The Guiding Principle of Aletheia
The Aletheia Springs Community is so named for our foundational guiding principle, aletheia (pronounced ah-LEE-thee-ah). Stemming from ancient Greek, its literal meaning is "the state of not being hidden; the state of being evident." Reviving the word in the 20th century, the controversial phenomenological philosopher, Martin Heidegger, defined aletheia as “transparent truth,” and “unconcealment.”
Heidegger describes aletheia as the process by which something previously unseen is disclosed, or opened up - where transparent reality reveals itself. (1) He also says this unfolding occurs not just by objective observation but by engaged participation. We must inquire into our direct experience and live into the unfolding truth of the world in order to know it. From this perspective, there is no ‘final truth,’ but an ever-unfolding disclosure that we come to know by actively cultivating presence, curiosity, discernment, trust and transparent reflection.
So why choose aletheia as our foundational guiding principle? If we are to take this principle seriously, we begin to see that the way we traditionally organize and relate to our internal world, each other, and the Earth needs some extensive updating. The predicaments we are facing today are increasingly complex and intertwined. How can we find resilience and even thrive in uncertain times? Luckily, the wisdom to do this is already available. Certain practices cultivate our capacity to function in a more continuous state of ‘not-knowing,’ or openness, and help us to tap into larger fields of intelligence, guidance and belonging.
As Charles Eisenstein says, we are now entering a “space between stories”. Our current culture has developed around the story that growth and progress are achieved by force, but this method is working less and less well as complexity increases. (2) It seems that we are shifting from a fire-based culture that applies force to push things into a preferred order to a more water-based culture that is pulled forward by love and evolutionary purpose. Viktor Schauberger, the brilliant Austrian ‘water wizard’ of the early 20th century described this well, as moving from the explosive force of combustion to the implosive pull of a whirlpool.
We have come to understand that we can no longer just observe the world and mold it to our preferences and plans. We are instead deep participants in a much larger process of evolution and emergence, one that we can barely begin to predict, let alone control. So we see that cultivating this capacity to not-know, and thereby to access larger fields of collective guidance and evolution, can be derived from the guiding principle of aletheia. We understand this to be a key component of the new culture now being born at this time of great upheaval and transformation.
(1) “Aletheia” (2016). In Wikipedia. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aletheia
(2) Eisenstein, Charles. The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books, 2013
The Dreaming of the Springs, A Mythos
We live in a time where human activities are taking a great toll on the earth, our communities, and our bodies. When we first came upon this land and her springs, we found the story here to be no different. Despite an abundance of natural beauty, generations of memories, a legacy of thousands of years of indigenous place-making and fresh warm water flowing from the ground, recent decades have witnessed this place decline and fall out of most people’s awareness. What was once here dimmed over the years and the land and springs fell into a half-sleep. But it also appears as if they had been dreaming –dreaming of what wants to be born here. Indeed, the message of this dream is so present that many who come here know it in their bones, feel it with their hearts. They tell of a sanctuary of retreat and wellbeing, of healing and grief work. They tell of connection, community and intimacy with the natural world. They tell of dancing and ceremony, music and silence.
Over seven years ago, called by this same dreaming, we found this place and fell in love with her beauty and her longing, recognizing it as our own. Only how to unlock her from her slumber? For there is a debt on this land, and it has been waiting for someone to come and release it. Within that debt there are wounds that need tending and care to heal. In accordance with the law of capital, her land long ago became colonized and her deeper dreaming all but subsumed by financial expectations. In recent decades, owners have come and gone, her facilities have aged and neighbor relations became strained.
Ours, then, is a healing crisis, a puzzle. To release this debt and re-awaken the springs, we cannot ask her to keep giving her resources without reinvesting them into the work of healing, repairing, refurbishing and rebuilding. As stewards and caretakers, we are focused and relaxed into a long arc of work here. We are dedicated to caring for the land and springs with an engaged inquiry into its deeper layers so that we can understand more and more of its true nature and purpose. We call on the bright, indigenous ancestors of this place and their living descendants for permission and participation on this journey.
We have a dynamic and evolving plan, created in listening partnership with this place over the past five years. It is clear that the springs have the capacity to make more than enough to be self-sufficient, to regenerate and to provide for those who live here and visit. We recognize the opportunity and privilege to be the ones the Springs have been waiting for to re-awaken. We simply need to channel her resources back into healing and regeneration; everything else that is needed is already here in abundance.
