Changing the World
A Vision of a Circleway Village
7. The Life of the Spirit
Our guide now begins to speak of the spiritual life of the Village as we stroll leisurely and take in the reverent beauty of the forest. The canopy is high above us, and sunlight pierces it only in narrow shafts that beam down through the dark to illuminate patches of greenery on the forest floor. The awe it inspires is that of a natural cathedral and suits the subject under discussion.
“When the Circle Way Villages were being developed in theory,” she says, “there was a realization that historically intentional, consciously designed communities that last over time were all spiritually based. Monasteries, convents, ashrams, and all manner of religious communities endured not just during the life of the founders but for generations, even for centuries. The life of tribal peoples, which worked well until they were violently invaded and dispersed, was also centered around spiritual values and expressions shared in common by all the people.
“When people began to seek a new tribal living with cooperation and closeness to each other as a common goal, it was a time in the world of little cooperation but great domination and competition. It was a time of little closeness among people, but instead one of isolation and great loneliness. It was a time of fragmentation, of many religions that vied and competed with each other, each proclaiming it had the true word of God, the true view of spiritual reality. It was also a time when many, an ever-growing number of people abandoned the religious teachings in which they were raised. It was a time when it was very difficult to get together any group of people who might hold to the same spiritual values.
“But that was exactly what the founding mothers and fathers of the Circle Way movement knew was most essential. So as they gathered in their early conferences and camps to explore how to live together the Circle Way, they began to share their spiritual feelings, experiences, ideas, yearnings and expressions with each other in their circles. They observed what was arising among them as common understands and values, and they began to create new ceremonies, new songs, new dances, and new stories that grew from these feelings and values. What was felt to be universal and true in the old religions could be honored and incorporated, but the new expressions need not become fixed and might continually evolve and change. Even as human beings are continually evolving and changing, and more quickly now, as our consciousness expands into new and higher realms of understanding together with our growing knowledge of the universe.”
And now we have come upon a great clearing in the woods, perhaps a hundred meters wide and several hundred long. In the center of the clearing there is a small lake, still and serene, silently holding together images of the surrounding trees and the sky above. We begin to traverse the path that encircles the lake and find, at little distances and hidden by shrubbery from each other, there stand shrines for all the living religions of the world. In silent reverence we stand before each and enter to contemplate its beauties and mysteries. We pass small chapels, churches, temples, mosques and shrines for Vedanta and Hinduism, Buddhism (Mahayana, Theravada and Zen), for Confucianism and Taoism (there is a small island with a meditation house and bridge to it as we see in old Chinese paintings), for Zoastrians, for Jewish, Christian (Roman, Orthodox and Protestant), Muslim, Sikh, Jain, and Bahai. At the far end is a large area without buildings and only a few sacred things by fire centers, stone circles, and sacred groves for those nature centered and animist ways of natural people, such as the Celts, the indigenous people of the Americas and the Pacific islands, the original people of Australia, the tribes of Asia and Africa, of northern Europe and the Arctic.
In one hour we have traveled the spiritual paths of humankind and have taken into our thoughts our common history, one that has separated us, but one that also can bind us. Religion. The word means, “to bind together again”.