A compilation of my writing’s from the Global Love School at Tamera, May 2015.
Tamera’s Global Love School is blowing my mind. One of their key platforms is the daily Forum. Imagine all the participants gathered together in a circle of trust with the space opened for anyone to take the stage. The only mantra: “What do you dare?”
You are chosen. Heart racing, you step into the ring. You proceed to articulate what is alive for you in that moment: anger, grief, joy, heartbreak or eros – sometimes all of the emotions. You are encouraged to be as theatrical as possible, to break out of stiff language and postures, and to bring as much of your wild being to the surface.
Let me say firsthand: it is transformative.
Tears, laughter, revelation, all become possible once we dare to spill what we’re usually told to keep inside. Gossip no longer makes sense when we have nothing to hide. Suddenly, in our shared triumph and sorrow, we realize our individual pain is shared by all. In baring our souls and our longings, we learn how to feed the village.
You realize – no matter the extent of your sexual conquests, no matter the height of the peaks you’ve climbed or the money you’ve spent, no matter the brand name on your clothes, or the life you should or should not have lived…
You are seen. And it feels like finally…finally… coming home.
Before arriving here in Tamera, many wondered (including myself) whether they considered themselves a “polyamorous” community. For those who don’t know, polyamorous is the term for people who connect with more than one partner at the same time. This may not necessary include sex, but often does. This differs from typical monogamy, which is the most common partnership form of the dominant culture.
Here is my preliminary finding: while its true that many Tamera residents engage in multiple sexual and sensual relationships simultaneously, no one seems that interested in using labels. Instead, they discovered that TRUTH is the necessary bedrock for “free love” – love that is free from fear.
Let us take a hard look at the truth of monogamy, at least as its practiced today: relationships are rife with lies and deceit. A man cannot share that he feels attraction to another woman without eliciting jealously or fear of loss in his wife. A woman trades her wild passion for material security and lives her days as a withered soul. Or either partner sneaks behind the others back, weaving a web of deceit to hide their longing.
Let us do the same for polyamory, at least as its largely practiced today: A man hides from his shadow by leaping from woman to women, never staying long enough to excavate his wound. A woman is caught between two lovers, bound to expectation of pleasing them both equally, as if her own needs are inconsequential. Or a man pretends to feel no jealousy, unwilling to speak his longing, while his partner spends another evening away from home.
These lies gather into a tidal wave of broken lives, fuelling much of the conflict and heartbreak that seem so “natural” to our civilization.
The first step toward the liberation of love is not the FORMS. Instead we must ask: how can we recreate communities of trust, where we can share our projections and our fears, our love & our longings, where nothing is banned from the circle? How can we invite our wounds in from the cold, so they too, may take a seat by the hearth of our mutual life?
Upon this foundation of truth we can build the trust necessary to call forth our highest selves. Suddenly, we are free to love as we are free to breathe the air. Jealously dissolves when we no longer compete for intimacy. We are nourished by the community in ways our partners could never, and should never, have been asked to carry.
Our life energy can now be joyfully harnessed toward the real work: healing the damage wrought upon this wild earth. May it be so.
IN THE BOOK Sex At Dawn, authors Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jetha convincingly demolish most of our assumptions about love & sexuality in the dominant culture. For instance, they argue that humans are the most sexual species ever evolved, with origins closer to peace-loving bonobos than war-mongering chimpanzees. They reveal that women are biologically geared for multiple partners per sexual encounter, and that monogamy is extraordinarily rare in the animal kingdom.
And finally, they reframe our assertions about “natural” human partnership, where men offer their protection and resources for the sexual fidelity & fertility of women. Instead, they suggest much of what we “know” about human partnership & sexuality is in fact an adaptation from the shift to agricultural civilization; when we abandoned the ancient structure of community for the recent nuclear family.
Let me detonate that again: all of our modern beliefs about sexuality & partnership are, in fact, born out of the TRAUMA of losing the VILLAGE.
This is why it is so difficult to talk about love & sexuality. All of us who grew up in the dominant culture carry deep wounds inflicted by the story of separation. From the religions that told us sex was sin unless practiced within the sanctity of marriage. From the sexual abuse that ripples through the generations unobstructed in the silent shame of families ‘saving face.’ From the isolation venerated by condo developers that proves entirely soul-crushing to the urban dweller.
This is why the myth of THE ONE sounds like a good idea. When your only chance for companionship and intimacy is limited to a single monogamous partnership, they are the promise of a life raft in a sea of chaotic, cosmic cruelty.
