I’ve had the great honor to contribute to Jean Russell’s initiative to create a book on thrivability in a collective booklet. The result is linked below. Enjoy!
(By the way, you can see the ‘slideshow’ by clicking on “Full” in the navigationbar at the bottom)
There is aÂ pdf version, which you can see here:Â http://thrivable.wagn.org/PDF
We advise not viewing the pdf due to large file size. May exceed email size limits.
You can also view the book through the thrivability website.
Leaving the perspective of Oneness behind I’m embarking on a journey into a pluralistic, polytheistic, polycentric inner/outer reality. And as the contours of this reality come into focus I take another look at monotheism, oneness, big bang, verticality, all-pervading consciousness, philosophia perennis etc. It seems that all of these ‘memes‘ are – in many ways – playing to dominate how we make sense, how we live a spiritual, sound life. It’s as if I take down the bandages and discover an unbound face…
(As with all the posts in this series I’ll just follow a meandering path and really, do not want to?prove anything. Proof belongs to the empirical fantasy that, as efficient as it is in creating technological and scientific gadgets and theories, seems to be a major influence in creating a catastrophic ecological predicament.)
I want to start this post by saying “Thank you!” to Michel Bauwens who invited me to gather my thoughts into an article, after reading a tweet of mine that asked, “What if there is no unity connecting all and everyone but “polithy”? What if it’s not Wholeness but Manifoldness? What if fantasy is more fundamental than reality? What if we aren’t here to grow but to bloom? What if we’re not here to learn but to deepen?” You can read what followed from this tweet here. (Original material and some more here and here)
And I want to thank all my friends who, by challenging me and commenting on those different threads, have greatly contributed to the unfolding of the following images and views, aka perspectives.
Even though many matters have not been touched upon in that conversation I feel it has helped to find my bearings much better in this unfolding polyverse…
So embarking on todays exploration, the first in this very young 2010, I’ll take it for granted that the polycentric and polytheistic imagination of the outer and inner world are much more fitting with what is real than the dominant monocausal (Big Bang &/or Cosmic Consciousness, Non-Duality etc.) idea of reality. Also on my map are the images that have formed by the Living Field, images I have been looking at from different angles for many years and published about a couple of times in the latter half of 2009 (regarding participatory design & what I call ‘collaboration ecology’ here; how the living field is connected to the art of living here, and on resonance and the living field here).
My thoughts and feelings are, another disclosure, also formed by the metaphors coming from the psychology of C.G. Jung and J. Hillman on archetypes. Here “every psychic process is an image and an ‘imagining’…” (C.G. Jung) Image, as I’m using it, is very close to the original meaning of Â ‘idea’ (Old GreekÂ eidos, eidolon), which unites in one term what one sees and the means by which one sees bringing together picture/image, perspective and the seeing itself. So when I think about archetypes then I regard them as ‘being’ as much in the act of seeing as in the object seen, they express as the person, situation, pattern as much as they reside in the way I perceive them. And if I listen closely they’ll even help me interpret them…
We van also think of an archetype as a ‘plantanimal’, an animal with some plantlike characteristics. Like a plant archetypes are deeply rooted in our shared and personal inscape (the word I prefer over mind, inner realm, psyche, etc.) and nourished by forever invisible depths, and like an animal every archetype has its own will, perception, consciousness, motives, movements and being; sometimes it is tame and sweet, and at other times it threatens to devour us. Moreover I envision archetypes very much like Rupert Sheldrake imagines morphogenetic fields. These “form generating” fields attract what is akin to them through morphic resonance. So a morphogenetic “rose-field” would, for instance, help to form every rose on the planet properly (working together with the genes). You might say that the morphic field puts rosiness into roses…
An image incarnates in a form; a rose is rosy by grace of its form to which I also count the scent and everything else that invades our senses. Form reveals meaning…
So “rose” is more than a flower that you can smell and see, rose has over- and undertones that resonate with it, many layers of meaning. All of this creates the ‘morphic resonance’ of a rose. (Obviously I’m taking this way beyond Rupert Sheldrake’s ideas, as he expresses them in public, nevertheless I think they’re resonating with him very much.) Morphic fields and archetypes Â constellate reality, the reality of a rose and what it evokes, and when this resonates with us, we ‘get’ what ‘it’ means.
Morphic resonance is very much like analogy, like when in our inscape we hold two or more images next to each and ‘see’ their close relationship, or resonance, our sound connection. And when we do this we are not a blank slate or a clear mirror – even if we’re in the most spacious and unattached form – we are already moved by a form, a morphic field, an archetype, a set of memes, a certain constellation of the living field that we are being at any moment, a (sub-)personality.
Taking this one step further, maybe, we could regard an archetype as an ’embedding field’, an accommodating space, a hosting ecology that forms and is formed by the participating presences. If, psychologically speaking, we look deep into whatever happens, we will eventually uncover archetypal images unfolding dynamically like a river, a stream. Our very act of discerning these archetypes is following archetypal pathways and uncovers them as we go. Uncovering your tracks as you are leaving them, being able to stay with that ecstatic pattern or ‘order,’ feels to be very valuable and nourishing. Archetypes generate values and life-styles.
You might notice that I’m using ‘morphogenetic field’, archetype and (sub-)personality almost interchangeably; that is because they seem to be different gateways to a very similar “arche“, a very basic ‘image’, an “Urbild” in German. To use a popular archetype as an example, the “inner child”: When the inner child is being me, clothed with my character, in my particular ‘colors’, the inner child in you will immediately resonate — as in morphic resonance or because it touches a similar (sub-)personality. Obviously, if your inner child is being repressed by “the bully” or maybe the “critic” or “protector”, that particular archetype, morphic field, (sub-)personality will then try to repress or control me. There’s nothing really personal about this happening, unless an ego is involved; otherwise it is just two archetypes, two archetypal ‘inscape images‘ encountering each other…
Whatever we see (in the many ways you can interpret this word) is a form (morphe) in our inscape, and whether we like it or not, our inscape is closely linked and in many respects the same as our imagination. And here I’m not talking about what derogatorily is called “fantasy” by those under the influence of the scientific hero on his quest to find the Theory to explain Everything: I’m talking about the living field of images that continually and dynamically constellate the Common Inscape we call reality.
I imagine the Common Inscape to be an ecology of influences, where “persuasion” or Eros is one direction and “necessity” or Ananke another, maybe like “up” and “down” in 3D space. Â These two poles of Common Inscape give a directionality to what becomes, is, and was present in the collective unconsious, the Living Field of resonances and analogies, the manifold streams and interweavings of meaning-making. This weaves the web that constitutes the presences of reality. Not all, of course, as there is always unresolvable Mystery in being present, or presencing, a mystery that incarnates in the celebration of “I’m here!” – wherever and whatever this may be.
Our Common Inscape is the hosting space in which also “physical reality” unfolds according to very strict habits, habits which we call natural law. But obviously this particular niche of the Common Inscape is just a certain region within the larger ecology. The Common Inscape — or world-soul if you like — doesn’t have an outside, so maybe the proper name should be Common Scape, but given the dominant memes I keep using inscape, andÂ common inscape for the ecology that every personal inscape participates in and shapes to a certain degree. From deeply unattached, enlightened presences to very lush, extremely involved presences living by “The only way out is through.” From people who absolutely surrender to “the way things are”, worshippers of necessity, Ananke, to persuaders and seducers who attract by the power of the images they evoke in our inscape, our personal garden in the Common Inscape.
Our guiding images: the archetypes that live through us in our inscape, appearing in imagination, the home of the images by which we see, collaborating with the images we do see as objects and the Unknown. The images, the presences and archetypes constellate along the lines of the meanings we uncover. I say uncover — or reveal — because it seems that the meaning comes from the constellation, the imago that I see, and I receive it, the meaning oozes out of the deep form of the ‘situation’ or ‘being’, from the presence. We might uncover this deep form by asking, “What is the archetypal pattern along the lines of which the present moment unfolds? What is the archetypal melody that is arranging the shape of the unfolding moment?”
And, taking this as cue, I ask myself right now “So what is the archetypal pattern of the present situation? Â What unfolds right now and who is thus embodied, worshipped, calling for attention?” (Writing this post and contemplating it while I edit.)
There is the pattern of my learning: In writing this post I learn what I think by turning it into something I can tell you, reading this posting. Obviously I also hope that some of you feel like adding something to the comment section to expand my horizon on what I think I wrote by writing about what you think I wrote.
This part of the pattern I can feel like a reaching out from, physically, the larger heart-area of my body. It also feels like I can sense your presence right now; a presence that might travel in time from your present, as you’re reading it, into your past and my presence, as I’m writing this right now and when I’ll be editing it before publishing. This illustrates that our Common Inscape has a different connection to time, except of course in the scientific niche where time flows mechanically and uniform, and where one second has the same length as the former and the next; but the length of a second in the the rest of the Common Inscape can be the eternity of looking in your lovers eyes or the eternity you spend on the edge of the 30 feet high tower before you jump into the water down there for the first time. Two eternal seconds of different length; two situations where seconds don’t count at all. And two seconds of falling…
Reading again the last paragraph I see another pattern of my inscape, something like inflation; like I’m blowing up balloons with different colors of the basic story I want to tell. The story is about the underlying ecology, the ecology of patterns of influence. This ecology is polycentric in every respect, meaning there is not one privileged center or meta-center (a center that is everywhere). Of course a particular ecological niche in the Common Inscape can be monocentric. There are quite a few of those. Nevertheless all are embedded in the entire ecology emerging. In the ecology of the Common Inscape there is place for monotheistic and polythesitic, for pantheistic and panentheistic, and metadox, and heterodox, and paradox views…
These views are, as has been said, already patterned by and seen with archetypically informed eyes.
So then, “What about the self?” Is the self an archetype? And what then would “Be thyself!” mean? To begin with it would certainly be the cris du coer, the heart cry of the self-archetype in constellation, ordering the presences according to its particular pattern, where Â there is aÂ self in the center seeing ‘everything and everyone else’ around itself, the center.
