Why We Need Each Other to Go Deeper

by CSW Director Rob Field

Ubuntu – South African word that means “I am because we are”

I’ve just returned from the memorial service of a beloved friend. This dearly departed soul was such a loving person, knew so many people, and touched so many lives, it didn’t surprise me the church was full. There were wonderful tributes and great stories told in my friend’s memory, and I left feeling less troubled by her death.

Even if the crowd had been smaller, the gathering would have reminded me of Ubuntu, the beautiful Bantu word that refers to the fact that our shared humanity is more significant than my personal desires and agendas. One source I consulted says Ubuntu teaches that “an authentic individual human being is part of a larger and more significant relational, communal, and spiritual world.”* In other words, none of us has a self apart from others. My parents and family members, to be sure, but also everyone I connect with makes me who I am. Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa helped me see that I am “caught up and inextricably bound up” in the humanity of others. We are meant to be part of a greater whole. I am because you are.

Ubuntu is one of the many reasons that Center for Spiritual Wisdom focuses on in-person seminars, workshops, retreats, and pilgrimages. Don’t get me wrong: I believe online, experiential learning can play a significant role in the spiritual life of many people, myself included. That said, nothing can fully take the place of sharing the same space as fellow seekers as we engage wisdom and practices from a gifted presenter. To take in the experience with other people in real time, to hear their questions and insights, makes me more awake and aware. I can go deeper because I’m with others with the same intention, who follow a path parallel to mine.

In the coming weeks and months, the Center is offering a multitude of events that invite you to go deeper: a retreat on women mystics, the “Right to Read” documentary screening, a half-day mindfulness and nature workshop, an intermediate Enneagram learning series, and much more.

We are because you are. 

*African Journal of Social Work, 2020.

photo by Mike Scheid via Unsplash