29_15Family constellations

according to Bert Hellinger and Idris Lahore

Interview of Idris Lahore, philosopher and psycho-anthropologist by Maya Ollier

Tribute to Anne Ancelin Schutzenberger and Bert Hellinger

The other “star” intervener, next to you, at the international conference of psycho genealogy was Anne Ancelin Schutzenberger. She had very negative comments on Bert Hellinger and the family constellations. What do you think about that?

Idris Lahore: Obviously, Madam Ancelin Schutzenberger is not a specialist in family constellations. In addition, I don’t know her arguments, but I’ve understood that her negativity is aimed toward Bert Hellinger himself. I can also imagine that a woman of her intelligence can be critical of the way some people use constellations, or even that she belongs to a “school of thoughts” which does not include in its theories our patterns or applications of constellations. Everyone is entitled to their own ideas and theories.
And you, what you think of Mr. Hellinger and his work?
I.I.: Let me first pay a special tribute to this man, through which the constellation method spread in almost all the countries of the world. He was the instrument of this dissemination. Certainly, his life and work have been at the command of, or rather as he says himself, destined to something higher, perhaps the morphic field of constellations. As for me, I can only bow to his fate, that is, to say the least, remarkable.
You had already given him this tribute in Lyon, adding that if he was one of the fathers of family constellations, and that it was natural that many of his students would betray him…. What do you mean by that?
I.I.: The creators – “fathers” or “mothers” – are often betrayed by their “children”: perhaps it is even the condition of their emancipation. But it is true that we can emancipate ourselves without betraying: all depends on one’s mood. It is the gratitude towards the creators – the “fathers” and “mothers” – that allows a true liberation and above all, an independent growth and evolution.
You have been doing this work for over thirty years now. What does your personal gratitude to Mr. Hellinger consist of?
I.I.: You rightly remind me that I have been doing this work for more than three decades, while “family constellations according to Bert Hellinger” (this is how we must call the systemic current of which he is the origin) have not existed for such a length of time.
We can, if you wish, return to the path of B. Hellinger compared to mine. I called my work the “euphonic representations”, until someone told me, “What you do are family constellations. As Bert Hellinger does”. Curious, I then investigated about what constellations and Bert Hellinger were. I studied his work and it was a considerable enrichment of my own research and experiences, both from the practical and theoretical point of view. I then integrated many of his procedures into my own practice.
Likewise, I studied the work of some of his students, especially those of I. Sparrer and M.V. von Kibed regarding structural constellations and of D.V. Kampenhout and R. Langlotz for their more ritualized approach, matching more to spiritual or shamanic traditions which I am bound to: I have also integrated some of their experience into my work. These different approaches have helped me transform my practice, always based on what my traditional teachers had taught me. I have therefore been able to adapt it much better to the requirements of men and women today. This is why I am grateful to B. Hellinger, as well as to those I have just mentioned and many other constellators, particularly of German origin, who have marked and still mark this great movement with their thoughts and research.Traditional dervishes sources of Idris Lahore

