Saturday, August 30, 2008

Leaf: Harbin - Conference Center, Dances, Seeing, Human Condition

The Conference Center, with its outdoor pools, that I've rarely seen anyone in (but I also have not yet taken a workshop here), provides space for workshops ranging from Human Awareness Institute's "Love, Intimacy, and Sexuality" to "Laughter" workshops, to space for musical events and dances. All of these workshops and events happened at Harbin in the spring of 2008. I've mostly done unconditional dance in the Conference Center, over numerous years (since around 1995, when I first came to Harbin). The Conference Center's physical design facilitates both dancing - there's ample space, as well as both carpeted and nice, wooden floors on which to dance - as well as a sense of harmony, openness, and simplicity. The building has clean lines with a lot of wooden beams and walls, a high ceiling, a porch and surrounding open area where other workshops could be held in parallel. It's settled in a lovely, wooded location, across a wooden bridge, and separate from Mainside with its Stonefront Lodge, the guest rooms in Azalea, Walnut, Fern, and the main pool area, and the (new) cob and bail Temple (2005) across the creek, as well as the Domes on the same side of the valley, and the village where many residents live up the main Harbin road, and all the rest of Harbin's buildings. As part of Harbin, the Conference Center facilitates possibilities for guests and residents to come together for dancing, and the taking of workshops which come to define Harbin's culture, - assemblages or patterns that make up the life of Harbin. This includes what people like to do at Harbin - the free ideas of Harbin - that is, Harbin's fabric of life. Harbin's dances, Kirtan (chanting), and evening events all include Harbin residents and guests, and bring this community together in a variety of ways. After the dances, many people often go to the pools, which inform much of the tenor of life, and the Harbin experience. When workshops are taking place in the Conference Center, dances are held in the Temple, which is also a lovely space, but smaller.

Harbin Dances

The dances are interesting at Harbin. They involve an exchange of non-verbal energy, where people find a kind of 'flow: the psychology of optimal experience' experience, but which also unify the group and Harbin, and through movement. The way I see it, if tensions emerge 'neurophysiologically' at Harbin, where language won't mediate, dance opens possibilities to see who a person 'is,' that they dance freely, which somehow rights things.


Someone has strung a tie die hammock to the right of the Heart pool between two grape arbor supports, and is lying in it. I haven't seen that before. I continue to see things at Harbin again and again which I haven't seen. For all its constancy – there are only a few new buildings since Ishvara bought the land in 1972 - there's still a lot of newness and nowness.


People seem to like to see and be seen, and this process is quite open here at Harbin. In fact, Harbin's pool area is designed for this in a way. Men and women undress together in the dressing room, into and out of which people can see. The pool's water is clear and it often has a light blue light, (although this morning it was deep green blue) and the area around the pool is very visually open, so people see here too. From Fern kitchen one level above the pools, one can see both the pool area, and part of the pool. The walkway through the middle of the pool area is visible from all angles. Sometimes people dress very spectacularly and walk through this area. Although 'watching' the human dance - the human condition - through millennia seems to continue, it's often been mediated in a stadium, or by media, while at Harbin it's very immediate.

How is it that the day smiles here at Harbin, especially on weekends? People come out, take their clothes off, talk with friends, soak in the pools, seem pretty content and relaxed in a natural way, that emerges from the milieu. There's normal, content, human happiness, as well as community at Harbin.


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