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The Need

The Project

Financial Matters

General Outline

My Motivation

Philosophy

 

Proposal

The Cooperative Life & Spirituality Project

by Mushin J. Schilling - contact: info@thelivingfield.com

Summary

An increasing number of people care about cooperation, spirituality and the life of this planet. Experiencing themselves as embedded in continually expanding networks and environments they are seeking genuine, open and constructive dialogue and mutual support in their work towards a better world and spiritual wholeness - one planet on which all beings are at home. This emerging participatory, cooperative culture can rightfully be named Human Globalization: a grass-root movement that engages a growing minority of people across the planet.

The Need:
Values and practises have been generated so far in “vertical structures”, and this especially true in the context of life-guiding or spiritual/religious structures of learning, practising and living. Whereas in many ways the Internet has provided a new approach to transcending and surmounting ‘verticality’ (P2P, Wikipedia, open source programming, sharing economy, distributed research, Web 2.0) there is an immense lack in providing such a networked, cooperative, dialogical structure to finding, communicating about and practising ‘spiritual values’.

The Project:
Creating a platform in the Internet (and producing a book alongside) to popularize a basically networked, cooperative, dialogical spirituality and providing a creativity-enhancing meeting place.

Funding Requirements:
Ca. 2000 € per month for the first year plus ca. 8000 € for additional investments in human resources and software/hardware.

Organisation & Expertise:
Mushin has organised and managed seminars, events and a community for several years. He is also well versed in webdesign and writing. Participating in the spiritual culture online from the very beginning he has good contacts in all areas needed and is able to find the people where necessary to realize the project. (Please make your comments and remarks here.)

The Need

Life enhancing values and practices have been generated so far almost entirely in “vertical structures” and this is especially true in the context of life-guiding or spiritual/religious structures of learning, practicing and living.
A quick look at Google today delivers ca. 150 Million documents on spirituality and religion. Random clicks on 50 of these reveal (in accord with my researches in the times past) that all but one of these documents provide one with a ready made theory/faith that one can only subscribe to or not. Those of these documents that provide an insight into the social structure behind the spiritual conviction espoused show all of them to be vertical hierarchies. The values offered are monological in essence and are given, top-down. The acquisition of spiritual values is nowhere dialogical nor are these values essentially open to inquiry. As in most monologues it is “take it or leave it”.
The only Website at present which clearly expresses and furthers basic forms of dialogical spirituality is that of the P2P-Foundation. There are further a handful of Websites (I can google some 700 of the 150 Million) that further explore the possibilities of cooperative or dialogical spirituality but those that I have accessed are all on a very high cognitive and theoretical level.

In many ways the Internet has provided a way to transcend and surmount ‘vertical structures’ - P2P, Wikipedia, open source programming, sharing economy, distributed research, Web 2.0 etc. This seems to be part of an evolutionary movement towards a new quality in human relationships and the organization of information, production and life in general. As these horizontal, network-like – often called peer-to-peer – structures grow  there is at the same time an immense lack in providing such a networked, cooperative, dialogical structure to finding, communicating about and practicing ‘spiritual values’.

Hence the need for creating such a structuring element – an Internet-Platform with the purpose to foster the development of dialogical, cooperative, participative values. This platform must be 'down-to-earth' and easily accessed by most people and integrate cooperative, networking and participatory approaches now available all over the net.

And finally, wherever dialogical, cooperative, participative values are expressed they are expressed mostly in English. Therefore the platform envisaged is to be a multilingual effort (German, Czech and English to begin with.) (Please make your comments and remarks here.)

The Project

The Goal
Making the views and values of the new emerging culture – a culture of dialogue, cooperation and participation – popular and creating a medium for maximum interaction, communication, learning and collaboration also across traditional and non-traditional boundaries.

Objectives
Within the next 3 months

  • develop the basic design & content of an innovative and open Internet platform catering to the needs of people seeking to live according to dialogical, cooperative, participative values – using software and technologies that reflect these values.
  • find enough patrons, sponsors, contributors to guarantee that the project can thrive at least one year.
  • find collaborators for web design, programming, content-design, translating.
  • testing the waters of cooperation with ‘spiritual forums’, magazines and online-communities like ‘zaads’.
  • work out the basic content of the book about the “cooperative turn” in spirituality and then contact prospective contributors (Jorge Ferrer, John Heron, Ed Harris, Richard Tarnas, Christian de Quincy, etc.)

