by Alemka Dauskardt
“What counts in the end? The love that stays. Which love stays? The love that does not apply any measure, the love before which everything may be as it is.” (1)
What I learnt from Bert Hellinger is that the biggest force in the world is love – love which makes no distinctions between good and bad, just or unjust, guilty or innocent. How to find and nurture that position within myself from which I could feel equal love for all has been the greatest lesson. To at least sometimes be able to arrive at and hold that position, required years of practice in letting go, as I travelled the path of, ultimately, spiritual growth. To learn Family Constellations and to be able to at least partly comprehend Hellinger, I had to embark on a journey of leaving most of my pre-conceived ideas and knowledge acquired to date behind. More than twenty years down the track, and I am still travelling, learning, trying to comprehend. Such was the challenge of encountering constellations and such inspiring and motivating force for growth, which even with all the difficulties and frustrations along the way, I would not swap for anything else. Such is also its beauty, satisfaction and enlivening thrust for ever MORE.
I was born into a Christian tradition, in which I could not find the sacredness I sensed in the world, and by profession I was a Psychologist, struggling to understand people and assist them within a scientific discipline, which, with its essential separateness from spiritual and natural forces is able to perpetuate only that: separateness and duality. It took some years for me to be able to deal with my different consciences of belonging to these groups and to move on, to move forward and, through Family Constellations to continue moving into an ever more encompassing and inclusive conscience. I am grateful to Bert Hellinger for being a shining example in this respect with his own life: continuously leaving behind groups, professions, communities and theories when outgrowing their boundaries, always swapping a lesser conscience for a bigger, more inclusive one – that which unites rather than separates.
His own account of his move to leave the Catholic order is revealing in this respect. He recalled that at some point he was faced with the question: what is more important to me – people or principles? After a sleepless night, he knew his answer. This was the choice he kept making for the rest of his life, always moving on, always choosing people and ‘what is’, rather than following any ideology, principle or theory or particular way of working – even if it was his own invention! He never stopped expanding, growing, changing on his path of including ever more, embracing even more, dropping off even more when necessary, unrelenting in his quest for truth and service to life.
He became widely known as a developer of Family Constellations, and just as they spread all over the world and started gaining recognition, drawing more and more people who learned to facilitate, with many books written and published, associations established, he proclaimed: “Traditional Family Constellations are finished!” And he moved on, much to the dismay of the rest of the constellating world. Those who wanted to hold on to a lesser mystery (and lesser mastery!) proclaimed him wrong and many refused to follow. They kept hanging on to their conscience of belonging to a group of traditional Family Constellation facilitators, who had learnt from an earlier Bert, while he, once again, left the order he himself had established and – moved on.
Bert Hellinger was not the one resting on his laurels or hanging on to fame. He was a life-long seeker, always in pursuit of new knowledge, venturing into new territories, opening himself up to new insights, staying true to himself, and that which guided him. Continually there was a price to be paid, and courage was needed to stay unwavering on that path. Clearly, he was guided, as otherwise he could not have endured all the attacks he was exposed to. Thank you, Bert, for teaching me courage and also the wisdom to know the destructive power of conscience, in whose name even the worst deeds are possible, done in good conscience and without guilt. The far-reaching insights can only be reached and revealed quietly and humbly, keeping close to the ground.
Hellinger’s insights and teachings
The scope of Hellinger’s teachings, his life’s work, is so immense that it is not easy to grasp, with no objective overview possible. There are a few major aspects, though, which forever change the way we perceive ourselves, our relationships and the world around us and I want to highlight the ones which impacted me the most personally.
One of his greatest achievements was showing us that there are systemic forces operating in our families and other human systems, which determine our direction in life, our health and success, and that there are things we can do if we want love to flourish in our relationships and things we must not do. He turned our blind love into the love that sees, telling us about these forces and teaching us how to align ourselves with them so that we can thrive. From being at sea and not knowing what determines the direction our lives take, not understanding what makes us ill and unsuccessful and why our relationships fail, he provided a map for living, charted the uncharted territory and made us understand so much more about our relationships and the way we are in the world.
