Evolving Systems: November 2009 Core Group Meeting
November, 2009 Core Group Meeting
and Continuing Discussion
Dealing with uncertainty: from the I Ching to heaven?
Background (adapted from a longer .doc by Alice and Bharath):
Our last session suggested the possibility that the I Ching is a tool for managing (earnestly, even playfully) life’s uncertainty and challenges. It transforms the self and the world together, leading to the emergence of a new, less conflicted state. Perhaps a number of other human concepts similarly function as tools and need to be understood in terms of the work they do in daily human life. In this session, we will explore the notion of "heaven" in this context, considering both its potential values and its potential shortcomings as a transformative concept.
A meeting summary (by Mark)
Alice and Bharath began with these assertions:
They understand Growth as change in relation to a stable structure. A great obstacle for growth is the absence of a stable structure. They suggest that a concept of “heaven” (or some other absolute concept in the realm of the ideal) can provide despairing individuals with the stability that they require to be able to change.
Defining things carefully was part of the work of our discussion. Examples of “stable structures” included family and school. “Heaven” was identified as a) not of this world” and of having a “natural history” (that is, a history that exists apart from its mythic relationship to hypothetical deities), b) open to everyone, and c) uniting one with everyone.
As Alice and Bharath refined this model for personal transformation, they noted that other concepts - including the Tao and Reason - might also function as supplemental notions constituting stability in which growth can happen. Their interpretation of “heaven” is motivated by seeking a use value for this concept, based in how might this concept be helpful to people, as distinct from a truth value, which I understand to be an understanding of heaven as “the way that it is”—these things that have been ordained by God.
In open conversation, the model was both tested and expanded. “Love” was added to the list of Ideals that might serve as supplements. Indeed anything that would serve as a “freeing concept” was admitted to this class and it was decided that perhaps more than one Ideal Freeing Concept (my caps) might serve an individual, perhaps at the same time but certainly in sequence, through the course of her life.
In my notes I have identified several specific points that captured my attention and that may generate additional conversation:
In response to Hank’s query, Alice defined her own heaven as “creativity without struggle.”
Anne helped us explore that transformational role of the Ideal in this structure of Personal Emergence might become a trap, a limiter on growth.
In the discussion that followed, we tussled with whether what I’ve called Ideals here are actually Ideals or might be better understood in a more complex way as “ideals” that are actually, as Bharath called them, “just concepts”. We tried to work towards an understanding of the roles ideals can play as “outside” oppressors, versus “inside” notions to which we feel drawn.
In its headiest forms, our conversation engaged a kind of a provisional “ideal” that might be helpful for emergence, but not permanent. The image of a crazy Mickey Mouse driven train that puts down the tracks in front of itself led to discussion of the relationship between nouns and verbs and the possibility that the kind of change that we were talking about might be best conceived as being born again and again and again in relation to what I understood to be perpetually changing contexts and perpetually adjusting “ideals”.
In my own meditation since then, I have been wondering how this very complex model relates to the “stable structure” that was proposed as the original requirement for transformation. Have some of us (me included and perhaps even in particular) hijacked the original model to twist it to conform to our own understandings? Or are Alice and/or Bharath comfortable with this expanded (and perhaps contorted) model?
Continuing discussion (below)