2020 Year of Clear Vision – Final Report

Download Document [2020 A Year of Clear Vision – Final Report pdf]


March 12, 2021

It’s hard to begin this for two reasons: the tsunami of this experience continues for all of us on the organizing team, powering our 2021 lives along. Challenges, personal, collective and macro, abound.

For those of you who were not involved with a Community Sharing Circle, the best way to get a sense of where we’ve been is on www.2020ayearofclearvision.com in the Themes and Resources and Circle Feedback sections, which will remain online for another few months and then vanish away. The Namgyal Legacy section will be added to www.wangapeka.org and perhaps teachers and community leaders who were deeply influenced by Ven. Namgyal Rinpoche will continue to add to it.

Taking the easy way out, let’s start with numbers.

In December 2019, our central focus, international Community Sharing Circles (from Canada, the USA, the UK, France, Brazil, Guatemala and New Zealand) numbered 22. Big smiles! We don’t have information on how many individuals committed to these monthly experiences focussed on the themed material we distributed.

When COVID-19 changed the world with confusion, fear and lockdowns in March, the number of CSCs shrank, which is not too surprising. But 14 were able to stay the course, meeting in person when it was possible, and on ZOOM when it wasn’t.

We invited 34 dharma teachers with close connection to Namgyal Rinpoche to make video offerings to The Namgyal Legacy to share the work they are doing in whatever way they wished. Twenty expressed willingness and (so far) 13 have contributed their unique flavours of wisdom. Many found this hard to do, but the ZOOM world was helpful with that as we all adjusted to cameras and screens.

The original organizing team of Rachel Clark, Matthew Eades, Bonni Ross, Keith Rowan, and Graham Sandlant wobbled when Rachel wasn’t able to continue. Kathy Connor joined us for a while, but the pressures of her work life intensified with COVID, and Kath Mitchell (also a Wangapeka trustee) joined us for the rest of the year. The final configuration became quite magical, stress-free and intimate as we grappled with the very hard choices presented by a wide range of wonderful material on a wide range of contemporary issues. Our original list of possible themes included Epidemics and Other Health challenges, but ironically, didn’t make the first cut. And then we were living in it.

Each month we met to review the CSC responses, our own turbulent feelings, and to make choices from the researches we each conducted into the next month’s theme. New topics emerged and others fell into the “no longer relevant” basket. These meetings were intense experiences that never overtook the good humour, kindness and personal honesty of the team.

We provided written and video material, generally at least three items from different points of view on the same themes. Much high quality material didn’t get used, but all of it has been posted on the website at the end of the monthly material.

In December 2020, 14 New Zealanders, most of whom had been committed members of a CSC, had a weekend sharing retreat at Wangapeka to review the experience of the whole year. This concluded with a fascinating final circle that generated many thoughts about the future of the Wangapeka Study and Retreat Centre. Our final offering to the CSCs was a collection of personal messages from each one of us to all the other participants around the world.

The Team — in Our Own Words

Some of these were written immediately after the retreat; others after a few months of review.

Kath Mitchell

Kia ora koutou

I am very grateful to have joined the 2020 team part way through the year, as a space became available for another person to be involved. It was very enriching to join the conversation within the team process. I was already an anchor in a circle group prior to this and involved in more of a satellite position as a Wangapeka Board member and part of a group who helped write the circle process and anchor support documents at the beginning.

I thought I would be joining in a messenger role between the Wangapeka Board and dharmasphere groups, which is what happened to some extent — however I found myself deep diving in the process — especially at the meetings. I found the conversations stimulating and the issues fascinating. Most powerful was the heartfelt commitment the team felt towards supporting the needs of the circle groups around the world, and the communal joy of seeing how the groups around the world were responding so openly, creatively and vibrantly to the material and questions offered.

It moved me to experience the care and passion of the team in finding resources to stimulate the opening of heart-minds to the immense problems and powerful possibilities for strength and healing in our world as it is. This was love and clear seeing in action.

