No may be a not nice word to begin an article with, yet here it is essential.
No. I do not mean those tribe(s) of folks they put on those reality TV islands and such. Not elimination tribe’s that end with one winner. I am speaking of the Yes of tribe; human beings intentionally pooling their spiritual visions, their imaginations, their ability to sustain an intentional community, for the future may well demand this for human survival. That NO however, does show a hint of how even strangers once cognizant of common interest, can come to feel they have made lifelong friends. The time together having a seminal impact upon their lives.
Communal lifestyles were once mainly the norm for humankind. As we expanded from tribe to village and eventually city, community became more abstract and implied, not necessarily known. Seems we became more cultural style and event oriented, where we shared customs and many ideas, but need not know what one another was actually doing. Family became the last stronghold of intimate life interest. Now even that has changed, with, for many, with they or family members moving away. Then it is how close to friends and associates we are, and most often a life partner.
This greater social space allows for many forms of human freedom that do not require someone always assessing ones actions. Indeed, the “cover” of avoiding so much connection, allows bypassing accountability for ones actions in many respects, especially emotionally. I am referring to the surface of things, for I do not believe one “gets away with” lies and deception, conscious or not. Since all action involves the world, hiding from responsibilities or other awareness of ones actions by society, has certain perceived in the moment private benefits. Yet you may notice at home or at work, we actually are much concerned with how we each behave and feel.
These private pluses can be negatives as far as the rest of society and the environments are concerned–The Commons. Notice how people who pollute, lets say, deny they are doing anything “wrong”. They, or humans, seem to resent negatives being attached to ourselves, even if true or possibly true. We tend to lash out, and can go on to actually blame and seek to restrict the polluting information itself, or otherwise undermine the consequence implied by it with doubt. It appears we have now created a culture with much hiding, and blocks to full truth seeking. This may spell eventual disaster for our species.
TRUTH AND ACCOUNTABILITY
Human beings require a basic spiritual sense of accountability to live together. There are advantages in not having close community, mainly pretending to exist on ones own with little requirement for others to possibly question ones decisions. This is why I say a spiritual requirement exist; others deserve some response for your interest in the world, as well as you for theirs, since our lives can all depend on what we are each doing. Everyone’s life on earth is inextricably connected by our actions, as well as many other factors.
Pretending we can all ignore each other and everything works out, is absurd, as pollution, opportunism/exploitation and crime indicate. Yet in politics, for instance, trying to discover the truth of how our interest clash, is filled with kinds of deception, denial, and other rationalizations, with never a consensus reality to be found nor sought.
Communes have tried may differing approaches to mixing government and individual freedom. Most usually fail for reasons that should be obvious, but usually are not, due to an idea that may disguise many problematic necessities for human consciousness. We need some fundamental independence to engage our spirit to its full potential.
Until, or even if no privacy is ever possible or desirable, human beings would require an extraordinary sense of common purpose and a sense of personal space unconcerned with revealing most salient details to others. Many original tribes knew they all depended on one another, so were in someway accountable. I feel presently, such a submission to others is not sustainable and poses too great a threat for a “charismatic” or other manipulative type to use personal influence to maneuver the ideas of others.
I have seen this happen myself, and can see it in many religious and political traditions that apply the Thought-terminating cliché or other devices to undermine the validity of critical thought. Often group bonded buzzwords stand in as quick one word critical thought bypasses. These ideological prison bars also extend to identity “branded” phrases and concepts that create the us that knows, from the them that are essentially clueless or “used”.
Many cults and communal ideologies such as communism, end up being for those on top to do as they please, for the others own good (allegedly), and all sanctioned by some hierarchical mindset, that, as usual, ends up being perverted into cults of personality and status quo dominator permanence. At this point the groups identity becomes as satellites around a central sun. The light and mission then come from this “enlightened” one. Many of these associations have some truth existing in their belief matrix that gets interpreted as validating the whole ideology. Credit?– back to the identity sun, even if that credit rightfully belongs to Life Itself. They just happen to be in the right place at the right time and following the right Perfect Master.
I was once in a spiritual intentional community in the 1980’s, one of the most successful ones. It still exist I believe, on 5 continents, and I had heard it has changed to a more consensus government. However, reading some of its materials a couple years ago, still has me question its spiritual hierarchy and purpose. I learned what not to do there from my experience of what worked for one in such a community, as well as what drives many eventually further away from it. I also was involved with a network to expose cults and help those damaged by them.
NOW FOR THE OBVIOUS BENEFITS OF SEMI COMMUNAL LIVING
With the sketchy problematic overview in front of you here, you may wonder why I even bring intentional communities up. My most attractive feature from my experience, was getting to know others spiritual natures, struggles and revelations on a regular basis. The sense of interpersonal connection and love for the presence of one another, can become even more prominent than ones own family. Being that in ones family, or in many families, issues could not be faced head on or disagreements addressed so rapidly as in living semi communally. I say semi-communally, since I feel there needs to be some sense of independence and self spent time on ones own personal desires. We must be the one who owns determining where and what we do in our lives.
