Integral Project Development: a way to consciously and actively participate in the Evolution of LOVE
By Kerstin Tuschik
So, alright: Let’s talk about Love!
For me, Love has always been the One force that moves the whole universe: the mysterious drive behind the big bang, the cosmic glue that linked elementary particles to atoms, atoms to molecules, molecules to cells, cells to organisms, up and up the evolutionary spiral until we get to human beings. And of course it doesn’t end here, but continues to expand our consciousness and drives our social and cultural development as a species as well as on a very personal scale.
Love for me is another name for God.
Yet, if all of this is so, why is there so much suffering in the world? Why do people kill each other in wars about their respective worldviews? Why do more than 900 million people suffer from hunger worldwide while we are throwing food away, and we would technically be able to supply everyone with enough food? Why…? (Fill in your favorite Why here!)
The evolution of Love depends on us! God depends on us!
Growing up – responsibility for the creation process
The childhood of humanity is over, collectively we have approached adolescence with all the chaos this brings, and at least some of us are starting to grow into adulthood. Growing up here means to become conscious co-creators, partners of God, of Love, of evolution, and of course this also brings increased responsibility. Our actions and non-actions have an impact on All-That-Is. Let’s not become paralyzed by this, but do our homework to learn to master the creation process…
I have seen many conscious and talented people (myself included) fail in bringing their (and my) beautiful visions into the world: visions of new educational approaches, economic systems, or communal living, and new ways of working together. Others have succeeded in realizing their projects, but feel that their original vision became distorted in the process by all the compromises they were forced to agree upon.
From my perspective, all of this mostly results from engaging partial approaches to the development of these projects.
So, after many experiences and studying classical project management as well as the Integral approach and much more, I began to ask myself how a truly Integral Project Development would look like. So, here is my take on it.
In the beginning there is a Vision
Every project starts with a vision of somebody, who conceives of an idea to create or change something. And if we are really speaking of projects that are part of the huge co-creation process in the evolution of Love they start with what Marc Gafni calls our Unique Self. That means with Wake up! Grow up! Lighten up! Open up! with clarifying our intent, learning to listen to that soft voice within us that calls us to greater service, with identifying our Unique Gifts that the world so desperately needs…
Yet, are we supposed to wait until we have clarified this core in ourselves before we can even think of showing up in the world? The answer to this, of course, is: No! On the contrary, we are always asked to start exactly where we are. It is the feedback we receive from the world for our actions that will advance our further growth as much as our conscious work on our personal and spiritual development, IF we are open to receive this feedback and listen to it.
Sharing ideas and letting them grow
So, the second step in our Integral Project Development process is to show up, to (learn to) speak about our vision, to tell it (at first) to some selected people that we trust to receive feedback and find at least one or two others who share our vision and start contributing to it.
Here we also might need to acquire some new skills that are needed, and we start to think about the structures our project needs. For this many of the planning tools of classical Project Management are really helpful, as are some of the structures (role definitions, decision making processes, and holacratic organizational structures) that I got to know while planning a project with a holacratically organized company. Furthermore we will look at the existing structures: What supports our project? What could endanger it? Who are the stakeholders?
Opening the We-Space to the Evolutionary Impulse
Additionally we need to invest time into building the community, the evolutionary We-space. Here different forms of working with a circle are helpful, through which we learn to listen to our own inside, to the others, to the being of the circle itself, and to the evolutionary impulse, Eros, or Love itself… in order to communally give birth to the highest purpose within the evolution of Love that is available to this specific group right now, and to allow this purpose to evolve over time…
This purpose will give our project the direction it needs. Vision, strategies, goals, concrete action plans, and experimental prototypes will emerge from this and develop further as we go along. The purpose is the essential measure to which our everyday decisions have to align.
Here, we have come full circle and enter the cycle a second time. Our actions as well as our friends in the community offer us feedback that we can not only use to develop the project and the community further, but also ourselves at an individual level. This process supports us again in growing, waking, opening, and lightening up, in embodying more and more what and who we truly are, our gorgeous Unique Self. And since the group can only be as clear as its members, now our work on ourselves becomes a service to the whole on a new level.
Learning Cycle from Self-Responsibility to Non-Dual Process-Thinking
At the same time the group undergoes its own learning cycle – learning how to be aware of all the needs of its members that have arisen during the evolution of consciousness: the need for individual survival and safety; the need to belong to one’s “tribe”, to identify with and be proud of it; the need to be of service to the spirits or Gods, which then become One God which expresses itself in a cosmic order that holds all of us in an adequate way; the need for fairness and justice; the need for creative expression, self-responsibility and taking care of our own needs; the need for self-esteem, appreciation, and self-actualization; the need for empathetic listening and sensitive, non-violent communication, for the integration and protection of minorities, for integrating many perspectives, for holding paradox, and the need for self-transcendence and non-dualistic process thinking.
There needs to be a space within the group to hold these needs in Love and allow for an adequate and flowing balance between agency and communion, between individual self-responsibility and adequate collective care.
On the other hand the focus needs to shift as often as possible from the fulfillment of needs to the communal alignment with the higher purpose that needs our collective work and effort. To be able to account for both, the group needs different formats: circle practices that are concentrated on the development of the group and its individual members and on supporting the unfolding of their collective creative potentials, as well as organizational structures with clear roles and accountabilities, and effective decision making processes that are geared to move the project forward in the direction of its higher purpose. For this also a good balance between strategic planning and dynamic steering is important.
So, the evolution of Love starts with us – doing the practices of love, learning to love the person in front of us by looking at them with God’s eyes, learning to let God see through our eyes, which is the realization of our Unique Self, learning to let ourselves be held by Love itself, and holding each other as Love. This then results in actions of Love: Love as radical giving.
We learn to speak about our vision; we build new structures, communicate across boundaries, and grow our community in an organic way. We first build a strong center with a few people who are able to stably hold the purpose and the energy of the group. This center then expands outwards as new skills are required and with them new people who have these skills and who will then become part of the organization and community.
We expand our circle of concern and care and interest until it truly becomes world- and even cosmocentric. We learn to serve an increasing number of people as well as the natural, social and cultural environment, and ultimately the evolution of Love itself, truly becoming One with this ever-unfolding process that we have always already been.