Kod potomaka počinitelja, najvažniji korak do razrješenja je gledanje u žrtve, bukvalno ne-zatvaranje očiju pred ovim strašnim događajima i pred činjenicom da su oni počinjeni od strane naših predaka, kao i ostavljanje krivice kod onih koji su direktno za njih odgovorni i ne preuzimanje potrebu za ispaštanjem na sebe.
Kod potomaka žrtava, također, solucija leži u gledanju, u viđenju, u ne-zatvaranju očiju pred strašnom sudbinom koja je stigla naše pretke, ali i u ostavljanju njihove sudbine sa njima, ne preuzimajući težak teret te sudbine na sebe i odbacujući poriv da se ograničavanjem vlastitog života solidariziramo sa njima.
Još jedna važna lekcija iz konstelacijskog rada za potomke žrtava je često opaženi fenomen da što više ogorčenja potomci žrtava nose u sebi prema počiniteljima zločina – to će više oni ili njihova djeca nalikovati počiniteljima.
Za potomke i sa jedne i sa druge strane čini se krucijalno da ostave događaje u prošlosti, i sa onima koji su bili njihovi sudionici. To naravno mogu napraviti tek kad u svojoj duši prihvate sve što se desilo upravo onako kako se desilo, bez želje ili iluzije da je išta moglo biti drugačije. U spiritualnim konstelacijama, gdje se otkrivaju neki od ovih pokreta duše na najdubljem nivou jasno je vidljivo da su počinitelji i žrtve povezani dubokom, neraskidivom vezom u kojoj nema mjesta osudi, i da se proces pomirenja događa na toj razini, i to samo onda kada nije ometan sa strane. Kada ne dozvolimo da naše ograničeno rasuđivanje postavi granice tamo gdje one zapravo ne postoje.
Ono što je Hellinger ustanovio kroz konstelacije je da su počinitelji i žrtve povezani neraskidivom vezom koja je jača od onih obiteljskih. Tako je obično prikladno da počinitelj napusti svoju obitelj, i njegova obitelj mu mora dopustiti da ode. To je solucija za žive. Jedina moguća rekoncilijacija između počinitelja i žrtve je ona s one strane života, u smrti. Ali ni tamo, ona nije automatska.
Ono što je potrebno je pokajanje, odnosno, suočavanje počinitelja sa vlastitom krivicom, kao i žaljenje. A to je moguće samo kada žrtva osjeti prema njemu suosjećanje. Sve dok se nitko ne sažali nad počiniteljem – on ostaje krut i nije mu moguće prihvatiti svoju krivnju. U ovim procesima iza granice života i smrti, i iza naših pojmova o dobru i zlu, krivici i nedužnosti, vidljivo je da su i počinitelji i žrtve nošeni silom većom od njih. Jedino moguće pomirenje leži u prihvaćanju djelovanja te sile sa svim posljedicama za sve jednako, upravo onakve kakve jesu.
“Uvijek nanovo vidimo u konstelacijama da je krivnja koju osjećaju počinitelji teža od bola koju osjećaju žrtve. U Mexicu sam jednom radio konstelaciju sa djecom žrtava rata. Oni su osjećali strašnu ljutnju prema počiniteljima, koji su u konstelaciji izjavili: „Ako ostanete i dalje ljuti na nas, mi samo bivamo sve jači i jači i ništa se ne mijenja.“ Kada su djeca pokazala suosjećanje prema počiniteljima, oni su omekšali. Okrenuli su se žrtvama i sjedinili se sa njima, postali jedno s njima. Dobro i zlo, počinitelj i žrtva nisu više postojali.
Samo kada svi imaju svoje mjesto se mi osjećamo cijelima. Samo kada možeš sve prigrliti u svom srcu si slobodan od njih. Ne ranije. Inače te neće pustiti na miru i stalno će ti biti na putu. U ovom kontekstu veliki duhovni koncept „cjelovitosti“ poprima sasvim obično značenje. Ja sam cjelovit, potpun kada sam svakome dao mjesto. Kada smo u stanju dozvoliti drugima mjesto u našem srcu. To je prava duhovnost – tada se osjećamo jednaki sa njima. Ne viši od njih ili bolji, ne niži ili manji. Potpuna jednakost. Ovo nadilazi osobnu i kolektivnu savjest. Židovi, kršćani, muslimani…tada to više nije važno. Svi različiti, svi jednaki. To je pomirenje i samo tada može biti mir.”
“Žrtve ne mogu oprostiti počinitelju. To bi podrazumijevalo moralnu superiornost i ne pomaže niti počinitelju niti žrtvi. Obje strane trebaju nositi posljedice strašnog čina, tako da vremenom njihovo djelovanje može skončati. Počinitelji ne smiju biti izloženi osveti i konačni obračun mora biti ostavljen smrti, toj većoj sili koja tretira sve jednako.
Kain je morao napustiti svoju obitelj kada je ubio svog brata Abela, ali je bio obilježen znakom na čelu kao znak da je ubojica i pod Božjom zaštitom. Nitko mu nije smio učiniti ništa nažao.
Pomirenje je moguće kada postoji saznanje da je počinitelj djelovao u skladu sa onim što mu je bilo omogućeno, kao i kada postoji saznanje da žrtve nisu mogle učiniti ništa da spriječe štetan čin. Sudbina dovodi počinitelja i žrtvu na isti put i spaja ih na takav način koji je iznad osobne odgovornosti bilo kojeg pojedinačnog počinitelja i žrtve. Krivnja i nedužnost su često određene samo okolnostima u kojima se nalazimo. Nedužnost je više dar negoli osobno postignuće i, shodno tome, pomirenje nadilazi okvire napora ili namjere bilo koje individue. Ono podrazumijeva povijanje pred većim silama koje naposljetku ( a najkasnije u smrti) dovodi žrtvu i počinitelja u istu ravan, možda isto i sa jednakom toplinom. To je jedino moguće ako zamislimo svemir kao jedan, ispunjen ljubavlju za sve jednako, za sve ljude i sve što postoji. Čak i najzloglasniji počinitelji su ljudska bića i u mnogim religijama imaju pravo na posljednju pomast i molitve.
Izmirenje između potomaka žrtava i počinitelja je možda najtrajnije kada im je dozvoljeno da ožale mrtve zajedno, mrtve na svim stranama i kada ih se sviju mogu sjećati sa poštovanjem. U procesima na nivou duše, mrtve žrtve kao i počinitelji trebaju ljubav živih godinama nakon nemilih događaja. Ukoliko ti događaji uključuju mnogo mrtvih, kao u slučaju rata, žrtve i počinitelji se mogu ožaliti s ljubavlju samo zajedno, samo kroz prihvaćanje sprege koja ih povezuje. I kada se radi o masivnim zločinima, rezolucija je moguća samo kroz ljubav mnogih, na kolektivnom nivou. Predodžbu o tome možemo dobiti kroz neke Hellingerove konstelacije koje uključuju mnoge i koje ostavljaju efekt na stotine ljudi koji sudjeluju u procesu.”
„U Njemačkoj, mi smo prezreli nacističke počinitelje. Uzdigli smo se iznad njih kao da smo mi bolji od njih. Čineći to, mi se ponašamo isto kao oni tada. Počinitelji su učinili strašne stvari jer su se osjećali superiornima. Sa tim osjećajem „bolji od“, postali su počinitelji. I sada oni koji se uzdižu iznad njih postaju isti. Osjećajući se superiornim, oni pretvaraju počinitelje u svoje žrtve. I u cijelom ovom procesu, stvarne žrtve, oni koji su ubijeni, su zaboravljeni.
