by Neil Brown
One of the many gifts from my Mankind Project (MKP) initiation at Kibblestone in June 2006 was being introduced to a type of medicine wheel containing the quadrant archetypes of Lover, Warrior, Magician and King. Since then, those energies have informed and invigorated all the spheres of my life. They still serve to nudge me awake on occasions and add an intuitive context to my field of awareness. In the last year, I feel grateful to have discovered another cosmology that also speaks to me, and which likewise helps me to chart my progress on the continuing journey. This newly discovered pathfinder is a self realisation method; introduced by James Burgess in his 2006 book called 7 Words, Principles and Practices, and I would like to share something of my understanding of this system with you.
Burgess has studied Sufism and NLP in depth and his construct is built on these ancient and modern influences. The 7 Words are No, Hello, Thankyou, Goodbye, Please, Sorry and Yes, each one resonating with a corresponding Sufi Plane of Consciousness. In their simplest form, they encompass the essence of all possible ideas and communications, distilled into their purest expressions. Each word is then opened up by 4 gateways that he calls keywords, which unpick further doors of perception within that energetic framework.
For example, the keywords for No, which is bound by its Earth Plane issues, are boundaries, identity, choice and truth. For me, saying ‘no!’ was always difficult, as I predominantly chose to gain approval by functioning as a people pleaser and being all things to all men. For a long while, I even tried to ingratiate myself with women by trying to be more like them as well. Thankfully, I can now see the irony that I was in fact excluding myself from any sense of belonging and acceptance, by not bringing my true self to my encounters. Also, by so easily acquiescing and becoming a yes man, I was denying myself the potential joys of a strong ‘yes!’ As well as having a weak no, I had a similar reticence with my warrior energy and can see how these aspects are related. Using these two systems, as field maps on the path, will hopefully support me to walk my talk with integrity, to stand my own ground and allow myself to be guided by these unseen forces on my way home.
Just as No! has a resonance with the Warrior, it could be argued that the Astral realm of Hello and the Angelic realm of Thankyou vibrate with the powers of the Lover and the Magician. In the Heroic plane, Goodbye has the associated keywords of realisation, decision, completion, and moving on. I imagine Kings like Moses, St Paul, Nelson Mandela and the Dalai Lama, passionately embodying those keywords. First experiencing an epiphany, which gave them the strong conviction to draw lines in the sand, and lead their people to an exodus from the past.
Often at MKP mission group meetings, seven energies are invoked; the four archetypes in a distinct order, followed by three further directions of above, below and within. Just as the four archetypes form bedrock for Father sky, Mother earth and the ‘I’ within the human heart, so the first four of the 7 Words underpin the three lighter planes of consciousness of Please, Sorry and Yes. The vibration of these three words is felt in the Plane of Splendour, the Immaculate State and the Transcendental respectively.
In his book, Burgess uses the teaching story of The Salt Puppet to illustrate the transformative stages of a soul’s passage towards individuation, and he relates each juncture with one of the 7 Words. It is a journey from No to Yes, from a dry rock of salt to ever deepening immersion into the briny sea. At every step on the way, the salt puppet embraces another consciousness, and these advancing attitudes lead him onwards to further degrees of dissolution. I find it beautifully telling that it is the salt puppet’s strong self assertiveness and ego at the No part of the tale, which ultimately leads him to surrender his all, his selfhood and merge with the universal ocean of life at the Yes part.
Recently, it was my turn to facilitate at our peer led men’s group. I decided to try out an evening with seven rounds, one for each of the 7 Words, starting with No. The issue of boundaries came to the fore immediately. We all agreed (a Yes keyword) to be concise in our communication and sharing so that the time for each round could be limited to 21 minutes. We did manage to do this and fitted in all seven rounds during the two and a half hour meeting. I chose to have some notes with me from the book and the 7 Words website, which certainly helped with my confidence. However, regarding the successful outcome, the salient point was when each man identified with the parameters at the outset.
We started by robustly embodying and saying No, working in pairs, swapping over after a couple of minutes, and changing partners twice. We then shared in a circle for a couple of minutes each, about when we fail and succeed to say no, how it feels to give a no and to receive it. The time constraint for this word felt appropriate, and was a good exercise in choosing words carefully to express our truth. Some men commented that they would like the whole session devoted to single words at future meets. During Hello, we shared as equals, listening deeply to the each other’s sharing. During Thankyou we spent some quality time, giving and receiving heartfelt appreciation. There was a departure from this format during the Goodbye round, for which we filed outside in silence, for a walking meditation under the nearly full moon. Please gave us the chance to ask for what we wanted, by clearly naming our intentions and enlisting cooperation for our visions. I had also done the same with the group when setting the agenda for our meeting. Sorry was shared in pairs for the whole round, guided by the keywords of responsibility, remorse, repair and release. It reminded me somewhat of a self accountability piece that often features in MKP circles. The effect of this was like laying a burden down and we entered into the round of Yes with a lightness of being. In this last delicious round, we each gave ourselves permission to love and accept who we are, and blessed ourselves for existing!
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