Trillium Awakening educational and coaching services offer a path in community dedicated to spiritual awakening and its integration in daily life. Our work is informed by principles from the Waking Down teachings, and continues to evolve through the collective experience of seasoned teachers and students who deeply explore the living paradox of being divine and human while relating consciously in mutuality.
In this path, both infinite Consciousness and human embodiment are equally valued. This simultaneous embrace of the timeless and temporal dimensions of life—in the context of our catalytic focus on conscious mutuality—is central to our teaching work.
Trillium Awakening teachers recognize the existential equality of those who participate in this path and also honor the need for functional organizational hierarchy. Our services are offered by members of the Trillium Awakening Teachers Circle, a professional association of autonomous teachers originally incorporated as the Waking Down Teachers Association, and also through the Institute of Awakened Mutuality, an educational association that trains teachers and mentors. Founded in 2005, both organizations are further described in One Spirit, Many Voices.
The Trillium path is informed by the Waking Down principles that Saniel Bonder developed soon after leaving Adi Da Samraj, his teacher of nearly 20 years, in 1991. Through “daring to grasp the means of [his] own realization,” Saniel rapidly awakened and began teaching in a participant-centered, rather than guru-centered, manner. He honored each student’s individuality, and encouraged them to begin teaching in their own unique manner after they had clarified stable awakening.
Learn more about the in-depth history of our work.
One Spirit, Many Voices in Trillium Awakening
The Trillium community includes a global network of teachers, mentors, and participants committed to the path of embodied awakening in mutuality. Our educational offerings and coaching services are informed by principles from the Waking Down teachings first articulated by Saniel Bonder.
The Trillium path emerged from the work cooperatively developed by a collective of teachers originally associated with Saniel Bonder. As that culture evolved, the original founder-led structure began to constrain expression of the work’s democratic spirit, and in 2005, with Saniel’s full support, two new organizations were formed by seasoned teachers to support the next stage of development:
- The Trillium Awakening Teachers Circle (TATC) was originally incorporated as the Waking Down Teachers Association. It was founded as a 501(c)6 non-profit professional association of awakened teachers dedicated to offering Trillium Awakening services and raising public awareness about the Trillium path. TATC members honor strong ethical agreements and meet regularly in small groups for mutual support and education. Key issues are decided democratically, with each member having one vote. Teachers offer Trillium Awakening in their own style, and some also offer their unique awakening, healing, or transformational work.
- The Institute of Awakened Mutuality (IAM) is a 501(c)3 non-profit educational institution dedicated to providing Trillium Awakening courses and retreats for practitioners. IAM is an independent body that hires TATC members to staff its courses.
Trillium Awakening Governance
Trillium Awakening offers a path supported by two autonomous entities: the Trillium Awakening Teachers Circle (TATC) and the Institute of Awakened Mutuality (IAM). Each has a structure tailored to its purpose and its own form of governance.
Trillium Awakening Teachers Circle (TATC)
The The Trillium Awakening Teachers Circle was originally incorporated in 2005 as the Waking Down Teachers Association (WDTA), a 501(c)6 nonprofit professional association. In December 2015, the WDTA changed its name to Trillium Awakening Teachers Circle (TATC), and its members now offer Trillium Awakening educational offerings and coaching services, which are informed by principles from the Waking Down teaching.
During its first few years, business matters were largely handled by the entire membership, with each teacher having one vote, and a three-person board serving as president, secretary, and treasurer.
As the WDTA gradually grew to include dozens of teachers, conducting business by consensus proved increasingly unwieldy, and in 2011 the organization began experimenting with Holacracy, a progressive form of governance.
Holacracy is a distributed authority system – a set of “rules of the game” that bake empowerment into the core of the organization. Without relying on parental heroic leaders, everyone becomes a leader of their roles and a follower of others’ roles, while processing tensions with specific authority and accountability through dynamic governance and transparent operations. Holacracy harnesses the conscious capacity of members to sense “tensions” — dissonance between what is (current reality) and what could be (the purpose of the organization). Without clear and effective channels for processing tensions, they fester into frustrations, burnout, and disengagement. Tensions are useful to the extent they can be processed into meaningful change. Holacracy provides several explicit channels for organizations to process tensions.