Tenets of Aletheia Springs
A Community with Spiritual Ecology at its Center
We recognize that the ecological crisis that we face today is, at its root, a spiritual crisis. Early in the 20th century, industrialized human groups gained the ability to instantly destroy all life within a chosen area with the technology of nuclear bombs, and by the end of the century we began to fully understand the degree to which colonizing human groups have been destroying the ecosystems which we, and all of life, depend on for survival. Now humanity is coming to understand just how powerfully our industrial capitalistic society is altering the very climate of this planet. Technology has enabled humans to wield great powers but it has also taken us to the brink of an existential threat to our very existence.
Faced with not only our own mortality as a human species, we are also coming to terms with the reality that colonizing human groups have been inflicting ecocide on nature for many thousands of years. Its this ecocide that lies at the root of a changing climate. Though global climate change can at times seem quite abstract, when we see the destruction of very specific, sacred, and beautiful places, beings and relationships in nature that we personally know and love, it makes this ecocide more immediate and real. Stories of these kinds of losses have the power to pierce through the veils of our perceived separation from nature into a shared grief for what has already been lost that we are an intrinsic part of. But no matter the degree of our own involvement in the ecocide that now threatens our survival, we as humans are all now facing some fundamental existential questions in response to this situation. Who are we? And what purpose are we here to serve? Beyond the question of how to continue to sustain human life into the future, the question comes: is human civilization as we know it worth sustaining in the first place? What causes human groups to destroy their own home and other beings, and to what larger reality must we awaken to if we are to continue here on this planet? The earth is calling out to human groups everywhere to take bolder stands in response to these questions.
The slow breakdown of industrial society and, in turn, each of our own lives as it relates to that society, brings us closer to these questions every day. The question of our own mortality asks us to contemplate: what is our right relationship to our own deep inner nature? And the impact of the continuing ecocide of nature asks us to contemplate: what is our right relationship to nature, each other and all of life on earth?
To answer these questions authentically requires not just a philosophical response but an embodied one. And to embody a response requires not just a shift in one or two domains of human life but in all of them, including how they relate to each other. The ecological crisis is not just a problem of ecology, to which we need to apply new ecological solutions. The ecological crisis is calling for a new and ancient understanding to be placed at the center of human culture that honors the sacredness of all things, a spiritual ecology, that can inform all of the other domains of human culture.
Spiritual ecology is most fundamentally described by what is known as interbeing, which is also the basis of all indigenous wisdom traditions. Interbeing affirms that the earth, everything within it and in fact all of creation, is alive, sacred and interconnected. As such, every being and place is alive and has a unique power, history and contribution to make to the whole and so must be attuned to in a very unique way. It is this attunement to the unique nature of a place and its beings that gives that place the power to make us again indigenous to it. Spiritual ecology also recognizes that interbeing is not just a property that exists between beings but also connects to the depths of each one of those beings, a place where we are not just interconnected but deeply connected, made from the same fabric of reality. The degree to which we are at home and connected deeply to ourselves with a trust in our own inner world is the degree to which we can contribute to being at home and a trustworthy ally with all other beings and nature, honoring that same deep source within them. Our inner world very much makes possible what we are able to create in the outer world.
Many indigenous human groups all over the world are taking a stand for spiritual ecology, as their ancestors have for thousands of years. But very few groups emerging from within industrial society have been able to take this stand fully yet. Many have recognized that we need to form residential communities where we can practice and model new ways of living and embodying a more sacred social and ecological way. But the majority of such community groups fail. Why is that? Many underestimate the degree to which industrial society has deeply imprinted and patterned our bodies, hearts and minds. Usually community groups have focused on only a few domains of life, such as organic gardening, green building and a shared social life, with not enough energy spent on all of the other areas of a full human life or on the core disconnection from nature and one’s true inner nature. It is essential that the communities movement have an approach that is as comprehensive as possible and include all the domains of human life in need of transformation. It is similarly essential that it be clear how these domains interrelate, and that a solution is indeed possible to heal this core trauma of our disconnection.