Mi u Njemačkoj nismo zaista jadikovali nad mrtvim vojnicima ili nad mrtvim civilima. Sve smo ih premazali istom farbom, farbom počinitelja. Htjeli smo se odvojiti od njih i mislili smo da to možemo učiniti tako što ćemo se uzdići iznad njih.
Ali rješenje bi bilo da svi zajedno žalujemo, da potomci žrtava i počinitelja gledaju u mrtve sa obje strane, mrtve žrtve, i mrtve počinitelje, tako da im možemo pomoći da nađu svoj put jedni do drugih u carstvu mrtvih. Šta to znači vidio sam nedavno u jednoj konstelaciji u Buenos Airesu. U obiteljima žrtvi, na primjer u mnogim židovskim obiteljima gdje su počinitelji prezreni, član obitelji reprezentira počinitelje. Tada taj član obitelji osjeća ubilačku energiju zato što su počinitelji zanemareni, zato što se u njih ne gleda.
Znači, ne možemo se riješiti počinitelja tako što ćemo ih prezirati ili se boriti protiv njih. Rješenje je jedino moguće kada mi, potomci počinitelja i potomci žrtava žalimo zajedno. U tom zajedničkom žalovanju klanjamo se nečem većem što stoji iza ovoga. Počinitelji nisu bili slobodni. Oni su bili dio nečeg većeg. Moramo se pokloniti tome što stoji iza, toj sili, kao pred udaljenim svjetlom, bez spoznaje šta je to. Tada smo svi na istom nivou.“
MEDITACIJA: ŠTOVANJE POGINULIH U RATU
Zatvorite oči. Dišite svjesno neko vrijeme i saberite se u svom centru. Spustite se u kraljevstvo mrtvih.
I evo, tu su svi mrtvi iz II-og svjetskog rata: domobrani, ustaše, četnici, partizani, Nijemci, saveznici, vojnici i civili, Hrvati, Srbi i Muslimani. Dajte si vremena da ih sve vidite: goleme armije mrtvih, svi isti, već dugo bez uniformi i obilježja po kojima bi ih mogli razlikovati.
Tu su i svi mrtvi iz posljednjeg rata: Hrvati, Srbi, Muslimani, vojnici i civili. Svi su ovdje zajedno. Počinitelji i žrtve na svim stranama. Sada im svima odajemo počast. Poklanjamo se njihovim sudbinama, bez obzira na kojoj strani i u kojoj ulozi. I kažemo im u sebi: „vašu sudbinu ostavljam vama, s poštovanjem, neću se miješati.“
Možda su tu su i ljudi iz vaše obitelji. Možda neki od njih još uvijek imaju otvorene oči i gledaju u vas sa molbom. Možda možete reći nekima od njih: „Vidim te. Poštujem te. Vidim što ti se desilo.“ ili „Vidim što si učinio drugima. Dajem ti čast koja pripada mrtvima – čast da se bude isti kao drugi – čast da imaš mir, isto kao drugi – čast da pripadaš, ja sam kao i ti.“
Onda pogledate u udaljeno svjetlo, jako jako daleko na horizontu iza sviju njih – i poklonite mu se duboko, bez riječi, ponizno, i polako se povučete unazad, vrlo sporo, kao netko tko je ušao u zabranjeni teritorij, dok ne dođete do kraja i ne osjetite da ste natrag, u zemlji živućih. Tada se saberete u svome središtu, okrenete se, osjetite drugo svjetlo, otvorite oči – i pogledate u njega.
“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)
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
“The river of my village doesn’t make you think about anything.
When you’re at its bank you’re only at its bank.”1
To belong is not only a great feeling, but our deepest need. Everyone wants to belong, but to truly belong, as ourselves, without having to give up aspects of our true selves – that is an experience unmatched by any other. We all want that!
When we carry certain roles for our families and our groups, when we try to rectify something in our families through our lives, when we unconsciously spend our lives trying to bring something into order – then we do not get to truly belong, to belong in a healthy, satisfying way. And then we are also not free.
This is one of the most significant insights of Systemic Constellations, through which it is possible to identify, quite easily in fact, what the boundaries of our belonging to different systems are, where we belong or who belongs to us, as well as what stands in the way of our belonging. According to insights gained through this method, the majority of troubles we experience in life are actually caused by injuries to belonging. And a lot of difficulties we deal with through it could, in fact, be classified as a BELONGING DISORDER.
Often we unconsciously push life and success away in order to belong, or to include someone else who has been excluded from our family, to ensure their belonging. And in doing that, we lose our place in life and cannot fully live to our true potential. The issue of belonging is a crucial one for our health, successful relating and sense of well-being, to such an extent that often finding our right place, agreeing to it and living life from that space IS the whole therapy.
We all Belong and we all Belong Equally
It is not possible not to belong. With our most intimate groups and most crucial groups for our survival, happiness and well-being – our families – there is no choice. We are all born into a certain family, with its members the way they are and with everything that happened in that family, its history and everything else that belongs to that family, and then also to us. We are part of it and it is a part of us.
The family group is connected through biological ties, but also through the ties of their shared fate. What constitutes the FATE of a family is everything that has happened in this family across the generations. Well, some of us might be lucky; we are born into a perfectly functioning family, which hasn’t experienced any traumas, which is affluent and all its members are healthy and successful. Maybe there are such families. I haven’t encountered many. What is a much more likely scenario is that we arrive into a family where some past trauma is lingering over its members across the generations, with some traumatic event sending shock waves down the generational line. And this shock wave becomes an intrinsic part of the ocean of our life.
If somewhere in this family’s past a woman died giving birth, there will most likely be the fear of pregnancy instilled into women of this family in subsequent generations. Or if we are born to parents still frozen in grief over the loss of their first child, we will be frozen too. Or if the side our grandfather was fighting on in the war is considered the ‘wrong one’, we will feel shame and rejection as we are growing up in this family, often not knowing why, not connecting it with our grandfather’s experiences, being affected by it without even any conscious knowledge about his war involvement.
As humans we are all similar – we don’t like to experience pain, grief, sadness, shame, guilt. We want to protect ourselves from that. And in particular we want to protect our children from such experiences. We try to push away these feelings and the memory of persons and situations they are connected with. So we never, ever talk about this grandfather we are ashamed of; we judge him and somehow quite naively (and we humans are also all very similar in this) we think if we do this, that we can distance ourselves from him, that we can really deny him the right to belong to us and to our family. We exclude him from our heart.
But, as we know, belonging in our families is regulated by much stronger forces than our rational will. Our families are hard-wired in such a way that belonging is not optional and also doesn’t depend on whether someone acted honourably or not, whether someone died young or lived long, whether he or she was born legitimate or not, considered good or bad. We all belong and we all have an equal right to belong.
So what happens, if we try to exclude someone in this way? The grief, the shame, the invisibility, the pain will only shift to some other member of a family, a younger one, usually the one least able to defend themselves – a child. So, a grandson of that grandfather will start behaving and living a life, which resembles the grandfather’s. This dynamic is visible in Germany in the neo-Nazi phenomena. And also in Croatia, where the generation of the WWII grandchildren is holding on to some of the Ustasha2 ideology. The same happens with the totalitarian aspects of communist ideology that we judge as bad and shameful and in that way exclude. It will somehow be included in lives of future generations (as indeed we witness with both of these aspects of the Croatian past continuing to be very much alive on the Croatian contemporary political and social scene).
