The Emergence of Higher We-Spaces: steps towards humankind awakening to its collective sentience | Lessons from trailblazing practice communities
Introductory section of my presentation invited to the Integral European Conference, Budapest, Hungary, May 8-11, 2014
Introduction: personal and planetary contexts
I am irresistibly drawn to observe and participate in the emergence of situations and communities, where people are capable to sense, think, relate, and act, momentarily or in a sustained way, from a beyond-ego state or stage of consciousness. They exist in a domain that I call “higher We-spaces.” My passion to experience and explore that emergence, from as close as I can, comes from both personal and planetary drivers.
Here is my personal motivation: In the most thrilling moments of my participation in the energy field of a retreat with Thomas Hübl, or the sangha around Diane Musho Hamilton’s work, or an Enlightened Communication circle, I felt a tidal wave of consciousness hitting the room, and the tide was lifting all boats of our individual states of consciousness.
There’s a growing literature of articles, conference presentations, blogposts, and lists of We-space-inducing injunctions and practices, etc., and reading them can help us understand the what, why, and how of what is emerging. The most rewarding direct knowledge comes from the first-person immersion in the experience of its underlying mystical principles that Thomas Hübl wrote in the The Coming Waves. That’s why I feel the call to study, write about, and immerse myself in this subject.
There’s also a planetary context of my fascination with higher We-spaces. Humanity is on a learning expedition, the next leg of which seems to be a sort of global “flow state,” where unprecedented challenges and unprecedented capabilities are facing off. That state is typically described in the psychological terms of motivation and full immersion in experience, which harness one’s emotional energies in the service of learning or performing an act. To overcome our global crises will require all that from the collective psyche, and more.
As a sign of our times, there are numerous variations of the following saying attributed to Einstein, which are spreading over the Net: “No problem can be solved at the same level of consciousness that created it.” So, where are we going to get the higher level collective consciousness required to meet the challenges of our times? A good place to start exploring the paths to the answer to that question, I believe, is the higher We-space experiments currently pursued by various pioneering communities in the integral, evolutionary ecosystem. “For the level of complexity of the organizational and cultural difficulties now facing the human species, nothing short of an awakened We Space will do.”
The human race is just starting to take some baby steps to reach planetary consciousness and collective sentience. We lived the first few 100,000s years crawling, and we are starting to learn standing up and walking. Looked at from that context, the communities, where higher We-spaces manifest, are in the tip of the wave of the shift in consciousness that is sweeping the planet. Can it be that the inter-subjective practices in their groups and events pre-figure an emergent planetary culture?
That’s an epic narrative unfolding in front of our eyes. To enjoy it more, one has to be part of it. Writing and playing out that drama together, we can also influence the pace of the much-needed (and happening) global mind shift. This paper is an invitation to it. Read on, tune in, and sense into what has the most heart and meaning for you…
[to be continued]
 The Gateway into the Future: Mysticism for Our Times, by Thomas Hübl, in The Coming Waves: Evolution, Transformation, and Action in an Integral Way, (edited by Dustin DiPerna and H.B. Augustine) http://www.thecomingwaves.org/
 Showing Up: The Power and potential of We, by Andrew Venezia in The Coming Waves: Evolution, Transformation, and Action in an Integral Way, (edited by Dustin DiPerna and H.B. Augustine) http://www.thecomingwaves.org/
Wonderful! Just had one of these tiny “higher We-space experiment” this afternoon with the person curating the @sweden account this week and a few of her followers responding to a simple question she asked about the way they call the Milky Way in their own languages. Just wrote about it ( in French). Will post it and share it with my French-reading readers 🙂 A tidal wave of We-space collective sentience did hit me when I read your brilliant post!
Bonjour, Yolande! Thank you for your interest in and appreciating the “higher We-space” phenomena. Your using the phrase “collective sentience” made me think that you may also be interested in my draft articulation of its meaning, the question I raised about it in Quora, and some of the wise responses I received from other users of the system. See: http://www.quora.com/What-are-the-key-factors-to-consider-in-cultivating-collective-sentience-at-increasing-scale .
There’s a hint for the possibility of cultivating higher We-spaces even online, in this reply to my blogpost about “Letting collective intelligence use me for organizing itself.”
Hello George, I see the possibility here of joining two strands in my life which have remained obstinately separate, the necessity of social change, and the work on myself to develop the skills to be of service in bringing this change about.
