“A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history.” Gandhi
Walking up the stone steps alongside a dramatic gorge of cascading waterfalls called Fraga da Pena in the ecological reserve of the Serra do Açor (Mountains of the Hawk) in Central Portugal, eventually one enters a secluded mountain valley. There one comes upon the ruins of Quinta da Mizarela, once a small rural hamlet and now undergoing a new birth as The Awakened Life Project…
More and more of us are becoming aware that we are living in a period of immense upheaval and transition on all levels. With the converging crisis of ecological destruction, peak oil, soil and water depletion, economic collapse and the breakdown of traditional paradigms, old structures are crumbling in every dimension of our existence. More and more of us are also waking up to the fact that there is no external God (separate from ourselves) or government “out there” that is coming to the rescue. And no spiritual tradition or institution with its roots planted in the past can fully embrace the multi-dimensional challenges of our time. Why? Because, as Einstein famously said, “No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it”.
We live in a tipping point time of great peril and great potential that is unprecedented in the history of humanity and our evolutionary destiny hangs in the balance… So what are we to do? Will we break down or breakthrough? Are we ready to take responsibility for Life as ourselves and evolve together and create the New? Are we facing the inevitable end of everything? Or are we experiencing an entirely new set of global life conditions which—painful and chaotic as they are—will nonetheless catalyze a saner and more enlightened future? The Awakened Life Project is our offering, our ongoing creative response, to this challenge.
It is our conviction that we human beings have limitless potential for goodness, consciousness and co-creative evolution. The only limit is the embedded psychological and cultural conditioning of our individual and collective egos. By “ego” we do not mean the fact of our unique individuality or personality, but our attachment to the powerful illusion of independent self-existence. Ego consciousness, while it has had a role to play in the development of our individuation, currently has the vast majority of the human race in its grip to various degrees and is the root cause of all our escalating global problems. Why? Because the ego can only exist as separate from the other and all of Life, including the living organism of Mother Earth, and hence is the bedrock of fundamental self-interest. This very convincing illusion of separation is built on primitive survival impulses from our evolutionary past which manifest as fear, mistrust, competition, narcissism, protection of self-image etc. What we are really facing is a crisis of consciousness (for example the ecological crisis is a symptom) and waking up means transcending the desires and fears of our individual/collective ego structures and reaching for the next stage in our individual/collective evolutionary unfolding. Quite an adventure indeed!
Many these days are waking up to the importance of finding solutions to the external symptoms of ego consciousness, hence more are becoming “green”, pursuing sustainable lifestyles, various forms of activism etc. Some are also waking up to the spiritual depths of who they are, seeking out spiritual teachers, pursuing meditation and other practices. To generalize, the activist´s focus tends to be outward, on the “problem out there”, but often lacks depth and insight into the causal domains of consciousness, while the spiritual seekers focus tends to be inward, on seeking release from “the problem in here”, but often ends up in a withdrawal from life rather than a fuller, committed engagement with it.
But if a truly integral and transformative Awakening is to occur that will impact this Life and this Earth for the better we need to embrace the totality of both the inner and outer, and the individual and collective dimensions of who we are. We need to awaken to our integral true nature as the totality of the Life Process!
What does that mean? It means discovering who we are in the deepest sense as One with all of Life, and then, even more importantly, taking responsibility for Life. This has nothing to do with religious belief or concepts or any dogma or cultural baggage of any kind. It has to do with seeing through and letting go of our false small sense of self and discovering a profound peace, an unshakable trust in Life and a vast new freedom of being. And in that freedom, if our motivation is not to “have” it only for ourselves, we may find we are compelled by a tremendous sense of positive passion and purpose that propels us forward into the task of co-creating a brighter future. We realize that Heaven truly can come to Earth, and we are the ones to make it so!
Community & Communion
The Awakened Life Project is a place for passionate idealists, seekers, and adventurers who have embraced the truth that "we are the ones to make it so". It is a place for those who yearn to drop the habitual pretence, manipulation, and mistrust that divide and alienate human beings from themselves and each other. It is a place for those who want to experience true communion and authentic, honest, trustworthy relationships based on a shared interest in Truth & Evolution.
It is our conviction that the genuine spiritual journey is not a personal or private matter, but is, especially in the times we are living in, a universal unfolding that is looking to ignite and creatively commune with the open hearts of others. Ultimately spiritual life is about being fully ourselves and about giving, and in that giving we and our planet receive the fruits of our own and each others liberation and care. And that means being willing to embrace the challenge of transformation and not settle for “self-acceptance” and mediocrity. If we resonate with the famous Gandhi quote, “Be the Change that you want to see in the world”, then that means that we want to aspire to be accountable for everything we do and that everything matters.
