California – oops, Bay Area, here I am

I’m in culture-shock.

Well, okay, I’m exaggerating. The type of spirituality – I call it Californianism – that I meet here wherever I go is a mixture of New Age, Buddhist and positivist, basically Christian ideas (actually easily traceable to “Christian Science“); stirred well in a melting pot of activists, artists, hippies, healers and entrepreneurs. It’s almost as if these ideas have created a bubble, or better a membrane, that for an European mind like mine looks very superficial. Not that we don’t have our own brand of this type of spirituality in Germany and other European countries, but here it stands out very strong and plays an important role in many conversations on almost anything. It permeates everything and has a missionary seal unlike the ‘watery’ version we have in Europe.

Californianism (also in ‘my’ part of the world) lives because the art of self-reflections and deeper inquiry into one’s basic assumptions is not well developed or even unknown, or maybe because the ideas are vague enough so that you can believe in them without necessarily needing to put them into action. Take the “all is one” theme, for instance. It sounds good, saying so also places you on the right side of the fence (you’re one of us!), but it doesn’t require you to act in a way that would put you in any kind of danger – of someone disagreeing with you, for instance. If you believe that “we are the ones that we have been waiting for”, to use a slogan of this spirituality, you don’t really need to contemplate in what way you put that in your daily practices. If you are convinced that in reality “I am!” or “I am what I am!” you don’t really need to look at the patterns you enact daily because doing so would not make you “be here now” but you would look at what you did when and what for – if your meaning-making, and that is what spirituality is in a very important sense, suggests that in reality you are a timeless being, than looking at history, your personal history, is just a waste of time.

Not that all the statements I’ve just been quoting are wrong, they are certainly also expressing a deep experiential truth; it is the context that turns them into superficialities. Going from workshop to workshop, healer to healer, trying on this and that and one more new kind of change – secretly being frustrated that total or absolute happiness, enlightenment, is not yet your home – the consumers trap opens… and catches the spiritual aspirants. And since even more than in my home-continent everybody here is an entrepreneur, and many need or try to make their living by serving some particular brand of spirituality (and branding yours is an important part of the game), the context of this spirituality have become invaded and even overcome by marketing

Coming back to my culture-shock. This ‘in your face’ spirituality comes with the typical US-American agentive stance – it’s all about doing, being positive, changing yourself to, in this instance, be who you really are continually, and most of all: you gotta be excited about it. Maybe it’s all the adrenaline in the air that shocks me, the dominating ‘yang’ attitude everywhere. No wonder the new hit on the market is “The Divine Feminine”…

Photo by Flickr user Franco FoliniAnd then, when I took a walk tonight in San Francisco, down (up?) 9th street and then right into Market… seeing an amazing number of destitute people, mostly dark skinned, apparently preparing or already sleeping on the sidewalks. I’m not sure this was because of the wonderful warm weather – they say that finally it’s summer now – and that ‘normally’ you don’t see them so much, but it definitely gave me the feeling that I was in a 3rd world country.

Picture by Deb Booth (click on pic to visit)

Maybe Californianism is really an opium for the people that would otherwise find the situation unbearable and either choose politicians that change this situation or change it themselves. Californianism, with it’s main focus on “everybody is responsible for what happens in their life” is an escape, it seems to me, from an overly individualistic, harshly competitive, badly educated and deeply hopeful but disappointed life.
AND, at the same time, and paradoxically so – because of this – the possibility of real and deep change is closer than in my home, because this type of chaos might just be the ‘ground’ out of which the dancing stars of our future may be born.

Revisioning Reality: The Soul of Body and Spirit

I’m starting to leave the idea of oneness behind in favor of a kind of pluralistic, polytheistic, polycentric inner/outer reality. I’m starting to contemplate that monotheism, oneness, big bang, verticality, all-pervading consciousness, etc. are part of a perspective that is always playing for dominance (and obviously is not; but downplaying what … Read morehinders it as dark, below and shadowy)…
Maybe that deep pattern is much more akin to an ecology than a hierarchy of ever more transcendent stages that dominantly encompass ‘lower’ stages; maybe the deep pattern swirls along polydirectional interactive paths and spaces in which all kinds of beings and entities “metabolise”?

(Installment 4 of the series Body, Soul and Spirit: #1, #2, #3)

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  ‘idea’ (Old Greek 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  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.   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, and 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?  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  there is a 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.

Body, Soul and Spirit 1: Modes of being alive

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.

adi_da_samraj2Certainly, 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.

foodBack 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.

