Hosting a Discussion on The Call to Global Spiritual Citizenship
Creating Deep Conversations for Living the Call

Purpose

Planetary democracy does not yet exist but our global civilization is already preparing a place for it. It is the very Earth we inhabit, linked with the Heaven above us. Only in this setting can the mutuality and commonality of the human race be newly created with reverence and gratitude for that which transcends each of us and all of us together.

- Vaclav Havel


The Call to Global Spiritual Citizenship is a document that offers a vision of possibilities. It is a vision that is rooted in life as we know it but also beckons us to go beyond what we know to create a better future. The Call invites people to a deeper way to connect spirituality and governance in their lives.

The purpose of these guidelines is to provide a process for people to engage with the words of the Call, go deeper into their own values, experiences and assumptions and open to insight, shifts and actions. Deepening Conversations provides a way to read these words into our own lives and live these values and visions more fully. Conversations are meant to provide a "field of becoming," a safe place to speak and listen with respect, to open to what wants to be said, and to be transformed.

Together, in conversation, we are developing a way of bringing politics and spirituality together --for ourselves and for society. It is no less than a way of "tying rocks to the clouds" -- of bringing heaven and earth together.

 

Keys to Creating the Field

When people in leadership positions begin to serve a vision infused with a larger purpose, their work shifts naturally from producing results to encouraging the growth of people who produce results.
-- Otto Scharmer

Conversations always occur in layers. There is always the surface content, the words and ideas and facts that are discussed and debated. There is always the emotional engagement that participants have with the words and ideas and facts. And sometimes there is a way of engaging that allows participants to let go of fixed ideas as they open to additional possibilities, connect more fully with other participants and live into the mystery of what is being explored.

Below are some keys to accessing those depths:

1. Place

The place and space where the conversation is held needs to be welcoming, orderly and inviting. It can be in a person’s house or office, indoors or outdoors. But ideally it will be uncluttered and comfortable, neither too cold nor too warm. External noises should be kept to a minimum. Interruptions (whether from cell phones, children, clients or others) should be discouraged as much as possible. Each participant should be treated as a special guest. But do not obsess over creating these conditions. After all, even in a perfect tea ceremony, tea is sometimes spilt.

2. Presence

The person leading the conversation holds the space for what happens. The leader's presence is key in holding the energy in a way that is centered, respectful, open. This can be a challenge because the art is to neither dominate nor be obsequious. Imagine being comfortable and centered as a very good host. The host is alert to the needs of guests, yet knows that people make their own way in the world. The essence of this sort of presence is not to entertain others, nor to control them. And yet there is a need to preserve respect and courtesy. A good reminder for the host is that whether or not he or she is liked by the participants is irrelevant. Rather, did they enjoy and benefit from each other?

3. Participation

Fostering conversation rather than debate or discussion is key. Conversation creates conditions for insights to bubble up. It elicits and is open to the insights of others. The key to going deep and speaking from the inside is to blend philosophical ideas with personal anecdotes and experiences. People have a need to speak from their own passion and meaning, and at the same time to allow others to do so without being interrupted or confronted. Remember not to believe everything that you think. The art to going deeper and opening to possibility is to allow for alternatives that one has not previously considered, or has not considered adequately. Rather than seeking to be right, or even to exchange information, focus on slight shifts or changes that take place as conversation develops.


Process Practices

We began to appreciate presence as deep listening, of being open beyond one's pre-conceptions and historical ways of making sense. We came to see the importance of letting go of old identities and the need to control...Ultimately, we came to see all aspects of presence as leading to a state of letting come - in consciously participating in a larger field for change.
- Peter Senge, “Presence”

Below are some practices that will help to create the space and set the tone for deepening conversation and living into the Call.

1. Clarify and set intention.

Invite participants to read these guidelines and to make a personal commitment to acting in accordance with them.

2. Set boundaries.

Set a time for beginning and ending, and honor those times as much as possible. If this is to be an ongoing series of conversations, participants should feel free to join or withdraw, but not to intermittently come and go. Honor and respect the contributions of others by not interrupting or criticizing them, and on those occasions where silence has been chosen, refrain from cracking jokes.

3. Practice Deep Listening

The art of going deeper is to listen to others, to oneself and to the listening itself. This is not an intellectual analysis of what is being said but a way of giving people space and learning to hear. One technique is to begin each meeting by inviting each person to share something of significance to them without interruption (though with a time limit of a couple of minutes). You might use a listening stick – some object which indicates that the person holding it has the floor. When a person is finished, pass the stick around until everyone has had an opportunity to speak.

 

The Flow of the Conversation

It usually helps to have a structure or skeleton for each meeting. We suggest the following:

1. Introduction. This is a brief introduction by the host. It is not an attempt to explain the Call, nor is it a promise of what will be experienced. Rather, it is a welcoming to people to explore the Call together. It is also a brief reminder of the commitment to the process.

2. Ceremonial opening. This takes just a few minutes, and is a way to help people get a feel for the process and commit to sharing time together in a courteous and respectful way. We suggest that the same process be used for each meeting. It could be a few minutes together sitting in silence. It could be listening to some appropriate music.

3. Read the Call out loud: Either have one person read the entire Call, an opportunity that can rotate each meeting, or have each person read a couple of sentences at a time. Non readers should remain silent.

4. Explore the Call, or part of it. Invite the group to focus on one sentence at a time, perhaps beginning with the title. If this is the only session, the host might prefer to begin with the four bullet points. Go sentence by sentence - the focus is not on covering the document but allowing each phrase or sentence to bring up various reactions, comments, stories, insights and experiences. This could be done by giving each person one opportunity to talk, or there could be an open conversation, preferably using the talking stick. The host needs to ensure that no one person dominates, and that everyone participates to some extent. People should share what touches or resonates with them as they hear the words. Possible conversation starters are: What happens to you inside when you read this sentence? How does your body react? What does this phrase remind you of? How does this play out in your own life?

5. Invite action. Take a few moments at the end of the meeting to talk about and commit to some future action that will help the insights of the day to be internalized, embodied and invited into one’s life. Any action – small or large - with the appropriate intention will do. So the conversation may lead to an exploration of doing something. Changes or actions do not have to be grand...but something that reflects a shift of perspective and value.

6. Housekeeping. Set the time, place and other details for the next meeting.

7. Ceremonial closing. This takes just a few minutes, and is a way to help people feel some closure and appreciate the relationship and the learning. It might be the playing of some music, reciting some words, a brief sharing by each participant or something related.

Have a wonderfully meaningful time! Become Global Spiritual Citizens together! And let us know how it goes: Admin@TheForge.org

Geoffrey Caine, Sally Mahe, Gary Richman

Created in association with the Forge Institute Think Tank on Global Spiritual Citizenship.

 

 


The Call to Global Spiritual Citizenship says that worldwide challenges cry out for nothing less than a guiding vision that transcends political polarities and sectarian divisions. What is that new way of being in the world that embraces and expresses the kind of spiritual transformation of consciousness that we call for? What solutions might we articulate that will satisfy both our deep spiritual longings and our practical needs?    

Download the Call (Swedish Translation)
or HTML Version (Swedish Translation)

 

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