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

  • An Unfold­ing Series of Pit and Peak Experiences…

    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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