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Synthesis from the Self-Portraits
by Carol Frenier

  1. Practitioners in the field report that the condition we know in individual practice as sacred space also exists for groups. Sacred space in groups seems to be the salient factor for the emergence of collective wisdom.  Some people are called to the experience of sacred space in groups from an inner intuitive knowing that it is there; others, not infrequently, find themselves within sacred space, although they were previously unaware of it and even skeptical of its existence. For most people, once they have experienced it, however they have experienced it, replicating sacred space in groups becomes of primary significance.

  2. "Wholeness" is the word which best describes what people experience in sacred space, a wholeness that can never be fully known. Wholeness appears to human beings to be without boundaries - something above and beyond the human mind and experience. Thus groups in sacred space can be present to wholeness, but can neither create it nor assemble it.

  3. The knowledge and capacity, or collective wisdom, that becomes available to groups within sacred space is perceived as being far more than the sum of the knowledge and capacity of the individual participants.

  4. Sacred space in groups is experienced as both incredibly pleasurable, bordering on the ecstatic, and the cause of considerable discomfort and fear. Wholeness, like God, is a great attractor, but also potentially terrifying. Furthermore, the experience of collective wisdom in sacred space, though wondrous, is also cause for concern among some practitioners - a concern that such enormous unleashed energy can be used for negative purposes.

  5. Since the manifestation of collective wisdom is the desired outcome, a key task for individuals within sacred space is, in the words of Jacob Needleman, to achieve the "willingness and capacity to separate oneself from one's thoughts and freely give attention to the other," thus achieving a state of relationship between participants that transcends ego and conflict. We consider this capacity to be what can be described as "spiritual capacity."

  6. The experience of the emergence of collective wisdom within sacred space is paradoxically heightened in direct proportion to the depth of appreciation individuals hold for each other's unique gifts and points of view. Diversity, then, rather than being an obstacle to be overcome, is viewed as and believed to be the ground of the experience itself. Inclusivity, equality and self-organization are natural outcomes.

  7. The overarching spiritual task of groups in sacred space seems to be to midwife a new social/spiritual order of an evolutionary magnitude. To "midwife" is to assist something that is emerging of its own power.

  8. Learning and doing within sacred space require the whole, authentic person - the integration of body, mind, heart and soul. Multiple modalities of learning are recognized and welcomed as are multiple modes of activity, particularly including those which are organic and non-linear.

  9. People come to their interest in sacred space in groups along many different paths and through many different doors. What is common about their interest in cultivating capacity for sacred space in groups is the experience of the struggle with and/or realization that people must and are able to work together in qualitatively different and better ways. While many people continue to work to change their organizations from within, the revelation that "something" much change in the way we work together often results in people moving out of existing structures.

  10. The tools that people have developed and use to help create conditions to enable the sacred space in groups primarily involve generating expanded awareness and authentic expression. These are believed to enable the kind of presence that allows sacred space to be experienced, which in turn evokes and sustains collective wisdom.

In the words of David LaChapelle, "By cultivating the awareness tools necessary to validate and register opened fields, a group can begin to mature the ability to recognize the presence of wisdom and ground this wisdom through conscious expression and perceptual acuity."

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