Those of you who have experienced Hellinger’s or similar constellation work (systemic constellations, for instance) can, I’m sure feel what I mean when I speak of archetypes constellating presences. So imagine the self-archetype to be represented by a person in a ‘physical’ constellation. We would then explore the relationship between the self and the different other archetypes present in the constellation, and we would get to hear and see the representatives of these archetypes in their dynamics. Whatever this constellation will look like, it will be a Pantheon with some top influencers and some lesser influencers, different kinds of gods. If we ask and bring in more archetypes that belong to the larger ensemble expressing in, as the entirety of a person, we get an image of the soul. Soul, the most profound term for what we’ve been calling inscape so far. (The Common Inscape being the world-soul.)
The ecology of the inscape, of the soul is my main concern in this series of loosely connected blog-postings. And soul is everywhere – soul is not located, but associated by ‘strong analogy’ and resonance with our whereabouts. The soul is so much like you and so strongly resonates with you, that you might as well call it your soul; and also, we don’t have a soul, but soul has us, we are soul’s humans. What we take to be ourselves is more precisely a particular garden in soulscape, in Common Inscape. You and I, we all are soul’s unique per-sona (Old Greek, “sound through”), its coordinates and coordinators in the dynamic constellation of the living field’s ecology.
This shows, I guess, that body and spirit that are embedded in soul, in Common Inscape. We are, body, mind and spirit, inhabitants of Common Inscape, participating in a polyverse ecology whose ‘regions’ are the archetypes that influence everything within their sphere including us when passing through.
A wonderful way to start the new year – providing a very inspiring and interesting text by Henry Corbin (below a quote, further below a longer text). It has been dawning on me that regarding imagination as a reality opens up a whole new perspective to look at the Living Field, Soul and Spirit…
If you don’t want to read the whole treatise in the window below (in another translation from French also to be found here), the following excerpted paragraphs sum up some of the essential thoughts in it (my highlights):
…alam al-mithal, the world of the Image, mundus imaginalis: a world as ontologically real as the world of the senses and the world of the intellect, a world that requires a faculty of perception belonging to it, a faculty that is a cognitive function, a noetic value, as fully real as the faculties of sensory perception, or intellectual intuition. This faculty is the imaginative power, the one we must avoid confusing with the imagination that modern man identifies with “fantasy” and that, according to him, produces only the “imaginary.”
I have proposed the Latin term mundus imaginalis for it, because we are obliged to avoid any confusion between what is here the object of imaginative or imaginal perception and what we ordinarily call the imaginary. This is so because the current attitude is to oppose the real to the imaginary as though to the unreal, the utopian, as it is to confused symbol with allegory, to confuse the exegesis of the spiritual sense with an allegorical interpretation.
…the appearance of an Image having the quality of a symbol is a primary phenomenon (UrphÃ¤nomen), unconditional and irreducible, the appearance of something that cannot manifest itself otherwise to the world where we are.
If we do not have available a cosmology whose schema can include, as does the one that belongs to our traditional philosophers, the plurality of universes in ascensional order, our Imagination will remain unbalanced, its recurrent conjunctions with the will to power will be an endless source of horrors. We will be continually searching for a new discipline of the Imagination, and we will have great difficulty in finding it as long as we persist in seeing in it only a certain way of keeping our distance with regard to what we call the real, and in order to exert an influence on that real.
For instead of the image being elevated to the level of a world that would be proper to it, instead of it appearing invested with a symbolic function,leading to an internal sense, there is above all a reduction of the image to the level of sensory perception pure and simple, and thus a definitive degradation of the image. Should it not be said, therefore, that the more successful this reduction is, the more the sense of the imaginal is lost, and the more we are condemned to producing only the imaginary?
…is it not precisely this postulate of the objectivity of the imaginal world that is suggested to us, or imposed on us, by certain forms or certain symbolic emblems (hermetic, kabbalistic; or mandalas) that have the quality of effecting a magic display of mental images, such that they assume an objective reality?
I’m working at my next blog entry and it will, among other things, take Corbin’s perspective a bit further…
Body, Soul and Spirit 1: Modes of being alive – on modes of consciousness and why we are polymorphous
Body, Soul and Spirit 2: The Way of the Soul – on what becomes embedded in flesh and why incarnate in the first place, and a bit on enlightenment
Imagine sitting in a circle with 20 people or so. Imagine going through a deep process that lets you pass from artificial community, where everybody is nice and friendly but not very authentic, to the authentic struggle for leadership and what’s next. The first step from polite to being more true, governed by the powerful drive for real healing and community, where alliances form to get everybody to do ‘the right thing’ – in short the charismatic, idealistic and beautiful chaos between well-meaning spiritual beings. But we’re not getting it together as we all have a good cause not easily given up, knowing the right way for ourselves and others. And more groupings happen and negotiations start, and haggling and trying to get everybody on one page; only it never works out and there is no way back to friendly superficiality.
Maybe somebody starts to cry and express sadness at our fragmentation. And the fixers and healers and dealers get new fuel. Maybe someone gets angry at all the haggling and conflict about what’s the right thing to do and all the efforts at healing and bridging gaps. Maybe someone even says they hate it when people comfort each other, and say that it’s alright when its not. And maybe a wave of protest rises against the voice saying, “Look at how we can’t even get it together, how should the world?”
As we go round and round in circles trying to heal, fix, organize, manage, try to get everyone to change, or to accept the way things are, or be this way or that, or at least do something… its all to no avail. The chaos persists; but since it’s part of a process and not ‘in the wild of the world’ its a civilized sort of chaos in which this fundamentally discordant incoherence persists. And therefor its’s easier to to see that this is so.
As more and more persons come to this realization and see that not one of us, not even in a coalition of the best and brightest, can make us cohere into true community, and as this understanding sinks in slowly the voices die down and a depressed silence sets in.
As the silence thickens and deepens it, after a while, looses some of its sense of failure and depression. A feeling of “just so” might spread, spiced with seeing the beauty of people just sitting in a circle. Doing nothing, saying nothing and not knowing what’s next, or where to go from here.
And now imagine a first voice speaking up in celebration of this, of us here, just the way we are, without a clue and a solution, but here. And after a deep appreciative silence in which you can almost feel everyone tasting the truth of what has just been said a second voice might say, “In a strange way I feel you are all part of a greater ‘us’.” Another pause where everyone just cherishes these words. And now, “I feel that we’re one body with 21 heads and 42 arms and legs…” We now can all feel something bigger gel. The the coherence takes, deep community is manifest and the Circle Being wakes up in the living field of all of us who are present…
I’ve facilitated many such “Circles of the Heart” – a happening that has many names: U-process, community building, gestalt-energy process, Edge of Emergence, collective wisdom, whatever. I know this process has been experienced by tens if not hundreds or even thousands of thousands people on this planet. It is real. It is risky cause it is out of anybody’s control. And the Hieros Gamos – the Divine Marriage – can be more or less intense, depending on the circumstances, the context and the nature of the facilitation, but it is definite evidence for an Intelligence that manifests between us.
Now imagine someone telling you that you are not really a fixed person, there is not just one but there are many voices that manifest in this one person that we all call “me”. Imagine that it is much more than just a metaphor and that you’re really a different person under the shower, than with your lover in the warm and intimate night, or with your boss in her office, or with the police officer giving you a speeding ticket, or with your children when your playing hide and seek and so endless on.
Imagine that what we call ego, what everyone of us calls “I, myself” is just that one voice that claims much of the goodies of the others and disclaims most of the nasties. And now imagine that with what you ordinarily take to be yourself you go through a process where you get to be many of these other voices in ‘you’ quite intensely for a while. So imagine you are the inner child for a while, and then maybe the controller, and after that the critic and the protector and the healer-fixer and the seeker and the ‘awed one’ and the ‘shiny one’ and the divine and so on. And every time you embody a voice you notice, really, that the voice enlivens you in a particular way. Again and again.
Imagine you’ve gone through this process a couple of times. You’ve gotten to know some voices very well, your favorites. And some who are not your favorites but nevertheless they often sound through you, you are them and they are you. And through this process you come to know them much better. You also find some hidden voices, and then some more. And after a while, maybe you ask yourself, “Who of all these voices is the real me?”
It may not be easy to accept, but imagine you now know for a fact that the different voices all have a different answer to that. And now as this is sinking in you look at the question – Who am I? – and find that what you’ve always called your “self” is just one of the voices that sounds through you. And now imagine, as you’re studying the different ones that you are, or maybe more correct, that are you, you find that what the quantum physicists say about the measurement problem – that the observer is always influencing the outcome of any measurement s/he makes – is also true for awareness. When you study a voice in action it changes; you know it does because you remember that when you’re not aware of “the voice that’s speaking now” (maybe the ‘curious reader’ or the ‘thoughtful seeker’ or ‘critical thinker’ or whatever) it simply follows its own internal pilot but once you’re aware, something essential changes.
I believe “awareness” or “consciousness” is one of the voices – or call them archetypes – that can be you and me, and to a certain extend us. So when this influences the “being in the world” of any voice it is changed irrevocably. Awareness can be very dominant, much like love or hate or passion – and just like these it is out of control. You cannot decide to be conscious, or more conscious, unless you’re conscious already. And so it seems to be with most, if not all of our voices or sub-personalities, or demons, or archetypes, or whatever you want to call this. So when you are investigating these voices, it’s the investigator that is looking at these ‘others’. And when you enter a process like this (I used to do guided tours through our voices with the title, “Enlightenment guaranteed”, and for some minutes at least it worked out every time) you first act ‘as if’ you’re the inner child, for instance. But then, after a while and with the help of the others, you truly become it… And there you are, investigator, child, guardian, dominator, manipulator, hero, honorable one, teacher, student, critic, madman, wanderer, simply being here, healer, meditator, enlightened mind, cosmic heart, transcendent navigator.
