Washing My Face

Hear Dan read this post.

We all want to know where the point of transformation lies. I would say it is in “no space,” the place we come to after exhausting everything we know…and everything we are, a point of pure meditation. The current theory base, exemplified by Otto Scharmer’s “Theory U”, suggests exactly this process of emptying ourselves of everything known so that we can listen to a best future Self, a source of deep intuitive wisdom. (Check out the “Publications” section of his website for great downloads, including a short “mini-U” experience on video.) Scharmer describes the bottom of the U as where we touch a larger field that goes beyond our present awareness, a place of new insight and new consciousness that enables us to solve the problems we have been stuck by using our current, more limited awareness.

What he presents is both a beautiful new model and an exquisitely old one. Those of you familiar with labyrinths know them as a profound spiritual tool of unknown antiquity, a tool that is still eminently vital and provocative as a way to access inner wisdom. It is at the center of the labyrinth, metaphorically the bottom of the U, where awareness is born, the seed of a new way of being. Once the seed is grasped, doors unlock, and a transformed way of living may arrive, gradually over time, or in an instant. The “process” of walking a forty foot wide labyrinth is deceptively simple: 1) Wait for the readiness to enter; 2) walk forward, just following the path — this is not a maze — sequentially letting go of the past and surrendering to new knowledge; 3) humbly welcome insight at the center; and 4) return to the world, reflecting on the how your world is changing. Near where I live is a labyrinth that I walk sometimes. In the center is a mound of shells and a simple stone bench. Like past lives that have served well and are now gone, the shells at the center remind me how I am often faced with grief, and in turn, in touch with these feelings, I am also able to recognize my splintered but real wholeness. If I cannot experience the grief, then I cannot also remember the richness of my life and that fundamental wholeness. But when that sense does come, the answers often come with it.

Like many, I am supremely interested in the center of this lotus blossom, the point of awareness, the place to wait and to receive. The place, as Otto Scharmer would say, where we touch the larger field. Ah, and what is the larger field? I am reduced (and expanded) to speaking in metaphors: a summer meadow, perhaps, where I kneel down and ask as the poet, Mary Oliver, asks: “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” Or perhaps it is simply a dark mirror before which a single candle burns — come closer to view your own true features. Or maybe it is as many suggest, the flower twirled in the hands of the Buddha.

Perhaps we can never know exactly what the place of true transformation is, a space as close to us as our own breath and yet, depending on our circumstances and suffering, one that may seem hundreds of miles away. LivingSource may be one of its names. Well, whatever you want to call it, I would say it is what holds us in the depth of this remarkable Universe. It is that depth, no less. A pattern of some kind? Or the end of patterns? An open palm? A river in which to wash my Face.

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One Comment

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    Dan Oestreich’s invocation of labyrinths and U’s in a recent post on his Unfolding Leadership blog really got my juices flowing. I started posting a comment, but it got so long I decided to take it back here, include some…

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