Finally there was a connection we could make between what we perceived as unrelated, random life events and actions, for example, between cancer and a relationship to our mother, between anorexia and a relationship to our father, between depression and anger towards our parents, between serious illness and our grandfather’s involvement in the war, between children’s behaviour problems and aborted siblings, between lack of business success and the lost twin, between suicide and adoption, between psychosis and a murder in a family system…and the list of examples can go on and on! Hellinger taught us that there are systemic orders, ordering our relationships on every level, running our lives in a certain direction, while we are completely unaware of this!
Slowly, over the years, through exposing himself to phenomenological insight, he has found out exactly what those orders are, what their function is and what the consequences are of not living in accordance with them: in our most intimate dealings with a partner, between us and our children, in our ancestral system, in our work organisations and in the larger, collective systems we belong to. And he taught us exactly how we can align ourselves with these forces for a healthy and successful life. What an achievement!
But it doesn’t end with this, of course. Hellinger also discovered that not only every individual, but every family has a soul which connects every member of that family across generations and connects everything that happened in that family, all the dead family members with the living ones, and that this soul does not tolerate exclusions and other transgressions of systemic justice. The consequence of this insight has been that he always perceived an individual as part of their family and ancestral systems, and adjusted the work accordingly. Through Hellinger’s constellations, we have started to realise how deeply we are connected, even beyond family blood ties, even beyond time and space and even beyond the boundary of death.
Particularly insightful was his realisation about the connection between victim and perpetrator, a connection, he discovered, which was stronger than a blood tie. This has far-reaching consequences, not only in releasing our entanglement with large scale killings of the past, but also with pointing the way into the future in which, hopefully, we won’t need to take up either of these two positions and can stop the vicious dance between the two.
Another unique achievement was the discovery of a deep, blind love, which binds a child to its parents and through which that child sacrifices itself in an attempt to magically save the parents. He brought to light the deeply unconscious and damaging dynamics: ‘I follow you’ and ‘I go instead of you’ and, through constellations, they lost their destructive power over many. Hellinger has stopped the Pied Piper’s song and has brought many a child safely home, to their parents and to life.
Further to that, Bert Hellinger showed us the real effects of abortion, helped us to work out the best place for everyone in adoption systems, taught us how to recognise if we are living someone else’s life instead of our own and how to resolve the identification with the excluded. He discovered that any kind of exclusion has a devastating effect on the family and other systems and he described the mechanism of family conscience through which this happens and who is the one ‘in charge’. He found out that our lives are determined by these unconscious processes and the forces which guide them and dispelled our illusion about free will and us being in control of our lives.
He made us realise the importance of leaving the burdens to those to whom they belong, without interfering, without trying to help. He showed how essential it is to entrust someone’s destiny to them.
He shone the light on what makes us sick and what healthy, uncovering systemic dynamics behind serious illness, depression, psychosis. He understood what is behind our professional success and our relationship with money and also the conditions under which our business endeavours and our organisations can thrive, as well as what obstructs their success.
He helped us understand the systemic conditions behind suicide and also the collective dynamics which drive wars.
Bert Hellinger addressed the most mysterious and difficult aspects of being human, bringing clarity to guilt and innocence, freedom, responsibility, wisdom and love. He wrote about forgiveness, betrayal, envy, power, jealousy, competition, creativity, pride, humility, greatness – always with incredible clarity, going straight to what was essential. His words on most aspects and conditions in which we manifest our humanness often left us moved and a little more enlightened. There is hardly an aspect of our experience of being human, which he hasn’t reflected on and ‘en-lightened’ for us. Eating disorders, autism, addictions, problems at school, criminal activities, organ donation, artificial insemination – for each and every life situation he has, not defined a cause and effect connection, of course, but had an insight, a word, which often pointed towards a healing solution.
In the practical application of his insights, he was a master at facilitating a reaching-out movement, which restores our early broken attachments. He was also a trauma specialist, working with all sorts of trauma on every level, from individual to collective, often spanning these different levels in one piece of work. Sometimes, he would just hold the person and walk her in her mind’s eye up and down the trauma memory lane, the whole process of addressing life traumas taking minutes, not hours or years.
