"I believe that consciousness is the one thing that will save humanity. Within consciousness is wisdom. Within consciousness is generosity. Within consciousness is compassion and caring. When each person truly finds peace within, the beauty of what we can manifest is unimaginable."
He is currently creating conscious, intimate, sustainable, creative, expressive, dance, music, artisan, fitness, experiential learning, personal development, organic permaculture, green business, spa, and other health and well-being arts community on 1000's of gorgeous acres in California wine country a couple hours drive northeast from San Francisco. It's the first in a network of communities that he will be creating around the world in addition to linking up with other existing communities. Check out his mission statement at www.brilliance.org . Find out more about Alex and how he is manifesting this brilliant dream, today on Soulspeak.
WHO IS ALEX PERLMAN? WHERE ARE YOU NOW IN YOUR JOURNEY?
Who am I? What immediately occurs to me is the myriad of experiences in life that have brought me to this moment of awareness.
I remember when I was 6 and climbing up the outside of a staircase in our family home, equipped with my trusty colored-plastic toy pliers and screwdriver in my kiddy toolbelt. Seeing how precarious the situation was, I thought about, “What if I fall? What if I die?” That got me thinking, perched on that precipice, “Where did I come from? Where would I be right now if my two parents hadn’t gotten together?” In my mind, I was imagining myself being in that somewhere, a sense of myself as being beyond the body I was in. So actually, since I was very young, I’ve been asking myself that question of who am I.
I remember when I was 12, sitting in my living room with my dad when he broke the news to me that he and my mother were planning to divorce. I was compassionately counseling him. That’s a thread that’s run through my life as well, even though at that time I hadn’t received any of the extensive training that I’ve since received in communication, counseling, and facilitation. That thread is one of communication, of relationship, of compassionate interaction.
I graduated high school when I’d just turned 16. I had no intention of going to university, even though now I have 5 degrees and a professional designation as well as currently working on my doctorate. No, there was something more important for me to know about life and who I am and why I’m here. I moved to a communal farm the next year. It was a community of intimacy and openness and practices for self-realization were very much a focus of mine there.
It was on that farm in Nova Scotia where I first learned about Prem Rawat [wopg.org] who showed me the inner practice I’ve been enjoying now for almost 39 years. Wow! And when I went into that inner journey this morning, as I do most days, diving into that place inside, reaching to feel that source, diving deeper than the thoughts… it’s beautiful. And that’s who I am. I feel that beauty and the miracle of this breath. The gift of being here.
Where I am on this journey is diving deeper, trusting more, opening to being taken by that power of life and feeling the passion for connecting with life itself and being inspired and moved by that source.
TELL ME MORE ABOUT YOUR CAUSE. HOW HAS LIFE CHANGED SINCE YOU CHOSE THIS PATH?
What I’m working to create is the ideal living environment to inspire and support the most beautiful experience, the most fulfilling expression, that each of us uniquely finds in life. I don’t know if you’ve checked out my website at brilliance.org . When you look at the community side of the site you’ll see all kinds of facilities identified there from workshop space to artisan and fitness facilities and wonderful hang-out spaces in pools and gardens in 1000’s of gorgeous acres in the California wine country, but the physical aspect of it isn’t the essence of it. The essence of it is in the programs we’ll have there, programs of what I like to call “discovery and connection.”
I imagine you’ve had the experience where you walk into a space and there’s some quality that fills that space. Where you can tap into a feeling that immediately roots you in a deeper connection with who you are. That ethos is what I’m working to create. It’s empowered by the programs and the quality of interaction and consciousness that we’ll be engendering. Those programs are so essential to the lifeblood of the community that the core program events will be offered without any financial decision or charge for people participating. Anyone who’s there can take part and the whole community will support the costs as part of its ongoing operation. The California community is the first in a network of similar communities that we’ll be creating around the world. Also we’ll be creating systems to network not only individuals within and between those communities that we create but others that have similar values, values that focus on living in harmony, within ourselves, with each other, and the entire planetary Gaia. So when you ask how my life has changed since I chose this path, I want to make a distinction. It’s not like I sat down and chose a path. It’s more an experience of listening inside, enjoying each moment, and feeling an inspiration that’s empowering me to move forward. Have I chosen this path? Well, yeah, because I am free and happy to be engaged in this work. It’s my passion. Then again, you could say this path has chosen me, because I’m being drawn by an impulse that’s greater than any analytical decision on my part.