And now imagine that you start to consider the possibility that as the persons in the Circle of the Heart went through a cycle with some definable stages – artificial community, chaos, depression/sadness, silence, coherence and celebrating the polymorphic togetherness of Circle Being – that all your ‘inner voices’ go through a similar process in life. Imagine that you’re lucky and things work out; imagine that you’re blessed and grace showers on you; imagine the Moirae spin that destiny for you; imagine that you’ve chosen that fate and the We that is Me coheres in your inner ecology, time and again…
It seems that some things are conducive to such happenings. Many of the voices that are me are convinced that as a human species we need more and more of this if we are to thrive instead of fading away in fragments in a more or less catastrophic way. So imagine with me, if you like, how more and more our inner voices find both, authentic expression – able to offer a genuine contribution to all of you – and the grace to fall silent genuinely, sadly maybe or depressed, because all is done and to no avail. And how out of that silence emerges ….
One of the people that introduced me to the concept of Collective Intelligence was Pierre Levy with his wonderful book Collective Intelligence: Mankind’s Emerging World in Cyberspace. That book gave me a deep insight into the historical dimensions of cyberspace, how we came here, if you like. It’s deep and clear thinking has helped me much in developing my own understanding of how we are embedded in a larger wave of development and what is possible. But since the book was published 1997 a lot has happened, so I was happy that my friend Jascha Rohr tweeted about this much more recent presentation of his ideas as a “slide-share”.
What I like about it – and it will take much more time to digest – is that it indicates a new language that could link the software processes of cyberspace and the human collective intelligence. The slide show is quite helpful for placing recent developments in a larger perspective, to look at how collective consciousness might come about, and to in the end learn something about the language that might bridge machine-language and normal human tongues: the Information Economy Metalanguage (IEML); a part that’s truly challenging at this moment for me to understand. Some of my readers will understand this much better than I do, but hey, that’s what Collective Intelligence is all about – I do not need to understand everything 🙂
In my second posting (1st here) on this beginning exploration and reassessment of what I’ve come to see as true, beautiful and good I’m going to look more into what Soul is and does. And again, I’m just going to go with my meanderings and contemplations; I’m not trying to be comprehensive and go through the history of that idea, or into explaining what distinguishes it from psyche etc. Much of that you can find by googling it and looking it up in the wikipedia and similar.
There are a couple of aspects of Soul that are important to me, now, aspects that can be put into these questions:
- Reincarnation being a reality (will get into that a bit in just a minute), what is it that becomes – or is embedded in – flesh?
- Given the very long duration of the Soul’s existence (don’t want to call it eternity until I’m sure it is), why would it incarnate in the first place? What is so interesting about hanging out in an embodied and matterful dimension?
- And what about evolution, oneness, enlightenment in the light of the ‘never ending story’ (at least from an incarnated point of view) of the Soul?
I already mentioned my friend from Basel, Switzerland, who does remember a long line of incarnations and can actually see those of others as well. I haven’t mentioned that I’ve not taken reincarnation serious for most of my life – actually I considered it off and on, but I didn’t think it was relevant for this life. I rather liked the metaphor of Alan Watts, that an individual life is akin to a vortex in a river that can stay there for a very long time. And then it dissolves again. As long as it exists it evolves and even develops a sense of unique and separate existence, whereas it obviously is simply water whirling in a very particular way…
I’m not reconsidering because of the fear of dying and the desire to last any longer than my allotted (if it is allotted) time on earth. Some years ago, when on the Czech country-side, all alone by myself, I felt like I was having a heart-attack and seriously thought, “This is it!” And apart of not being able to say good-bye to my family and friends and telling them that “all is very good, and thank you for hanging out with me,” I felt very fine with dying, and was at peace with the what I then believed to be true – that I would end definitely; no further existence, an absolute end from my point of view, and a slow fading into oblivion in the larger context of the people who live on. There was no desire to stay and hang on to life or survival of my person or soul in any way.
This is the conviction my father died with in January this year. But spontaneously, at the ceremony before his cremation, I said, “He’ll be surprised that death is not the end. Actually, they’ve got specialists in the next dimension for souls who were sure that there was nothing after death, to help them overcome the shock of post-mortem existence.” I don’t know where that came from, but I do tend to trust such matters. So I guess that was the beginning of opening up to the possibility of – at the very least – ‘surviving’ death in some way or other.
Looking into the research by Ian Stevenson and seeing some interesting videos on the topic it’s now quite clear to me that, as professor Dr. Robert Almeder puts it, “It would be irrational not to believe in reincarnation … if you have a very commanding argument that you cannot refute, not to accept the argument is irrational.” But, whatever the case may be, the material I’ve seen has convinced me that reincarnation is a matter of fact. But why does that matter?
It talks to me about what a human person is, at least what a person is giving expression to. It tells me that it is the Soul that reincarnates and sounds through you and me (old Greek: per sona, through sound). Obviously this gets me into philosophical trouble with materialists who believe that a person, consciousness and mind are phenomena caused by and utterly depend upon an embodied brain… but frankly, I don’t care. I go with the evidence as it presents itself, and then discuss, if one of my monist friends wants that.
After this ground work on why reincarnation is obviously real I can come to my first question, “What is it that becomes – or is embedded in – flesh?”
I will try to illustrate my thinking with two metaphors, music and character.
Imagine an orchestra. We hear a few instruments, then more, tuning to a common note, and when all instruments are tuned the conductor ticks on his desk and everything goes silent. He looks at the score, just to be sure, and starts conducting. The first notes of the music break through the hushed expectations and off we go: A new life, a new self is born, a new orchestral work sounds.
In it’s first notes it might be remniscent of some earlier music, some melodies half forgotten, and somehow – if we knew what came before – we might recognise a theme, or the way the composer goes about writing his music, or the style of the conductor. But then we embark upon the new work’s opening sequence and we are taken by the polyphony or symphony, or whatever our destiny sounds like.
In this metaphor reincarnation is like moving from orchestra to orchestra. Does it depend on the orchestra, how the sym-/polyphony sounds? Certainly it does. Do the instruments and voices matter? Certainly they do. Is the score, the music created by the orchestra? No; it has been written by a composer. Does the orchestra determine what is played? Not really; it is the conductor and the leadership of the orchestra that does that. In our metaphor it is the Soul and whomever the Soul consults with when it chooses the particular incarnation for this musical work.
Character is an ambiguous word as it refers to both persons and letters and words. Which is why I like it as a metaphor for what is embedded in flesh, what is incarnating. A body of writing, a poem, a story comes as characters on paper or screen (or sounds in the air, but let’s stick with the written word as we’ve already covered music and sound). Are the characters causing the poem? No, they embody it. Their embodiment certainly influences the reception, but that’s about it. It is the way the story is told, or the poem is composed that makes all the difference in the world, not what are its constituent letters – except, maybe, that a well readable typography is a good thing…
Both these metaphors illustrate two aspects of reincarnation and a Soul’s Way – we cannot hear a symphony or polyphony without voices and instruments embodying it, and neither can we read a story or poem without the use of letters or ideograms. I’ve used both metaphors as if the embodied music or poetry pre-exists, but that doesn’t need to be so. Not being a composer I just know a bit about writing. Writing, in my case at least, develops as I’m writing and re-reading what I’ve written. And so our metaphors do not only answer what it is that incarnates but also if there needs to be a pre-existing fate or destiny. Does the end of the story already exist when we start with the first lines? It depends on the writer. In reincarnation it might depend on the maturity and artfulness of the Soul that composes the life; maybe it is already quite accomplished and has composed enough previous lives to be confident enough to ‘free-style’ in this life. Maybe it already knows the plot, and maybe not. I think we’ll know in the very end…
So does the Soul incarnate? Well, I’d say as much as an artist incarnates in a piece of art. While s/he’s in the act of creation, s/he’s absorbed by creating; maybe once in a while taking a few steps back, but that’s all there is for the time being… (Writing this I suddenly understand why great art touches us so deeply; the Soul is very much of an artist.)
Which brings us close to a possible answer to, “Why incarnate in the first place? What is so interesting about hanging out in an embodied and matterful dimension?” The richness of using a restricted palette is fascinating – matter, 3 space dimensions and 1 or 2 time dimensions, first-person perspective, impermanence, fallibility, spirit etc.
The view from a mountain top is amazing. We can see very far. We’re above the clouds. We can breath free. All is clear. This is very different from moving about in the valley, the jungle were we can see just a couple of meters, maybe. We’re right in the middle of the blood, sweat and tears, the parties, joys and beauties of deep immersion.
It seems to me incarnation expresses the unending creativity of Soul and it’s fascination with limits, impermanence and diversity.
Which brings me to the third and last question for now, “What about evolution, oneness, enlightenment in the light of a ‘never ending story’ of the Soul?”
Since a human life, a given incarnation, is very much akin to a symphony or a poem, a piece of art, it doesn’t make much sense to insist on the bourgeois imagination that the Soul is learning and moving to some superior state of enlightenment, divinity or some such, taking reincarnations to be a kind of school where with every life we have to learn some lessons or repeat them in a next one.
Obviously, in life, there is learning. And, obviously again, the orchestra and instruments have been evolving on this planet since it came into existence billions of years ago. And, even more obviously, human kind has been developing as a society in a more or less wholesome direction in spite of the numerous challenges we face. But to take that to mean that there is a goal to the Soul’s incarnating activities, and that this goal is some sort of unembodied existence as a post-enlightened being seems to be much more part of a heroic story-line than connected with the ‘goal’ of reincarnating.
Every piece of art is the artist expressing hirself – and possibly getting better at doing that with the given medium of expression – so a human person and particular life is the Soul’s expression, it’s writing in flesh and behavior, dreams and visions, joys and fears and everything else that comes with being alive.
Tat tvam asi! That thou art!
This is the very first installment of what I hope will become a Body, Soul and Spirit series of posts that will meander around most of the topics that keep fascinating me since a while.