In the lead up to the retreat, there were many and varied obstacles to overcome, to enable the retreat to happen. It was grand to feel the team draw together and find a way to navigate through— with the help of many others.

The retreat came together by grace and grit. 14 people sharing together with honesty and commitment, within the unconditional support of the Wangapeka whenua. I felt deeply strengthened by the collective energy, wisdom, vulnerability and love that flowed freely.

With profound gratitude and appreciation for all who visioned, steered, circled and cared for this 2020 Year of Clear Vision project.

May it bring great peace and unending goodness to all. May all beings be well and happy, may all beings be free.

Graham Sandlant

I feel very privileged to have been part of the 20/20 Team. It’s been a commitment that I have relished and felt energised for, and feel immensely grateful for the opportunity to work in this collaborative way.

In writing this, I remember back to 2019 when I first saw the 20/20 Clear Vision project proposal which included an invitation to be directly involved. I can still feel the immediate internal YES response, at the same time as thoughts about not being sure, and wanting to give it some thought before deciding, … etc., i.e. the usual procrastination and fence sitting! Some contemplation helped me see some patterns that involved a propensity to not want to engage / view / think about / feel a response to, what is happening in the world, particularly around climate change. In other words the proverbial head in the sand ostrich had made an appearance, which caused some laughter, because this was what the project was going to do – facilitate engaging with the big questions and noticing our response to them.

Our monthly meetings seemed to flow easefully, and although I felt I was playing a background support role it was important for me to soon see that we all had inter-dependant roles enabling us to offer to the Sharing Circles around the world in the way that we did. As feedback started to appear from them, and I loaded it to the 20/20 website, the sense of connection with groups of people, most of whom I didn’t know, was uplifting and expansive in a new way for me. A little of the feeling of me being separate dissolved, and a sense of connectedness grew as each month’s feedback was posted, but also tinged with some sadness for groups that could not continue.

With gratitude and appreciation to 20/20 Team for the journey we undertook together last year.

Metta Graham

Keith Rowan

Hi All,

Here at the last minute is my offering to the pot.

My involvement in the 2020 Year of Clear Vision both as junior assistant organiser and participant was a rich and alarming experience.

2020 as circle participant

I felt relatively inexperienced with circle sharing groups though I had been involved with them in various forms for many years. I greatly enjoyed the particular format used in 2020 and in fact am a bit of a zealous convert. Since I volunteered to be an anchor, it was so helpful to be a part of a team that had a wealth of experience with this format. The material presented was so often deeply challenging and much of it very much ‘news to me’. At the end of the year, everyone in our group said how rich and useful had been the experience, and many, like me, expressed the wish to continue exploring together this way in the coming year.

2020 as organiser

The organisation team were a joy to work with and their combined talents and energy uncovered a treasure trove of subjects to consider and explore. There were so many themes that could have been explored and so much information available on every theme that the hardest job was trying to find something succinct and approachable to share with the circle groups.

At the beginning the whole idea was so amorphous, I for one often felt a bit panicked as to how this could all be organised and pulled together. I remember Bonni one time saying something like, “Well we said we would do this, I guess we’re gonna have to produce something.” There were times when the possibility that it could be way too successful loomed and we thought we might be inundated with interested groups. Such are the viral possibilities of the internet age. Fortunately, what eventuated was do-able.

To work together with such a fun and smart beings in a harmonious group …. what can I say? Isn’t that how it is supposed to be? (In my head I can hear some sardonic cackles from the group as I write this!) As I said at the top, I saw my role as junior assistant organiser but was delighted to have been a part of the process.

Love Keith

Matthew Eades

We began this adventure in the early months of 2019 when Jem Bendell’s Deep Adaptation paper on the inevitabilities of climate change landed in our in-boxes. By the end of the year we had gone through the process of gathering like-minded people to share in guiding the exploration, setting up all our electronic media needs, accumulating material to share. An amazing group of people from all around the world who thought the Clear Vision project sounded intriguing and worthwhile gathered.

And so we began the year with little idea of how it was all going to work.

