Space Between Stories
A learning journey that navigates the transition from an old story, through the space between stories, to a new story.
Welcome to Space Between Stories
Our civilization is entering a profound transition. For simplicity, I call it a transition from the story of Separation to the story of Interbeing. As this shift gathers momentum, the old answers to questions like, “Who am I?” “What is important?” “How should one live life?” “How does the world work?” “What is a human being?” “What is real?” are becoming obsolete.
So for example, on the collective level, we no longer believe so firmly in old paradigms like the conquest of nature, the “onward march of civilization,” or better living through chemistry. The converging crises of our time make them impossible to hold onto, and their unraveling induces the same on all the systems built atop them.
For many of us, something similar is happening, or has happened already, on a personal level. That’s what this program is about, although inevitably we touch on transpersonal issues as well. It is for people who are approaching the space between stories, who are in the midst of that space, or who are recently emerged from it.
And what is the space between stories?
It is the time when the old story of who I am, what is real, and how to navigate life has broken down. It is the time when my familiar ways of making meaning are no longer relevant. I don’t know who I am. What had seemed so permanent, reliable, understandable and real is revealed as an illusion. It is a state of “I don’t know.” Usually some kind of crisis initiates it, perhaps in work, relationship, health, or money. It could also happen through a powerful experience that irreparably breaches one’s story of self and story of the world. Either way, we know that normal isn’t coming back again.
Only from the emptiness, the letting go, the unknowing of this state can something truly new emerge. It happens in its own time, according to its own unknowable wisdom and logic. Sometimes the new story (and the ways of thinking, being, and doing that accompany it) emerges gradually, in glimpses and revelations, disappointments and setbacks. For others, it seizes them and plunges them into a new world so quickly that they hardly know what happened. Even so, because we live in a society built upon the Story of Separation, those living in the new story face great challenges – economic, social, psychological – that come from that disconnect.
Please understand that this process is not necessarily linear. Also, I do not mean to imply that some are in the old, some in the new, and that the latter are therefore more evolved. This transition has many dimensions. We can be bound by the unconscious habits of separation in one area, while free from them in another. But I find that each breakthrough invites others to happen, until no aspect of life remains untouched.
This learning journey might be valuable to you if…
- You are in some way stuck in an old story (work, relationship, bodily condition, etc.) but you can feel it is unsustainable, that a change is on the horizon, that it is starting to break down
- You are in the space between stories. The old world isn’t coming back, but the new one hasn’t arrived yet either
- You are living in a new story, and it feels maybe a little tender or fragile, and you want support and a frame of reference to help navigate its challenges
This was the first online course I ever created. The audio quality is not very good, but the depth and utility of the content makes it worthwhile. It consists of six audio sessions lasting about 1.5 to 2 hours each. This is not the kind of course where you just sit back and are presented with interesting ideas, although you could use it that way. In addition to in-depth explorations with our guests and participants from the live course, you’ll be offered study questions and processes to integrate the ideas. Some of these processes go quite deep, although since you’ll be participating online, it is really up to you how deeply to engage them. The more sincerely you do so, the more powerful they will be.
I (Charles) am the host, framing each session, guiding processes, telling stories, offering dialog topics, and fielding questions. Joining us are some extraordinary guests whose work inspires me and speaks to the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible. They don’t give canned presentations; instead they draw from their wisdom to speak real-time with me and with the group as a whole, revealing their own learning edges, and sharing the experience they have gained as edge-walkers.
Some Questions We’ll Explore
Part of “I don’t know” applies to my experience as the host in all my learning journeys. The content within the original live program developed organically, and it will also continue to evolve as a self-guided inquiry in this online space.
As the recorded sessions took place, some topics expanded into others; some disappeared. And as the learning journey grows and continues in self-guided format, new themes will emerge on the Facebook group – it is truly a co-created, emergent experience (in keeping with the spirit of its title).
- The Story of Separation
- The Story of Interbeing
- The Story of Self
- The Story of the World
- The Invisible Path
- Despair as Gateway
- What is fatherhood in a new story?