HOW FAR HAVE YOU APPLIED THIS CAUSE TO YOUR OWN LIFESTYLE?
When you understand what underlies what I’m working to create in community, you’ll understand how my life is directly affected by that underlying impulse.
It has been a journey, getting to this point of readiness. It’s all about my moment-to-moment experience, about my inner experience and about my interactions. So the quality that I envision to imbue the community is that quality that I’m learning in my day-to-day experiences.
There are always challenges dealing in this world. There are times when I perceive I haven’t been treated fairly or kindly. The most important thing for me is: what am I experiencing in myself. Do I let myself get upset or thrown off center? I’ve learned to feel grateful for the role that some people who treated me the worst have played in my life. Not that I’m asking for that. But I feel grateful that those opportunities have helped me learn not to take it upon myself, not to take it personally as some like to put it, but to have love and compassion for that other person who is just trying to find their way in life the best they know how. If those people had not come into my life, how would I have learned that?
I recall driving up to the community land some months back and along the way thinking of one such occasion when someone treated me terribly unfairly and without the integrity that I choose to live. I remember feeling joyfully grateful, strange as that might sound, because growing my capacity for love and compassion is invaluable to me and that’s exactly what I was feeling towards this person even though I certainly didn’t condone their actions. Growing that capacity for love and compassion in each person is at the heart of my work. That’s how I recognize my life purpose: to inspire personal and plantary brilliance.
I love the fact that I have no regrets. Everything in life has brought me forward to love more, to appreciate more.
I mentioned about my website earlier and on there you can see what I call my mission statement. It really identifies the values that I hold in this life. Values around the miracle of life, our inner being, choice, interconnection, creativity and playfulness, infinite possibility, sensuality and sexuality, and self-brilliance. That mission statement is something that I have in memory and most days, usually when I’m driving somewhere, I’ll say it to myself. It takes about 5 minutes… and I love hearing it and taking it in.
Well, similarly, I have a relationship statement that I also say to myself most days. And it takes about 5 minutes too. It’s about the quality of relationship that I seek to have in intimate partnership and it’s also about the quality of my relationship with life itself. One line goes like this: “I open my heart totally and unconditionally to receive and transmute each and every experience in life as a gift of love.” I don’t say that to challenge life to challenge me. I do say that so that I can recognize and embrace the gift that’s available to me in each moment.
WHAT IS ONE THING YOU'D LIKE TO CHANGE ABOUT THE WORLD.
I know what you mean by your question and I do want to change the world. At the same time there’s a part of me that recognizes that it’s not about changing the world.
At times I think about the process of the billions of years that have taken this earth from what scientists say are its beginnings. All the primitive first life forms and what it’s taken for evolution to get to the point of human beings. And each of us is here today. A miracle which has taken so much to get us to this point.
What I recognize is that we are as a human race in a process of evolution, an evolution of consciousness. All the physical and interpersonal challenges that I see in this world I see rooted in the drive for the evolution of consciousness. The consciousness I tap into when I go within is the beautiful and wise source that is what we need to know as a human race. Be in harmony within and all the challenges that humanity faces will dissolve beautifully, intelligently, and in the time that it takes, whatever that is. We get to enjoy the journey and the process.
YOU ARE FACE TO FACE WITH YOUR 5 YEAR OLD SELF. WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO TELL YOU?
I have this memory from when I was about 5. I was scrambling up the stairs. Something about me and stairs, right? Well, this time it was the front stairs in our home; my earlier example was the back stairs. Anyway, I was small enough at that age that I remember using both hands and feet to scramble up and I had a thought as I was part-way up. I thought to myself, when I grow up and have kids, I’m going to treat my kids better than my parents have been treating me. I also remember having a concern that by the time I was a parent I might forget what specifically I would do to treat my kids better.
