By Margaret Seelie June 1, 2015
Cynthia Brix and Will Keepin received Honorary Doctorates from CIIS at Commencement in May.
The story of Cynthia Brix and Will Keepin cannot be told without honoring the stories of many women, men, and LGBTI people around the world. Through the Gender Reconciliation project, the two have given workshops in Australia, Colombia, India, Kenya, South Africa, Europe, and the United States. They facilitate a transformative process of bringing gender injustices into the light that allows for a deep healing of the heart. The need for gender reconciliation is urgent: Domestic violence continues to be a leading cause of death for women worldwide.
"This work is volatile by its nature," says Keepin. "There are outbursts and strong aggression. Different people have strong charges around gender issues." Cultural norms, religious beliefs, governmental policies, familial experiences, the media, and everyday life can inform these fervent reactions. In workshops, he explains that these constructs are investigated by "creating a context where people can come into a level of intimacy, authenticity, and truth telling that is very rare in our society."
The Gender Reconciliation project began 23 years ago, prior to which Keepin and Brix did a tremendous amount of inner work to create the space necessary to harbor the stories that surface in workshops. Having completed his PhD in mathematical physics, Keepin found that "the whole dimension of inner life and inner development was pretty much left out of my training."
To fill this gap, he moved to California in 1988 to attend CIIS and earned an MA in the East-West Psychology program. His time at CIIS "revolutionized" his life, and he co-founded the Satyana Institute where Brix took a job while completing two master's degrees and was ordained as an interfaith minister. The two married after five years, and cofounded Gender Reconciliation International and coauthored two books, Divine Duality: The Power of Reconciliation Between Women and Men (Hohm Press, 2007) and Women Healing Women (Hohm Press, 2009). Keepin, who is also a Fellow of the Findhorn Foundation, most recently published Song of the Earth: The Emerging Synthesis of Spiritual and Scientific Worldviews (Permanent Publications, 2012).
The couple are also adjunct faculty at Holy Names University in Oakland, CA.
Their independent journeys have contributed to their abilities to create the inner space necessary to harbor some of the difficult stories that come up when discussing violations such as prejudice, objectification, homophobia, sexual assault, and molestation.
Brix asks, "How do we as facilitators navigate challenging waters and stay present and centered and centered and able to move through the fire, so to speak, as those stories come out in a workshop? And how do we know that we'll get to the other side with that deep under- standing, empathy, sympathy, compassion, and love for one another in community?"
Their resounding answer to these questions is love with a capital L. Love transcends cultures and religions, and empowers people to melt divisions created by the mind.
When asked about their hopes for the future, Brix replies, "My hope for the world is that this work is not needed anymore." She explains that to "live in the highest place of honoring one another... we need to take time to really listen and hear the other person's story, whoever the other is in your life."