Emperors_New_Clothes

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.

Into the Polyverse

My twitter-stream has many tweets like these:

ColinUdeLewis “Self-control is strength. Right thought is mastery. Calmness is power.” James Allen

WilliamHarryman “95% of your emotions are determined by the way you talk to yourself.” — Brian Tracy

bfederman A man’s own self is his friend. A man’s own self is his foe. Gita

Good advise, wise words, wonderful and inspirational stuff reflecting, I think, some of what goes on in the larger ‘community’ of world-change agents, spiritually savvy geeks, integralites etc. that I feel part of. Contemplating these and many similar tweets I was inspired to put this statement on twitter:

We might be moving from transpersonal to multipersonal, from transcendence to polysemous diversity, from individual to distinctively plural

Nurturegirls response got me interested to see where this spontaneous tweet takes me when I unwrap what this means for me. So here we go…

Hands1

With “transpersonal” I’m refering to Transpersonal Psychology which put Spirit and metaphysics back into Western psychology. The dean of Integral, Ken Wilber, has expanded it to a much larger system which he calls Integral Psychology – which, in turn, is part of his much larger Theory of Everything. People who have been following this blog probably know that I am critical of Wilber’s views, and most of all his vertical spirituality with an Absolute or Non-dual at it’s pinnacle, implicitly downgrading whatever is ‘below’ – but that’s a different conversation I don’t feel like getting into now except for my tweet’s topic of trancendence, the movement that rises forever up the (spiraling) vertical axis, going beyond body, mind, matter, and endlessly on until it has gone beyond everyone and everything… this is what we’re moving away from and towards polysemous diversity; which I will come to a bit further down.

Vertical spirituality used to be my orientation since I was 14 years old when I first read about yoga and silence (1967) right until the very day I was finally enlightened 33 years later; yep, you’re not supposed to say that, but bear with me. Actually I call this happening Grand Disillusionment because it was basically nilling everything I thought meant anything before this happened. But, silly me, this level-change was just the end of a strand that had been in development since my very young years fuelled by the kind of thought-food one gets as a hippie becoming meditator becoming deep seeker becoming spiritual teacher becoming guru and then, finally, dropping out of that whole game altogether.

You see, my whole journey was fueled by the conviction that a single self or Self actually exists. But the idea of being or having a self/Self is really a nest of meaning and reasoning that very much reflects our cultures’ need for capable individuals (from latin, “non-dividable”) that have a permanence and consistency that can be relied upon and that can be (made to be) responsible. And our type of meaning-making needs a center around which it revolves and to whom it refers, so there you are

This is very sketchy, and much more can be said about the self/Self, its sources and status – maybe another time; for I also want to mention two basic perspectives in Western, and maybe Eastern, culture:
The ‘scientific’ view which is basically saying that ‘out there’ beyond our skin, and even inside of it, there is just accidental matter that we, our mind and consciousness, project onto. So, for instance, beauty is in the eyes of the beholder; it is not a feature of a flower or a sunset or a person or the galaxy. The same, obviously, goes for truth and everything else. All of this is “in the mind” and not “out there”. (That there are laws governing energy-matter that are objective and not projected is an interesting conondrum most empiricists carefully avoid; this doesn’t take away the basic conviction, though, that really matter is absolutely devoid of spirit, essence or whatever else you can project on it.)
The other perspective is formed by the ‘absolute truth’ that people, things and even processes have an essence, a soul, a spirit in and of themselves. This is taken to mean that beauty is not really, or only in the eye of the beholder. Beauty is actually part of being a flower, a sunset, a person or galaxy. In this view the beauty in us resonates or in some other manner communicates with the beauty out there – we recognize truth, beauty, the Good or God that is there already whether we know it or not. We find it, it is not projected at all.

These perspectives seem very contrary but they have something in common, the idea of a subject, “in here” and an object “out there” – the idea of a singular “me” and plural “other” or “you”. (An idea that Ken Wilber and his Integralites have expanded to a quadriga, “I, we, they, it” – the 4 quadrants). This subject-object orientation system is so pervasive and seems so natural that we do not often question it. No, and aren’t there enough beautiful and deeply meaningful systems of thinking, spiritual practises and day to day life that show subject and object, I and other, inside and outside to be really real and truly true?