But further to that, out of the arena of our family relationships, Hellinger has understood the true nature of conscience, for the first time in human history, something that eluded most philosophers (“even Kant!”, says Hellinger, and certainly most thinkers in modern times. We have been, not unlike the children following the Pied Piper’s song, deeply enthralled and entranced by our conscience into believing this story of conscience being the universal voice, the voice of god, Jiminy cricket in our ear which tells us what is right and wrong and which should determine our actions accordingly. Possibly Hellinger’s greatest insight of all was that conscience is a mere instrument, which tells us when belonging to our particular group is secure or endangered. To confuse this with universal categories of good and bad, with morality, is one of the biggest flaws of humanity, taking us into wars, making us conscientiously kill each other in the name of our good and just god: our conscience. How? With good conscience, of course.
“The crucial insight about conscience was that is has to do with our right of belonging, the right of belonging to the group on which our survival depends. With that came the insight that each group demands something different from the ones who belong to it in order for them to remain in it, both in their behaviour and in their thoughts and feelings. It thus also determines what we may and must know and believe. Each progress in our thoughts and actions is hindered by our conscience, unless we grow beyond it, guided by a different consciousness that leads us beyond the belonging to this group of origin into a different vastness, into a universal consciousness beyond our common differentiations between Good and Bad, Right and Wrong.” (2)
This brings us to another, phenomenal indeed, achievement of Hellinger’s: opening for us a phenomenological path to knowledge through the constellation method. This path, which is different from the scientific path to knowledge, is based on keeping our attention wide and open, letting ourselves perceive not the details, but the phenomenon in its totality and thus also perceiving what is essential, a perspective we lose when focusing on separate, individual parts. Constellations as a method are based on phenomenological perception, and it is in this way that Hellinger, and all of us with him, came to know about human systems and about the forces, which operate in them.
“The spiritual way that has led me to these insights is called in philosophy the phenomenological path. These insights are neither gained nor achieved through a personal effort. This insight is given as a present, yet in a way that demands the ultimate void from us.” (3)
Learning constellations in this way takes us all on a path of knowledge, one that each one of us has to follow, finding our own way and facing our own personal challenges.
“The phenomenological path is a path that each one has to follow individually. To only hear of it does not give one the strength to follow it. What has come from this for me? Only hearing and trying to apply these insights does not live up to the magnitude of these insights and the possibility to apply and convey them. This means learning them the way others learn something else is denied to me. My insight was that only he who proceeds on the phenomenological path by himself and who receives these insights from somewhere that goes far beyond all common forms of learning, together with all the consequences that follow for him personally, can then grasp these phenomena and pass them on.” (4)
The Knowing Field & Natural Mysticism
Through the constellation method as developed by Hellinger, mostly through the phenomenon of representative perception, we came to understand that there must be a Field in which all information is stored, through which we are all connected, beyond space and time, and beyond our material manifestation. The existence of such a Field is being confirmed through the latest scientific discoveries and forms the basis of many new theories about the nature of consciousness and the universe. It is also consistent with many old spiritual systems, like Taoist philosophy, Jewish mysticism, Hindu mythology and the teachings of the Buddha, as well as the wisdom of ancient tribal knowledge of indigenous peoples.
Hellinger’s constellations reveal something about the workings and the nature of that Field, and about the force, which drives it and guides everything within it. This is the force on which we rely to move representatives in a constellation, the one which also moves the facilitator and everyone present at the same time. Constellations have brought us closer to sensing the workings of that one big force, the primal mover, which moves it all, the nature of which remains elusive.
Invariably, his insights about the Field and this force led him to the spiritual dimension and his teachings became philosophical lessons in natural mysticism, in particular in his later years:
“This spiritual power goes far beyond what we have tried to grasp in our views of God, far beyond it. It is the essential, the primary, creative power. For this power, there is no good and no bad, no right and no wrong, no perpetrator no victim, there is nothing according to which we can classify our world.
When we come into alignment with this movement, when we come into accord with this movement, all our distinctions fall away, they’re completely gone. Coming into this movement is a natural thing, a process of insight in which this insight is taken seriously in every respect.
