Saturday, August 29, 2009

Damanhur through Siri's eyes...

Greetings from Damanhur, where esoteric knowledge meets community…
The underground Temples are magnificent! Truly awesome, I am humbled by the amount of work that went into the excavation (by hand) and construction of these holy works of art. The full construction was in secret, both from the local authorities and new members of the community. Now they are not so secret, and are known as the ‘eighth wonder of the world’, a major tourist attraction. Known for their craftsmanship, the art combines mural, stained glass, mosaic and metal work. They have created beautiful tiffany style domes; in fact they hold the record for the world’s largest.
On our first afternoon here we were given a tour, finishing our day with a beautiful concert in the temple of mirrors. It was amazing! Drawing on many traditions they have created a uniquely Damanhurian style of music accompanied by spirit dancing.
We spent a day painting rocks in one of the extensive spiral labyrinths, a meditative service. These are considered to be connected to the temples, which are situated at the crossing of many synchronic lines of earth energy.
A special treat was the ‘concert of the trees’ , they have researched a way to use bio feedback technology to interact and generate music with plants. Sitting in the beautiful woods, listening to new age sounds, I felt my inner voice questioning the feasibility of the situation… but the truth was these people are working with the plants, and living in connection. The concert was in the middle of one of the many neucleo, or families, here. Twenty to thirty people live together with common kitchens and living spaces and private rooms. This particular neucleo is known as ‘the tree people’, because they live in the trees! It was beautiful; in this space I felt playful and was reminded of the Miwok village.
Today I learned a lot about the alternative technologies through visiting the neucleos doing this research. So cool! In addition to straw bale houses and tree houses (with living trees supporting the structures both inside and out) they are building a rotating building. This building is situated on a crane joint, and when complete will move with the sun to receive the most energy possible. It is designed to be a completely self sustaining home, with no input or output. This means full solar, rain catchment and composting toilets. Very cool.
Immersed in this new community, I already miss Tamera. I miss my new friends, and the feeling of being surrounded by open hearts. Damanhur's esoteric and analytical approach to spirituality and research feels different than the heart centered field of research at Tamera. Both are working to create models for holistic sustainable communities, in very different ways. It is interesting to see these different models and notice similarities and differences, and notice the effects on my personal experience. More and more I am learning what is important to me, and what I value in community and work.

1 comment:

  1. A follow up after leaving Damanhur...
    Damanhur was incredibly impressive, complex and varied. I loved the emphasis on the arts, art as a worthwhile expression. We spent a day immersed in art, working along side Damanhurian artists on a mural. The neucleo homes are often painted with larger than life nature scenes where the flowers, insects and birds tower over humans. This is a reminder of our interconnectedness, perspective, and part in the whole of the universe. Falco, the visionary, ‘spiritual teacher’ and leader of Damanhur, said that the ascetic value of the art is not what matters. It is the practice, the healing that is possible in the act, which is valuable in of itself.

    Meanwhile, artists at Damanhur are doing amazing things. In addition to creating paintings and stained glass, their restoration artists of work all over Italy and beyond. The work of Damanhur is done within cooperatives… the Italian approved way to share ownership and property. The cooperatives are businesses with different skills and products from real estate to selfic art (an ancient healing technology).

    There are many projects going on and as Falco said to us “Damanhurians run”. This means they work. A lot. During our final days at there we spoke with a few of the people involved with cutting edge technology. We visited the newest green building model, a building that houses 30 people, as well as accommodating up to 10 guests in a bed and breakfast wing. The building is well insulated with natural material and utilizes technology such as ‘triple locking doors’. A lot of the technology is German based, while most of the materials are local. I was particularly impressed with their energy systems, innovative water and air circulation systems.

    We, Beyond Boundaries, have been sharing the information we gather at the communities through deep discussions on various research topics. We are recording our observations and insights while we share and collaborate with each other. One of the many blessings about working together is the variety of perspective and interest, we all have different ‘ins’ and therefore gleam diverse information. Our conversations are rich, and more and more often we are exploring ideas of integration…

    I am loving the work we are doing, and really opening up to this holistic research. I am making a lot of connections, and feel that one of the many gifts I am receiving is knowing I am part of this web of positive work and healing on the planet, and I am gathering tools and contacts that I can connect to and through. Already we have offered connections from one community to the other... if feels good!

    I also am learning what is important to me in community, and what seems to 'work'. Also, what some challenges are. I am interested to see where this all goes, what is the next step with the project... a program? a book? a community? We are still in the listening, and very busy 'in the soup' with each community we visit.

    After our time at Damanhur we had a short break, I used the time 'on' to explore Italy. I visited Cinque Terre, a beautiful spot on the Mediterranean. Three days of hiking, swimming, and eating great food… then off to Florence, where I was sufficiently awed by the art and shocked by city living after living so close to the earth in community for the past three months.

    My independent study time is taking form, I am making plans to travel to Germany to follow my ancestral roots and visit and work with an eco-village there. I will be returning to California sometime in November to volunteer at the Ojai Foundation and complete my fund-raising. I am planning on collaborating with other Beyond Boundaries members for events in the Bay Area and would love to see any of you there! If all goes well (and fund-raising is complete) I plan on travelling to India in December to work with communities there before meeting up with the group at Auroville in mid January