“Communities of practice” are central to the vision of this book. For these communities to make a critical social difference they must embody new higher ways of being and behaving, and that requires profound transformative practice. The majority of the most dedicated communities of practice are spiritual communities. And as we embrace new forms of practice, our experiments will necessarily draw upon this legacy.
These are primarily Buddhist, Hindu, Christian and evolutionary communities of practice, but useful resources include communities of Jewish, Muslim and those of any and all and no religions. There are more and more authentic teachers and schools of “direct awakening” and dedicated personal growth and development. There is also a growing movement of “interspirituality,” not only as a philosophy but as a lived experience. In churches, synagogues, study groups, ashrams, sanghas, schools, and seminaries, we can find many of our richest current communities of practice.
Here I have space to mention only some of the communities of practice that have served me personally. Even these are of course imperfect, and yet authentically related to something unblemished. I mention them here because I believe they sincerely try to engage genuine practice and transformation. Since I’m limiting this discussion to communities and teachers I have experienced personally, it should not be regarded as anything more than my own sharing of what I’ve known and benefited from. Thus, in this subsection (unlike other subsections of this Resources section), I’m not producing a list of specific resources as such (the full universe is too vast) but only hinting at some of the types of useful resources available.
I was raised in The York Center Community Co-operative, an intentional interracial community founded by members of The Church of the Brethren (one of America’s three peace churches) as “a witness for peace and brotherhood.” It was a wonderful community in which to grow up, where I was generously mentored by many adult leaders and activists for peace and justice.
Even so, I had to go deep into serious spiritual practice in order to experience the awakenings in consciousness that are expressed in this book. All over the world, people in their chosen spiritual communities are practicing deeply and undergoing transformations that are expressing aspects of the new republic of the heart I’m describing here. Dynamic communities of practice also arise around schools that teach transformative psychotherapy, coaching, leadership, and organizational development.
I practice in the international integral evolutionary ecosystem, teaching, learning from, and sharing fellowship with many of the most intelligent and innovative thinkers I know. It is not a structured community of practice, and yet it provides a context for tremendous personal growth.
For the past four years I have helped my friend Thomas Hübl create and grow a dynamic international community of practice and inquiry, growing in spiritual and intuitive competence and leadership (thomashueblonline.com).
I am an occasional participant in the Two Arrows Zen (twoarrowszen.org) sangha led by my dear friends, Senseis Diane Musho Hamilton and Michael Mugaku Zimmerman.
I have also benefited tremendously from the meditation instruction of Daniel P. Brown and the Great Pointing Out Way of Indo-Tibetan Buddhism (pointingoutway.org).
I have benefited from and still feel deep kinship and grateful spiritual fellowship with Candice O’Denver and her Balanced View (balancedview.org) teachings of “short moments of open intelligence, repeated many times until benefit is pervasive at all times.”
Saniel Bonder is one of my oldest friends, and his Waking Down Community is part of my extended spiritual family. His work is at sanielandlinda.com, the community he inspired has moved on, but I still feel close to the Trillium Awakening community (trilliumawakening.org), was formerly called the Waking Down Teachers Association.
I also benefit from the spiritual fellowship of many teachers from the Spirit Rock Center (spiritrock.org) here in my local community, including Rick Hanson (rickhanson.net), James Baraz (awakeningjoy.info), Debra Chamberlin-Taylor, George Taylor, Wes Nisker (wesnisker.com), and Jack Kornfield (jackkornfield.com). I’m also blessed to practice with and learn from many teachers and students in the Diamond Heart work founded by A.H. Almaas (diamondapproach.org).
Gangaji (gangaji.org), who comes from the tradition of nondual Vedanta, was an important guide at a crucial time in my sadhana, and I will always be grateful for her clarity and graciousness.
The living earth and particular natural places give me essential sacred community and guidance. Ecopsychologist Bill Plotkin, the author of Soulcraft, has helped that relationship clarify and deepen. The Animas Valley Institute he founded (animas.org) offers nature-based journeys of soul initiation that facilitate visionary leadership for cultural regeneration.
Now that I teach, much of my practice takes the form of engaging a universal integral practice with my own students, and with the larger communities of evolutionaries who find value in my contributions.
And yet my root guru is the incomparable Adi Da Samraj, and his devotees are my spiritual “family of origin.” I found my way to him when I was 22 and lived immersed in practice in his ashram until I was 37 (from 1973 to 1988), and my life will forever be grounded in the essential “Way of the Heart” that he communicated during those years. His brilliant teachings and uniquely powerful, uncompromising, bright spiritual transmission has given unending wondrous initiatory gifts and a spiritual education for which I will always be grateful. He was a famously defiant and difficult man, and the gathering of his devotees is aging, and yet those who drink his wisdom transmission deeply and wisely can receive a uniquely potent dose of divine consciousness and love. Many videos of him can be found on YouTube. My favorite websites are beezone.com and adidaupclose.com; his official institutional website is adidam.org.