What comes to an end when we take this seriously? Any religion, any morals – they all come to an end. Do you understand the extent of natural mysticism now, how it turns everything upside down?” (5)
Helping in harmony
Many who turned to Bert were not concerned about the philosophy behind his interventions, but turned to him for help with an often deeply serious and painful personal issue. From Bert Hellinger we learned the conditions under which we are in a position to help someone at all, limiting our childish illusions of being able to help our parents, but instead meeting the Other as an adult, with equal love for everyone in their system, respecting their destiny, taking them only as far as we are permitted and guided by life forces. In other words, always in harmony with their parents, their ancestors, with their destiny and the Greater Soul.
“First it means, I am in harmony with my soul and with whatever my soul connects me to. That means, I am in harmony with my origins, with my father, with my mother and with everyone else who belongs to my family: my siblings, grandparents, uncles and aunts and with the dead ones of my family.
To be in harmony with them means I honour them the way they are or were, I give them a place in my heart and in my soul the way they are or were; I feel at one with and connected to them the way they are or were, including their fate, their pain and their death.
To be in such harmony with them means my soul becomes wide and open, permeable for the flow from them to me, the flow through me to others. In that state my soul is not only my own possession.
In my soul I am in harmony with something greater and older and wider to which I belong, by which I am carried and guided, which however challenges me way beyond my own planning and wishing.” (6)
Over the years Hellinger has understood and specified the Orders of Helping which are followed in constellation facilitation: helping only when there is a need, when asked and able to, only going as far as circumstances permit, not treating adults like children, always seeing them as part of a system and uniting what has been separated, without judgement.
Thank you, Bert, for teaching me how to be able to help myself and others in need.
This kind of helping differs from how helping is viewed in other helping professions and therapeutic modalities and is an essential aspect which differentiates Family Constellations from other approaches. Hellinger probably had this aspect uppermost in his mind when he said he was not a psychotherapist in an interview with Martin Buchholz. When asked: “Then how would you describe yourself?” he responded: “Someone who is in the service of life.” (7)
In the service of Life
For me there is no doubt that Bert was always in the service of life and that he devoted his life to the service of others. I never doubted that and did not need any convincing. However, the confirmation came unexpectedly, through witnessing a representation of Bert Hellinger, in his own presence, in a constellation he set up himself. The man who represented Hellinger in a constellation bowed deeply, deeply, in front of the representatives for clients, those in need who seek help, without much interest for whatever else was going on around him. Another occasion of the essence of Bert coming through a representation in a constellation was conveyed to me by a colleague. He wasn’t chosen for Bert, but during a constellation his representation turned into the representation of Bert. At some point, the facilitator asked other representatives to bow to Bert, at which point his representative objected and reported: “I do not want any adulation. I just wish they realised the importance/significance of the work and respected that more.”
His was a life of humble service, regardless of our projected wishes and need for adulation.
Was Bert Hellinger a guru?
In Love’s Hidden Symmetry there is an account of him being asked: “Did you know that some people think you’re trying to be a guru?” He answered: “Yes, I’ve been told that before, but I don’t worry about it since I finally have found out what a guru is. During a workshop, the group climbed a mountain to celebrate at a restaurant there. When they got ready to walk home, it was pitch black outside and they couldn’t find the path down. One of them who couldn’t see either, took another’s hand; they made a chain and when they got down safely, they thought he was a guru.” (8)
Was Bert Hellinger great?
Yes, if we consider greatness in the way he describes it in the piece entitled: ‘Greatness’.
“Great is only he, who feels equal to others, because the greatest that we have is that which we have in common with all people. He who feels and acknowledges this greatness in himself, knows he is great and at the same time feels connected with all other people.
If he acknowledges this for himself, at the same time he acknowledges it in all other people and he knows he is equal to all. Therefore he can reveal his greatness without fear, for it does not place him above others, but it makes him equal. In this he confirms the greatness of the other person and the other person confirms his greatness. He loves the other in his greatness and is loved for his own greatness by the other. Thereby this greatness connects all people with love and humility.” (9)
This was and remains Bert’s greatness.
