Ecstasy at the Gates of Ecological Hell

CHINA ENVIRONMENT POLLUTION RECYCLINGEvery 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…

CHINA-ENVIRONMENT-POLLUTION-TRANSPORT-AUTOThere 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…

paul_damato_03And 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.

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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…

Collective-Consciousness-Sadness-GaiaAs 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:

  1. 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.
  2. Chaos
    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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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…
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Realization
    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.

The Community as a Whole is More than the Sum of its Parts – Work in Progress

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…

2. Sept.

Have added an important branch to the above map that can be closer (and probably easier) studied on this map:

US Now

A film project about the power of mass collaboration, government and the internet… this is what the makers say about this very interesting movie that some of my twitter friends pointed me to (sorry girls and guys, I forgot who it was, and I have yet to delve into the possibility to finding pieces of info like this; so let me honor Us All for contributing to the stream that then brings flowers such as this).

The examples for collective intelligence are amazing, and previous to this I had no knowledge about them. And they are encouraging, very much so.

Us Now from Banyak Films on Vimeo.

For more information, extra clips and reviews please go to usnowfilm.com

Watch Us Now in other languages here: http://dotsub.com/view/34591ca8-0ef5-48fb-82e6-163a9f21298d

Challenges of Community and Collaboration

challenge

Being an aficionado for collaboration, so much so that I’ve created a job for me being a Collaboration Ecologist, recently more often than not I’ve come to inquire into the question, “If, as seems to be the case, many if not most people and organisations in the world seek collaboration and want to become communities of mutually aided flourishing, how come it is not the greatest hit on Earth?”

Or as my friend Doug who’s profession is coaching CEO’s, among other things,  tells me, “In the US now all companies want to collaborate. They just don’t know how.”

Remember New Year’s resolutions? Remember, what you wanted to change in your life this year? To be honest, I never make any resolutions on New Year anymore, since remembering them later on is such a pain. The reason is most likely the same that keeps all the good willing people on this planet, including the businesses and organisations, from collaborating to change the course of the planetary commons – we don’t like to face the deeper challenges that need overcoming. Actually I think the are the stuff out of which our advances are made.

So here are the challenges as they show up on my radar:

  • Challenge # 1: Probably the mother of all challenges to collaboration and community – Trust, patience, ‘deep’ listening and heartfelt connection.
    Looking at my experience in life, business and relationships, and of course at many, many theories of what community and collaboration is really based upon, these 4 ‘values’ seem to be the most persistent ones.
  • Challenge # 2: If #1 is the mother of all challenges, # 2 is the father – walking in somebody else’s shoes.
    People do not only have different characters and views, convictions, beliefs, theories and opinions, they are also on different levels of evolving towards what we could call “wisdom”, something that doesn’t come with age (as any acute observer of world- and human affairs has already noticed) but with developing all kinds of skills, lenses, and intelligences (heart, mind, gut, social, relational etc.). On the way to some wisdom, for a long time, people live in a land where they wouldn’t know what it means to “walk in somebody else’s shoes”, leave alone that they would actually be able to do so. Yet, it is prerequisite to anything that resembles true collaboration.
  • Challenge # 3: This one is centered around the question of leadership.
    Community and collaboration are situated far beyond democracy – which is based on quantity, counting the number of voices, and not quality, what these voices are saying. The challenge is to find ways and means to govern ourselves so that the good, right and beautiful things are accomplished.
  • Challenge #4: In the famous words of the Clinton Presidential Campaign in the USA, “It’s the economy, stupid!
    Collaborations and communities, on top of being simply a good and soul-nourishing thing to participate in by and of themselves, often also produce goods and services, and a commons that is recreational, inspiring, relaxing etc. (a source of aliveness; something like that, and also something that can be marketed). Who gets to share what of the communally created revenues is the fourth major challenge that needs facing, if communities and collaborations are to be more than a hype.

If you thought that I have the answers and that I’m going to give them here, I have to disappoint you. Not that I don’t have a number of very good ideas, processes and experiences around them (as many of my readers do as well), but if I were to tell them here, at maximum we would have a very interesting exchange of ideas and stories, and maybe even beliefs and convictions.And, so sorry, but I’m not really interested – mostly, because doing that will most likely lead to trying to make technical change out of the needed adaptive change.