First, I want to say that my parents raised me with love in the best way they knew how and I did feel their love. Greatly. Second, yes, I don’t remember specifically what I had in mind.
But what I would say is, Alex, don’t worry. Yes, you will forget what you have in mind that’s needed. Write it down if you want. But you won’t need to, because you’re going to learn a deeper place where you’ll love from and that’s all you need to know. And guess what else: be happy and joyful and proud that your kids will learn an even deeper place to love from. Because that’s what this human journey is all about.
TELL ME ABOUT THE 'DANCE' PART OF YOUR LIFE AND HOW HAS THIS CHANGED YOUR PERSPECTIVE IN LIFE.
I don’t think the dance has changed my perspective so much as it’s been an arena for me to enjoy and grow in. It’s an embodied form that is both fascinatingly satisfying and is at the same time the perfect arena for some of the most subtly significant growth I’ve experienced over the past ten years. Well then, it is true; that has enlightened my perspective. Here’s how…
In 2002, I began to regularly engage in audio recording of my experiences as a practice that forms the primary research data for my doctorate in education. It’s an autobiographical approach to research, using my own experiences and growth path in life as the basis for my research. That summer, I spent two weeks at the Network for New Culture [nfnc.org] Summer Camp gathering in Oregon. Living with this group of about a hundred people was awonderful microcosm of the spirit of what I’m working to create in community. The focus there is on awareness, personal growth, communication, engaging in conscious relationship, and honoring freedom of choice in relationship forms.
As I was recording about my experiences while I was there and in the airport on the way back home to Canada, I had an epiphany. That epiphany was in identifying the elements of a framework of relationship that I have practiced and grown in from that day onward. My experience in contact improvisation dance has been a tremendous embodied training ground for me to refine the subtle skills that are at the core of that framework.
The relationship framework is an integration of eight elements that all interplay with each other, but also have a progression which builds upon each one in succession. The first element is the inner practicethat takes me inside to the deepest source of awareness that I have. The second element identifies the values that I hold most deeply, and of course those values stem from the awareness accessed in the first element. For me those values are reflected in the mission statement I mentioned earlier that’s on my website. Stemming from those values are the aspects that are most meaningful to me in relationship, and again these aspects are reflected in the relationship statement that I’ve articulated and that I say to myself most every day.
From the ground of these first three elements grows the fourth one which is to fully embrace the experience of what I feel in the presence of another person. Repressing feelings is a very common human response. It’s constricting and limiting. The power and significance of what I can feel as a person is awesome and it takes courage to let myself fully feel it. Fifth is transparency; the courage to not only feel what is true within me, but to allow myself to be seen for who I am and what I feel.
The sixth element is what I’m actually observing in another, to see clearly, to recognize what that person expresses through all that can be seen, touched, heard, and even tasted. Every aspect of that person that can be sensed without interpretation, judgment, or analysis: just the direct experiencing of who they show up to be. Those interpretations come into theseventh element: what I’m telling myself about that person and about their reality, what I surmise and imagine they are feeling and perceiving.
Finally, there is the eighth element of the framework: open communication to discover where we meet. It’s that mutually found connection point where each of us is wholly desiring to participate with the other. It’s where our two universes of experience truly find common ground. The circle is completed by the impact that mutual sharing has on taking me deeper in grounding in the first element of conscious awareness. Also, all eight elements in the framework are supported by the quality of the surrounding community environment in which life and interaction take place.
Contact improv has been a tremendous practice and growth arena for me in exploring this relationship framework in all the eight elements I’ve described. It’s an embodied form which is based on conscious presence. The movements aren’t planned in advance. It’s a moment-to-moment finding of what happens next. That quality inspires me to dive into that inner practice so that I can be truly present, rather than distracted by thoughts.
