By Louis Bourgeois
Thirty-three years ago, at the age of 33, I began my journey of healing and discovery. I had read every book that I could find, on the subjects of philosophy, transpersonal psychology, spirituality, nutrition and health, but now it was time to experience my “new earth.”
My exploration took me a number of times to the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, New York, and to their winter retreat center at Maho Bay on St. Johns in the U.S. Virgin Islands. I visited the Kripalu Yoga Retreat Center in Lennox, Mass. for an introductory weekend retreat. I spent five days at The Abode, a Sufi retreat center in New Lebanon, New York doing a dance and meditation retreat. I lived for a short time at the Sirius Community (Findhorn 2) in Shutesbury, Mass. I was keen to see how others were putting spiritual principles into practice, because beyond the programs offered to the public, each of these venues were about building one version or another of what I call Conscious Community.
Now at 66, after earlier incarnations in Minnesota, New Mexico, North Carolina, and Costa Rica I am developing a Conscious Community in Cuenca. The OASIS Center for Conscious Living is first a teaching center, but the fullest intention is that of developing Conscious Community.
In times past spiritual centers evolved around the teaching of one avatar or master or another. The most popular place for this to happen until 1970 or so was in India. With the influence of The Beatles and the counter culture decade of the 1960’s many centers began to grow in the U.S. In addition to the centers mentioned above, followers of Chogyam Trungpa developed the Naropa Institute in Boulder, Colorado. Devotees of the guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi developed a center focused on Transcendental Meditation in rural Iowa. Those entranced by the guru now known simply by the name Osho moved their headquarters from India to Antelope Ranch in Oregon. Many types of Buddhist temples and Zen centers grew first in New York and California. Now they exist all over the world.
For me, I came to see and feel the influence of the shamanic peoples of the Andes, particularly the Incas in Peru and Ecuador. And I was quite taken with the ancient prophecy of the eagle and the condor which says “when the eagle flies with the condor it will mark the birth of a new earth.” I now see the areas between two significant points on earth, Volcan Chimborazo and Machu Picchu, essentially the Inca Trail, as a new epicenter of spiritual transformation for our species and our planet. Another extremely important point about our current evolution is that today we are ready to step forward as “1,000 points of light.” There are enough of us that are awakening to our radiant truth today that the teachings of the masters of the past are no longer the “cutting edge” of our transformation.
In one’s personal process of transformation and awakening there are four distinct phases. The first phase, normally occupying our youth and adolescence, beginning at about 18 years of age, holds the purpose of grounding us in the world. This comes via our tribal relationships with family and friends, and is marked by the conditioning of our culture and community. The second phase of our developmental journey is dominated, at least in the culture of North America, by a period of acquisition and accomplishment. This phase of our life’s journey usually consumes between 24 and 36 years. The third phase, if one is truly on the path of awakening, is a period of disappointment and disillusionment, and if one is so “lucky,” certain devastation. Old forms begin to crumble and we are likely to question many of our core beliefs. This time in the wilderness, often called the “dark night of the soul,” can last 7-21 years. If we survive this era of transformation we become ready to step into “a new earth,” the fourth phase.
And this is where Conscious Community becomes an essential ingredient. If we are going to become “finders” rather than “seekers” we need the guidance and support of others who are walking a similar path. We no longer need the “shamans” who helped us navigate through the wilderness, our therapists, healers, and teachers. Now we need to find true friends, a spiritual family with whom we can take the baby steps into a reality that the vast majority of people in our world will never know. We are literally being called to build this new earth, a kingdom of heaven in the space time world.
It is lovely that here in Ecuador they call our elder years “tercero edad,” or the third age. Our childhood and our adulthood are behind us. The last era of our lives can become a verdant garden, filled with flowering dreams that never could have been imagined in our childhood or our adulthood. In fact these dreams are not of this world, but for myth and legend. These dreams, if we allow them to flower, will truly become a new reality, a gift to our children and grandchildren, a new earth.
Louis Bourgeois lives in Cuenca with his wife and baby. He teaches courses in Conscious Living and Conscious Dying. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org