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Spirituality in terms of SHI

Автор статьи: Tatiana Ginzburg and SHI


Spirituality in Shiram


In thinking about spirituality I began with the hypothesis, that spirituality is religion. As a rule, in mainstream society, by most people, a religious person is seen as one who is spiritual.  In the Russian language there is even a noun, духовник (spiriter), which means priest.


And the same time I understood, that traditional religions are exhausted, and even attempts to reanimate them, which has been done by many people, for example, Ken Wilber, in his idea of Integral Christianity, does not move me, but looks more like still born child.


Today it is difficult to believe that God is sitting in the sky, or that he created Eve from Adam's rib.  Attempts to reform one or another religion is usually just an adaptation of old rituals to recent times, rather than a real diving to the essence.


What is spirituality in this case?

Maybe there is no spirituality and the only forms of spirituality are the already existing religions?


It is strange, for many years I have been exploring myself through the field of transpersonal psychology,  such as breathing holotropic breathwork, studying the work ofStan Grof, using buddist vipassana meditaion in my own practice, seeking for koan secrets, and trying to find next steps, and all this I see is a spiritual path.  Also I am using the expression of «spiritual practice».  It is clear to me, that practice which leads to wider states of consiousness; to the changing of the dominant attention from the question of survival to the questions of meaning of life are spiritual practices.  So, spiritual practice is a practice which helps human beings to explore their deep essence.


So, this way of thinking leads me to the understanding that spirituality is the same as spiritual development; it is development by a vertical movement from survival to the essence; from Earth to the Sky; from simple to complicated; and from the form to the core.

Afterthis realisation, in coming to this clarity by myself, I have gone to my friends, and community members to find our common point of view.


Asking them about what is spirituality I got the following answers:


-       Progressing upwards on Maslow's hierarchy of needs;

-       Transfering from lower needs to upper levels;

-       Nurturing the spirit inside;

-       Altruism;

-       Sublimation


In the deep sense these responses fully coincide with my own answers.


Finally, we foundtogether that spirituality is the development of qualities that are potentially inherent in each human being, and it is developing these qualities to perfection. So, if in the beginning, a human being is a spiritual being just in his or her potential, then, as a result of spiritual development he or she can become a perfected spiritual being, where all potentially existing qualities are developed on massive scale.


So we call call ourselves a spiritual community because, we are busy with such spiritual development.


The Editor of «Community», a magazine, asked a series of questions.  In seeking answers on these questions, we discovered that:


·      In order to develop ourselves in this sense we had a number of common principles; for example

o   to say YES to the World.That means, that we accept any signal, impulse, or idea which is coming from the outside world.  We do that not in any formal way, but understand and accept it in essence.

o   Paying attention to higher levels, as a step towards putting this into everyday practice.

·      We also have common model of development; and individual, couple, and group systems of practice, which are realized by each individual at their own speed and level of concentration.  For example we created the following practices  

Prozig: People look at an open fire, hold their breath, and feel that everything is burning,

Parnaya praktika: or couples practice where for clearing relationships in couple,

Fu-sin: from the Chinese tradition – to physically work in the way of not-getting attached to the result,

Beseda: which is a talk at the dinner-time about real developmental questions affecting individuals

and so on….


Each of us do these practices at our own individual rate and speed, but spirituality is a uniting force for all of us.


·      Even though we are a spiritually oriented group, from time to time we can irritate each other. Sometimes we find understanding easily, but sometimes it takes time and experience. One of our values is openness and participation in each moment, and even if it is paintfull to be open we support that. It may lead to personal and group reflection, or other things.  But in the long run we are a group, anyway.

·      As for our relationships with other traditions, although individuals may have individual beliefs, our group itself has no special preference towards any particular spiritual tradition, path or school.  We try to create relationships with different traditions or schools.  We try to ensure these relationships are authentic and so sometimes these relationships are friendly, and other times there may come into conflict. But our concept, our path implies integration with other people, and with all spiritual and religious traditions that tend to foster spiritual development. Because of this, for more than 10 years each Sunday we have organized an «intellectual club» in Saint-Petersburg, Moscow and Shiram, and we have invited people from different traditions to come and seek what is True within those that come.



 The themes of our clubs are:


1.     Methodology of self-exploration

2.     The Game in the Game about the Game

3.     Integration and differentiation as stages of psyche development

4.     Perfect human being – who is he (she)?

5.     Koans and quantum physics

And so on….


·      We think about does community living make it easier to follow your individual spiritual practice? Or does it make it more difficult?  ARussian general, Alexander Suvorov said «Learning is difficult, but after that, it is easy to apply it in fighting».  – So, our practices initially make our life more complicated, but it becames easier when we apply this learning to our experience and our qualities to real life situations.  As a result of our lifestyle for those who really join our community, and intensively practice, he or she will experience in each moment of life more difficulties than the person who is just existing.


