Generosity Within Community

The ending lines of the fifth stanza of David Whyte’s long poem “The Sun” express how ITP practitioners feel about Michael and George and their ever-generous gift of our practice:

“how I want to know that sun,
and how I want to flower,
and how I want to claim my happiness,
and how I want to walk through life
amazed and inarticulate with thanks.”

I love etymology and the study of the origin of words, and the ways in which their meanings have changed throughout history. The etymology of the word generosity in Greek means ungrudging, liberal, unstinting, and abundant. In Hebrew, it’s a simple act of not forgetting to do good and share with others. In Latin, it means to beget, produce, create, cause to exist, bring to life or generate.

We know from experience that a gift is not a gift until it’s given twice. Well, we of the greater ITP community are well aware of Michael and George's hearts and souls manifested in their writings and words that inspire us into our unfolding potential, and to further inspire our sharing the practice with others. We are the ITP communities that they envisioned in the late 80’s and early 90’s and brought into being in Mill Valley in 1992. The etymology of the word community in Latin means common, public, shared by all or many. No one in ITP is on a higher level or lower level than others. Each member is loved and respected and affirmed on their own level of unfoldment.

Over the past 20 years, many individuals have asked me if they should join one of our two Tulsa ITP groups after hearing about the practice. My response has always been with a question: Are you driven or drawn? If they’re driven, someone else has often told them that they should join, and that works out sometimes. But if they’re drawn, they are obeying something deep inside that is telling them: “This practice community and this practice is for me.”

The unburdening that flows forth from generous sharing is much to behold. Once in a group, members experience transparent sharing and the joy of long-term, patient practice with soon-to-be lifelong friends. They discover something intangible, that  “je ne sais quoi” that continues to draw them to share openly, to lead selflessly, and to love unconditionally with their fellow group members. Community is truly a deep hunger of the human heart. Often members leave meetings with their hearts singing because of something shared and engendered deep within.

A favorite poem, “To Be Whole, Be Entire,” by the great Portuguese poet, Fernando Pessoa speaks forcefully of the unbounded generosity of our ITP community:

To be whole, be entire; exclude nothing,
Exaggerate nothing that is not you.
Be whole in everything. Put all you are
Into the smallest thing you do.
So, in each lake the moon shines with splendor
Because it blooms up above.