Bert Hellinger, the founder of Constellation Work, was a man of immense wisdom and compassion. His contribution and insights also reach far beyond the field of psychotherapy. The development of Constellation Work has not only given us an unprecedented tool for therapy and healing, but offered insight into the laws of life in relation to love, attachment, belonging and conscience. For the first time in modern civilization, and within more or less mainstream structures and disciplines, we are coming closer to dealing with such concepts as fate, atonement, loyalty, truth, wisdom of flesh, family conscience, Soul and Spirit. It is no coincidence that this knowledge seems to span cultures and continents easily, and is instantly recognizable. It goes to the very core of some of life’s mysteries, so far addressed only in some ancient indigenous cultures. Surprisingly, or not, there it sits comfortably side by side with some of the most recent findings of cutting edge science.
It is no surprise that such insights came to a man of such rich and varied life experience with a first hand knowledge of life’s worst hardships (conscripted into the German army during WWII, then prisoner of war), moral dilemmas (taking a stand against the Nazis) and spirituality within the Christian faith during his twenty years of priesthood. As a missionary sent by his order he spent 16 years with Zulus in South Africa, which provided him with a first hand knowledge of a tribal culture. That experience had a profound impact on Hellinger:
“He saw that many of Zulu rituals and customs had a structure and function similar to elements of the Mass, pointing to common human experiences, and he experimented with integrating Zulu music and ritual form into the Mass. His commitment to the goodness of cultural and human variety is deep, and to the validity of doing things in different ways. The Sacred is present everywhere.”
(from the official web site of Bert Hellinger www.hellinger.com )
His experiences eventually lead to his departure from the order, to marriage and full time study of and extensive training in many psychotherapeutic approaches. He studied Psychoanalysis, Gestalt Therapy, Transactional Analysis, Family Therapy, NLP and other forms of psychotherapy. He was instrumental in the development of the Family Constellations approach, now generally referred to as Systemic Constellations.
Having established his own school Hellinger Sciencia with his second wife Sophie, his work kept developing, changing, evolving into Movements of the Soul , and then later Movements of the Spirit-Mind. In the service of many across the world, he continued to work well into his nineties.
It is with a sense of deep gratitude and indebtedness that we let ourselves be guided by his insights when we work towards harmony in human systems.
What does it mean: helping in harmony?
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 origin, with my father, with my mother and with everyone who further 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 honor 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.
Helping in harmony means as well, I am in harmony with other people, with those who are loved and dear to me; with those I cannot be and work without. However with those as well who challenge me simply by being different thus giving me the chance to grow and prove myself, whom in turn I move by my being different.
It means but to be in harmony as well with those who threaten me, against whom I arm myself, who strengthen in me the determination to approach the ultimate if required and permitted by the circumstances; although this may mean, perhaps I retreat and wait, eventually give in to my fate, surrender, am prepared to die.
He who is thus in harmony with his soul is in harmony as well with his power, with his possibilities, his abilities, his experience, his knowledge, his perception, his greatness, his dignity; but also in harmony with his limitations, his failure and his guilt. He acts in harmony, hopes in harmony, loves in harmony, takes and gives in harmony and, where it becomes necessary, leaves in harmony.
Now, how is all of this connected to helping in harmony?
In order to really help someone, when essentials are at stake, I have to be in harmony with that one’s soul the same way I am with my own, as well as in harmony with whatever his soul connects him to. I have to be in Harmony with his father, his mother and with all those who belong to his family too, with his siblings, his grandparents, his uncles and aunts and with the dead ones of his family.
To be in harmony with them means I honor them the way they are or were, I give them a place in my heart and in my soul , 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, particularly to the one I must help and consequently want to help.
Then not only he and I are the ones who do and desire something. Both of us are connected to something greater and older and wider, as well as guided by that and challenged. Then does the superficial and all pretense step into the background, providing space for the essential.
In the end it means, through my helping I bring the other into harmony with his soul and with everything his soul connects him to; as soon as I have enabled him thus, I withdraw calmly and leave him to his great soul. This kind of helping does not only flow from me to him. Being in harmony with both his soul and something greater beyond, I withdraw richly bestowed.
Translation from German by Max Dauskardt
the original: ‘Helfen im Einklang’
was published online:
Note: the German ‘Einklang’ translates literally as ‘one sound’