We then manifest the structures of scarcity that already dominate the rest of our lives. We seek in our partner that which they cannot provide: a vast spectrum of sexual fulfillment, superhuman parenting without inflicting their own neuroses, solid productivity in a material economy, and a never known but deeply longed for connection to the web of life.
To be clear: I’m not attacking monogamous marriage, nor am I advocating reckless polyamory. What I’m declaring is that one cannot have authentic conversations about their own sexual & relational proclivities until they’re willing to recognize the depth of their woundedness.
I know from experience.
Since the end of my marriage almost 2 years ago, I carried a torrent of anger holding back a tidal wave of grief. Stoic by nature, I was also programmed by the culture that crying is not for men. It took this journey to Tamera and the unfaltering support of community to bring forth my anger, then grief and finally… a deep sense of healing.
The sexual revolution of the 60’s was sincere but ultimately premature. “Free love” when practiced as freedom from responsibility left a generation of broken families and disillusionment. But the lessons were not lost. The true depth of “free love” is revealed when understood as “freedom to love without fear.”
This is why Tamera has placed TRUST as their beacon and TRUTH as their aim. We need communities of trust to heal our wounds before proceeding to build a resilient culture in service to life. And lest you believe this a fantasy, in my few short weeks, here is what I have already witnessed:
Children encouraged to explore their own curiosity & creativity, supported by their parents and an array of adults who each provide their own wealth of guidance and wisdom.
Women young and old(er) enjoying unprecedented freedom and pleasure with their erotic selves. As they are liberated from a culture of shame/purity around sexuality, many discover their appetites are varied and vast.
A community of villagers dedicated to relentless experimentation and personal & collective growth, each discovering the paradox of intimacy in public: the more we are willing to reveal our private selves, the more we recognize kinship in each other.
Make no mistake. Tamera’s community of trust has been painstakingly crafted from 35 years of triumph and heartbreak. They are no perfect utopia; and much of their research will need translation and adaptation to be effectively grafted on the wreckage of the dominant culture.
For those of us dedicated to system change, we must first be willing to recognize our own brokenness, then sit for a long while and grieve how things came to be as they are. Be courageous enough to shed a river of tears for the long arc of shame, abuse, and betrayal that riddle our family trees. And be compassionate enough to forgive them and ourselves for the hard time that has come upon us.
Our work ahead is clear: we cannot go back. But we cannot go forward without surrendering the sanctity of the private self, and step into the messy, vulnerable, heart-opening work of resurrecting the village.
Will you join us?
Yesterday, I completed three weeks shooting at Tamera Healing Biotope I – Portugal. Today, I type from a quaint hostel room in Lisbon, awaiting my early morning flight back to Canada.
Life is mysterious.
As I reflect upon my time here, I struggle to communicate with words that which defies linear explanation. I’m left only with a soulful constellation – moments of beauty and awe interwoven with sorrow and heartbreak.
How to explain the joyful song of the sparrows that greeted me every day and night? How to transmit the touch of stone in the sacred circle that anchored my grief? How to understand the fundamental trust that carries this community and feels the birthright of every human being?
The 60’s revolution was catalyzed by the collision of Western imagination and Eastern spirituality, resulting in a crack in the matrix of duality. Left/Right. Man/Woman. Good/Evil. It is the perception of conflict between polarities that ignites the war.
Thankfully, many individuals transcended the limitation of this consciousness. Today, recognizing the truth of our ONENESS is no longer the edge. Today, our task is to build and stabilize structures that INCARNATE this new consciousness.
Over 35 years, Tamera has carefully tended seeds of this new culture, including perhaps the most important one: how to liberate love from fear.
A friend once called me “The Indiana Jones of the New Story.” From Occupy Wall St to Burning Man, my task has been to amplify the flowering seeds of a new global culture. It was my film “The Revolution is Love” that caught the eye of Tamera back in 2011. Almost five years later, I stand looking upon the iconic symbol of their community, the circle and three triangles.
The words of Tamera co-founder Dieter Duhm adorn a plaque at its base:
“We greet the youth of the world. We greet all peace-activists and helpers in the crisis areas of the earth. We greet those who, often risking death, dedicate their lives to uphold human rights, for the protection of children and indigenous peoples, the protection of animals, the protection of oceans, trees and all co-creatures of the great family of life. We greet those who are preparing the new era on all continents today, often risking their lives. We greet the newly arising planetary community.”
May you surrender all that is holding you back, and join us, joyfully in the circle.