While this piece is written by that strange entity known as Gary Bean, The Blogworthy Report is contributed to by four people total. The usual bullet points will resume soon. Today, a report on our recent two gatherings and the expanded team.
This is the first of two posts.
As you may have read in our last BW entry, the L/L home team expanded to include those positive presences known as Daniel, Joanna, and Tiffani. The third in that group we’ve had close relationship with for over 20 years. Daniel and Joanna we had never met in person. All were scheduled to converge in space/time for our two back-to-back events: Coming Home Sep 8–11 and Homecoming Sep 16–18. We were very eager for this pow-wow.
How did two events come to be on consecutive weekends? With a September Coming Home in Asheville, we were originally aiming for an October Homecoming, but upon seeing Jim’s mild sadness that an Oct date would risk the first frost, we reconsidered. He works all year in his gardens with the expectation of showcasing his flowers and plantings at Homecoming. So, Trisha proposed holding the event the weekend following Coming Home. I gasped—that is huge. That is something we’ve never done before. We might die. Austin said… Let’s be legends. And when we realized… Wait-a-minute… that might make it possible for all of Team L/L Research to be in attendance for both events, we knew that destiny was calling to us. And so we ran with our madness.
Following a full day of travel from South Africa, Daniel landed at Muhammad Ali International Airport (Louisville’s airport was recently rechristened a few years ago in honor of its most famous citizen) on Tuesday. On Wednesday, Joanna made the journey from the other coast of this country. And on Thursday we set off together to meet Tiffani in Asheville. In her role as Event Manager, Tiff had landed at the retreat center outside of Asheville on Wednesday to begin prepping for the Thursday event.
[Sidenote: I realized recently that Muhammad Ali and Carla had very similar lifespans: Carla: 1943–2015 | Ali: 1942–2016. Moreover, both were from Louisville. Both two of the Greatest of All Time. Both service-to-others oriented beings, just one with a better right hook.]
We’ve had lots of correspondence and video meetings and shared work over the months/years, all to great harmony, but one can never know for sure what it will be like to meet an other-self in person, especially for an extended duration. It was really, really good. Our individual notes harmonized so well that, while we weren’t singing along to Weezer’s blue album (a favorite of mine in the 90s) on the 6hr drive to Asheville, we were making melody. I’ll offer some of my characteristically positive portraits later on.
It would be great to detail all the fun, stressful, and banal logistical and interpersonal aspects that go into the pre-production of hosting an event, but I’ll just focus on a unique role Tiffani played this time. Coming Home was being held at a retreat center where nearly all attendees would be lodging during the course of the event. It was our first time using this center, and the first time we had to manage all the lodging: motel-style rooms, tent and RV sites. So, in addition to usual event production, she was something of a retreat manager for a weekend.
Tiffani arrived early to ensure that everything was set up as it should be, get the handouts together that we mailed, and coordinate with the staff on site. We arrived Thursday afternoon, a gorgeous mid-70s sunny day, to find that everything was in good order and that Tiff was at the front door greeting early arrivals. We all hugged, introduced, and smiled big. Then, with enthusiasm, we met with our Carebear cousins, Jess, BJ, and Aaron —our friends of TOTOH (Temple of the Open Heart) with whom we collaborate on this event. It was from them that we learned Open Space Technology, and it was in partnership with them that we launched the Coming Home series in 2018. Among their services to this event, we were very grateful that Jess had led the way in coordinating various drivers for the airport arrivals and departures.
We got settled into our rooms, and then my brain went to preparing for the sequence of evening events to kick-off the 3.5 day gathering, starting with the cold open.
Moment One: It’s always the most nerve-wracking moment for me. People from all over the country, and sometimes world, are gathered in the circle for the first time. Many don’t know what to expect. Many are nervous or anxious. Some or many have never attended a Law of One-oriented event. Some are even quite new to the material.
Their energies are individual. They are not yet blended. It is silent—an expectant silence. And you become their first voice and point of orientation. This role does not harmonize with that confidence-challenged part of yourself that wants to hide and not be looked it, that doubts your ability to be of much service, that is sure you are a buffoon. But you push yourself off the cliff, you don’t falter, and you share what you came to share; which, in short, welcomes everyone to a safe, inclusive, and inviting atmosphere; emphasizes the beauty and the possibilities of healing and transformation when together in a container of shared seeking; and deemphasizes any specialness on the part of the event facilitators or our corresponding organizations; and calls oneself a monkey, which I did.
AVL Welcome: From there, Aaron welcomed the circle and introduced TOTOH on behalf of their team. Our friends in Asheville are beautiful human beings who are always on the beam, not of perfection but of doing work in consciousness, particularly the hardest work of them all: how to harmonize with one another. We’ve learned a lot from them over the years in cross-cultural conversation.
Logistics: Tiffani gave a weekend logistics report and opened for questions. It was her debut, and she knocked it out of the park.
Open Space Introduction: Austin introduced Open Space Technology, further priming the group for the design of the weekend.