Passing it on
This way of approaching our own life and the lives of those around us, especially those who are in need, allows me also to stay with this work, and with my life, devoted to passing on what I learnt from Hellinger. When teaching I often tell these two stories about Family Constellations I heard, related to Hellinger. At one workshop, a woman fascinated by the method approached him and asked: “How can I learn to do this work?” Apparently, he answered: “You cannot learn it.” And that is so true, as ‘the work’ requires much more than just a learnt set of skills. In the other story, again, a woman asked the same question of Hellinger, wondering if she would ever be able to learn something so complex. His answer reportedly was: “Just take your mother and your father into your heart and go and do the work.”
The more gratitude I feel, the more I take. The more I take, the more I have to give. This flow of knowledge is so similar to the flow of life. I feel joyful and fulfilled passing on what I have learnt. I have no other option but to do so, as many who are on a similar path have noticed, I believe. Thank you, my teacher, with gratitude I pass it on.
“What would I be without my teachers? How generously have they given to me from their treasure box of knowledge and skills that served my life and my competence so that I could grow into what I am now?
Often I forget what I owe them. It all became so naturally a part of my life and of myself, of which I was proud, as if it came from me. In forgetting my teachers sometimes, much that I owe them escapes me. Then it becomes less for me and loses strength.
It is different when I have them in my heart, when I remember them with gratitude. Then I feel richly given to. They are with me in what I do and in what I pass on to others, when, as they did to me, I give to others what serves their life and achievement.
Do I feel small in comparison to them? On the contrary. I may stand next to them, in the service of life, like them, humble and small before life, and thus all the more completely at one with life and its movements.
When I honour and share what I owe my teachers, others take from me more openly what I give to them for their life. Their gaze goes beyond me to all those who were by my side, who shared my life with me, as I share it with others.
Then we all look beyond our teachers, to the creative Spirit who is equally at work in all life. As we did before this spirit, we bow to our teachers, and they, together with us, bow before this Spirit. Before this Spirit we remain low, on the ground, all of us, all grateful, all equally alive, and equally in Spirit’s service.” (10)
Controversy & Criticism
Hellinger had an amazing life journey, which took him from youth groups opposing the rise of national socialism in pre-war Germany, to the trenches of the German army and a prisoner of war camp, through priesthood and missionary years spent in Africa to a profession of psychotherapy, within which he was trained in an exceptional number of modalities: psychoanalysis, primal therapy, transactional analysis, Gestalt therapy, family therapy, to name just a few. Through integration of his knowledge from various approaches, he developed this new modality – Family Constellations, which spread to all the different corners of the world and became immensely popular, and also controversial, as they presented a challenge to most established worldviews and were not able to fit within the dominant materialistic paradigm our Western civilisation rests upon. Most of all it did not fit with our distinction of good and bad, to which we are so firmly attached.
The outcry from the mainstream, and even more pronounced criticism from the psychotherapy profession were loud and vicious. So, the only way was forward, out of the bounds of therapy, into ever new, uncharted territories. The attacks, which ranged from accusations of supporting the philosophy of national socialism, to being a misogynist, anti-Semite and others, have been an incredible display of ‘conscience in action’, demonstrating Hellinger’s major insight: if we go against the accepted values and norms of a particular group, we will be punished by expulsion or even executed by members of that group, with clear conscience, of course.
Bert was the biggest victim of smaller consciences. One of his biggest insights, according to his own words, was that there is no good and bad. Many of us, raised within the conscience of our national, religious, professional groups and ideologies refuse to accept that. Many cannot comprehend the far-reaching consequences of such insight, and, according to Bert, most constellators do not, as their conscience prevents them:
“Even though I have said, written and shown a lot and extensively about my insights about the effects of the consciences, they remain basically ineffective for those who followed me on the path of Family Constellation and wanted to take others along on this path. Their consciences held them back.” (11)
Sometimes the insights, which came to us through Bert were not easy to take and often required from us the utmost dedication, pushed us to the boundary of our growth, which we were not always ready to cross. The insights we receive through work we don’t always like, or which we don’t experience as beneficial, or against which our rational mind rebels, sometimes go against common sense or fly in the face of accepted norms. Then we get angry with the facilitator or reject the work as such. Sometimes it takes a lot of courage on the part of the facilitator to stay with the insight and not buckle under the pressure of the client, the group, societal norms or the accepted, prevailing worldview.
