Tuesday, 30 June 2009

On change

“If there is a solution to the problem, there is no need to worry. If there is no solution, there is no sense in worrying either.”
The Dalai Lama

I was reading an article the other day on Emergence, Community of Practices and Social Innovation. The article gave a perspective and guidance on how to deal with the complexity of changes in society, on the first sight it seemed an interesting piece of document, when I read it again it left me rather critical feeling, the language and approach seemed again so linear and old school. Nevertheless it evoked a series of reflections for me coming from personal experience on change and from stories and writing which have inspired me. A lot of my recent conversations with people have been around trying to find confidence and better ways to cope with the un-known and finding one’s place in the world. Implicit in all these conversation was the question around how to deal with and how to create change.

Rather than worry about critical mass to change the world, I think it is important to foster critical connections (inner and outer). We don’t need to convince large numbers of people to change; instead, we need pursue our inner journey and connect with kindred spirits. Through tapping into our internal wisdom and the collective wisdom coming from these relationships, we will cultivate a new way of living which will also affect the needed change in society on a larger scale.

When speaking of change we often think of changing systems, the way people think, changing politics, and we think of the ways of doing so, e.g. by building networks, communities of practice and action to bring forward new emerging systems which help transform our way of lives and the way society functions. There is an implication that only together by “joining up forces” we can achieve something big and bring about change. This assumption slightly takes away attention from our individual abilities to bring about change for ourselves and others. The ‘I’ is never really separated from the ‘We’, both our being and actions are influencing the We, same as culture and behaviours of the We always influence the I. It’s an intertwined dance.

It is healthy and nurturing to connect with kindred spirits and foster critical connections, cultivating and deepening relationships and through these allow a collective creative space to unfold where through co-sensing and co-presencing we move to co-creation, which brings about new realities. In this process (Theory U) through embodied mindfulness, conscious in-depth experiences, reflections and authentic sharing new systems will emerge more purposefully.

Equally important for the changes and conditions we are seeking to shape, is the cultivation of our internal condition of being, like a garden that we cultivate, paying attention, nurturing it with water or sun, growing it with compost and harvesting and celebrating its fruit, in its ever reoccurring cycle. This cycle of growth and the quality of our internal soil is strongly intertwined and influenced by with the cycles of growth and qualities of soil we find in the different communities we live in. If we don’t feel nurtured in our communities it is more difficult to nurture and maintain a healthy internal condition and equally more difficult to foster and be of service to our community and the best possible way we can be in service of.

David Bohm is talking about this interdependency between our being and the being of our community in his book “Thought as a system”. He describes how our current situation and the systems we are living in, is created and perpetuated by our thoughts.

“We started out saying the trouble is that the world is in chaos but I think we end up saying that thought is in chaos. That’s each one of us. And that is the cause of the world being in chaos. Then chaos of the world comes back adds to the chaos of thought.” (D. Bohm)

This system consists of our emotions, our body, our culture, and whole society and is all one process which cannot be broken apart. It’s a system – a set of connected things and parts that are mutually interdependent. This system pervades our whole activity. Often we are so used to seeing ourselves a certain way that we can’t get through the layers of ‘habitual identity’ to look through the jungle and find out what’s underneath, who am I? What do I need? What is my work? … connecting with our deeper purpose and calling.

"We may need to lose sight of who we thought we were in order to become who we are."
Barbara Hamilton

Through turning our attention to our deepest inner creative force, listening to develop an internal seeing using all our senses to be able to follow our rhythm and true calling, we create the conditions not only needed for ourselves but also for our environment and for society in large.

"The integrity of the entire universe is influenced by the degree of wholeness we attain individually." B.H.

This is where I feel next to our inner individual exploration, it is then again important to maintain the balance of the cycle of the We and the I. Not forgetting to reaching out, listening to the experiences of ‘fellow transitioners’, to their stories about who they are following their rhythms, articulating and sharing your own experiences and stories with others. Nurturing yourself and growing your inner garden beyond your ‘habitual identity’ and gradually and organically in interplay with your community cultivating common ground and a new way of living. This is the new emerging path, an impulse I am sensing and currently following, hopefully catalyzing and fostering a new order of living.

I often feel we have all wisdom within us to guide ourselves and yet we are stretching our throats like ostriches looking for theories, models, trying to grasp something that is outside us, looking for something or someone to follow and guide us.


Why does the soul not fly
when it hears the call?

Why does a fish, gasping on land,
but near the water,
not move back into the sea?...

What keeps us from joining the dance
the dust particles do?

Look at their subtle motions
in sunlight.

We are out of our cages
with our wings spread
yet we do not lift off.

We keep collecting rocks and broken bits
of pottery like children
pretending they are merchants.

We should split the sack
of this culture
and stick our heads out.

Look around.
Leave your childhood.

Reach your right hand up
and take this book from the air.
You know right from left don't you?

A voice speaks to your clarity.
Move into the moment of your death.
Consider what you truly want.

Now call out commands yourself.
You are the king. Phrase your question,
and expect the grace of an answer.


1 comment:

  1. Hi Monika,
    I really liked what you wrote, and I think you hit the nail on the head with your call for 'I and We'.

    What's often missing in Systems Theory and various approaches to Emergence is the interior. And it's confusing if when talking about Emergence the interior is not part of the picture, because it leaves you with a gaping hole in the place of our very faculty to connect to Emergence. And I mean a soul-level connection that includes our conscience and inner calling to evolve... love and passion alone are not enough because inherent to Emergence is the calling to evolve, and if we want to live by it we have to be willing to be touched and unhinged.

    Ken Wilber calls this 'subtle reductionism', meaning that although we did move on from the Modern worldview in which there is no Emergence whatsoever, only nuts and bolts, but we often still fail to distinguish between interior and exterior, thus reducing our rich interior world (with its unique capacity to evolve) to exterior processes, connections and techniques - a great step forward but still not radically different from the gross reductionism of scientific materialism (or the nuts-and-bolts world).

    Did you know that the cycle you drew is exactly the same as the 'Discovery Cycle' that Andrew Cohen came up with? Same principle - working on the interior and the exterior, so that they will nurture each other. Leave either one of them out and you have a partial picture that will inhibit true Emergence.

    The question I often ask myself in is: what is it that we connect in? Is it a full picture that includes inner and outer, or is it a partial picture that leaves out interior development? Therefore, will the common ground that we create truly nurture us and challenge each one of us to evolve, or will it be a mere sharing of exterior knowledge, even passion for that knowledge, but ultimately stay flat and inhibit further development?