Sharif Abdullah is an extraodinary man who did a lot of courageous work helping the different sides in Sri Lankan come together during a civil war to dialogue and to consensus about what their vision was for their society.
He has been writing a series of articles on Occupy. Here are his thoughts in his latest article on how Occupiers can vision together :
“This week’s offering for the “Occupy Together” phenomenon has a theme: “The 3 D’s: Direction – Devotion – Discipline”.
Today, we’ll focus on Direction. Since I’ve already spent much time talking about the necessity of Vision, I will spend a little time focusing the concept. (Please refer to my earlier “Moments” on vision…
Many people don’t know the difference between a “vision” and a “good idea”. A “vision” comes from the heart, and it comes from beyond the individuated self. Let me give you a story on what that means…
I once led a group in a weekend workshop. I had asked the 60 people to bring an item for a group altar. At the end of the workshop, the question was: what to do with the items?
All of them started giving their opinions and ideas. Give everything back. Make a medicine bundle and bury it. Make a medicine bundle and burn it. Make a medicine bundle and keep it. Give it to me. Throw it all in a dumpster…
I suggested that we all sit for 10 minutes in silence. During that time, they were to push aside their own ideas and thoughts, and listen for another Voice, the Voice of Spirit to guide them. It was not about having an idea, but about accessing Spirit.
After 10 minutes, I brought them back. One person said, “I just had the intuition to give the bundle to Mr. and Mrs. Smith, the elders in our group.” Surprise lit up on virtually everyone’s face: all of them had the same idea!
Except Mr. Smith, who was slowly shaking his head. “I didn’t get that. What I got was that we should give it to HER (indicating his wife).”
There was silence in the room. Mrs. Smith said slowly, “That’s interesting. What I got was that you all should give the bundle to ME. I wasn’t going to say anything, because that sounded egotistical to me.”
Sixty people, complete unanimity of thought, ten minutes (okay, we were together for the whole weekend…) I think arriving at consensus is that easy… once we know how to set aside our own thoughts, fears, wants, needs… and focus ourselves on the Spirit/Source.
I have direct experience in leading people through very differing political and cultural landscapes to arrive at powerful consensus… (Anglos/Latinos; rich/poor; urban/rural; legal/undocumented; powerful/powerless…) The trick is to get people “out of their heads”. It all revolves around the questions that you ask, and your willingness to allow Spirit to emerge within the group… ” – Sharif Abdullah