The rule of belonging is that whatever we exclude through our judgement, pain or shame, will come back through the back door and re-include itself.
The Need to Belong
But what about our own need to belong? Can we exclude ourselves? Do we have to belong to our family? In short, the answer is yes. What is often misunderstood is how strong our need to belong is. The issues of belonging, and the denial of belonging we inflict on ourselves and others have serious consequences. Belonging is not optional, a matter of rational decision: it is a matter of survival and it is on a level of instinct. It is an inbuilt mechanism, which guards our family groups, which determines who belongs and who not and which we cannot change easily. We can change our name, we can migrate to a far away country; we can break all contact with our family; we can adopt different spiritual and social communities in the hope that they will provide ‘better families’ for us, but we will not be able to change anything of importance. We can’t change what happened in our family; we can’t make things different from what they are, we cannot have a different grandfather or not have this ‘out of wedlock’ half-brother, and certainly we cannot have different, better parents (which most people who come to therapy wish for and believe they are entitled to).
The good news is that we do not even have to; we don’t need to change anything that happened in order to live happy and successful lives. Our happiness does not depend so much on what happened in our lives and our families, but on how much we are in tune with it. So, luckily for us, to be happy, we do not need to be born into a perfectly functioning, rich family. All that is needed for us to find happiness is to agree to EVERYTHING the way it is and the way it happened. Accepting everyone’s right to belong and accepting our belonging, makes us belong in a good way.
Then this belonging does not feel like unhealthy dependence or limitation to our freedom, but like a springboard from which we can jump into the river of life, wherever she might be carrying us.
On the other hand, rejection and non-acceptance of our roots and the ties that bind us actually keep us tied firmly to the shore we are trying to escape from. Only with the full acknowledgement of this rope, which ties us to the shore, can we untie it and float away. Not seeing how firmly we are tied and in what way, or refusing to accept our ties, makes us entangled forever in an unhealthy way, with a lot of accompanying frustration and a lot of strife for autonomy. We want to be independent, free, autonomous. It is as if in the process of trying to free ourselves from the ties, which bind us, we keep throwing our arms and legs around and thus become even more entangled.
Agreeing to the conditions of our belonging, with all the limitations this might involve, paradoxically, cuts the knot and sets us free.
Belonging or Autonomy – a False Dilemma
Our wish for autonomy is a wish to be free from entangled, unhealthy, blind belonging. When we belong in a healthy way, we have no desire for autonomy. Behind striving for autonomy there is a desire to run away from entangled belonging. But autonomy is not an answer or the opposite end of entangled belonging. Healthy belonging is. It is not as if autonomy and belonging are on opposite sides of the continuum. Healthy autonomy arises from healthy belonging.
So the question is not so much ‘to belong or not to belong’. We do not have this choice anyway. The question is HOW TO BELONG IN A HEALTHY WAY. And this is a question the method of Systemic Constellations can give an answer to in a lived, experiential, effective and profound way.
The answer is somewhere along the lines of understanding and accepting our place in the world, exactly as it has been given to us, together with our families and everything that happened, without any desire to change anything, being in complete agreement with our destiny, our path. And also seeing our path not as separate, but embedded in a much bigger picture of which we are only a small part, indistinguishable from others.
The price of belonging only feels too heavy if we are in disagreement with the conditions our belonging sets for us. Paradoxically, what gives us some freedom is only the full acknowledgement of the ties that bind us and our full agreement with them. Once we are prepared to pay the full price, we realise that it is doable and not impossible after all. Whatever was given to us, we have the capacity to carry. And the capacity to agree to!
There is no Autonomy
There is yet another aspect to this false dilemma of ‘belonging versus autonomy’. Whatever we mean by this concept of autonomy, we can hardly find it anywhere in nature, in the world around us or in our social systems. This is simply because it is not how the world is structured. We are all connected. We all move in systems within systems within larger systems, in which we are all under the influence of systemic forces, which ‘run the show’. Through their observation of: flocks of birds, schools of fish and herd animals, biologists have discovered that individuality is a questionable concept in our living world. We are also asked to dispose of this concept in every new constellation, as we see how each, so-called individual life, is intrinsically connected with and influenced by systemic forces of the family and other groups we belong to. Similar forces that organise flocks of birds are also responsible for the organisation of human social systems.
Our concept of autonomous individuality has also been challenged through the cutting edge findings of quantum science and new consciousness research, as well as through many ancient philosophical and spiritual teachings of different schools and traditions:
“Where exactly do ‘you’ end and the rest of the universe begin? If you internalise and change with every interaction you have with the universe – every bit of food you eat, every person you meet, every place you have visited – what exactly does it mean to be you? How can you be considered autonomous? What we regard as Self is only a physical manifestation of our experience, the summation of our Bond with the universe. Our interaction with our world is a conversation, not a monologue; just as the observer changes what he observes, that which is observed changes the observer. And as we now realise, these influences are not limited to those of our immediate environment or even to the earth itself but extend to the farthest reaches of the cosmos.”3
We are all connected. We all belong. And we are all part of something bigger. Often the solution to most troubling problems lies in finding exactly where and how we belong, as well as finding out who belongs to us, and then also in transcending this belonging or expanding the framework of ‘our family’ or ‘our nation’ or ‘our religion’ to include everyone and everything. Or in other words, in the language of constellations: outgrowing lesser conscience and embracing bigger, universal, spiritual conscience.
There is a certain kind of autonomy, which might come to us, usually later in life, as we climb the mountain of spiritual insight higher and higher, until we find ourselves alone at the peak. Hellinger has stated that personal development means letting groups go and finding new groups until you find yourself alone. It is the experience of someone who doesn’t belong anymore and is free to connect in the moment and let go again. This freedom from belonging to any particular family, national, religious or any other group is attained as we experience our connection to that which guides us all and which is behind all our earthly efforts. Such ultimate autonomy is invariably spiritual in nature and is expressed in our surrender, belonging and merging with the Divine.
This is something the Constellation method can assist us with. It is also the inevitable outcome of our exposure to this work, through which we learn to surrender to the forces bigger than us, which we encounter through it.
The way HOME – where we all Belong
To stay with the metaphor of a boat, we can see that often in our wish to disentangle ourselves from anything difficult that belongs to us, we row like mad towards some imagined autonomy, not realising the boat is firmly tied to the shore. If we allowed ourselves to rest for a while in the boat which is gently swaying, maybe lie on our back with the view of the expansive, limitless sky and allowed ourselves to feel at one with the sky, with the river whose waves sway us gently, at one with the boat, the shore and even the rope, if we allow ourselves this experience of ONENESS, then we will know we belong right here and everywhere else at the same time.
We might also realise that there is nowhere else to get to and that we can’t be separate from that boat any more than the waves are separate from the water, which sways us gently. We might even fall asleep lying like this in the boat, giving up our struggle for freedom, surrendering thus our independence and autonomy ever more. So we might not even notice when the rope loosened and our boat, carried by the river’s current, started its effortless journey downstream. We are free to be at one with the river, carrying us and with us all those who belong to us and to whom we belong, to maybe meet other boats on the river, as we all eventually find our way floating to the ocean, our HOME to which we all belong.