We know about your classical training in the field of philosophy, psychology, anthropology and medecine. But to which of these traditions do you refer to?
I.I.: I am fortunate having met many. The most important of them is the tradition of Hakim dervishes of Kafiristan, whose knowledge and expertise goes back to the Samara culture, dating back more than 6’000 years B.C. I specify this date, because my work is often confused with that of the Sufis, while the Dervishes I mention have pre-Islamic sources and spread from the Samara Valley southward to Afghanistan and India, north-east to Siberia, east to China and west to Europe. It is with them that I firstly attended “euphonious representations of the spiritual breath” within the frame of Samadeva (see the journal Science of Consciousness No 17, page 46), and that I obviously recognized as being one of the origins of “family constellations”. Their work is also the fundamental component of the Greek theaters and “sleeping for health temples” in the days of Ancient Greece.
Taoist sources of Idris Lahore
The Dervishes taught me practical knowledge, while my grandfather, who was what can be called an original, alchemist and traveler, taught me most of my theoretical knowledge. His expedition to China affected him most deeply. This was long before the Revolution. When I was old enough to understand, he told me about his encounter with a Chinese sage, Huan Zhen Hui, a Taoist master of Chan and Chen Yen. Rather than traveling across China, as he had planned, my grandfather remained with this master who became his teacher and taught him all he would later transmit to me and which I have partially transcribed in my book “Tao, the Way of Tao”. More important, he introduced me to the Yi Qing, the most ancient Chinese book, which is also called “Book of Mouvements”. In chapter 37, the Yi Qing summarizes his knowledge on family and society. I will read some excerpts, and you will have no difficulty in recognizing that they are the foundations of the principles B. Hellinger called “orders of love”:
“The family manifests the laws that prevail inside the house, laws that when applied to the outside world, also maintain order in the cities and the universe.” (Here, we understand the potential influence of family, relational, social and professional disorders).
“The woman’s place is inside and that of the man is outside.” (This is obviously not my opinion!)
“Man and woman are complying with the great laws of nature by taking their rightful place.”
“The family needs a strong authority: that of parents. When the father is really a father and the son really a son, when the elder takes its right place of elder, and the younger that of the youngest, when the bridegroom is really the husband, and the wife really a wife, then the family is in order. When the family is in order, all the social relations of humanity are arranged in turn….”
“Three of the five social relationships have their place within the family: that of parents and children which is love; that of man and woman which is balance; that of elder and younger which is the rank…”
“The family is the original cell of society, the breeding ground where the application of moral duties is made easy through natural affection, so that within a narrow circle is created the basis on which these principles will then be applied to human relationships in general…”“The family must be a clearly defined unit within which each member knows his place…”
“The advice is to seek nothing by violent means, but to limit oneself peacefully to the fulfillment of existing obligations…”
“In the family must prevail balance between rigor and release. The best is to build strong dikes within which complete freedom of movement is left to individuals…”
“It is love that governs relations. Its nature spontaneously exercises righteous influence…”
“If parents cultivate their personality in such a manner that their influence is felt by the strength of their inner truth, all is well in the family. When one holds an executive position, one must spontaneously take responsibility…”
“When the words are relevant and clearly refer to a particular situation, they have influence…”
“Speeches and general warnings are ineffective. Words must also be sustained by the entire conduct. If words and attitudes do not agree and are not derived from one another, the influence is lacking…”
In this chapter 37 or the Yi Qing, we find both the principles that guide family relationships and the indications that they project to the outside world. This clearly implies the importance of right speech, which consists of words helping find better solutions and solve problems, as B. Hellinger proposed them…”

All of this is extremely interesting and seems to delve us into the very sources of the principles, not only the family principles but also the systemic ones, but this carries us away from Mr. Hellinger…
I.I.: No, not as much as you may think. I know, B. Hellinger likes to quote Lao Tzu, the father founder of Taoism… However, I do not know if he has been in contact with one of the affiliations of dervish traditions.
But what differentiates your practice from his?
I.I.: Apart from my use of shamanic techniques and structural constellations, there isn’t much difference, at least for what I know of constellation techniques, and of the personal evolution of B. Hellinger.
The spiritual dimension of systemic work: for several decades, you have been saying that systemic work is spiritual. Mr. Hellinger has refused to use that term for a long time, but since a little over a year ago, he openly speaks of “spiritual constellations”. What does the word “spiritual” mean for you?
I.I.: The word “spiritual” comes from the Latin “spiritus” and means, among other things, air or breath. In both definitions, we find the deepest sense of spirituality: the air we are bathing in and that connects us to one another, without excluding anyone. The breath, meanwhile, is the “movement” of air, without which there is no life and no evolution possible. Constellation work is including everyone, without excluding anyone, thus allowing to breathe again, that is to say allowing the movement where it was blocked! This applies also in family, social, relational and professional situations as well as for physical illness or psychological disorders.Bert Hellinger’s journey

