Since the early days of the community, the Findhorn Foundation has been pioneering a new way of living on the earth and linking up with other centres all over the world to form a network of love and light.
Co-founder Peter Caddy said, “It is very much our work to be a point of synthesis, to link centres together to see where we can unite. Each centre has something different that we can learn from, that they can give to us, and we can give to them.”
In this spirit of synthesis the Findhorn Foundation hosted the annual International Holistic Centres Gathering in May 2012, a meeting of peers from around the world who came together to share ideas, experience, hopes and challenges, to learn from and inspire each other, and support the planetary transformation that is unfolding with increasing momentum.
One of the participants Peter Andrew from Network News in Wales said, “I experienced it as a rare opportunity for pioneering souls from around the world to gather for mutual support and affirmation, achieved in an ideal setting, and clearly planned with great care.”
For the first time in the 30 year history of the Gathering, representatives came from all five inhabited continents, making it truly diverse and richly engaging. Tuan Trong Dam who works with ethnic minorities in Vietnam on a wide range of sustainability projects, expressed with humour mid-week, “I’m happy to be here and yet also angry that I’m being introduced to new ways of sharing and openness that are so different to my own culture.” During a ZEGG forum, facilitated in a wonderfully instinctive way by Markus Euler from the ZEGG community in Germany, Tuan announced, “I’m going to speak up even if no one is listening.”
There were many opportunities for sharing and after a conversation with Ralph White, originally from the UK and co-founder of the New York Open Center, Peter Moore from Breitenbush Hot Springs in the USA and Dmitry Morozov from Russia, Markus said, “I was struck by how the world has changed from seventy years ago when these four nations were engaged in war rather than sharing in peace.”
At different times both Tuan and Dmitry spoke light heartedly about the communist backgrounds of their countries and Tuan expressed his particular interest in strengthening connections between north and south, as one of the many ripple effects of the Gathering.
“My overall impression was of a group of passionate and committed individuals coming together to share ideas and challenges,” said Rachel Davey from The Haven in Canada. Through meeting Dmitry Morozov, founder of Kitezh Children’s Community in Russia, and his two colleagues Max Anikeev and Zhenya Ryazhskaya, they are now exploring the idea of a youth exchange programme between their two centres.
Karambu Ringera, from International Peace Initiatives (IPI) in Kenya, who works with orphan children and women living with HIV/AIDS, inspired everyone with her heartfelt sharing and great commitment to making a difference in the world. “I want to learn as much as I can because I want to create a centre similar to Findhorn in Meru – there are none that I know of in Kenya,” she said. “I want to do things that bring peace and well being into people’s lives.”
Many years ago Eileen Caddy had received the guidance, “As each centre of light grows and develops more souls are becoming aware of what is taking place. That is why at this time you will find more and more centres of light being established all over the world.”
This year the Gathering was themed the Network of Light, reflecting the early history of the Findhorn Foundation when Eileen and Peter Caddy and Dorothy Maclean would connect in meditation with other centres of love and light in the world. Not knowing where these other centres were located, they simply trusted they would meet one day.
Ana Rhodes, our Chair of Management, facilitated an open evening in the Universal Hall beginning with each participant standing to announce their name, centre and country; a physical manifestation of the Network of Light. The 37 participants of the Gathering representing 27 different centres in 16 countries mingled with members of our community and we explored our relationship with each other and our inspiration to serve.
Jonathan Caddy, son of Eileen and Peter, recalled a memory as a six-year-old boy, “In the caravan that was also the sanctuary, there was a huge globe with bits of plasticine on it. We were told these are different centres of light, but we didn’t quite know what this was all about. It’s interesting having to wait 45 years to find out what that actually means.”
“This is the most powerful Gathering so far,” said Tom Robinson, from Breitenbush Hot Springs in the USA, who has attended seven consecutive ones. “I am filled with gratitude for the wealth of knowledge, inspiration, connection and friendship I carry forward from this year’s Gathering to share with my community.“
After five days of sharing, learning and discussion, intermingled with dance, nature and games, 15 people stayed on to play a group version of the Transformation Game with the purpose, “We intend to deepen and strengthen the work and contribution of our individual centres and the connections between us, learning from each other and co-creating a network to shape the emerging future.”
There was a very alive sense that this was indeed a holistic Gathering. Sinead O’Loughlin from Chrysalis Retreat Centre in Ireland literally represented the emerging future, three months pregnant with her first child – the next generation that has the potential to restore greater balance in the world.
The wisdom of elders and intercultural exchange was also tangibly present as Karambu from Kenya invited Tom from the States to join the month long training offered by IPI next February. The elders of the western world learn from the elders of a more traditional culture where age and life experience is respected and valued in a way that has been lost in our modern society. Tom, aged 67, now feels inspired to, “Trail blaze a new way of eldership!”
The realisation unfolded amongst us that we weren’t just talking about the individual holistic centres we represented, but on a deeper level, our individual heart centres. Awareness, pain, abundance and more arose as we played the Game in five teams of three people. Each person had their turn as a player and there was a deepening sense of connection between us as we shared on a personal level in our clusters of three, about the different insight, setback and other cards that presented themselves.
At one stage we tried to clear the personal pain of one player that was holding us back from moving forward on the path. The Game declared this was not to be, until we landed on the transformation square. This cleared the pain and moved us as a group to the spiritual level. There was a clear understanding that yes there is pain in the world that we acknowledge and work with, however we can still move forward as a collective.
Johanne Burgemann, who joined us from a school in Denmark based on the teachings of Alice Bailey, expressed how the game gave her a feeling of wholeness, working on all levels, physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. After the naturally strong dynamics of the full group in the first five days together, there was a tender feeling of intimacy amongst the smaller group that helped ease the onward transition.
The Gathering was relevant, inspiring, heartfelt and fun. “The most helpful aspect for me was knowing that we in our centre are not alone and there are other people who are dealing with the same issues,” said Markus. “It seems that the gatherings meet a fundamental need for people working in holistic centres to meet with others in the same roles,” said Yogasandhan from Mangrove Yoga Ashram in Australia. “The topics and discussions gave overviews and opened up ideas and ways of thinking that can then be researched further.”
Next year, the Gathering moves back to the USA as Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California have offered to host the unique event in 2013. This promises to be a wonderful opportunity to learn from their 50 year history of exploring human potential, and continue the many conversations and connections that sparked passion and enthusiasm for our unfolding vision of a more positive and sustainable world.