The Spiritual Practice of True Community
by Niánn Emerson Chase
There are many ways of moving into spiritual enlightenment, for we are all unique individuals, and true religious experiences can occur in innumerable and diverse ways. This spirit birthing that we mortals experience is an evolvement from our lower selves with roots in the levels of “fight-or-flight” reactions to our higher selves that are increasingly more linked with the living spiritual forces and circuits of love-based responses. Spiritual unfoldment is ascension from a material-controlled nature to a spirit-controlled nature. It is a movement towards fusion with God within us.
Based on my experience as co-founder of the spiritual-based community at Avalon Organic Gardens & EcoVillage, I am convinced that the process of true community building is also a spiritual birthing process, a conscious and committed one for each individual as well as for the group as a whole.
Dr. Scott Peck speaks of four stages of the community-building process. These stages, listed in order of progression, are:
• first, beginning stage - pseudo community
• second stage - chaos
• third stage - emptying, letting go
• fourth stage - true community
In pseudo community, the focus is on what people in the group have in common—the “we” stage. Usually when people desire to form some level of community they are initially very enthusiastic and have a strong appreciation of the idea of unity and togetherness. They start out optimistic and excited about their focus on creating community. In this “courting” stage the dominating dynamic is a desire to avoid all conflict—fixing things, making things better, smoothing over areas of potential conflict and differences.
If a group of people ever get to the point where they really do begin to see that there are some problems, then individuals or a group in general begin to move into the next stage which is chaos. The stage of chaos is the point of evolution in community building where people can begin to get honest and see the differences and problems and actually begin to look at them. If they focus on just the differences though and have constant conflict with no resolution, then nothing can get done. No growth can happen.
If individuals in a group get tired of that bickering and conflict and begin to say, “Hey, we have got to do something about this; we are not getting anywhere,” then that conflict and confrontation can become very constructive. Then they can move into the emptying-and-letting-go stage. This is the “I” stage of internal focus. Individuals begin to look at how they are a part of the problem and take responsibility for their part and begin to make changes. In the emptying-and-letting-go stage, people begin to adjust their thinking and moving to another way of looking at things, re-thinking and re-learning.
Walking across the bridges of the chaos and letting-go stages brings people to the fourth stage of true community. In true community, conflict and differences will come up, but the problems will be confronted and resolved in a more mature, compassionate, and timely manner. The true spirit of community is present in this fourth stage, and more trust and a sense of harmony exist among the members of the group. Individuals experience a healthy sense of belonging, and active cooperation is beginning to manifest. It is not perfect, but there is a sense among the individuals of finding their place, finding their niche in life, belonging, being fulfilled in some manner. Individuals can experience more joy and peace and feel a sense of accomplishment.
It is possible to graduate into a community that is more fourth-dimensional than third-dimensional. I want to use Scott Peck’s definition of true community, but I want to expand on it. A truly fourth-dimensional community is a group of individuals:
• who have learned how to communicate honestly with each other in divine pattern and proper procedure, using divine administration principles
• whose relationships go deeper than their masks of composure, pride, and denial and who recognize certain cosmic connections with each other
• who have developed a significant commitment to rejoice together in ascension victories, to mourn together over lost loved ones, and to delight in each other’s manifestations of the higher self, making others’ conditions their own, realizing that what they have in common is their status as ascending sons and daughters of God who struggle to move into their destinies and to “be perfect as the Father is perfect”
The model of true community—whether secular or religious, whether third-dimensional or fourth-dimensional—is based on basic divine administration principles and application of spiritual consciousness and practices. Though Dr. Peck has graduated from this world, his dream of true community building is alive and well in many people. Those of Avalon Organic Gardens & EcoVillage share his vision and have enlarged upon it. And though any kind of spiritual growth and community-creating requires vision and disciplined, dedicated work, I think it is the only way to really live.
Niánn Emerson Chase co-founded Global Community Communications Alliance, a 120+ member intentional community (at Avalon Organic Gardens & EcoVillage).
Niánn is a world-renowned spiritual leader, educator, activist, and a prolific author with many articles on society, spirituality, and sustainability.
Niánn shares her visions and teachings to reveal a global outlook toward a future of world harmony as one planetary family.