So, to paraphrase Hesse, whoever has learned how to listen to a river no longer wishes to be a river. He wants to be nothing except what he is. This is home. This is happiness.4
The Ustaša – Croatian Revolutionary Movement, commonly known as Ustaše, was a Croatian fascist, ultranationalist and terrorist organisation, active, as one organisation, between 1929 and 1945. Its members murdered hundreds of thousands of Serbs, Jews, and Roma as well as political dissidents in Yugoslavia during World War II. They were known for their particularly brutal and sadistic methods of execution, which often included torture and dismemberment.
It was exactly a year to the day. I was lying on a boat anchored in a little cove, swaying gently on the pristine crystal clear water, reminiscing on the experience I had at the conference of constellators I co-organized a year ago. On that particular day, the welcome break from the organizer’s stress was a participation in a workshop of a constellator colleague, Melissa Roussopoulos, in which she offered an exercise to demonstrate the ability of getting in touch with different elements, aspects and expressions of nature. Each one of us would set up a mini-constellation, choosing a representative for ourselves and another person to represent a plant, an animal or some element of nature, without telling them who represents what, and then just observe. After tuning into their roles for a while, the representatives would give a report on their experiences in those roles.
As I have always been a lover of the sea, and as I was for days gazing longingly through the glass walls of the conference hall at the sea, so close by but with no time for swimming, looking forward to immersing myself once my duties are over, there was not much dilemma for me which nature element to choose for this exercise.
Even as a short exercise it was a profound experience for me, the representatives’ experience confirming beyond doubt (for those who are familiar with “representative perception” in a constellation know what I am talking about) what I sensed all along: the beauty, the majesty and the mystery of all encompassing consciousness reaches me through the Sea. It was a deeply moving experience which told me, no more no less, that the sea posses consciousness which delights in me taking delight in Thee!
Now, a year later, enjoying much more relaxing time, I was reminded of that experience as I jumped into the sea and dived for as long as I could hold my breath. Enjoying the immersion, I was silently communicating my love and appreciation to the sea and all life in it as I took that conscious “consciousness dive”. I was loving it with my whole being. While underwater, I made an effort to consciously express my love to the sea and all its creatures.
Within half an hour, on our way home, our boat was surrounded by dolphins, these most special sea creatures of all, who kept swimming with us for quite some time with an amazing playful display of affection, clearly enjoying the contact as much as we did. Through the unusually calm and clear waters that day, I could see them so clearly, it felt like there was no difference between the mediums we inhabited, no barriers to communication, no end to our delight in the opportunity for this connection. It was a pure delight, nothing but joy and love. The experience left me moved to tears and speechless for a long time.
Nature’s intelligence and universal consciousness are not abstract concepts for me any longer, but a lived, experienced phenomena, exploration and nurturing of which I would be happy to devote the rest of my life to. Such experiences make us feel the unity, the oneness of our world, as we also feel ourselves to be co-creative partners in the participatory universe. It is such precious experiences which move us towards seeing us not as separate from our “environment”, but a part of the same larger Being we belong to.
As our planet struggles, it is becoming more and more clear that unless we make this connection with the sacredness of our world, and make this experience present in our daily lives and actions – we can not thrive, probably not even survive. I am convinced: it is this personal connection each of us makes with the sacred, which saves the world, and us, and everyone else at the same time.
Konstelacijepostaju sve popularnije i, zaista, radi se o vrlo korisnoj i moćnoj metodi, sistemu znanja o ljudskim odnosima i pogledu na svijet koji nas sve vidi kao dio Velike Duše. Mnogi nas kontaktiraju jer su čuli ponešto od nekoga, pa žele vidjeti o čemu se tu radi. Mnogi koji dolaze iz znatiželje zapravo nisu spremni na ozbiljnost i snagu koja je potrebna za ovaj rad.
Mnogi od konstelacija očekuju čuda, ili u najboljem slučaju emocionalnu katarzu. Često novi polaznici zapravo očekuju samo potvrdu njihovih uvjerenja o životu i odnosima i nisu spremni predati se imperativima života koji su zadani sistemskim zakonitostima koji djeluju u duši. Neki zapravo od konstelacija samo traže potvrdu da su oni u pravu (a partner u krivu) ili da su oni žrtve (najčešće roditelja ili partnera). Kada voditelj odbije igrati tu igru ( a svaki iskusan voditelj je mora odbiti) onda se osoba naljuti na voditelja.
Moć konstelacija leži upravo u tome da se voditelj ne svrstava ni na ničiju stranu, ne optužuje nikoga i suosjeća ne nužno samo sa klijentom, već jednako sa svima u klijentovom obiteljskom sistemu (pa se konstelacije ili voditelj od takvih osoba doživljavaju kao „bezosjećajni“). Nadalje, moć konstelacija leži i u oslanjanju i usklađivanju sa sistemskim zakonitostima života koji djeluju u svim našim odnosima. Budući da su ove zakonitosti po svojoj prirodi neumoljive, arhaične, instinktivne, nesvjesne i autoritativne (sa njima nema pregovaranja) , neki doživljavaju konstelacijsku metodu ili voditelje kao autoritativne i konzervativne.
Neki polaznici, sasvim ljudski, žele svoja osobna i svjetonazorska uvjerenja pretpostaviti ovim sistemskim zakonitostima. Kada bi voditelj pristao na to, onda bi konstelacije bile skoro pa beskorisne. Konstelacijski pristup nas upravo uči koliko smo mali u odnosu na veće sile koje djeluju kroz nas u našim životima, koje rukovode nama. I da u životu možemo biti uspješni, zdravi i sretni jedino ako se pokorimo ovim silama i živimo u harmoniji sa njima. Nekima se to ne sviđa i ne žele to prihvatiti, pa im se ni konstelacije ne sviđaju i ne mogu im biti od koristi. Oni koji pod svaku cijenu žele biti u pravu, oni koji se žele držati svog statusa žrtve, kao i oni koji se nisu spremni odreći svojih uvjerenja (koji uvijek dolaze iz ega), za te ljude konstelacije ne mogu biti od pomoći.
Konstelacijske grupe, nadalje, nisu zamjenska obitelj, već su tu da nas povežu u srcu sa našim obiteljima i dovedu u sklad i pomirenost sa našim obiteljskim sudbinama. Povezanost koju svi sudionici radionica osjete u trajanju radionice nije osobne prirode i ne dolazi zbog naročito bliskih odnosa između članova grupe. Sudionici grupe su često strani jedni drugima, možda se vide samo jednom u životu i druženje sa drugim sudionicima radionice nakon radionice (ako se nismo prije poznavali) zapravo je vrlo rijetko. Osjećaj povezanosti dolazi od prirode konstelacijskog rada kroz koji se svi povezujemo na jednoj dubljoj, univerzalnoj, duhovnoj razini. Na kraju radionice, obično se svi osjećamo vrlo blisko povezani kroz našu temeljnu ljudskost, dijeleći sudbinu zajednice čovječanstva. A onda svatko ode svojoj kući, u svoj život, u svoju obiteljsku sudbinu, osjećajući se tu dobro ukorijenjen i povezan, i obično zaboravi sve pojedinosti iz radova drugih, ostajući samo sa onim uvidima koji su bitni za nas. Iz tog razloga su bespredmetne i brige o privatnosti, izlaganju i povjerljivosti novopečenih sudionika. Ono što je važno za nas zapamtimo, ono što nije naš posao, što nas se ne tiče, kao pojedinosti individualne priče drugih – brzo zaboravimo.
