On the awareness path of the growth movement in the Seventies, we’d talk a lot about “pushing your edge.”
If we were going to grow, we had to rid ourselves of our unwanted baggage. We had to follow some form of cleansing or purifying process. And for us that often meant to “own” something. To tell the truth. To drop all pretence.
Calling ourselves on our own numbers drew high praise in the subtle hierarchy of a growth or encounter group. All of that would be examples of pushing our edge.
What was the edge? The edge was the boundary of consciousness where knowing gave way to not knowing, feeling to not feeling. When I’m at the limits of my knowledge or feeling, I’m at my edge.
Another image it conjures up is a sharp blade that a person is pushing into something, like cheese for instance. We are pushing the edge of the blade of awareness as it does its work of having us be alive, satisfied, and complete.
The growth movement knew that intellectual knowledge could only take us so far and so they heavily emphasized experiential knowledge. How you felt was paramount.
Realized knowledge was viewed as a little mystical, other-worldly, and was only mentioned by very senior students. The rest of us kept our attention on the here and now, the down-to-earth, this now moment.
Pushing our edge was agreeing to go into the unknown not knowing, to be willing to risk, to be open, to be vulnerable. We pushed our edge by sharing our deepest thoughts, feelings, and intentions. We pushed our edge by trying something new or feared. All of us emerged from our shells. We dropped our masks and numbers.
What I realized the other day is that I still to this day am pushing my edge. That’s the metaphor that keeps me returning to completing my vasanas or core issues, what has me look the next sunrise at what still holds me back, etc. In my mind, I’m constantly pushing my edge.
Then we had a whole line of justification for giving ourselves a break, kicking back, relaxing, cooling off. Growth incorporated both sides. It was a definite lifestyle with its ardent advocates.
That lifestyle was very honest and highly experiential, very satisfying and always dynamic. I’ve never felt more alive than I did at that time.
Evidently the impact on me goes deep if here I am many years later still responding to the invitation to push my edge.
I miss the challenge of those days, the close bonds, and the love we shared once all the barriers fell.