Mighty Companions Interviews:
Rachel Naomi Remen
and Harville Hendrix
at the first Body and Soul Conference, Los Angeles, 1996
Topic: Action to speed up the awakening
RACHEL NAOMI REMEN
M.C.: Is there some wild place in you, a rebellious side in you, that has ideas to move the emerging paradigm along faster? Do you ever wish a breakthrough could come sooner?
Rachel: It's a question of weather to "fix" the world, or whether we uncover one.
M.C.: But I wonder if there is some more radical action that people could take?
Rachel: My sense is that you can never teach anybody anything, or change anybody in ways that they don't already have in mind. I have a great deal of faith in what's in most human beings. They may not have access to it all the time, but my sense is that it's a question of reminding people of life's truth. There's a natural process for reminding, as life gets harder and harder for many more people. There's more cancer, more AIDS, more people being laid off, more people are encountering adversity & suffering. As that happens, people are awakened. It's a natural process. People reach back for what has meaning. People reach deep inside of themselves for their resources and they find what's been buried underneath all the ego needs, the "trying to be successful."
M.C.: Adversity is a catalyst.
Rachel: It's not that it's necessary to move the world forward because Armageddon is coming; it means that because Armageddon is coming, more and more people are moving forward. It's a natural process.
M.C.: I believe you're absolutely right, but if that's the climate, is there some radical action people could take that could focus energy?
Rachel: This is your theory, that there is a radical action. I'm not sure if it's necessary. I think it's a question of nurturing what is already there. People are waking up in their homes--without conferences. They're waking up because life is waking them up, not because of some conference called "Body and Soul." I think television has a lot to offer, as well as these new books that are becoming national best-sellers. I don't think it's a single event; I think it's many individual, highly personal events.
M.C.: If you were to produce one of these events, what would it be like?
Rachel: That's not my way to do things, to produce an event. I spent the first forty years of my life making major interventions into other people's lives, and I have an idea of the limitations of that method. I see a major event as rather like major surgery. It is a moment, but whether people use it, whether people go with it, needs to be seen.
M.C.: One more aspect of it: healing. It's a long process of forgiveness.
Rachel: It's a natural process. All natural processes are long processes and they last.
M.C.: Not to presume that we could change that, because it might be a life-long process, or many lives' long process. However, it changes the idea. Cancer gives you a new idea.
Rachel: Cancer changes your whole life.
M.C.: It shifts you.
Rachel: It shifts your life. You ask most people how their values have changed and they look at you blankly because they don't have it mentally. They feel it in their bone marrow and their guts.
M.C.: In terms of the culture, do people have to wait for cancer? Or is there some way we could become proactive and learn without the adversity?
Rachel: I'm not sure ideas change the world.
M.C.: Don't you think that first you get the idea?
Rachel: No, first you get the experience.
M.C.: Is there a way to give the experience?
Rachel: Life is doing that. Life has gotten much more difficult.
M.C.: So you think that in life we are naturally up against a wall and it's happening as it's happening?
Rachel: I think ideas only lead to change for intellectual people; and not even them. What really leads to change is experience. Life itself is the teacher.
M.C.: We can't deny that.
Rachel: I think that people get experiences, and out of those experiences come meaning and ideas. It's like watching a rose bush grow.
M.C.: I want to make my web site a place to explore the new frontier of ideas. Do you think there's something we can do to increase consciousness in society, something major, something wild?
Andrew: That I'm not already doing? Oh, I think of that. I see a lot happening in the culture, a lot of openness and receptivity, but at the same time there is much negative stuff going on. I don't yet see forums where round tables happen.
M.C.: Mine is going to be available soon. But I'm talking about an event, if you were going to organize an event, what sort of event would it be?
Andrew: Certainly not where everybody's giving lectures. Maybe if you get people talking to each other in small groups, and coming up with plans.
M.C.: Do you have any thoughts about the Web (and even how I might design my site) that becomes a magnet for people with original ideas?
Andrew: What is the theme?
M.C.: Going from separateness to alignment; to align energies in the new reality.
Andrew: How you use the technology and graphics is key; how you link to other sites, and having something of real interest that draws people in. On my site I have a question and answer each day, which people like.
M.C.: I haven't found anything yet that draws me in. Can you recommend someplace on the Web?
Andrew: Yes, try *Hot Wired*, the on-line version of *Wired* magazine. They're a hip Internet place. You'll get some ideas from them.
M.C.: I host Round Tables for leaders of thought. Some are not well-known.
Ram Dass: I've known that for years.
M.C.: We're going on the Web now. I'm trying to translate that.
Ram Dass: I've run into a problem with that, by the way. For 12 years we had a Net Team, which was a computer group for SEVA foundation, where every day 20 of us met on computer. What I found was that it changed the hierarchy of the group, because some were more able to use the medium. Furthermore, it was harder to have the emotional dimension of our lives find expression. The couple of times we came close together physically each year, we would know each other in kind of a schizophrenic way. It was interesting. I'm not raising any value judgement. I'm just saying it was really interesting stuff to work with.
M.C.: You tune in to the essence. I'm hoping that's the conversation we'll have. It's not going to be political.
Ram Dass: It may be that in that medium people will posture less.
M.C.: It's a level playing field and I don't presume that everyone's conversant with the Internet. Yet, it is the future. The technology will change. Lex Hixon didn't have a computer, he didn't type. He wrote all his books out long-hand. He was my closest ally. Together, we were looking for some way to change the idea that everybody has about what's important. He wanted to do Celebrations of the Human Spirit -- huge events where people got the idea that there is another reality.