Bert Hellinger was the most courageous person I know in that regard. He had to withstand enormous pressure to conform, but he always stayed true to what he observed, to what is, to the phenomenological truth – even when it didn’t make sense, even when it felt weird, even if it went against scientific or philosophical understanding built up over centuries in our western civilisation. He stayed true to his insights, even when most of the psychotherapy profession distanced themselves from him, including his closest German collaborators. He displayed the most courage to trust and stand by his observations, when he was attacked by those individuals and groups who had been victimised, either in their own lives, or more commonly, were outraged on behalf of those who had suffered in previous generations. By refusing to exclude perpetrators of all kind from his heart, he attracted the anger of victims and was accused of siding with a perpetrator.
Victims, or those fighting on their behalf, cannot and do not want to take a systemic, phenomenological position of neutrality. It is too painful. It goes against their victim conscience; it seems to undermine their suffering and innocence. Those who suffered a lot want the perpetrators to be considered bad and they want them to be punished. They want revenge and they want condemnation. They also want everyone else to agree and sympathise with them. They insist on the distinction between good and bad, especially those who suffered from the actions of Germans; they wanted this from Bert. But he refused, as he knew this is futile and systemically not useful to anyone, not least the victims, and that only a position of systemic neutrality and radical inclusion is the way out of the repeating cycles of a victim-perpetrator dynamic. And so, he was attacked and criticised the most for some of his most profound insights, which are an incredible offer and opportunity for humanity to get out of this vicious cycle of violence and wars, if understood, internalised and acted upon.
Similarly, Bert was not favoured by all those who claim they were badly treated by their parents and wanted to hold on to their ‘righteous anger’ and childish accusations towards them. Here too, the victim conscience prevails, and stubbornly holds on to accusations. Some constellators who proclaimed that constellations can be used without ‘Hellinger philosophy/ideology’ and who promised these adult children they can heal without taking their mother in, continuing to hold on to their complaints against her, gained great popularity and developed parallel constellation methods under different names.
Many have resisted Bert’s invitation to follow him into the New Family Constellations or as he also called them, Spiritual Constellations:
“There is resistance to this new and different movement, it’s obvious. Sometimes this resistance takes on strange forms. I sometimes hear about things on the Internet about my work and me that seem strange to me, for instance, in Russia. At the same time I know what goes on inside these people. Shall I tell you?
All those who continue with family constellations as before are richly given to by me. I am the mother of family constellations. All those who use it received from me. The question is have these people taken everything from their mother? Or do they, after having taken everything from their mother, complain to their mother that she should have been different? Well then, this applies to me, too. In accord with the mothers whom I deeply revere, I agree wholeheartedly. My love remains.” (11a)
So, not everyone found their peace with Hellinger or his constellations, and the struggle will, most likely, continue. But the constellator’s path was never meant to be easy. It is true that through it we encounter powerful forces and what we see sometimes ‘blows our mind’. So, of course, it requires a lot from us, being in touch with this work, and it is challenging for each of us individually and for the collective constellating field. What position each of us finds towards Hellinger’s insights and towards his legacy does determine the direction we take, though. And it is not possible to have any meaningful contact with this work without positioning ourselves in relation to this legacy. Whatever position we adopt, one thing is difficult to dispute: the legacy of Bert Hellinger is enormous and holds great significance not only for constellators or the helping profession, but for humankind.
“In the meantime we let go of our yardsticks, one after the other, those yardsticks that sow discord between us, and especially inside ourselves. By whom are they guided, those who want to hang on to their yardsticks? They too are led by a love. They are led by a love that goes on making distinctions, that only loves some and excludes others, a love that only wants to have the company of few. In the end everything will be shared with everything else.” (12)
Bert, I am sure, learnt to live with attacks and misunderstandings. His relationship with his wife Sophie clearly provided a refuge, in addition to providing a partnership on every level. This relationship obviously enabled him to stay on his path, to gain many more precious insights, to continue working well into his nineties, and to explore ever-new ways of working. I recall him saying that he thought his life’s work was over when he met Sophie, and instead he continued with possibly the most productive years of his life. I also recall his loving comment when teaching: “What is a man without a woman? You can see it with me; what would I be without Sophie?” Together they held seminars all over the world in front of huge audiences, affecting the lives of many.
