Vision 07… Occupy Together: Direction, Discipline, Devotion



a Moment for Wisdom…


A Moment for…


 “A vision is not just a picture of what could be; it is an appeal to our better selves, a call to become something more.

Rosabeth Moss Kanter

Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.

Carl Jung









a Moment with Sharif…




This week’s offering for the “Occupy Together” phenomenon has a theme: “The 3 D’s: Direction – Devotion – Discipline”.


Today, we’ll focus on Direction.  Since I’ve already spent much time talking about the necessity of Vision, I will spend a little time focusing the concept.  (Please refer to my earlier “Moments” on vision…)


Many people don’t know the difference between a “vision” and a “good idea”.  A “vision” comes from the heart, and it comes from beyond the individuated self.  Let me give you a story on what that means…


I once led a group in a weekend workshop.  I had asked the 60 people to bring an item for a group altar.  At the end of the workshop, the question was: what to do with the items? 


All of them started giving their opinions and ideas.  Give everything back.  Make a medicine bundle and bury it.  Make a medicine bundle and burn it.  Make a medicine bundle and keep it. Give it to me. Throw it all in a dumpster…


I suggested that we all sit for 10 minutes in silence. During that time, they were to push aside their own ideas and thoughts, and listen for another Voice, the Voice of Spirit to guide them.  It was not about having an idea, but about accessing Spirit.


After 10 minutes, I brought them back.  One person said, “I just had the intuition to give the bundle to Mr. and Mrs. Smith, the elders in our group.”  Surprise lit up on virtually everyone’s face: all of them had the same idea!


Except Mr. Smith, who was slowly shaking his head.  “I didn’t get that.  What I got was that we should give it to HER (indicating his wife).”


There was silence in the room.  Mrs. Smith said slowly, “That’s interesting.  What I got was that you all should give the bundle to ME. I wasn’t going to say anything, because that sounded egotistical to me.”


Sixty people, complete unanimity of thought, ten minutes (okay, we were together for the whole weekend…)  I think arriving at consensus is that easy… once we know how to set aside our own thoughts, fears, wants, needs… and focus ourselves on the Spirit/Source.


I have direct experience in leading people through very differing political and cultural landscapes to arrive at powerful consensus… (Anglos/Latinos; rich/poor; urban/rural; legal/undocumented; powerful/powerless…) The trick is to get people “out of their heads”.  It all revolves around the questions that you ask, and your willingness to allow Spirit to emerge within the group…


Of course, one of the most difficult aspects of this is that “spirit” gets all clogged up and conflated with “religion”, so that people cannot just let go and experience it.  Many activists on the Left are downright allergic to anything that smacks of “religion”, to the point that they are more than willing to toss out some very valuable babies with the toxic bathwater.  (More on this later in the week, when we get to “Devotion”.)


Visions First, then Goals…

When I was at the “Occupy Portland” march, I saw three signs: “Reform the Fed”, “End the Fed” and “Smash Capitalism”.  These three sentiments were very heart-felt, very passionate, and MUTUALLY CONTRADICTORY AND CONFLICTING.  You cannot do these three things — they conflict with each other.


Let’s say that a group of 100 people divides itself into 3, each part working toward one of these goals.  This means that, at any given point in time, the majority of the group is working against you.  This is like putting equally powerful propellers at each end of a ship, and expecting it to get anywhere.


This is why I say “vision comes first”.  The currently painful process of consensus in the GA’s is a function of the lack of a coherent, unifying vision. 


Some time ago, I watched as a colony of ants worked to get a huge dead wasp down a really small ant hole.  It took a long time.  Part of the group thought it should go down head first, the other thought it should go down butt first.  They spent a LOT of time spinning the wasp around and around.  Some started biting off legs and antenna, taking them down, until all of them realized it wasn’t going to fit as one piece, dismembered it and took it down in stages.


