(October 15-16, 2011)
One of the brightest stars of the Integral spiritual scene, in my opinion, is Thomas Hubl, a young Austrian teacher who brings a clarity and depth of presence that is as profound as it is soothing. Thomas has quite a large following in Europe, but his popularity in the United States has only just begun to tap its potential. His first US tour took place in April, and he made a return visit in October. One Spirit Learning Alliance was fortunate to be his first stop, and Thomas led an intimate weekend workshop that took all 40 or so participants on an exploration of consciousness that was both challenging and deeply rewarding, and ultimately left us wanting more.
Thomas began the weekend with a brief teaching explaining some of the core concepts that characterize his worldview and practices. Thomas uses the language of energy, light and shadow to talk about how human beings are fundamentally similar to antennas – complex sensory systems that are continuously receiving and broadcasting immense amounts of information and that can be refined and strengthened through practice to increase the quantity and improve the quality of the information of which we are consciously aware. The bulk of the workshop then focused on exercises intended to help us attune ourselves to this information by learning how to be present with (1) what is going on within ourselves and within those around us (intra-personal), (2) what is happening in the collective field between us (inter-personal), and (3) the creative intelligence that is the source of all that is arising and exists in the spaciousness between the structures (trans-personal).
The spiritual journey, according to Thomas, is to discover the impulse that set us in motion and that is the source of our experience. We are all familiar with the motion that characterizes our normal waking lives, and most of us have some degree of familiarity with the stillness that gives rise to that motion. But being awake requires maintaining a strong connection to the stillness of Being even while remaining fully engaged with the movement of Becoming. Thomas calls this being-centered-in-movement “marketplace spirituality”, in which we participate in everything that the unfolding miracle of Life has to offer with an awareness of the energetic interconnectedness that permeates the entire experience. Those of us who can rest as spaciousness but participate fully allow the Clear Light of our Being to shine through and act as a mirror for life and for those around us.
For this reason, Thomas stresses the importance of “spiritual friendship”, defined as a community of people who support each other’s potential and remind each other when we are asleep. Since we can not see our Shadow – which may be parts of us that have been repressed due to traumatic events in our past, or aspects of our higher potential that are untapped or undeveloped – we must rely on others to reflect it back to us. We experience energetic contractions around these areas of our being, and these contractions create “symptoms”. Developing our ability to be aware of this subtle energy dimension of reality gives us access to the origin of these symptoms and thereby allows us to begin the healing process in others and ourselves. This kind of Shadow work is not about relating to a past story, but instead deals with unresolved energy that is stuck and “circling” right now and therefore having an effect on the present moment.
Engaging this type of Shadow work requires transparence, or the ability and willingness to allow others to experience us from inside our reality, without which true intimacy cannot exist. It also requires presence, or attuning to the intra-, inter-, and trans-personal energies as described above. When transparence and presence are combined we can have resonance, which is how mutual healing and evolutionary co-creation are possible. And when a group of individuals comes together in the spirit of mutual healing and evolutionary co-creation, the community becomes a portal for the manifestation of field consciousness. And this is the New “WE” of collective enlightenment that Thomas envisions for the world through his “Sharing the Presence” work.
I think that is as good a job as my third person perspective on Thomas’ work can do in terms of providing a taste of the workshop. In the spirit of integral transparency, I will now provide some notes on my experience from the first-person perspective.
During some individual communication with one of the other participants Thomas said that he sensed this person had developed an over-active mind to compensate for an unfulfilled emotional connection. This struck a chord with me, as did Thomas’ description of (the somewhat common experience among spiritually inclined people of) not having our spiritual intelligence fully seen by our family, peers, or caretakers, which leads to a mistrust that our core motivation is valuable in the world. This led me to a deeper understanding of some of my shadow issues that have been most relevant to me lately, including a tendency to be passive-aggressive and difficulty being assertive without becoming aggressive, a harsh inner critic with a penchant for subtle accusations of hypocrisy, a layer of emotional pain and sadness that emerges when I speak passionately about my deepest truths, and a fear of vulnerability masked by a sharp mind.
One exercise we did as a way to connect with our higher Self was to write a letter to ourselves from that perspective, using our intuition to tap into our innate ability to receive divine guidance. Here is the letter I wrote to myself:
Don’t be scared. You will find your way. Keep practicing – all life is yoga. You are special. Have faith, be committed. Manifest your potential – the world is ready for you, and you are ready for the world. Trust your intuition, as for help, make mistakes and learn from them. Who is like God? You may find out. Be fully yourself – that is the greatest gift you can give. You are a leader of the warriors of Light.
[Note: Michael is a Hebrew name that translates to the question “Who if like God?” Michael is also the name of one of the primary archangels – the general of the army of Heaven.]
As a final remark, I just want to include a disclaimer that if I have in misrepresented Thomas’ words or message in any way it is an honest accident and is the result of my own ignorance and misunderstanding! It would be foolish to think that this short review could do justice to his work but I sincerely hope that it is of some small benefit to those who come across it, and I encourage everyone to experience Thomas for themselves, because his teachings really are about the connections we have with each other as human beings and there is no substitute for the real thing. Thomas will be back in New York in late March or early April, and until then there are “Practice Groups” that meet regularly to engage in the type of exercises we learned during the weekend with Thomas. If you are interested in learning more about these groups please email me at email@example.com
About the Author
Michael Stern is an integralist evolutionary urban yogi. He graduated from Vanderbilt in 2006, embarked on his formal spiritual path in 2009, and discovered Integral theory and Evolutionary spirituality in 2010. He is a certified Hatha yoga instructor, a member of the Integral New York Leadership Team, and a part-time employee at One Spirit Learning Alliance. He lives in New York City, where he was born and raised and now dedicates his life to supporting the emergence of an enlightened culture.