Within the next half a year to nine months:

  • The Internet-platform goes beta and is available for the input of the audience at large; part of this is a low-key PR-campaign in the blogosphere and on ‘spiritual forums’.
  • Cooperation deals with German, Czech and English off-line magazine publishers.
  • Extra services are being developed (educational material, audio-chats, Spirit Radio 1)
  • The book is ready for the editor.

In one year:

  • The Internet platform is running smoothly attracting big numbers of users, interactors, creative people from all over Europe and the world.
  • Continual development of further services and tools for communication and cooperation.
  • The platform becomes available in further languages (EU-funding for translations?)

In two years:

  • The platform belongs to the most popular places visited by spiritually minded people.

Monthly evaluations of what has been achieved and what not, and possibly necessary adaptations of the course to be taken are part of the process.

Staff
In the first three months the project manager will do most of the work with the sporadic help of a secretary well versed in the three start-languages. This is basically the phase of connecting with people willing to contribute to the project with content, design ideas and finances, and designing the basics of both platform and book.
In the second period the project manager will formalize the collaboration with server/provider, designers, programmers, content-providers, cooperation-partners and all other contributors.
(Please make your comments and remarks here.)


Financial matters

The realization of this project depends on funding for both the designing stages and the stages of realization.
At this moment the plan is not to fund the platform with advertisement but through patronage, sponsoring and as soon as that is feasible through membership donations or fees.
Syndication of content (for instance the Spirit Radio 1 show), special services (education, content), and other sources of income might also help to finance the project in the future.

Budget

until end of December 2006: Project  management: 1500 €
until end of January 2007:

Project  management: 1500 €
Translations & secretarial work: 500 €

until end of March 2007: Project  management: 3000 €
Translations & secretarial work (all languages): 1000 €
Equipment & Software: 4000 €
until end of May 2007: Project  management: 3000 €
Translations & secretarial work (all languages): 3000 €
Server etc.: 750 €
PR activities: 3000 €
until end of August 2007:
Project  management: 4500 €
Translations & secretarial work (all languages): 3000 €

Total: 28.750 €

These figures are very much 'rule of the thumb', except project management - 1500 € is a minimum that will keep me & my family alive.
Regarding the secretarial work: in general I would love to be able to pay the secretary more than ca. 400 € per month.
Regarding translations: Since book & platform are to start in 3 languages, translation is needed. The figures are not quite clear as the amount of content to be translated is also not clear. The figures given are probably a minimum.
Regarding hardware & software: audio & video equipment and server-side software to manage streams is needed. I hope to find (and chances are very good) a Server & Provider as a sponsor, nevertheless some costs will have to be met (750 € being very much 'rule of the thumb').
Regarding PR: I would like to get professional help on this and 3000 € is prob. the lowest possible cost for this. The more money we can get for this, the better. (Please make your comments and remarks here.)

Outline of the Internet platform

Navigation Subpoints Explanation
Sponsors   A list + link etc. of those sponsors that would appreciate this
Learning Online "How to" courses
Offline Seminars & Events
Community Dialogue (Chat) Audio & Text
Blog/Vlog members have space for own blog/vlog
Projects members projects (for instance open cooperative spirituality research projects)
Services Calendar, seminars, books, conferences, learning material, etc.
Ecology information  
projects
Media Audio  
Radio Spirit Radio One
Video  
Spiritual Theory  
Practises
About us   Philosophy, Mission, etc.
Contact Form  
Help Persons Speak to a volunteer (member for some time) - Audio-Chat
Faq  

General remarks:

  • In all aspects it is obviously a co-created 'space', created and maintained by the actions of many.
  • Members can use their own 'skin' and create their own lay-out of the site
  • use open source programs wherever possible

(Please make your comments and remarks here.)

General outline of the book

Cooperative Spirituality - embedded in the richness of life

1. Foreword/Introduction
2. Who am I? Who are you? What is between us?
3. Living in a Universe of Relationships, networks & systems
4. From the vertical view towards the cooperative/network vision
5. Communication, genuine dialogue & communion
6. Community
7. Work, practise and daily life

(Please make your comments and remarks here.)

Motivation

If I trace the strand in my development that put me on the trail of a dialogical, participatory, cooperative spirituality than I would have to mention my assistance of Sanji when she did a community building day at a place called "Energy World" in 1996. This was my first deep experience of what could be called "collective consciousness" – there was a moment someone said, "I feel like we are one being with 40 heads and 80 arms and legs." Nevertheless at that time I wasn't yet ready to truly understand what that implied because I was still very much going for my personal enlightenment.