Pri ozbiljnom konstelacijskom pristupu, koji se prakticira u našoj udruzi, vodi se puno računa o higijeni konstelacijskih grupa. Što to znači? To znači da je u konstelacijskim grupa svatko odgovoran za svoje sudjelovanje i svoj proces i SAMO za svoj proces. Zato komentiranje radova drugih, razgovor i analiza radova drugih, izražavanje mišljenja kao i dijeljenje naših osjećaja sa drugima u grupi nije dozvoljeno. Svatko može zaroniti prilično duboko u dubine svoje duše i dubine svoje obiteljske duše da bi dobio potrebne uvide samo ako se nitko, pa ni voditelj, ne miješa u taj proces. Voditeljev je zadatak da osigura ne miješanje. Svako ispitivanje od strane drugih, znatiželja, komentari, analiziranje, tješenje, suosjećanje ometa taj proces dolaženja u dodir sa onim što se nalazi u našoj duši i pretvara konstelacije u dječju igru, teatar ili gatanje.
Konstelacije također nisu psihoterapija i od njih, niti od voditelja se ne može očekivati odnos kakav imamo sa terapeutom. Voditelj konstelacija nema dužnost brinuti se za osobu sa kojom radi, zapravo, zbog zajedničkog predavanja većim silama koje vode ovaj rad, ne smije se brinuti za osobu sa kojom radi, jer se tako stavlja iznad klijentove sudbine. Također, suosjećajnost koju očekujemo od terapeuta ne može se nužno očekivati od konstelatora, jer ja zadatak konstelatora da se otvori jednako prema svima koji pripadaju obiteljskom sistemu osobe koja radi i da suosjeća jednako sa svima, uključujući i roditelje zlostavljače, nasilne partnere i ubojice. Ukoliko voditelj suosjeća sa osobom koja radi, gubi sposobnost za „suosjećajnost višeg reda“ koja ne prosuđuje, ne osuđuje i koja je okrenuta prema svima jednako. Upravo ovakva suosjećajnost višeg reda, ili tzv. radikalna uključivost važan je aspekt konstelacija koji ih čini tako moćnim.
Za razliku od psihoterapije, kod konstelacija se podrazumijeva da voditelj nije taj koji vodi proces ili dovodi do pozitivne promjene ili ozdravljenja. Voditelj samo osigurava uvjete pod kojima se osoba dovodi u harmoniju sa silama života i usklađuje sa sistemskim zakonitostima, što onda često dovodi do pozitivne promjene. Voditelj je tu samo „antena“ , oruđe ili kist u nečijim tuđim rukama. Zato voditelj konstelacija ima puno manju odgovornost za ishod procesa i nije pretjerano u njega investiran. Također, ne smatra se toliko važnim za klijenta, niti se smatra odgovornim za uspjeh ili neuspjeh klijentovog osobnog procesa. Iskusan voditelj razumije da on samo na kratko postaje dijelom klijentovog sistema, i da u tom sistemu zauzima posljednje mjesto. Poniznost je stoga odlika dobrog voditelja konstelacija, obično ne tako svojstvena terapeutima koji misle da zauzimanju puno važniju poziciju u životima svojih klijenata. Osobni, privatni, bliski odnos voditelja konstelacija i osobe koja radi nije poželjan i zapravo je kontra-indikativan, jer je prepreka sistemskoj neutralnosti koja je potrebna za vođenje.
Ove aspekte konstelacija nije uvijek lako razumjeti, i potrebno je nekad duže druženje sa njima da bi se shvatila bit ovog pristupa i na koji način im se treba pristupiti da bi od njih imali koristi.
Na žalost, u Hrvatskoj, ali i drugdje, konstelacije se nude „na kile“ od strane ljudi koji nisu prošli dugotrajnu obuku, niti se žele podvrgnuti rigoroznoj disciplini učenja i prakticiranja konstelacija. Tako konstelacije možete dobiti jeftino, besplatno kao „promatrač“, iako u konstelacijskim grupama nema promatrača već svi rade u svim radovima, možete dogovoriti „svoju“ konstelaciju unaprijed, možete sami odrediti temu konstelacije…drugim riječima, možete podčiniti konstelacijski proces svojoj volji i kontroli. I možete onda odraditi svoju konstelaciju, malo se isplakati, i osjećati se dobro, zadržavajući sve svoje zablude, slijepe točke i ego uvjerenja. Možete se povezati sa drugima iz grupe i osjećati se dobro, kao u „svojoj obitelji“, bez potrebe da pogledate u svoje obiteljske i druge sisteme kojima pripadate i u ono što je potrebno i nužno učiniti u njima ili za njih. Korisnost takvog pristupa konstelacijama je vrlo upitna i nudi lažnu sliku. Oni koji sa takvih radionica dolaze k nama, budu razočarani konstelacijskim pristupom koji mi prakticiramo. To su oni kojima je puno platiti par stotina kuna za iskustvo koje im može promijeniti dugogodišnje negativne sklopove, ili koji ne mogu odvojiti cijeli vikend za tako nešto. To su oni koji bi samo došli, postavili svoju konstelaciju i otišli, bez osjećaja za kolektivan aspekt ovog rada gdje smo tu jedni za druge i jedni drugima pomažemo u radu na našim osobnim pitanjima. To su oni koji se žele riješiti svojih problema, ali samo ako oni mogu zadržati kontrolu nad cijelim procesom i voditeljem i ako mogu zadržati sva svoja uvjerenja. To su oni koji unaprijed žele isplanirati da li će raditi na radionici ili ne i ako da na kojem pitanju. Oni već obično onda znaju i ishod! Tu konstelacije ne mogu biti od koristi, niti pružiti nove uvide. Tako se konstelacije nikad nisu radile niti podučavale od strane Berta Hellingera, začetnika ove metode.
Ukoliko se prijavljujete za naše radionice, potrebno je prisustvovati cijeloj radionici. Svi plaćaju jednu cijenu, jer je radionica cjelovito iskustvo od kojeg svi imaju koristi i tijekom koje svi rade. Nikome se konstelacija ne može obećati, niti se ona može zahtijevati. Sa kime se radi, da li je pravo vrijeme, pravi stav – to se sve odlučuje na samoj radionici. Možete doći sa određenim životnim pitanjem, problemom ili situacijom, ali tema konstelacije mora se sama iskristalizirati kroz fenomenološki pristup otvaranja prema polju danog sistema. U konstelaciju se možemo upustiti samo kada su i voditelj i osoba koja radi otpustili svaku želju i namjeru za kontrolom, planiranjem, očekivanjem određenog ishoda, kada smo otpustili sva naša prethodna uvjerenja i kada smo se ponizno otvorili uvidima iz polja, koji su puno snažniji i korisniji od onih koji dolaze iz našeg racionalnog uma.
„Ostavite svaku nadu pred vratima“, o, vi, koji se prijavljujete na konstelacijske radionice. Samo tako možete biti iznenađeni snagom ovog pristupa i višestruko nagrađeni. Ako ih možete dobiti jeftino za vas u bilo kojem smislu i bez ovakvog stava – onda to nisu konstelacije.
