so, i did not immediately start , in any intentional way, thiinking about the one and the many. but as taoists say, when you are ready, the teacher appears. there i was in beautiful-bellingham-by-the-bay, and needed someplace to lay my head at night. the place i found was a sort of locallly heroic intentional community called, of course, the oasis. it was a bunch of diverse structures–mine would be a sort of wikiup i built in two days out of stuff i found. it was on the far edge of the property–actually, it was on the property of western washington university–for about five years–and housed me and several other people over that period–beyond the chicken coops.
the center of the community was the garden. very crosby, stills, and nash. it was a time of great learning for me. one of the most important things i learned was how much people seemed to want community, and how hard it was to make one up. the sideloaded one-and-many teaching centered around how we made decisions. besides shared meals, we had ‘meetings’, which were a cross between the u.s. congress and quaker meetings and chinese self-criticisms. we decided everything as a community, sort of. mostly we hardly decided anything. people would do things and we would talk sweetly about them. the real tension was contained in the ongoing discussion about ducks. the once-and-future duck pond was brought up every week, but it would be years before it was actually built, long after i had wandered off, although i did dig the original hole for the thing.
at the oasis i met some of the most interesting and endearing people i’ve ever known, many of whom i consider valued friends to this day even if i hardly every see them any more. and i loved living in my little 2m x 2m hut, which came to be part of the ‘human ecology’ tour from fairhaven college. it was odd to be sitting in the morning with my tea and birdsong and some book and hear the mentors of the tours describing my ‘sustainable’ dwelling.
also at the oasis i began to understand the importance of scale. it was difficult to do much of anything communally with our twelve or so members. although we had good food from the garden, that was largely because of the work of one gardener, a remarkable product of among other factors a waldorf education.
i left the oasis to form a more intentionally ‘spiritual’ community with some of the folks. i was not so much into spirituality as i was interested in seeing what would happen next. what happened next was of course nothing like i expected, but it, too, would be full of wonder. my time at the oasis was a rich opportunity to pursue some of the goals of my vows in the order of st. chad, which i guess were sort of vaguely ‘spiritual’. but the spirit famously blows where it wills.