Starting with a meeting with a great and lovely man in Basel, Switzerland who remembers a long line of incarnations in a, for me, absolutely credible way and context, I’ve started to reconsider most – and in the end probably all – of my convictions connected with body, soul, spirit, consciousness, life and what, who and why we are. (In my hippie-days Death used to be a more or less constant companion, and now s/he is in a new way, faced with the endingness of individual life a couple of times recently. This surely also plays a role: a renewed fascination with each night’s fading of awareness and the life of dreams, and the reappearance of more or less the same person in consciousness upon waking up…)
I will not be very philosophical, in the usual sense of that word, about this, even though I’m in love (philo) with wisdom (Sophia). This inquiry is also very personal, anecdotal and hopefully at times poetical. I might also rave and be full of pathos for something or other… we’ll see. What’ll be my guide, or should I say guides?, are my fascinations with what appears in the theater of what it is to be ‘me’. I could, of course, also call it the arena or the clearing – that space in which matters, things, imaginations, illusions and the real alight; what we ordinarily call consciousness, that mode of being alife that ever eludes our grip of understanding; trying to understand consciousness is as if the eye were trying to see itself, when the best it can do is see itself reflected in a mirror.
Modes of being alive
Being conscious, aware; being taken; in a pensive mood, reflecting on important and not so important, but urgent matters; reverie; witnessing, choiceless awareness; in the flow, totally immersed in sensual immediacy… many of the possible modes of being alive, and some of them mutually exclusive. When, for instance, I’m in a reflective mode – and mood, as often I am these days – I can’t really witness being reflective more than generally, can’t reflect and be choicelessly aware and without judgement at the same time. Isn’t reflecting closely considering a matter, the way the soul participates in life for instance, and looking what this means, what are the concepts being nourished on soul and what are relevant experiences, and what have interesting persons said about this matter? Witnessing this reflection I wouldn’t follow one thread or another but rather I’d let them all unfold as they please as, also, sensations of breath come up and unfold and whatever else unfolds or pops up in consciousness. Witnessing is mostly passive, and only active in extracting oneself from being caught up in any of the phenomena that are witnessed.
Certainly, when in a deeply enlightened mode of awareness, everything can be done or not done – but then there is no witness, no anyone, and, really it is so beyond anything that means something to me as human that I’m not really interested in ‘getting there’ again. Also, those that are supposed to be there – claiming it for themselves or others claiming it on their behalf, the followers or disciples – do not have any characteristics that seems truly valuable; on the contrary, there seems to be an atmosphere of megalomania around them, an air of absolute altitude, an assumed divinity that unpacks as utterly undesirable social context. The unresolved power-issues around that mode of aliveness in our day and age – enlightened teachers abusing their students – are such that however true and beautiful that mode is from the inside of it, it is best left alone.
On the other side of the spectrum, or so it seems, is flow, a mode of being alive that Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi has made popular; flow as total immersion into what you’re doing. In sports it’s been called ‘being in the zone’. Witnessing could be said to be transcendent to everything that appears and flow as being totally immanent – you’re totally in it. You can witness the flow of events but then you’re not in the flow because being in the flow collapses any kind of witnessing as activity that plays a role, even though there is a particular kind of awareness available. But it’s more that the awareness of it is part of the flow as a whole than that the flow would happen within consciousness. For me this happens in dancing with closed eyes, easily, or in something called body-flow, where the body can just do what it feels like doing… It’s mostly a very sensual experience, being in a physical sensing mode.
Seems I had to do some explaining to come to the main dish I’m serving here which is that these modes of being alive are in a very large sense mutually exclusive. We are polymorphs, being with many (poly) forms (morphe) and – something I might pursuit at a later time – maybe there is really no unity below all this; although there is the idea that “Isness” – a German term coming from Meister Eckhart, “Istigkeit” – would describe that essential unity, something Mister Tolle calls The Power of Now. Nevertheless we cannot both be in the flow and witnessing at the same time. We could do that in a team, with a third friend then reflecting on what we’re doing, you in the flow, me being choicelessly aware of all this. Which brings me to another very mysterious mode of being that I’ve been blessed to participate in at times: the mode of we-fullness, as I keep calling it, the mode of being with others in such a way that you are deeply convinced and experience yourself to partake of a collective being, the ‘circle-being’ , the first inkling of a collective consciousness, I think, the becoming aware as a living multi-personal field.
Back to the main dish. As we do not eat hors d’oevre, main dish and dessert all at once, as that would maybe not taste so great, or at least very different from tasting them separately, so this goes for the modes of being alive. The “One Taste” (Ken Wilber’s diary-like book on being in non-dual mode most of the time) is really a “special taste”, a “particular taste” that some people like and evangelize about; but it is neither superior to other tastes, unless you like it, of course, nor is it the basic essence of all other dishes. The commonality is that it’s all food, but that doesn’t make it one, dish.
Honoring all meals and dishes we are served by life and psyche, by being and soul, by the gods and whoever else cooks them (including all the cooks inside of us) means neither reducing them to the recipes nor to their essential ingredients but eating them with mouth, nose and everything else, actually tasting the meals and the company we eat them in.
We’re polymorphs, able to take on many forms – or maybe it’s forms that take us on; it’s voices that speak us, maybe the voice of the enlightened spirit, the pensive wizard, the flowing joy, the heroic responsible person, the mystic poet and so endless on. There is no need, whatsoever, to become monotheistic about diversity, to call on our unity, to invoke our oneness, to go for the One that keeps it all together. That, as it reveals itself to me more and more obviously, is the naked emperor whose new clothes of the unity of his realm really do not amount to anything but the ego’s (or hero’s) vanity. Yes, in a certain mode of being alive I have experienced an all-pervading oneness, an ecstatic experience par excellence. But it is only in reflection that I can turn this into the essential or absolute or superior or ‘real’ (maybe even with capital letters); a reflection I’ve followed for most of my life. But not so anymore as I’ve come to honor the multitude of meals and cooks, all feeding the soul.
And this post, quite obviously, has been created in a reflective mode of being.
This is testing a plugin that would show a wiki page in my blog
If you would like to edit Wiki-pages on my blog, please send a request using this form. I will then create a wiki-editor account on my blog for you (this will keep the spam-bots out).
If you do not, as yet, have an account with “Google Wave” you cannot see the embedded wave; in it you also find the step by step guide as to how to implement a Wave into WordPress the easy way:
[wave id=”googlewave.com!w+nuL1mEMWC” width=”100%” height=”500″]
So this is visible now, I think. Please if you can see it – which you should if you’ve got a Wave account, can you please add a blip to the wave? Thanx)
Also, if you get the question if you want to keep running the script, answering ‘yes’ is probably the best, as it works great here – and oh, you must have “gears” in place, but that you should have to run your Wave account in the first place.
(Update 16 October) I’m now deleting all Test Waves except the one you find here because the waves slow the site down very much at this moment and I have now ‘conquered” the art of embedding as you can see – if you can 🙂
If you’ve got a google wave account you should be able to see this…
This is a first trial to see some of the functionality and embeddability…
(Update 15 October) This is the original one that always disappeared because, probably, it was too much for the script to call on the “Wavr” (that’s the plugin I’m using to embed the wave on the WordPress end) function in the same post twice. So I’m lifting the second wave and give it another post to be embedded in.
(Update 16 October) I’m now deleting all Test Waves except the one you find here because the waves slow the site down very much at this moment and I have now ‘conquered” the art of embedding as you can see – if you can 🙂
I’ve been having fierce debates with neo-liberal conservatives recently, people that keep up the faith that the climate catastrophe is just ‘leftist propaganda’, that the recent and still going financial-turned-economic disaster is caused by big government, or by Marxists or similar. At the same time a report was published by the United Nations Environment Programme that climate researchers now predict the planet will warm by 3.5 degrees Celsius (6.3 degrees Fahrenheit) by the end of the century even if the world’s leaders fulfill their most ambitious climate pledges (here), which hardly anybody believes they will – unless We The People force them to; and are you willing to bet, say 25% of your year’s salary that We The People will force them? Ah, right, you probably won’t.
In the mean time some wonderfully willing and amazingly well-connected people embark on a journey to change all that; I think it’s a couple of Million world-wide. Good people. Wonderful people. We would all love to hug them. And then we go into the next super-market and buy…. ah well, we didn’t make much money last months so we cannot afford any fancy stuff, we need to buy the cheaper things; not produced sustainably or ecologically.
We would love to do the good thing, but what choice do we have given our income?
On another note, but connected – bear with me -, Â just a week ago I met an amazing person, a man who remembers being in the crowd around Jesus… got crucified himself. And the way he talks about this in conversations is so very low key, and at the same time with such certainty, that it has made me reconsider some of my base assumptions which doubt reincarnation to contemplating what it would mean if the soul is indeed eternal, coming back again and again to the planet – for whatever may be the reason for this; if indeed it has a reason.
My new friend is not an airy, fairy New Age person – he made his first million by the age of 24 – and he’s also not the slick marketer of any esoteric stuff either. He’s smart, has a very good working intuition, is also quite down to Earth and with an intelligent heart. Can’t just dismiss his stuff off hand. And he reminded me of some very interesting material I unearthed years ago where reincarnation would be the simplest, most plausible explanation (some BBC stuff published years before the archaeological proof of the memory someone had from a previous life; the content of that memory not being recorded anywhere before).
Maybe all this stuff strikes an emotional chord… Almost a year ago one simple question changed my whole relational life – and started me on a deep emotional experiment. In January this year my father died. Recently the other grandfather of my son died. Last weekend a former student from the time I used to be an enlightened teacher, died of cancer – a woman the age of my girlfriend; one of the students I loved for her rebelliousness, for really wanting to know.
What is going on in the world at large and in my own life’s context seems to be about life and death, and on the grand scale it concerns the whole of humankind – and from how I respond emotionally to the active ignorance of much of the elites I take it that I’ve started to take the inactivity and the downright denial – except maybe in some lip-service of no real consequence to ‘doing something about it’ – personal.
If I still were an enlightened teacher I could easily transcend all of this; “I am not the body, I am not my thoughts and concepts and beliefs; not this, not that; net-neti.” I would simply stay with “Now”. And in a way this still holds true. There is a private way out. It’s effective. Just ask, “Is this true? Can I really know it is true?”, and since an honest answer will always transport you to the transparent Here and Now, the Still Point at the Center of Everything, and since remaining there for a while will let you taste non-dual presence, this private way out still works. I can take it. And so can you. But for whatever reason this isn’t really satisfactory to me anymore – meaning, “I don’t wanna go there, really.” Maybe this whole enlightenment thing is a much too private paradise – utterly real when there, and always good for a shot of transcendent joys. But then, really, I think the dice have fallen and the choice is… “I’m here to incarnate – become and truly be flesh, be fallibly human, be pretty much like many others; probably like you in most respects.”