Always, but maybe especially in his later years, Bert has been a prolific writer. As the time went on, his writings became more and more like poetry and ‘the philosophy of being’ rather than anything else, his pen driven by another force. According to him, he was made to write words, which he often did not understand himself and which came from elsewhere. These writings remain a treasure still largely undiscovered, holding a wealth of knowledge and accumulated insight about the Field and the forces, which shape it. Coming ever closer to the end, he was also closer to the Source, which cognises everything into being, and welcomes us home in the end, this closeness being reflected through his writing.
“In the end everything will be shared with everything else. How do we prepare ourselves for this ultimate state? By including every opposition in our love, every opposition within ourselves and in our relationships. Can we achieve this of our own accord? Where do we get the strength for this ultimate love? Through bidding farewell, step by step, to our distinctions.
First, we bid farewell to the distinctions that reside inside by taking everything in ourselves into our heart with love, as something belonging to us and belonging to the world as it is, on and on, until it becomes one with us.
Then we move on to the oppositions between different people and their different fates, and we take them into our heart in the same way. We take them into our heart with love, without distinction. How can we succeed in this? With a view to the creative power that called all human beings into existence as they are, that called them into existence with love, kindly turned to all, and taking all of them into its service. Where is every life heading to in the end? It is directed to the power that makes no distinctions in this sense, because it wills everything exactly as it is.
How do we become one with this power in our love? Guided by it alone, beyond all distinctions, with a love that wills what it wills, that loves what it loves, that remains where it remains, that lets be what it lets be, one with it in the end. Guided by it alone, only with this power, and together with it also, with everything else that has its being through this power, together with us, equally with us, without any distinction, because here only one thing remains that counts: its love, its eternal love, its deep and warm love for everything equally, and together with it, also our love, the same as this power’s love.” (13)
In place of Conclusion
Bert Hellinger was loved and admired by many. Thousands and thousands over the years sat on that chair next to him and felt the power of his presence. It was not uncommon that people felt healed from life long difficulties simply by sitting in his presence or repeating a single word given by him. His ability to connect with the entire field of the person, and his ability to allow himself to be moved by the forces which were operating in the field in a way which was beneficial for the person having a question, also to everyone else present, was unsurpassed. Those being lucky enough to experience this in person can attest to his incredible intuition, composure, empathy and neutrality with which he turned to every member of the system with equal love.
Many continue to benefit from Bert Hellinger’s insights and methods and many now offer constellations, not always with proper acknowledgement. Some claim they have improved on Hellinger and continue to offer constellations under a different name. Or some offer constellations, but in a way which leaves out some essential aspect: mystery, spirit, controversy… whatever it is that needs to be left out so that it can be offered within some established professional discipline or a reference group, with a clear conscience.
It is also something we are left to grapple with as a professional community of constellators – finding a way to position ourselves in relation to other modalities and professional fields and finding ways in which Family Constellations can be brought into the mainstream (or not). Finding the right path continues to be our responsibility, individually and collectively, now more than ever.
”When I look at how family constellations developed, beginning with the first book Gunthard Weber published, and how it spread, that can take our breath at times. Then I feel, that behind this movement a great force is at work, something good that took me and you into its service.
For this reason, that which we do is not dependent on what we think. This movement takes us along with it, irresistibly. No one can halt it. The smaller ones who think from their reasoning, that they have to direct something, have a hard time with this force. But they also stand in the service of this movement – such is my insight.
And if we observe things as they are, it becomes quite clear: The Divine, the primal power, the power, which moves the world, wills the conflict.
Only we think about eternal peace, where individuals stuff themselves with food and remain lying on the ground in fool’s paradise. No, the creative power is in movement against opposition. Only against opposition do the living gain their full power.
