going to resolve the issues that are before us.
I remember a teacher and friend and colleague of mine saying that the most difficult challenge in listening to life around us and listening to the wisdom that is contained in Mother Nature is that we're moving so quickly, we can't hear her.  We're not relaxed enough, we're not spacious enough.  There's a brittleness to our being.  It's as if our edges are impermeable.  It's as if they're solid and brittle and hard. The interaction that wants to happen and is waiting to happen from all of life that is around us, has a very difficult time getting through to us as humans, because we're so busy and we're moving so fast.  We're moving beyond the speed of natural wisdom and beyond the speed of natural intelligence.  We have to slow down.  For me, this is the irony... that the wisdom comes not in striving harder or doing more or going faster, but it comes in slowing down.
What is the role of spaciousness in the emergence of collective wisdom?
MARILYN  VELTROP:           
This phenomenon came to be described in the circles as vertical time versus horizontal time.  There was a real appreciation for this among participants, whose lives are very busy and very full, and many of them travel a lot.  Before we began the circles, we wondered whether the time commitment was going to work among the population that we were seeking to bring together.  Because their calendars are so full, would we be able to get a commitment of one full day a month, two full days to start, and a day and a half at the end of the series?
What we found was that not only was that not an issue among those who chose to participate, but it actually became one of the essential ingredients. One of the gifts that people felt they received in the process was making a commitment to that kind of spaciousness in their life.  For some of them, it was the only experience of that kind they had during the month and they found themselves so looking forward to reconnecting with that spaciousness, within themselves and with this community of others who were sharing in this sacred, intimate circle.
You know, when there's the mirroring to each other and the listening to each other, there's always a listening for the highest being.  There's always a seeing and a calling forward of the higher self.  We don't spend time criticizing each other.  We don't spend great amounts of time pointing out what's wrong with someone.  There is the belief in the assumption that each of us is a sacred being; each of us is choosing to manifest our highest self as much as possible. If we speak to that and call that and see that and listen for that, we literally will call it into being.  The power of being heard in that way and of being seen in that way, it's like in the Midwest, they say you can hear the corn growing, and you can.  In the circle, you can hear and see the people growing.  You watch them change before your eyes.  You watch our dysfunctional behavior (and we all have some!) slowly start to fall away.  Not by doing anything specific about it, but by just ignoring it and continuing to call, to talk to, to respond to, to listen to that higher self that's there in everyone.  I think that's a hugely important principle in Pathfinders.  And so unusual in the culture around us in which a lot of it is about focusing on what's wrong, what doesn't work.  What did you do wrong?  Who's to blame?  Whose fault is it?  All of those things.
How important is an appreciative mindset to the emergence of collective wisdom?
I want to speak a little bit about the collective energy and the role of ceremony and direct relationship with the trees and the plants and the animals, the earth, the rocks, the stones, the fire.  At the retreat this past weekend, what we did was to create a sacred space, a sacred circle, and invite the two circles of pathfinders to enact something deeply on that sacred ground that in this case was beyond words... beyond the miracle of language, but also the liability of language. We allowed ourselves to enter this non-verbal space in which each individual could deeply pledge their intention, see themselves in a sacred way.
This shows up in some personal breakthroughs. I remember one of the men in our circle discovering his own artistic ability - as a part of his emerging deeper listening process - and then pursuing that for himself.  I remember times when we would sing together or when we would be out on the land together, here. And people writing poetry for each other as well as for themselves. 
For me, the sacred ceremony aspect helps to bring all of the words into a wholeness. What I experienced happening at the retreat was the larger being of the Pathfinder community came up out of that energy.  The possibility that there is a larger Pathfinder community and that we want to find ways to communicate what that is to ourselves and to the world.
For me, that's one of the outcomes of when we intentionally take ourselves into ceremony and into what is a very ancient way of being that's an energetic experience of oneness. When we do that together, when we step into that place consciously together, my experience over and over again is something larger gets created out of that.
What is your experience of sacred ceremony and its role in evoking collective wisdom?
I want to underscore what happens each time we encouraged people to go by themselves out into nature and to have a conversation with the trees and the ground and the rocks and the sky. It's awesome what they'd come back with.  I am blown away by the poetry, by the wisdom, by the insights, and by the intimate stories of how the process works within them as they "wrestle" with these subtle conversations. These sharings present such an intimate view of our yearning to cross through that veil.
