A Few Words from Institute Founder Michael Bush
Right now, the Institute exists as a "royal we, an editorial we," a loose group of professionals and academics that I've been blessed to gather around me, experts on the meaning of being "in community." I began my work exploring the idea of community while a student in the undergraduate program in Religious Studies at California State University, Long Beach, completing that degree and an M.A. in the discipline, and ultimately developing my own definition:
"Community is a mutually beneficial, interactive gathering, under the guidance of a common idea, that contributes to an overriding sense of harmony between the Self and the Other."
This definition became both the starting point and the ending point, the alpha and the omega, for any number of deeper and more detailed explorations of what it means to be together with people, at peace with the Self, and at home in relation. Drawing from ideas in Theology, Philosophy, and the Social, Behavioral, and Physical Sciences, it became clear that every person's sense of meaning is always derived in response to the world outside them - from others.
Self is Other.
understanding is crucial to the work being undertaken by the
Institute. It is our contention that all of life's victories, and any of life's difficulties (both
great and small), begin and end with the manner in which we relate to
the world, and in which we perceive that world as relating to us.
All meaning for the Self, then, is a product of how we interact with the Other.
"Other" must be understood here in terms of anything outside the Self, and the Self must be understood here as that which perceives. In this way, one's body isn't even one's Self, because the act of thinking or talking about it describes it as an Other: my mind, my arm, my heart. The reasoning continues, then, that if we are to be at peace with those things that we perceive, then we must approach them and interact with them in a way which preserves their "being-ness" while preserving our own; otherwise, one of us is losing out on the deal. Variations on this Golden Rule exist in virtually every major religious system known to humankind.
What we're talking about, here, is balance.Balance creates peace, Imbalance creates conflict. Anywhere you see something "right", what you're seeing is Balance, anywhere you see something "wrong," what you're seeing is Imbalance. My conviction is that, using this idea as a point of departure, we can help people explore and identify what peace and community might look like for them both as individuals and as members of various groups. The goal is to learn to manage and make sense of every interaction - of every point of meaning creation - in order that we more effectively navigate our place in the world. My sincerest hope is that you'll join us on this path.