At the beginning of our conversation, you mentioned an analogy between your path and that of Mr. Hellinger. Could you elaborate a little more?
I.I.: To begin with, I can testify that Bert Hellinger’s way seems to fit in a genuine evolution, because it resembles to what was traditionally followed in the ancient “Mystery centers” or “Schools of Wisdom”, except that the learning procedure took place in an inverted fashion.
From what I know of the work and history of B. Hellinger, he became a Christian priest first, then undertook a psychoanalytic therapy, method in which he was trained afterwards. He left for the United States, where he learned the Primal Therapy of Arthur Janov, the Transactional Analysis of Eric Berne and hypnosis according to Erickson. On his return to Europe, psychoanalysts however didn’t give him their approval. He nevertheless continued his work, focussing particularly on the Berne Transactional Analysis as well as on his “analysis of life story”. B. Hellinger declared himself very impressed with the psychodrama of Moreno, but real family constellations he experienced as a “representative” for the first time with Thea Schoenfelder, a German therapist with whom he worked twice during the psychotherapy conference in Lindau.
According to him, this was decisive for his future direction: it was the first time he saw real family constellations. They are therefore not his invention, but his creativity in this field has enabled him to make it an original and specific tool. He also learned the different family therapy techniques during a four-week seminar in Snowmass, Colorado, with Ruth McClendon and Less Kadis. During the seminar, he gained new experience by being himself still “representative”.
He later continued his training with them. Contrary to what many say of him, he saw Virginia Satir work only once, at a convention in Oldenburg, and therefore has not experienced working with “family sculpture”. Despite his interest in these methods, he wanted to continue his own work, mainly based on the “life analysis script”. It was during this work that he became aware of the influence of ancestors in the lives of individuals and that made him develop his own technique of “family constellations” in the 1980s. He never spoke of traditional contacts he may have had in South Africa where he was director of a religious school, neither of any link to other spiritual associations with practices related to family constellations.
From a technical standpoint, B. Hellinger started doing family constellations by placing people in relation with each other and asking them how they felt. Then he moved them to places where they could feel better, while at the same time using words to move towards a better solution for the customer’s problem.
You claim as well that speech comes from the same “brain” as movement does. Could this explain the efficacy of movements as well as speech?
I.I.: Yes, that’s right. In addition, B. Hellinger also realized that there is an impulse to movement in “representatives”, which he called the “movement of the soul”, and that this movement naturally led to a better solution for all members of the client’s family system. When this “movement of the soul” was manifested, he let the “representatives” follow the movements which seized them. Note here the difference between the soul in which bathe the “representatives”, that is to say the energy field that encompasses all (Rupert Sheldrake calls this the morphic field) and the soul, or individual psyche.
The development of this process took B. Hellinger over twenty years: first the placement / displacement by the constellator and the free movement of different representatives following the “movement of the soul”. In recent years, Hellinger speaks of “movement of spirit”, much more important than the “movement of soul”.  He then further changed the technical model that he had already started to simplify to the “movement of the soul”: he does not place the whole family anymore, nor even a few people, and often starts with one person only. He works himself even less and remains in the background, letting the “movement of the spirit” show whether it is necessary to add one or more additional representatives, and especially letting the movement lead to a deeper solution, even if it is often incomprehensible to the layman… and to the constellator!
Hellinger used yet another technique: asking a client to sit beside him and by being completely centered in himself, on his own inner resonance, he comes into contact with the “inner movement”. He just has to say something to the customer for moving him towards a better solution or to the resolution of his difficulty. This is my vision of the evolution of the work of B. Hellinger, but it is only my opinion.
It looks like starting from a more complex work, this method is becoming increasingly simple…
I.I.: Simple yes, but this does not mean neither simple, nor easy, nor accessible to all… In fact, as an authentic researcher, B. Hellinger has traveled quite a journey which has led him to an approach of increasing stillness externally, in silence, listening to the inner movement. I think this type of work is only available to those who truly desire it, and who give themselves the means… and the time, sometimes several decades….The opposite course of Idris Lahore

I was trained exactly the opposite of B. Hellinger. I know that what he discovered is the “breath of Spirit” and even beyond, the “movement of the Origin”: a movement that exists inside of each one of us (and that in dervish tradition is called “Oya”).
As for my background: during my quest, I first met, in a dervish brotherhood, a man called master in spiritual traditions. Once accepted in his school, one could come and sit near him when one had a problem, without telling him anything, with the only intention to find a solution in his presence.
We sat in silence, focused on our breathing and our sensations (the Hindus call this the “darshan”). After a short or long period of this specific meditation, one could, by leaving the “presence” and “consciousness” of the master, be in contact with the solution of the problem. The stillness and silence within helped us came into contact with a solution. Later, I learned that this is about the principle of the trilogy of intention that is at work: a problem mobilizes energies, which lead to its resolution. This is a law of quantum physics: information <-> energy <-> matter.
At other times, the master told the person arriving with his problem: ”Stand up  there and follow the movement that occurs to you, the movement of the Origin, Oya”. The mysterious thing then was that the person entered into a natural spontaneous movement and then, when the movement came to its completion, or when the teacher said stop, he came in contact with a solution to his problem: the solution manifests in this “movement of the Origin”. In other situations, the master said to the person, “Sit there” and told one of his more experienced students: “Get up, and for this person, follow the movement that seizes you”. The student became a “representative” for the one who came for help and naturally entered into a movement that led to a better solution.
On very special evenings, a large crowd would gather around the master for what he called “the night of reconciliation with the ancestors”, as I described to you previously. This is how family, ancestral, spiritual, therapeutic and other forms of constellations have been existing for centuries in these traditional organizations.
Could we say then, that over the years, Mr. Hellinger entered in resonance with the morphic field of this knowledge and traditional skills?
I.I.:  I was trained in one of these traditions, but I cannot say anything else about the journey of B. Hellinger, if not testify that his work is of high quality and corresponds to the experience of those  who, rare today, were able to follow a true path of initiation and who know the ancient spiritual traditions and therapies. I know everything I describe here will make all those Cartesian scientists, those whose ethnological, anthropological and spiritual knowledge is insufficient, scream about mysticism.Remain humble when facing what is beyond

