The Portals Backstory: How We Got Here, and Where We’re Heading
The Portals Backstory: How We Got Here, and Where We’re Heading

Aviv Shahar

January 7, 2023
Portals Backstory
Portals New Year greetings to you! We hope 2023 brings you joy and vitality. May this be a year of opportunities to develop your gifts and contributions to what you love and what matters for you, to enable you to express your natural genius, care, and creative passion with the people you love. Here again is the Portals year-end gift, the song Companionship by Aud Wilken.

Aviv is writing here with a Portals and personal update.

Thank you for your interest and support for Portals. Many of you have participated in one of our events over the last two years; we hope to see you again, together with many new friends getting involved and participating in the Portals adventure.

As we enter a new year, we can reflect on what has been accomplished and share with you what we are developing. I will offer below an update on the project, with a sense of the future and what we are working on, as well as ways you can get involved and support the Portals project. First, though, a more personal update.

The untold (until now) Portals backstory

In the spring of 2015, I was getting increasingly restless. The polarization of the culture wars, growing geopolitical fragmentation, and the increasing stress and insanity I observed with leadership teams in some of the large companies I was helping, all indicated a big shift was underway. I was teaching, coaching, and consulting for three decades and enjoyed considerable success. So it was not the disquiet of earlier phases, when I was anxious about my own ability to flourish. This new kind of restlessness involved more of a premonition.

I sensed we were entering a global transition I’ve been preparing for my entire adult life. The extraordinary 250 years of the modern, industrial, scientific, technological drive that unleashed an economic miracle powered by extractive energy resources seemed to be approaching a cataclysmic crisis point. The convergence of several crises underway challenged the crowning achievements of the modern project and the global institutions established after WWII and throughout the 20th century. A recasting moment started drawing near. It meant the epochal shift I have been studying and tracking was likely accelerating and was about to reach a point of recognition in the mainstream, as it builds momentum and impacts all aspects of life.

For me, this meant a need to evolve into a new level of integration. Whatever operating system we were using was insufficient and I realized the update needed to emerge inside-out. My entire map of meaning and sense-making looms were called into question and required an update. Still, I did not see a clear path forward; I did not know how to approach the transition underway and the endeavor I intuited I was being called to embrace.

Imageries of possible futures were swirling in my head, but not a bridge to get me into these scenarios. Increasing confusion and chaos in the world, and an urgent need to make sense and decode what is going on, further strengthened the agitation. What cause could I serve that will enable me to evolve and foster this elusive higher integration?


Backstory 2
A flashback in time

Driven by a dream, an intuition, a hope to learn from a great teacher, and a calling I did not fully understand, I arrived in the US with my family in the summer of 1993. With little money that could only keep us for a few months, we had little or no prospect to make it in America.

The culture shock we experienced was multifaceted. I began to understand that any emigration involves two concurrent journeys. The journey of leaving Israel behind and the journey of arriving in the US were two separate processes occurring inside the same person and augmenting each other. The first involved the struggle of uprooting and losing deep connections that nourished us through our upbringing. The second involved the struggle of needing to rapidly assimilate a new culture code and behavioral grammar.

For most of it, though, unlike Sara, my wife, I was in a dream state and quite anesthetized to the struggle. My hopes to unlock possibilities and secure a future for us kept me going, even in the face of bleak odds and mounting impossibilities. Partly a chosen blindness and denial, and partly embracing the pain of not knowing with conviction and belief, propelled me forwards, even when we ran out of hope and practical viability. Then, at a point of complete despair, nearly at the end of my rope, an improbable door opened.

Arriving from Florida to Seattle and the Pacific Northwest brought another shock. Back then, in '95, I described it this way: Born and raised in a Kibbutz in Israel and being trained as a fighter pilot in the Israeli Air Force, led me through a series of high intensity experiences. Israel was a small, crowded, and noisy place (it has become much more crowded and noisier since) that catalyzed experiences with instant feedback loops, for good and for bad. In a small place when you shout, the echo comes right back. America and the Pacific Northwest opened for us endlessly large and rich vistas. On one vision quest and writing retreat in the Olympic Peninsula, I realized in those vistas that you may need to wait for a very long time, possibly years, before the echo of your shout would come back, if it had a way of finding you at all.

By 2001, the writing was on the wall for me. I was 42, having spent 21 years learning and teaching in the personal growth space, pursuing the big questions of life, meaning, purpose, development, spirituality, and the esoteric worlds. These 21 years represented what I will later call the journey away from the world. They led me to profound experiences, a special community-of-purpose friendships and life altering realizations. It was now time to deliver on the promise I gave Sara in our mid-twenties, when I told her I am about to embark on the path less travelled. Instead of first seeking success, money, accomplishment, recognition, and status, I will embark on the search for truth, meaning, and the purpose of living. The material and financial questions will have to wait and be answered out of the fruits of my purpose quest.

Now at 42, with what I felt was a rare set of experiences and knowhow, and little to show for it in material success, with just a few months away from not being able to pay the mortgage, it was prime time to deliver on my promise.