Meditation: And then Trish held a silent meditation with an inspirational closing prayer she made before dinner in the dining hall.
Round Robin: Upon returning at about 7pm, we conducted one of my favorite activities: the Round Robin. Going around the circle clockwise, each introduces themselves. The ice breaks and the blending of energies deepens when people have the chance to speak their voice into the circle.
Banishing Ritual: Following the Round Robin, our friend Zachary Adama stood in the center of the circle, the sun already set, and conducted his variation on the Banishing Ritual. Unlike L/L’s practice, which uses a very intense and sharp enunciation of each word and gesture, Zachary chants (what to my ears are) variations on the words while gracefully flowing through the ritual.
ARG: And then, BJ and Jess, with some help from our mutual friend Red (formerly Jana), conducted the Authentic Relating Games. The first time I heard that term some years back, my culture-soaked brain thought: now that’s cheesy. But upon seeing the games in action, I was immediately converted. There are lots of variations, with the principal goal being to encourage releasing our barriers in order to facilitate authentic (aka: true, real, non-pretentious) connection. In my experience, these exercises help me personally break out of my own shell, somewhat.
Concluding around 9pm, the games were a hit. So far as I could perceive, everyone seemed loosened up, more open, and ready for the weekend to come.
Our host venue was a Christian retreat center that Jess, BJ, and Aaron scouted. At first, we weren’t sure if they would have a dogma-sourced aversion to our group. But they hold an attitude of inclusivity and open-heartedness. We felt embraced. And the grounds echoed the human energy. It was beautiful. Green abounded around us, interspersed with a mixture of facilities, stone buildings, open spaces, gardens, and adjacent small mountains.
Now, everything wasn’t perfect. Our main meeting space was a balcony with three open sides. Aesthetically, it was really pleasing. Acoustically, not so much. Our first evening featured roofers pounding away on a building nearby, along with some nearby lawn equipment, and some cars moving in and out of the parking lot just below the balcony. It was a panoply of aural accompaniment. And the food was pretty conventional and underwhelming, even under-serving some of our vegan friends. But it seemed to mitigate little against the purpose and positivity of the weekend. We’ve made a detailed analysis when considering a venue for next year.
As communicated in the Prague Law of One Gathering write-up:
We utilized the Open Space format that has proven so successful in the past. In this format, each attendee has an opportunity to pitch their presentation to the circle during the morning Marketplace portions. With feedback from the group, they then determine in which venue and time slot to situate the presentation. Offerings can run the spectrum of brain hemispheric activity—from the left-brained intellectual lectures and discussions to the right-brained artistic and emotional explorations—to body exercises, group activities, and everything in between.
Except that this was double the attendance of the Prague event and included an extra day. It was a buffet of spiritually productive offerings. I wish I could have attended many more.
BJ and Aaron DJ’d the first Marketplace on Friday morning, sharing both the spirit and the technical workings of OST. The large grid of columns (time slots) and rows (breakout spaces) began to fill rapidly as people stood in a line to pitch their offerings to the gathered group.
As I wrote about for the Prague gathering, no two attendees have the same experience. Each time slot presents at least two, sometimes three or four, options. You can see the full lineup here, with tabs on the bottom for each of the three days, or tabs on top if on mobile. (Thank you to Trish for typing and organizing them.)
Here’s a quick synopsis of those I can remember attending, just a sampling of the many offerings available:
- Presence Play – Improv Workshop – Stephanie has innovated techniques through her work using improv with troubled teens as a means to help them express and heal in university-sponsored group settings; and she’s done stand-up at Second City. She led the first improv experience I’ve ever attended that was equal parts uncomfortable (because of my personality), fun, and insightful, and that blended in humor really well. And it got off to a good start when, during her intro talk, I leaned back on my chair and it folded underneath me, causing me to fall on my ass in front of the gathered circle. Red-faced, I offered my fall as tribute to the improv session.
- Harmony Council – Jess and Red shared their work pioneering the women-powered Harmony Council, which is best described in their own words from the Marketplace grid: “The Harmony Council is a template for a process we’ve developed in community over the last 3 years or so to resolve conflict at nearly every level, from person to interpersonal to community. It is a way to harness the transformational power possible when we’re willing to be surrounded by, and surrendered to, a circle of sacred witness and the open-hearted mirrors of our other selves.”
- Seeker Seeks the One – This was my offering. We discussed the mystical seeking of unity, springboarding from quotes that I had collected and passed out to everyone.
- Meet the Monks – First, some backstory: One attendee, Helga, was a riot just by being herself. Hailing from Appalachia, as she described it, she had an unmistakable presence, projecting her voice with candor and salt-of-the-earth humor. Helga reached out to members of the conference of black-robed Anglican priests which was happening at the retreat center simultaneously to us. She asked if they might want to speak to our group! lol. Surprisingly, they said they would.
