Transformative Learning Centre at the Ontario Institute for Studies
in Education of the University of Toronto
and co-sponsors The Indigenous Education Network at OISE/UT, Resurgence
Magazine and Mpambo, the African Multiversity
in collaboration with Paulo Freire Institute (Brazil), Centre
for Ecology and Spirituality, and Institute for Environmental Studies
a Celebratory Gathering:
Matters: Wisdom Traditions and the "Great Work"
May 13th - 16th, 2004,
Word About Process
Great Work before us, the task of moving modern industrial civilization
from its present devastating influence on the earth to a more benign
mode of presence, is not a role that we have chosen. It is a role
given to us , beyond any consultation with ourselves. We did not choose.
We were chosen by some power beyond ourselves for this historical
task. We do not choose the moment of our birth, who our parents will
be, our particular culture or the historical moment when we will be
born. We did not choose the status of spiritual or political or economic
conditions that will be the context of our lives. We are, as it were,
thrown into existence with a challenge and a role that is beyond
personal choice. The nobility of our lives, however, depends upon
the manner in which we come to understand and fulfill our assigned
(Thomas Berry from "The Great Work.").
do you see your part in the "Great Work?"
peoples, places, things or institutional structures support you in
your task within the "Great Work"?
peoples, places, things or institutional structures hinder or deter
you in the task of the "Great Work?"
forms of wisdom help and guide you in your part in the "Great
the Transformative Learning Centre, our conviction is that the learning
we must do is of the order and magnitude of a great transformation,
or what Joanna Macy calls the "Great Turning." We at the centre
call this "transformative learning."
learning involves experiencing a deep, structural shift in the basic
premises of thought, feelings, and actions. It is a shift of consciousness
that dramatically and irreversibly alters our way of being in the
world. Such a shift involves our understanding of ourselves and our
self-locations; our relationships with other humans and with the natural
world; our understanding of relations of power in interlocking structures
of class, race and gender; our body-awarenesses, our visions of alternative
approaches to living; and our sense of possibilities for social justice
and peace and personal joy."
in Expanding the Boundaries).
invite you to join with us to dialogue and co-inspire. Humberto Maturana
sees the processes of co-inspiration as follows:
arises from the conversations we have with each other that are conducted
in mutual respect for the other and it provides for a manner of working
together in freedom. Practical vision is the way of finding our life
work such that every day is lived in passion, enthusiasm and delight
for the Life we have."
Gathering as an "Integral Group"
deep order process that I invite you to participate in is one that allows
us to identify the gathering as a whole as an "integral group."
Maureen OHara of Saybrook Graduate School identifies the characteristics
of this process as follows:
the same way that the consciousness of individuals is an emergent
phenomena from the co-ordination of activities of million of sensitive
cells in the body, we consider the "organ" of consciousness
for an integral group to be co-ordinated combined consciousness of
their members. When groups can provide the necessary conditions for
each of their members to become fully present to themselves and to
each other, the groups capacity for self-organizing emerges, and when
the individuals themselves begin to tune into and reflect on the workings
of the whole, we consider that a form of consciousness. At this stage
the group may be capable of exquisitely creative, responsible, and
wise collective action that goes well beyond that of any other of
the particular individuals participants within the group.
exciting [is] the observation, confirmed over and over by its members,
that in an integral group individual sovereignty and consciousness
is not lost or subjugated to the group task but become aligned with
it. When individuals find that their own personal and authentic expression
provides some unique and vital element in the life of the group, and
where there is a coherence between their inner world and the community
in which they live, they experience a deep sense of fulfillment and
will apply the Dialogue Circle in the interests of creating sacred spaces
where we can breathe, relax and think together. In integral groups of
15-25 participants, our intention is to come into alignment with the
spirit of the Great Work, and in turn bring about the conditions for
transformative learning. There will be specific sites designed to co-inspire
on a theme or issue(s), and some of these will be facilitated by our
honoured participants. Others will be developed around gathering participants'
expressed interest in particular themes. Finally, there will be open
Dialogue Circles with no predefined topic.
you decide to join us, set in motion a resolve that this gathering will
be one that provides you with "a deep sense of fulfillment and