The values and approaches that are reflected in my mission and relationship statements are present as I come into dance authentically living all that I am and all that I hold to be true. In meeting another on the dance floor, my feelings in response to their presence are a piece of the magic in the dance together. Another piece of that magic is in the feelings that come up for them. The remaining pieces of that magic are in the interplay of body physics that creatively, athletically make it a dance. In the embodied practice of contact improv, an essential principle of the body physics in the dance where people connect is what’s known as the rolling point of contact.
So just as I’ve described what underlies the Brilliant Contact Community™ workshops, the dance of contact improv for me is one of discovery and connection. There are so many amazing elements at play. There is the fun and body-enlivening physicality of the dance. Some people like to call it art wrestling. I’ve also heard it called ballroom yoga. It can be playful. It can also be a case of: wow! How did we do that? Rolling over one another, acrobatically engaging at times, and at other times simply coming to points of stillness or slow, entrancing movement together.
Contact improv is a rarity in a partner dance in that often people will dance with others of the same gender. There’s no inhibition around two guys or two girls dancing together, regardless of their sexual orientation.
Intimacy and sexuality are also very profoundly enriching aspects of contact improv for me. Not that those aspects are significantly present in every dance, but they can be present. Some people involved with contact improv have the attitude that there is no place for sexuality to enter a contact dance. I think that indicates some kind of repression or inhibition. To proscribe awareness of sexual feelings to me is a denial of one’s full self. To some perhaps it’s what they believe they need to feel safe in a practice that can involve so much close physical contact. I have a friend who told me that he only participated in contact improv once. In his case, it was quite the opposite in terms of what he needed to feel safe. He was told not to discuss any sexual feelings he might have and that for him made it unsafe. It wasn’t that he was insisting on acting on sexual feelings, but the admonition that he was told to deny or hide them did not fit with his values.
I’ve always been a hugger, whether it be to invite my doctoral thesis supervisor or a person I just met in a grocery store or a white-haired grandmother in an airport lounge to embrace in a hug. I can remember when I was in high school in Pennsylvania at 14 years old and a teacher saying to me she could never figure out who my girlfriend was because she saw me hugging so many different girls.
I’ve always been a hugger, whether it be to invite my doctoral thesis supervisor or a person I just met in a grocery store or a white-haired grandmother in an airport lounge to embrace in a hug. I can remember when I was in high school in Pennsylvania at 14 years old and a teacher saying to me she could never figure out who my girlfriend was because she saw me hugging so many different girls.
When I was on the farm in Nova Scotia at the age of 17, it was very free. Lots of kissing at the dinner circle, polyamorous relationships, massage in the barn, and naked people working the fields or swimming in thecreek. The intimacy and loving feelings there were very healing for me. I began participating in formal workshops exploring intimacy and communication when I was 21. Some of those were breathtakingly adventurous in allowing people toexplore their sexual boundaries. Honoring personal choice and taking personal responsibility for one’s own experience were guiding principles in those workshops.
Given my background, I found myself both entirely comfortable with the contact improv jams when I began going there in 2002 as well as finding myself in culture shock. The comfort was in the physical closeness of contact improv and the shock was in the reluctance to communicate openly among some of the participants at the jam in that particular locale.
Each of us comes with the strengths that we have and the learnings we need to undertake for our personal evolution and actualization. I have seen some disturbing attributes in the contact improv community. I’ve seen cliques, competition, jealousy, and exclusion. I think I’ve been the object of all of these. Perhaps it’s because as one leader said, I’m a very open person. I think that my openness may feel threatening for someone who doesn’t want to look in the mirror. My openness is invaluable to me. At the same time as being difficult and challenging, being the object of that kind of treatment had tremendous gifts for me in what I could learn about refining my awareness of others’ experience, about loving myself more fully and wholeheartedly, and about skillful process for embracing diversity, fostering inclusion, and handling exclusion where necessary.
As part of my doctoral work, I’ve studied how some communities engage in excluding an individual. I’ve identified a common set of attributes that appear in a dysfunctional syndrome. Often the decision to exclude someone is based on the whim of one or two people in a position of power. There is no opportunity for fair, open, and honest communication exchange with the person being excluded. Hence there is no opportunity to resolve any differences constructively. To justify the exclusion, false stories are told so that others in the group are convinced the exclusion is reasonable and necessary. All communication with the decision makers is cut off to the person being excluded and where possible that person is further cut off from communication with others in the group.