In that sloppy process, the ants were united in a single vision: “Get the wasp down the hole”.  Their confusion (and trial and error) came in HOW to achieve that vision — goals, strategies and tactics.  They achieved the vision, and I’ll bet they learned what to do with the next dead wasp they encountered.


Now, imagine if half the ants had a different goal: “Keep dead wasps out of the colony”.  Instead of the “head group” and the “butt group”, there was the “pull the wasp away from the hole” group.  How frustrated would the ants be without a unifying vision?


What is the Real Problem?

In all 3 of my books, the first thing I discuss is the nature of the problem to be solved.  Without an understanding of the problem, one cannot begin to fashion a solution.  In this, the OT folks have got it RIGHT.  Yet, most still do not understand the totality of the problem.


Railing against “Wall Street” does not state the real problem.  The corporate billionaires are diseased – but their disease is not “greed”.  The disease is an emptiness of Spirit, one that they try to fill with money.  IT IS THE SAME DISEASE AS THE AMERICAN “MIDDLE-CLASS” and everyone else… the disease of living in a soul-starved society.  The “banksters” try to fill their emptiness with more millions.  The rest of us try to fill the same emptiness with credit cards, “entertainment” and plastic crap.  Different behaviors, same disease: not knowing how to feed our Spirits.


How do we feed our Spirits?  More on that, later in the week…









This will be the last week for “Moments”.  I am preparing a major offering for January, directed at the “missing element” in the “Occupy Together” activities: directly linking SACRED and SOCIETAL TRANSFORMATION!


This represents a very new and important change in my work.  For the past two decades, my work has focused PROVIDING INFORMATION on shifting consciousness, so that we can shift the toxic systems and structures of Breaker society.


Now, that has changed.My work is shifting away from providing information, to ORGANIZING MODELS OF AN “AWAKENED” SOCIETY!  What OT has taught me: people are ready to do something, to take action.  The “waking up” must be more than political, more than economic… it must represent an awakening of the human Spirit, human values, and human principles.


More on this new work in the coming weeks.







All photos by Sharif Abdullah, unless otherwise noted.

Sharif photo by Peg Owens








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4 Responses to Vision 07… Occupy Together: Direction, Discipline, Devotion

  1. Shirlene says:

    I am with you all the way, Sharif. Thanks, for the words of wisdom.

  2. John Nerikaat says:

    Hi Sharif,

    What you have written makes good sense.

    As I have noted before, different people are at different levels of consciousness. To attempt to get everyone at the same level of Spirit, Consciousness and Vision is perhaps impossible. The example of your 60 workshop attendees is inspiring but perhaps they were at the workshop because there were in the same range and degree of consciousness.

    I attended a day long workshop in Group Facilitation some years back. We are 25 complete strangers meeting for that day only. Through the day we worked through exercises where we achieved Consensus on the problem definition and an action plan to address the problem. It was an example of a more mind/physical process but I am sure the heart and spirit were at work as well.

    The GA initially was struggling with their process. The last meeting I attended, last Friday, was smooth. They have worked out the kinks in the process.

    Indeed the long term vision has to develop and I agree it has to do with internal change but it will take all of the people involved the most awake and enlightened and the least, the most visionary and the most activist, the most strategic and the most tactical to acknowledge, respect and accept their different contributions and above all it will take at least a critical mass of 15 to 25% of the adult citizenry to come together to work on this and collective realize that we have to be the change that we seek to see in the world and not re-inventing the wheel.

    John Nerikaat

  3. Chuck Willis says:

    I know how to feed my spirit, and I couldn’t agree more to that primary necessity. I am, therefore, also working to help others do the same. And, I don’t know how to feed my belly unless I can acquire food at a grocery store. If we are going to dismantle what is not working, with what shall we replace it? Can we? Where, when, how and by whom? Visions need detail. I agree that you are trained and capable of providing the type of “emergent-style” leadership that is needed to aid us, collectively, in coming to consensus around a common vision. We desperately need that leadership, and that vision!

  4. Pingback: Occupy as a New Societal Model & Ways To Improve It | The Future of Occupy

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