The development that consciously put me on the path I'm now on was a question by one of my trainees during the first Living Field Transformation Training in the summer of 2006, "How come, Mushin, you never speak about the 'we'?" Being quite happy with what I had achieved on my path, acting as a spiritual teacher to some people, teaching what I had learnt – and helping people to partake of 'transpersonal spaces' – this question hit me.
So I read Martin Buber "Ich und Du" and "Das Dialogische Prinzip" which started putting me on the trail of a spirituality that is neither in me nor in you but rather between us. Going deeper I started to question my position as a 'spiritual teacher' and inspect the way I run the community that I started here in the Czech Republic some years ago. And then I stepped down...

Inquiring into the way spirituality makes sense in the world today I stumbled across the incredible amount of abuse (power, sex, money) by people that I had deemed, so far, as beyond all that, and I started to look into the reasons for this. I found an important one in what I call "The Patriarchal Temptation", and after some further heart-searching put it all together in an article of the same title (published in abbreviated form by the German magazine Connection last month).

All this investigating and the consequent change in my life and the seminars has not been good for my financial situation, to say the least. It seems generally that the people I was working with were much more inclined towards a spirituality in the patriarchal mode where the facilitator positions himself as the source of all the good things happening and the competent authority for all good and true things in life & spirit. And as I was getting more and more into the asking mode – "What did you experience? How did that experience come into being? What do you take to be its meaning? etc. – proceeding to inquire into what is happening between us, I didn't fulfill the role-model of spiritual authority anymore. Asking, "What are you competent in? Which of your skills in interfacing with the spiritual do you want to enhance? How could we do this together?" and so on, I lost two third of the people that used to participate regularly in my seminars and trainings.

I've come to realize that this is probably because I haven't clearly positioned myself in the spiritual arena. What I'm up to, and what 'cooperative spirituality' is all about has to be clarified and brought to people's awareness. This is one of the reasons I want to write a book (with contributions of
Jorge Ferrer, John Heron, Ed Harris, Richard Tarnas, Christian de Quincy, etc. asking them to write for 'real beginners') and create a website that can function as an information–rich platform for communication and collaboration of people inquiring into a truly innovative spirituality that can leave the 'vertical school' behind, and make the richness of deep values available to everyone. (Please make your comments and remarks here.)

Philosophy

What the emerging participatory, cooperative culture is about:

  • It's about free access to knowledge (Wikipedia, open archives, open content) and open sources (software, know-how etc.).
  • It is about cooperation in material and spiritual matters: peer to peer production, sharing economy, community supported manufacture and production, cooperative science, co-research, coordination theory, participatory inquiry, cooperative spirituality, etc.
  • It is about "the commons" and how to honor and recreate them on a grand scale: common use of ways and means, social trust (and trusts), common ownership, creative commons etc.
  • It is about networks: Smart mobs, user-capitalized networking, user-driven marketing, viral communication, distributed computing, etc.
  • And it is about social synergies, collective intelligence, Gaia & ecology, heart to heart reality, open futures.

Cooperations across all kinds of borders are happening in science, business, art, psychology, philosophy and spirituality - and it is moving from being an 'accidental phenomenon' towards a growing trend. This seems to indicate that in mankind as a whole the old spiritual dream of 'oneness' is moving from a spiritual reality that formerly existed only in visions and transcendent realization in more or less enlightened people to a manifest reality in which ordinary people can participate. Being one is moving from a potential to an actuality, or so it seems.

So as a loose, informal network of individuals and groups we are shaping our paths in life from the creative wellspring within, evolving new forms of living, spirituality and work appropriate to our day and age. At the same time, we honor and let ourselves be inspired by, selectively and adaptively, the spiritual practices and beliefs derived from a diversity of sources, ancient and modern, worldwide.

To begin with we propose three interrelated criteria which apply in varying degrees to each of us individually as we are continually awakening the cooperative life and spirituality in and between us - not definite criteria and therefore open to further dialogue and change:

  • We affirm our own original relation to the presence of the mystery called reality. We find the source of authority within and do not project it outward onto teachers, traditions or (holy) texts.
  • We are alert to the hazards of vertical spirituality, in which very easily unprocessed emotional distress distorts spiritual development, either by denying parts of one’s nature, or by making claims that elevate one self or one's beliefs above others.
  • We are open to and love to engage in genuine dialogue about our beliefs and convictions, we endorse collaborative decision-making about spiritual and other practices undertaken together.

As autonomous and unique, yet also always interconnected beings we sense ourselves to be co-creative collaborators of a participatory culture emerging worldwide. To inquire into that culture, to support and turn it into an forever stronger force, is among the most important motives of a cooperative way of life and spirituality.

Both book and Internet platform are designed to further expand this philosophy and make it popular. (Please make your comments and remarks here.)