I’ve seen this pattern in a number of different community environments, one of which is in a particular locale of the contact improv community. Some contact improv groups have guidelines that articulate what I perceive as conscious human process. Sexuality is acknowledged as a potential part of a person’s experience, not to be imposed on another, but simply to be in awareness of its presence. A person who feels uncomfortable within a dance has the responsibility to express themselves and thereby to either find thedance that works for them or to choose to exit a dance. If they don’t have the communication skill to do that, it’s their responsibility to learn that skill or at the very least to get help so that communication can take place. Somecontact improv groups meet regularly to practice those skills of communication within the dance context.
Because some people have been unwilling to speak their truth to me, particularly in that one dance locale, I’ve by necessity had to develop a highly attuned capacity to perceive the other’s experience nonverbally and kinesthetically. That skill is a core one for the relationship framework I described. It’s an empathic capacity that is invaluable to me in my human relationships. Of course, the relationship framework doesn’t limit itself to the nonverbal. The capacity to communicate verbally is a valuable human intelligence so that we can understand each other’s experience, wants, requests, and choices.
Ironically, the individuals in that particular contactimprov community locale who’ve acted towards me with the attributes of the dysfunctional syndrome I’ve described have said that I have no such communication skill, either verbal or nonverbal. What is most ironic about that is that I’ve been learning and teaching communication skills as a professional practice for over 35 years. It’s one of my greatest skills. What I am grateful for is that their outright rejection of me has been a tremendous gift in my coming to fully loving myself without need for another’s approval.
I was reading a wonderful piece recently by Ichi Vazquez. There are two quotes I’d like to draw from her that I find insightful and relevant.
The first quote is, “Our sexuality has been labeled and put in a neat little box for us, and to venture outside these boundaries is to be ostracized.” My truth is, as you can see from the relationship framework I’ve described, I deeply value mutuality and choice as opposed to imposition. IfI’ve been unable to perceive the nature or presence of someone’s discomfort, I need their help to let me know so I can be with them or not be with them in the way that works for them, and of course that works for me as well. No one gets to impose what they want on another. What I love so much about Boulder, Colorado’s contact improv guidelines as a prime example are both the acceptance of sexual feelings as a natural and sometimes present awareness in the dance and that it’s each person’s responsibility to learn how to communicate what they do and don’t want. At the same time, where someone is unwilling or apparently unable to express themselves or to even get help in doing so, then that’s where the value of sharpening my skill in perceiving is so important so that I can still meet them only where they want to be met.
The second quote from Ichi’s writing is, “…even if you are receiving genuine love from various relationships, your priority should always be to love yourself no matter what happens.” The gift to me of learning to love myself in the face of adversity is one of the greatest gifts I could ever receive. In the physical embodiment of contact improv, the fulfillment in being with one’s own self is manifest in the joy of solo dancing. It’s an essential part of the mix. I can always dance with myself. That gives me the freedom to approach others and when there’s a mutual curiosity and interest we can dance together.
There’s a beautiful generosity that’s available in the dance: the desire to bring joy to another being. Contact improv for me is all about supporting well-being for everyone. Last week I was at a gathering ofdance teachers. One of the other teachers there remembered seeing me many years ago in that environment that I mentioned included stark challenges. This teacher remarked to me how she saw and appreciated my joy and freedom in the dance. The fact that I’ve learned not to depend on the approval of others in no way lessens that pleasure of being recognized and affirmed by her.
Being in a dance environment that was not supportive of open communication inspired me to create Communicadance™. This past five years teaching contact improv dance and fostering an open, transparent communication environment there has been a richly rewarding experience. There is no topic of experience that is taboo for addressing there. Giving priority to consciousexpression not only in the dance but in the trust and learning facilitated by vulnerable communication has delightfully supported the well-being of each person.