There is a world of difference between technical change and adaptive change. A technical change you can manage using the given instruments and procedures. Often these revolve around a more effective use of the given instruments. You get long and wonderful To Do lists, that basically you need to check one after the other. Adaptive change asks you, on the contrary, to leave behind the old instruments and develop new ones. It requires you to adapt to a situation or process that you cannot yet analyse, and as such adaptive change is an “emergent phenomenon”… simply put, “Something is happening, but you don’t know what it is – and you cannot control it either.”

Sure, regarding myself as a Collaboration Ecologist I’ve got quite a number of processes and interventions up my sleeve that I can use in situations where people want to collaborate, and want some help. Often, I cannot do without them, yet these are not the secret of creating great ecologies in which collaboration and community flourishes. The real secret is this, “Find whatever helps the people present face the above challenges co-creatively, and go with what emerges in this group.” If you’ve got compassion, experiential knowledge, a working intuition and some intelligence you will, most likely, empower the people to squarely face these challenges. Then, and so far I can speak for 100% success, what comes out of that process you will advance into the Fields of the Future where Collaboration is Natural again.

Integral Community Building & Collaboration Ecology – 02 Community & Collaboration

A human community in its very essence is a network of conversations. Communities are held together by the stories they tell, to each other and to the outside world, and by the beliefs they share — even though opinions might greatly differ. The emergence of a global civilization or community is therefore much more a result of global conversations that the Internet has made possible (for instance, the rise of the so-called blogosphereF[1]F and the ever increasing number of social networks) than the rising tides of globalization, which is solely thought of in economic terms.Memory and language are often regarded as distinguishing characteristics of human beings. When humanity started to use language, information and knowledge could much easier be shared, a development that led to a leap in societal diversity and complexity. The next leap was caused by the invention of writing and the one after that by the discovery of mathematics. A greater leap in societal diversity and complexity was fostered by the invention of the printing press, hugely enhancing the possibility to store information and knowledge. The telegraph, the telephone, television, multimedia, the Internet, all these developments exponentially furthered diversity and complexity of our societies and of the conversations that are now possible. Our capacity to tell stories, store, spread, create and manifest them is growing exponentially, and so is diversity and complexity, both developments go hand in hand.

Where in the past there was usually enough time for societies and communities to catch up turning knowledge into understanding and eventually wisdom, this seems to be impossible today for who could keep up with the exponential growth of information and knowledge, diversity and complexity in human societies? But this is only so if we see this development from an individual’s point of view. If on the other hand we regard humanity as a whole, being comprised of an ever expanding number of diverse communities, then the potential of this evolution is becoming apparent. We are facing an unprecedented challenge, because to turn the vastly growing knowledge into know-how, understanding and eventually wisdom we absolutely need to create forms and processes to coherently activate our collective and collaborative intelligence, and we need to do so on all levels and every scale.

Collaboration is easily confused with but greatly differs from cooperation. When people, organizations or companies cooperate they don’t need to jointly develop shared understandings and trust; it is enough that participants, for instance, simply execute instructions willingly or do what they agreed upon previously. The desired outcome is relatively clear, whereas in collaboration it is mostly unpredictable, and collaborators more often than not embark upon a path of innovation and creation which will lead them they know not where.
Clearly collaboration is a much more complex and demanding process than cooperation, and this so also because it needs to rely on trust and on a joint commitment to shared understandings or values.
F[2]F As such it is a process that already embarks from within a situation that is full of diversity and complexity, and therefore it is also a process whose time has come in an age of its inevitable exponential growth as I’ve shown above.


Part 1
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

[1] The whole of what is being published in blogs providing commentary or news on particular subjects or functioning more like personal online diaries. A typical blog combines text, images, and links to other blogs, web pages, and other media related to its topic. The ability for readers to leave comments in an interactive format is an important part of many blogs. Most blogs are primarily textual, although some focus on art, photographs, videos (often called vlog), music, audio (called podcasting) and are part of a wider network of social media. The global blogosphere consists of approximately 250 million blogs.

[2] It is equally important to differentiate what in this article is understood as collaboration from what is seen as such in the Internet. If you google collaboration you will get around 167 million documents to choose from. Skimming the first 100 or so it seems obvious that collaboration is generally regarded as — the sum of all logical and target group oriented workflows in and between companies — to cite one document. The ‘net is full of so called collaboration-software and tools. But it is very clear that what is regarded as collaboration is what we covered above as being cooperation, ‘working together on something’, where it could simply be enough to execute instructions willingly.