2006-03-17-59To unhinge this a little bit and come to a proximation of what polysemous diversity might allude to let’s look at some experiences we probably share.
Remember your last “silver moment.” You were talking with a friend maybe, or even a stranger, and you forgot all about the time and everything else; the flow of the conversation was so wonderful, you even forgot yourself. And now, as you remember this, you might not recall what exactly you were talking about but you do remember the ‘spirit’ of it, the breath, the “silver in the air” or however you want to characterize it.
Do you remember a critical moment in your life with several people involved? Maybe an accident, a fire, a thunderstorm out in the wilds or something similar? How everybody just acted in unison, nobody being in charge, really, but everything got done in no time at all?
Or do you remember a great moment in sports when your team was suddenly “in the zone” and acted as a unity, unstoppable?

What is characteristic of these moments or times is that there is no self-awareness, no individual consciousness to speak of – you’re present, you’re aware of everything that goes on but in no way as a self or self-aware. There is, rather, a polyphony sounding around a melody common to all participating voices, sometimes taking in even some of the more perceptive spectators as in sports. This, I would say, is a very natural way to be; acutually I think this is the way we often are, only we don’t notice it because the flow is not sparkling so bright as in our “silver moments”.

Does the transpersonal, evolutionary view help us understand this or, and that’s what we’re approaching here, help us turn into artists of polysemous diverse ecologies of being-together? It does, and doesn’t.
It does in that we have co-evolved as aligned (tuned in) groups of humans. To be synchronised with others is wonderfully adaptive and helps along the continued survival mightily – from multicellular beings to swarming insects, flocks of birds, fish-swarms and herds, the same pattern has been used in nature countless times. So it’s not really amazing that such highly complex beings as humans are polyphoniously connected – a great diversity of voices ‘swarm-creating’ meaning, stories, understandings and yes, identities.
And it doesn’t, because the individualistic view that is part of the fundamentals of transpersonal psychology and vertical spiritualities or religions is operating with the assumption that we are a single subject, residing somehow in a skin-encapsuled cell-ensemble, in the head maybe or the heart.

We are also biased towards clear – simple, singular – meanings. Meaning should not be ambiguous or, since that term is often used in a negative sense, polysemous. This basic assumption has taken progressively hold of our collective psyche since the birth of modern science. But we only need to look at children or people who haven’t (been able to) loose their imaginative powers to see what rich meanings things can have. Who would insist to a child that a heap of sand cannot be a mountain in which dwarfs dig for gold?

If these ideas about ‘swarm-creation’ are right than meanings continually flow-emerge between us, in the polyphony of voices and forces that we are embedded in – the so-called internal ones and the external ones. When we experience a “silver hour” with friends diverse meanings flow polysemously between us, and it is the very flow in which we delight. Were one of us to single out a meaning and individualise it, that would be the end of the silver in the hour…

Don’t get me wrong; I do not believe the silver hour to be better than other not so silvery hour. Rather it’s hinting at an evolutionary possibility for human-kind that I see dawning. The subject-object orientation isn’t wrong or illusory, the transpersonal and integral view that proposes a vertical path of transcendence is a beautifully valid orientation – it is the individualized version of being human. We’ve worked very hard as a species to differentiate enough so that we can actually regard ourselves as seperate individuals with rights and responsibilities. Yet this is no end but rather the stage for the next step, where we use what is natural to us – silver houring – develop it into an art and use it to adapt to the challenges we now face in the exponentially complexifying realities we live in. Being an individual with a transpersonal, trancendent agenda was perfect in the much lesser complex times before massive globalisation, the ‘good old times’.
2006-03-17-60But now we’re in realities were two airplanes hitting the WTC can cause worldwide mourning or were political choices in the US can cause a global financial break-down, for instance. That all is one is not a spiritual statement anymore, it’s stating the obvious. The interconnectedness that goes with this has transformed, though. In a less complex world only a decade or two ago interconnectedness did at most linearly influence other beings, systems or processes; now interconnectedness means is a massive, uncontrollable, exponentially influential process. In this situation meaning is always polysemous, diverse and complex.

Individuals can’t handle this. Teams like we’ve known them in all kinds of organisations cannot find real solutions. Clear meanings cannot connect multifaceted challenges comprising multiple unknowns with the people and resources needed for the emergence of adequate solutions. We need coherently self-organising collaborative and collective intelligences to adapt to this situation. The technical means are either here already or on the verge of becoming available.

The ‘imaginal cells‘ are realizing who they are and starting to align with each other all over the world. You are one of them. So happy we’re connecting…