DISPATCH FROM TAMERA 2 — The Congruence of Pleasure and Purpose
I’ve tried writing this letter a few times.. and each time ended frustrated, various 1/2 paragraphs written, each tangential to the rest. What is moving in me here is simply too big to be effable through scheduled blog updates. So here is an unscheduled, unruly attempt to share some of my first two weeks in the Healing Biotope Student Education at Tamera.
It took me these two weeks to really land — in that this is the time it took for my body to stabilize after flying across 1/3rd of the Earth to then be plopped into a vastly different culture — more different than perhaps I realized.
These first two weeks were marked by the experience of a tiredness like I’ve never known before, which I finally came to see was due to the epic detoxification process i’m in.
I am detoxing from Western Civilization.
In this process, layers of who I always assumed I was (or wasn’t even aware of being) have been pealing off of me, opening a channel in me for a litany of new sensations, experiences and realizations. Holy shit.
But before I take you down that windy and potentially hazardous road of trying to share any of that, let me provide some context.
Three days after I arrived, the three month Healing Biotope Student Education Training Program began. 55 community activists, including 10 from crisis areas in the global south, embarked together on what feels like part social experiment, part intensive community leadership training at the new cultural dojo that is Tamera Healing Biotope 1. On the second day we received the “itinerary” for our journey.
Thus, after the short days of welcome — we jumped into a 10 day unit on:
ART AND THE SACRED MATRIX
These ten days felt like an extended prayer in the re-awakening of our perception to the utter wonder that is the natural world. Through perceiving the Earth in all her glory, comes the realization that we are not, and have actually never been, separate from creation. We are part of this miracle of life.
And yet, most of us grew up in the “normality” of separation consciousness, where cultural firewalls have been systematically developed, for in some cases millenium, to block us from this perception. And so using the tool of art, we researched how to not only re-train our bodies as tools of this perception, but how to use our bodies to channel this inherent divinity of life into further creation.
Perhaps to put is simpler, Tamera stands on a mission statement of:
“There is the world that we create, and the world that has created us. These two worlds must come together — that is the goal of our journey.”
Before then we learn how to possibly build an entire culture, re-established in harmony with life, we trained how to do this with pencils, paper and paint.
This was not an art course in becoming “fine” artists as construed by modern art aesthetics. Rather, it was a course in using our art as a feedback process with the sacredness of life. Through really opening ourselves to perceiving the sacred, not just the beauty, but also the life-force pulsing through creation, and letting this perception touch the same in us, we then translated this perception in two dimensional space, regardless of any concern for the social expectations we’ve inherited as to what is beautiful. In this discourse, beauty is defined by one’s ability to express freely what’s awakened in their inner world, based on how deeply we can know our truths, and how boldly we can share them.
This was not an easy process.
During the ten days, I repeatedly found myself contracted and afraid to paint or draw, still under the governance of my own notion of what will make me accepted into the group. But through careful encouragment, and a slowing down of my own body-system to actually perceive wonder in nature, I began to find a joy in self-expression. And this is the point: Creation follows joy.
I am becoming a “good” artist when I am deeply moved by what I am creating.
I learned to perceive what colors where “courting” me to be placed on the canvass, and to trust these inner impulses, even if they conflicted with what my mind thought my be beautiful. This however takes a deep surrendering to the process and a willingness to suspend judgement. This translated for me as a staying with my process of impulses leading to brush strokes, without interrupting the flow by the conditioned attempt to evaluate if I was on the “right track.” I was on the right track in each moment I was feeling joy in the process.
And this for me became a key insight of this time.
Guidance is experienced in my body as a resonance of joy.
This is quite a revolution when my cultural training thus far has largely been to mistrust the body, especially in what it enjoys. However I came to see that our bodies are the tools we we’re given when we all came to earth and that they are not a banal, material constraint, but rather a mechanism to perceive and experience the divinity that is coursing throughout all creation. I am part of that creation and I fully step into it when I realize that I am also an artist of this creation — not just in moments of painting in an art course, but in every moment of my life.
I create my reality.
Obviously, I am also influenced deeply by the contexts I am in. However, to realize myself as an artist, is to realize that I influence that context in each moment and can decide how I want to use this power as an influencer. An identity as an artist is a seat of empowerment.
For centuries, my ancestors were under the auspice that morality — a set of rules founded in divine, albeit human penned, texts — was the basis for guidance. Here, I am learning that it’s not morality, but perception and feedback, which will guide me to a more beautiful world, and to whatever healing I need.
And please don’t mistake that the joy I feel as guidance is the joy of a sugar-high or other surface level sensations. Rather, it’s the joy of a soul in movement, which, once trained, has a very particular and easily recognizable flavor.
Personally, this looks like letting go of my fear of “doing it wrong,” especially in social contact. For most of my life, especially in groups, I reached for social contact from a place of anxiety around the contact. This anxiety — the feeling that I need to uphold a certain image to be liked and welcome — shuts down my ability to perceive myself and thus be in contact with what is actually true in me. And without truth, no real contact is possible. So even if I got what I want, i.e. people to like me, it wouldn’t feed me anyways because it’d only be feeding the farce.
One way I’ve found to heal this anxiety is to surrender to the never ending change in myself. I am not a static anything, I am a process. So instead of making a stable social image that I have to consistently uphold, like that I’m happy, nice, sane, warm, etc., what would it be to give expression to what’s true in each moment?
