What do we mean by spirituality?

Damanhur is famous for all of its practical achievements, yet its origin is a spiritual dream, one that is still alive in each one of us.

What does spirituality mean in a reality that is so complex? Many of us ask this, and this is the right page to discuss this theme.

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Sometimes when I am speaking with a visitor, a journalist, or a relative about what we do at Damanhur – the social experiment, the houses, the volunteer work, art, politics, research, organic agriculture, conferences, etc. – at a certain point, he or she says, “I see that you have so many projects, but I thought you were a spiritual community…”

Then, I realize that I must explain the meaning of Damanhurian spirituality in more depth than I had already done before.

Certainly, Damanhur is a spiritual experience: everything arises from this. “Spirituality” means “to be moving in the direction of life.” Life expresses itself through the multiplicity of forms and experiences present in the universe: animals, plants, minerals, subtle entities, time, space, each one of which is moving toward the others.

Spirituality means dedicating oneself with purity and intensity to the discovery of this entire reality, making every encounter into an occasion for inner growth. On a spiritual pathway, it is important to work, to spend time with others, to study, to educate children, and to pray, because all of these activities allow us to encounter and discover different realities.

Praying means attempting to know the forces that are within us: in classical antiquity, this meant giving a name, a face and a power to thunder, to love, to war and so on, until realizing the polytheistic religious structures. Successively, there were cults of a single god, a god who is separate from that which he himself had created.

According to our vision, spirituality today means searching for the truth, which we can only come to through our own research, because truth can not be revealed by anyone outside of ourselves.

Damanhurians are on a spiritual pathway: because everything that they do is oriented toward the discovery and reawakening of the divine nature in every individual. This happens while one is gardening, just as much as when one is participating in a Solstice ceremony while wearing a ritual robe. This happens while writing a blog article, as much as when meditating with legs crossed, in inner silence.

For many traditions, which are worthy of attention and respect, even by those who do not follow them, spirituality is a kind of grace that touches and illuminations some fortunate individuals. According to us, spirituality is a life choice, one that we repeat every day and, most of all, one that we translate into practice with our own deeds.

I would love to discuss this theme with you.

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35 Comments

  1. Sparviero /

    How nice to read your writing…

  2. victor1 /

    You speak about spirituality, and you describe it with a certain pragmatism, which is a novelty, at least in the philosophical field. However, I don’t understand the context of your Belief. That is, I don’t understand that which surrounds the word spirituality for you, in reference to a religious expression, contact with a transcendental force, or only as a lay expression of being. You cite historical passages that are more or less congruent with their contexts, but I don’t understand exactly how you all place yourselves in relation to God, or what God means to you. I would like a clarification about this.

  3. veronik82 /

    IS THERE SPACE FOR A CATHOLIC OPINION?

    I begin with the premise that I am a Catholic believer, and I don’t know if there is space for my point of view. Also, I have a bit of an “alternative” vision of Christianity, and I try to apply the values I believe in every day. I read your website with attention, because I found quite interesting some of the parallels between you and the Church (which, from what I understand, you do not appreciate very much…) Actually, it doesn’t seem like you are very different from those who believe in the word of Christ. All in all, you are a polytheistic religion, even if a very young one, but you apply similar values as those of the first Christian communities: sharing, solidarity and charity. Also, you construct temples (churches) to express your complex Faith. I would like to know if there is space for the point of view of a young Catholic believer, or if I must renounce and leave…

  4. Stambecco Pesco /

    “You speak about spirituality, and you describe it with a certain pragmatism, which is a novelty, at least in the philosophical field. However, I don’t understand the context of your Belief. That is, I don’t understand that which surrounds the word spirituality for you, in reference to a religious expression, contact with a transcendental force, or only as a lay expression of being. You cite historical passages that are more or less congruent with their contexts, but I don’t understand exactly how you all place yourselves in relation to God, or what God means to you. I would like a clarification about this.”

    I will try to go in order and most of all, be synthetic.

    First of all, pragmatism – the word you used – it is not exactly a novelty in the philosophical and spiritual field. If we think about pantheism, that is, of the divine principle present in everything, the logical consequence is to honor God in forms and in practice. We really do this. So, we are pantheists? Yes and no.

    I believe that today, all such definitions need to be reviewed. Transcendence, immanence, pantheism are definitions that we risk tying our hands with when we use them. To properly honor ancient wisdom and classical classifications, as they deserve to be, in current times, we must create new categories. We must set objectives and coin different definitions.