Also… she took the print-out of Ra quotes (that I had distributed in the session mentioned above) and gave it to the priests at lunch. After she told me of this interfaith exchange, I looked over to the other side of the dining hall to see the 8.5×11 stapled printout being read with studiousness by a priest robed in black, then passed to the next, and the next, each holding a poker face that didn’t reveal what was going through their minds. I can only imagine! Given that the quotes I selected were centered on the mystical seeking of the Creator, I would like to think that there were spiritual essentials that might resonate with their dogma-bound but God-loving hearts.
Well, two of those priests came to speak to our group. They shared some of their biography and their religious path. Honestly, it was great. For me, not so much because they and we learned something about our mutually odd beliefs, but because we shared ourselves across different worldviews. They didn’t proselytize or seek to gain converts. They were actually quite brave in showing up in such an open spirit when they could have rejected the offer or sought to utilize the opportunity to serve their specific religious mission in some way.
- Negative Greeting – Red led a group discussion on the ins and outs of navigating, identifying, and responding to negative greeting that did a great job exploring it through theory and personal example.
- Essential Principles of Soul Evolution – Shahla, someone with whom we had corresponded but not yet met in person, and who was a delight to meet in person, led a discussion on spiritual evolution grounded in quotes collected from the Law of One.
- Start a Study Group – Aaron led a talk about his years of facilitating and co-facilitatating the Asheville Law of One study group, along with discussing the principles of coming together for shared study. It was interesting: four of the facilitators for three Law of One study groups were present at Coming Home: Aaron and BJ for Asheville, Luis for Austin, and Rhonda for Birmingham, among other members of the various groups. The same happened with different people at Homecoming the next weekend. They were all cross-pollinating the flower-strewn Law of One field. 🌻
- Sexual Energy Q&A – Suzanna, a longtime friend and board member, offered a second talk opened to everyone (the first was a women’s circle) to explore sacred sexual energy transfer. It was illuminating in revealing greater possibilities.
- Spoon-Bending – In the over 19 years since I moved to Louisville, it is surprising that no bizarreness like this has come up on a group level. Daniel, L/L’s web developer, facilitated a group activity on what’s called “quantum spoon-bending.” It’s not spoon-bending using telekinesis alone. Instead, there is some visualization performed on the spoon, along with a request made, followed by a sensitivity to receive a response from the spoon, as it were. When it cues you, then it’s ready to bend with ease using minimal mechanical action from your hands.
Much to my astonishment, most everyone fulfilled the exercise as I watched them bend spoons with little applied effort. I didn’t, despite sincere intentions. The spoon I was working on felt like steel. I could bend it with applied force, but it would require two hands and some juice. Eventually I surrendered and passed the spoon to Trish. She did the exercise for a second time (having already mauled her first spoon) and, sure enough, when the time was right she bent that spoon like it was a paperclip. Amazing.
Inspirited with newfound confidence in the group’s spoon-bending prowess, we took an unplanned step further and attempted a Matrix-style, mind-only spoon-bending. We gathered in a circle around a vertically situated unbent spoon. Throwing together an ad hoc procedure for how to go about harnessing our collective mind-lasers to bend this spoon, we checked in with Daniel, the session’s facilitator, about what request we might make to said spoon. Laughter erupted when he quipped, “Please bend spoon; please, please, please.”
Despite that powerful incantation, and a period of intense silence and group focus, the spoon defied our collective will and remained in its full upright glory. But we had a great time.
- Ten Fire Dance – The retreat boasted a sizeable firepit with concrete benches around which about 30 people could sit comfortably. On Saturday night we were treated to poi fire dancing by Ten, a professional fire dancer. It had a sacred edge to it as the talkative crowd gathered around the bonfire became silent to witness this dance of fire against the night’s blackness.
- Creating 4D+ intentional community – Karin and Jess gave a presentation and opened the discussion for Q&A about their work building and sustaining intentional community modeled on fourth-density positive values.
Austin and Aaron each also offered a group study session using quotes from the Law of One, with one about service to others and the other about deepening authenticity.
What a continuation and intensification of the energy experience in Prague and Berlin held just a few weeks prior. Intensified because it was an extra day, there were more people, and we were all lodging on site. It was spiritual caffeine, and with longer lasting effects than its chemical counterpart and without the jitters.
Judging by various conversations I had combined with the reports at the end—that you can read here courtesy of the notes that Trisha took—everyone eased into the event really well. Gratitude was widespread. Many committed to returning as long as the event would be held.
Attendees contributed about a third of L/L’s scholarship funds for the event which helped people be there (thank you!). It was a big group for us. We’re uncertain about the net value of a group that size. Is important intimacy lost? Shouldn’t we try to meet the need as best we can? Questions we must consider, which will be aided by a poll that we’ll issue to gather attendee thoughts.
But it, along with the Prague/Berlin events, and the subsequent Homecoming gathering, really stoked our fires. We hope to have more next year, including online opportunities.
Also, two new Law of One study groups sprung from the Coming Home gathering: one in Chicago and one in Philly! And incidentally, at the same time they formed, we heard from a group in Mumbai that meets online to study the Law of One in Hindi. Ra’s ripples in the mass mind ricochet around the planet.
This post continues below with the Homecoming Gathering.