That is how I keep on arriving time and again on the scene of desperate humanity, of molested humanity, of experiencing-lots-of-atrocities humanity; a bit of an activist, maybe. My contribution are concepts and practices around “collaboration ecology”, teachable experiences around “embodied collective consciousness”, and practical and implementable insights into the “living field“. And over the last couple of years through the Web and its social communities I’ve been embedded in networks and ‘meshworks’ (which I’m very much co-creating at this moment in time with Gaiaspace; that’s a disclosure, I think). And increasingly the most divine question that a friend of mine heard from Gods mouth on Mount Shasta seems to be, “So what?”
Humanity at the beginning of the 21st Century is coming to know and understand it’s suffering. Some of this state of affairs has been predicted by many, me included: The financial collapse (caused by, basically, unbridled egotism and greed), the climatological disaster (only we thought it wouldn’t come so fast), societal break-down (the neo-liberal and conservative break-down into myopic pubescence in the US is just one visible sign of that), and I could go on and on singing the apocalyptic blues.
This is the demons we face, the shadows that humanity must incorporate instead of polluting the whole cosmic environment with it.
What have we done to the earth?
What have we done to our fair sister?
Ravaged and plundered
And ripped her
And bit her
Stuck her with knives
In the side of the dawn
And tied her with fences
And dragged her down
(Jim Morrison/The Doors, “When the Music’s over” [I exchanged ‘they’ with ‘we’])
Maybe I’m too much entrenched in German history, the apocalypse we as a people (even though father was in the Resistance) brought upon the people of Europe and the world in World War II. Maybe the tears I cried in the Spanish Synagogue in Prague over the atrocities the Germans committed in Theresienstadt were not mine to cry, and Rabbi LÃ¶w’s laughter I heard in my soul when I prayed for forgiveness for my people’s monstrosities at his grave seemed to tell me that much. Maybe also, lying on the ground of one of the major battlegrounds, not being able to stop sobbing for hours has shown me that mourning over our collective murder, pillage, rape, plundering, imprisoning and hurting each other and much of nature is needed.
We cannot fix this. We cannot undo the damage we’ve done to each other. The European people and nations have massacred the North- and South-American inhabitants, we have enslaved Millions of Africans – to just name some non-Germanic monstrosities that have shaped the world many of us profit from – this is the shadowy past, and its consequences are what we experience today – the sins of our fathers and all the generations that have come before. Are those that profit from a crime and do nothing to stop the criminal behavior not also guilty?
The egotistical, anti-social behavior of our elites that have led to the ecological and societal disaster we witness (and that we all are part of and support by much what we do day to day) has to be faced, and we have to do what is natural when seeing all of that – mourn, and see that what we need is a true metanoia, a change of heart, a change of our core… and mourn, for this true transformation is not something we can make happen. It’s out of our hands. We cannot fix it.
We cannot fix this as we are. We cannot fix this with the systems that have supported the disaster in the first place. We need to simply face our enormous shadow, a shadow that has built up in centuries of denial and turning a blind eye. Yes, maybe, it is overwhelming. Yes, I would also love to squirm out under the weight of it and point a finger at those that are much more guilty, the captains of industry, reckless bankers, compromising politicians, inhumane bureaucracies. And as I said in the very beginning of this blog, there are those that are extremely resistant to any kind of change that would profit any larger group than their clan or political tribe. But those of us who can face this, be assured, that is what we need to do.
We need to forgive before any kind of real healing can happen. And then, having faced how we’ve become as we are as humanity at this day and age, having forgiven ourselves by the powers of our very core-nature, Beauty happens – I know, it happens again and again when I face the shadow, when I’ve mourned the unfixable past, when I’ve felt the loss of so many good, beautiful and true people, when I’ve looked our “fair sister” in the face disfigured by humanity… and she smiles on me.
And then I “hear a very gentle sound” beyond what Jim Morrison could hear, beyond wanting the world, and wanting it Now!
The very gentle sound I hear are the beginnings of a new symphony, an emerging culture that is being born in the midst of humanities mournful and painful labor. And since it is a global being, a world-soul emerging from the womb of our defeat, a humanity like it has never before existed in history, we cannot say anything about it. We can state our hope, we can say that we expect a society that will look much closer to a non-egoic paradise than the most enlightened societies that have ever existed on Earth before. But we can neither hasten this birth nor can we stop the labor.
Knowing this the dark age of ecological disaster, societal challenge and financial-economic debacle all of a sudden doesn’t need anybody fixing it. It needs open hearts and minds doing and being what they’re called to be and do. We need humans courageously facing life as it unfolds in the flesh, in the body, in our societies so that they can lend a hand, an eye, a foot where they see a real need. We need people waking up to their embeddedness in the webs life has been weaving in and around them. We need people to hear the calling to be alive, now, wherever we are, just exactly the way we are – and having faced, and whenever it appears facing again, our individual and collective shadows we open to the incarnating emergent humanity and what it brings.
Every evening, when time for reflection and contemplation comes, desperation sets in. And it’s getting worse every day, ever since I’m in the loop of ecology and world change activists’ free-style mail groups. I think it started for real after reading some of the posts on “preparing for civilization’s collapse” – that friend Dave Pollard links to at times. – Anyway, I’m desperate, getting more desperate by the day.
So here they are, all my world change friends. Brilliant, active, moved by concern for planet, society, living creatures in suffering everywhere – some of them singing their final farewell songs as they go extinct. We all know this, anybody that can afford to stay connected through media – which is everybody that is creating her/his part of the challenge we face… We all know in our marrow, and it’s saddening our soul in its depths, we’re on a path of death and destruction. We’re well on our way to oblivion, and to waste go all the wonderful flowers of civilization everywhere on this planet. We all know this song, and many of us care – more and more people feeling concerned, and some act, and some cry, and some prepare for civilization’s collapse.
I’m in the loop, as I said, I’m getting around 10 emails per day that diagnose the disaster and offer ways to deal with it; some are bleak, others urgent calls, again others more positive. But all of us could read all day and all night about this and never come to the end of the sounds of alarm and requiems of loss and a few signals of hope. We could work all day and all of the night and never even come close to answering the tiniest fractions of the calls…
There are a thousand great plans that promise to help. There are a million fantastic, creative voices. Leaders, activists, spiritual and post-metaphysical women and men all over the planet. We’re all shouting and pointing in a thousand different directions. “Let’s go!” we say, “We need to be on our way! It’s urgent.” And we’re right, aren’t we?! So, “Let’s unite!” — And hundreds of banners are raised in the field and shouts go out to “Rally here! Unite! We’re in this together!”
But what is this?
Authentic chaos has broken loose, and all the well meaning attempts to take the lead only create more confusion and chaos.
I know, I need to face this – too long have I avoided seeing the obvious. Too long have I thought that if we would all just use this tool or that, align ourselves along these lines or those, all would be well. And now I see, even though we do – we do our very, very best – it’s still authentic chaos, confusion and running around, getting more desperate all the time. Despair constricts my throat. Tears well up. There’s nothing I can do anymore. There’s nothing you can do. There’s nothing, really we can do at all to end this descent into a chaotic hell, where everybody really does their best and nothing gets done…
And I see – we’re being broken. Those of us, allowing ourselves to see this – we break, and mourn… in our heart a requiem wells up for all our individual possibilities, our creativity, our brilliance, what each and everyone of us could think of and do. I accept.
This is what always happens when the second phase ends and the third phase unfolds in a process I know so very well – it has several names, depending whom you ask, but in the fifth phase of it “collective consciousness” is born, the circle-being, the “critter in the middle”.
And now I’m filled with elation, all of a sudden I’m in ecstasy: All our individual plotting and planning must run its course until it comes to an end, our own brilliance and knowing what’s best – even if we’re absolutely sure it is so. Everything we can think of and do as separate individuals must be shown and experienced to be insufficient to the challenge, and then from our collective unconsciousness it can emerge, collective consciousness!
And I’m elated today as I was ecstatic last night: It all falls into place, our ecological and social crisis, the impossibility to get the willing on one page or even in one book, our evolution as a species… It’s clear what some of us need to do to help us all transform to the next phase of human life and civilization on Earth.
The process I allude to could be called “awakening in collective consciousness”. It has played an important role in my development from being a traditional (be it non-conventional) guru or ‘spiritual teacher’. I’ve written about it some years ago when I experimented with it to arrive at “authentic community“. Then and there, when we had passed through the fourth phase somebody put it very succinctly, “It appears as if we are one body with many heads and arms and legs.” Collective consciousness had taken us in. Not swallowed us but rather everyone of us had become a living, vibrant member of something tangible that embraced and transcended us – something experienced by everyone in the room.
From what I’ve learnt since it is unmistakable when it’s there – when you’re still asking yourself, “Is this it?” you can be sure it’s not. You do not need any special training to discern it, it’s “in your face”, and you sense, feel and know it immediately, no matter what you believe, how much meditation or philosophy you’ve done or haven’t done – and it doesn’t matter if you’re spiritual inclined or not, either.
You might think about it differently, you might draw different conclusions from experiencing and being embedded in this collective awareness, but the very ‘fact’ of it is as unmistakable as waking up in the morning and knowing that you are…
As many others I’m convinced that we’re going through a momentous evolutionary period and the ecological hell we’re collectively creating on this planet is that face of reality that has become impossible to ignore. Yet a deeper aspect of reality seems to be that in and through humanity an evolution towards collective consciousness is possible. There are many good reasons to think so, here I only want to mention the evolutionary pressure the ecological predicament exposes us to.
Our planet’s ecology is an amazingly complex affair and it involves many strands of influences that dynamically interact. Not only the web of life is extremely complex, also the web of human politics is so, and if we take some other webs interacting with this, the very idea that any number of brilliant individuals might rise to the challenge is hilarious. The web of life is out of control, and our human influence is pushing it towards an ecological hell. And again, there is no way to get that under control. But, and here is my personal hope after last night’s elation, evolution is already formulating an answer – self-organizing some of us into testing grounds for the emergence of a collective intelligence, which might be complex enough to rise to the challenge we face.
