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The earlier three articles in this series describe the new human capacity we are calling Collective Presencing. Part One gave an overview of the two phases we see unfolding as a collection of individuals learns to become a collective capable of employing this capacity on behalf of the whole: firstly, becoming a Circle of Presence, then becoming a Circle of Creation. Part Two described in more detail what it takes to become a Circle of Presence, while Part Three considered the broader context of the paradigm shift involved in the transition from the Circle of Presence to the Circle of Creation. This fourth and final article describes the journey to becoming a Circle of Creation—at least as far as the authors have travelled thus far, knowing that the horizon moves ever ahead as we take the next step.
As we journey towards the Circle of Creation, our starting point is a collective with all the capacities learned in the Circle of Presence—at ease with reaching collective wisdom together. Our journey onward will see us moving into the world of potential and generativity — and ultimately of creation in action — without relinquishing the presence and awareness we have achieved so far, but spreading the nets of our collective inquiry further, wider and deeper; opening up in ever more directions and to ever more dimensions; culminating in a truly shared and generative space where ever more of life can happen through us.
Development towards the Circle of Creation takes the deepening and widening movement of our awareness from the first phase further. The deepening process of unfolding authenticity we saw in the Circle of Presence continues as one of unfolding generativity, as my capacity to observe, accept, honour and live ‘what is’ now encompasses ever more subtle layers of existence, bringing with it the simultaneous experience of my unique calling and the total interweaving and interpenetration of my being with all of creation. The widening process gradually expands out across space and time to embrace ever more complexity, ever vaster vistas of space and time, ever greater potential. Each successive wave of widening both demands and calls forth distinct capacities, which can be developed through the practices we enumerate in this article.
Having stabilised as a Circle of Presence, living with open mind and open heart is now second nature to us. Quite naturally, the opening of the will follows as an expression of the soul. Since it is impossible to define something as intangible as the soul, we must content ourselves with giving an impression through multiple descriptions: the origin, the causal impulse; that deeper and expanded self that radiates as Source, springing from the eternal, beyond the borders of life and death, an extension of being that resonates beyond time and space; my own unique expression of the Divine.
Finding my soul’s calling means learning to discern what is uniquely mine to be and do, following a fleeting, often barely perceptible, longing. I instinctively recognise the vibrational shift when every part of who I am and all of what I do comes into integration and alignment. People who have made this journey report that they uncovered their soul’s calling nestled just beneath their deepest trauma. Despite the nameless dread that often protects this hidden treasure, the reward is a familiar feeling of deep homecoming. What feels so normal and obvious is simply my uniqueness. As I shed layer upon layer of old conditioning, I learn to witness the subtle resistance or leanings towards grandiosity that are my personality’s response to this new driver in my life. I learn to own all my projections onto ‘the system out there’ and to refrain from blaming and judging it, and I come to recognise myself as a fully empowered agent of creation. Finally, my soul’s calling expresses itself through an ever richer interweaving of my life, work and passion: I enjoy emergent, authentic life brimming with vibrancy and energy.
My soul also carries the imprint of the potential that I alone can manifest as my life unfolds. The form through which my unique potential manifests will depend on my capacity to listen deeply, and on the dance of my intention and attention with the subtle (and not-so-subtle) promptings that reach out to me from the different realms of existence: material, subtle and causal.
The practices of living from soul bring their own rewards:
A Circle of Creation comes into being for the sake of its purpose and intent. It is as if an unmanifest potential—something that wants to happen—reaches through the veil to attract the attention of a group of souls who are listening deeply in service of the whole. The circle arises not from the wish or plan of certain people to be together, but because there is a function and potential that can be fulfilled at this time, and life is seeking an open, eager collective that can work this one out.
The practice of circle described in the Circle of Presence is now taken much deeper. While the focus is not on the members of the circle, relationship is core: friendship, trust and deep sharing, authenticity and genuineness are the ingredients of the open container, alongside the shared inquiry and the potential it holds. The interweaving of these elements allows the quality of the collective presence to shift: a palpable, energetic resonance where all limiting, deeply held assumptions have been shed and novel insights can start to emerge.
The focus at this stage is on discerning and serving the collective calling, and the practices promote interweaving in the collective:
As the awareness of the circle widens, in addition to the threads of collective purpose, we begin to interweave the threads of deeper context. At this stage in our evolution, the human being— with all that we have learned, developed and become on our journey to individuation, separation and fragmentation—falls back onto the surface of the planet: into actual, real, natural context. Exactly Here and exactly Now. While our consciousness is in no way bounded in space and time, we are called to ground that consciousness in our bodies, in the physical place and the actual time where our life unfolds moment by moment.
When we, the authors, reached this stage of the journey, we found that our inquiry had shifted from an exploration into a living practice that opened out into a new realm of questions and into the whole of life itself. As our subtle sensing became more refined, we found ourselves not so much ‘in relationship’ as ‘interwoven and interpenetrated’ with a much larger whole, encompassing the more-than-human community, visible and invisible. Listening ever more deeply, we learned to attune differently to time and place and to start to co-create with(in) it.
The features that characterise this stage of the journey include:
The whole point of Collective Presencing is to be present to life and to ultimately sense into the potential of Life Itself. Learning to do this collectively, guided by our shared intention and inquiry, brings us to a radically different way of relating to the future. We are not so much ‘learning from the future’ (Scharmer Leading from the Emerging Future), as somehow being in love with what is possible, sensing into it, leaning into it, one small step at a time, becoming this potential as the manifestation of real life. As Scharmer puts it: “there is a field of potential in need of us,” and that is exactly the focus of this collective practice. It is one thing to hold and sense into my own individual potential and my own unique gift, but it is quite another to do that on behalf of larger systems: organisations, cultures, regions, communities and nations—indeed, for the whole of our Earth with all its inhabitants, both visible and non-visible: Gaia. The times are calling forth groups of men and women to be of service in this way, on behalf of the whole, so that humankind can learn to create more beauty and well-being with and for all life.
As we pursue the interweaving and interpenetration ever deeper and wider, we come to realise that life is an unfolding, creative event that we can learn to participate in, more consciously and intentionally, together. This journey has brought us, the authors, to a point where we live life as continuous action research, in a dance of constant learning with the abundance of feedback from each step we take—in a reciprocal relationship with a living universe. Far from being dry and heavy academic research, it is an irrepressible curiosity about what more is possible, mingled with a radical amazement at the outrageous exuberance of what is. This, again, is no paradox, but simply two facets of life. Seeing existence as making love with the potential that it holds brings us to a life that radiates energy (and love) in all directions, with an inexhaustible capacity to generate more!
Note: Compressing such a complex journey into such a small space has left us little room to illustrate our experience. For a still-unfolding lived example of collective presencing with a place, we invite you to visit our home-place blog:.
Collective Presencing – Part One: A New Human Capacity
Collective Presencing – Part Two: The Circle of Presence: Building the Capacity for Authentic Collective Wisdom
Collective Presencing – Part Three: Embracing a New Paradigm
Collective Presencing – Part Four: The Circle of Creation: Building Capacity for Generative Collective Action in Service of Life
Collective Presencing: Four Years Later
Ria Baeck, holding a master degree in Clinical Psychogy (KULeven) and living in Belgium, is a transformational change professional who has a rich background of experience and interests. She founded Vitis whose core purpose is to bring deep transformation in individuals, organisations and society. Her earlier work was in psychotherapy integrating the body in the […]
Helen Titchen Beeth works in the European Commission in Brussels as a web editor and change consultant. She is a lover of wild nature and mother of twins.
Fall | Winter 2016