Transition to a sustainable society includes changes in human behavior. We usually see these changes as social, ecologic and economic. During the June 2013 conference of the International Communal Studies Association (ICSA), Nikolaus v. Stillfried, PhD and Felix Wagner, a PhD student, presented a new aspect which is, in their opinion, under-represented.
The primary research question was whether and how spirituality and engagement with subtle realms can contribute towards a culture of sustainability, and whether and how this potential can be intentionally fostered. Participants in sustainability projects, reported that they did communicate with subtle realms, higher consciousness etc. Is something missing in the mainstream of sustainability?
As a pilot study the researchers have chosen to investigate an intentional community which places a specific focus on such aspects, namely, the Findhorn Community. The Findhorn Foundation flourished in the 60th due to the discovery that human beings can co – create with higher nature intelligences. 50 years later, co – creation with subtle realms is built into the daily life, at work, in decision making. The result: a prosperous community, financially secure, draws thousands of people from around the world.
A 10 days field study was conducted in 2012, based on qualitative analysis of interviews, document analysis and participant (self)-observations. The information was categorized to 3 phenomena's:
Communication with subtle realms: the researchers define subtle realms as levels of consciousness with no character, but there is a feeling that they are "there". The communication is possible through attunement. The communicator presents an intention, requests guidance, is open to synchronicity, to miracles, to intuitive spiritual guidance.
Practices of inner orientation: they refer to a process beyond ego based psychological work. Openness to unseen phenomena's through meditation, living in love, intuition, gut feeling and personal transformation.
Extrasensory perception: Telepathy, near death experiences, contact with subtle realms through a being that has an identity, character – Devas, angels, elementals, etc.
Communication with subtle realms is in the core of the community and has a huge influence on life. People come from all over, for a week or a few years, to learn and experience the uniqueness of the Findhorn Foundation. The swift changes, the different energies, cultures, languages, are not typical to a closed intentional community.
The communication with subtle realms is in the core of decision making. For instance, when planning a garden, you connect to the Devas for information regarding layout, and other aspects regarding the flowerbeds. When a need to uproot a plant arises, the gardener connects to the plant spirit and asks permission to uproot it (it comes out easily, guaranteed…). While facing a dilemma, group decisions, people are asked to connect to intuitive information, before expressing their opinion.
After 50 years this kind of intuitive communication is built into daily life. Every work shift starts with a connection to subtle realms, a request for support from the angels. This short ceremony (I cannot imagine starting/ending a shift without it…) makes a difference, gives a sense of grounding, of structure, a safe work environment. When consciousness is in the moment, and non related thoughts are evaporating, work is easier, the results are better; creativity is at its peak.
The members of the community say, in an answer to the researchers' question, that they feel better while practicing this method of communication; they have a sense of belonging, of a good flow, of good insights.
The researchers explored the characteristics of communication with subtle realms within the community. It seems that the basis of this communication is attunement, strong focus. There is no involvement of conscious wanting but a certain openness of the mind and surrender to whatever comes. Often there is a sense of truth and meaningfulness. Many times the information comes spontaneously, unexpectedly, and is uncontrollable. The question is focused but there is complete openness towards the answer. People differ in ways and abilities to connect with the subtle realms.
The experiences are evaluated as more significant and trustworthy if certain conditions are met: The experience seems unlikely to occur but it did. Insights gained are held true by rational contemplation. The same information is received repeatedly. Other people came to the same conclusions, in the same or different way. These people are considered trustworthy, have experience with subtle realms and little ego is involved. Sometimes, a sense of "rightfulness" and meaningfulness arises, a feeling that the perceptions are vivid, "out there", "having a life of their own". Sometimes the insights are surprising; serve more then the self interest.
What aspects in the community culture help develop these experiences?
The researchers collected 47 practices and methods of spiritual practice directed to communication with subtle realms, within the community. The basic attitude shared by all, is openness and belief in the existence of these realms, and the possibility of communicating with them. The road to communication goes through principles, values and guidance, education and personal development. Due to these individuals, a community culture developed, including attunement and spiritual practice in a work place. Wednesday afternoon is a meditation and personal practice shift. Every department gets half an hour in the Sanctuary for a group meditation, followed by a shift of sharing. Once every 6 weeks a mentor from the spiritual development department (yes, there is such a department) comes to give a group "treatment". This is the time to cleanse negative energy, fears, and personal and inter – department problems.
The communication with subtle realms supports the creation of a life of abundance and creativity. When so many people implement and ground these methods on a daily basis, a critical mass of energy is created, a belief in the uniqueness of the place which spreads around the world and draws people, because "Findhorn is unique and we also want to experience it". More people arrive, donate their energy and openness, the energy strengthens, the connection to the subtle realms strengthens and what seemed like a miracle, becomes a reality.
How can we make scientific use of these experiences?
The researchers need to map the stream of experiences, triangulate it with other scientific data and established theories, such as Quantum theory,Para- psychological themes and empirical data. They ended their lecture with a promise: when they gather all the information and find the recipe, they will continue to create miracles….