    Believing in the divine is a lay act, in my opinion. We believe in that which we sense. If you let yourself be free to “sense” and then reflect on what you sense, you realize that a wider sphere exists than that which you move in physically. A sphere made of many layers, like an onion, in which every layer has a different density.

    In time, different layers which probably have different prerogatives, have been called “divinities” by peoples. The onion as a whole has been called “created” or “existent” (which I like more).

    Spirituality means attempting to explore all the layers of the onion, and therefore to believe – if you want to use that word – that those layers that are called “divine” really exist and can interact with you. Does something exists beyond the onion, the Great Gardner, alias “God” or “Immobile Motor”? We don’t know. It is outside our field of experience. All in all, it is irrelevant, because if it exists it is made of indifference. Love motivates spiritual research, because one can only explore that which one is capable of loving. This love lives within the onion and makes it lovable, despite the odor.

  5. Sparviero /

    @venorik82
    It may not seem very nice said like this, but experience imposes a weight on people’s spirituality, regardless of their personal beliefs.

    Personally, I have had the fortune of knowing real “priests,” many of whom were expelled by the church for excessive mental elasticity, or for having stepped on the feet of their superiors.

    I also remember the scandal amongst us youth when we saw the mythical Don Basilio sent away, because his ideas were too progressive.

    Without going too far off on a tangent, I ask if one of our “elders” wants to speak about the events related to the Vidracco parish priest…Unfortunately, I hadn’t arrived yet, and I would surely report an incomplete or at least imprecise vision of the event.

  6. Stambecco Pesco /

    A Catholic opinion? Why not?

    To say that the Christian message is beautiful and profound, and that it was sullied by two thousand years of Christianity has become almost commonplace, and I share in that belief, but I prefer to keep my distance from it.

    The difference between monotheism and polytheism is laughable. Catholics consider themselves monotheists, anyone else can see a polytheistic conception of the divine in their pantheon of saints.

    The divine principle is one. As it is divine, it is also present in every individual, who therefore chooses with his or her own free will – if given the opportunity to do so – which face of the divine to seek, if any.

    It is not relativism, as Joseph Ratzinger says, it is a “sense of adherence” with the universal principle. He would probably prefer “discipline of adherence.”

    Veronik82, I need questions that are strong and difficult, because they are true, to animate this blog. Write whenever you want to.

  7. libera /

    I’m happy you opened this exchange about your spirituality. I’ve known you for a while now, but to tell the truth, this is the aspect I understand the least. I tried to go to your meetings a few times, where you discuss these themes publicly, but I gave up on understanding something. Your theories seem very complex, while in everyday life, you do things that are easily shared, like volunteer work for the Red Cross, attention for the environment, organic agriculture, etc. In the area of religion and spirituality, there are many terms that are hard to understand. I’ll give you an example that stands out for me: what does it mean to “divinize” matter? Can you explain in simple terms?

  8. Stambecco Pesco /

    Divinizing matter means giving everything a spiritual significance, really everything that happens in our lives. The energetic aura that surrounds every individual does not have “more” spiritual source than that which a rock has. Both have it.

    Divinizing matter means making the entire universe sacred, recognizing the divine matrix, considering it in its totality, like a great entity that aims toward an objective. Our idea is not only to become enlightened, to know and understand all the laws of the universe, but to do so within a universe that becomes enlightened itself, divinizing the matter that comprises it.

    It’s true, given that you are not the first that has said it to me: sometimes we are complicated and not very comprehensible. This blog serves to make what we do understandable, without making it banal. “Divinizing matter” is not an expression that I have used, as I prefer to talk about onions. Who knows if we’ll be able to…

  9. elena latina /

    Hi. This spiritual experience, as you say Stambecco, how does it happen? I have a few questions to ask you. Do you have your own “Bible?” Rituals, study groups? What do you do during the Solstice rituals? The elders guide the young people? Are their priests? Etc. etc.

    Besides the philosophical part, I want to understand what happens.

  10. Stambecco Pesco /

    Con voi.

    Where did Veronik82, young Catholic believer, go? There’s space here for your opinion. Now, you aren’t here to share it. I’m interested in better understanding what Damanhurians seem like to Christians. Really, despite some general characteristics that unite all or almost all spiritual pathways: solidarity, a mystical sense, trust in others, I believe that the analogies are few, beginning with how we interpret certain values.

    Instead, to elena latina, I would like to say: How can we talk about our spiritual experience without touching on the philosophical part?

    Speaking of the “Bible,” rites and rituals without philosophy, it’s folklore. Anyhow, I can say that there isn’t a Bible. That is, there isn’t a foundational text. Rather, we have a series of meditations offered by Falco, which have then been developed over the years by Damanhurians. They are called “Quests,” and they inspire “our daily steps along this pathway.”