‘’Come with me to the point and we’ll look at the country. We’ll look across at the rocks. Look, rain is coming! It falls on my sweetheart.’’
( the indigenous song from the Oenpelli Region, Australia)
As the fires burn out of control across Australia, beyond the emergency response and dealing with crises, we also have to pause and reflect. Yes, they are the opposing movements: rushing to help our neighbors on the path of fires and stopping to listen to its message. It might be too difficult to do this at the same time, and yet, the time seems to be running short and soon it might be to late for either. Once the fires are over, there will be another danger looming: as we count the looses and the cost, and attend to recovery, we again might forget how to listen to the deeper message, we might again, in our to rush to repair the old ways, try to continue as before.
And I am not the only one who believes that in this fire the message is delivered, loud and clear, that this is not possible any longer. We did not want to hear it in the species disappearing one by one, in our rivers stopping to run, in the cries of our indigenous brothers. What other means were left to our mother Earth than to warn us with the thundering roar of fire?
It is time for emergency responses AND it is also time for employing Dadirri – a special quality, a unique gift of the Aboriginal people, inner, deep listening and quiet, still awareness. After all we are talking about a country with this long-lasting indigenous tradition of deep listening to one another with the heart, to what our soul is saying, to the soul of the land and to the whisper of Anima Mundi, the soul of the world. We are talking about the continent which was inhabited for tens of thousands of years by people who were in tune with the needs of the land and who understood the importance of balancing their needs with those of the land, who knew how to appease the spirits of the land, so that it continues to support them. We are talking about a very sophisticated culture of understanding the spiritual and cosmic dimension of life, as well as practical “land management” measures which assured the cyclical nature of life and land is honored and observed.
Most of all, the indigenous people of Australia knew about the natural systemic, cosmic laws which all life is subject to, and “all life” included not only what we in our narrow materialistic sense consider to be alive, but also the rocks, the oceans, the clouds and the stars. Indigenous Australians understood the land was animated, en-livened by spirit, and for them it was every bit as much alive as that kangaroo hoping or their own child being born. It was all of one Great Spirit, or of one Rainbow Snake.
The decisions concerning life and the land were not made from some centralized position of power, through a democratic process of investing all power to this or that person of this or that belief system, but through a very experiential, practical approach of walking the land up and down over wast distances and listening deeply to what it is saying and what it needs.
This information from the ground was then conveyed through an elaborate system of story telling, the Songlines, which was passed on from generation to generation and from one tribal region to the other. The decisions on the action needed were made according to that assessment “on the ground” and were clear. The only law needed to be listened to was the law of the land, the law of nature and of big cosmic cycles. Their Parliament was made of stars, rocks, running wallabies and trees, the only law they needed to obey the law of nature and the law of spirit, embodied in the all-encompassing, intricate system of rules which regulates all social, emotional, ethical and spiritual aspects of human life – Tjukurpa.
For Aboriginal people, religious beliefs are derived from a sense of belonging to the land, to the sea, to other people, to one’s culture. Being human is defined by where we have come from, who we are, and where we are going in relation to country and kin. For these people who have lived and loved here since the creation times, the land is more than a physical place; it is a moral sphere, the seat of life and emotions and place of the heart.
This is encapsulated by the ‘Dreaming’ – a complex network of knowledge, faith and practices derived from stories of creation, which dominates all spiritual and physical aspects of Aboriginal life. A central concept of Aboriginal life is the notion of the spiritual continuity of present and future with the ancestral past. As part of the ritual ceremonies, humans are reminded of their responsibilities, of the need to care for the country and kin.
A relationship of deep reverence and love towards the land is more precious than our human relationships, the land being the “sweetheart”, as expressed in that song from the Oenpelli Region.
How did we, the “whitefellas”, ever think that we can come from the outside, take over the continent, assert our ways as “civilized” and consider our way of life and land management as superior to those who had been an intrinsic part of that eco-system for thousands of years and learnt how to breathe with it in a harmonious rhythm? How did we ever think that we can get away with it, not just with decimating aboriginal population, but plundering the land’s resources with no regard for anything else but personal profit? Is it so surprising that the arrogance of our white, colonised mind is coming to haunt us? A bit over two hundred years has been long enough for the consequences to show in full blast.
So, this is not only about the natural climate change cycles, it is even not only about the changes of climate brought by our human activities. If we see it like this we will miss the opportunity to see what the real cause of this disaster is and to make the changes necessary.
The crucial question is not how to save the environment, but how to start experiencing ourselves as just another aspect of that “environment”. This is not going to be possible unless we see, truly SEE, the oneness of creation working through us and everything else at the same time. Our world can not be saved if we do not perceive it, and us, as a part of the same whole, embedded in the Greater Soul. Unless we make this connection with the sacredness of our world, and make this experience present in our daily lives and actions – we can not thrive, probably not even survive.
There is little chance for humanity on the whole if we can not make this shift in Australia, the land of ancient knowledge and wisdom still accessible, still so close to us, if we choose to see and to listen. The indigenous knowledge has been greatly damaged, but not extinguished, that fire is still burning, still preserved and alive, willing to be shared, safely and for the safety of all. But are we willing to listen and to learn?
Last (largely sleepless) night I was taken back to the experience I had some 25 years ago as I traveled the outback, trying to understand the language of the land and the Australian indigenous people. Some messages were clear, most unintelligible to me, a child of a different land. As I made acquaintances with some indigenous cattle station workers in the remote outback, I felt I could relate easily to these “blackfellas”, even across the vastness of our cultural divide. And even in their disempowered position of disconnection from their tribal traditions and their culture, eyes blurry from too much booze, puzzling to me then – there was strength and dignity in their presence. And in their names, too. For many, their name was probably the only connection left to the world and family/tribal belief structure which attributed them with those. I still remember the mixture of sadness and pride in this hauntingly thin, warn out man, conveying his name to me as if a secret, or a precious ornament. He said his name was Fire. Simply Fire, meaning fire.
What if these current fires are simply telling us: “Look at me. I am here. I belong too. You have excluded my powers for way too long. I include myself now in this way. I am but one expression of natural force which you chose to ignore. And I am stronger than you. I can easily bring you to your knees.”
Those of us who work systemically know the importance of the systemic balance, the dangers of exclusion and the need of being in harmony with spiritual forces higher than us. It is quite simple really: these systemic laws apply to all systems, from family to nation to planet to cosmos.
We need to restore our relationship to the sacred, as David Tacey ascertains, now more than ever. “In Australia, landscape carries our experience of the sacred other. For two hundred years the majority of Australians have shielded themselves against the land, huddling together in European cities, pretending we are not in or part of Australia….No matter how we attempt to package or construct it, the land will always break out of whatever fancy dress we foist upon it. …The only way to develop a spiritually powerful culture in Australia is to enter more into the psychic field of nature; to “shamanise” ourselves in the image of nature.” (Tacey) Where else than in Australia are we in a better position to do that, to, as another true blue Aussie Les Murray puts it, “keep those gills for dream-life we have in our head wet”? But not if we, Australians and others, try to continue with “business as usual”.
Practical measures are important, but pale in significance to the intelligence of the cosmos, which prevails and guides it all. While doing whatever I personally can, I also surrender to its greater wisdom, with full trust that whatever happens will be how this force wills it. Part of a solution to our present day crises is also in such surrender, acknowledging with respect and humility, that not everything is in our hands. By doing so, we also evoke the sacredness of our world, which is the only life force which can take us safely into the future.