Feedback began to roll in as groups settled, learning about each other and exploring the newness of the Community Circle Sharing format.

And then Covid-19.

We thought long and hard about changing the direction of exploration as the realities of the pandemic became more and more challenging. In the end, we had confidence that the container of the circles would help the participants move beyond reactivity to “themes” and into a shared space of acceptance and wonder that would help instil personal flexibility and the value and strength of community.

If you read their postings (still available on the website) you will see the range and honesty of experience that was expressed over the year — everything from outrage to sadness to joy in discovery to gratitude is there. In the midst of tragedy and uncertainty, the groups rose to the challenge of monthly themes demanding real engagement and for the most part they came through with grace and insight.

None of us will know the internal intimacy of the groups that generously offered their feedback. Depending on the makeup of the group this could come in the form of erudite reporting, to terse sentences, to graphic displays. We enjoyed the clarity of those that were clear and the fuzziness of those that weren’t. We celebrated the willingness and the tenaciousness of those that managed to continue for the whole year.

From the final sharings we received, it is obvious that the experiment was successful for many. There was a strong sense of gratitude for the work that led to a strengthening of connection and new ways of meeting complex and difficult questions.

We hope that the benefits of working in this way will continue for those groups that found it valuable, and that the path of awakening will find myriad ways of expressing itself in these coming times.

Bonni Ross

By the waters of Babylon, where we sat down And where we wept, when we remembered Zion.

Yesterday, I didn’t have a word to write about this past year’s work. Today the words above came out of my heart, into my brain and onto the page. And the first thing I did, the very first thing, was ask Uncle Google. And the very first hit, oh my, was a story: By the Waters of Babylon, by Stephen Vincent Benet, published in the Saturday Evening Post in 1937, before WW II. I first read this story in a compendium of American Literature, in high school. I don’t remember how old I was. Fifteen, maybe. Before JFK was shot, that’s for sure, in 1963.

Here’s the link: https://www.btboces.org/Downloads/13_By%20the%20Waters%20of%20Babylon%20by%20Stephen%20Vincent%20Benet.pdf

The ripening of unintended consequences has been a theme for me for the past 20 or so years. It’s so easy to see that in one’s own decision-making, isn’t it? The little community of dharma fellow-travellers we were part of in Vancouver and the Sunshine Coast birthed a question:

could a diverse group, understanding (a) Buddhanature as the ground of all consciousness and (b) in states of ignorance, we were all capable of crazy, partial, stupid decisions, be supported by (c) a wholesome linking of minds in skillful, process-based choice-making, do better at avoiding the grosser manifestations of those “ooops! that wasn’t meant to happen!” experiences?

The answer seems to be: sometimes. Sadly, when we’re very focussed on the good thing we’re doing, crazy things happen still happen.

So much of the harm that is obviously an effect of humans comes about, it seems, because even those with good intentions simply can’t know enough, be vigilant enough to protect our world from those whose choices and actions are driven by hatred, desire and ignorance, let alone from our own good, but partial, intentions.

I celebrate stellar colleagues on the planning and doing team. Feedback from the Community Sharing Circles delights in its honesty and aspiration, and I feel a kinship with many anonymous folk I’ll likely never meet. Some circles did not survive the restrictions of COVID, or our rigorous commitment to process, but a lot of them did. The Namgyal Legacy has been a lot more work than I thought it would be. The final wrap-up retreat, which brought together twelve CSC participants from the New Zealand groups, plus Matthew and I, was full of love and willingness and insight.

In last September’s Wangapeka Newsphere, I wrote: Developing clear vision implies willingness, on both a personal and collective level, to look deeply into what is, taking responsibility for our own responses. Sharing deeply with others creates a synergy from which aspiration, support, compassion, creativity, bravery and practical action flows. Despite the ripening of past ignorant action, this planet’s beauty, potency and resilience continues to inspire. There are no fixed outcomes, and our timeframe is vast, like the universe that is our home.

Amen to that! May all our wholesome aspirations ripen quickly.