Weaving a Non-Dual Civilisation — Part 3: Returning to Life

Julyan Davey
Phoenix Collective
Published in
13 min readDec 17, 2021

In Parts 1 and 2, I explored a model that describes the civilisational transition necessary to shift humanity onto a regenerative path.

In this Part 3, I will explore my personal narrative for this transition which I call: Returning to Life.

Here’s a brief summary.

Humanity has fallen asleep. We have chosen to hide ourselves away in the bottom of the basement and instead of being ourselves, we live a front and together create a fake, dead civilisation. We have chosen to go unconscious to the majesty of Life all around us. We have chosen a living death. Together, we have chosen to reject Life and this choice is killing everything around us, it’s destroying the incredible beauty of the more-than-human world, whose brilliance we cannot even comprehend.

The heroes of our time will not be individuals. While we need millions of people to take a stand for themselves and for Life: one cannot return to Life alone. Instead, the heroes of this story are groups of people who dare to embark on a perilous journey back to Life together. Even though they have the hardest, seemingly impossible task before them, they will not let each other succumb to the Shadow or Thanatos, which means the death urge. Instead, they will pull each other up by the scruff of their necks, holding each other to their commitments to be servants of Life. Whatever comes up between them and whatever hand Life deals them, they will learn to trust that there is Light behind the apparent Shadow. Life is both the Light and the Shadow; it couldn’t be any other way.

If they make it through the labyrinth of modern culture’s conditioning, then maybe, just maybe, another being can emerge: an awake collective consciousness that can take powerful, decisive action in the world. It is the emergence of many of these Beings that has a chance to shift humanity out of our doldrums and support us to step into our place in the cosmic story once more.

I will now explore this narrative in more depth, beginning with the individual’s journey to come alive and then building up to the possibility of the whole of humanity shifting back into alignment with Life.

Time to Come Alive

How many of us in our Modern Culture are truly living?

Look around you — Not many.

Most of us spend our time numbing ourselves to Life.

We live from our psychological survival strategies which carry out the automatic, unconscious patterns and behaviours that kept us safe in our childhoods. These strategies are dead trauma tapes — they play the same way they always have —meaning nothing ever changes.

We live inside the norms, values and assumptions of our culture, leading most of us to simply follow the career, relationship and life paths laid out before us, rather than following what is real and meaningful to us in each moment.

We are stuck in these prisons but they are not really who we are.

In reality, ‘we’, are a dynamic flow of aliveness and creativity just waiting to stream into the world. We are a part of the cosmic dance of Life and Evolution, on its quest to produce more Life.

I call living from this aliveness “flowing in the river of Life”. In Possibility Management, it’s the journey to live in the liquid state, where you choose to stop relying on your default mechanical, automatic responses and instead choose to fly in the groundlessness of Being. Here, there is nothing to hold onto, so all you can do is consciously create afresh, in each and every moment.

Instead of jumping into this maelstrom of Life, most of us sit on the sidelines wishing things were different.

It is a slow but brilliant journey to return to the aliveness within us.

For me, it has felt like coming alive again — And I know that I have a long way to go.

The Transformational Groups, as discussed in part 2, would work to slowly bring its members back to their aliveness, back to their truth and back to Life. They would support each other to work through whatever was blocking them from stepping into their fullness and potential. And whenever conflict came up between them, it would just be another opportunity to take a step back to Life.

It is not just individuals that can come alive again.

Researcher Samo Burja makes the distinction between Live and Dead players. These ‘players’ could be groups, traditions, institutions, or entire nations. They are ‘Live’ if they are able to create afresh i.e. do things they haven’t done before, not being imprisoned by how they’ve responded in the past. Whereas, ‘Dead’ players can only work off the script of the past and are incapable of doing new things.

Embodying a Transformative Culture would support any of these ‘players’ to come alive again. By following their individual and collective threads of meaning and transforming any Shadow that comes up, any collective can become a ‘Live’ player once more.

Only these groups of truly alive humans have the potential to regenerate Life on Earth.

A Journey to Loving Life

This journey of returning to Life would be a quest to learn to love Life once more. It would mean moving towards seeing the beauty and love within every drop of our experience and allowing a sense of gratitude for the gift of Life to emerge.

In reality, we spend most of our time rejecting Life.

We say “No!” to most of what she offers us.

We’re doing it in pretty much every moment.

“It’s not fair — why is Life giving me all this struggle, all this shit?” we say.

We think there’s something wrong with Life. It seems random at best and violent and destructive, with no apparent purpose, at worst.

And when we look around us, Life for many seems to be wall to wall suffering. It seems to be an endless uphill battle, like Sisyphus and his boulder, where whenever someone gets up on their feet, the next thing comes along to knock them down once more.