And if I’m really honest, how often, even with all my protective identities of being “mature, developed, aware, woke, etc” am I actually withholding what’s really true out of social fear? In the last two weeks at Tamera, I’ve peeled back so many layers of my own falseness (through the help of much feedback), that I wonder who I really was back home. It’s simply astonishing.
And of course, coming into contact with my deeper truth here is only possible because of the nourishment of constant community. Back home, I, like most of us, are chronically malnourished from safe, healthy and transparent human contact. Of course it’s hard to see that, for the isolation and anonymity of modern culture is the water we swim in. However, being here, and having now a clear different experience to compare it to — it is vastly different to be surrounded all day every day by people who are holding to similar values and vision. I can’t really convey what this experience is like, but as opposed to being at all annoying (…annoyance I found only happens when people aren’t able to be transparent and honest…) it’s the most wonderful and magical feeling. I am so fed.
And how does all of this then translate to my work in love?
The last post I made on Facebook, a few days after landing here, opened a window into a love story that I left 2.5 years ago (the last time I was in Tamera), that I had in some ways been waiting to re-ignite upon my return here.
And that is not what has happened.
Leaving a place is hard in that it’s easy to lock the moment of your leaving into a glass-case, and naively thus expect it to be the same when you return. That’s what I experienced in regards to Elinor and our relationship when I came back to Tamera.
In these 2.5 years apart, she has been mostly here, learning, growing, shifting, loving and of course (although somehow the thought never crossed my mind before) she developed many beautiful loverships in her life, including one she calls a partner. And thus, I returned to Tamera expectant and available, and re-met a woman, still beautiful, still mysterious, still being deeply moved by life, and now full of love and contact, simply without much space for more in her life.
The first weeks here, I didn’t really know how to act around her. I was somehow caught between my frozen image of the past, a love-story in full swing, and the uncertainty of the now, two people who after so much time aren’t really familiar with each other. It’s a funny contradiction to feel in one’s body — the desire to run up and twirl someone around while simultaneously being terrified for you have not yet built the trust to even casually say hello.
And somehow, this is also what is so beautiful about this place. Whether it’s been 2.5 years, or 2.5 days, in each encounter people have to discover each other anew. In a culture of truth, there are no guarantees, not much room for expectations, and a continual adventure of discovering love again and again, for, in the words of what’s become an almost revolutionary chant here at Tamera, “Love is the most anarchist force in the Universe.”
Thus, no matter how epic and beautiful my image of this past love story — it’s no claim to anything beyond it. Elinor and I are free beings, and the only love I want, is a love that is “free,” — a love that is fully true, without compulsion from fear.
And I know in the social conditioning of the world most of us come from, that this seems rather insane and could easily be misunderstood to love without commitment. I’ve heard from many and seen in myself, the projections that a “free” love would just be irresponsible, and that no one would ever deepen in love if it was allowed to be free. And I can simply say that the opposite is true here at Tamera. It’s understood here that Love at it’s deepest form is the power to stay. And yet this has to be true, not compulsory. So the question becomes, how does love grow in full truth, so that we can really stay with love, with our love partners, with our families, our communities?
I don’t know the answer, but I do know, that it’s a radical step for me as a man to fully bless this woman in her freedom. I may feel a variety of interesting emotions — sadness, disdain, anger — and I have, and yet I know that these have nothing to do with her, and are not for me to put on to her. That’s why I have community — friends ready to support me on my path and stand in solidarity with me as a man at the end of patriarchy.
So for now, Elinor and I are friends and community allies. And I dare to keep my heart open to this love, regardless of where the contact is (on/off, sexual or not) and regardless of how open her heart is to me. And this is perhaps the most radical step I can take as a loving being, to understand that love always exists within and through me, and that other peoples are just helpers, awakeners and reminders of the love that is always present in my life, in my heart, if I can stay — with myself. The power to stay begins with my staying with myself. I will no longer fear being left by others, if I stop leaving myself. Thus I am no longer a victim of love — I am the active decision point in it. I can choose to love.
And I don’t claim to always be there. I have many layers of inherited trauma and resultant fear that often keep me closed — and I live in a wider societal system of so much war and exploitation, that keeping an open heart requires system-change, which is the road we are all on.
And yet with each passing day here, I see the cracks in my body armor, as I realize, it is safe to love. And this feeling of safety is no claim on knowing the future — there are no guarantees I will ever fall in love, have a “partner,” have kids, etc. Yet, can I present with what’s true now? Can I be present with the joy, sorrow and utter beauty that is the universe experiencing itself through my body, right now?
And that unknown future is also what keeps life alive, dynamic, flowing. If love is truly an anarchistic power — then it may emerge at any moment, often when we least expect it. Thank you for this never-ending adventure Love.
And thank you all for witnessing this journey of mine. It truly matters to be seen.
I am here with and for all of you, for all those on this planet who daily do not have the space, the safety, the basic nourishments, to experience love. My heart is ever widening to beat with the global heart.
And I continue to crowdfund to help cover the cost of my tuition in this education program. If you were moved by these words, please consider supporting my journey. I am also seeking a donation of flight miles for my ticket home. More updates will come.