    The elders guide the youth, certainly, but this means knowing how to make one’s own choices strong and to know how to make them by oneself.

    Celebrating the Solstice Ritual includes recitations, gestures and actions: those who carry them out are, in their own way, “priests,” but we prefer the word “officiants.” Every Damanhurian who has a certain amount of experience can officiate these celebrations. They are also public. You can come and participate; whether or not you like it, I believe it would be interesting.

  11. Stambecco Pesco /

    What do we talk about today when we speak about faith?

    There are those who speak about it in the same way as always: a gift that comes from Above that permits those who are touched by it to “believe” and come closer to God. In this case, however, God himself would be the protagonist of faith. In this way, faith is a gift and not a conquest of the individual, who could accept or refuse faith. But if it is real faith, one couldn’t do anything but accept it, as refusing it would clearly mean: it wasn’t faith.

    For the rest, it’s human nature to want to be protagonist of one’s own life, which also includes an inexhaustible spiritual longing. The course of human history clearly shows in many ways that human begins desire to “play the game” and not just “be in the game.” How could it be that faith is simply a gift from above, as many religions assert? Moreover, why is it that God gives this gift to some and not others?

    According to the Damanhurian philosophy, to have faith is a choice. The belief that: through a chosen and consistently followed pathway, you can succeed in having knowledge and awareness of your own profound divine nature…this is a precise act of will. It comes from a feeling that originates in the most profound depths of yourself. You cultivate it and allow it to grow, by choice, because you decide that this is the cord with which to arrive to the heavens. Feeling, perceiving your own divine nature is a natural act. It’s about believing in a pathway, concentrating your own energy toward an objective, using optimism and your capacity to dream and manifest. Exercizing, most of all, coherence toward that which you hold to be real.

    So, it’s not faith that comes down from Above, but the capacity to believe in order to rise up ourselves.

  12. libera /

    This acceptance of faith is very interesting.

    I like the presupposition that having faith means expressing an act of will, more than representing a consequence of something that comes from outside, like a gift from God.

    Many lay thinkers and researchers convert to a religion at the end of their lives. In this case, faith is the consequence of an evaluation. It is more plausible to recognize the existence of a God behind the huge complexity of the created, rather than a collection of physical and chemical laws, interconnected in a relativistic and mechanistic way.

    Is your vision of spirituality originating from and based on the same common evaluations as many philosophers converted to faith?

  13. Stambecco /

    Our spiritual vision, dear libera, is not only “originating from and based on…” but it is also developed every day. What I mean to say is that, over time, we are enriched, refined and deepened, thanks to the experience of each one of us. If you read the writings from the first years of Damanhur, for example, you’ll find a strong emphasis on the relationship with divine forces, knowing how to grow, even through pain, by polishing our defects.

    Everything is still valid today, but in time, we have learned to emphasize the divine essence that is found within us, more than that which is outside of us…the search for happiness as a means of evolution, the development of our talents.

    Faith is an act of choice, based on a deep feeling that becomes a way of seeing reality. From our point of view, it is a natural behavior of human beings. If in the course of our existence, we were to grow and become adults free from conditioning, free to follow that which we feel within…we would all be in love with life and curious to know and understand every aspect of it, visible and invisible. In other words, we would all live a deep spirituality.

    I know that this could seem strange. Damanhurians, I assure you, are mystics, with their hands kneading matter. Each one of us experiences our own faith within ourselves, and we have a common sentiment.

    Faith in what? In the divine nature of every human being and of every form that surrounds us. Faith in the existence of a reality that is vaster than what the five senses show us, that comprises a vast “spiritual ecosystem.” Faith in an ultimate destiny that has as an objective the progressive overlapping of the human being and the divine essence of the universe.

  14. Stambecco Pesco /

    I have started another page, parallel to this one, called “Research, Philosophy or Religion.”

    http://www.damanhurinside.com/research-philosophy-or-religion/

    We discuss what is the Damanhurian spiritual pathway. I sustain that it is not a religion but a pathway of research, which is a sentiment shared by other Damanhurians.

    Please share what you think.

  15. nientediniente /

    Hi everyone. You say you’re not a religion, but how do you become a Damanhurian? What I mean is: you either believe in your spirituality, or you don’t believe in it, like everything else, but how do you get in? At a certain point, you become a faithful Damanhurian? How do you get to know these Quests? How do you celebrate the Solstice? Amongst Damanhurians, are there also people who follow a different religion?

