Creating Evolutionary Culture

Group Inquiry Practices for Collective Enlightenment

Collective Enlightenment is one of the great spiritual frontiers of our time. As the ancient archetype of the solitary spiritual quest grows increasingly out of step with a crowded and conflicted modern world, more and more of us are feeling called toward a new, higher form of collective transformative engagement. group

The practices outlined below are gleaned from some of the leading-edge experiments in collective spirituality. When applied with sincerity and discipline, they can propel groups into profound experiences of higher states of consciousness far exceeding the individual spiritual attainments of the participants. As such, they not only hold tremendous potential for catalyzing individual transformation; they reveal to us all a new possibility for human relationship beyond ego.

Essential Reading: Principles of Evolutionary Culture

This list of “principles of engagement” is a must read for any group interested in conscious co-evolution. We recommend printing out a copy for everyone in the group and reading it aloud before each meeting.

Group Inquiry Practice #1: Meditative Dialogue

This form of collective, active meditation allows us to experience what it’s like to speak together from a place beyond the mind and ego, from the ground of being itself. To begin, read the Principles of Evolutionary Culture aloud. Then, engage in one of the Integral Enlightenment Meditation Practices for 15 minutes. Then, without stopping the meditation, ask everyone to gently open their eyes, while continuing to engage in the meditation practice. Moving very slowly, and without disturbing the meditative field, invite group members to begin to describe the qualities of their current experience of meditation. Use prompts like:

  • Describe the experience of consciousness itself
  • What is the deepest part of your current experience?
  • What do you feel in the room?
  • What does the energy feel like between everyone?
  • What is the deepest truth you are aware of?
  • What is meditation?

Throughout this process, allow plenty of time for silence. There may be long periods of deep silence, and this is a natural part of the process. Just gently draw out the group by inviting them to share from this deeper, wider experience of who they are, of consciousness itself. At some point, you may notice a tangible shift in consciousness, a sudden deepening in your experience. Chances are, this is a collective experience. One of the most powerful things you can do is to simply observe this experiential shift aloud, saying: “I just felt the meditation went deeper, the energy shifted when Rebecca spoke. Did anyone else feel that?” By naming the collective experience, you facilitate the deepening of the collective’s awareness of the unified nature of consciousness, which then carries everyone deeper into the collective field itself.

These sessions are best kept to about an hour in length. When it feels as though the group has reached a plateau, just invite everyone to enter back into silence and meditate together for another 5-10 minutes or longer if it feels appropriate.

Once the meditation is complete, take another 5-15 minutes to explore the following questions together.

  • How was this different from other experiences of being in groups
  • What did you notice about yourself?
  • How did you experience other people differently?
  • What did you see about consciousness itself?
  • What did you learn about Life?

Group Inquiry Practice #2: Awakening Through Conversation

This exercise in collective transformative inquiry allows us to leverage the power of group intention to catalyze powerful openings to higher states of collective consciousness and insight. To engage in this practice, first print out one of the Transformative Inquiry Practices from the Transformative Inquiry Practice section of this site. This will be the leaping off point for your discussion. Then, print out the Awakening Through Conversation Context and Guidelines. This resource contains a context-setting article and guidelines to read aloud at the beginning of each meeting. These meetings tend to require more time than the one-hour Meditative Dialogue Practice groups. Generally allow 1 ½ hours, and be willing to extend it a bit if needed to bring the meeting to completion.

Begin the meeting with a few minutes of silence, just inviting everyone to leave behind the cares of the day and bring their attention to the group and to their intention for the time you’ll be spending together. Then, read the Awakening Through Conversation Context and Guidelines aloud. Ask if there are any questions about the context and guidelines and, if there are, do your best to answer them.

Now, read the chosen Transformative Inquiry Practice aloud two times through. Invite the group to begin to engage the material, keeping the guidelines present in their mind. Encourage everyone to attempt to penetrate to the deeper meaning of the passage you read aloud. The goal here is to have a non-personal dialogue that reveals a deep truth about the human condition and the nature of enlightenment. This is not an intellectual exercise. Everyone should aim to speak from a deep and authentic place in themselves, and to speak in a way that draws the entire group deeper into contemplation.

Encourage the group to self-regulate. If someone veers off into mere intellectual commentary, they should be invited to offer a more authentic contribution. If someone slips into mere personal sharing, they should be encouraged to leave their personal story behind and instead speak about the deeper truth they are seeing about Life. If someone takes the group on a tangent, they should be invited to bring their contribution back to the topic being discussed.

Through a disciplined and wholehearted attempt to follow the guidelines and engage the material, it is possible for a relatively inexperienced group to break through into extraordinary experiences of collective awakening.

Group Inquiry Practice #3: Deepening Our Individual Practice Through Collective Exploration

These meetings are for a group whose individual members want to engage the Integral Enlightenment Practices in their own lives throughout the week, and then come together with a group to explore their experience and seek support and inspiration from the collective. To pursue this collective practice, have the group members commit to engage one practice from each category for each week; then come together to discuss the insights and learnings from one or two of those practices. Invite the group to approach this practice as a team of evolutionary pioneers, exploring the inner landscape of the human experience. Each member should bring their own “data” to the meeting to compare notes with other members.

At the beginning of the meeting, read the Principles of Evolutionary Culture aloud. Then, sit together for a few minutes of silence, inviting everyone to leave behind the cares of the day and bring their attention to the group and to their intention for the time you’ll be spending together.

Begin the meeting by deciding together which one or two practices you want to explore. (You will have engaged four different practices that week, so you’ll need to decide which ones to discuss). In general, the Transformative Inquiry and Engaged Inquiry practices will probably make for the liveliest and richest discussions). Once you’ve decided which practice to start with, invite participants to share openly about their experience of engaging that practice throughout the course of the week. Guide the conversation, as necessary, by asking the following questions:

  • What new insights did you have as a result of engaging this practice?
  • What experiences did the practice catalyze?
  • What did you learn about yourself?
  • What did you learn about life?
  • What did you learn about enlightenment?
  • What did you see about conscious evolution?
  • What challenges did you confront in doing this practice?
  • How did you deal with those challenges?
  • What else do you want to share about your experience of this practice?

It is not necessary for everyone (or anyone) to answer every question. The goal here is to simply catalyze an authentic, meaningful conversation that enriches the practice of all the participants.

Once the group feels complete with the discussion of the first chosen practice, move on to the next one if there is time. In general, these meetings are best kept to 1 ½ hours, but if there is sufficient enthusiasm, 2 hours is also a reasonable length. Beyond that, be wary of the invisible fatigue that can set in. It’s good to always end on a high note.

Before breaking up, be sure and choose your practices for the following week. If everyone feels compelled to go deeper, you may at times decide to continue with the same set of practices for another week to apply the new insights and perspectives that opened up during the discussion.

Resources

Principles of Evolutionary Culture
This list of “principles of engagement” is a must read for any group interested in conscious co-evolution. We recommend printing out a copy for everyone in the group and reading it aloud before each meeting.

Awakening Through Conversation Context and Guidelines
This resource contains a context-setting article and guidelines to read aloud at the beginning of each Awakening Through Conversation meeting

Matt MintunGroup Inquiry Practices