In 2012 the TATC formally adopted Holacracy as its operating system. Actions and projects are managed by the Trillium Operations Circle (TAOC), a volunteer group that meets monthly via video conference. TAOC members (Cielle Backstrom, Deborah Boyar, Fax Gilbert, Joanne Lee, Subhaga Crystal Bacon, Sandra Glickman, and Sharon Gilbert) attune to the needs of the organization and the work it conducts by sensing tensions – the gap between what is and what could be — and defining roles with authority to address them. Role-fillers are given wide latitude to energize their accountabilities. The inquiry “Is it workable for now?” helps keep work flowing, as decisions can easily be revisited when future tensions surface. Role fillers are free to seek input from others, and may also be required to do so through specific governance.
TAOC members are assigned roles suited to their skills and interests by the lead link—one of Holacracy’s core roles. The lead link also has authority to allocate resources and add or remove circle members. The entire TATC elects the lead link annually. In June 2015, Sharon Gilbert was chosen to fill this role.
Currently, most TATC functions and projects are energized by the TAOC, while key issues of interest to the full membership, including approving mentors and interning teachers, are determined by a majority vote of all teachers. Transitions to full teacher status are determined by a majority vote of full and senior teachers, while transitions to senior teacher status are determined only by senior teachers.
We invite you to check out the roles currently energized by TAOC members (who are sometimes assisted by people outside the circle) at our governance records page. You can click on a role’s name to see its list of accountabilities and contact the role-filler if you have questions or suggestions relevant to the function of that role. You can also request our lead link to bring issues to the attention of TAOC members at a future meeting.
Institute of Awakened Mutuality (IAM)
The Institute of Awakened Mutuality was incorporated in 2005 as a 501(c)3 nonprofit educational institution, and is authorized to receive tax-deductible donations. IAM is managed by its staff and board of directors. Inquiries can be addressed to the IAM staff.
IAM is a fully autonomous body, and staffs its courses exclusively with TATC members in good standing.
Trillium Awakening Mission
Trillium Awakening: a wildflowering of whole-being love and wisdom dedicated to healing, guiding, and inspiring the fullest awakening of self, society and the world.
Trillium Awakening Manifesto
Whereas, we are a Teachers Circle named after a wildflower whose threefold petal represents the flowering of an awakening that includes consciousness, embodiment and relatedness, and
Whereas, while we honor and value any aspirant’s orientation toward a
specific teacher or tradition, our association has evolved into a democratic
Circle where all member teachers contribute to the collective transmission of the whole group, and there is no one specific teacher, tradition, or lineage that speaks for, or represents, the Circle, and
Whereas, we are an association of teachers whose history contains many
lineages and traditions which have coalesced around the breakthrough
principles of Saniel Bonder’s Waking Down® work, and
Whereas, within the Teachers Circle and community we recognize everyone’s fundamental equality in Being and a hierarchy of experience, training, and leadership with the intention of living mutuality across all levels and
Whereas, this Circle itself is governed by an Operations Circle based on a
model adapted to our association to allow for a distribution of roles and
projects among our members while maintaining the guidance of the entire
circle for substantive decisions that effect overall identity, membership, and
Whereas, this Circle has evolved a transparent Ethics Policy subscribed to by all member Teachers, which provides a framework that governs Teachers’ behaviors toward their students, with accountabilities for violation of this policy, and
Whereas, Teachers meet monthly in small groups, as a circle, and annually
in retreat, to share insights, teaching skills, refine our common principles
and grow from mutual association, and
Whereas, the Teachers Circle recognizes each student as a sacred mystery
and provides a safe context through courses, sittings and private sessions,
for all to come forward and awaken to the full range of their identity, and
Whereas, we trust in each student’s personal process, so that students hold
the reins in their movement toward an organic, balanced, uniquely personal awakening, and
Whereas, students enjoy a collective approach to their awakening from
teachers who teach courses together and singly, so that they may choose
the teachers they most resonate with rather than template off of just one, and
Whereas, an association of awakened teachers trusting in their collective
transmission with established ethics policy and student-centered orientation
is a new emergence in the world today, therefore,
Be It Resolved, that we as the Trillium Awakening Teachers Circle dedicate
our teaching toward a wildflowering of whole-Being love and wisdom in
ourselves and our students to serve the evolutionary force of life emerging
throughout the world.
July 2016, Trillium Awakening Teachers Circle