You mentioned techniques and ancient spiritual traditions, what do you mean by that?
I.I.: All constellators know that they are, in their work, in contact with something they call “force field, “field of knowledge”, “soul”, “spirit” or “energy” and they also know that this “phenomenon” is both very powerful and very mysterious. They discuss a lot about this: what are representative perceptions? What is the resonance that allows to feel and even know what lives in others? What is this energy that guides to a better solution?
No psychological, philosophical, scientific or technical response may sufficiently answer these questions. B. Hellinger now says that it is the “Great Spirit” and even “divinity”. I think this is obviously an interpretation of a phenomenon whose mystery and power leads to compare it to God. But to name this phenomenon, this movement, is a way to appropriate it: I know that until now, it was not the attitude of Bert Hellinger.
Those who have been trained in an initiatory context (in a School) have specific knowledge of these phenomena that  B. Hellinger, solitary scholar, rediscovered in his way and that constellators question themselves on, while it is a precise and codified knowledge. This is due to their ignorance of the history of these phenomena in other cultures and other circles, misunderstanding that can lead to imagine that this phenomenon has only just manifested itself in the type of work that are constellations. Some will say we cannot codify the spirit. They are right, but what we are in contact with, within the constellations, is a specific and limited aspect of its manifestation.
To pretend that it is the “Great Spirit” does not make this limited reality become the ultimate whole. Moreover, the characteristic of what is manifested is that we can analyze, codify and describe it, while knowing that a “map is not the territory” as stated by A. Korzybski. I am also concerned that many of those who follow B. Hellinger to the level he is currently working at, believe that they can do the same, although they have not attained the level Hellinger has reached only after several decades of work and personal research. The illusion and belief in which they will go astray, will lead to the creation of new religious movements, towards which all those who are superficially attracted by the extraordinary nebulous and so-called spiritual, will flock.
Is  this a warning you give against those who do not have the long experience of Mr. Hellinger, but who would like to attribute themselves his expertise?
I.I.: To practice in this way, we must, in my view, either have a lot of experience, knowledge and maturity, or have followed a specific training which is not delivered in the new school of B. Hellinger, nor by the constellators.  The latter do a great job to transmit this knowledge and know-how related to family constellations and to different forms of structural constellations. I only fear that, due to the proximity with B. Hellinger, one can imagine being able to represent him, which is an illusion. Knowledge and skills can be  transmitted. Personal work of an individual evolution however, cannot be spread by contamination or imitation. Friendship or love alone are not enough…
From what you say, it seems that the highest art in the field of representations and constellations, occurs when the constellator can sit in his own silence and his own stillness, and that he can welcome the seeker for help and later either give him some guidance, or provoke another movement, which can be physical, emotional, intellectual, energetic, leading to a solution.
I.I.; Yes, that’s about it. In fact, the tradition to which I belong calls this the “breath of the spirit”. As for me, I started my work with this over thirty years ago, only to discover the work of B. Hellinger and other constellators later on, understanding that they were an application of the principles of “the breath of the spirit”.
Mr. Lahore, let me thank you very much for having received me for this long interview, as well for the enlightened responses you gave to questions that many around me were putting themselves about Mr. Hellinger and constellations in general.
I.I.: I will be very glad to see you for further discussions, one about Professor Rizzolatti’s work on mirror neurons, the other about the research of Rupert Sheldrake on morphogenetic fields. Thank you.