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Dripstone is the research blog for queer visual artist, researcher, writer and curator Venus Jasper.

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The Personal is Political

Community

The most clear thing to say is that community, in the visionary perception of Tamera, is not a separatist-farm-village in an old cloister-compound somewhere faraway from ‘civilization’ .. Community is not an escape, it is rather an answer to a deeply felt calling to feel home or belonging on this planet. To me, at this point, community is a tangible sense of belonging to something larger than our own selves, it permeates how we are all active and political carriers or reality and the enlightenment of our experience of life. Community to me is a warm bath in which one can truly relax, truly devote him/herself and find resonance and support in all issues of private and political life amongst the members of the community and the world at large.

Community is not literally a ‘village’, rather it is the feeling of knowing everyone you share your direct living environment with intimately; which is a way of life that most people have no possibility to experience.


“Community is not a sentimental dream of young people but is the next step of evolution.” - Dieter Duhm, co-founder of Tamera.

According to Tamera, the future of our planet is mainly depending on whether we are able to build a peaceful, healing coexistence amongst each other. Amongst nature and all its creations, e.g. “the Community of all Beings” and this requires an entire re-education of how we see ourselves and others.

In order to accomplish sustainable and functioning community we need basic knowledge of how to deal with conflicts, of how to build a base of trust amongst each other (and to ourselves), even when dealing with the hottest and most confronting issues.

What became apparent in Tamera is the relation between the inner states of a person and their ability to observe/see the world around them. Childhood and society-originated traumas obscure the clear view of the Devine creation that we are living in and on: our earth and cosmos. A direct link is being established between the Personal and the Political. And this way of seeing life paves a way to powerful and radical transformation of life on earth in a rather rapid time-frame. In a sense our own lives become change-makers in the larger fabric of planetary existence - which I believe is true.

In the communitarian function of Tamera there is one mayor tool that is being used on a weekly (if not daily) basis. This tool is called the Forum, or the SD Forum.

Forum

The Forum is a group activity or space where everyone present is invited to share parts of their process and/or questions in a non-cynical yet performative manner. Upon the moderated conclusion of an individuals share, both the facilitators as well as every single onlooker is given space to mirror the performer. The whole group in this way provides a feedback to guide someone into a deeper understanding of their struggles and blind-spots. It is a type of therapy that appears in the sheer momentum of an entire group expressing their feelings in relation to the input.

Had I not been studying Psychotherapy myself I would have easily taken this magnificent tool (the forum) as a panacea for everything that could possibly occur in terms of conflicts amongst people who live in community. Although it is true that we all have been victims and perpetrators in our past and present life times and we all have received many wounds in the course of our karmic life journeys, the powerful Forum simply doesn’t go deep enough into the highly personal nature of many traumas and wounds. Although the mechanism of seeing personal conditioning in the light of the large political is in fact very helpful, it occurred to me in many situations that some deep psychological spaces where not effectively brought to light and healed by doing so. Although it is very empowering to have your personal ‘problem’ turned into a political/societal scale, it just isn’t always the most beneficial road to liberation.


It is true moreover that people who can find their personal struggles mirrored in larger patterns in our world can more easily reach the hope or momentum required to work on these struggles - but it can also prove to be a serious set-back for both you and the society at large. Still, seeing your problem as a problem that the world has can offload a lot of shame and/or guilt around your personal circumstances: you become a mere carrier of a humanitarian resonance-field/situation and you can find support-groups and discover that you are not the only one facing a certain situation. You are not the sole victim/perpetrator of this ugly side of humanity and you are not the only one feeling it; in other words: YOU ARE NOT ISOLATED AND ALONE IN YOUR CIRCUMSTANCE. All helpful and soothing things to take into account. It is stimulating to know that there is a way out and this way has been taken by lots of other folks before you. THE PERSONAL IS POLITICAL means that the things which separate and/or obstruct you from empowerment and fulfillment are to be addressed as important steps that a true humanitarian civilization needs to make.

However, there is a critical note to this philosophy. Exactly because the Personal=The Political we have to check very thoroughly if we are seeing our selves clearly. Are we turning our True Self into the Political, or are we turning out conditioned/traumatized/false-selves/Ego into the Political? Just ask yourself: are you turning your True Self into culture? or your traumatized/oppressed self?