  16. dolcetocco63 /

    Like I said before on this blog, I’m not a Damanhurian, but seeing as how my dear friend lives there, I go there every once in a while. From the outside, I perceive a strong spiritual practice, a sense of the sacred in the way of being. Even behind small everyday gestures, there are always significances. My friend tells me, “it’s to give a new meaning and value to the things that we do.”

    It doesn’t seem like Damanhurians have a religion, but rather way of thinking that brings them to follow a research pathway. There are some aspects I identify with, and others that make me curious. Living together with so many other people scares me a bit, because I’m a little egoistic and egocentric, but I’m also sincere. I’d like to learn more about the ritual aspect. I’ve understood that rituality is very important, but there aren’t very many public parts (at least I’ve only participated in the Solstices and Equinoxes). Can someone tell me more about what you do and why?

    Thanks.

  17. Dromedario /

    I’ll respond to some of nientediniente’s questions, and use the occasion to tell a little about me, my story and how and why I came to Damanhur.

    When I was a boy, I was a practicing Catholic, and I regularly went to mass, because this was what was offered to me by my social surroundings (I come from Turin.). Growing up and becoming an adult, I asked myself the classic existential questions: Where do we come from? What happens after death? etc. This was because the religion that I grew up with, with all respect, didn’t give me responses that felt complete to me.

    I became a researcher for the truth, I went from humanist groups to yoga disciplines, to find answers to my questions. I wasn’t sure exactly what I was looking for, but I sensed that there was a special answer for me.

    My only belief was in reincarnation, because I intuited that amongst all the many possibilities, it was the most authentic one, and also because it resounded gently within me.

    One day, walking around the markets in Turin, I found a very interesting book. It was a Damanhurian book, a collection of meetings and conferences on different themes. I had found the answer. That book was a great treasure for me. Every page, every theme that was discussed resonated within me. At a certain point, I was searching for the people who wrote the book. On the back of the book, it talked about this community in Valchiusella, pretty close to Turin. A new life philosophy, a place where they respect plants and animals, a place where magic is joy.

    I felt within me that it was my direction, but I wasn’t ready yet. I had lots of things in my mind: my motorcycle, the gym, I wasn’t mature enough. I began to visit the community as a guest and participate in the courses that interested me, which deepened the arguments I read about in my book. From then on, I socialized with Damanurians, and I understood that it was more important to do something useful for the reawakening of profound values in humanity, rather than being a car buff.

    So, here I am, at Damanhur for 13 years now, happy and aware of the choice I made.

    So, tell me now, after you’ve heard my story, how in the world can you talk about subjugation? Do I seem like a subjugated person? Did they every come to my house in Turin to subjugate me? Or did a guru pop out of the last page of my book to hypnotize me for eternity? Doesn’t it seem more credible that I found a life pathway that resonates within me?

  18. Araguato /

    Hi nientidiniente. So, to answer all your questions in a short amount of time, I invite you to come to Damanhur. That way, you can see our community first hand and get answers to all the questions you asked. To one of them, “How do you get in?” I’ll respond to you. Everyone can choose the most fitting way, according to one’s own needs. What does that mean? It means that to be part of Damanhur, there are many ways, many possibilities. There are levels of participation. I have chosen total participation, so I live at Damanhur, but if you want to be part of Damanhur and you don’t want to live here, say you live in Iceland for example, that’s great. You can also participate in this case, with a level that is fitting to your situation and needs. For each level, there are parameters that allow you to express your degree of participation.

  19. Stambecco Pesco /

    How do you become Damanhurian? When you encounter Damanhur, you discover a way of intending life and spirit (and this is what I am trying to convey in this blog). If the spiritual vision of Damanhur resonates with you, you can begin to deepen your exploration by reading texts, attending our public meetings, participating in courses, spending a period of time at Damanhur.

    If you want to more deeply explore the themes and make this your pathway of spiritual growth, you can join the School of Meditation. The pathway of Meditation, which consists of periodic meetings, usually weekly, can accompany you for your whole life, or you can stop whenever you want. For Damanhurians, it is the basis of personal growth.

    In the context of Meditation, which deepens the study of the ancient Solstice and Equinox rituals, which Damanhur celebrates every year in a large circle immersed in nature, putting on colorful ritual robes that indicate the seniority of those participating in the pathway of Meditation. They are moments of great intensity for everyone, and they are open to all those who want to participate.

    The pathway of Meditation also brings one to an activation of a personal rituality, like the preparation for meals, birthday rituals, “energetic cleansing” of objects. They are practices that the participants of Meditation acquire along their journey.

