On Sunday I was joined by Patricia Albere for “Collective Awakening: What makes it possible? And why is it important?”
Patricia Albere is the founder and director of the Evolutionary Collective in New York and San Francisco, where a committed group works inside a highly focused container that provides a rich environment for this shared consciousness to reveal its potentials. She has consciously structured her vision of a new culture of mutual awakening in very specific teachings and processes, identifying Eight Activating Principles of Evolutionary Relationship and Seven Vectors that define a particular location in consciousness.
I was excited to be able to have a public conversation with Patricia about what makes real mutual awakening possible. Thich Nhat Hanh famously suggested that “the next Buddha will be a sangha” and I agree. I consider the work of growing that new, higher “we-space” to be one of the most important cutting edges in our current cultural experiment.
Although I haven’t previously brought it into this series, Integral We-Space has been a focus of my work for some years. I’ve led and experienced mutual awakening with most of the leaders in the field, and I’ve written several papers about it, including a history of Integral We-Space. It’s an explosive field of innovation. And I think it has the potential to transform human culture.
But truly transformative spiritual work is not easy. Otherwise we’d all already be enlightened. Individual awakening is profound, and so is mutual awakening. We are all suggestible, and we can go into delicious altered states just by deepening into eye contact, so it’s easy to delude ourselves. So I was excited to be able to have a public conversation about what makes real mutual awakening possible. Patricia defines mutual awakening, or inter-subjective awakening, as being awake together inside of reality and going beyond our separate, subjective experiences to a shared experience of enlightenment, of awareness, of life itself. In practice, she says, “I’m letting my consciousness locate itself at the origination point of yours.”
Paradoxically, Patricia says that individual awakening is not a prerequisite for mutual awakening. She noted that in his book, Runaway Realization, AH Almaas suggests that Existence, and awakening, is mysterious and complex, opening up into endless possibilities. Then she put it another way: “If I was Existence, I wouldn’t get stuck in one way of having anything happen,” including awakening as an individual, rather than collectively. Why not both? She says neither she nor Peter were enlightened individually when they began their journey of mutual awakening, and yet they came together in intimacy with each other and the evolutionary impulse, and awoke inside of something new together.
I’ve practiced, and led, several different approaches to mutual awakening, some which involve deepening into intimacy with each other and becoming more connected, such as Circling, which has been called a kind of inter-subjective meditation.
Then there are experiments such as Andrew Cohen’s, where his students awaken as the “evolutionary impulse,” or David Boehm’s original work on dialogue in the sixties and seventies focused on undoing the fragmented modes of consciousness that have led to our world crisis. I asked about the purpose of collective awakening. Is there a purpose? Is it just an experiment? Is it just something we do for fun?
Patricia said that there is value in many approaches to collective awakening. According to her, as long as a group is committed to go into the deepest kind of consciousness that can come through them, then life will bring in whatever is needed in that moment. What comes through is what existence wants to bring through.
Regarding the Evolutionary Collective, she feels that her role is to create the right container and impetus for the participants. She says she is “utterly helpless” to shape the broader results. But she trusts that the way the work will be translated and applied by the teachers, thought leaders, everyone in the group with their various backgrounds and visions, will be helpful to the process of transforming global consciousness and addressing our world crisis.
I asked her about possible pitfalls—after all, like individual states, collective states come in many shapes and sizes. They can be deluded or enlightened. Some are merely self-indulgent consolations of the individuals involved, and some generate a group ego. How can the “We-Space” be activated so we become love in action in a way that extends beyond our experience in the group?
Patricia said that at the beginning, even as an individual mystic, you are often given extraordinary experiences that draw you to the path. Then there are other phases in the journey where you have to transcend your limitations. Perhaps your self-identify “gets erased,” or you can’t feel God. She said this happens with mutual awakening just as it does with individual awakening.
But we still need to push forward, to experiment with mutual awakening, and to become wholly able to surrender to what’s possible. Patricia pointed to the individual mystics and saints and holy people who historically inspired people in the path of personal transformation, and described her vision of a “we-mysticism” of “multiple beloveds” who are willing to continue to be authentic and to purify and keep diving in.
The transition to true sustainability and the transformation of the complex crises we are facing will take a Buddha that is a Sangha. Our current experiments and innovations with mutual awakening may be part of how we find our way to the new kind of consciousness and culture that our crisis calls for.
Even though I’ve devoted my life to this work, I am humbled by the enormity of this aspiration for revolutionary transformation. I felt that acutely during my dialogue with Patricia. I expressed my sense of being sourced by a larger intention, and so did she. We are both inspired by the potentials of a Higher We.
I invite you to access the audio. You’ll get a chance to listen in on a brief, live engagement where Patricia and I move through a spontaneous practice of mutual awakening,