Family Constellations as Applied Philosophy (Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, Feb 2004)
Allowing the representatives to move on their accord, following a movement felt within, while in a collected state, family constellations went beyond its classic phase.
Looking at the movements of the soul, forces are perceived, that have effects beyond the represented system and which evade attempts to influence them.
In this systemic view boundaries show themselves - for many a "helper" quite unexpected, which encourage an attitude of humility. This attitude is free from subjecting, and frees us to look at the workings of a soul which is greater than ourselves. Helping is not made impossible through this, rather a different kind of helping lights up. It leads from intentional acting to "allowing to happen" - without feeling helplessly delivered to entanglements and their causes- and without loosing sight of the whole.
In this self-removal Bert arrives at the Movement of Spirit.
To look at life fully - which he asks us to do, means to bear the conflict as well, and even agrees to it fully, as the source of all development, resolving the distinction of good and evil. Helpers who take the consequences of this attitude seriously, experience immediate relief. They do not judge anymore, they accompany the client rather than therapizing him. "Agreeing to what is" resolves the dilemma between overestimating one's own powers and feeling powerless- which is known to every therapist. The moral judgment of the therapist as the starting point of all errors vanishes. With the view to the greater whole family constellations become applied philosophy. A philosophy, however, that is conducive to a new kind of acting, where helpers have to ask themselves in a new way: "What do we have to leave, when we help?
Bert: "When I look at how family constellations developed, beginning with the first book that Gunthard Weber published, and how it spread in a way, here, and in other countries, 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, irresistible. 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, as - 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 the 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 does the living gain its 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."
Family constellations as psychotherapy
I would like to say something now how from my experience, how family constellations developed and how it moves on. In the beginning family constellations were basically a form of psychotherapy. We offered it within a context of psychotherapy and also for people who were looking for psychotherapy - often people who are sick in body and soul. Family constellations helped them. And we brought along to it also from our psychotherapeutic training the attitudes in which we were trained and on which we were focused. This had quite a bearing on family constellations in the beginning.
What kind of an attitude was it? It was the concept: here is a client, someone in need, and there is a therapist. He is trained in certain methods and now that he has constellations and now applies them in the spirit of psychotherapy; not exactly in the sense of individual therapy, because family constellation practitioners had grown beyond that. It was within the framework of family therapy in which family constellations developed. And we as therapists did something in the framework of how we were trained. We were trained, from our experience, to do something.
So we placed families. We let the client choose and place representatives, then intervened according to our ideas, and according to our understandings of the orders of relationships, and looked for good solutions. First we looked at the problem, and then for the solution. This brought much blessing.
Moving with the Soul
It became obvious that the representatives were far more important than we thought at the beginning. It became apparent that the representatives were in immediate contact with a larger field. As they surrendered to the movement, which touched them from this field they brought something to light, which went beyond that which we had found out about the orders of love. Suddenly we were confronted with quite different situations and different movements. So we trusted and relied upon these movements more and more. These movements were often in contradiction to our concepts.
Then some were tempted to disrupt such movements, and, instead of waiting for that which will show itself, they intervened. It took some time, until I - I talk about myself now - could see: If I can bear that this takes time, and if I expose myself to that which shows itself, we arrive in depths which go far beyond psychotherapy. Here we are suddenly brought into contact and in touch with forces of fate, in the face of which we are powerless.
Suddenly we see for example that someone is drawn into death irresistibly. What do we do then? Or someone feels he deserves death. Which methods that we know from psychotherapy help us to do something here? And is there anything at that we can do? Or does helping reach the boundary to ceasing to help here? Were only if we refrain from acting, the real help main begin.
A new power has taken the leading place. I submit to this power, and suddenly I know whether I have to do something and what I have to do, even if this appears absurd in the beginning. But I surrender to this movement, and something eventuates which could not be foreseen in any way.
So, this goes beyond the frame of family therapy and of therapy in general. What started as family therapy, moves on to "moving with the soul". Which soul? not one's own, not the one of the client, not of the representative, but of the soul which works through everyone in an equal manner.
When we arrive at unison with this soul, we are comforted and assured. We have come to a halt in the face of something unfathomable, and the unfathomable becomes visible in a result all of a sudden.
Moving with Spirit
But, as it is in life, nothing stands still. I had thought the moving with the soul, that's it perhaps. But it is not.
Suddenly I realized that the experiences with family constellations and with movements of the soul lead to insight of a far reaching nature, and that these insights exert from us an kind of acting, which goes beyond that which we thought to be good and right so far. What is this now?
Beyond family constellations and movements of the soul I now move with spirit. Suddenly this work becomes applied philosophy. Instead of looking at feelings and at what we perceive through feelings, spirit takes over now and exerts completely different Ways of acting than the movements of the soul.
I explain in an example. A client complains about his parents or about the hardships of his childhood. Originally be had pity, or compassion with the client and thought: "Well, we'll help him." But now, if I think philosophically, there is nothing bad. It cannot be.
If there is a creative force behind everything, then there is nothing, which can be in opposition to it. So now I look at the client's situation philosophically and expect him to do the same and to say: "Whatever it was: Thank you. I take it as a source of strength. I take these parents as these special ones which gave to me this special source of strength which has been essential for my life."
All of a sudden, all that happened is illumined. It becomes precious.
The Orders of Spirit
(The German word for spirit covers both mind, in the ordinary and in the spiritual sense of higher mind, and even absolute mind)
Question: " What is it that you call spirit? And what is the philosopher?"