How important has nature been to your spiritual awakening, conscious evolution, and access to collective wisdom?
MARILYN  VELTROP:           
Everyone who comes into our circles is working with a 10X commitment throughout the process. What this represents is a commitment to making a significant improvement in the lasting difference they make in the world. This often has both an inner, or more personal, component to it... what we're wanting to have revealed within ourselves or to evolve on our own journeys.  And also, what is it that we're really wanting to offer, to give as service out in the world, to make a real lasting difference.
Those 10X commitments change and evolve over time.  What both Firehawk and Bill were just speaking of - about the role of nature - applied in both our first circle gatherings and the retreat. Before the ceremonies in which we brought our commitments forward into the universe, people spent time by themselves out on the land to receive guidance from nature. In both of those cases, spaciousness was important - enough time to let the magic unfold. Some folks were uncertain whether they'd gotten what they were seeking during their exchange out in nature, but insights were later revealed.  At the retreat, one man went back to his cabin after his time outdoors, lay down for a moment and was flooded with all kinds of input.  So, some people had magic happen while they were out in nature, and others had it happen as a result of their having been out, but not necessarily in the direct experience.
In our initial circle gatherings, we had a ceremony in the medicine circle on our land. People stepped into the central space I referred to earlier, the mandorla or vesica piscus - the space of intersection between the two inner circles - and they expressed their commitments. It was a very powerful ceremony fueled by the gifts that each of us had received in our earlier communion with nature. 
Likewise, at the retreat, we had a beautiful ceremony that Firehawk and Pele Rouge led in a wonderful medicine wheel that they created out in a meadow at the retreat center where we were meeting.  They prepared us during the course of that day to enter the sacred ceremony that we experienced that night.  We used dancing and singing during that ceremony to ground our commitments.  It wasn't until the next morning that words were actually brought into the process in our community circle.
So the use of many different modalities, where silence is honored as well as words, as well as various forms of creative expression.  All of these are ways for us to access the deeper wisdom, clarity and commitments that we each have, but that need a certain environment in order to bring them forward in a powerful way.
I'd like to say a little more about the 10X commitments.  It's a very simple concept, but it can have profound implications. "10X" refers an order of magnitude shift in the lasting difference we make in the world.  It's not about more effort; it's not about that at all. It's about making a commitment that goes way beyond what you can imagine accomplishing on your own. It's designed to help us move outside of the boxes that we create around ourselves - the limitations we place on what we think is possible in the world - limitations on our creativity, limitations on the help that we can access. 
The focus on our 10X commitments is a theme that we want to give more and more ongoing attention to as we move through a circle series, so that we're drawing forth the story of the journey.  When we get this intentional, we invite the Universe to come in and move with us.
 How might commitments to making a significant and lasting difference in the world effect the emergence and evolution of collective wisdom?
I really want to underscore that we shouldn't underestimate the role of beauty in all of this.  And the consciousness that it evokes in us humans, when even in the most sterile board room, somebody takes the time and the effort and the attention to bring beauty to the center or bring beauty into the room.
I'm so glad you mentioned beauty.  That was one of the places I wanted to go - to the importance of beauty.  We often tend to think of beauty as a luxury, or we don't have time for beauty.  If you want to increase the possibility of wisdom coming from a circle of people, if you pay attention to two things, it's more likely to happen.  One of them is beauty.  And the other one is respect.
Beauty has within it a wholeness.  Or it wouldn't be beautiful.  Anything that we find beautiful is some manifestation, some mirror, some reflection of wholeness.  We only notice it because it's also within us.  We can't see anything that's not within us.
So every time I experience or see beauty, it's like a gift from the mystery saying, Pele Rouge, there's that beauty within you.  There's that beauty all around, just pay attention, just notice.  It's everywhere.  And in that beauty is wholeness.  As humans, we're not used to people caring about us enough to create beauty before us.  When we go out of our way to create beauty for other humans, it has a profound impact on them.  It's really awesome what happens.  I remember the Biblical words.  "I go to prepare a place before you."  I go to prepare beauty, I go to prepare the way.
Another key characteristic of Pathfinder Circles is respect.  One of the questions that I ask myself sometimes is: How can I increase my manifestation of respect in relationship to an individual or situation?  What practice, what thought, what process?  The way that we come together in Pathfinders clearly is with a high level of intentionality to hold each other in deep respect for the spirit beings that we each are.
