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What Supports the Emergence of Collective Wisdom?
© 2003 David La Chapelle

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A Brief Exploration of Principles
What Are Fields?
Identity Formations
Social Agreement and Permission Fields
Recognition of Wisdom
Generation of Empathy
Recognizing Subtle States & the Doubting Mind
Hall of Mirrors
Verification of Experience
Tuning of the Mind and Body
The Sum of All Known Parts

A Brief Exploration of Principles

That groups of human beings can amplify the qualities present in a variety of gatherings is a common experience. We see the inspirational capacity of humans to transcend their own limitations in service of a collective good. The Apollo moon missions come to mind as an example of group intelligence in the service of lofty (literally) goals. The intensity of emotional and physical energy present at sporting events shows us the capacity of amplification that is present in group settings. On the darker side we see the manifestation of group behaviors such as Nazi Germany, or more recently the genocides in Cambodia and Rwanda as examples of the collective gone awry.

That groups of human beings can amplify and make explicit wisdom itself is another line of inquiry. Perhaps a clarification of what is meant by wisdom may help in the initial survey of these processes. By wisdom I mean a direct apprehension of our intrinsic interconnection that is grounded in compassionate action. In some traditions this contact has been characterized as an experience of a feminine nature. Knowledge arises as a result of past experience and the transmission of that knowing. Wisdom arises as a direct intuitive, apprehension of the existent interconnection of life. Knowledge may be wise, but then again it may not be. Wisdom is always so.

Knowledge is transmittable in terms of cultural memes and other societal vectors of communication. This is information that has been tried and found to be true. Much of our conventional social norms are built on this form of knowing. But the source of wisdom speaks to us from another dimension of our experience. Wisdom that is directly experienced arises as a function of what might best be termed as an open vibratory capacity.

A simple analogy may help clarify this term. Our entire telecommunications network is in the process of shifting from a reliance on metal cable to light as a mechanism to support communication. Why? Because light holds much more information than the atomic structure of metal through which electrons pass. Its vibration is much higher. Vibration, very simply, is an alternating field. The degree to which the field moves creates the conditions in which information can be exchanged. The new exploration of quantum computers is attempting to make use of the extremely high vibratory rates inherent in atomic structure itself as a way to encode information.

What does it mean for a human being to have an opened vibratory rate? It means that the sum of the body/mind is vibrating as a higher capacity. This viewpoint of the body mind considers that our physical forms are portals between this level of manifest reality and more subtle realms. These subtle realms have been identified in various traditions and their existence is a matter of personal experience. The exact mechanism of an increased vibratory rate which opens to these realms has been the study of various yogis, mystics and shamans throughout the ages. Various maps of subtle pathways that form the medium of these vibrations have been made. Ultimately the physical body provides the linkage in this time and space, but it is in the nature of the subtle bodies that capacity to open vibration is best realized. Direct experience of these subtler bodies manifests in a variety of forms depending on the character, make up and destiny lines of the individuals involved. For some this may appear as a very clear insight into life structures. For others it may appear as an urge towards generosity and compassionate action. For others it may be a revelation of life direction. And for some the revelation of subtler bodies takes on distinct sensory phenomenon, such as "seeing" energy flows, hearing sounds or an increase in kinesthetic capacity.

Wisdom arises when the vibratory capacity of an individual, or a group, increases to a point of direct apprehension of the underlying pattern, or unity of phenomenon is possible. This capacity is modulated through a sequence of subtler planes of experience and seems to best be achieved when the heart opens. We see with this kind of opening that the root of wisdom is to be found in what we truly care about.

What are Fields?

When considering group wisdom it is also important to talk about field phenomenon. In the physical world the passage of energy through a structure can create fields. So we see electromagnetic fields arising when electrons move through wire, we see at a macro level magnetic fields arising because the movement of the internal processes of planets and stars. Our life on this planet is only possible because of the magnetic field which shields us from radiation sources beyond the planet.

