During the sixties and early seventies, many of us had this vision of living in communities like Tamera, but a lot of us got off track. How has Tamera thrived for so many years?
Martin: I’ve been part of this community for a little bit more than eight years. The project encompasses a history of almost 40 years. It has been and still is an ongoing research in how to actually answer the question of how a nonviolent way of inhabiting this planet, in an autonomous and communitarian way, becomes realistic. We firmly believe that once we can give a full answer, then this will be a tipping point where more and more people will be able to follow this kind of dream. A major point where the community was founded on was to create a new social structure allowing people to shift from today’s quite general pattern of fear, competition, and mistrust to transform this into a pattern of trust and cooperation. Obviously, this has been the dream of many communes.
The co-founder, Dr. Dieter Duhm, is a psychoanalyst and a sociologist. He founded Tamera with his partner, the theologian and peace activist Sabine Lichtenfels. Dieter was one of the people in the students’ movement of the sixties in Germany who tried to introduce the idea into the political movement that in order for change on the outer to be substantial, it would require a radical transformation within the participants of this revolution. People were fascinated by these ideas, but he was not able to really integrate it into the political movement. Hundreds of communes were created all over Germany at the end of the sixties and in the beginning of the seventies. People wanted to live in this new way of life, but Dieter saw them all crumble.
He said, everywhere you could see the same human topics – unresolved issues revolving around money, power, and sex. You could see the same pattern of competition. At some point, he decided to create a new form of community in order to establish the basis for a new kind of political awakening – one where the first condition is that the people who step into it make the vow to make all these topics transparent in order to be ready for a complete self-revelation in all of these inner issues that are driving us, and also all the issues that usually you regard as private. The whole area of sexuality, love, and partnership, especially, is the main ground of where so many drives and impulses, both positive and negative, come from.
Making these processes transparent in the group was and still is a very powerful part of creating community. When we do not make ourselves transparent, we tend to communicate on the basis of certain roles that we take in the social constellation. We communicate from mask to mask.
This process where people make themselves visible on these deeper levels is the point where trust starts to be generated. This has been a guiding indicator in the creation of the community. In our research, we try to find structures and forms of communication that create as much trust as possible.
I mentioned this topic of sexuality and love, and you probably also know that this is a key issue in Tamera. If you want to generate trust in a community, this is a central area that requires a kind of ethical renewal. In our society, there is a structure or a form of societal organization in this sexual realm where people are forced to lie, to cheat, to be untruthful.
This is part of our whole patriarchal history. There is this commandment to the human being: thou shalt not lie. On the other side, you are told you should not desire your neighbor’s wife. There is a very strong ideal for faithfulness, and at the same time, there is a demonization of our wild sexual desire that we need to tame and disguise if we want to be accepted in society. The suppression of sexuality, especially of female sexuality, was carried out by state and church by the most atrocious means. The patriarchal systems of power needed to hammer the prohibition of sexuality into our bodies in order be able to dominate humanity. That which meant greatest pleasure and joy in people’s lives needed to be eradicated and poisoned.
This collective trauma is stored in our DNA and subconsciously steers most of our actions in sexuality and love still today. Our heartache, our sexual suffering, and relationship problems are the result of this traumatic structure, of automatic patterns of thinking and behavior. It is not a private topic, but a global topic which requires a whole new society in order to be solved.
A first step towards healing this topic was the introduction of “free sexuality,” which does not mean random change of partners, but an erotic culture where people are allowed to freely express their erotic wishes in a space of trust and genuine contact; a social structure where sexual contact isn’t necessarily dependent on the existence of a relationship. However, this can also mean that you sometimes say, ‘for the coming time, I want to be monogamous with my partner.’ Free sexuality is no ideological decision for monogamy or polyamory, but is a form of life where truth in sex and love becomes possible again, because you no longer conceal to your partner that you are also attracted to others. Thereby, you can go through a process of exploration where relationships are not just based on high erotic voltage but rather on a soul connection.
It’s a fundamental inner system change. In order to be able to make it oneself, you need a greater political goal that goes far beyond the interpersonal level itself. We need to be able to identify what is a common vision that we as a community and, even broader, we as a network or as a movement, can go for together. In addition to all the conflict issues we are dealing with, there is kind of an objective goal that we can focus and walk towards together.