Perils on the road to communitarian Self Development


Certain parts of a person’s halted development won’t be successfully developed, seen and/or healed when that lack of personal development is addressed as a mere result of a societal problem…. Individual blocks are simply not always the result of society-at-large and are also not always reflected in the larger societal/political situation: and even if they do, where should we focus our energy? When every block/struggle or personal situation is seen as a reflection of the larger ‘social/political’ there is a danger that a person can fool him/herself very much. Although bringing our focus away from our isolated self can relieve the pressure on the wound, the issue isn’t resolved in this manner.


I am using the title 'Personal is Political’ because Tamera overtly uses this way of looking at the world as a means of developing/liberating people and the society - linking these two realms together as a means to further the human venture. I want to make it clear at this point that I very much appreciate and admire this way of looking at life, for it is true that many (if not all) things that are a part of our personal struggles are a part of the challenges of society at large…. but this very thinking (when adopted prematurely) can be a dangerous set-back on someones personal empowerment. In fact, many personal blocks originate much closer to home and they actually color the way we look at the world and at ourselves, and even when we are certain we are seeing the real world - we are simply projecting ourselves onto it.


For example: Instead of being confronted with their lack of development or blocked life-force a person might skip the point of personal empowerment and give the moment over to the philosophical idea that 'the personal is political’ - which seems reasonable and soothing, for it momentarily lifts the weight of their shoulders. But we should be mindful that we are not projecting our lack of personal empowerment and self-reflection on the world - and instead of developing ourselves spend a lot of energy on 'saving the world’ because we believe that it is the world that needs to be changed, not us.

Instead of being challenged and called to responsibility to look at our OWN behavior and false-beliefs/projections on the world, we see exactly our personal issue AS the world. When this happens we are at risk of developing personalities, professions and a self-image that we believe is our real self while it is actually a result of the lack of development (or the block, or the blind spot) that makes us see the world and ourselves in this way in the first place…. so we are effectively sending a lot of energy into a worldview that is false and we actually don’t really know who we are - which is tragic, for we might never come to full empowerment and self-possession, in addition to raising an unhealthy larger-society.

Responsibility

During my time in Tamera, I and others have made the overal heteronormativity of Tamera (which bothered me personally) a topic of the human endeavor at large: for how on earth could a place call itself the future of mankind when marginal entities such as gay/lesbian/trans/etc people aren’t actively invited and pursued to join Tamera? How can Tamera be the future of mankind if I (as a gay man waiting on the periphery of life) had to constantly witness all the majorly straight man and woman getting together in the most epic post-apocalyptic romances in this barren Portuguese Oasis? Why was I not having enlightened romances - and how was Tamera (nay, the whole world) to blame for this?

While we continue to work on the growing self-awareness of Tamera and hopefully make this pivotal and historical place more conscious of its overtly hetero (and privileged) based perceptions, we also have to face the fact that some issues are actually entirely our OWN to overcome…. For how easy is it for me to ignore my own underdeveloped means of being vulnerable and truly connected with others by blaming the heteronormativity of the community I find myself in? … This is a thing that many gay-men (if not everyone) continues to do; over-jumping a clear call for self-empowerment and work on self-esteem by blaming the world for making them the outsiders. Ignoring a clear invitation to see oneself as an integral and honorable part of the whole by forwarding our own fear and power to external oppressors - which actually extends the power of the oppresor far beyond their actual power. We keep ourselves oppressed and don’t hold ourselves accountable for it.

In the process of bringing light into the most darkest parts of our psyche it is easy to give away our personal responsibility. Instead of lifting ourselves up from the bullshit we tell ourselves we put the sole accountability on the ‘larger society’ …. For a community such as Tamera (which lacks a conduit of both institutionalized body-oriented professional group-psychotherapy AND body-work in general) it can be dangerous to put all the emphasis on the human endeavor at large as a focus for the elevation of its members…. Though this ideology is powerful and radical it is also somewhat borg-esque, whereas the dangers of opening-up visitors and long-term members to very deep and primal traumatic experiences are embellished by a a focus on the mission of a unified global mankind….

Personally, I have been a witness to several occasions in which someone’s process was getting closer and closer to a moment of total panic, eruption of anger and or the full-disclosure of deeply personal wounds, (e.g. a true need of guidance/counseling) without there actually being a safe and educated vessel for such work to successfully be processed. There simply are PERSONAL THINGS THAT ARE NOT POLITICAL … and by cloaking these personal wounds as political issues we are collectively throwing communitarian-glitter into someone’s sour tissue, which in the end will only make those dark parts of life more misunderstood, more mis-guided and more un-assescible in the process.


