Recovering groupness but retaining individuality

As Carolyn Baker points out in Sacred Demise, civilization is a manifestation of heroic consciousness. I wonder whether its origins might be in a partial disconnection from nature needed for the successful hunter to kill his prey. Also — and more importantly — competition for a mate favors those who are most aggressive in both the human and animal worlds. Over the millennia this disconnected ego-consciousness has expanded to conquering, dominating, exploiting and now destroying the very life force and environment on which all life depends.

Following Einstein’s maxim that “a problem cannot be solved at the same level of consciousness that created it”, it would appear that the problems of civilization’s destruction of the planet cannot be solved by heroic consciousness — our problem-solving methods are born of disconnection.

In a book review of Carolyn Baker’s book, i.e. Sacred Demise: Walking the Spiritual Path of Industrial Civilization’s Collapse, Janaia of Peak Moment TV explains how Carolyn Baker sees the emergence of civilization as co-evolving with the heroic consciousness, i.e. the predecessor of contemporary individualism, which sees itself as above nature. With the coming collapse of the civilizational model, what is needed is a recovery of interconnectedness and ‘groupness’, she explains.


“In his engagingly titled essay “Out of Our Ego Houses and into Collective Intelligence,” Andrew MacDonald points us towards a related alternative as we face collapse — one in which the individual re-joins group life in a way that is different from our long-distant tribal origins.

MacDonald notes that we evolved in groups for our survival and benefit:

“Communal life — our tribal past — valued the group over the individual. We left our communal past to put the individual’s benefit (and especially material benefit) before the common good, in the process losing much of our memory of community.”

“In this time of rapidly approaching limits we need the gifts of both community and individuality to deal with what we’re facing…. Both the threat and the solution present themselves to the collective, not just to individuals.”

MacDonald believes there’s a taboo against reacquainting ourselves with the “groupness” in our nature. We defend against losing our individuality. “But when individuated individuals move back consciously into a group they can become aware of a group mind, a collective intelligence.”

He gives us a flavor for what it’s like returning to a tribal mind while retaining our individual awareness: “There’s an impression that ideas or impressions are coming more rapidly and coming out of the group, not just from this or that individual. Things emerge within the one and the many of the group.”

I’m fortunate to have tasted the experience of groupness. For eight years in the late 1970s I lived in a household-sized heart community we called “Journey Inn” (pun intended). Our “group mind” emerged over time in our weekly meetings. Inspired by Findhorn and using communication tools from est and group work, we learned to atune to that group presence/mind in this experiment in shared living, as well the groups, celebrations and vision quest projects we undertook.

We’d sit in our meetings, stopping at times to silently listen and “feel into” a question or idea or stuck feeling. I learned to trust that whatever thing showed up for anyone might contribute to the shared creation — which often didn’t coalesce until everybody showed up with their part (especially the weird or seemingly off-the-wall sentiments).

That “group mind” took on its own identity. What I experienced wasn’t just a collection of our individual egos, but some kind of integration into a shared mind or beingness.”

Video with author Carolyn Baker:

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