The gradual slow path was not an option. I would have to now catalyze 30 years of financial development in just 10 years. I would have to parachute directly to the top of the business world. It would either destroy me or I would win the jackpot. With no experience in corporate America, and with no traditional business consulting background, I would have to operate at the edge of my envelope, trust my inner fortitude and capacities, embrace the anxiety of not knowing, and make it as I go.

Some of the improbable developments that followed I have described in Create New Futures. I have come to appreciate this is a compassionate universe. It helps those who regeneratively work to help themselves. It afforded me with a chain of miraculous developments. One door after another opened, enabled by the kindness and generosity of exceptional clients, leaders who hired me and partnered with me to create strings of breakthroughs. One unimaginable opportunity led to the next surprising opening, which led to extraordinary new consulting work and developments. In 2015, I was operating at a rarified solo-consulting strata. Just when I was supposed to feel a tremendous sense of accomplishment, having compressed a multidecade journey into a decade-long high-wire walk, I became restless again.

Guiding leadership teams at Fortune 100 companies in building their innovation strategy and creating a new organizational future was truly thrilling. Still, in the face of increasingly bewildering developments in the world, I felt powerful stirrings and a growing need to discover and embrace a new unknown phase of development and evolution.


The babushka project

How would I more fully integrate the babushka (inner Russian Matryoshka dolls) project of a living endeavor?

One inner babushka was living into a contemplative, mystical quest. That babushka was pursuing several inquiry lines, one of which was seeking to decode the unfolding story of the epoch as it evolves. With whatever came on screen by way of reading, observing, listening to, and learning, the epoch progression inquiry was always present, and it forever sought to connect the dots and map what is going on. As 2016 and 2017 arrived, this inner babushka was experiencing a growing turmoil, confusion, and bewilderment about the global, socio-economic, and cultural trends and polarization.

The other, outer, babushka was leading fast-pace high-level strategic consulting to senior leaders at some of the most admired companies in the world. This babushka was forever strategic and pragmatic. Maintaining the disciplined focus of a high-wire walk, this babushka endeavored to unlock the potential and creative brilliance of the people I worked with; to facilitate their near- and long-term growth and development.

These two babushkas operated almost on different planets. The restlessness that emerged suggested I needed to find an opportunity that will enable these two to play together, not to lose their individual natures but rather to discover what may be unlocked through their joint conversation and integration.

At a deeper place, I kept reminding myself I am not any one of those babushkas within. My purpose journey was to not identify with their successes or struggles and not to be captured by their enactment. The endeavor was to give these capacities an expression theater inside my living process. They became central characters in an interior cast of characters I foster and enable in the living conclave I was becoming.

For many years, I have believed the human is a multiplicity of many inner lives, and I will be foolish to identify with one of these lives to the exclusion of the others. I was now seeking a larger opportunity to liberate those inner characters and capacities, to let them discover a greater liberation and integration, so that these and other babushkas can all come to the party.  These intuitions and impulses catalyzed a profoundly challenging crucible of intense search. What would be a way to bring these endeavor streams together and unlock a new development possibility?

What kind of project would reveal new evolution frontiers? This nagging inquiry would not let me settle, even as the consulting work continued to lead to new exhilarating horizons.

Through 2018 and 2019 I became obsessed with decoding the shift underway. I needed to better integrate the transformational and epochal transition I was experiencing, but the integration theater was unclear. Then, in October of 2019, my granddaughter was born. I looked into her eyes, and I was transformed by a profound intergenerational summoning and love. Part of this realization was codified in My letter to Talia a few weeks later. The Portals of Perception project was birthed shortly after, when I met Peter Barry in early February 2020. We were in a four-day event I was leading with a spiritual community, where we inquired into the evolution of the coming decade. A few weeks later the world was shutting down with the pandemic and we started working on the Portals vision.


development path
The Portals development path

We’ve since been on a breathtaking discovery journey. Kyriaki Nikandrou joined the team, and shortly after a growing circle of friends stepped forward with their creative gifts, talents, and brilliance, and with generous support to help the endeavor. They brought artistic sensibility, creativity, and a spirit of kindness and care. Soon, we launched the first series of community events, and it is the work of many that has enabled the development of the project since.

As described in The Purpose Tethered Life, we’ve decided to let the project reveal its teleology and path ahead. An important element of this discovery was the readiness to surrender and lead from the unconscious into new frontiers of emergence.

The central Portals inquiry has been where does the future come from? We sense that new possibilities, new forms and capabilities, new insights, and configurations, are co-arising in small and large ways with teachers, coaches, healers, artists, entrepreneurs, and pioneers of many domains. Also importantly, with communities and networks, where the pursuit of purpose and the liberation of the human capacity to evolve lead the way.