The Aletheia project is a response to the call of the earth for human communities that embody a new and ancient human culture with spiritual ecology at its center. We recognize the following as tenets of such a human community:
The Core Disconnection | Limitations to our abilities to access our innermost spiritual identity, our true nature, is the core disconnection that has led to the ecological crisis. We have lost our inner connection to the greater divine realm that animates all of life. When we are disconnected from this fundamental, essential reality, we try to fill this deficient “hole” with all of the material and image-based addictions of industrial society. In buddhist thought, this is known as the hungry ghost. Therefore, regular spiritual practices such as meditation, sensing, and mindfulness (for example, as described in the Diamond Approach) that help us to be in a deep level of contact with ourselves in a sustained and concentrated way are essential to building a culture of spiritual ecology.
Psychological Structures & Trauma | Limitations to our abilities to access our innermost spiritual nature are rooted in historical psychological structures and traumas. Therefore, regular psycho-spiritual practices such as self-inquiry (especially as described in the Diamond Approach) that help us to understand and digest the energy that is bound up in these psychological structures and trauma patterns are essential to making sustained contact with one’s essential true nature.
Love of the Truth | In order to explore the historical psychological structures and traumas that separate us from our true nature, we must develop an inward orientation where we seek to understand our experience more fully in order to resolve tensions and conflicts rather than necessarily changing external circumstances. And in order to develop this inward orientation, we have to develop a deep love for the truth of our experience, whatever it is, over the “comfort” of dissociation and addiction offered by industrial society. Our love of the truth develops as we gain more and more trust in our experience, in its ability to unfold into a deeper reality, and from more and more direct experience of who and what we truly are.
Full Inner Contact | To have essential experiences of our true nature, we must become adept at how to self-regulate our nervous systems, re-center when triggered, differentiate ego-based feelings from essential states of being and work with the basic inner structures such as the superego, the normative self, the inner child, and the higher self. More contact with true nature allows for more subtle sensing and information to come through that helps us to trust our inner guidance more, which in turn grows our ability to be in greater and greater degrees of uncertainty. By being in full contact with the same force that animates all of life, we grow in our ability to be with uncertainty because we can see that what guides our life is the same as what guides everything to unfold and evolve towards greater wholeness. From this place, things can unfold more optimally with our participation but without our interference.
Inner Guidance & Aletheia | The capacity to trust uncertainty and to know that all things in life will unfold in an optimal (though not always comfortable) way the less we interfere with it and the more we are in touch with and actively participating in its movements is the basis for accessing true inner guidance. It is this capacity for true inner guidance that allows us to let go of the old structures of control and domination that underlie industrial society. The degree to which we are able to act from moment to moment from this larger inner guidance rather than from a plan that seeks to control the circumstances of life is the degree to which we are able to personally embody the new and ancient culture based in emergence. This key capacity for guidance and emergence relates directly to our core principle of Aletheia, which can be described as the process by which something previously unseen is disclosed, or opened up - where transparent reality reveals itself.
Psychospiritual & Sociocultural Development Must Come Together | From a solid psychospiritual basis we can approach all of the other domains of life from a new place. By understanding our relationship to our own true being, it becomes easier to understand our relationship to the true being of others, both human, and non-human. Many people these days who gain inner freedom through psychospiritual work find it so fulfilling that they seem to rarely pursue freedom in other domains. Often it is sociocultural power and privilege that allowed for this psychospiritual development to progress in the first place so there is often a resistance to sociocultural inquiry because they are unconsciously not sure they want to question or potentially give up that power and privilege. Without a vision for how sociocultural development can proceed within a community towards greater freedom than is experienced with traditional power and privilege, the undertaking is rarely taken up. It is our great hope that more people with this kind of inner psychospiritual freedom apply their capacities and leverage this power and privilege to the development of the sociocultural realm, an area of human discourse that is often lacking in these capacities.
The Psychospiritual & Sociocultural Domains Need Each Other | If we can bring together the great invisible realms of the psychospiritual and the sociocultural, we will then understand a great deal of what holds humanity back from creating the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible. In many ways these realms are held apart by the appearance of a contradiction. Many psychospiritually-focused people assert that the collective culture will never heal until we each individually find our deeper spiritual nature while socioculturally-focused people assert that we individually will never heal until we heal the cultural context within which we are embedded. Each side finds itself a victim of the other’s intractable nature. We see that both psychospiritual and sociocultural healing is needed simultaneously rather than in sequence and that actually they can synergize with each other and unfold together rather than contradicting. In other words, our true psychospiritual individuation and autonomy requires the sociocultural structure of community to become complete and our sociocultural longing for a healed world culture requires truly autonomous and psychospiritually liberated individuals in order to be realized.