    What forces are Damanhurians referring to? Around us exists a spiritual ecosystem made by diverse intelligences, which humanity has always tried to identify in many ways, and which have given life to the pantheons of the past. More simply, we say that the universe has a divine matrix that permeates everything, and we can refer to it using different names – names that humanity has used over millennia – because they always refer to the same essence. We call the collection of all these forces the Triad, to indicate the three principle characteristics with which different names of the Divine have been defined: feminine, masculine and natural.

    Damanurians follow a pathway of spiritual research that I have summarized in a very condensed way. Those who follow a pathway like this one do not follow a religion contemporaneously. Not because it is forbidden, but it would be an inner contradiction. This doesn’t change the fact that many people of different religions and creeds come to Damanhur and are our friends, because even if they don’t identify with the spiritual practice, they find peace, respect and harmony here.

  20. Cinghiale Equiseto /

    For someone who suffers from vertigo, it isn’t forbidden to be a tightrope walker, but it is very improbable that he would do it.

    Religion is a codified pathway. Every religion accredits itself by discrediting the others, and it couldn’t do otherwise. Research within a religion is limited to better defining, or at most, reinterpreting itself (if you don’t want to fall into heresy). Admitting that there can be many spiritual pathways is the end of religion, but also the beginning of spiritual research.

    I am at Damanhur because it is an environment that supports exploration of my spiritual pathway. If I were to adhere to a religion, I wouldn’t even have the space to explore.

  21. thor555 /

    Hi everyone. I’ve been a Damanhurian for 15 years, and I am passionate about themes connected to research, spirituality, and the paranormal. If I can be helpful in answering these questions, I’ll gladly do so.

    I’ll begin by offering a few thoughts to nientediniente. When we talk about spirituality, rituality, divinity, etc., we must take into consideration that first of all, Damanhur is a School. We call it the School of Meditation, even if in this case, the word meditation doesn’t have the common meaning, but rather indicates a more direct pathway to physical action in the material. In any case, it is a school of knowledge and research. Because of this, we usually distance ourselves from the concept of religion. In religions, there are indisputable truths, dogmas, absolute truths that cannot be questioned or modified. In our way, on the other hand, being a continual research of all the aspects that serve as the basis for the school and of knowledge, dogmas cannot exist. It would be clearly contrary to the logic of research.

    How do you become Damanhurian? Well, naturally you need to feel attracted to this type of pathway. You can ask for more information at any of our centers and locations. It’s not complicated, you can participate in many ways. From my point of view, the best way is to begin one of the School of Meditation courses that start every once in a while.

    I wouldn’t say that there is a Damanhurian faith. In fact, the debate between philosophy and religion shows the plurality of visions, but surely there is the basis of a common, shared body of knowledge.

    One of the foundational points of our School, and fortunately also for others, is that there is not an absolute truth. So, every spiritual experience can be shared, while, there is an aversion for all forms of fanaticism and fundamentalism.

    In my experience, the Damanhurian School has taught me to give meaning to many things that, for me, didn’t have it before. It has changed my vision of reality a lot, my vision of human life, of the soul, and it has also taught me to appreciate the richness of other experiences. So, I don’t know if in your question, you intended that we would like to impose our truth on others. In any case, something like that is absolutely contrary to our principles.

    I salute everyone and welcome any questions.

  22. cassettaoro /

    I am a Damanhurian, but I would like to ask you a question that I have heard from others. Can someone explain from your point of view, in a comprehensible way, if it is faith or spirituality, to believe in the Triad, in Selfica, in the Synchronic Lines? Three vast and complex arguments that are not so easy to place. Stambecco Pesco, you’ve mentioned the Triad in a way that I would say is a bit technical, what do you think?

  23. Stambecco Pesco /

    cassettaoro, life is experience and the experiences that you encounter bring you to…feel? believe? confide?

    I have always felt that there is a divine principle that exists as a basis for life. And I search for it. Is it faith? Who knows. Maybe. For me, it is not a faith that consoles (on the other hand, I am happy about my life and I don’t need consolation or comfort) but if anything, it is a faith that stimulates me to “know more” about life.

    Speaking about the Triad means thinking that every time individuals refer to forces that are greater than them, using different names and symbols, really they are referring to a single great essence that fills the universe. Identifying the force with an inaccessible mountain, or with fertility, or with a dove makes it all more comprehensible. Those names and symbols are not wrong. They are ways to conceive of the divine; they are ways that tend to put confines on that which shouldn’t have them, in my opinion, but they are quite respectable.