Ram Dass: I just did that downstairs. I talked to people about the possibility of another way of seeing reality. They all saw that and then they said yeah. We're all in the game, the question is what media and what vehicles are used to play it with.
M.C.: Is there something we can do to make things happen?
Ram Dass: It's an interesting question. I recently became a friend of Laurence Rockefeller and he is interested in Unidentified Flying Objects. He's the major backer of Roger Mack at Harvard. One of the things he says is that he's hoping to convince President Clinton to bring out any material that's hidden in the world consciousness about Unidentified Flying Objects. On one level it's just what it sounds like, but on another level it's just what you're talking about. That is, green men actually coming out of the crop circles.
M.C.: It is just such an intelligence that is watching us, understands us, can send our symbols to us, can paint in this extraordinary way, and can wink at us. There's a communication that's going on. That energy is so incredibly intelligent and powerful that I think it could do anything. I think it's going slowly on purpose, that it would be too disruptive if green men actually came out. Too scary.
Ram Dass: This is all true, probably. It's all to me, astral story line. It's not where my consciousness goes at all, but to see external power and external wisdom as another thoughtful force doing this "to" me isn't quite the way I live it. I live it with the thought that we exist on many levels, and we are that thoughtful force. One of them is the illusion that we are not that thoughtful force and we're extricating ourselves from the illusion, which is of course the truth of who we really are, which is light.
M.C.: Yes, as long as we ascribe power outside, we'll never get it inside.
Ram Dass: What is it I can do for you?
M.C.: I'm after wild thoughts, anything that you know is going on, or any thoughts that you've had about it.
Ram Dass: Let me tell you what's happening with Laurence Rockefeller. He's 86 and he's turned over all of his funding to his staff. Laurence isn't the player anymore, he's signed it all away, saying, "Look, I've got other fish to fry now. I've got to prepare to die." My final statement always is: one works on oneself, always. That's the greatest gift you can give to community because the more you extricate your mind from that which defines separateness, that defines community. The first thing is to become community.
M.C.: My question is where do we get our sense of grandeur about being a human being? I loved your talk about divinity being right here, between ourselves, when we are accessing it. My interest is, how are we going to make the shift from separation to unity?
Harville: Hard question, but I have the same concern, the hundredth monkey idea. When do we get the hundredth monkey so that there is a gestalt shift, like the Renaissance? We haven't had one of those shifts until recently with the information explosion. Besides that, there hasn't been a true renaissance of the proportions of the post-Medieval period. Although I'm not a historian, I am a historian about those kinds of things. It appears that the radical shifts in culture were always the result of the intrusion of a countercultural idea that accounts for more human experience than the preceding one. It's what Kuhn called the paradigm shift. Nobody can make them occur; the paradigm runs its course by not being large enough to include new information. At a certain point, the system reorders. I don't think we have much control over that, although we are certainly a participant in that. I think what you do is pursue your own course. The decision I've made is to pursue the course with a focus. That is, instead of applying my imago insights to the whole world, I keep it focused to a point. The point is, the radical transformation of marriage. If we can transform enough marriages over a long enough time (100-1,000 years?), it can enhance the environment for children. When we get enough children born who are not wounded, who have a different perspective, it can help. Another thing that happens in history is that the thing that transformed the whole is the part. Consciousness is emerging in this place right now, and people are beginning to get it. Consciousness never seems to come from the bottom up.
M.C.: Define what you mean.
Harville: Like the Third World countries, where they're concerned about survival. The issues we dealt with 200 years ago, as a country, are just now being dealt with. Somehow, wherever consciousness appears, in whatever form, that's how energy moves. That's the way I think about it.
M.C.: How will this grow from the truth of it, from the actuality of being, from this aspiring that we're always doing? I'm thinking of Jesus and the Bible saying, "Where two or more are gathered in my name, I am there." I keep thinking a Christ figure will come be with us.
Harville: I like that and feel very much headed in that direction of looking for a third party who isn't there, and looking for the thing that's already created to come. That's the fabulous insight that emerged with Helen and me as we worked on thinking about marriage as a spiritual path. Helen's spirituality was much more overtly language than mine. I had a more generic spirituality and she was languaging a very broad and liberal Christian phase. She introduced me to Buber & what came out of that for me, is just what you were saying. The quality of the between, is where everything is that's important. Whenever the between reaches a point that its quality is unconditional love, then God is born in you. It's not that God comes in there and watches that, or encourages it, or comes there when you get to love. God is. God is unconditional love. There's an incarnation; Christ and God continue to reincarnate whenever unconditional love is manifest. That's really different from something outside that we have to bring inside. And it's also different from something inside that we have to get outside. It's something that's neither inside nor outside, it's the between.
M.C.: These are thoughts I've had and I've never heard anyone talk about them, so I want to tell you another parallel thought. The keyword is "intention;" we are after something.
Harville: We are the intent.
M.C.: What would happen if we saw ourselves innocently in that way? Would that also be like allowing God to be born in us?
Harville: Yes, that power is in being your intention, rather than having an intention, hoping that somehow you will fulfill it. If you don't have something, it is a powerless position. But if you be or claim your intention, then you are already in the empowered position.
M.C.: It gives me courage, impetus to find my true work.
Harville: It reminds me of Matthew Fox, Creation Spirituality. Do you find any parallels there?
M.C.: I want to find out how to actually experience what he talks about.
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