Changing the World
Introduction | Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8 | Chapter 9 | Chapter 10 | Chapter 11 | Chapter 12 | Afterword
A Vision of a Circleway Village
9. Some Saturday Night Fun and Talks
Again we are given some free time on our own, an informed choice, as we add a new dimension from this walk to our understanding of the culture of this Circle Way Village. We wander back through the melon patches – cantaloupe, honeydew, casaba, watermelon – past the berry patches – raspberry, strawberry, currant, lingon, blueberry and blackberry – and we are allowed to sample whatever is ripe as we pass. We see in the distance, beyond the fields of tall pines, a large field with both horses and cows grazing freely in separate herds, and on the hill beyond the sheep and goats.
As we turn back towards the Village and our hotel, some of us remark upon the distinctive bell tower rising beside a building we have not yet been shown. As we approach we can see it is a carillon with many bells visible in the tall openings at the top. We laugh as suddenly, magically it seems, the bells begin to peal forth in a lively baroque melody – Bach perhaps. We consult our watches, and it seems this outpouring of lovely sound across the fields must signal the retiring of the sun and the end of the day.
After supper we participate in the evening program at the amphitheater. It is Saturday night, and what is offered is an exhibition of the creativity of the schools of performing arts. There is a one-act comedy about community life in the Village by a village playwright and performed by the students of the theater school. There is a short recital from the music students, a chamber piece for small orchestra with soprano and baritone solos, also by a Village composer, one of the teachers. After the intermission there is an extended new dance work featuring all the dance students performing in many styles and inspired by folk music from each of the world’s continents.
Last on the program is the finale of one of the Village’s favorite musical comedies with the entire Circle Way chorus and orchestra in a joyous explosion of song and dance that infects the entire audience. People begin to leave their seats and dance in the aisles and onto the great stage. The spirit we are caught in verifies the scene we imagined here in the afternoon, and soon we are all up and leaping happily with the villagers.
After the concert we return to the hostel where a small group of villagers joins us and we ask questions and learn more about the lives of the villagers, as well as of us visitors. One of our group, referring to our tour of the shrines in the afternoon, asks the residents about how the village relates to the native people’s religions.
“One of our early founders was a Native American who followed his people’s traditional ways. He told us their way was not a religion, had no organization, no hierarchy, no scriptures, that it was a spiritual path, a way of life, each person guided by his relation to the spirit of all Creation. He was emphatic that people should not imitate other cultures although something might be learned from any of them. He thought people might draw on their own cultural heritage particularly, which of course might be a mixture of many, but that we all would be best to seek deeper into the heart and soul of Creation.”
“And how do you do that?”
“One of the worst effects of modern society has been to isolate us all, from each other and from the earth and the natural world. We could all feel that loss with a terrible sadness, which is why it felt so necessary to preserve our wilderness and the other species that we are destroying.
We can know who we are only in relation to the rest of Creation, and when we separate ourselves we become lost and crazy. So we need to take more time to enter and learn our kinship with all life. On reaching puberty our children spend time alone in nature, and all through life most people will sometimes go apart by themselves to make deeper connections with the earth and our plant and animal relatives. Those are happy times that seem to fill a need in all of us.”
“I notice a quotation you had from Martin Luther King, Jr., about unconditional love. Is that part of your belief system here?”
“Well, of course, as you see, we have no system, no overtly stated common beliefs. But I suspect everyone here would agree with Dr. King about unconditional love. Some feel our principal goal in life beyond survival is to be happy and bring happiness to others. Some feel it is to learn. Some believe it is to evolve into a higher spiritual consciousness. As a teacher, I have found that my students learn more and better when they are happy. Bringing happiness to others is a form of love. To love is to be happy with. And it is love that incites our highest ecstatic awareness and guides our evolution.
“It seems to us not a belief, but a fact, that human beings are all born good. We only have to visit our birthing center and regard a newborn infant to be struck by how innocent and sweet that little one is, enlisting our tenderest feelings. We can watch them as they grow, all with their excitement at being alive, their curiosity about everything. How quickly they learn, their unceasing sense of fun and playfulness. That’s just how good we all are. Our negative traits don’t show up until we are treated in negative ways. So of course we do our best here to treat our children in a supportive and positive manner,”
“Even when they act out negative feelings and are destructive?”
“Especially then. Of course, we will interrupt any mistreatment they engage in, but we do it without anger or blame, try to understand their feelings and give them a harmless outlet for them. We know they are hurting and it doesn’t help to add more hurt. We know they don’t like feeling the way they are feeling. This is true for all of us, at any age. When a child or an adult is behaving in an unloving or destructive way, we know that’s not who they really are. We see they are trapped in some kind of distress, and it doesn’t help for us to add to that distress.”
“So what do you do?”
“We listen to them. Help them express their feelings until they can get beyond them to their best thinking, coming from the true human place inside. We try to do that with lightness and humor, and to let them know how we care about them”
A few of the villagers ask about our impressions of their little town, and we can tell that listening is something they do very well here. It makes us feel we are interesting and cared about – one of the things will take away with us from this visit. Then we retire and fall asleep instantly and soundly.