xLife Wave by Lisa Lipsett
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The 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
present a Celebratory Gathering:

Spirit Matters: Wisdom Traditions and the "Great Work"
May 13th - 16th, 2004,
Toronto, Canada


A Word About Process

The "Great Work"

The 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 role.

(Thomas Berry from "The Great Work.").

Abiding Theme Questions:

  • How do you see your part in the "Great Work?"
  • What peoples, places, things or institutional structures support you in your task within the "Great Work"?
  • What peoples, places, things or institutional structures hinder or deter you in the task of the "Great Work?"
  • What forms of wisdom help and guide you in your part in the "Great Work?"

At 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."

"Transformative 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."

(O’Sullivan in Expanding the Boundaries).

We invite you to join with us to dialogue and co-inspire. Humberto Maturana sees the processes of co-inspiration as follows:

"Co-inspiration 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."

The Gathering as an "Integral Group"

The 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 O’Hara of Saybrook Graduate School identifies the characteristics of this process as follows:

"In 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.

Particularly 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 joy."

We 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.

If 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 joy."

edmund o’sullivan
August 2003