The process of awakening is natural and organic in essence but that doesn’t mean that it happens by itself and it is not always easy. For all our good intentions and high ideals it is in human relationship that the rubber meets the road and we find out the true measure of our willingness to trust, to care, and most importantly, to change.
What would it mean to be more interested in what is true than in how we feel from day to day? Is it possible to live together in a context of absolute trust, honesty and love in which all difficulties are faced and resolved with maturity? Can you imagine living in a context in which others are only interested in supporting the emergence of your own highest potential? Can you imagine discovering together with others a shared sense of purpose that far transcends the personal dimension of your life and hence unifies all in a seamless Whole?
We know from our own experience that these potentials are available to anyone with a sincere interest in truly coming together beyond comfort zones, fear and fixed ideas, or put another way, beyond the habits and defenses of ego. This is not a matter of “getting rid of” anything, it is simply a matter of being willing to see and transcend what is revealed, in an evolutionary context, to be obsolete conditioning. Consciousness is calling and waiting for us to merge with it as our own fully liberated selves. We feel called to do all we can to facilitate such an emergence to whatever degree we are capable of doing, and to this end we have initiated forums, retreats and courses to explore, experience and embody the emergence of awakening consciousness.
Sustainability & Permaculture
The most urgent crisis of our time, in the external world, is the rampant destruction of our Mother Earth. And arising in conjunction with that is the pollution of water and soil, and then our food supply, with pesticides and herbicides etc. We felt moved to find an abandoned farm on this fragile planet that we could love and care for. We felt inspired by the idea of creating a “Garden of Eden” in which we and others could merge into vibrant living connection with the beauty of Nature. We are dedicated to rejuvenating the abandoned farm of Quinta da Mizarela in the spirit of communion and cooperation with the forces of Nature, and in the process hope to make ourselves as sustainable as possible.
We have embraced the principles of permaculture as an invaluable guide on this journey of observation and creativity. We are gradually learning the art of growing our own vegetables without tilling the soil, weeding or monocultures, creating forest gardens, seed saving, greywater and irrigation systems, composting toilets, ponds, eco building etc. We have planted 800 indigenous trees after a fire burned an area of pine above the settlement, and we have planted many fruit trees of all kinds. We have plenty of other beings sharing the Quinta with us, our 2 donkeys, chickens, bees, 3 dogs and 3 cats, resident lizards and snakes as well as all the non-physical beings that are looking after all the plants!
We live totally off-grid and are self-sufficient in energy produced from sunshine and water (both of which we have in abundance), we have installed solar power and solar hot water systems and a hydro system. One of our pride and joys is a ram pump (invented in 1776!), that pumps all our water from a stream in the valley up to the water tank above the habitation using only the pressure created by the falling water...it is indeed the heartbeat of the project that makes everything else possible...
There are a number of ruins that can be renovated as both residential and communal spaces here. As resources and other people make themselves available we will rebuild them in traditional slate stone and wood in as ecological a manner as possible.
We feel very blessed to have stumbled upon this area of Central Portugal because not only is the landscape beautiful, the local people have been very friendly towards us. We have very good relations with the people from the nearby villages of Benfeita, Pardieiros and Sardal, and their appreciation for us revitalizing what was once a small hamlet, where many of their ancestors once lived and worked, is a very moving thing to feel.
Now and the Possible Future…
Current residents at Quinta da Mizarela are the founders Pete (UK) & Cynthia Bampton (USA), then Mim (UK), Laura (UK) & Marko Maitz (Austria), Raquel (Portugal) & David (UK).
Current residents at Avidanja are the founder Jutta (Germany), Sandra (Germany), Glen (USA) & Sia (Germany), Pedro & Angela (Portugal), Joel (France)
Current residents at Vida em Transição are Ricardo & Teresa, Ana (Portugal)
You can find out more about us and meet the non-resident co-creators here.
We currently have room to accommodate volunteers in our beautiful Mongolian yurt, and can accommodate more in tents in the warmer months. We are especially interested in volunteers who feel a resonance with our overall vision and philosophy who can stay for at least a month.
The future of The Awakened Life Project is open-ended. We are developing fast and our core group of committed co-creators is expanding throughout Portugal, let us see where it will go...