All communities are likely at some point to face a situation where the exclusion of someone needs to be considered. What I’ve observed and described as a dysfunctional syndrome has been valuably instructive for me in ascertaining what process affords a responsive and caring approach. First is the awareness that exclusion is an extreme response which should only happen when all else fails to address the situation happily. The effects of excluding someone are not limited to the potential harm and pain it causes that person; it undermines the whole community. I’ve seen the anger and the fear that arises in others in the group: anger that someone they value and are close to is excluded unfairly and fear that they might be subject to the same outcome.
Marshall Rosenberg’s compassionate approach to communication which he calls Non-Violent Communication or NVC is a simple though profoundapproach to address such situations. Open and fair communication is the first element to be dropped in the dysfunctional syndrome and the first one that needs to be present. In NVC all concerned parties get to identify and express what feelings they are having, what specific actions those feelings are in response to, what they were wanting, and what requests they’d like to make. This kind of interaction calls for each person to take responsibility for their own experience and is grounded in an attitude of acceptance. NVC is a fundamental skill to employ in the eighth element of the relationship framework. It helps people find where they meet and the common ground they want to explore together.
Whether it be in a dance space or in a large community, every person does not have to dance or engage with every other person. We each get to choose and invite and then have that invitation accepted or not. Each of us has our preferences and has those to whom we’re attracted in some aspect. A little elbow room and giving space to one another go a long way. When an individual has a vendetta to exclude someone, it often has much to do with their own issues that they’re unwilling to face. Where there’s a willingness to engage in communication and to share in the vulnerable elements offered by NVC, people can invariably find a workable solution. Very rarely will someone have to be excluded. When that is necessary in a functional community, it’s only after every effort has been made to resolve differences. That’s what generosity is about and generosity is the ground for healthy community.
I’d like to share a story way back from 1988, when I trained about seventy facilitators over a six-month period to assist me in a large weekend personal growth and networking event I organized for about 425 participants. It was called Human Interaction ’88 or HI ’88. One individual there just did not fit in. Physically he was large: tall and stout. His voice was burly and people perceived him as gruff. He was the proverbial bull in a china shop. Several people approached me saying they were very uncomfortable having him there and given the vulnerability and open communication that were being encouraged, they just did not feel physically or emotionally safe with him.
I could see how they felt and I could see why. I approached this gentleman and shared with him what people had expressed. I invited him to stand up at the microphone in front of the whole group, an act which would take courage on his part. Other than him, I was the only one to have used the mike and addressed the whole group, which I did as leader and facilitator of theevent.
He told the whole group that he understood that some people were uncomfortable with him and that he didn’t mean to be so gruff. He wanted to stay and he asked for everyone’s help so that he could be sensitive to others’ feelings and needs.
He did stay. Towards the end of the event a number of people approached me and told me that was one of the most significant parts of theweekend for them. The acceptance, generosity, and consideration afforded tohim, together with his vulnerability and earnest desire to honor others were qualities that left a deep and satisfying feeling for the whole community. We were stronger, bolder, and more alive for having embraced him.
There are times when someone does need to be excluded due to their own unwillingness to be responsive and sensitive to others’ needs and to give them space where they request it. When someone is pushed out due to the personal issues of an intolerant minority and no authentic process and opportunity is given to resolve issues between those concerned, it weakens the whole community.
WHAT YOU WOULD LIKE TO SEE HAPPENING IN THE NEXT 12-24 MONTHS WITH BRILLIANCE.ORG? TALK ABOUT YOUR PLAN TO ESTABLISH THE COMMUNITY. THE FIRST FEW STEPS YOU ARE NOW TAKING TO MANIFEST THE 'DREAM'
That is a reasonable projected time frame to getting all our government and regulatory approvals to build the community and all its facilities.
Right now we’re in negotiations to finalize the paperwork on the purchase of the land. Once that’s done we’ll be able to do the legal work that will allow us to comply with securities legislation so we can accept investment funds. The funds we’ll raise to the point of receiving approvals will primarily come from those who want to live in and be part of the community, regardless of whether their intent is to live there full-time orpart-time.
