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Leadership Model

Leadership models in intentional spiritual/eco communities tend to either be top-down fixed hierarchical structures in which the founders/teachers hold the authority or post-modern pluralistic models which are based on consensus and have an aversion to any kind of explicit hierarchical structure.

We are developing a leadership model that it somewhere between these two extremes and potentially avoids the pitfalls of both of these two poles. This model is called Growth or Natural Hierarchy or, if you really do not like that word, call it Growth or Natural Order.

Natural Hierarchy

In an evolutionary context we recognize that natural order or hierarchy is an aspect of how the world of form is structured i.e. Atoms-Molecules-Cells-Organisms etc. Natural/Growth hierarchy is the structure of human relationship that spontaneously emerges when the living context of relationship is grounded in Evolutionary Non-Duality.

Ideally it is an egoless structure defined only by the actual differences between the individuals’ relative levels of development and experience. In Evolutionary Spirituality, while the ground of relationship is oneness and non-difference, the relative reality of difference, which is the fabric of a developmental perspective, is embraced and recognized. So the relationships between evolving human beings would ideally demonstrate the absolute truth of non-difference while simultaneously respecting differing levels of experience, understanding and authority.

This model of leadership places full responsibility on every individual to participate at the leading edge of their capacity and development. It is an emergent potential that operates between the poles of a traditional top-down guru/student model on one hand, and a pluralistic “everyone is the leader” or “there are no leaders” paradigm on the other.  In this model leadership is fluid and should be self-evident and based on mutual trust. Those who are more advanced should naturally lead, but in a natural hierarchy there is no fixed structure and anyone can lead the inquiry further and deeper at any given time. Ideally a natural hierarchy is evidenced as a hierarchy of humility, which works to help everyone develop. Instead of being a "dominator" hierarchy that works to keep everyone down and in their fixed place, a Growth hierarchy pulls everyone up.

A healthy natural hierarchy in a spiritual context rests on our capacity to embrace the paradox that we are all One in the Absolute dimension and we are all “works-in-progress” in the Relative dimension. Hence it is essential that we do not hold onto perspectives or ideas that oversimplify the nature of relational reality and create any degree of separation. This demands that always see the other freshly an that we are always open to change. This requires courage, transparency, profound trust and a willingness to engage in creative friction.

Pete and Cynthia endeavor to lead the Project in a way that does not create any fixed structure or unhealthy shadows. They do not make any claim to 'have arrived" or to be "masters" of any kind. They are fully transparent that they are 'works-in-progress' and encourage people to question.

About the project

The Awakened Life Project is situated in a beautiful and wild ecological reserve in the mountains Central Portugal. We offer volunteer programs, courses, events and retreats to support the liberation of the human spirit in a context of evolutionary emergence and communion with the ecological web of life.


Quinta da Mizarela
3305-031 Benfeita
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