I’ll end this post with indicating what I’ve learnt in the Circles I facilitated. The process that clearly is conducive to the emergence of collective consciousness can be shown to have seven phases:
- Recognition that the “old ways” don’t work
In the first phase people are usually kind and polite to each other. This phase comes to an end once it is generally understood that artificial kindness and civilized responses don’t work, and that a deeper authenticity is a minimum requirement on the way forward.
People authentically struggle to come to good results; discerning & acknowledging what is “really going on”, trying to work things out. Alliances are wrought, leaders work with persuasion, ‘acting as if’ counterfeit ‘collective awareness’ is tried and fails, everything in the book and more is used to try to mend, fix or heal the situation. Yet, collective consciousness is not achieved. This phase usually lasts longest of all phases but is finally overcome as more and more people give up trying to realize it their way or by following others and confess their failure in getting ‘things under control’ or ‘making collective consciousness’ happen.
- Mourning, brokenness
In this phase a sense of utter failure often appears; we can’t do anything to make it happen. Sometimes people cry. Often people move back to the second phase trying to mend and heal the ones who accept their brokenness and inability to ‘do it’. A sense of gloom can become quite strong. Yet, when enough people are letting go of their ideas, interpretations, theories, opinions of what needs to happen and allow themselves to be with “I don’t know”, with their helplessness, the next phase gels.
- Silence, turning point
Slowly the mourning over failure, the feeling of defeat is replaced with a sense of peace, the peace that comes with accepting ‘things as they are’. As more and more people start to listen to simply being together in peace, to this ‘silent center’ we all share… something emerges that after a while is clearly perceived, sensed, felt, known by everybody as it gets deeper and stronger. And then it is utterly and unmistakingly clear…
- Collective Consciousness is discovered
Elation even ecstasy is felt, “We are one body and mind with many heads.” A sense of celebration pervades the room. We finally know what it is! Conversations are of an amazing deep and authentic kindness, everything that formerly was a matter of morals or learnt behavior becomes fluid and natural.
- Living Field Zone – What do WE want?
If the collective has enough time and space to go on beyond the celebration of our embodied consciousness and unity it can look into its collective desire and what WE want. Very complex matters are seen as beautiful challenges and people very easily find their role and resources to act upon the collective desire.
In this phase the immediate sense of collective consciousness moves to the background as what one has decided to engage in as member of that collective moves to the foreground.
These link to what I’ve written about the general topic of the Living Field, Community and Collective Consciousness – I would hope that you would put your links around this topic in your comments. Thank you.
Visions of what needs to happen on this planet to make it more of a home to the ever growing human population while at the same time taking care that all the other species can flourish as well abound. The United Nations have identified the 8 most pressing ones and on one of them, “Environmental Sustainability”, the political world is going to decide in Copenhagen what it will do, or wants to do.
There is a lot of leadership on climate issues, and if the information I get on what happens in the USA and Canada as a European residing in Berlin is correct, the competition between this leadership is amazing – everybody struggling for the best pole-position in the race to what is seen by many to be the new gold-mine: Green (Social) Economy. In Europe the competition is not as fierce but the call for leadership is strong. And I must confess that I don’t know much about what happens in South-America. Africa, Asia and Australia. I do know, though, there are at least 1.000.000 (1 Mio) NGO’s and other social responsibility organizations world-wide trying to lead the way. There doesn’t seem to be a lack of leadership…
Moreover there are countless experts and innumerable plans and [full disclosure here] I’m working with wonderful and brilliant people at creating “meshworks” that will help align people, plans and resources. We are well on our way in this endeavor, as soon as we’re ready to open up to the general public you’ll be hearing more from me here, and I expect it to raise our collective intelligence a few notches.
And yet, when working on my recent blogs on Resonance & the Living Field, Leadership, Community and Transforming the Whole and How to be? What to do? and this last weekend on a mindmap (a work in progress) The Community as a Whole is More than the Sum of its Parts an insight keeps nagging me that I could maybe sum up like this, “While visions, plans, meshworks and a highly committed leadership are absolutely essential, no clearly stated or compelling vision, no plan, as brilliant as it may be, no sophisticated meshwork aligning everyone and everything and no committed group of leaders are going to make the much needed brighter future a reality unless it is embodied by highly coherent communities that involve innumerable engaged citizens of all color and creed.”
In Leadership, Community and Transforming the Whole I’ve made a strong case, I think, why recruiting or aggregating large numbers of people to world change-movements doesn’t work, no matter how wonderful, powerful, idealistic and committed these people may be. No matter how many people we can recruit for “the cause”, the transformation will not result from ever growing sums of individuals working for change because “A whole is more than the sum of its part(icipant)s.”
The world is not made up of individuals, as we might be tempted to think, but it’s made up of groups, organizations, parties etc., in short: the world is a community of communities. These are the “wholes” that can foster, embed and realize the transformation that we wish for Earth.
According to Wikipedia, for community there “were ninety-four discrete definitions of the term by the mid-1950s” (here), so it might help to discern between what we will in this blog call “real communities” and “conventional communities.” Conventional communities, even if their goals are aligned with the world change we seek to implement, can at best be fertile ground for highly coherent “real communities”. And because transformative action is always local, customized and unfolding (emergent) and needs to be embodied by those that act the real community already lives the future it wishes to realize for all.
The following is just a preliminary list, that – with your help – will be updated continually to more accurately reflect what we’re learning.
|Real communities||Conventional communities|
|Look for possibilities and how to implement them||Work on solving problems, cater to needs of its members|
|Stimulate generosity and hospitality||Try to eliminate the causes of what we fear|
|Continually look to deepen connections and relations, value belonging||Need to grow, scale fast; value numbers|
|Empower and invest in its participants/members and their growth||Invests in (and sets out to improve) leadership|
|Participants/members find areas which they want to be accountable for||Set clear(er) goals by using clear processes with measurable milestones|
|Create space for regenerative conversations||Create more controls, measures of effectiveness|
|Love questions and what they generate||Seek the right answers and try to implement them|
|Thrive through ‘mutual apprenticeship’, trust in self-organization, coordinate action ‘chaordically‘||Hierarchical organisation; depend on leaders, authorities, experts, specialists to “make the plan and show the way”|
|Encourages authority and responsibility of every participant/member by honoring everyone’s contribution||Celebrates it’s leaders and icons, encourages competition|
|Brings people from the margin to the center to learn, connect more deeply and
regenerate communal strength
|Marginalizes people who are not in line with the community’s culture/rules|
(With this list I do not in any way wish to show that conventional communities are not needed or at fault, not so! It simply points out that they are not adequate to foster, create or embody the transformation that so many of us feel is absolutely needed if we are to survive in any meaningful way both as human species and as ecologically rich planet.
And what is listed under real community doesn’t make this kind of community right, perfect or “the best.” These are simply some of the characteristics that a resilient, vibrant and deeply meaningful community has, and I believe they’re indispensable for any transformation that deserves to be called such.)
Probably the most important characteristics of all communities are its conversations and “vibrancy.”
In a conventional community I cannot reveal much of who I am, and it can therefor not be very coherent, simply because feeling alignment between people depends very much on how much they feel safe to show of themselves and their ‘brokenness’. If ever you were in a group of people where someone opened up and showed some of what keeps her or him awake at night – and others were mature enough to allow that without immediately comforting or fixing or giving good advise etc. – then you know that the depth of a community is directly related to its openness to self-disclosure.
There is much more to say about real community, and I’m sure we will come to that in the next weeks and months, but for now I think we’re looking for a strategy to build the kind of communities that can carry and contain the world change that we all know is at hand – and it’s not clear if we’re going to come out wiser, healthier and thriving or not. My guess is, if we build real communities, we have better chances to come through wonderfully transformed.
Part of this strategy is certainly:
- Build regenerative social fabric with hospitality, generosity, deep conversations, felt alignment
- Reframe the crisis as breakdown of community and its restoration/healing
- Co-creation and enrichment of the “common good”
- Create time to simply be together and celebrate
- Understand that community is never a means to an end (even if that is transformation or world change); community is always its own end.
It is my deep conviction that not only do some of these communities already exist but that with just a little nudge many more will spring into being everywhere. So, for now, I’ll leave with this question, How can we/I serve those communities that interconnect and seed “real communities”?
I’ve been working on this mind map this whole weekend and will be working on it some more. You can, if you like also work on it (best to enlarge it before you do that – and even if you want to see it in more detail)… or comment. (More work from 1 & 2. Sept below)
This is the “Community” part of a larger whole that will incorporate “The Internet of Things”. It seems to me that I need to have this part straight before I can go to the next one…
Have added an important branch to the above map that can be closer (and probably easier) studied on this map:
Listening with the heart in the immediacy of music’s presence and its melodious flow [“A Fine Frenzy” & “Sigur RÃ³s” while writing this blog post], every question is an answer as it dances into being and sometimes also into action. Then, “How to be”, or “What to do”, is not a question but a feeling-focus within the living mystery of awareness. Choices are made intuitively without appearing in the mind’s “I” – right and wrong are not considered.
Yet when we reflect on this and try to embed our behavior within our sense-making at large, what is natural to us needs unpacking and unraveling. At least in communication and collaborative meaning-creation. So let’s have a go.
(In the video: Sigur RÃ³s – GlÃ³sÃ¡li)
Our ethics and mores are those guidelines, the deep symphonic structures as it were, that steer how we are and what we do in our streaming-moment life. Dave Pollard, whom I had an inspiring conversation with the other day, touching on these matters, says, “We do what we must, then we do what is easy and finally what is fun.” I don’t really know if I agree with this sequence as I haven’t been studying it in real life very much, but it seems clear to me that we indeed do what we must, and what we must is most likely determined by our true ethics, the moral that we have – partly in spite of ourselves; which means, well, we do what we must. So really, the ethical powers forcing us to do just that are stronger than our own power of decision, or we’d go for the easy way or for the fun. Most likely.