We constellated one woman’s anger towards a man. It became clear that this kind of rage can not find its resolution between two individuals. The rage was too big, too impersonal, too old. We brought more men and more women into the constellation. A man, in a friendly manner tried to approach a woman who represented rage, but her fists were clenched and she said she could easily kill him right there and then. When we put a man behind him, like his father or male ancestor, the man simply collapsed like a child into his embrace, lacking strength. The rage then just collapsed to the floor. Other women gathered around it in a caring way. The male ancestor seemed to be strong, but turned his head away from the women and rage, looking into the distance. My image was that he wanted to go to war, so I placed a rep for the war at some distance. The rep looked strong and powerful. The male ancestor wanted to take his male descendant in that direction, away from the women, who he found boring and was not interested in. One woman from the group tried to stop him, to hold him, also to seduce him into staying, but to no avail. The male ancestor stood like a soldier and wanted to leave and take his male descendant to that direction. Another women joined the first woman to try and help with holding the man, and then another and another….they formed a chain, trying to hold onto him, to stop him. As they were doing that, the rep for the war was becoming visibly weaker.
The young man said to the older: “I can be a man in a different way. I can stay at home with the women, protecting them and the children”. The male ancestor then left the embrace of his male descendant and this group and the constellation circle, somewhat disappointed, went to the adjacent room. Another man followed and there they stood side by side and said, yes, there are many more here. I had the image of the army of millions marching to war, to their death. The younger man was embraced by women, a rep for the rage spontaneously withdrew, and all the women with this man, slowly formed a tight circle of connection and loving cooperation of equals. The seeker herself joined in, her very core moved deeply as she stood in a circle next to this man. As this was happening the representative for War collapsed to the floor face down, totally drained of strength and energy.
The image of this man in a circle intertwined with women had amazing beautiful energy of healing and unity, everyone present deeply affected. Me, the facilitator, included. As I was sitting in the outer circle, looking at this inner circle, I was looking at the back of the man and noticed that a male representative had a head shaven in a tomahawk hair style, reminiscent of native Indians. The “Warrior of Peace”, came to mind.
Wars damage men and male lines. Wars damage a connection between men and women. Wars weaken men and reduce their healthy, masculine power. From that position they hurt women and can not connect with them in a good way. Women are alone, disappointed, angry. They push men away. Men feel they need to become heroes to regain their masculine power. But more war brings more weakness. The war weakens women and men and their connection, and also feeds the war of the sexes. In turn, their weakened connection feeds war.
Women have the power to stop the war, if they can overcome their rage and reach out to a man, and hold him, keep him at home, serving the feminine principle, serving life. Men have the power to stop the war, if they stop wanting to be heroes and employ they masculinity to building a home and supporting and protecting their family.
Yes, a woman follows a man, but only when he serves life, when he puts his masculine principle in the service of the feminine principle. Then they can both be in service of life, serving together, each from their unique position. This also might be a foundation and a precondition for world’s peace.
Šta radimo na modulima? Koje teme se obrađuju? Kako se uče konstelacije? Koja pitanja, osobna i profesionalna, možemo postaviti? Sa čime se sve konstelacije mogu nositi? Šta sve možemo “popraviti” konstelacijama? Ovo su česta pitanja onih koji se tek susreću sa konstelacijskim pristupom. Teme variraju ovisno o tome što sudionici donose na radionicu, ali često su to univerzalne teme koje nas svih duboko dotiču. Kao primjer, dole je navedena lista tema na kojima smo radili u okviru jednog nedavnog modula.
Pokret posezanja za majkom. Iscjeljivanje ženske linije prekinute kroz traumu smrti ženskog pretka, žene koja je umrla rađajući svoje 18-to dijete. Zauzimanje našeg mjesta u zajednici žena, uz prihvaćanje “ženske sudbine” bez straha.
Dolaženje do iskustvenog uvida da ne moramo ponovno proživljavati patnju naših majki i da ne moramo trpjeti isto što i ona (šutjeti i trpjeti i biti žrtva nije vrlina!)
Iskazivanje poštovanja našim očevima i muškim precima koji su prenijeli život kroz nezamislivu oskudicu, ne tako što ćemo žrtvovati svoje blagostanje i sreću, već tako što ćemo živjeti puni, bogati i zdravi život.
Osnaživanje muške linije
Ostavljanje tereta naših roditelja i predaka njima
Obiteljske tajne (vezane za očinstvo)
Nošenje sa zlostavljanjem; mogu li zlostavljaču dati mjesto u svom srcu?
Završavanje nečeg za one mrtve iz našeg obiteljskog sistema koji nisu u miru i koji nas “vuku za noge”.
Suočavanje sa posljedicama pobačaja.
Pronalaženje našeg iščezlog brata blizanca koji nas konačno upotpunjuje.
Pokret kolektivnog pomirenja: Islam i Kršćanstvo , nošenje sa posljedicama vladavine Turskog carstva
Those who are only starting to encounter systemic constellation approach often wonder what kind of questions and life difficulties constellations can help with. As an example, below is a list of themes we worked on during one of recent weekend modules.
Reaching out movement to the mother. Healing of the female line broken by trauma caused by a female ancestor dying giving birth to her 18th child, taking our place among women & agreeing to sharing in “female destiny” without fear
Learning that we do not need to re-live our mother’s suffering and put up with what she had to (being a martyr is not a virtue!)
Honoring our fathers and male ancestors who passed life on through incredible hardship, honouring not through sacrifice, but through full, prosperous, healthy living
Strengthening the male line
Leaving the burdens of our parents / ancestors with them
Family secrets (related to parenthood)
Dealing with abuse: Can I give a perpetrator a place in my heart?
Completing something for the dead who are not in peace and who are “pulling our legs”
Facing the consequences of abortion
Finding the vanished twin brother who finally completes us
Collective reconciliation: Islam & Christianity (dealing with the consequences of the Ottoman Empire rule in my country/culture)
There was something in recent social campaigns aimed at highlighting abuse perpetrated by men that I felt uncomfortable about. It wasn’t till recent constellation I facilitated in Turkey that I could understand my discomfort better, and also explore how different levels of acting in the world correlate or interfere with a systemic approach.
Surely, those who abuse have to be hold responsible and, if possible, be appropriately sanctioned. Surely, gender based abuse has been going mostly one way, in a direction from men to women. Sure, women on the whole have suffered greatly through centuries of patriarchy.
It is clear that social, political and legal action is appropriately called for, no doubt about that. But, there is more to it than that, these areas only highlighting some aspects of the complexity inherent to our male – female human predicament and the related issues. Having been a systemic constellation facilitator for many years, I am primarily interested in the systemic aspect of issues concerning a relationship of one half of humanity towards its other half. And there is no doubt that the relationship between these two editions of human beings has been badly damaged and is in trouble. We can all witness that. Women have been oppressed and treated like a “lesser value half” for centuries, only in the last hundred years or so gaining more ground in terms of their human rights and equality. But this battle is far from over, as we are reminded daily by more examples of oppression and unequal treatment. And it does seem appropriate to call this process a battle, as so often our male-female relations are remindful of the two sides in the waring conflict. It is as if we have less and less understanding of each other, less compassion for the other’s position and no solutions which would have us “battling” these issues side by side, together, rather than each other.