I can't respect something if I'm not paying attention to it.  I have to notice it in ways and levels and depths that I didn't see before.  And as I do that, I see more deeply; I see beyond the surface that I might have been looking at something before.  Anytime I start to go more deeply into something, or we as a collective start to do that, a deeper wisdom emerges.
What do you see as the role of beauty and respect in calling forth wisdom in groups?
MARILYN   VELTROP:          
I'd like to speak of respect in another aspect of our circle experience, because I think it's really key in one of the elements that we have used more in our past series than we were able to this year.  It has to do with having a two-hour intensive block for each participant to have the circle's full attention and going deeply into an issue, a topic, a project, or something that is really up for that person.  Because of the environment of safety, respect and appreciation that we've been speaking of, people have come forward with issues that have been very raw for them.  They've felt safe enough to bring them into the circle, and have others work with them in this way. 
At the same time, when we have this lens of respect and appreciation, truth-telling can happen in a way that can be really heard and really healing and valuable to each person. It's how truth-telling is held and how it's done that is key. When we've taken time for each person to go deeply into something that they choose, it's been tremendously helpful for the person who is choosing to use that time, but also for everyone else who participates in that process.
How do you see the relationship between safety, respect, appreciation and truth-telling in groups?
The two-hour blocks of time that you mentioned, Marilyn, seemed really important, not just for the focal individual, but for all of us. What helped make those times powerful was when the focal individual asked for advance personal reflection from the other members. This seemed to heighten the depth of the sharing and multiplied the insights we each came away with. It's not just a focus on one person, but the truth-telling is almost always truth-telling about self that is enabled by the truth-telling of each of the others.  As I experience each of the others go more deeply, disclose more and just be fully who they are in this space, it gives enormous permission for me to own those parts of myself.
In our initial sessions, Marilyn shared her "Figure 8" model.  Would you describe it? Then I want to refer to it.
MARILYN  VELTROP:           
Okay, the "Figure 8" model came out of my dissertation work.  It's a model of the transformational journey that has four phases to it.  The two phases in the upper circle of the 8 are life structure development and life structure breakdown.  This is the more personal or out-in-the-world level: the life structures we are building, whether through our work or through relationships. We inevitably encounter a plateauing of any particular life structure and then there's a breaking down of that structure.
At some point, we reach a juncture I call the gateway at the middle point of the figure 8 - a gateway into the lower circle, which has to do with our more transpersonal side, our more inner-focused work.  When we go through the gateway, we encounter the third phase, a descent and awakening process. After going down into the depths of our soul to connect with our essence, we reach the fourth phase, which I call emergence and integration.  Here, we emerge with new insights and integrate new aspects of ourselves, so that when we move back out into the world, we are birthing ourselves in a whole new way.
For many, there's real resistance to going into this lower loop. So there's a tendency, when we get into life structure breakdown, to make minor adjustments, to move right back into the go-for-it first stage of life structure development.  There's a tendency, in our culture, to want to stay in the upper loop, to not allow for the "deaths" that are necessary to move into the deeper and more expansive aspects of ourselves that require us to go into this lower loop of the journey.
I see this gateway in the center as essentially a dying process as we're moving down into the lower circle, and as a birthing process as we move back up into the upper circle.  We tend to experience resistance before both of those processes.  A question we addressed in one of our Pathfinder Circle sessions was: What supports dying and birthing?  Recognizing that both processes are essential to our being whole, we explored what conditions support the dying of old, outmoded structures, and also what supports our birthing, when the time is right, into new outer-world structures.
What has supported "dying" and "birthing" in your own life? In groups or circles in which you have participated?
In a series of twelve full days spent together, with Marilyn and I as leaders, Marilyn's brief description of the "Figure 8" model was about the extent of our "formal teaching." There was some conversation about it in the group, but just enough to provide a framework. (Later, the model was often referred to when people shared about their journeys.) We are not the teachers; we all are teachers.  And the real teacher is in the middle of the circle - a product of our interactions.  That collective entity is the real teacher that we want to pay attention to.
The point that triggered me into remembering Marilyn's "Figure 8" model is that for people who are out in the world, most of their issues tend to be in the upper circle. But as they participate in the Pathfinder Circle and as they listen to others' stories, these stories invariably describe descents into the lower circle as well.  What happens after a time of participation and experience and experimentation is that we increasingly make friends with the adventures of the lower circle
That is a very powerful thing to have happen for people who primarily have been masterful in the world, in the upper circle.  This kind of incredible gift can't come out of any cognitive learning process.  It requires an incubator.  And I think the circle truly serves as an incubator, permitting that part of our wholeness to be acknowledged and increasingly accessed.