    What I mean to say is that, believing in a divine matrix of the universe is an act of faith (in fact, those who are atheist don’t believe in it). Giving a rational reading of this divine matrix is research, in my opinion. To live according to that which you learn from this research, this is spirituality.

    Speaking about the other topics, the Sychronic Lines and Selfica are two large areas of research in Damanhur. Personally, I practice very little of it, because I don’t have a personal inclination for them, and I prefer dedicating myself things that are closer to my sensitivity. This kind of faith doesn’t disturb me though. I trust in those who research and produce hypotheses in this regard, and naturally, I profoundly enjoy the relief that some selfs bring to my neck.

  24. Cinghiale Equiseto /

    To believe or not to believe doesn’t make a lot of difference to those who don’t look for answers in life and limit themselves to perpetuate customs out of habit or superstition. The others – for disposition, culture, character, chance – form hypotheses about the existence or non-existence of a divine plane, and if they choose existence, about the number of divinities (one or many? all real or some yes, some no?) and so on.

    The religious, the atheists and others are satisfied with their own answer and don’t take the trouble to verify it, or discuss it (if not with those who have similar ideas).

    Others still live according to formulated hypotheses, verifying them constantly, discussing them and taking advantage of doubt as a stimulus.

    Clearly, I feel that I am amongst this final category.

    Is this also faith? Certainly, but it is the faith of the researcher who intuits the objective and works to achieve it.

  25. Opossum Spinacio /

    Personally, I am content that a Catholic is participating in our forum. I also believe, like Veronik82, that the word of Christ is close to our experience. I believe that there is a common matrix in the messages of many spiritual masters, well known or not, in the history of humanity.

    As a consequence, I prefer the term “Christian” with respect to “Catholic.” As a personal experience, the term “Christian” reminds me of a noble and respectable aspect of spirituality, while the later was born, as far as I know, after the Counter-Reformation, and is therefore related to closedness and sometimes torture with respect to research of a mystical nature, things that were different from that which was dictated.

    For me, Faith is a concept that goes beyond the religious idea. It has to do with spirituality, with an ideal, which is always subject to verification and renewed choice. As a consequence, I believe that even a lay person with a profound civic sense can be much more spiritual that a saint who doesn’t move a hair for others.

  26. nientediniente /

    I’m still trying to understand. The pathway is the same for everyone?

    How much is it adaptable, because, seeing as how you don’t want to be a religion, the path must be different for different people, depending on age, culture, background. Is this right?

  27. esperide ananas /

    Sarah Supernova asks: But my question is: are Damanhurians required and obligated to participate in any types of meditations or ceremonies? Many spiritual communities have some kind of group practice, like yoga at sunrise, or full moon ceremonies, or something that all members must participate in, in order to bring all energies into alignment.

    Well, as everybody who is in Damanhur has Awakening as their goal, and we are all different, the paths that take us to the same place must be different. Over the years we have developed many different forms of meditation, that one chooses according to their inclination and the Way they belong to. A Way is a larger group of people who have a common field of interest, and is normally composed of many groups. I, for instance, am part of the Way of the Oracle, one of the groups of Damanhur that keeps a constant contact with the Temples and operates in a ritual way. In this Way there are also musicians and dancers, that develop music and movement as a path to the sacred inside of themselves, and with the purpose of offering the beauty they create as a means to elevate others, too. Their meditation practice, of course, entails composing, dancing, singing…
    As Damanhur is an Initiation School – that is individuals that strive to always hear the most profound and sacred voice inside themselves (as we are convinced that the divinity is not only transcendent, but also inside every human being), we of course have practices to keep our mind clear, our emotions harmonious and our body healthy. It is difficult to concentrate on transcendence and in making reality sacred if you are in turmoil, or if your body is sick. For this we have many possible tools: we can walk the spirals on our land (the use of labyrinth to activate human energies is very ancient, and has had a strong revival in many spiritual schools in the past years), we can meditate on mandalas, we can use sounds and breathing techniques, we can center through the use of practices that help us focus our thought… We do these practices regularly, individually, a few hours per month, but as we are rather shy, we do not make a big show of this… sometimes I think we even exaggerate a bit, as there are guests who come visit and think that all we do is work! As for being obligated, I don’t think that’s how I would frame the question… Yes, there are practices that are part of my weekly – or monthly – commitments, but I always chose them. Discipline, as you certainly know, it is indispensable to reach any result, be it going to the gym or cultivating a talent… although in our culture it is a word that not many people like, as the ads – and some of the fashionable literature of this age – all around us tell us we can obtain anything just by wishing, or by buying something that does it for us, be it an object, a course, an initiation, a guru’s blessing… I don’t think I ever reached much in that way… I personally do the practices because I feel the effect they have on me, and how they help me be more lucid, aware and centered… which then translates into happier and healthier.
    Of course, every Damanhurian can also go to the Temples and meditate any time we want… we just have to call and book the room to make sure it is available, as there is always quite a lot of activity going on! Last week, for example, there was a beautiful healing ceremony by a Shaman from Siberia. Sometimes people also sleep there, Damanhurians and friends… last August even Sting asked to spend the night in the Hall of Mirrors, as an Aboriginal shaman had told him that he had to “dream in the temples inside the mountain”. Cool to have this unusual confirmation that, somewhere in the astral planes of our planet, there is an exchange of information and energies that connects people and places that are apparently so distant ;-),
    We also have collective appointments, like the Rite of the Oracle, that is every month with the Full Moon (always outdoors, even when it rains, or snows!), that is open to Damanhurians and guests who wish to participate. All Damanhurians – and again, also our guest who wish to be with us – celebrate the Rituals of the Summer and Winter Solstice, and the Commemoration of the Dead. Damanhurians and guests who so wish can also take part in the Rituals of the Fall and Spring Equinoxes. All these rituals are held outdoors, as nature is the protagonist of these seasonal changes.
    Wow, this was my first post, I wrote a lot! I hope you had the patience to read this all and that you found it useful, let me know if there is anything else that interests you ☺