Contact & Trust Is Primary | Practices that have both psychospiritual as well as sociocultural effects on an individual as well as a group level are essential for uncovering the synergistic relationship between these domains. On a psychospiritual level, the core capacity is one of contact and trust in one’s inner nature and on a sociocultural level, the core capacity is one of contact and trustworthiness with others. If we can achieve this level of trust and contact with our inner nature and with other humans, it is not such a stretch to extend that way of being to the rest of nature and all of her non-human beings.
Children Know The Way | One example of such a practice is Ray Castellino’s Womb Surround Process, which uncovers the core disconnection that many of us face as a part of the birth process and early childhood, when we often learn not only to mistrust ourselves and our inner world, but also each other. Children learn early on that what adults are feeling and saying are often incongruent. The theory of this practice asserts that we are born with a natural entelechy to trust ourselves and each other in mutual support and cooperation towards a common intention. This inherent nature is built into nature and we come into life expecting it to be so. Trauma results when we are met with something different at a speed and intensity that is not able to be integrated by a child. This mistrust and trauma lives on in the patterns of our daily life and relationships. By slowing down how we experience that core mistrust within a co-regulated group field, we can understand how we got separated from and reconnect with our own innate capacity to trust ourselves, each other, and nature. We can connect again with the stable base of mutual support and cooperation that self-organizes life in our most basic human and non-human relationships. Many indigenous cultures recognize the importance of creating a field of trust for babies and children to enter and orient to the world that they are entering in a way that preserves as much as possible their connection with the divine cosmic realm. For example, an indigenous perspective is that you can tell a lot about a culture by the way that they relate to their children. Finally, this process also builds the capacity for co-regulation of the social nervous system by way of intentional touch and attention.
Nature As Mirror | Another example is the indigenous practice of wilderness rites of passage, which asks of participants to connect both deeply within as well as with the larger community of life and nature to which we are called to be of service by way of an initiatory ordeal within the context of wild nature. Nature acts as a mirror to our psyches so that we can see more deeply what our ecological niche within the greater whole may be.
Differentiating Layers of Experience | The circle practices of Council (as described by The Ojai Foundation), Focal Space (as described by Gestalt), and Forum (as described by the Tamera and Zegg Communities) all have both modern psychological as well as indigenous roots. However, the sociocultural development that can occur within groups that utilize these practices is greatly enhanced by simultaneous psychospiritual work. It is important to have group spaces where the psychospiritual and sociocultural layers of our experience can be clearly differentiated and worked with separately first before working with them together in a mixed space. Practices like Forum in particular require a critical capacity of psychospiritual resource and capacity from the participants in order to be able to hold the sociocultural material that emerges in a productive way.
Freeing Primal Energies | The primal instinctual drives and energies must also be fully understood and find new ways to express within human culture. The self-preservation, social and sexual drives are primal energies that must be integrated into both psychospiritual life as well as sociocultural life in a way that they can flow freely in service to life and evolution. In other words, the way that we build our human world and create security, the way that we work together, and the way that we love each other all need new and ancient social and psychological structures that channel new energy into service rather than survival alone. On a psychospiritual level, we can contact the place within that can never die, and on a sociocultural level, we can contact the place that knows that what needs protecting is actually larger and larger circles of self (group, place, biosphere, etc.) to which we are a part. By channeling these energies beyond the survival of our separate sense of self alone, we open up to larger wells of energy devoted to life’s evolution through both psychospiritual self-actualization and sociocultural system actualization. New economy, self-managing governance and ways of loving each other requires high levels of development, both psychospiritually as well as socioculturally.
Necessary Sociocultural Structures | Engaging wholeheartedly in sociocultural work, we learn to become a more trustworthy human being. We extend goodwill but always with healthy boundaries when intentions are not aligned. We learn responsible participation with the community outside of the Karpman drama triangle of victim, perpetrator and rescuer/bystander. And especially we learn to give real feedback, with a clear mind, a loving heart, and firm boundaries, always asking what the other needs to be even more of the full self that we see is possible.
The Sacredness of Life Is At The Center | When it comes to building a new and ancient culture, the most important factor is how human culture interfaces with ecology. In a spiritual ecology, the sacredness of life is placed at the center of human culture. We learn directly from nature how to honor her and amplify her intelligent laws of regeneration. And we do it in a uniquely place-specific way.
