NVC AND SPIRITUALITY, PART I
Congener: Robert Gonzales
Recorder: Robin Rose
Others Present: Many, known below as P (participant)

Robert: In whatever way I approach my life deeply, the manifestation will be social change. I approach social change from the inside instead of approaching it as an external concept. My relationship to NVC is about how can I manifest spirit. NVC gives me the boat to cross the river. So the core of the work is "What is my relationship to life, to all of my experience?"

NVC helps me, not to get to the other shore, but to remove the obstructions that show me I'm already there. When I'm most connected to spirit I realize there's nothing to achieve, no success, nothing to get to. When I want to achieve something, I get into an urgency and a fear that I'm not going to get there. When I'm alive in that place beyond concepts, there's no fear.

I'm hungry to share with people from that ground of being. Not to focus on social change as an agenda. The social change and political action flows effortlessly when I'm in this place.

What is my relationship to my needs is the core of my work. Needs being the dream I have. When needs come up, if I sense any kind of urgency in there, I check myself by asking, "Do I have to have it," then I know its a demand and not a request. There's a great freedom when I can express a need and not have to have it. I want it passionately but I don't have to have it. It appears to be a paradox.

P: How do we comfort ourselves knowing all this stuff is going on. All the pain in the world?

P: What is it, what lifestyle, that flows out of this concept of we are all perfect, we don't need to change? What is the attribute in the way we live? What does it mean to be a Giraffe, what is the lifestyle.

P: How do I live my life, in a state of beingness? How can I be a "productive" Giraffe and "be" at the same time.

P: NVC has provided a framework for being spiritually grounded. Story about a woman fired for her spiritual beliefs (which she was not pushing onto anyone else) and how that has created discouragement and fear in P.

P: When I see other people's needs unmet, it's my own needs unmet and that can create anxiety and frustration and that has led me to work forcefully on the word and trying to coerce change out of my pain. NVC and spirituality offers a more pleasant life-affirming way. NVC lets me hear what is alive and find strategies to make life more wonderful. The key is, what is alive in me. Once I'm connected, I have trust that my actions will come together with others to meet everyone's needs. The key now is doing the work to stay in touch with what is alive in me. Otherwise I fall out of the flow. "If you bring forth what is within you, you will be saved. If you don't bring forth what is within you, you will be destroyed." Jesus.

P: I struggle with individual need and common need. Am disturbed by the spirituality that is so self focused. Our own needs have to have give and take to meet the common need.

P: I find it helpful, rather than see my needs versus the common need, to reframe things and to see that I have a great need to contribute to the well-being of the community. That way I have the pleasure of meeting a need rather than giving it up for something else.

P: Creating a certain openness to see how it will all evolve.

P: My practice group considers NVC as "spiritual practice for dummies" The old testament teaches us to love God as yourself. The New testament teaches us to love our neighbor as yourself. I think NVC teaches us to love yourself. The Giraffe and Jackal are love and fear. Tony Dimello says the clearer I become the more change will happen in the world, within God's mysterious ways.

Robert: I am wanting to cultivate social change as coming form the heart of my needs, not something I'm supposed to do. I don't want an external image of social change. When I stay in the beauty of my heart, then I want that beauty for other people too.

P: When I read about deep unmet needs in the world, I feel them. If I can take that into a more expansive place of what I want to contribute, then I don't need to get anxious and fearful.

P: From the passion of your center, can reach out to humanity. My tradition is the jackal as personality, and the Giraffe is the soul.

P: Do ego mediated needs keep us stuck? I'm concerned that many needs are needs of the ego, i.e., does one's soul need approval? And

P:The needs are the same but I can express them as either Giraffe or Jackal. But there's no hierarchy.

P: When I've created self-fulfillment, my needs are fulfilled.

P: It's important for me to enjoy meeting the needs of others. Not from an ego gratification level, but a deep soul level of enjoyment. That's my gauge. That's a place where my individual needs and collective needs come together.

P: How do you do that?

P: Not be attached to the outcomes.

P: And take time to acknowledge the pleasure of what you have contributed to others.

Robert: What is my relationship to my needs and how can I meet them? Can I meet them with a joy that flows naturally? And then the distinction between individual and group disappears because I am connected.

Often what perpetuates pain is "What I don't want." OK, that's where the sadness is, but what do I want? That's where the dream is. Even to connect with you in the pain.

My work is to cultivate the consciousness of what I do what, not what I don't want.

Quote from St. Exubery in The Little Prince. "If you want to build a ship, don't drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work and give orders. Instead teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea."

The yearning for the vast sea is something I yearn for, whether it's individual or group needs. When I'm in that place of yearning, I'm at peace and I can joyously give.

P: Lynn Graphorn wrote Excuse me, Your life is Waiting. It's very good.

P: The source of her material is The Hicks who channel from Abraham.

P: Read Love Dogs by Rumi--it's about the nature of longing.

One night a man was crying, Allah! Allah!
His lips grew sweet with the praising,
until a cynic said,
"So I have heard you calling out, but have you ever gotten any response?"

The man had no answer to that.
He quit praying and fell into a confused sleep.
He dreamed he saw Khidr, the guide of souls, in a thick green foliage.
"Why did you stop praising?"
"Because I've never heard anything back."
"This longing you express is the return message."

The grief you cry out from
draws you toward union.
Your pure sadness
that wants help
is the secret cup

Listen to the moan of a dog for its master.
That whining is the connection.

There are love dogs
no one knows the names of.

Give your life
to be one of them.

P: How do we open the circle so introverts speak?