“There can’t be a creator God” people say, “and if there was, he should be scolded for creating this hell world of pain and suffering”.

Whether or not a creator exists, what we can’t seem to accept: is that the suffering and the struggles are all a necessary part of the majestic choreography of Life.

They give Life the possibility of meaning and push us towards Evolution. By consciously moving towards the Shadow and creatively responding to it, our lives have a purpose once more. We have something to do with our days, a reason for evolving and outgrowing our limited selves.

Life becomes magical when you engage with the Shadow rather than rejecting it because miraculously she’s always providing a next step: a possibility for creating something new and beautiful afresh.

In our culture, we do quite the opposite. We are death-phobic, conflict-phobic and try to consume our way out of suffering as fast we can. It doesn’t work but its consequence is that we end up living in a meaningless universe, for meaning comes from our confrontation with Shadow.

How amazing would it be to have a team of people to support you in consciously moving towards the Shadow, so that you can ongoingly see that underneath the veils, it is Light and that this miracle reveals Life to be a bountiful, wondrous gift?

This is the quest of the Transformative Group.

Simply by working with whatever Shadow is in front of them, through time, its members would come to see the Love that is inherent in all aspects of Life even those that seem like Darkness. Meaning and purpose would flow back into their lives once more.

Through time they would learn that Life is the greatest teacher. That whenever they’re in Shadow, it is a provocation from Life to grow up and more fully embody the wholeness of existence. This leads them to have faith in Life once more. To trust that their very experience and everything that is happening to them is a gift. In childhood, we felt like we were being held by our very experience — that it was nourishing and supporting us. Our trauma disconnected us from this ever-present possibility. By moving towards the Shadow, we can reclaim it and feel held by Life again.

Together, we can say “Yes” to Life and slowly learn through our experience that all of it is Love.

What would it be like to wake up in the morning and know from the bottom of your heart and soul, that this Life is a mysterious gift that just keeps on giving?

Maybe, you would want to give back with everything you’ve got.

Maybe, you would want to create a life and a world in alignment with that truth.

This is the real revolution.

Confronting the Deep Shadow of Collapse

What is the ultimate challenge to that faith in Life?

Probably, the world and times that we live in.

A world where greed has won, where we live in a White Supremacist, Capitalist, Patriarchal Empire. And a time where our human ways of life on Earth appear to be collapsing.

This is an easy excuse to reject Life. To scream at the heavens, blaming Life for giving birth to us in such a tumultuous world and times.

Instead, for a Transformative Group it is the ultimate Shadow that must inevitably be moved towards. We can shine the Light of our consciousness into the dark places of our world and time, that we would rather not see so that they too can manifest as the love that they are.

There’s not a one size fits all way to respond to our times. Different Transformative Groups would come up with their own life-giving responses based on their histories and shared visions and values.

The bottom line is that their response would come out of a confrontation with the Shadows of our world and times rather than an avoidance and rejection of them.

Our greatest gift to the world is to be present to the Shadow: to be present to the suffering and collapse happening all around us.

Life is a Gift Economy

You might think you live in a market economy.

In reality, you can’t escape Life’s economy which is based fundamentally on gift.

In every moment, you are receiving the gift of your experience. Everything you eat contains the work and life of many beings. Everything you are and that you do is a gift to those around you and to Life.

Returning to Life helps you to realise and appreciate more and more of what you have received and are receiving. This is to see the magnitude and depth of the full gift that Life is.

The path of a Transformative Group takes you on a journey back to presence. And, it is when we are truly present that we are able to fully receive the gifts bound up in our experience and see them for the miracles that they are.

Another, often unnoticed gift that we have received, is from our ancestors. These are the generations of humans who came before us that allowed us to be here today. They did their best in some pretty lousy situations and carried forth the flame of humanity into the modern era. Many indigenous communities realise that recognising this ancestral gift can bring more meaning and purpose into our present lives and experiences. We are not here just for us. We are here to continue a whole long line of humanity who have been trying to make the world a better place. Our ancestors have given to us — what can we now give forward to the humans of the future?

Another unnoticed gift is from our cultural and spiritual heritage. We stand on the shoulders of giants. We inherit lineages and traditions that go back for aeons, that have carried forward wisdom about how to live in harmony with Life. In our modern culture with the coming of science, we have rejected the value of many of these traditions. We can reclaim the Life that is trapped within these traditions and wants to flow out into our present culture. Doesn’t that make you want to hold these lineages as sacred and work to protect them, so we can also pass them on to future generations?

Currently, we live a life filled with expectations. We expect to be warm. To be fed. To be looked after. We expect the lights to stay on.