In 1908 Einstein was grappling with ideas that were to lead to his articulation of the theory of relativity. A painter happened to fall from the roof a house to the ground near where he lived. He visited the painter and asked the painter what he felt when fell. The painter's answer was to change the face of our world forever. The painter reported that he felt no weight at all as he fell. "The greatest idea of my life" occurred to Einstein at that moment. Upon hearing of the painter's weightless sensation Einstein understood that "In a gravitational field (of small spatial extension) things behave as they do in a space free of gravitation." This idea was to become, after seven years of work, the basis for his theory of relativity. What Einstein was able to do was shift his perception away from tangible objects and into the field that supported their motion. A similar shift of perception can be cultivated for individuals and groups.

The energy of our life force, as it moves through the structure of our body/mind, generates a field. Commonly known as the aura, this field encodes the major experiences of a human being. Depending on the nature of attention and activity a human being is engaged in the fields around each human can be widely varying. Significant spiritual experiences may very well be activated by a field entrainment from higher energy, non physical field activity. This possibility is an important one to consider when working with groups.

Human beings, by virtue of their sensitive nervous systems, have the ability to register a variety of field phenomenon. There are individuals who can feel into the fields that are present and draw forth meaningful information from such fields. Clairvoyants and other such sensitives are able to "read" people at a distance over phone lines or even by seeing a picture of that person. These examples of non local field phenomenon are also to be found in many of the descriptions of sages and mystics through the ages. A classic story is told of Emmanuel Swedenborg who was at a dinner party in a town several hundred miles from his home when he suddenly became quite agitated and announced that a fire had broken out that was nearing his residence. A short while later he relaxed and announced that his writings were safe. Several days later it was confirmed that a large fire had consumed many buildings in his home town, but had stopped short of his residence. This particular event was widely discussed at the time and helped propel Swedenborg and his writings into the public eye.

Any time you place a group of human beings together you have a possibility of field entrainment. By virtue of what people are focusing on and the emanations of those present there is a quality in the atmosphere that can be called the group field. This collective quality is the sum total of all of those present. Given that every human being carries a record of their life experience, interests and attention capacity a collection of people represents an entire ecosystem of field phenomenon. Some of this field is being generated by the conditioning present and some is generated by individuals accessing deeper fields within their own being. As these connections are made the quality available for group entrainment shifts dramatically. Depending on where attention is placed a variety of responses can be brought forth from the group. These responses can run the gamut from the physical plane to the most refined qualities possible in the human experience.

Field Entrainment

Entrainment is experienced as the matching of vibratory capacity and action in such a way as to increase the overall energy of the system. When this happens the subjective experience of those who participate is of being in a flow that is greater than the sum of the parts. Winning sports team model this process at an explicate level. Military units exhibit a similar phenomenon. On sailing ships songs were used to entrain the physical action of raising the sails. Similar forms of entrainment are found in rock concerts, motivational gatherings and a variety of group spiritual gatherings.

There is a long and varied history of group entrainment in the service of spiritual processes. The Sufis have a particularly facile understanding of group dynamics in service of spiritual awakenings. Through the use of movement, sound, and meditative practices the group is brought into a coherent function that allows the members to draw on the power of collective resonance to alter conscious experience.

Accessing collective wisdom is an interesting challenge for any group. It is fairly easy for a group to be molded into some form of entrainment. This activity has been tapped by leaders from the most inspired to the most diabolical. What is a far more challenging task is to use group field phenomenon in service of wisdom.

This process presupposes that each individual has their own capacity to directly access a state of consciousness in which wisdom arises as a internal experience, not dependent on external streams of conditioning. The facilitation of this is necessarily dependent on some form of modeling in which the states of open vibration that allows deep internal contact to be made are accessible. With such modeling the intuitive ability that humans have to register more refined states of consciousness becomes available in a sensory manner.

In a group there will be at any given time a variety of degrees of connection available. 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.

Identity Formations

The obstacles to this process are primarily based on the insecure identity formations of those present. This can lead to either power distortions or projections that distort the integrity of the group inquiry. Because so much of our conditioning tends to appear at levels below conscious awareness groups have the potential to become minefields of projected material. For the awakening of true wisdom within a group a level of self awareness is necessary. People need to understand the nature of their own projections coming their way. Because the mind tends to recapitulate its conditioned experience of reality the capacity to access wisdom as an objective state of being requires a basic recognition of the nature of the conditioning. There is also the need to be able to validate what an essential field connection feels like.