In this regard, the project has been shaping a planetary perspective which we entitled the Healing Biotopes Plan. It is a strategy for a future without war, for introducing a new global culture on our planet. This is very important because creating a functioning community is a planetary undertaking. The greater your vision, the greater your power. If you know: I do this work on behalf of all suffering people around the world, you will have a much greater power than when you are just doing it for your own benefit. In the end, it’s really not just us, but about the question, whether a humane future perspective will be able to prevail against the powers of destruction on this planet. And this is where rediscovering community as a basic humane force will play a crucial role.
When you talk about sexuality, in North America it seems like sexuality is considered the biggest sin. Just take media, for instance, where it is okay to show all kinds of violence in movies or TV. Sex, even loving sex, is considered R rated, especially if it doesn’t conform to parameters like heterosexual sex and love. It seems like a huge challenge to transform people’s thinking or feelings about sexuality. Even negative human emotions like jealousy seem like a barrier to complete harmony. How do you work through these challenges?
Martin: This is a very interesting process. It is certainly true you need to make a special decision because you need to go through a kind of transformation process that is quite profound, not only to change your image of love but to change a whole life setting. If you look at how we can make love possible in our life and our society, we have to change the whole way we live. It’s not just a matter of our private lives, it’s not a certain therapy method or something to be applied. It starts by this decision to actually enter into a communitarian existence where I know that the life I am leading is not just a private affair that I deal with for myself, but it is something that is connected with all the other people around. This is the step of trust that you make when you enter into community where you allow other people to be part of your life. This is where the possibility of love opens up where you can make a step out of the structure of fear.
On a global stage that makes love everywhere impossible, or blocks it very quickly, it is almost a universal structure of fear governing our lives. It has become so omnipresent that most people don’t even perceive it anymore. This is a very profound consciousness process to recognize the defense layers we have all developed. It is also an awakening process – to wake up and to recognize which negative patterns are running us unconsciously, and that in a community where life is more and more based on certain ethical principles, such as truth and mutual support and responsible participation, it is no longer necessary to keep up these mechanisms. That is when a transformation process begins.
In the end, you can even recognize that jealously is actually unnecessary. If you live in a community of trust, you don’t need to be afraid that you will lose your love if your partner has an erotic contact or even falls in love with another person. This form of jealousy is somehow a sickness that results from a way of life that from the very outset is determined by a profound fear of loss. We get indoctrinated from the childhood stage on. Our way is to transform this fear and to replace it with the experience of trust. It is a way of gaining insight into the programs that govern our lives and a way of taking new decisions, of becoming autonomous in our own thinking.
I can’t say that at Tamera we already have a full model for love, but there are experiences where it is possible that two women love the same man or the other way around, and there is no fight. There are these experiences where we can see that there is a possibility of a life where love can really expand. When love occurs there is this natural movement where it always wants to grow. The patriarchal culture has created a love image that only allows the two, and whenever a third person comes in, it is impossible to include him or her and war starts.
The old model obviously doesn’t work because love isn’t limited by a piece of paper. We have boundless amounts of love to give, but we raise our children the same way we were raised, for the most part. Are there children who have been raised in the community who are now adults, and how did this culture affect them?
Martin: There are various generations now inside the community, which has been going on for nearly 40 years. You have a generation of people who grew up in the community who have small children themselves. There is also a group of children from a few months old to teenagers growing up in the community. This is a very crucial part of creating a new culture because we all know how critical these first years in life are for the kind of life path you will choose. In Tamera, this is a very important research issue. For us, children are also really important teachers for this principle of free love. When you observe children, and if you do not restrict their space too early and don’t overload them too early with the problems and emotions of the adults, then you see the realistic utopia of a free life interaction between human beings that is not steered by calculation. You see what free love could mean, which is love free of fear.
There is a free energy in the human interaction that is direct, but there is no underlying program, no double-sidedness. This is really one of the things we are working on – creating a setting for children to grow up where this kind of natural quality that is the gift that every child carries can be preserved as long as possible. An important part of this is also the social structure of how the adults relate to the children. We are doing a lot of consciousness work with it already before children are born.
We even try to make the process of how children are coming into this world a conscious process in the community. We know that in order for a child to grow up, it needs more than the decisions of the two parents; it needs a bigger setting from the beginning. We try to make it a conscious process: How are children coming into the world? Is the relationship between the parents stable enough to bring this child? When a child grows up, there is a freedom given where a child has many loving impulses to many people. We recognize that there are the real parents, but also other people of the community the children choose to accompany them in certain phases. It is important that from the beginning you have a larger radius of relation that the children can go towards.