Those funds will enable us to make payments on the land purchase and to do the extensive planning and regulatory compliance work required. We have a planning firm on board that will guide us through the process. In addition we’ll have a number of external consultants and the contribution of talented and motivated people wanting to be part of the community. Planning for all the elements we’ll be incorporating in the community and doing so with sustainable, environmentally sound principles will take significant time and resources. Designing the community so that it facilitates the natural beauty and the physical environment that supports each person’s individual and interpersonal brilliance is perhaps the second most exciting part.
The most exciting part to me will be in the gathering of the tribe. Although I haven’t publicly announced the dates yet, we’ve already reserved workshop space in August and October where we can begin to meet one another. Mostly so far, the interaction has been with me one-on-one or in small groups in person and larger groups in conference calls. Meeting each other face-to-face in the larger group context with so many amazing, talented, conscious, beautiful beings is going to be wonderfully satisfying. We’ll be exploring together experientially in activities that we bring to the gathering, based on the abundant skills and aspirations that each of us have. We’ll also be going out to see the land together.
Periodically, we’ll be convening these gatherings to further build the community experience and to grow and to enjoy each other’s presence. Also, I imagine over the next 12 to 24 months, some of us will begin living on the land in the existing housing that’s there. There’s a home in a gorgeous, secluded inner valley that I’d love for us to begin with if it’s available for us prior to closing the purchase.
As the funds raised are sufficient, we’ll be purchasing the land along the way. What we’re signing is a long-term agreement which gives us time to put together the funds necessary for the purchase and on-going costs. As we get to substantial completion of the approval phase, we’ll then arrange for funding of construction. Ultimately, the sale of homes for year-round, fractional, and time-share ownership will fund all the costs and generate the profit to appropriately reward the investors.
The holistic nature of what we’re creating in all its facets and scale is unique on the planet. The interest and enthusiasm is tremendous. The time for brilliance in community is now.
You’re welcome to bring your beautiful energy and be part of this community too, Juno. One of the things you and I have talked about is the fact that this community will be an all-ages community, supporting the engagement of the young with the old and those in-between. We all need and thrive with each other. We’ll be providing assisted living features for those who need it, especially as they age. There are many talented people who know the beauty and loving energy in engaging with the youngsters, the peers, and the elderly. We each have a perfect place in the bouquet.
HOW DO YOU CENTER YOURSELF?
I listen to what is true for me. It’s a deeper awareness and understanding than thought. Thoughts, which are merely words within the mind, can be useful. They can also be distracting. They don’t always reflect what is true for me at a deeper level. I think most people who’ve practiced meditation have come to discover that.
The inner practice I do was shown to me by a teacher whom I mentioned earlier, Prem Rawat, who also goes by the name Maharaji. He showed me four ways of turning my awareness within, sensing within. The mind is good at some things; the heart is good at others. That inner practice is all about the heart. That is the center of my being. That center is where my compassion, love, joy, and wisdom reside and where I access them.
The practice frees me to be what is most natural and alive. It’s both a discipline or practice and at the same time is my natural state.
I find that seeing Maharaji in person and listening to him by video also really help me be clear and centered. Selfless service does that too. What I mean by selfless service is simply to let go of my expectations, listen intently to that place inside, and engage in the activity that my inner wisdom leads me to do. I experience the union of my awareness with the source of life within.
Truth, consciousness, and bliss: they go together. That experience of my center gives me a wonderful appreciation of life.
My first response is: nope! But then there is more that’s within what I’ve expressed so far. What I would expand on if we had a few more hours to talk, is about what I’m seeking to create in relationship in my own life; what I envision in patterns of community relationships in the sense of intimate relationships, business and positive impact outreach partnerships, and beyond; what my doctorate is focused on in community, consciousness, and the whole arena of intimacy, relationships, and sexuality; and finally in my dance practice in contact improvisation.
I am pursuing all of these at the moment which is why my initial inclination was to say: nope! I do have a wonderfully full plate.
