Sacred Circles

“Does the Dharma Diamond have any use in creating teams or developing small groups? I am organising a group of creative people to work on innovative design solutions for global problems.”

I was asked the question while packing my stuff at the end of a Dharma Diamond workshop. Markus, who was attentive during my presentation had taken copious notes throughout. He had asked good questions and had the air of someone who was motivated to understand and apply the Dharma principles.

“Dharma can be used to build teams and organisations. I’ve taught the model to businesses and consulted them on how to apply it within their organisations, with tangibly good results.”

“The people I am working with are high-performance, talented and have strong personalities. Any thoughts on how I might introduce them to the model?” he asked.

“My experience is that the model can be used in all kinds of settings with all types of people. My first thought is that your colleagues will appreciate the elegance of Dharma and be curious to know how it can help their work.”

“Believe it or not,” said Markus, “I am working with an experienced shaman who is helping us do ‘sacred circle work’ to support our team building. Are there overlaps with the Dharma Diamond?”

I replied that “sacred circle work is based on the ‘medicine wheel’ which relates very well to the principles of Dharma. They complement each other in many ways.”

“We are also using Tuckman’s four stages of small group development to guide our team building: forming, storming, norming and performing. How might that relate to Dharma?”

“Like a hand in a glove. The four stages of team formation map very well to the principles of Dharma.”

“I think the other members would be interested to know how,” said Markus.

“OK. Let me keep it brief as I have a train to catch. Forming is when people come together for a collective purpose. This is the stage when the ‘meaningful purpose’ or Truth of the group is defined. This is dependent on everyone discovering the truth of the other people in the group.”

“Yes, we are doing that now in our sacred circle work. Opening up, exploring, listening, reflecting… that kind of thing.”

“That’s important. Truth is the foundation for all the principles and stages. Storming is the stage when the team deepens their understanding of each other by dealing with challenges and differences, such as style and personality differences, which eventually leads to a deeper Respect and appreciation.”

“Well, we’ve had some storming already with a bit of ego wrestling and territory claims.”

“That’s natural. If you follow Dharma, any conflict can eventually be reconciled. Norming relates to Purity because it’s the stage when values, ideals and principles take shape and the team achieves clarity in defining the truthful purpose of their cooperation.”

“That is one of our ego challenges at the moment. Most of the members already have strong ideas about our direction and how to get there.”

“That needs to be managed carefully, probably by taking time to revisit the principle of Respect, which asks us to be open-minded and open-hearted if we want to achieve deep collaboration.”

“I think that is where we are stuck. I am hoping some shaman magic can shift things a bit so we can get to that trusting place,” Markus said smiling.

“That is a process of moving from the left brain of ‘I know’ to the right brain of ‘I am open to experience.’ That shift can take time and effort. Your shaman’s medicine wheel will help with that.”

“I agree that the Dharma model mirrors the medicine wheel. By the process of elimination, I gather that the stage of performing and effort relate to each other?”

“It does. In my workshops I describe Effort as the work of pulling back the bowstring. To hit the bullseye, we have build-up the kinetic energy that powers the arrow to fly to its target. But we can only do this after picking our target (Truth); knowing for whom we are taking aim (Respect); and consciously eliminating anything from our field of vision that distracts us from our ideal purpose (Purity). With that in place we can apply ourselves with Effort to get the right job done, in the best possible way that benefits everyone concerned.”

“You’ve touched on an important point that has eluded us so far, which is our need to deeply commit to get an urgent job done.”

“You can’t rush the process, but if you get your truth, respect and purity principles lined up, the effort of commitment will come effortlessly because it will feel natural and create energy in the group.”

“OK. I get it. I feel confident to present the Dharma Diamond to the group to help us in our team building process.”

“Great. Let me know how I can help.”



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  1. Michael Lloyd

    Excellent article! I recognized the classic four stages of community building from M.Scott-Peck’s “The Different Drum.” What grabbed my attention and inspired me to respond was the vesica piscis design of the dharma diamond, something literally etched across the UK landscape in the form of the ancient Circles Of Perpetual Choirs, which I have been working with since I first discovered the western circle back in 1990. You’ll see what I mean on the maps at my New Earth Olympics website linked below. The central theme is that if all nations of the world can happily agree to play by the same rules for the sake of harmony in sport, then the consciousness of mankind can be significantly raised if we all similarly accept the eternally existing set of universal laws and apply them in the areas of social development, economics, ecology and harmony in all other spheres of human interaction.

  2. Michael Geary

    Thank you Michael. M Scott-Peck did indeed reference the four stages from Tuckman. I am interested to read more about the Circles of Perpetual Choirs and will refer to your website. I like the analogy you give that if we can agree to play, why not agree to be (in continual harmony)?! Mankind has the means, the technology, the learning and the ancient wisdom of the world to guide us. What is missing is the recognition that it is no longer an option, but a ever pressing need for out collective survival. Hare Krishna.


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