When I heard what workshops are offered here by many well tested colleagues, I think: ‘Wonderful, how it all developed!’. And each one contributes something special to the whole. Only because it has this fullness, because so many different ones have taken this work on with their personal experience, and with their personal entanglement, their possibilities and their limitations, for this reason family constellations develop in such manifold ways. By now I think: ‘I am one amongst many, who does this as well.” (14)
Family Constellations have the potential to take us way beyond our conscious, customary understandings about life gained so far in the history of humankind. Constellations and the insights gained through them can open the door to a major shift in consciousness and be at the forefront of a new paradigm, which is already knocking at the door of many different disciplines. Yes, Bert was great in holding the torch, shining his light on the uncharted territory, leading the way, being equal among equals, yet being a visionary whose legacy still cannot be grasped fully, maybe only to be appropriately judged by generations to come. Till then, what remains for those of us left behind?
Hellinger Sciencia, as a body of knowledge about human relationships and what guides them, ‘a universal science of love’ (15), as well as an organisation with the same name, set up by Bert Hellinger and his wife Sophie Hellinger, who is also a facilitator and a teacher in her own right; Hellinger Publications, a publishing company with plenty of writings, books published and translated in many languages and recordings of his work, also many books by other publishers, transcripts of workshops, personal notes, online offerings. What also remains is much experiential knowledge about systemic forces, many around the world whose lives were affected directly or indirectly through his work, and many associates and students of constellations who are coming to terms with the demands of the method, finding their own way with its power and challenges, establishing their own schools, taking it into the future.
What remains are, most of all, Hellinger’s insights as an incredible gift to humanity, like a beacon light which helps us to find the way out of our entangled, mechanistic, dualistic existence, divorced from nature and spirit and mystery, the light which offers a promise of a better world, guided by and in tune with a spiritual life force. In today’s world, when we realise more and more that we have lost our way, destroying the very planet we live on and on which profit, disconnection and competition seem to be winning over co-operation, inclusion and connection – we need new ways. And we need them soon.
Bert Hellinger and his Family Constellations offer us a possibility for mapping our way out of the labyrinth. In order to accommodate his insights, we need to change our understanding of the world and the current paradigm we operate within. In order to give Bert Hellinger the place he deserves, we need, no less than to change the world! How? One constellation at a time, in full alignment and agreement with the force which guides it all – the legacy of his teachings, at the same time, making us obliged and enabling us to do so.
- Bert Hellinger: “In the end”, Help for the soul in everyday living, 2014-15, published on hellinger.com, no longer available there
- Bert Hellinger: “Guided”, Sunday Contemplations, 2014-Introduction, published on hellinger.com, no longer available there
- Bert Hellinger: “Guided”, Sunday Contemplations, 2014-Introduction, published on hellinger.com, no longer available there
- Bert Hellinger: “Guided”, Sunday Contemplations, 2014-Introduction, published on hellinger.com, no longer available there
- Bert Hellinger: Natural Mysticism, Help for the Soul in Everyday Living, February 2011, published on hellinger.com, no longer available online
- Bert Hellinger: “Helping in Harmony”, the original: ‘Helfen im Einklang’
was published online on Hellinger’s web page, no longer available, translation by Max Dauskardt
- Bert Hellinger, in an interview by Martin Buchholz, published online
- Bert Hellinger: “The Guru”, Love’s Hidden Symmetry, page 241
- Bert Hellinger: “Greatness”, from “Entlassen werden wir vollendet”, page 13., translated by Margreet Mossel, private notes
- Bert Hellinger: “My Teachers”, Monthly Letters, August 2011, published on www.hellinger.com, no longer available online
- Bert Hellinger: “Guided”
11.a Bert Hellinger: “Spiritual Family Constellations”, Monthly letters, September 2011, published on www.hellinger.com, no longer available online
- Bert Hellinger: “In the end”, Sunday Contemplations 2014-15, published online
- Bert Hellinger: “In the end”, Sunday Contemplations 2014-15, published online
- Bert Hellinger, 2004
- The Hellinger Sciencia and the Spirit-Mind, http://www.hellinger.com
The article first appeared in the International Constellations Journal “The Knowing Field”, issue 35, January 2020