While some people find exactly the guidance and soul tribe they need through organized religion, others find themselves lost at sea, adrift without a flame that might bring them back into alignment with the deepest essence of the Divinity within, feeling alone in a sea of seemingly disconnected others. Yet we cannot truly deepen our spiritual lives without one another. Yes, we can go vertical and connect directly with Source, but to practice our spirituality, we must also go horizontal, connecting heart to heart with others so that we can learn to put our spirituality into compassionate action.
Traditional spiritual communities operate from a top-down model. The pastor on the pulpit or the guru on the stage preaches to the congregation or disciples. But times they are a-changing. Thich Nhat Hanh said, “The next Buddha will be the sangha.” In other words, we all have spiritual wisdom and life experience to share, if only we are given the chance to sit in a circle of equals, where a field of unconditional love, acceptance, and non-judgment can flourish and everyone in the Soul Tribe can participate in sharing spiritual wisdom.
Yet where can you find those who resonate with you spiritually? What are you to do if you don’t fully resonate with any of the conventional religions? What if you are longing for spiritual community but can’t find the place where you feel you belong? Do you long to participate in co-creating a soul tribe, but you don’t know how to start?
“A tribe is a group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader, and connected to an idea. For millions of years, human beings have been part of one tribe or another. A group needs only two things to be a tribe: a shared interest and a way to communicate.” —Seth Godin
Many of us were raised in the era of John Wayne and James Dean, when the rugged
Others were raised differently, growing up with a dependency and entitlement that leads them to believe the world owes them something. This kind of “It’s all about me” conditioning breeds excessive focus on the self and leads people to take advantage of the generosity of those who were patterned to rescue the “weak” or prioritize the demands of the self-oriented “victim” or the self-centered narcissist. Regretfully, these two patterns of conditioning—the rugged individualist and the entitled victim/narcissist—interfere with the development of healthy Soul Tribe. Such patterns depend upon the Drama Triangle—the Victim, the Savior, and the Perpetrator. In unhealthy relationships, people take turns oscillating between these three archetypes, and the ensuing drama interferes with the development and sustainability of healthy spiritual community.
As long as the reference point lies centrally, focusing solely on the self, or externally—focusing only on the others without attention to self-care, true, nourishing intimacy is impossible and a feeling of chronic loneliness ensues, even if we’re surrounded by people.
By nature, we are tribal beings. We need each other like oxygen. We need to know that we belong to a Soul Tribe in order to feel safe enough to fully self-actualize. As Abraham Maslow expressed in his “hierarchy of needs,” we must first have our most basic needs met before we can feel free and spacious enough to express our greatest gifts. First, we must have our basic physiological needs met—food, shelter, clean water, clean air, medical care. Next, we must feel safe, free of war zones, abuse, and emotional trauma. Once these two sets of needs are met, we yearn for love and belonging, then esteem. Finally, at the top of Maslow’s pyramid lies self-actualization. Towards the end of his life, Maslow expressed that he missed one facet of the Hierarchy of Needs. He came to believe that another pinnacle is possible, beyond self-actualization. After the impulse towards self-actualization, there is an impulse of service—to find and fulfill one’s calling in the world.
A Soul Tribe depends on Unity Consciousness, the spiritual and psychological shift from me-centered to we-centered. As one Australian physician said to me, “The problem with
As Katherine Woodward Thomas writes:
"Functional families allow for the individuality of each member. People are free to express their needs, their wants,
and their feelings. Those expressions are met with respect and with love. They are then taken into account in all subsequent decision making. True ‘we-ness’ allows each person to be a fully formed ‘me,’ with likes and dislikes, beliefs, opinions,
and attitudes. In true community, there is a spirit of inclusiveness and expansion. There is room for everyone. We don't have
We need each other, and we need to relate to each other in healthy relationships so we can free ourselves from the unhealthy conditioning many of us experienced growing up.