  28. Carruba /

    Magic, Illusion, enchantment or: what‘s real anyway?

    What is the true nature of reality and how can I influence or interact with events around me is one of the most important questions I hold since I have come to Damanhur – if not forever. My study of Spiritual Physics has given me extremely useful explanations to make sense of experiences and sensations I could not place otherwise. It is as if slowly slowly my perception has become sensitive to the „consistency“ of time. Events become intelligible, not merely random and thus disconnected from myself. There is nothing more gratifying than tapping into „knowing“ beyond my unsteady mind and myriads of doubts. My sense of reality is changing since I have come here, even if it took several years – I guess because transformation is simply slow for our species… However, this gradual opening to connect with „sense“ while contemporaneously grounding in the reality of „every-day-life“, rigorously down-to-earth, weaves an invisible tissue of enchantment around me that I do not have to prove to anyone. It is mine, in silence, smiling.

    Thanks Lion Kimbro for your words on this:
    They have deep psychic sensitivity. I don’t mean “psi phenomenon,” but rather: They’re very sensitive to moods, feelings, the subjective experience within themselves and others, mindset, set, and setting. They live in a surreal world, both in terms of their thoughts, and in terms of their environment (pillars everywhere, artworks everywhere, labyrinths, circuits, little statues of people, and on and on.)
    I thought the observation above of “Falco is an illusionist” was interesting; I think he would say so himself, directly, if he hasn’t already. In the Path of the Initiate books, there are many references to “The Power of Maya,” the power of illusion. Their concept of illusion is not negative, though; Rather, it is conscious dreaming that they’re focusing on. They don’t see illusion as falsehood, so much as they see it as a conduit both of possible reality, and Being (Truth.)
    They take apart language, look at connotations and associations, ritual, art, geometry, form, time — quite rigorously, and measure the affects of these forces on themselves and others. They take imagination very seriously, (while retaining humor, of course, …,) and the path from imagination to reality very seriously. So “illusion” is something they think about a lot, and then how to transfer reality from where it is, to what the “illusion” is. They have a very complex and baroque metaphysics, for researching and communicating all of these ideas, and carrying them out.
    Damanhur is really difficult to understand and to describe. I visited for a week with a friend. I got into it immediately, my friend had a much harder time initially. After we talked, and worked there for a while, he saw it the way I did. If you focus on “are these ideas real or not,” you’re sort of missing the point. I mean, the whole Path of the Initiate book series is deliberately and explicitly framed as fiction. My impression is that many, perhaps (?) most Damanhurians, do not take these intentional myths literally. But there is deep truth to what is being said. It’s hard to argue with the idea of, “We’re aging,” and the questions of, “What is man? What is life for? What does your life mean, in the grand scheme of things?”

  29. Carruba /

    ups, if you want to read Lion Kimbro’s full blog on this, here comes the source: http://www.openbuddha.com/2007/11/23/damanhur-in-the-news/#comment-358886

  30. nientediniente /

    I read Esperide’s post. I’m still not clear about all this. Can you tell me what is spiritual for you and what isn’t? In everyday life, I don’t know, working is spiritual, watching TV isn’t, sweeping…maybe.
    Sai Baba is spiritual, the Pope no.
    Am I beginning to understand?

