Inside the circle, as opposed to a line quality which is about competition, everyone is always sitting face to face. That’s the circles natural condition. Where everyone has got a place. Geometrically speaking, every point on the circle is equidistant from the center. It’s the complete opposite of a line.
Why is it important that everyone has a place in the circle, where someone or something is included into a group or structure? The circle includes and welcomes all our diversity… gender, blacks, whites, jews, gays, and keeps on welcoming. One of the big movements in the evolution of human consciousness in the last several decades was to include so much that was excluded. Where all the people that were wrongly excluded get included. (Sit with that one for a minute).
Inclusion also means everyone has a representative “seat” around the table. Everyone! It means all systems of thought and belief, all great religions, all schools of psychology. Where NO ONE is smart enough to be entirely wrong. Where individuals who sit inside the circle and bring their truth to the table realize their truth is only a part of the whole. Your perspective is true, but only partially true according to the circle. It’s in that understanding where everyone gets a place around the table, and understanding that you can’t make your truth, which is only a part of a whole, the truth of the circle.
And there’s this concept inside group processes where I get to speak for as long as I want. As I sit around the circle, that goes intermittently, where everyone goes on forever and ever and ever, and no decision ever gets made. Anyone who’s ever been in that kind of context knows that kind of circle can be paralyzing because there’s no discernment when everyone gets to talk for as long as they want. There’s no sense of expertise. There’s no distinction. No decisions get made. This is the shadow of inclusion. The inability to make decisions or having a lack of discernment. Where everything gets dumped in the circle, and we lose the ability to evaluate, and sometimes forgetting that discernment’s are actually necessary.
What about art or music or writing? It’s a creative outlet we all have. Is all of it great like Beethoven and Picasso and Thoreau just because we welcome everyone and their own unique artistic expression into the etsy/facebook/flickr/blogspot circle? Not all music is the same, and not all literature is the same. Not all art is the same. When we lose discernment in music and art and literature, we lose something essential, the arousing creative desire that drives human beings.
Now that I have some of the externalities out of the way, I want to take a look deeper on the inside. The parts of myself that I excluded from myself over time. Where I have narrowed my own identity. I began this life as a full range, large scale, 360-degree whole person. And then, someone came into my life and they didn’t like some part of me, so I shut that part of myself down. And then someone else came and they got a little disappointment for some other part of myself, so I shut that part of myself down. And then a couple of years later, I had another teacher, or another bunch of girls and boys in school who didn’t like something, and I shut yet another part of myself down. And pretty soon, I’m 45 years old, waking up to living inside only the few parts left of myself because I have excluded so many parts over time.
It’s then I realized that I started my life’s journey as a whole person and then begin to question how I allowed myself to fearfully narrow my own identity so much by excluding certain parts. I start re-including parts that I had dismissed over time. The embodied pleasures of the previously dismissed body begin to get re-included as part of my human existence. The dismissed pain of old broken hearts and the protection mechanisms I built to keep myself from hurt, begin to soften, as I continue to re-incorporate parts of my lost self. I keep developing a new relationship with my negative self thoughts and realize the inherent goodness in my hearts desires and my entire being. The parts of myself I dismissed outside the circle begin to get re-included. That is the start of re-inclusion as it begins to do it’s shadow work, where we must take a look at what we placed outside the circle.
And at some point, as we continue to do our personal and group shadow work and we include all that has been excluded from our lives, we realize we can be individually (and as a group) whole again with only the most life affirming positive intentions, actions and thoughts towards self and others.
(This teaching on lines, circles, unique self and hieros gamos is sourced from Marc Gafni’s presentation at Shalom Mountain Wisdom School. Spring 2014)