Bert: "When we do family constellations, we orientate ourselves towards something that can be experienced. From experience we also come to know certain patterns regarding relationships. Family constellations are about relationships. And here it becomes clear that relationships follow certain orders, just like the body is following certain orders, so that it stays well. We agree to these orders and conduct ourselves accordingly.
But where do these orders come from? From the body? No. From the soul? No. So there has to be something that exists prior to these orders and establishes them.
And then we have the mind, the human mind. But this one also follows orders. Emmanuel Kant has described the orders of thinking.
We can only think within certain orders. Kant calls them categories. The categories of space and time or of cause and effect are given to us a priori. We can only think within these categories. Logic follows predetermined rules. Also, even our spirit, even though it is greater than our soul, follows certain orders.
So there must be something which determines these orders. When I look at the world philosophically, then everything is in motion. Everything is in motion, nothing just stands. So, behind every movement, there is, so to speak, a primal movement, which keeps a movement going and determines it. A primal movement, which perhaps - this is a daring thought now- moves as well. It is a creative primal power. Creative does mean something is in motion. Something static cannot be creative, only something that is moving. It is this primal power that determines the order of things.
Now it is peculiar: when we look at the movements of the soul, something suddenly appears which is not in order, not in order in the sense of what we know about orders so far. Something creative is at work here and suddenly creates a new order.
When we go with these movements of the soul, we come into connection with spirit and with the movement of spirit. This would be what matters here.
The Philosophy, that was your other question, is of course not the philosophy that is still haunting many brains. i look at philosophy in its original sense. What did the original philosophers do? They looked at the world, independent from the ideas that were in vogue at a certain time, or the fears of an era, the myths, the dogmas. They observed without prejudice, and, most of all, without fear.
In this way, they arrived at new insights. But their insights were not abstract. They were orientated towards action, towards carrying out what was these insights were indicating. An insight that does not lead to action, or does not stand the test in action, is empty. The original philosophy is full, completely dedicated to serving life.
Take Heraclete, one of the very great ones of course. He said simple sentences with far reaching consequences, when we really grasp them. For example the sentence: "Everything flows". What this could mean? I have illustrated before with the example of family constellations. Or the sentence: "Nobody enters the same river twice." Nobody does the same constellation twice, for example. That does not happen. This also means: What someone has learned about constellations does not help a lot in the immediate situation, as the river, which he observed before and which he memorized, has already moved on. So, from this simple fact, many far reaching conclusions ensue.
Also the sentence, offensive to many, belongs here: "War is the father of all things." Without war, no progress. This undermines many of our ideas, for example certain ideas about God. It also messes up the august aims, which many set themselves when they want to save the world.
When we suddenly realize that this sentence is also an instruction to act in a certain manner, we suddenly conduct ourselves in completely different ways. But the experiences which we made with family constellations have shown us that the world is different to what we imagined. For example, through family constellations it came to light that a system has a governing authority, however you name it then.
For example, as common conscience or as common soul or as morphic field. As soon as we have seen that we have to act differently. For example we have to think differently about conscience and therefore, we have to act differently.
What do the new insights mean for our present way of acting?
Suddenly something shows up which is indicated in condensed form in the title of this convention: "Helping and Withdrawing." (The closest word to the German "lassen" is the English "letting" - so it means everything from letting alone, letting be, not acting, refraining,) What do we have -to leave undone, leave alone, out of respect, when we help? For if I think philosophically and when I really see that everything is guided by another power, then there are no good and bad ones in the face of this power. this distinction falls away. So, helping only succeeds here, if I refrain from judging. I refrain out of philosophical insight.
For example, a client comes and says: "I have been raped:", or "I am the victim of abuse." Immediately something inside us is mobilized. We take sides. Then we cannot help any more. When we move with spirit, however, we see the so called perpetrator on the same level as the so called victim. I see them as people of the same kind, with different background, different entanglement, and yet with the same right.
So, if I hear something like that, and immediately I withdraw a little and contain myself, and give to each one of the people involved a place in my heart, then I am connected with spirit and receive therefore insights and strength which can take the situation further.
Now we know it is presently so, family constellations and what developed from them, is being attacked by the people who want to make a difference between perpetrators and victims, who want to see the perpetrators persecution, for example, and in this way, they become murderers in their own soul. These attacks are not so easy to bear. But when I apply the insight to them as well, then I take them into my heart as well. They are also in spirit. So what I do then in my actions is going with spirit. That is where they future lies. There is what reconciles and helps life on. Have I answered your question now? This is beyond cause and effect."
Bert: "Yes, it is beyond it, of course. Another question?"
"My question is, when my soul suffers from the orders of spirit, whom do I have to follow then, soul or spirit".
Reconciliation in Spirit
Bert: "I'll do a little meditation with you. You can close your eyes. Collect yourselves first. When our soul suffers, where in the body do you feel it? We let the suffering of the soul lead us to the part in the body which suffers as well. Then, together with our soul, we go into this spot, become one with it, so to speak, and aim to feel and fathom in which direction it looks. Maybe to another person, whom we have wronged. Or a person that was excluded. Or a person that we are angry with.
Then, in spirit, we look at this person with love.- we wait what is given to us by this person or through this situation, and we take it into our body and into our soul.
Okay, something else about spirit. The spirit is light. Who walks in spirit is light footed. He burdens the earth only a little bit. And he burdens a client only a little bit. and he is happy in the face of everything, as it is. So, the moving with the spirit makes everything easy.