We also create a community among the children. It’s amazing to see how, from a young age, how independent children actually are and to see children who are not fixated in this complicated and problematic way to their parents. When you look at the people who are my age, between 20 and 30, who grew up in the community, you can witness a profound knowledge of human social dynamics that is different than, for example, in my case, where I grew up for 16 years of my life in a conventional society.
Your community encompasses so much more than this, such as the work you are doing with regard to ecology and living harmoniously with nature. You can’t really love if you don’t love the earth and all the gifts from the earth.
Martin: For us, it is so important, not just to build community on a social level or to create harmony within a certain group, but the idea of creating healing biotopes where you show through a relevant science in a comprehensive way what a model for human society can look like in all areas, one that fully moves out of the system of violence. We haven’t yet reached this goal, but we are working on it: creating a life system where I’m no longer forced to suppress my actions, to suppress the consequences of what I am doing in any area. If you want to love, you have to love the earth.
The more we have gone into the depths of the social and sexual issues, we see that the violence that humans inflict upon each other, is the same as what we inflict upon the earth. To find a new relationship to nature and to animals – this is just the same movement. There is such a strong focus on one side on creating a model for regenerating nature, and on the other hand to create a life that is really autonomous where we know we can disconnect our very material needs for water, energy, and food from these globalized supply systems, where we know that there is so much blood stuck to it, so much suffering from human beings and animals, system that are driving us into a global catastrophe. Creating autonomous life systems based on cooperation with nature is imperative if we want to step out of this planet-killing machine of capitalism – and a have a decent survival.
How can this happen without exploiting animals and nature but actually in a real communication and cooperation? There was once a world shaped by nature where the human being was part of this. Over the last thousands of years, humanity has radically transformed the surface of the earth. Now it is clear we cannot just move back to nature, but we need to find a way of cooperation where the way human beings interfere with the biosphere and how we set up our life becomes compatible with the functional logic of the natural world. It is about finding a way of understating the principles of nature and acknowledging it, recognizing that it is not only human beings who carry a soul, but also animals, even plants, maybe even rivers and mountains. All of life, all of the biosphere carries a soul quality that on a certain level we are able to communicate with. This is a fundamental shift for global peace work. The pattern of control and exploitation needs to be replaced by a pattern of cooperation.
We make very interesting observations with the whole animal kingdom in the way even wild animals react to us, how they approach us and seek closeness to us human beings – snakes, wild boars, turtles – and how lovingly they approach human beings when they feel they no longer need to fear us. We gain new insights here into a possibility of a world based on trust. The Earth is meant to be paradise. It sounds like a fairy tale, but it is real.
A central part of this is restoring nature. We know about this whole drought situation in California and this mega drought they project for the Midwest of the U.S. Everywhere in the world we suffer from the destruction of landscapes and the natural water cycle. Droughts and desertification are the results of this on a global scale.
We have worked on a model to respond to this global catastrophe. In the past seven years, we have been establishing what we call a Water Retention Landscape, which was a vision brought to us by the Permaculture specialist Sepp Holzer of Austria. It radically shifted our view on the possibility for restoring nature in a relatively short time.
Southern Portugal, where we live, is affected by a process of progressive desertification. Scientists say the region we live in will be a desert in something like 15 to 25 years. We thought creating self-sufficiency was just impossible under such circumstances. The experience we have made over the last seven years since we have adopted this method has really shifted our image from one of scarcity to full abundance.
This is something that is very important not just for us locally, but really on a global level. There was this brilliant article by this Canadian water activist, Maude Barlow, who said that when we look at California, for example, we see that the water catastrophe there is not just a consequence of climate change. Of course, the catastrophic effects of climate change cannot be denied and we must stop the polluting the air with carbon. But she made it clear that what is happening in California is also the result of a massive mismanagement of water, something we can tackle on the ground, right away.
We can see in many parts of the world that due to the loss of the forest and the topsoil that had previously absorbed the rainwater, we have a broken water cycle that leads to droughts and to a whole scenario of ecological degradation. What we have done here at Tamera is to create water retention spaces which allows this broken cycle to be reinstalled by allowing the rainwater to sink into the earth body again. This revitalizes the whole landscape and creates a new life power that allows the vegetation to be nurtured by water. It is amazing to see. If you had come here ten years ago, you would have seen a dying landscape. Now, you see a landscape that is really regenerating. There are many trees growing and wild animal species have gathered here again.
Can you tell me about the work you personally do?