Adopting a systemic perspective provides an opportunity for both men and women to do exactly this: stand side by side and open ourselves wide to the insights that come to us about systemic forces which created such a stand-offish position between us at the first place. It also means non-blame, no judgement, it doesn’t necessarily call for punishment or demand a retribution. It does not need to be concerned with legal sanctioning. This position is devoid of anger and moral righteousness. It doesn’t fight against or for anything. It only observes, with equal compassion for all included.
Only systemic perspective offers systemic solutions, which, as constellators know all too well, is always a solution equally good for everyone in the system. Every other perspective, like social action, legal sanctioning, political campaigns and other, has got a place and a role to play, and yet, if we go with them, we often loose the neutrality of the perspective needed to find the solution on a systemic level. From a systemic view point, as soon as we feel too much compassion for the victim, we side against the perpetrator. As soon as we see the two positions of a victim and a perpetrator as fixed and attribute them to a particular gender, we have lost the ability for a systemic approach. As soon as we even label something as “abuse”, we have already made a judgement which closes the door to systemic insight.
And, yes, we can assume, these different aspects can be addressed parallel on different levels, and theoretically it is possible for a systemic facilitator to also be an avid social justice campaigner or take political action. I would argue, though, that such position is extremely difficult and that in order to develop our “systemic sensitivity” we need to practice this attitude of non-judgement and radical inclusion daily, and in all aspects of our life, not just when we facilitate a constellation.
Gender relations are one of these areas where our systemic viewpoint can be valuable, and possibly more effective in bringing deep, lasting change than social campaigning. But it is certainly more difficult to hold this position of systemic restraint which does not “play the first ball”, specially when we are all effected, we all are either a man or a woman, and when taking sides happens by default. The extent to which we are able to practice this systemic restraint though, may be directly correlated to the possibility of new solutions opening up for us all.
These are complex issues and much is at stake. Clearly, the future of humanity depends on us successfully negotiating its “dualistic gender nature”. And it seems we are not doing too well at present. What the real systemic causes are behind this, it is difficult to grasp, but we understand it mostly as a legacy of a long period of patriarchy.
The Turkish experience
Probably nowhere more than in Turkey we see the consequences of patriarchy better. As a descendant and the systemic inheritor of Ottoman Empire, Turkey is the country borne out of it, patriarchy being its basic social building block. For centuries women have had no value, rights or equality, certainly not in ways we understand these today. Men were the masters of their lives, and their bodies. Many a constellation in Turkey takes us to the painful experience of their female ancestors, their despair and suffering made palpable through representatives, almost unbearable to hold. In one poignant constellation, which depicted the times gone-by, one woman’s question about overweight took us to her distant female ancestor, whose destiny this woman knew of. She was captured in the far corner of the Empire, taken away from her parents, country and kin at a young age and was kept as a slave, a possible gift to a Sultan. The only defense she had, and the only means of control over her body, and possibly over her predicament, was to overeat and thus make herself less attractive and less desirable.
It seems that many women in present day Turkey are not only angry with men in general, but have also given up on them, having no faith or hope that the hurt caused can be compensated for or healed. Some don’t have partners and if they do, they (women) seem to have an upper hand. They often are hiding and protecting their feminine nature, with the sense of not being able to afford being vulnerable, to trust and to rely on men.
There are also women with a strong masculine energy, maybe compensating for absent or emasculated men. Many men have, during the days of the Ottoman Empire, suffered this fate, being emasculated in a literal sense, having been castrated so as not to be able to “saw their seed” and interfere with inheritance lines while performing their, usually servant functions. Regardless of our possible stereotyped images of Turkish men, it seems that their masculinity has been weakened too. Constellation after a constellation shows absent fathers, emotionally non-present partners, men who died early, took part in conquests all over the world, who killed and were in danger of being killed, constantly, through centuries. In other words, we see men weakened by traumas of violence. We see this in constellations mainly set up by women, and it is about their fathers and other male ancestors. Not many men partake in workshops and are cautious about setting up their questions. One man’s work was mostly about just crying bitterly on a seeker’s chair for a considerable amount of time. For another one it took six workshops to decide to set up his own work. It is this man’s constellation that impacted me, and others present, greatly.
He mentioned at the beginning that he had not had any older male models in his family. One of his grandfathers died when his father was only three years old. The other one suffered a terrible trauma serving as a soldier, being inside a tank as it exploded. As we set up this second grandfather, many participants in a group could feel sick to the stomach with sheer horror of his experience, the pain and suffering literally spilling out of a constellation. We all witnessed the representative for the grandfather going through agony, but not really being able to express his pain. It was as if he had to contain it all within himself.
This portrayed a somewhat universal picture, almost like an archetype of a contemporary man, of how men are supposed to be. Outwardly, this man’s suffering was manifested as “strictness”, that is how he was in his life, as described by his grandson, who also added that he never liked this grandfather, and kept away from him. Before the constellation this grandfather was described without much compassion, as a cold and strict man. His representative reported on his inward experience, as he was channelling the glimpses of the grandfather’s trauma: “There is a huge scream in me wanting to come out”. But nothing came, he remained silent, containing all the agony within, motioning helplessly. This image made me wonder, how many men go through life like this, each closed in within their own tank, unable to let the scream out!?
It was interesting that many women in the holding circle though, have felt and expressed, seemingly, what he could not. Also, during and after a constellation many participants wept with compassion for this man and his fate. Everyone was touched as it was obvious how this man, and how many men have suffered through endless wars, army service, far away from their homes, their lives endangered, often forced to kill as not to be killed. Observing and feeling the group, I had only one thought in my head: “the suffering of Turkish women through centuries can only be matched by the suffering of Turkish men”.
And I understood that this is how it has been, and partly still is, all over the world and all over again. Men are the victims of patriarchy too. Many of them could also say “me too”. But even such outing, which could provide a bit a of relief, is not available to them. Because they are, on the whole, seen as the perpetrators of patriarchy, the ones to blame and hold responsible. And, it is true, their kind has caused suffering too, so now, in addition to their pain, they have to carry that responsibility as well. This often means desperately trying to hold onto their masculinity, or the stereotyped view of what it means to be a man and act “manly”, which often includes introjects like “be strong, don’t cry, don’t show vulnerability”. And it is still expected of them to go out there, earn the living in increasingly competitive environment, support their children if not their wives as well, and to be a protector, and also “sensitive” to our, women’s needs. And how on Earth can they do that without our support, our compassion, not just for them and their position in the world, but for all of us caught in this deadly tango we can only dance together?!
Me too, I suffer this predicament us women and men found ourselves in. And I understand that you too, dear man, suffer, suffer deeply and without the right to victimhood, without the outlets for sharing pain available to us women, suffer in silence. I too understand now how deeply you have been hurt, carrying the pain of violence and wars in your body/soul without the permission to cry, and how tough you had to make yourself to contain that scream inside. I understand a bit better now as I systemically open myself to everything and everyone, across gender lines, and without preconceived judgement, thus enabling my soul to hear not only the cries of women, but also the un-screamed scream of men.
I do believe that as more of us, men and women, are able to hold this position of a systemic observer, just allowing everything that has happened to find its place and its expression, without need for judgement, action, punishment, compensation or atonement, the new systemic insights will emerge, creating a path for us, men and women, to walk onto, towards our shared future, in more harmonious ways. Systemic constellators among them surely can help to pave that way.
first published in “The Knowing Field” International Constellations Journal, issue 32, June 2018