- The Victim Story
- Ethics, Spiritual Materialism, and the War Against the Self
- Finding the Wound Beneath the Story
- The Initiatory Ordeal
- Finding a Compass When You Have No Map
- The Power of “I Don’t Know”
- Synchronicity and the Guiding Intelligence of Liminal Space
Lissa Rankin, M.D., New York Times bestselling author of Mind Over Medicine, is a physician, speaker, founder of the Whole Health Medicine Institute, and has starred in two PBS specials. Lissa’s transition from being a conventional surgeon to an author and spiritual seeker involved a profound process of breakdown, loss, letting go, and coming to terms with uncertainty. At the other side, she discovered an unimagined level of joy, purpose, and effectiveness in the world that she is driven to share with others. Her retreats, seminars, and new book, The Fear Cure, offer support and inspiration to anyone facing a similar process of transformation.
When doing what she can to sprinkle pixie dust on a fear-based culture, Lissa loves to hike, ski, and dance. She lives in the San Francisco Bay area with her daughter, and blogs at LissaRankin.com.
Jodie Evans is a life-long peace and social justice activist and a co-founder of CODEPINK: Women for Peace. Her experience is in politics. She sat in Jerry Brown’s cabinet when he served as Governor of California in the 1970’s, ran his Senate campaign in 1982, and his revolutionary 1992 campaign for President. She has led citizen diplomacy delegations to Iran, the Gaza Strip and Afghanistan and has published two books Stop the Next War Now: Effective Responses to Terrorism, and Twilight of Empire: Responses to Occupation.
As a life-long peace and social justice activist, Jodie has traveled extensively in the Middle East, Afghanistan and Asia. She and her organizations have been at the forefront of calling out the failed policies of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, arguing instead for peaceful and constructive means to resolve conflicts.
Bayo Akomolafe (PhD) is an ethnopsychotherapeutic researcher, lecturer and author from Covenant University in Nigeria. He is an international speaker, poet and activist for a radical paradigm shift in consciousness and current ways of living. He is Coordinator of the International Alliance for Localization. Bayo and his ‘life-force’, Ej, are currently on a journey to reclaim their lives and intimacy with the earth, with others and with community. He is writing his first novel, The Boy Who Stayed Outside. Ej and Bayo are ecstatic parents of a girl, Alethea.
Disenchanted with the single story about wellness and being he had received via his Eurocentric clinical training, Bayo embarked on a quest to seek out the less-than-obvious stories his own people had told for hundreds of years. He met with Yoruba shaman-priests who spoke glowingly about the vibrancy of the nonhuman world, the limitations of human agency and identity, and a more holistic notion of prosperity and abundance. They taught him the limitations of ‘the white man’s pills’ and urged a collective shift from the hubris of modernity to a deepened alliance with the web of life, saying: ‘In other to find your way, you must lose it’. For Bayo, the shamans reinvigorated his recognition of truth as sacred play. Bayo continues to examine through his writing and talks how stories give birth to reality.
Cynthia Jurs, a Dharmacharya in the Order of Interbeing of Thich Nhat Hanh, directs the Open Way Sangha in Santa Fe, New Mexico and is the founder of Alliance for the Earth, a nonprofit dedicated planetary healing and collective awakening. Her life was transformed when she met an old wise man living in a cave and asked him, “What can we do to bring healing and protection to the Earth?”
Thirty Earth Treasure Vases (ETVs) and 25 years later, in collaboration with indigenous elders, young activists and regular folks in communities around the world, a mandala of global healing for the Earth has been established. Cynthia’s practice of sacred activism has taken her on pilgrimages to every continent where she has witnessed both horrible suffering and miraculous solutions arise in response to heartfelt prayers. She teaches and travels to share the ETV practice wherever she can and is working on a book and documentary film.
We’ve moved all course discussions onto our online community, A New and Ancient Story. To join the discussion forum, go to the landing page and read the introduction and posting guidelines. Then, if those resonate, apply to join (all serious applicants are accepted). Once you are a member, find the discussion group for this course among the course forums on the left menu.
Upon beginning this course, on the first page titled Preliminaries, you’ll choose a self-determined fee that feels right to you, that feels clean, fair, and honest, and that respects your financial means. If that amount is zero, we welcome and trust that choice as well. All material will be available to you regardless of what you choose, and you will never receive any marketing, promotions, ads, or upselling. We offer the course as a gift, trusting the generosity of participants to support us in developing and sustaining in-depth learning journeys like this one.
Thank you to Filiz Telek for the beautiful images used in this series.