What if these expectations block us from realising the magnificent gifts we are receiving in every moment?

How meaningful could our lives be if we learned to stay present and truly receive the Gift?

Giving Back Your Life Purpose

A gift economy depends on the natural emergence of an impulse to give back when someone realises the depth of what they have received.

A natural response to having seen and acknowledged the enormity of all that Life has given us is to feel immense gratitude, simply that we are alive.

That gratitude creates an immense desire to give back to Life.

How can we pay Life back for what we have received?

For individuals, what better way to give back, than taking up our unique place in the cosmic dance?

This means finding our Life Purpose, Archetypal Lineage or ecological niche that we discussed in Part 2.

It is the gap in creation that Life is waiting for us to step into.

It is the gift deep inside of us that wants to be given back to Life.

It is the place where we have the biggest contribution to make to both humanity and to the more-than-human world.

It ties together all of our life’s experiences, both the highs and the lows, and shows that everything was meaningful because it allowed us to become the person who could give this particular, unique gift.

Living life from this place is deeply meaningful.

Who wouldn’t want to join the party of thousands of people supporting each other to live from this place?

Together, we can make the most of the limited time we have on this Earth.

Collectives Serenading Life

Groups also have their role in giving back to Life.

Collectively, what better way to give back than to come together to create a healthy civilization that honours Life, and makes its very purpose to uphold and revive the sacredness of all things.

It is impossible to generate stable, empowered, non-hierarchical communities within modern culture. Any group that forms gets almost inevitably torn apart by differences, conflicts and the trauma of individuals that groups do not have the wisdom to hold. Modern culture’s assumptions and biases also actively work to prevent stable groups from emerging.

Embodying the Shadow Veils the Light Principle and entering a Transformative Culture, allows members of a group to come into real relationship and communion with one another once more.

Then, we can begin the real task of giving back.

Our time together can be about serenading Life and creating ceremonies that remind us of the sacredness of all things.

In everything we do, we can hold ourselves to this principle that all things matter and that everything is sacred.

Anything from washing dishes to taking out the recycling can become an ecstatic opportunity to celebrate and serve Life and act with an intention to bring more beauty, truth and sacredness into the world.

We can create communities that are themselves gifts back to Life — collectives can be art pieces that serenade the beauty of Life, giving thanks for the majesty of what we have received.

Finding Our Humanity

What about humanity as a whole?

What would it mean for our species to return to Life?

At the moment we have no idea why we are here. Or what humanity really is. Or what our role is in the grand scheme of things.

Since the dawn of the Enlightenment an argument has raged over the nature of the human being. Some like Hobbes have argued that the natural state of the human being is war, where life is ‘brutish and short’. Others like Rousseau, argued that prehistoric ‘noble savages’ lived lives of dignity and love.

In our era of extreme environmental destruction, we have now become incredibly gloomy about our humanity. Many people see humanity as a blemish on the earth. Maybe we were just one of Gaia’s evolutionary mistakes, soon to be wiped out or replaced by the next iteration.

What if instead, we don’t yet know the nature of the human being because we have not yet found our humanity?

Our human purpose here isn’t written on a stone tablet somewhere. It’s inside of us. And can be unearthed if we collectively step into our truth and start living it in the world.

Then we will discover what we are supposed to be doing here.

We will find our humanity.

Maybe our species is just an adolescent, and this cosmic transition is the step needed to find our true nature as adults.

Maybe, just maybe, the creation of humanity wasn’t an accident after all.

We all have a part to play.

Fusing with the Anima Mundi

Many spiritual traditions and ancient philosophers believed that the world is one living Being with a spiritual essence.

Some have called this the ‘Anima-Mundi’ or the ‘World Soul’.

Even greek philosopher Plato understood that “the cosmos is a single living creature which contains all living creatures within it.”

Humanity is a part of this larger Being.

If we can find our humanity, we can take our place as an organ of this Being. We can come to see that our species is part of the golden divinity and interconnectedness of all things. That we receive beauty from all things and have the opportunity to contribute so much to the larger whole.

Our lives on Earth can be filled with meaning and purpose as we sing, dance and play our way through a co-created cosmic story.

And we don’t get there by following some doctrine in the sky but instead by exploring and unravelling the threads of meaning inside and between us.

I’ve tried to flesh out in these three posts a possible future for humanity.

All we can do now is take the next step.

If this series has turned you on: I’m looking for collaborators.

Please get in touch.

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Many of the ideas in this series came out of my co-creative partnership with Jake Lawy, as well as from the work and models of sublimewe originally created by Sarasvathi Cee as well as my own learnings from the work of Possibility Management, The Diamond Approach and The Soulmaking Dharma. To these people and lineages, I am eternally grateful.