WHAT FOR YOU IS LOVE?
Love for me is knowing that place inside, feeling it, trusting it, letting go to it, letting it guide and inspire me. The experience of love allows me to appreciate life, each person, each experience, each breath with delicious passion and compassion.
A couple of days ago, I was at a health food store in Toronto called The Big Carrot and I paused to gaze upon a cherubim, all dressed in a pink outfit, seated in the shopping cart, and holding a very long rice wafer. Her mother had wandered over to a nearby fruit section to the bananas and mangos.
As I gazed at this little one, she raised her cracker and, partly because it was so unwieldy, partly because she was so tired, and partly because she was just learning how to manage these sorts of things, instead of putting it to her mouth she poked herself in the eye. She was in a state of shock, that momentary holding of breath before the crying. All I could do was look at her with tenderness and compassion and say, “Awwwww.”
Momentarily, her mother came back and I filled her in on what had happened. The toddler was still in that extended moment of shock. Her mother offered her another cracker as she then started to gently cry. All I could do was again feel and say, “Awwwww.”
Finally she settled down comforted by her bottle as her mother explained to the toddler’s two brothers that she’d poked herself in the eye with the cracker and all four of us could only feel love and compassion for this little toddler’s innocence.
I thought about it afterwards and how similar it must be for that loving power of life, looking upon us as humanity, as we sometimes do poke ourselves in the eye.
We are all miracles of life. Beautiful. I get to savor that miracle and beauty in myself and in each person that I can open my heart to.
WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED FROM YOURSELF FROM THIS EXPERIENCE?
I think my most difficult experiences in life, the most challenging ones, were the ones that have also had a huge gift in teaching me to love and have compassion for myself. To experience that. It’s not about the words. It’s about the quality of feeling connected to that beauty, that vibration and radiance of life.
WHAT HAVE YOU UNLEARNED?
What I’ve unlearned is to rely on my thoughts, conceptions, beliefs, and judgments. They are there. I can notice them. But I also let them go so I can dive deeper to the place of awareness. Whatever is true is still true.
I don’t need to hold onto and defend those thoughts, conceptions, beliefs, and judgments. The moment they’re formed, they become rigid or at least have that tendency. What’s alive in me is exactly that: alive, breathing. That’s the ride I’m choosing to take.
I REALLY LIKED WHAT YOU SAID AND CAN YOU EXPOUND ON THE SAYING YOU QUOTED. "HUMANITY IS SITTING ON A BRANCH OF A TREE..."
It’s something I remember Maharaji saying many years ago. I think he was a teenager at the time. He said that mankind is sitting on the branch of a tree and sawing off the branch that he is sitting on.
We are on this planet earth. As far as we know, there is none other like it. The natural beauty of our world is breathtaking. Being in nature can be wonderfully healing and invigorating.
Every day, I imagine the clean waters, land, and air. Fresh and vibrant. I see dolphins and other animals frolicking. If we cut down all the forests and cause all the animals to go extinct due to our greed, we will then truly be in poverty. The riches we have and that we need to protect are easy to take for granted.
The kind of greed we see harming our natural world is a misguided greed. I think it stems from fear: fear of not being taken care of in the future, of not having enough. I think it was Christ who said that if God could provide for the birds in the field, surely my needs will be taken care of.
I believe that consciousness is the one thing that will save humanity. Within consciousness is wisdom. Within consciousness is generosity. Within consciousness is compassion and caring. When each person truly finds peace within, the beauty of what we can manifest is unimaginable.
That’s why my life purpose is to inspire personal and planetary brilliance.
YOUR ONE MESSAGE TO ALL.
Don’t settle for anything less than infinite joy. We aren’t here to be limited. We are here to know the ultimate experience. We have that capacity. We will never be satisfied with anything less; it’s in our design. So do whatever it takes to realize the beauty within.
© Alex Perlman and APC LTD. 2012. All rights reserved. Used with permission.
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All articles written within the period of Oct 2011 through present. © Juno Cristi 2011-2012, All Rights Reserved