For example, someone needs to pass the exam coming to our community. Some of our last «exams» were to juggle 5 balls for a minute; to learn circular breathing to play a didgeridoo; to create special internet shop; to buy tractor and to build an idol as high as possible.  But this is not all. We chose 12 qualities, and create a system of learning from tham.


Some of them are:

1.     intellect, health, entusiasm

2.     initiativity,

3.     openness

4.     kindness, awareness….

And after someone becomes a part of our community he or she also begins to develop some personal qualities.  Of course this is very much connected with his or her style of being, so usually she or he begins to change the way of life they lived before.

For example, one of my friends, that I had known for more than 20 years, was living in Saint-Petersburg, where she had worked as pediatrician for that period of time. She lived a mainstream ordinary life, but at some moment she begin to come to our workshops, to participate in our activities, and slowly she became member of our of our community.  As a result she changed her life style – she drop the work (which was difficult), she sold her flat, she dropped her husband and she is now trying to organize her new life in our community, building a rabbit farm and producing and selling puzzles in St Petersburg, and learning archery.  In this example, her life style become much more complicated than it was before.


So as a result of overcoming these difficulties, – one’s comfort zones will quickly expand.  As a result at the boundaries of this zone  may be some difficulties, but within this wider field, their comfort became greater.

For example, if at the beginning of practice somebody can sleep only in a soft bed, so now he may also be able to sleep on the soft bed, in sleeping bag, on hard floor, with a hot temperature, in the cold, or in any climate condition.  But this process of the development of adaptive capacity takes some time and goes through some difficulties.


Thinking on the question about – is «Do you find that living or working in an intentional community or other cooperative group is itself a spiritual practice?”

We decide, that, we don't think that life in community itself is spiritual practice. But we distinguish communities of two types:

1.     Refuge place.Many Communities are a place of refuge for their members, where people can escape the complexity of regular life.

2.     Development place. Other Communities (a small group) which intend this spiritual development as described above, see their members finding themselves in areas of more complexity, when compared to regular, everyday social life. If someone developed himself till some point in this community and stop to do it (stop to do other attempt for development), he just live in community, but anyway, he live in conditions wich are more complicated than outside social environment. It may not evolove him, but because conditions are more complicated it is not correct to call  that «just life in community».

·      As for rituals, we decided, that:

Our group is not religious society, so there are no rituals which we are creating, or cultivating, or using. Our group as we reflect it, as spiritual community, so our group unify not by rituals, but through life style, similar life style, close life style, and this resonans between close life styles, common values, provide sustanability of our group.


·      “What challenges does spirituality, and/or lack of it, pose to a group?”
The quesion looks for us intresting, but formulated in a strange way.

it's looks for us, that whole world is challenge for human being, which creates emotions, affects, feelings.  It is manifestations of the problems of human being, who gets affective reactions, and affect is the sign, that task is complicated for him, so far this is learning.

Almost like that we are tend to look at problems we meet, some difficulties in the world, to all of that, but each one of us on some individual level, on individual stage of spiritual development, so far a lot of experience appear in each of us….. So, it's difficult to answer without knowing a model, which will create a space for concrete answers.


      In our group there is a spiritual leader, who confess and translate to us holistic paradigm, holistic vision, holistic approach to the world and spiritual development in it. And this is accordingly, define that in our group it is possible to find any type of relationships: hyerarchical, network, non-hierarchycal, authority, non-authority, any, with any exclusions, and no any concrete structure, unless, one, or another are embodied, but not cruely holded (hierarchical system)


Concerning our spiritual mission, our group – is unite of people, who are busy with own, personal enlightement, which is, from our point of view impossible without helping to other people, which mean learn by learning.

If you want to archieve the peak, help other people, so this idea glue us together in one group.

We lead different workshops for other people, create situations, in which we try to develop ourselves, and help others. So our mission is – to develop yourself and help others to develop themselves.

Our group reflect itself as new wave of spiritual seekers. Possibly we could be described as avangard New Age group, or holistic movement.

So far, out world picture include isomorphism, high tolerance level, multiple possibilities of spiritual growth, so each may solve the task of transecnce by infinite number of ways.


In our community we are eager to create new worldview, and we call this worldview – DA-Dzin.

We call ourselves – Game Master's School, and we perceive the Game as method of transendence.

As an examples of our actual projects:

Producing, collecting and selling of puzzles www.golovolom.ru

Building community at the land www.shiram.daism.ru

EnlightenNext (Andrew Cohen) in Russian www.prosvetlenie.daism.ru

MAPS in Russia -  http://prosvetlenie.daism.ru/zhurnal/maps

Transformational Game in Russiawww.transform-game.ru


and lot's of other things....