Martin: I am part of the Institute for Global Peace Work, which is the department responsible for international communication and networking. It is clear for us that creating a perspective for a new global culture is not just something that could happen in one community as an isolated island. We are working in the frame of a world that is in transformation, where there are countless initiatives working all over the world on so many aspects of a solution of a new form of life. We are working on reaching out to the world with the kind of insights that we have gained in this research. We are also creating a network dedicated to manifesting this vision. We are strongly oriented on the Healing Biotopes Plan – a strategy which outlines how it is possible to tip this global system of violence by creating a few highly complex model centers around the world that concretely manifest this perspective of a nonviolent culture.
When we think about changing the world, we may imagine a mass movement of millions taking to the streets. I think it is indispensable to have such a movement, but at the same time, we need to see that the system change we are dealing with is so profound and radical that we need prototype models where the direction of the new revolution can be developed and become realistic. If it is possible to really show in a few places a way of life that is free of violence, free of fear, and what full trust can look like, this will impact people not only in the surrounding communities, but the entire planet.
We live not only in a material world, but in a world of information. The project is connected to a political theory based on holistic science. This theory assumes that the world is a unified information system, its evolution is working through morphogenetic fields. Morphogenetic fields are invisible informational fields steering our collective behavior. We currently live in a morphogenetic field of war. It is this field which generates the violence and destruction all over the world. In order to end this suffering, the old morphogenetic field needs to be replaced by a new one, by a morphogenetic field for a new Earth, Terra Nova. We believe that once these new models succeed, they will create a corresponding morphogenetic revolution, and new fields or patterns of behaviour for a life free of violence and fear will arise and affect people around the world. We will experience an enormous acceleration in the humane transformation of the earth, many similar models will arise all over the world. At some point, killing someone else will even become unthinkable. This is not just a dream, but a realistic option, for our DNA contains the possibility of a nonviolent existence.
In order to make this process happen, we support projects that are already very dedicated to creating these future models. We are working with projects in the Middle East and Kenya, in several places in Latin America, in Colombia, Brazil, and Mexico. We are working with the Terra Nova School, which is a network of self-organized groups around the world. People come together to study and explore and to exchange and work with the vision of Terra Nova – a nonviolent world. Seeing this possibility, connecting with the vision of this new Earth, is the first step towards manifesting it. That is why it is so important that the perspectives for healing are distributed as widely as possible.
Ian McKenzie will be coming to Tamera to start filming the work you do with the Global Love School. Can you tell us about that?
Martin: One part of the education program of Tamera is an institution we call the Love School, which is a learning program and also a space of study and personal work. This is where we go into the depth of transforming the fear patterns into a trust pattern in these very hot areas of sexuality, love, and partnership. We deeply look into what are our images of love to open it up for the transformation necessary to transform the structure of violence. The Love School also carries out events for people interested in this new model for love and sexuality. There is a very special program called the Global Love School, which is an annual project for people who are close collaboration partners or teachers themselves – people in leading positions in NGOs or different initiatives, or people who are really at the forefront for this engagement of transformation. These are people who are working with Tamera and see the necessity to make their stand for peace work in their own personal lives, to transform their patterns of love and sexually even if they do not live in a community like Tamera.
We meet here once a year for two weeks for a very intensive course with spaces for profound sharing and exchange. We also create new experience spaces in this area. If you can be fully truthful in love, then you have created a basis that will make a movement invincible, I think. This has been going on for three years and it is growing every year.
It sounds like a very transformative experience. Is there anything else you would like to add?
Martin: Tamera is a pioneering project working on many different levels to manifest an ambitious vision. We are a research project that does not receive public funding from the state or educational organizations. For the time being, we finance ourselves through seminars we give, but at the same time, we have visions to go forward in manifesting The Love School and a school for the children, as well as a peace university.
The Grace Foundation is dedicated to manifesting the Healing Biotopes Plan. This is really an invitation to all people who see the relevance of creating models to show what a new society could look like, and for people to consider investing in such a project to make this vision come true.
In September and October we are coming with a beautiful team from Tamera to the United States. We will have an event tour on the occasion of the publication of the new book by Dieter Duhm, Terra Nova: Global Revolution and the Healing of Love. This is a book that summarizes forty years of research on this society of trust and the perspective for a new global society.
With the launch of the English edition of this book, we will do various events on the East and West Coast to share this vision of Terra Nova and weave a network dedicated to this vision. We are looking forward to reaching out to many people and coming together to create alliances, and we are inviting people to approach us so we can work together.
Thank you, Martin! We’re looking forward to the evolution of this project and the launch of HEALING OF LOVE – Sex, Partnership and the Village.