REQUIREMENTS OF EXTENDED FAMILY INTENTIONAL COMMUNITY
That said; a successful Intentional Community would seem to need a common spiritual mission. I do not know if conserving resources and “saving the planet” are the spirituality that fulfills the individual completely. I found it wonderful, to hear the expressions of others on their impressions of spiritual truth, along with the art and other offerings these expressions can engender.
Many places are now finding semi-intentional communities established in their area. In Tucson Arizona, several years back in the late 1990’s, co-housing intentional neighborhoods were being created. These, well at least one I know of, were being made from straw bail construction, parking on the periphery with common areas in the center.
It seemed loosely organized over being more earth conscious and efficient, plus family friendly. The other communal part I heard of on the TV news interview, was a common dinner space. One person interviewed claimed that now he was going to have good food for dinner. Each unit also had its own kitchen and was essentially detached from the others.
Generally, I would say that if that good dinner was all he expected from community–diners he thought would be cooked for him, he or the community may not last as is. They also had to consider things such as community approval of who might buy ones home if you ever moved on. A community’s interest cannot just “let” one rent out their home to anyone not part of a community “mission”. Some form of “community good” contract needs to be in place in intentional living situations.
A common purpose is an absolute essential ingredient. Ultimately, something must act as an overriding center, in order for we individualized creatures to press our escapist desires into accountability. A community needs to serve this Central Idea by being effectively dedicated to it. This Central Idea, be it God, Love, Creativity, Discovering the Universe, Living Truthfully, whatever IT is, It seems to me the community has to make that Idea known and obvious. Many preexisting rituals and sacraments are suitable to be considered for this need.
Individualist ones, such as many a Western Civilized human, likely have many negative associations with having others closely connected on an ongoing basis. It can seem to be an extraordinary chore compared to what we have known. For me, on weekly gatherings, when we each express what is on our consciousness to be attended to, suddenly what we each has to say takes on dramatic importance. I went from my protected personal freedom to withdraw, to one pressing my own insecurities to serve the Central Idea.
Many who discover a Central Idea, such as the Bible or other spiritual documents or Paths, come to face this loose self wandering through freedom, and their disciplined self that surrenders to a Higher Cause, dedicating ones life to serving IT. With others doing the same, we quickly can find ourselves on “the same page” regarding our interest in the world and how our spirituality fits in. This seeming surrender also seems to set one free in a hard to define way. A comfort in sharing purpose.
This point of surrender is also, I believe, a highly vulnerable one, where what one surrenders to is not quite known. The others who say they know It, may seem as we would ourselves like to be, but even that can prove deceptive. A real Intentional Community needs a way to question its own motives, and not just assign all actions to a Higher Cause. Critical thinking must be encouraged for a community to remain viable. If it surrenders that, it will find it has surrendered to a darkness it fears to define, and so, tries to bury alive at its future peril.
SERVING THE CENTRAL IDEA MAY IMPLY MANY DETAILS IF CREATION IS CONSIDERED ONES HOME
Things, such as outreach to save our planet, make a home base that reflects the ideals, engaging the dreams and visions of each one on this Mission, etc, seem self evident. Ways of handling controversies that emerge, and other problems which might imply the acceptance of certain amounts of community contract to uphold values of the Mission to address these issues. Things are not just left to dangle ignorantly in the wind and rain. And I would add; Love. A requirement to respect and express the connection and value we each uniquely embody as an agent of Life.
AND OTHER GOOD STUFF
Community living can offer many benefits from investing in quality of life improving items that can be shared, instead of the individualistic one of everything for everybody, that promotes consumerism as cancer, now threatening to end life on earth. A few good cars, as an example, might be enough for 12 people to manage, instead of all of them needing one and promoting a culture of waste and cognitive dissonance toward the Commons of Life. There will be an “organic” number recognized once individuals find the ease in which some aspects of life can be coordinated.
Some changes I suggest here, I believe are for the advancement of humankind, while holding the potential to continue to advance the arts and sciences through individual initiative and innovation. There remains a place for invention and the progress of technology. Only, in this context, and its ability to network and grow through understanding; how the whole is to be effected. There is a potential to remake human relationships and responsibilities to honor our common place in life. This is a way to not ignore human being and human impacts, while not offering the stone age as the only alternative that works in the long term.
OK. That is a start in a consideration that anyone could begin where they are. We do not “have” to be individuals all striving for a “good life” that has the invisible noose of an extinction event being tied around our necks as we “succeed” , and or, “win” at competition. A whole new world of advanced consciousness towards Love, rises from the horizon.