Diversity, Power & Privilege | It is ecology that teaches us the strength and resilience that diversity offers to human culture. By understanding how biodiversity functions in an ecosystem, we can see how diversity is essential also in our human communities. While our intentions must be aligned to be able to cooperate, our methods can be vastly different. A shared language is essential to connect these differences of method. And recognizing the structures of power and privilege that we have lived within for thousands of years, we have to consciously create inclusivity and access to culturally marginalized groups where there are historic structural barriers. We can leverage the power and privilege that we do have within industrial society to dismantle these systems of oppression directly within our psyches and within our communities.
True Purpose & Soul | Another essential domain is the human soul, or how one finds their particular soul purpose, strengths, intelligences, and fit to particular times and places where they can be most useful within the greater whole. This kind of attunement and the development of leadership qualities and project management skills (as well as especially both psychospiritual and sociocultural development) allows for the possibility that each human can self-manage within a community system and that the whole system can truly self-organize, like a mature ecosystem, without the need for leaders to manage the others. The practice of Enneagram personality type work (especially as described with a psychospiritual foundation by Riso/Hudson and Maitri) is essential for this understanding, which carries with it needs for development within both the psychospiritual and sociocultural domains.
Wisdom Lineages Must Be Integrated Together | Our knowledge and wisdom lineages must also be integrated in such a way that the domains that they describe all can come together over time, while also respecting their “pure” origins so that they can be curated and combined in different ways. In particular our wisdom lineages need to be focused on how we can develop and grow as human beings in mutual support and cooperation with all other beings on this earth in as comprehensive a way as possible.
The Invisible Is Primary | A shift in these “invisible” realms will make the other more “material” shifts easier.
Streamlining Our Personal Economies | We must intentionally create spaciousness in our schedules and streamline our personal financial needs so that we can channel our time and financial wealth in service to building all of the other wealth capitals in ourselves and our place-based communities that have suffered so greatly in our modern "civilized" era. The way we spend our time and money defines whether we are still attempting to fill our inner deficient “holes” with false ideas of personal security and all of the material and image-based addictions of industrial society or we are building the communities of the future.
Economy Must Serve Ecology | Our economy needs to serve ecology and to reflect the reality that our finances are only a symbolic representation of the true wealth of ecology. From this place, our finances are never only personal or a result of only private individual actions, but instead are expressions of shared sociocultural structures and values ultimately derived from the abundance of nature. Financial flows must always cycle back to the ecological source from which they came in order to be sustained. And we need to structure human life so that it is clear that true security and responsible power can only be found and truly expressed within community, not by personally collecting money. Money needs to be transformed into a way that we can express our innate need to care, love and serve something bigger than ourselves, infused with the spirit of the gift.
Place-Based Regenerative Ecology | In ecology, we need to take our place in the great family of life and to develop long standing relationships of care and mutual respect with just as many non-humans as we do with humans. We need to get to know all of the synergistic relationships as well as material and energy cycles that exist in a specific time and place and to find ways to amplify these processes in a regenerative way.
Art & Right Relationship to Material Reality | Our built world and all of the items within it also need to become more artful, beautiful and long lasting. What we now refer to as “minimalism” within our consumerist industrial society is actually a more healthy shift towards essentials, quality and a right relationship to material reality. How we take care of and organize our space and our things is how we take care of everything that we relate to, all the way up to the scale of the biosphere. So there must be complete coherence there.
Health Is A Fulcrum of Power | And finally, the whole culture needs to be built around health and care for the nourishment needed by all beings to be free. Diet and activity is the most essential foundations for health and this essential fulcrum of power needs to be placed back into the hands of each individual. The community culture can support everyone by making it easy to choose what is healthy and good for the body and the ecology together. Along these lines, the things that we produce should only create more health for people and ecology, throughout its entire life cycle.
A deep bow and many thanks to the Mentors, Allies and Wisdom Lineages that have contributed to our learning and integration of their work that now appears within these Tenets and our project as a whole. There are countless other authors and teachers beyond that that are not mentioned here as well who have contributed to our overall orientation and for that we are deeply grateful.
How You Can Participate
There’s so many ways to participate in this adventure with us. Who knows, maybe one day you’ll become a resident-steward here. Or maybe you have a part to play with your time, skills, money or listening presence –either this year, or a few years from now. Perhaps you are the one that wonderfully alters someone’s life forever when you forward them our Prospectus...