Portals is an effort to track and decode novel evolutionary arisings in all the core domains of life. To trace and bring to light the transformation underway for humanity and the prospective renaissance arising amidst struggle and crisis as humanity endeavors to midwife a wiser future, one where we do not destroy life but rather enable the evolution of life. This is the propelling impulse that inspired the 120 video recordings we’ve generated so far and the new adventures now in development.

Here are some highlights, and what we are working on next:

In the Current Openings: What the World Doesn’t Quite Get Yet conversation series with David Price Francis, we’ve published our first six episodes. They included CO#1: Esoteric Truth; CO#2: The Natural Laws; CO#3: The Promissory Grace; CO#4: The Brain/Body Conundrum, CO#5: The Addiction Trap and CO#6: The Human Predicament and the Planetary Program. In coming months, we will further the Human Predicament story with additional facets, and then embark on an exploration into the human development challenge. We also have scheduled the first live Current Openings event for Saturday April 8th (register here).

The Epoch Culmination trace with Jeff Vander Clute narrating the updating work with the Epoch Culmination community journey, included Homo Universalis Activates, The Ensoulment Journey and the soon to be released The 1000 Faces of Homo Universalis. Jeff brings unique gifts and capacities, and we intend to continue our shared exploration as the journey unfolds.

Our fascination with facilitating emergent wisdom through special group conversations included: The Emergence of Belonging with seven practitioners of the development journey; Dancing in the Flow with three practitioners of flow, and Could Armageddon be an Inner-geddon? with eight explorers of the human condition. We’ve also just published a conversation about How to Be a Friend with participants in the friendship quest pod, an endeavor led by Portals' friends.

In the year ahead we will continue to bring together practitioners and pioneers of various domains to facilitate and unlock emergent wisdom in healing, leadership, education, and parenting, as well as in interior and exterior fields of emergence, where through the turmoil of struggle, pain, and crisis, a new renaissance for humanity begins to reveal itself.

Our conversations with pathfinders exploring the transformational path in courageous and novel ways included All Things Connected with Julie Krull; From Resonance to Emergence with Teresa Collins; Can You Be Authentic? with Jason Digges, and The Healing Journey with Kim Barta. In the coming weeks and months, we will be publishing conversations with explorers and pioneers in a variety of domains, including a conversation with Chris Bache about the Mind of the Universe.

The collaboration with Next Gen Leaders helped shape the Co-Creating Humanity’s Future events in 2022. Exploring and encouraging next gen leaders, along with the discovery of multigenerational collaboration, are central to the renaissance we are hoping to trace and feature into 2023. These include Entrepreneurs as Problem Solvers and new discovery playgrounds we will bring to Portals.

Developing an integrated ecology of practices to help us bring to life and embody the ways and perceptions we are exploring is integral to the Portals' vision. We initially mapped The Four Practice Zones and proceeded to develop the practice of “essencing” as a way of bringing the essence of care to life. To build support for the project (I’ll address this more fully below) we have developed further practice pathways into attunement and the power of slowing down. In the coming months we will publish practice explorations into healing and wholeness, self-authoring, purpose-tethering, and more. Please consider becoming a supporting member so you can have a full access to these new frontiers of development.

As the meta-crisis gathers momentum in the years ahead, amidst growing civilizational challenges, we anticipate a growing planetary awakening. Some will express their intuitions and passions in cultivating the interior sciences of development and emergence. Others will be drawn into activism, innovation, building new companies, facilitating prototypes of New Intentional Communities, unlocking new artistic and theological pursuits, and more.

As we outlined in Out From a State of Knowing and Perceiving, the Portals endeavor is to decode those developments and facilitate discovery labs and pods, where the work of ensoulment and spiritualization guides us into renewal and a new renaissance age.


Practical update
Practical update, getting involved, and helping the project

We made a few practical decisions as we embarked on the project. We decided Portals will integrate a community dimension and will endeavor to become more than a podcast and a YouTube channel. The second decision that came out of this was rather than lean on an existing platform, we will build a platform from scratch to match our vision. It’s a counterintuitive choice, and obviously a more expansive path. Still, we have chosen to create a different experience ecology so you could come and watch the content on the Portals' site, and it will enable us to build members-only content, and over time build a space for community interaction in pods.

We established Portals as a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization right as we launched. The endeavor has been made possible a) through the inspirational volunteer and devotional work of love of a global team, and b) through the hired professional work on website development and video production. To enable the considerable development and production cost, I personally generated a seed fund that enabled us to operate these last two-and-a-half years.

While I am continuing to fund ongoing project development, we do want to create a sustainable self-supporting scenario, which means we are looking to generate support in four main ways:

(a)     Membership in the three tiers

(b)     Paid events

(c)     Generous donations in support of the project

(d)     Special projects involving a higher ticket price to be developed in the future

All of this only makes sense inside the context of a growing global network, where many voices, capabilities, and creative visions can come together, co-create, and co-emerge. We welcome any contribution you want to make. You can support the project in other ways, too. We would love to hear from you with your thoughts, ideas, inspiration, and reflections.


Aviv, and for the Portals team