Social Agreement and Permission Fields

Social agreement is also a powerful form of group conditioning. The permission field of the group establishes the context in which experiences are encouraged and validated. Obviously the realm of experience that is supported in a fundamentalist religious gathering is going to be much different than that which is encountered in a scientific convention or a sporting event. The language used, the phenomenon that is considered acceptable and the definition of reality that is being adhered too all varies according to the group and the circumstance
For the generation of wisdom in a group setting a permission field that acknowledges the inherent capacity of each person to access direct states of knowing is critical. Not only is the acknowledgment essential, for it sets the conditions for group experience, but the validation of the states of being in which such connections take place are also important. This validation takes a considerable personal courage because often direct spiritual openings can catalyze strong unconscious resistance. The relative patterns of the conditioned self actually can attack the presence of deep openings. The shift of world ground as the deeper self opens can often feel threatening to the surface personality.

Recognition of Wisdom

The skill of opening a pathway to group wisdom resides in the ability to cultivate refined states of open vibration that are not dependent on some form of subtle power distortion. This takes a maturity of self knowledge and an willingness to humbly recognize the presence of wisdom when it arises, no matter in who or how it arises.

My experience of groups is that the bulk of group dynamics are generally driven by the need of those present to fill in missing places within their own development. This is fine if named and understood, but often stands in the way of a direct connection to an opened vibratory capacity. The generation of group wisdom is supported by the modeling of a way of opening that sustains and encourages an embodied experience of a direct contact with wisdom as an objective state of being.

These kind of authentic openings can help drive the frequency of a group field then the resonance of various openings continues to support entrainment of the group towards its direct encounter with wisdom.

Generation of Empathy

The maturing of a group field is also an exercise in the generation of empathy and compassion. Initially what can look like compassion from the outside is actually rooted in a kind of narcissism. Some one's pain reminds us of our own and we identify with the process of the pain. At this stage in a group dynamic there can be projection and often a certain amount of unsolicited advice. Boundaries are easily crossed and

If someone comes in too quickly to "fix" or give advice then the integrity of the emerging process is not respected and a person can shut down. This sorting out of boundaries can be lengthy process left to the usual field of psychological discussion and reporting of life experiences.

If the vibratory rate of the assemblage is raised then the rooting of identity comes from a more essential state and there is an automatic maturing of the capacity for compassion. Then rather than pain being a process that needs to be fixed or remedied it is something that is witnessed. Often in this witnessing there is an acknowledgment of being that helps to release the inherent wisdom that is present in the group.

Recognizing Subtle States and the Doubting Mind.

There has been throughout the ages various forms of resistance to subtle experiences. Some of this resistance is innate in the organism. The animal body simply does not want to relinquish control of its experience to the more opened energetic states of the soul. This resistance may actually play out in the neurological wiring of the brain. The mammalian brain structure may register higher frequency contact as a threat to its organization. Deep suspicion, fear and even aggression can be triggered by the flooding of the nervous system by higher frequencies, depending on the personal history of the individual involved.

The resistance can also be reinforced by the social construct of the culture. If essential connection is viewed with suspicion by the culture then owning such experiences can of result in with expulsion from the tribe. Given the consequence of such expulsion a considerable amount of internal editing can come into play that will seek to deny the efficacy of essential experience.

A recognition of this tendency within oneself and a recognition of how this tendency manifests in group settings is an important discipline to cultivate. The doubting mind will in fact create an occlusion of content.

True discernment has a crisp and liberating quality to its appearance. Doubt and conditioned fear of open states generally has a quality of grasping and holding that appears.

Hall of Mirrors

As long as there is incomplete identity formation, a state which most human beings inhabit, there will be projection. Projection is the overlay of content within one's own self onto people, situations and even physical reality. A primary reason for this projection is a fundamental need to control experience. If I make the world into the way I see it, then I will have control over the outcome of the experience, or so I might believe.

Within groups this need for control is often masked by learned social behaviors, withdrawal of attention and energy, capitulation, passive aggressive actions or explicit manipulation of attention. These tendencies tend to appear when the permission field of the group setting is skewed towards states of consciousness that originate within conditioned expectations.