MARILYN  VELTROP:           
One of the vehicles to support that for us has been creative expression, because creative expression allows us to tap into the tacit knowing inside that may not be accessible at a more conscious, verbal level.  We invite participants to use whatever form they choose, whether it's drawing or collage or poetry or movement.
Or a pizza that is carefully designed to represent the essence of one of the deepest and most profound and complex of spiritual traditions.
What forms of creative expression are you drawn to? How, if at all, has creative expression supported you in accessing personal or collective wisdom?
MARILYN  VELTROP:           
Whatever form it happens to take, creative expression has been one of the ways that supports deepening and befriending the lower circle and what it can reveal to us, how it can renew us and reveal truths to us that we otherwise don't have access to.
The circle, when we come together, for me is the void.  The intention to create a circle creates a boundary around it. It creates a container into which the Mystery can speak, into which our collective wisdom can emerge.  Without the container, there's nothing to hold it.
The element of intention is an essential aspect of Pathfinders.  It's our intention that largely creates the ceremony. It's what's behind our intention that determines whether or not our mirroring is healing or hurtful.  A little skill helps, but there can be a lot of clumsiness if the intention is truly pure--
What is the role of intention in accessing personal or collective wisdom?
I want to notice the level of energy of our speaking. I'd like to acknowledge how each of us has different facets of the story. It will be great fun to read whatever it is we said for the last hour and a half and see what coherence emerges. Hopefully this will be helpful to others wanting to embark on this journey. I see ourselves as learners who are sharing what it is we've learned and what it is we think we understand.
I'd like to insert another design element that we haven't touched on yet that feels important.  It has to do with the attention we've given to selecting and inviting pathfinders into this game.  A key part of this adventure has been to explore what's possible when you bring together people who are deeply committed to their inner journey - their inner journey has them.  That doesn't mean they're far along on the journey, necessarily.  It doesn't mean they're enlightened. But there is that clear yearning and commitment to go to the next level, whatever the hell that is.  And a commitment to move relationally, not just to fix something, but to discover what's possible when we're in community, when we're in relationship, when we're exploring our edges together.
We sought pathfinders who also had a deep commitment to transforming organizations. Some of them are providers; some of them are core players inside of organizations - business leaders and the like; others are change agents -- but all are clearly, deeply concerned about the nature of our organizing forms and are wanting to shift that.  So they share that common commitment.  And they are deeply committed to the world, to bringing wholeness into the world.
This in not a fixit group.  These are circles of adventurers - people who are wanting to push the edge and know they want to join with other adventurers.  In general, we've brought in people with whom we've had direct relationship, or other pathfinders have had enough experience with them so we know that these are folks who are ready to cross the frontier together.
There's a role in gathering the people together that I'm hearing you speak about.  What it comes to is the need for there to be a passionate relationship and interaction between the people who are calling the circle and the people that are being called.  Any lessening of the quality of that relationship or the quality of the calling can really be a detriment to what might emerge.  It's not about "this can only work for certain kinds of people."  It's really about the nature of the two of you calling and the people that you're calling to.
There are some fundamental principles under that that are useful for others who might not be in the area of organizational transformation, or in the area of personal transformation, but might be in other areas. They could use those same ideas to call a circle together that would have some of the same attributes.
BILL VELTROP:         Beautiful.
When Marilyn rang - or rather sounded - the Tibetan bells this morning, what went through my mind was the clarity of the sound that went out.  I've listened to people sound Tibetan bells probably thousands of times.  And the sound that comes out is a function of the clarity and the consciousness, the intention with which it's being sounded.  You don't get a beautiful, clear note sounded if you're not paying attention.  The two of you pay enormous attention, and behind that attention is a huge intention.  To truly serve and to sound a very clear note to which people can then respond with the least amount of confusion. There's an essence level to the note that you sound.
One of you could say, well, Bill and Marilyn are getting a group together, who wants to come?  Many groups are formed that way, but part of the power of Pathfinders comes from the purity and the clarity of the note that is sounded... many, many, many, many, many, many, many times.
[The bells sound -- it is pure and clear.]
May we all walk in beauty.


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