  31. Stambecco Pesco /

    What is spiritual and what isn’t? Everything has the potential of being so. To use your example, if I work with attention, giving the best of myself, thinking about my earnings and also those who will benefit from my work, always learning new ways to do it and remembering to not rob anyone through what I do, I am accomplishing a spiritual act. If I make love as a moment of deep and generous exchange, beyond being pleasurable, with my partner, to have all of our bodies encounter each other, I am carrying out a spiritual act. If not, no.

    In other words, spirituality means “giving meaning” to the things that we do. That is, to try and expand oneself, to investigate the world through what we do.

    I believe that those who desire to give meaning to what they do, prefer to walk in nature than to watch television, to read good books rather than get wasted in a club, eat healthy things rather than stuff oneself with fast food, talk with people rather than closing off with an ipod, close one’s eyes and breathe rather than smoking all kinds of things. But it’s not necessary to demonize anything. There can be many paths, as many as there are human beings. Ours, as Damanhurians, is one of discussion, sensitivity, work, living together and art. And of the absence of any rules (besides no smoking or drugs): precisely because every experience, in the end, can be an occasion of reflection and “meaning.”

  32. nientediniente /

    You write that it is spiritual “to give meaning.” Ok. But you give meaning to whatever? That is: If I cook roast beef with attention, with the right ingredients, in a clean kitchen, for you all, it’s more spiritual than, oh I don’t know, if I say a prayer just out of habit?

    Speaking of prayer, do you pray? To whom?

  33. Stambecco Pesco /

    Why not? Doing things well is important in any case. Doing them badly is a big waste. The point is: give value, make noble that which you do. If I cook, remembering that this act puts me in harmony with others, with their frequency, and I respect the food I am preparing, this can be spiritual. We work precisely in this direction, to succeed in always being understood in what we do, intentional, respectful, in every act, even the most simple ones.

    Moments of prayer and meditation are those in which we recapitulate this will to give significance to what we do, and we try to perceive where we are on this path.

    Everyone prays how they want. There are prayers that many people like, ones that represent an element of union and that are sometimes recited in the same way for everyone. The prayer is toward the divine essence of the universe, which is like, how do you say, the divine essence of the human being. If you come to Damanhur – I don’t know if you’ve ever been here – you’ll see symbols of some faiths of the past and present, especially in one of the halls of the Temples of Humankind, which has 35 stained glass windows dedicated to 35 different faiths. But we don’t address these “faces of God.” We celebrate the innate sense of the divine within the human being, which brings him/her to continually seek, to know and explain what exists beyond our senses, beyond death.

    We pray to the divine essence outside of us to reawaken it within us. And seeing as how we think that we should be the protagonists of this reawakening, we consider that the best prayer is to act, giving a spiritual significance to our actions.

  34. I answered this question for one of our friends and would like to share the answer with you…

    “Please talk about your own spirituality and how you think Damanhur affects it…”

    In terms of formal spiritual background, I come from a long line of Chinese Buddhists, I was raised by agnostic scientists without religion, and I have independently explored many spiritual orientations in the past, in search for truth and wholeness: Christianity, Soto Zen Buddhism, yoga, some aspects of pagan naturalism, wiccan feminine traditions and Native American spirituality. Living from compassion, connection and heart-centered action is the thread that runs throughout all these explorations. Healing arts have also been a powerful spiritual expression for me.

    Damanhur’s spiritual practice has been a channel for me to honor all of these past connections with divinity in a cohesive sense of wholeness, connecting with the divine within me and in the universe, through ritual, the Temples, through everyday life. We are here to bring the divine into the material world, into the here and now. At Damanhur, I have many opportunities to infuse my intense creative energy with spiritual intention. I am an artist in every sense and specialization: writing, dance, theatre, music, singing, painting, drawing even culinary arts and clothes-making. Expressing these creative energies within me is a way of expressing my own divinity, and of reinforcing the existence of a world of light, love and freedom. Meditation at Damanhur is meditation in action. We pray with our hands in the dirt, sculpting clay and slicing carrots, as much as with any ritual, and we do it to elevate and honor all of humanity.

  35. Thank you for your article. I read the other comments you have published as well. I’m a great believer that we are all here learning in our own way. What might sit right for someone, will not sit right for another. That’s what makes our world so amazing and the people in it.

    Love and Light
    Vine