Reality

The wounds I am referring to are invisible to most of us, since they seem so very ‘real’ and fit seamlessly to the very mental and logical way we perceive our selves and our history … unknowing that this very logical reasoning that appears so sane is actually a product from the wound itself, we constitute a thinking that perpetuates the truthful appearance of our childhood conditioning, which turns illusions and mis-guidance into the unchangeable, unavoidable and painful parts of human life - which we call REALITY… a thing which often entails lots of unavoidable suffering and setbacks that we dramatically identify with and base large part of our artistic cultural expression upon…. But in reality not a lot in life has to be about suffering, perpetual oppression and a struggle for survival. Tragically, our societies today seem to cater to- and facilitate exactly this inner-cult of suffering - society even seems to proof the reality of our suffering .. (just look at all the war on TV).. Obviously I am not implying that there isn’t such thing as pain or difficulties in life, nor that there isn’t warfare and bloodshed. As said, our current state of affairs indeed brings about tons of unnecessary pain, destruction, suffering and a loss of preciousness to many parts and people of this world… but this is not because of REALITY, this is because of a mayor underdevelopment in our self-realistation; a belief and addiction to suffering and competition -> we have an unlimited belief in scarcity.


Most personal and global suffering has to do with an internalized and habituated stance towards the challenges of life and the false beliefs that knock us (and the less fortunate) down whenever we experience spaces of global ascension… when we have enlightening idea’s and realizations we get a bit insecure and feel vulnerable and quickly regress back to old patterns, trauma-conditioned thinking and dis-empowered reasoning. And pain is involved in this process, for the Ego suffers a lot when it is ushered to surrender its comforting illusions (e.g the world is evil and I am powerless) to the Altar of the True Self and begin true liberation.

But before I maneuver further into the realm of Spiritual Psychotherapy I want to bring the topic back to my experience of the Tamera community and connect it to Sustainability.

Sustainability

A mayor aspect of Tamera and many other intentional communities around the world is to become more sustainable and environmentally responsible, which in a way has less to do with composting our waste and consuming less than it has to do with developing interpersonal traits such as the cultivation of communication skills, self-empowerment, Self-work, truth and trust as a basis for a functioning civilization. The necessity to reach this True Sustainability requires a change that can only happen in a lasting way if we go to the roots of our Selves and develop new basic patterns for culture, society and ourselves. Establishing trust and transparency among people (and in relation to the self) is an individual and also a societal, cultural and political issue. And I’m telling ya,… once you’ve experienced what this sort of trust and transparency can actually bring about you can safely say you’ve arrived ‘home’. Being kind, responsible and in true communion with the natural/ecological environments simply works lots better when we have a clear sight on who we really are.

As said, in Tamera, the individual conditions/questions/circumstances/pains are approached as a direct parallel to the larger conditions of society and world politics. In this double-sided approach both the alteration of the external factors (conditions of life such as our nutrition, our habitat, our social circles, where and how we live, our spiritual/emotional hygiene, our ability to process and speak and be heard and listened to, etc) and the alteration of our internal factors (traumas, false-believes, trust issues, envy, jealously, hate, blocks, denial, fakery/dramatisation, etc) can be seen as ways to develop ourselves and our world.

Re: Internal/External
As Above So Below
Personal=Political

When taking the critique I have expressed earlier in this piece into account, this revolutionary approach to life (the Personal is the Political) can turn both our Self-work as well as our political/environmental activation as Communitarian members into tools to further the planetary existence. These two realms feed back into each other like a double-helixed continuum….. Which doesn’t mean that our world is an overwhelmingly complex state of affairs, but rather it incites a possibility for growth that can be approached through many different and exciting levels and angles which all feed back into the same movement upwards.

Concluding, the notion of ‘community’ to me at this point has become a tangible and clear feeling of belonging to my self and to humankind: a deepening of my self honor and of the experience of being human. In a sense community is a natural and incredibly obvious antidote to the neoliberal individualistic society in which every man-woman has to fend for him/herself in a struggle for (sometimes pleasant or extravagant) survival. My course in Tamera has given insight into how communities can be developed in which lies, deceit and betrayal no longer provide an evolutionary advantage. Basically it thought me once again about overlapping all that one is looking for with what is naturally available to you for free on this magnificent globe: love, inspiration, freedom and expression.

With love,
Your Peace Journalist


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