Much learning can take place within group settings in such conditions. Specific techniques, cognitive information, particular skills and even emotional sates of being can be transferred. But for the appearance of wisdom, as a function of direct intuitive experience, something else is needed within the group field.

A softening of the projections present is an important prerequisite for increase of energy within the mind/body. Access to wisdom appears as a function of higher energy states within the mind/body.

The nature of such projections can be very deeply embedded in the psyche and may often slip out without any conscious awareness that such a process has taken place. Symptoms of projected material can include moodiness, irritation, impatience, a need to be right, resentment, infatuation, attachment and a desire to leave.

Withdrawing projections involves several steps. The first is the self awareness necessary to identify that a projection is operating. The second is a conscious withdrawal of the projection. And the third is a return to interior balance.

A projection has been successfully withdrawn when the content of the mind is no longer triggered by external stimulus. If a projection has been withdrawn then it becomes possible to see the behavior of others in a truly objective light,. Behavior is seen simply for what it is, and there is no longer the need to judge, compare or defend.

This balanced state represents the most fertile ground for the appearance of wisdom. It only takes a few individuals reaching this state to help move a group field into one of more opened vibration and expansive reception of wisdom.

Verification of Experience

Verifying that the impulse one is receiving is actually an opening to objective wisdom is an important part of confirming group experience. Because social confirmation is such an important part of our reality construction, groups offer the opportunity to stabilize inner openings.

This verification takes place at two fundamental levels. One is at the level of energetic experience and the other is at the explicate level of language and social interaction.

The opening of vibration, the increase of energy in the subtle body system, has a direct effect on those in the atmosphere of the opening. This process had an inductive quality. This is a different process than mental suggestion or hypnotic command, both of which have been used in the service of less than lofty goals throughout history. In these cases the suggestion planted in the mind creates experiences within the body as a function of a mental processes. In an opened spiritual state energy moves with greater ease through the subtle body. This increase of field intensity can induce movement in the subtle bodies of those who are present in the environment

When internal experiences are reported verbally and in social space this can help anchor the experience at the frontal level of the personality. People will tend to either take their cues from the environment or use the environment to react against. In both cases identity is still linked to the social space. Because identification with this social field is keyed to one's survival in a tribal sense there an be very strong unconscious motivation to adjust one's behavior.

The desire to conform will sometimes induce internal experiences that can feel quite "real". Example of mass hysteria are well documented at various historical epochs.

An additional danger is that in the eagerness to become part of the group people will actually come up with verbal stories that are in fact not in alignment with their inner experience.

Discernment is an important discipline of attention that is important to cultivate in helping to mitigate these kinds of issues. Experiences induced by group hysteria will generally have a manic quality to them. The lack of ground is indicated by body posture, eye movement and exaggerated emotional qualities present.

Tuning of the Mind and Body

Accessing more coherent vibratory rates within the body/mind is a function of tuning the system. Most spiritual paths have some form of discipline that helps align the body/mind with a more fundamental field.

Group processes necessarily need to have some form of body/mind tuning in order to help in this alignment process. The fundamental tools of this alignment are breath, concentration/visualization, movement and sound. Each of these are powerful portals for changing the construct of the body/mind.

A prerequisite for accessing group wisdom is some manner of opening of the vibratory rate of the those present. Because of this practices that help cultivate such alignment should be an integral part of any facilitation of group wisdom.

The Sum of All Known parts

Accessing wisdom in a group setting is a dynamic, challenging and ultimately rewarding process. For in a group we begin to experience, first hand, the ecosystem of the soul. The differing modes of perception and being that any group exhibits are all in service of the revelation of an underlying unity.

Seeing into this unity is the perceptual and experiential task of group work that is in service of a deeper wisdom. A skillful understanding of the temperaments, qualities and emergent vectors of soul intention are all critical to manifesting the deeper realms of collective wisdom.

This work may well be a defining practice of the twenty-first century. For it will be in disparate and fractious planet that we will find the portal to a more whole world.

A common stream of wisdom manifesting as the diversity of this planet is the spirit of our collective destiny.

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