The work of Ōrotokare is grounded in a number of 'core values'. These values inform both the way in which our work is conducted, our relationships with each other and also inform our artistic decisions. These values are specially important in our workshops as we turn to create new work and as workshop participants relate to one another. For Ōrotokare, the welfare of the group is as important as the 'work' we create and place before audiences. It is important that we take care with one another, build goodwill and a sense of unity and pride. In the end, this shows in our work. This is not to say that we agree with each other at all turns, but rather when differences of opinion and view arise, as they inevitably do, there is a bedrock and foundation of goodwill and understand that helps in the resolution of questions that might arise.
Our core values are as follows:
Love - the experience of wholeness in a world of brokenness. We find that 'wholeness' is the chief feature of love. We live in a world where separateness and duality is our everyday experience. Love is sometimes non-rational quality which seeks to bind and sew, to heal and to empower.
Compassion - the spontaneous power of love to express itself, to bring about wholeness. Love has its own energies and qualities. And one of its key features is its spontaneity. Love can express itself as compassion in surprising circumstances.
Forgiveness - the power of love to create wholeness often when circumstances are demanding brokenness. The great power of forgiveness is its ability to release and liberate all parties from the hurt that has arrived through some kind of misdemeanour.
Manaakitanga - the art of uplifting and fostering mana (the most important mana being love, mana aroha)
Whanaungatanga - the art of building and living within nourishing and loving relationships
The term 'ōrotokare' itself is utilised to express this theme of love and wholeness. A 'kare-ā-roto' is a person or experience or object that is the focus of one's love. Ōrotokare is a variant of this in that our work seeks to foster and bring about love into the world even when we are working darker themes, those themes that take us away from love.
A Faith Whakahaere
Here's a little faith whakahaere, some ideas about how to greet life with all its ups and downs. Why faith? In this sense, we are not talking so much about Christian faith (although this might be included here) but rather an active openness to life, to the way life is. There is a sense of reconciliation to the way life actually is and this reconciliation one's imaginings, aspirations and dreams in a real worldedness, if we can coin such a term. Faith is an openness and acceptance of life grounded in a deep knowing that goodness, that life itself will prevail. The key to experiencing faith is gratitude for what life has already and continues to bring to oneself. This sense of gratitude helps one experience a measure of peace in the here and now without ever undermining one's desire to dream and bring about new possibilities. A key feature of faith is action for faith requires action so thats its gifts are manifest in the world. It is not enough to sit idly saying that "everything will be okay because I have faith." Rather must act upon faith, express it in one's activities and demonstrate (most of all to oneself) the gifts that faith is able to bring into one's life. As Jewish expression goes, 'Have faith in God but tie up you ass.' That is, yes indeed have faith, accept life as it is, but you must act too to really experience what faith actually is.
Underpinning this faith whakahaere, are eight key ideas, forged out of personal experiences. None of these ideas are original, however, challenging experiences has brought a new level of understanding about them and has ordered them in certain ways. Here goes:
1. Always, as much as possible, act from your own centre. And when we mean centre, we mean the deep core of one's being, not one's emotional or intellectual centre, but rather from the deep centre. The first clue to knowing that you are on the right road to discovering your own deep centre is that joy will be felt. This is what Joseph Campbell meant by 'following your bliss'. It will take some time to discover this (if one hasn't found it already) and once it is found, it needs to be tended to as we tend to a garden. It must regularly felt and experienced.
2. Iti nei, iti nei, small steps of quality done consistently. We can call this 'the secret value or wisdom of the small'. Be happy with small incremental steps of high quality and done consistently, rather than large steps done poorly. Its more realistic and ultimately more rewarding. Avoid grand gestures and over dramatic leaps in progress. You'll strain a muscle! The importance of the small is often remarked about in Māori culture in expressions such as 'Ahakoa he iti, he pounamu'.
3. All things have their own time, their own rhythm. So much of the stress of modern life arises from the tension we feel between the artificial time we all adhere to and the natural timing and rhythm of the universe. Secondly, there is a spiritual and emotional dimension to all our experiences that do not operate according to the clock. They have their own time and there is no control over them like we can control the length of a meeting, for example. If someone hurts you, the actual time is takes to recover from that hurt is always dictated by the hurt itself. We can do certain things to alleviate the hurt, but ultimately, it has its own timekeeper.
4. Be humble, you are not the source, you are the vessel or pathway only. This is an old spiritual principle articulated in wisdom traditions all over the world. When the ego is swollen, it prevents the deeper or higher powers, faculties and energies to flow through one. When it is diminished (humility, in Māori whakaiti), this allows these deeper and higher qualities to flow.
5. Honour your gifts. One's gifts are these deeper/higher qualities that can flow in a person. Honouring one's gifts is a helpful theme if one's struggling with feelings of selfishness. If one understands that our most profound gifts come from elsewhere and not from oneself, then honouring one's gifts need not be seen as selfish.
6. Know your limitations and if you should fail forgive yourself. We are all fallible and we all have our failings. Sometimes the worst judge of one's behaviours is oneself and we can internally crucify ourselves serving to undermine our potential and creativity. Forgiveness is an extraordinarily powerful and mysterious process whose endpoint is the releasing of aggrieved parties from hurt and shame and the restoration of the mana of those parties. Forgiving oneself is an interesting process for it is about assessing the criteria within oneself by which one has judged oneself to have done wrong. Phew! What a sentence. In forgiving oneself, we have to think about the basis upon which we have thought we have done wrong. This can be very therapeutic for sometimes we can see that what is wrong is not what we have done, but rather the unexamined criteria by which we think we done wrong! So long as it always leads you back to the right track of love, forgiveness, compassion, bringing your deep gifts to life and so on.
7. Discipline your mind. It can be your greatest strength and your greatest weakness. The minute by minute, day by day experience of our minds is that it is full of sorts of real and unreal things. Our minds are chocka block with perceptions, imaginings, mists, vapours, measurements, realities, phantoms and ghosts. Good and therapeutic mind management is very important.
8. Have courage, build resilience. How does one build courage? By continually grounding oneself in love, in forgiveness, in compassion. We can strengthen ourselves with these things and in doing so, we build resilience, the ability to get ourselves through challenges and difficulties with increasing vitality. Courage means facing one's fears. Its easy to stand up in front of other people in whom you don't fear. But it is much harder to face one's real demons, inside oneself - one's weaknesses, one's deepest fears. And only you know truly what they are.