Maybe what some call instincts are just these powerful ethics… But you don’t think that our instincts are ethical, do you? You would want to reserve ethics for some loftier rules?
Consider this: Ethics is really all about what is right and what is wrong, how to be and what to do. And aren’t instincts just those forces which compel us to do so? Fixed, imprinted action patterns that move us in the right direction? If you believe that instincts are real – which is open to debate afaik – than certainly survival and, consequentially, procreation (which is what instincts are concerned with officially) are right. They, and some luck and whatever else, have helped us to still be around on Mothership Earth.
Ah! You say, “Not every form of survival and certainly not every fashion of procreation is right, and instincts don’t care.” Well, now you force me to disclose that I’m very certain that we’re a bit more free than the theory of instincts allows. I believe that there is some freedom of movement on every level of life; even bacteria moving towards food and away from danger have some degree of freedom in the paths they take… we’ll come back to this later, I think.Right now we’re concerned with human beings, right?
When considering how to be and what to do for you and me, for human beings, it seems our choices and the forces that determine these are based on one of two possible ways to think about what we “must” do and what is right, and consequentially what is wrong. Most of us, even if we don’t do much thinking about this (which I don’t usually), we derive what is really the right thing to do from some transcendent source, a source beyond us – if not divine then similarly lofty, some higher authority. You will see how much you are ‘married’ to this way of thinking when I say that all real ethics emerges from the body, from nature, from what you are as a bodily living, breathing being. And to derive what is right, good, beautiful, true from some transcendent or disembodied source is, frankly, part of the the disaster that is upon us ecologically, economically and also socially. [So now how do you feel, what do you think?]
What we are and what we do is part of a larger context. I’ve been contemplating the folk wisdom “The whole is more than the sum of its parts.” In my last blog entry I expanded this to a more specific, “A living whole is exponentially more than the sum of its members.” And since we are members of a larger whole, a society, we should expand it even more to “A living field whole is incomparably more than the sum of its wholes”.
Living wholes determine what is right, good and beautiful, or to use Dave’s terms, what we must, what is easy and what is fun, for all its parts and members. So clearly, our society and the groups we belong to – families, clans, other groups – have very particular “ideas” about that. I put “ideas” in parenthesis here because these are often not obvious or conscious to a family’s or group’s members. They might even deny that they have these ideas – to them, when pointed out, they would be simply part of reality, like the air we breathe. But we can know them as ideas nevertheless, these forces constellating a living field.
A group’s ethics is sensed immediately by all its members. When you deviate you feel uncomfortable and when you go against it you feel very uncomfortable. (Not that we necessarily feel comfortable with what we must do or be, but that is a different. We do what we must if we want to belong for longer, because if we don’t we risk being cast out, which is much more uncomfortable than any discomfort we might presently be experiencing by being who we have to be and doing what we must.) Our conscience is really the a ‘proximo-meter’, the instrument that by the strength of certain feelings tells us the degree of belonging to our group. Conscience, far from being a transcendent or divinely given something, is a finely tuned sense of the super-social animal we are. What, for instance, instantly causes a bad conscience in your family might not even activate in your chosen group of heart-friends…
The result of our historical cultural development so far has, despite everything I’ve so far suggested, led to the situation that transcendent ‘laws’ that tell us what we should do are part and parcel of every groups ethics. These moral rules have usually been created by some greater authority, traditionally by a religious entity through the mouth of its prophets and/or mystics. This can be a deity, several deities or more recently in history also some lofty concepts brought to that group or society by scientists, philosophers or other experts on transcendent content (Jesus, Mother Kali, Immanuel Kant, Ken Wilber, Albert Einstein, to name a few). You know these are transcendent ideas when you can easily get away with paying lip-service; actually often, if you really practice them and put them into real-world behavior you get into trouble and become really uncomfortable as you are pushed towards the perimeter of the group and are threatened to be cast out.
Real ethics are always embodied ethics, they express in how the whole is and what the whole does in everyday life, transcendent ethics are disembodied and lip-served only. Real ethics are practices, transcendent ethics are mostly theories of what is right and true, their real-world consequences are caused by the debates, the struggle, the fights (and sometimes wars) between their adherents as to which is the right theory and doctrine. Surely, some tenets of transcendent ethics are actually embodied by groups and put to (rigorous at times) practice. But that is, I would venture, because it meshes so well with a previous and prior embodied ethics in the first place.
It seems to me that any whole’s prime directive of its real ethics is connected with its existence and duration, with its sustainability to use a modern word. You’ll only call this egotism if you believe in the economic version of Darwinism; you know, the one that relates all evolution-value to ownership (my genes, my turf), to separate being, to competition for scarce resources and what derives from that. But if you really understand that at the very root every living whole is first of all metabolic, which means that it turns what is outside into ‘building blocks’ of itself and gives away some of itself to the outside, you see that that “egoic Darwinism” is real rubbish (gibberish coming from a elite-group of alpha-males and those that lick up to it).
A whole’s metabolic relationship with its ecology – the whereabouts it is embedded in – means: the whole changes its ecology by being around for a longer time. So the prime directive of a living whole by it’s very nature is not egoic but altruistic: it will ‘want’ to change the ecology such that all others except direct enemies will flourish, simply because then it flourishes also. Any living whole is nourished by other wholes, and in turn it’s feeding other beings that feed other wholes that feed other beings and so on. This is living nature bootstrapping itself towards greater and more diverse wholes by metabolic relationships since a couple of billion years on this Mothership, and I’m sure all over this Cosmos. The thrivability of any living whole is contributing to the thrivability of life as a whole – which, en passant, explains beautifully the richness and diversity and creativity of life…
As strange as it may seems, a real ethics, one that helps you and me, takes its clue from exactly this – from living wholes prime directive, “Keep on thriving”, and from the simple fact that we are metabolic by nature.Consider, for a moment your body. It’s an amazing and large ecology of uncountable collaborating and also symbiotic species. In our intestines countless micro-organisms help break down the food we ingested with their own metabolism; we actually live from their ‘waste’; on our skins countless micro-organisms keeping us covered well with their metabolic acts…
So what is our body’s ethics? How to be this amazing wonder of collaboration between a large number of different cells plus countless micro-critters that live inside and on us, this immense ecology that forms the living whole that is you and me, and what to do?
My guess would be, to let go of the hold of transcendent ideas and disembodied theories us, and helping our friends and neighbors to see them for what they truly are useful for: marvelous playthings and clever tools wherever their use is appropriate. And also to simply be our feeling and take the emotionally intelligent way. In the 21st Century, it seems to me, we are learning to trust the inherent wisdom of whole living beings as intrinsic members of living ecological wholes. We’re letting go into the music of life that reveals its beauty in its flow in time.
Playing it by ear…
The whole is bigger than the sum of its parts.
I have been contemplating this ‘common knowledge’ for some time now. “The whole”, of course, implies an order or arrangement, a constellation of “parts” whose behavior and being as a whole is a) not predictable from summing them up and b) can not be understood from the level of a part or on the level of a summation of these parts.
Take a car for instance, when all its parts are arranged properly and it’s fueled up, you can sit down in this machine-whole and drive it anywhere – provided you have a license. If the same car with the the very same parts has crashed, maybe because someone without a license drove, it’s not a whole anymore, its a heap, its the sum of its parts.
The whole of a human being doesn’t have parts, I’d say, but members. As a very flexible whole it can do without quite a few of its members before it becomes a heap of cells and organs. This leads me to the following restatement of the more general statement above,
A living whole is exponentially more than the sum of its members.
A living whole can also be aware of actually being such a whole, of being a self. This happens to be so with human beings and as far as we can tell with other beings as well, apes, whales and dolphins, elephants, crows and magpies, and probably many others. And if we consider the members of our awareness to be voices (sub-personalities) than what we call our consciousness can also be much better understood as a whole…
A group, a business, an organisation is a whole that is even beyond what can be said about living wholes. This whole is made up of living wholes which – once it has achieved a high coherence as described in some of my recent blogs about the living field – is as profoundly beyond living wholes as living wholes are beyond mechanical wholes. So that
A living field whole is incomparably more than the sum of its wholes.
My heart is bumping as I write this because right now a conference is happening in Brazil (State of the World Forum) that we – Gaiaspace/Gaiasoft – are providing a social and collaboration network for; my heart is bumping because what I’m saying here has consequences for all the world changing movements that my friends and I care so much about, I believe.
As the climate and global financial crisis is challenging mankind and as large social movements are emerging that want to tackle these problems and implement solutions, I still find them very much ‘married’ to the idea that if the sum of people doing ‘the right thing’ were only large enough everything would change, everything would turn out good.
In this thinking we need to get the VIPs, stars, captains of industry, “the most high impact people” as someone recently put it, to show the way – get the attention of the media, the business community, the governments and when the sum of people is large enough change will happen.
Only, it won’t. Not really. Because this is the old way that got us into the trouble we’re in. It is not really engaging citizens, it is recruiting them for a cause that’s being shown to them, regarding them basically as consumers, as some kind of follower. O, sure, it gets a certain number of people enthusiastic, the idealists that engage gladly – and, if watered down enough, it can even become a main stream. But this is not the transformation we need, it is green fashion – which, to be sure, is much better than the much more wasteful fashion…
The main fallacy of this ‘large sum’ view, that has until very recently been mine and still in many ways is by habit, is that it believes in a “tipping point” that will be reached when the right sum of people lives the change that needs to happen. And even if we assume that this doesn’t need to be a majority but if we “Never doubt that a small group of committed people can change the world. It is the only thing that ever has, ” as Margret Mead put it, we’re still advancing the idea that it needs a certain sum of people, and it needs people with high impact and a lot of clout to get us on the right track.
We all know, of course, that the right track needs to include a radical ecological transformation of humankinds’ behavior, and this of necessity entails a radical social transformation. Because as long as it pays to be ecologically irresponsible and exploit human and other living beings, abuse the air and the soil, waste precious common goods, as long as in fact large fortunes can be made that can buy “the most impact people”, even a large sum of people that transform personally is not going to affect a real change in our living world. What needs to transform are communities. Never mind individual change, which might still be great or even necessary, what we really need is the transformation of wholes.