I am inspired by Thomas Huebl’s work, taking part in his Global Virtual Practice Group, (he did connect with the Occupy movement). Charles Eisenstein’s More Beautiful World, Wilbur’s integral, and the Agents of Conscious Evolution with Barbara Marx Hubbard, which gave rise to Vistar Circles, have all provided essential nourishment for the soul. But there is yet to be born the movement that combines this inner work with The Million Climate Jobs union campaign, or the People’s Assemblies. It’s very much an either/or.
The We-space you talk about seems to me to be a combination of the two. It is very much connecting to a universal evolutionary human identity, while maintaining a powerful critique of systems which maintain hierarchy, scarcity, and huge divisions of wealth.
One place where this combination feels almost comfortable is in a Non-Violent Communication study group. Other groups that I have initiated in Leeds and Bradford UK have called themselves Sacred Activists/ Awakening Consciousness in an attempt to combine these two functions.
Perhaps in your proposed work with Orsan (which is what brought me here) those two aspects, the outer and the inner work might find expression. If so I would very much like to participate.
Big thank you for your comment.
We certainly share some of the sources of our inspiration, e.g. Ken Wilber, Barbara Marx Hubbard, and Thomas Hübl (i’m in his 6-month online program on Mystical Principles).
You’re right, the We-space I’m the most interested in is integral: not limited to the internal quadrants of individual and collective consciousness; it encompasses also the external quadrants of our individual behaviors and social systems, and the ways to support their evolutionary transformation through collective action, in terms of Wilber’s integral matrix.
> Perhaps in your proposed work with Orsan (which is what brought me here) those two aspects, the outer and the inner work might find expression.
I hope so. The work that we envision with Örsan is framed by the title “Liberating the Social Creativity of Labour Power as Commons.” I will post a first draft by the end of the month at the School of Commoning site.
You mentioned “sacred activists.” Have you heard of the upcoming Sacred Activism workshop?
Pingback: P2P Foundation's blog » Blog Archive » Stimulating the emergence of necessary “Higher We-Spaces”.
Pingback: Stimulating the emergence of necessary “Higher We-Spaces”. | PDX Currency Corporation
Thank you for this blog post! Yes I too am convinced the emergence of ‘the higher WE spaces’ is perhaps the most important aspect of humanity’s next evolutionary step (or leap!).
I too have been taking an interest in Thomas Huebl’s work but so far only in terms of watching some of his videos. Very impressive.
From my point of view I think the ability to share such spaces of shared consciousness and sentience in terms of spiritual experience is invaluable. However I do feel that collective sentience in and of itself is not enough. The question is – What comes next? Now that we are sharing this WE space how do we resolve our collective crises? In other words how do we make robust collective “co-sensus” (feeling together) decisions?
In answering these questions my interest and passion for Dynamic Facilitation continues. I am particularly interested in how randomly selected citizens can be facilitated to arrive at Co-sensus choices. I recently travelled to Austria where they are doing some fantastic pioneering work, incredibly enough in local state government. I blogged about it here: http://andypaice.wordpress.com/2013/12/21/big-strides-in-citizen-participation-for-a-tiny-austrian-state/
The interesting thing for me here is that the collective choices generated by the randomly selected citizens defy some of the assumptions held in Spiral Dynamics and Integral thinking.
Tom Atlee wrote about this very eloquently in the Dynamic Facilitation google group a couple of years ago. I’ll copy and paste that here:
“What interests me is the number of times that practices like DF and
Consensus Conferences can come up with consensus statements agreed
to by randomly selected (i.e., significantly diverse) people. One
would think, if the levels of SD were so distinct, that this would
be impossible (and I have been told that it is impossible by a
values-oriented sociologist, despite the fact that it happens
routinely). This phenomenon obviously would benefit from more research.
While there are definitely values profiles that a particular SD
level is most comfortable in and motivated by, it seems to me that
at a deeper level the values are more shared than SD suggests. I
think in deep dialogue, deliberation and choice-creating, Oranges
and Reds can and do connect with Green values, and vice versa, and
find common ground with which to address public issues.
Furthermore, the common ground is often related to specific issues;
Occupy folks and Tea Party folks in southern Oregon are coming together around community resilience and self-reliance.
My own metaphysics is grounded in interactivity, co-creativity,
dialogue of life with life; I love the word “co-incarnational” for
example, which means that things bring each other into existence,
and “interbeing” which means their ongoing existence is totally
entangled. I miss that spirit in SD and Integral work, especially
since it has so much potential in practice. I’d love to see a more powerful marriage of the two worldviews.”
