Uncommonly Entertaining

A recent show in the Universal Hall helped to renew interest within the community for our Common Ground statement of values. Organised by Margo van Greta from the Foundation’s Spiritual and Personal Development Department (S&PD), the celebration used the Common Ground statement as its theme, and included hilarious clowning from Lesley Quilty, a special presentation from Playback Theatre, and a specially composed song from Cluny Kitchen focaliser Stewart Friendship amongst the performances.

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Lesley Quilty – seriously clowning Photo: Sverre Koxvold

Common Ground is a 14 point document (listed below) covering such topics as direct communication and personal integrity; values that members of the community try to live by in their daily lives. So why the interest (and there is a lot of interest especially amongst visitors) to understand what are the things that bind us together and that have been made into statements held within the Common Ground document? The interest seems to reflect the need for values and norms to be established in any small or large society so that members of that society can feel that they belong and have proof of a common identity intention. Margo explained to me that she already uses the Common Ground statement as a discussion point and learning tool for individual work departments and in internal conferences where Foundation staff both celebrate what they already do well, and look at areas where they find the Common Ground commitments a challenge.

The show helped to highlight these challenging issues with humour and understanding. As Joan Wilmot from Playback Theatre said in a letter to the Rainbow Bridge, “This was real community theatre with everyone there with their edges. And edgy it was. How to tell your story about community or Common Ground without breaking confidences.”

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Playback Theatre Photo: Sverre Koxvold

Common Ground

1. Spiritual Practice I commit myself to active spiritual practice and to align with spirit to work for the greatest good.

2. Service I commit myself to the service of others and to our planet, recognising that I must also serve myself in order to practise this effectively.

3. Personal Growth I commit myself to the expansion of human consciousness, including my own, and I recognise and change any of my personal attitudes or behaviour patterns which do not serve this aim. I take full responsibility for the spiritual, environmental and human effects of all my activities.

4. Personal Integrity I commit to maintain high standards of personal integrity, embodying congruence of thought, word and action.

5. Respecting Others I commit wholeheartedly to respect other people (their differences, their views, their origins, backgrounds and issues), other people’s and the community’s property, and all forms of life, holding these all to be sacred and aspects of the divine.

6. Direct Communication I commit to using clear and honest communication with open-listening, heart-felt responses, loving acceptance and straightforwardness. In public and in private I will not speak in a way that maligns or demeans others. I will talk to people rather than about them. I may seek helpful advice, but will not seek to collude.

7. Reflection I recognise that anything I see outside myself — any criticisms, irritations or appreciations — may also be reflections of what is inside me. I commit to looking at these within myself before reflecting them to others.

8. Responsibility I take responsibility for my actions and for my mistakes. I am willing to listen to constructive criticism and to offer constructive feed-back to others in a caring and appropriate fashion, to challenge and support each other to grow.

9. Non-violence I agree not to inflict my attitudes or desires (including sexual) on others. I agree to step in and stop, or at least say that I would like stopped, actions (including manipulation or intimidation) that I feel may be abusive to myself or others in the community.

10. Perspective I take responsibility to work through and put aside my personal issues for the benefit of the whole community. I will resolve all personal and business conflicts as soon as possible. I acknowledge that there may be wider perspectives than my own and deeper issues than those that may immediately concern me.

11. Co-operation I recognise that I live in a spiritual community and that it functions only through my co-operation and my good communication. I agree to communicate clearly my decisions. I agree to communicate with others who may be affected by my actions and decisions and to consider their views carefully and respectfully. I recognise that others may make decisions which affect me and I agree to respect the care, integrity and wisdom that they have put into their decision-making process.

12. Resolution I commit to make every effort to resolve disputes. At any time in a dispute I may call for an advocate, friend, independent observer or mediator to be present. In the event of a dispute continuing unresolved, I will have access to a Grievance Procedure. I commit to following this procedure [to be decided by the community].

13. Agreements I commit to keeping agreements I have made and not to break or try to evade any laws, rules, or guidelines; to have honest dealings with all bodies and to pay all charges and dues owing.

14. Commitment I commit to exercising the spirit of this statement of Common Ground in all my dealings.

(copyright Findhorn Foundation)

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