At Unity, we are all participants in the conscious evolution of self, each other, the Unity system, and the larger universe.
This process of participating in conscious evolution means that we are to become increasingly aware of ourselves, and aware of what is changing and transforming within and around us. It also means that we are aware that what is emerging will look and feel different. We are entering into the creative space of a new emergence. Emergence is messy, can be unpredictable, and generally always contains healthy tensions that must be navigated skillfully.
At the 2011 and 2012 conventions, polarities as a topic received significant attention. Unity is invited to embrace polarities—the interdependent value pairs that seem to be in opposition but actually are needed simultaneously for a healthy and self-sustaining system (see Cindy Wigglesworth’s article in from Fall 2012). In the 2012 keynote, Cindy and I asked a challenging question: How can Unity tap the wisdom of polarity management and our knowledge of stages of development (e.g., Spiral Dynamics) to allow us to evolve to the next level of maturity as a system?
It is useful to remember three critical markers of human maturity:
1. Maturity means being able to embrace tensions, polarities and paradoxes.
2. Maturity means getting closer to “reality,” and moving in the direction of what
3. Maturity means continuously providing feedback to self, other and system to enable ongoing unfolding and growth.
Conventional stages (Spiral Dynamics Blue to Orange) see differences in perspectives or conflicts as problematic, as something to be overcome. There is a tendency to hide, avoid, ignore, repress, externalize, argue about, create camps, criticize, act out unconscious material, or engage in “games” about the different viewpoints.
This approach changes with greater maturity. Post-conventional stages (Green+) see differences in perspectives and conflicts as invitations to explore themselves and their beliefs/stories, question assumptions, and engage with what appears difficult. Take a moment to pause and reflect: How do you tend to deal with what is difficult today in the Unity world from your perspective? When confronted with a different viewpoint, are you able to see the wisdom in a point of view that is different from yours? Can you explore the value that the other person sees, and are you able to create a larger picture within which both yours and the other’s perspective can find a way to be integrated?
Even further, can you practice harboring a healthy sense of self-skepticism? Can you question and doubt your own certainties, in the service of greater and higher truths? Can you see how your own favored pole might become excessive?
At this time in the unfolding of Unity, we experience numerous tensions. How do we as a system pay attention to spiritual outcomes in our work, while at the same time taking care of our material needs? Do we know how to harness the power of both accountability and forgiveness as we navigate the murky and tricky waters of interpersonal frictions? Can we focus on caring for individuals while also giving attention to caring for the systems and structures of our ministries and our movement?
Getting closer to reality means realizing that the ideas we have about ourselves, each other and the world are just that—ideas and stories we create to orient ourselves. When our stories no longer make sense or we are disappointed with how things actually are, we enter moments of truth and we have an opportunity to really see what “is,” rather than what we imagined before, in our naïve constructions. It is powerful feedback that our projections and predictions are not borne out in actuality as we might have intuited or invented. How do we go about paying attention to and integrating this feedback that we are constantly receiving from within and without? Inviting feedback for self-actualization is one of the most courageous things we can do in service of our own Christ consciousness. Often instead of seeking feedback, we seek confirmation of our views, of who we are. We rally others to support our point of view, and also build up anger when we experience differing views.
The question we can all ask of ourselves is this: How am I midwifing the next step in my emergence? How are we midwifing the next step in Unity’s evolution? Even while we resist the messiness and tensions that consume and concern us, we would be well served to remember that birth is a painful process, that the labors of love are fraught with contractions. And remember that there is a “north pole” on the polarity map, a higher purpose for Unity. That “baby,” that future trying to be born, is only served when we find the “both/and” places. Our future needs us, as midwives of our next evolutionary unfolding, to be mature enough to handle the mess and noise. Most of all we need to tap that calm, compassionate, wise essence of our highest nature.