I do not wish to criticize my fellow travelers that have, for instance in the US, paved the way for a president that clearly understand the issues we have to deal with. I do not wish to put anybody at fault that is doing their very best to help transition this world to a healthier and more humane era; quite the contrary. I want us to look at the possibilities that emerge when we take a hard look at the question, “How can we help Wholes to transform?”
And, since we hope to provide leadership to support this transformation, we need to also address the question, “How to turn a sum of people from all walks of life in a local community into a Community, a Whole that is more conscious of itself as a Whole?” [I’ll use Community with a capital C to distinguish it from what is ordinarily called a community, which, in a way is a sum of people with partially similar interests, and this is much more a heap than a whole.]
I do not have an answer to these questions, but I do have a few indications what we might want to take into account:
- A Community is first of all a feeling being and not a doing.
- A Community is not a goal or a means, it is an emerging and continually self-renewing Whole.
- A Community is capable of implementing fast, large scale, positive transformation with great ease.
- A Community is (also) nourished by meaningful conversations about itself.
- A Community, equipped with state of the art social tools, rapidly expands by inclusion of and being included in other Communities.
In recent weeks I’ve been contemplating the living field and how it operates.
In “The Living Field, Participatory Design & Collaboration Ecology” one of the important points was, apart from taking a close look at what kinds of fields we are dealing with and some other matters, that processes like participatory design and community building are very much linked into the living field and are really an expression of it.
In “The Living Field & the Art of Living” I looked much more at what it reveals and how to constellate a living field in such a way that art emerges, the epiphany of beauty.
These last couple of days my contemplations went more into how we are connected within the living field, sparked of by some writings and tweets that were implicitly based on the assumption that there really is a division or separation between subject and object, as for instance in the thoughts so brilliantly put together by Robert Kegan where he says that human development mainly proceeds by matters becoming an object that previously were part of the subject. A fear, for instance, that we are not aware of and that rules our life as part of our identity, as part of the subject, and by becoming aware of it it becomes an object that we have some distance from and that therefor we can think about. This assumption is also behind Ken Wilber’s idea of the evolutionary “transcend and include” movement of consciousness. (I’m aware that I cannot do justice to the subtle thinking behind all this, but for my purposes what I just said is enough).
Our thinking about almost everything, as shown in the above examples, is very much rooted in the assumed dichotomy between subject and object.We are never shown to be fuzzily sobjective or ubjective, which – I’m sure – is almost always the case…
When I tried to ‘open source’ my own basic spiritual conviction about two years ago I came up with the following statement (this is the current version: v4.1), “Consciousness – upon close inspection – is not located in the head or in any other place. It is part of being bodily alive. Individual consciousness emerges within a living field of being known and experienced by ‘others.’ Upon appreciative self-reflection and we-full co-inspection, consciousness appears to be continually and dynamically self-organizing as relational presence in natural, social, personal, spatio-dynamic and spiritual ecologies.”
As you can see from this statement a disembodied universal consciousness separate from appearance does not make sense to me; people and things do not appear in consciousness, as planets, suns and comets appear in space, for instance, but everyone and everything arises with some kind of consciousness (at least for us; can’t speak for a cat, a tree or a stone). An example for what I mean is how the letter A arises in the black background (illustration on the left). The background is only background by grace of the letter arising ‘in front’ of it and the other way around.
That individual consciousness emerges within a living field of being known and experienced by others originally dawned on me – even though I wouldn’t have expressed it like I do now – when I was present at the birth of my son. The way mother and child looked at each other right after birth was an almost tangible field. (There is a small time window when the newly born baby does actually focus very clearly; since birth complications led to me seeing him first I know what this deep unwavering gaze looks like and does to you.) Mother is melting into baby and baby into mother…
When all is normal, the child’s consciousness emerges in the field that mother, and later father and young one form. It is almost as if in this small and then ever expanding group/situation the living field itself grows into consciousness and the individual being. The child – and of course the ‘others’ – are each intelligent nodes, attractors, vortexes expressing, and partially localizing this living field consciousness. And, of course, non of the participating beings organizes the consciousness for the others – what emerges comes about within the field they all form.
Individual consciousness, self-reflection etc. is the living field extending into the endless depth that forms in that region of experience that we call ‘inside’. The localized consciousness, the I, the ego is one of the great evolutionary ‘inventions’ helping us to grow the cultures we are embedded in…
I keep using the living field metaphor because it allows me to think of subject and object without doing away with the whole concept of the actual existence of a subject and an object, like in Advaita or Neo-Advaita or in similar spiritual – usually patriarchal – traditions. There is nothing illusory about subject and object, but neither is it real in the sense a table or computer screen are real, rather subject and object appear within the relational or ‘relative’ field that we happen to find ourselves in, the foundational reality of being/becoming. As an individual we may be intrinsically attached to a particular body but our person, our individuality and consciousness are a localized expression of what we are embedded in: a larger whole, a whole that we cannot be separated from. This whole is what I keep referring to as ‘living field’, a wholeness in which there is indeed an I and You as much as there is a he, she, and us and a they and it; not as things, not as objects or subjects really but as poles of the living field, the multi-polar field brimming with aliveness. So in a meeting with another person I and You immediately form a more or less coherent ‘bubble’ in the living field in which the two main poles are, well, You and I. And this also goes for I and it, us and them, and so endlessly on – multi-polar situations in flux.
What then is the multi-polar living field ‘made of’? What keeps the poles in such dynamic situations related in just the way they are? How are these constellations constituting themselves dynamically?
By resonance (or the relative or obvious lack thereof).
We all intuitively know what resonance is (scientific explanations; a java-applet of resonances in a string).
It is thrilling when first you discover that phenomenon, or so it was to me as a kid. Me holding a big guitar on my lap and someone playing on a piano – the guitar’s body was vibrating! Oh the thrill of it. Couldn’t get enough! Sheer magic at work, not the magic of stories, but a magic I could feel with my whole body!
As I was contemplating all of this Helen (As tempting as it is to draw lines between synchronicity and resonance, I’ll leave that for another time.) tweeted this quote by Edgar Mitchell, “Resonance is nature’s way of transferring information.”
At first glance this feels right, and the quote was rightly retweeted a couple of times, but then… Contemplating on resonance, speaking of “transferring informations” seems severely limited. That idea is still very much married to ‘something’, information, going from one ‘place’ to the ‘other’. Resonance as I intuit it, and as these ideas on the living field seem to demand, is more akin to a dance. When dancing, is one partner transferring information to the other? Well, yes, one could say that they are but that doesn’t make too much sense, does it? A dance is not about transferring information (well, most of the time – when I was younger I wanted to transfer, often, that I was fancying the girl I was dancing with…).
But I don’t think resonance is about transferring information, again most of the time; it seems much more that information transference is a side-effect. Resonance, like a dance, is about enjoyment and expression, it is not really about anything but itself – it is its own meaning and expresses it in its movement.Â Someone once told me that Isadora Duncan, the famous dancer from the beginning of the last century, upon being asked by a reporter what her dance meant, said, “If I could say it I wouldn’t dance it.”
Just so it seems to me that it is the living field that is in-forming, constellating, dynamically shaping the rhythms and sounds of all that it encompasses. A living field than is a resonant field and is not accessible as an object, as one would be able to do if one were a subject. It is the personal resonance that allows us to be ‘informed’ by the other. It is my resonance with you, and your resonance with me that forms and is in turn formed by the quality of the field and the consciousness that emerges between us.
But, one might ask, “Doesn’t that mean that it is the resonance in or as the subject that this is about?” – thereby expressing that really I have gained nothing by using this kind of language and these ideas. Doesn’t an outside source (you, he, she, it, they, the situation) set up a vibration that I, then, resound with?
Resonance, in the classical sense that believes in separate entities, already is not a one-way affair. As soon as I begin to resonate I feed this vibration back to where it came from and strengthen that vibration. And so, even if the old separative concepts were true, properly looking I’d say that the ‘sound-field’ as a whole is the most relevant information in this situation. So it just takes a small switch in our understanding to see the living field as foundational; what’s between us as a much more meaningful influence than the poles, the subject and object. Or to put it another way, You cannot reduce the living field to the sum of its participating beings and entities.
If you look at the above illustration: Is A (the + pole) transferring information to B (the – pole)? Or do we see a graphic rendering of a resounding field? And what about the center of the picture, or any other place, where there is ‘nobody’ right now – but could potentially be?
Most likely we all see a whole resonant field here, a highly coherent region within the larger living field. We see dancing, a graph of a dance we can derive information from, if we like, depending on where we happen to position ourselves or where we are localized. And yes, surely we might be able to determine what started this coherent field; someone who has seen its birth and history might be able to answer that question.
But it’s surely much more relevant how this sounds, how to tune into it in such a way that the field is enhanced and an ever increasing richness of overtones and undertones can emerge. And more important than the separation between the two subjects or objects A and B is their resounding connectedness and the meaning of this that can unfold as a fractal in the participating poles to resonate as a much larger whole…
There are many avenues of contemplation and highways of wholesome action that a resonant living field opens. Reducing all this to subject and object certainly is possible and yields (lots of?) empiric knowledge. Yet I believe we hear the first verse of a melody, nay the first movement of a symphony of the highly coherent resounding field of aliveness from the polyphonic future… and it’s wind lift us up, as we’re learning to fly into its unknown skies.
A boy has a dream that he can float, but unless he holds on, he will drift away into the sky. Even when he is grown up, this idea recurs. After a strange accident, he walks through what may be a dream, flowing in and out of scenarios and encountering various characters. People he meets discuss science, philosophy and the life of dreaming and waking, and the protagonist gradually becomes alarmed that he cannot awake from this confusing dream…
One of the bands I’ve (re-)discovered recently, turning me on wonderfully with their music… and then discovering far out videos of them. Here is one you might also enjoy
Directed by Martin De Thurah
Featuring Karin Dreijer Andersson from The Knife
More Royksopp videos here: vimeo.com/royksopptv