This for me has MASSIVE ramifications. It means that we don’t need to wait for a significant percentage of humanity to evolve to higher developmental stages. Facilitation spaces of heartfelt deep listening can evoke the collective wisdom of randomly selected citizens. This is IMO how we can start to build a world that works for all.
Thank you George for your work and would love to reconnect when the time is right 🙂
Dear Andy, I’m delighted to learn about your deepening practice in Dynamic Facilitation, and your seeing “the emergence of ‘the higher WE spaces’ is perhaps the most important aspect of humanity’s next evolutionary step (or leap!).” I also appreciate your question and am fully with you asking it:
> What comes next? Now that we are sharing this WE space how do we resolve our collective crises?
However, here, we may start differing:
> In other words how do we make robust collective “co-sensus” (feeling together) decisions?
I do not think that our intertwined global crises will dissolve by the power of feeling together. It will also require:
“Big picture view of living systems. Integrative structures and forms in evolutionary flows. Understanding that chaos and change are natural. Honoring all our ways of knowing.” These are some characteristics of the Yellow altitude in Spiral Dynamics, which makes the We-spaces that I’m talking about “higher.”
In that context, the Green value of co-sensus is cherished, transcended and included in the integrative decision-making model of holacracy. My friend, Tom Atlee is absolutely right that this whole are “obviously would benefit from more research.” I hope to bring some preliminary finding to it in my presentation in Integral European Conference, in May.
I’m wondering what you mean by sentience, or what is your understanding of my use of the term in the phrase “collective sentience.” Please note that the way I use it is not simply the ability to feel and perceive by a group, but the ability of “caring for the well-being and evolution of the parts and whole of any collective entity, as well as its larger, encompassing whole,” as I introduced it on Quora, where I asked: “What are the key factors to consider in cultivating collective sentience at increasing scale?”
In the higher We-spaces that reach the level of collective sentience (beyond consensus in ad hoc groups), we will see members deeply caring for the well-being and evolution of each other and the group as whole, as much as as their own, as well as the larger encompassing system.
For that caring to be more than just a feeling, to manifest in effective action, I agree with what Michel Bauwens wrote in his reply to my question:: “It is useful to consider Ken Wilber’s AQAL system to answer this question, and hence to look at: 1) subjective factors, the personal capacity for learning and communication ;2) objective factors: plasticity of the brain and material extensions such as the computers; 3) interobjective factors: social systems with minimum resistance and impedance; 4) intersubjective: the development of open collective cultures …”
Andy, nothing that I am saying here diminishes the importance of your work in my eyes. Just the opposite. As always, I’d like to work with you in one way or another, which could be productive only if we have a shared clarity of the differences in what we are addressing and from what vantage point.
it seems from my experience that attempts to form a group at the Subtle level never last very long. I think it is because we were never meant to stay at that level for long, but rather to enter it for short periods. In other words we can call on it for creativity or intuition, but not for everyday living. I have seen so many promising groups come and go, and this is my tentative conclusion.
Beautiful, the post and the comments and your replies, George! I am SO into this frontier of human evolution, too, and my Devotion is to strengthening this human capacity in a variety of ways.
I too have both personal and planetary motives. My personal motives explored in my first and third person descriptions of the collective emergent intelligence include that it just feels so darned good; it is an ecstatic experience! http://exploringsecondandthirdtier.blogspot.com/2012/06/exploring-phenomenonexperience-of.html
and I’ve begun to explore many facets
which I hope will contribute to the ‘global dialogue’ on this phenomenon/capacity. It’s exciting to hear what others are doing and saying. We’ll all have our own versions,and our own ways of ‘getting there’ and our own ways of engaging with or “using” this capacity, because it will be species-wide; and I foresee it growing exponentially.
I totally agree there are trans-stage values, or multi-stage values which can be invoked, amplified and used to good purpose. I have not explored what Stephen Martineau of Next Step Integral apparently calls “elevator values” (because the more one has of them, the faster one’s growth) but they seem promising candidates, from what I hear about them. They include curiosity, benevolence, and at least one other ‘value.’. There must be others also; perhaps appreciation and loyalty might be among them. And feeling good!! Basic physical and social pleasures.
GOOD STUFF! Thank you for sharing!