Robert: I consider myself an introvert. I enjoy speaking when I'm moved and not when I'm not moved. I worry that labels will limit me and then there will be rules. I'd rather hear the need and the feeling behind the person not speaking and that will give me a greater connection which will give me an understanding.

P: It's being alive in the moment.

P: It's important for me to have strategies to meet my needs as well as the needs of others. The social norms shape the contexts in which we meet our needs. So transforming the strategies with which we meet our needs is part of the social change context.

P: Why do people stay silent in the moment when something uncomfortable happens? (Refers to P being interrupted in yesterday's session). Silence and the perpetuation of the domination system.

P: When I hear forceful voices, I can be shut down. I can defer to those voices and feel like I'm a bad girl. I felt like a stranger and a newcomer and I didn't have the right for my voice to be heard.

P: It's important to not take responsibility for another person's actions or feel they are doing it to you.

P: If you have the confidence to say that, do, it will help us who don't feel we have the voice yet to talk.

P: Is NVC always focusing on the person who is in pain and ignoring the person who is making a contribution to the group?

P: Have an empathy provider for people who are in pain.

Robert: I need of sense of completion, of appreciation and gratitude.

NVC AND SPIRITUALITY, PART II
Convenor: Robert Gonzales
Recorder: Robin Rose
Others Present: Many, known below as P (participant)

Robert: The heart of spirituality is a touch of Beingness beyond conceptualization. The beauty of NVC is that it helps people get out of their mind, into their heart, and into a place of authenticity and nonjudgementalness. But it still moves in the personal dimension, which can't come close to the Transcendent. I'm interested in a spirituality which includes and goes beyond the personal spirituality of NVC.

The ego is a mental phenomena is a complex organization of thoughts pertaining to the self. It includes self images, narratives, beliefs, etc. All of our personal history is ego. The Eastern traditions say it doesn't even exist, it is Maya, and needs to be transcended, there is only Being. Western traditions on the other hand don't acknowledge the existence of Being.

The concept of needs is the link, the doorway between the ego and the transcendent. But that doorway can reinforce the ego/personal needs. The ego is a conceptualization. A child starts in an undifferentiated matrix when he or she is one with mother. When a child goes through the necessary process of individuation and separation, that is a mental process. A system of conceptualizations gets created which becomes the basis of the self. The ego gives us a healthy sense of who we are.

My needs are either in service of ego or go to a quality of Being which is connection. I've gotten in a conflict with someone where their feedback to me indicated they didn't see me in the same way I see myself. In NVC I would say I'm feeling frustrated because I need understanding. But this need for understanding is a need in service of ego: the need serves to prop up the image I have of myself as a good person. The functions of the mind have to do with survival. In this case, what was threatened was my self-image. But when I tune into the need behind the self-concept that was wanting to be reinforced, I find that behind that is the need for connection. The need for connection doesn't reinforce my image of myself.

Any time we identify with "I am____ " (fill in the blank) , that isn't me. The other place, the transcendent can't be described as an I am something.

P: When you had that interaction with that woman, were you really experiencing a fear of going to a more raw and exposed place?

Robert: No. Fear is associated with an ego concept. the ego's concerned are based in fear. connection is based on love. We need to honor all the ego needs however because through emphasizing and connecting with them, we can get closer to a level of Being. Many people don't have a healthy sense of self and one needs to have a healthy self image in order to maneuver in life.

The purest connection we have is with Life, which is presenting itself in this moment, in every moment. I'm just here enjoying the flow. Then the needs we want met from others become much more basic.

I don't believe autonomy is a need. I already am an autonomous being. What I like is an acknowledgment of my autonomy. At the same time, I mostly live in my own personal needs. But I get to the spiritual flow by going through my personal needs.

P: Who is the one that wants the connection?

P: Does being have needs? No, it is whole and complete unto itself.

Robert: When we meet each others needs, it opens the door for us to connect with each other. It removes the obstacles which then reveals that we are already connected. There are no needs in this place, just obstacles. Our NVC language reveals the truth of an already existent reality. When we do that enough it gets to the place that bridges both worlds: love. Love transcends the boundary of you and me.

Robin: The way I see it is to follow the needs back to Source. The Being place is pure, without needs. But to the degree we have forgotten, the needs are like the pathway back. "Ego mediated" needs may be more forgetful, but they are still pathways.

Robert: When needs are really met, what happens is my Being is visible and I become consciously radiant. I am aliveness. It's OK that my need for respect is met. It feels good and I become more present. Spirit wants more presence. Pain and suffering is obstructed spirit.

P: There's a story about the seeker riding the donkey. When the seeker gets to the gate of his or her destination, s/he must get off the donkey. Only the heart gets you through. The donkey is the tool. The donkey is NVC.

Robert: "Using NVC" is being on the donkey. There is no NVC, there's only life and flowing. When you're in Being there are no needs, only the flow.

Robin: There's also the qualities of being. The Sufis have the 99 names of God: love, compassion, beauty, strength, Divine Will, and so on. When one connects to these qualities, through needs, then one comes closer to Source.

Robert: And when someone is expressing themselves, I don't judge them as being in ego needs or not, I just stay with the compassion, because in that moment, that being is engulfed in suffering.

I use two tools to help in this process. First is to ask, "Who is the one needing." (the ego). and the second tools is a contemplation, "What is my relationship to my need?" Do I have to have this need met right now or not? If there is any urgency? Is the expression of the need a demand and not a request?

Marshall once said, "I want my needs to be flowers for your table, not air for my lungs." My needs are a gift. It's something I want but I don't have to have it. Any thoughts of "I gotta have it!" get in the way of my needs as vehicles to being. All we can truly do with each other is give. There is a demand in pain of having to have it.